A Gangster Among Us! | UFOP: StarBase 118 Star Trek RPG

A Gangster Among Us!

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Yes, that’s right we have a full-fledged, Tommy gun toting gangster, walking the decks of the USS Independence in the form of the smooth talking Ensign Nicholas “Nickels” Luciano, who rolls a nickel over his knuckles like the traditional trademark of a 1920’s gangster.

Coming to SB118 straight out of the cargo bay of a space-faring freighter from Sigma Iotia, our resident gangster is one of many who returned to SB118 after the premier of the new Star Trek movie, but luck and happenstance gave him more incentive to return. Interview with Nicholas “Nickels” Luciano
By Commander Toni Turner

Striking up a conversation with Nicholas Luciano is not hard to do, he is friendly, personable, and has a great sense of humor. Having been in one of my classes at the Academy, I noticed his innate ability toward storytelling, and after he graduated from the SB118 we kept in touch through the Cadet Steward program.

Turner:
“Nickels, you were away from SB118 for six years, what made you decide to come back and sim with us?

Luciano:
That was kind of interesting. I went to go see the sneak preview premiere of the new Star Trek flick, and it really fired me up. The next night I was out at a bar with some of my old roleplaying buddies from my school days and we were musing over our various good times roleplaying since the golden age of second edition D&D, and I thought about ol’ Starbase 118. When I came home that night, entirely by coincidence there was an e-mail in my inbox from Lieutenant Commander Jaxx, a mass-mail reinviting old members to the UFOP. I replied, filled out a form, and he got me into the very next training class to shake the rust off my nacelles. Yours, as it happened.

Turner:
Of all the species available to our sim group, why did you choose to play an Iotian?

Luciano:
Paging through the Intelligent Lifeform Index is almost too much fun. It’s that heady feeling of being a kid in a candy shop or having a free movie pass at the multiplex – a wealth of possibilities. I thought I’d narrowed it down to a battle-scarred Antican or world-weary Kobliad when suddenly I came across the entry for Iotians, which led me to digging up my digital copy of “A Piece of the Action”. The episode fired my imagination, and in particular I was tickled by the idea of one of those space gangsters from the 1960s trying to make it in the hypermodern post-Voyager world of Starbase 118. They’re a species that’s ripe with possibilities; adaptive, imaginative, and ambitious. Plus I came up with the name Nicholas “Nickels” Luciano for an entirely different game (GURPS, if you’re wondering), and really liked it.

Turner:
What would you like to see happen with Nickels?

Luciano:
I was happy to get a Security posting since the other roles would be harder to write naturally. As it is, I think Nicky Luciano will follow the course of ambition like any good Iotian would, and try to get his cut. I’m not sure he’s the kind of guy who’d want to be a high muckity-muck officer – at least, he’s not that kind of guy right now – but I can definitely see him angling for a chief position in a Security department somewhere someday.

Turner:
How does Nicky fit into the scheme of things on the Independence?

Luciano:
At the moment, he’s only just arrived and hasn’t even had a chance to unpack his coin collection and hair pomade. It’s a whole new world for him; he’s spent a few years absorbing the current Federation culture at the Academy as fast as he can process it, but it’s still a massive paradigm shift. As the Independence leaves port, it’ll be carrying a young man who five years earlier hadn’t moved any faster than an Iotian jitney roaring along the back streets to get away from the feds. But he’s a natural talker – a smooth operator, like they used to say – and he learns fast. And if things start to get heavy, he’s a good man to have at your back. Security’s a good spot for him, especially on a danger-edged mission like the one the Independence is setting out on now. A lifetime of dodging bullets and knife-fighting and bringing brass knuckles with him to the soda shop has made him hard to rattle.

Turner:
How will you be handling a 2386 problem with a circa 1920 Character?

Luciano:
The way I figure it, an Iotian is going to approach any problem the same way, whether it’s one of Krako’s goons holding a .45 to your head out behind the five-and-dime or whether it’s a damaged turbolift preventing swift access to a deck where there’s been a security breach. Look at “A Piece of the Action”. The last time the Iotians were exposed to anything unusual was a hundred YEARS before Kirk and his crew showed up, and it didn’t even give them pause. Instead, they looked to force the aliens with their superior technology to give up a whole crate of phasers. Iotians take in the situation, and adapt to it, going with what they know, and picking up new tricks along the way. That’s Nicky’s plan. He’s learned all the Federation directives and he’ll follow orders like nobody’s business, but when it comes down to where the targ leftovers hit the ventilation system, he knows there’s a lot of problems that can be solved with a Tommy gun.

Turner:
What species was your character when you were here in 2003?

Luciano:
Ssam Canaan was a Selay, or Selayan (I could never decide which I liked more). He was a lot of fun to play with, but I struggled a bit with his inhumanity. It was hard to make him approachable without making him a cartoon, and I was always thinking of weird biological quirks for him to the point where they became a distraction. I think that’s why I went with a much more Terran-compatible species this time. I ended up being more notable for my absurdly voluminous forum posting than any special actions in the line of duty. With Nickels, the differences are primarily and distinctly cultural. And I don’t have to drag out all my ess sounds.

Turner:
I noticed that you have been doing quite a bit of posting on our forum this time too. Are there any more features that you enjoy on SB118?

Luciano:
I use them all pretty frequently. I’m a bit of forum fiend, and always have been since the days of the late ’80s when I was dialing into BBSes all over south Florida (the handle Wheel is still known and feared in certain circles as He Who Will Not Shut Up). The forums manage to sate that addiction nicely, especially the dear old Post Parties forum. I hope to get a couple of other games running so I have more to do there during my long days at work at the Apple Store. The databases are incredibly useful and well put-together, an invaluable resource, and I’ve just now gotten excited about the wiki. Writing up an (advanced, natch) character page for that will be the work of many delightful spare moments when I should be learning more about repairing iPods.

Turner:
What do you find most satisfying about SB118?

Luciano:
I love the idea of multiple people working together to craft not only a single story, but dozens, nay hundreds of stories, all weaving together to re-create the universe in their own image. Sure, that’s a little grandiose, but that’s what it is. Every writer has all the tools of God at their fingertips – to give life or take it away, to create and destroy new worlds and new civilizations. It’s fascinating to see what people can do not only on a cosmic scale, but even more so on a personal one. The power and scope of the writers’ imaginations makes the game intoxicating; the relationships between all these characters is what makes the game so endearing.

Turner:
If you could change one thing on SB118, what would it be?

Luciano:
I really like the way the whole game is put together. I guess if I could get one thing, it’d be more writing games. The writing challenges are always such a deliciously exciting time that it’d be nice to have more chances for authors to flex their creative musculature.

Turner:
Well, you certainly flex your creative musculatures with