Treknobabble | UFOP: StarBase 118 Star Trek RPG

Treknobabble

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“The Enterprise computer system is controlled by three primary main processor cores, cross-linked with redundant melacortz-ramistat 14-kiloquad interface modules. The core element is based on an FTL nanoprocessor with 25 bilateral kelilactirals. With 20 of those being slaved into the primary Heisenfram terminals. This is the isopalavial interface which controls the main firomantal drive unit. Now, you know what a bilateral kelilactiral is?”

-Cmdr. Riker

Let’s talk about Treknobabble.

More or less, everyone out there knows what Treknobabble is. And most science officers (and engineers) have used it or experienced it closely while simming.

According to the Wiktionary Technobabble is technical or scientific language used in fiction to convey a false impression of meaningful technical or scientific content.

And, of course, Treknobabble is the technobabble applied to Star Trek.

Once the definition is clear, we can think what is it used for. There are several options. The first one is as a decoration. Simply to create a futuristic feeling, without more relevance that creating the illusion that we are seeing a technologically advanced world.

But, sometimes, it’s also used as a narrative tool. There are two basic ways for this. As a problem and as a solution. For example, a good treknobabble excuse could put the crew in a situation were the drama is easily served. After all, this is the final objective, the drama. For example, it could leave the ship stranded in some deserted planet, or in some dimension, or make some crewmembers disappear. Whatever crisis you want, there is a Treknobabble way of getting there.

The other one is as a solution. The crew has a problem, and is confronting a dramatic situation, and probably a terribly hard decision. And then, all of a sudden, the science department (or engineering, or ops, or whoever you want) appears and with a couple of nice Treknobabble sentences and a few keystrokes, saves the day, and avoids the terrible trap awaiting for them.

Some people feel that this impoverishes the series, as they usually find an easy way out that helps them evade the moral crisis. On the other hand, we must assume that science has advanced greatly in almost 400 years, so they are bound to use some knowledge that we don’t have. If they didn’t, their ships wouldn’t be flying.

So… what’s your opinion on treknobable? What do you think about its use on the series? And, more importantly, what do you think about its use in our group, while simming?

Do you use any kind of treknobabble? If you do, do you try it to keep coherent with known science, or just write random words? Do you make up the words, or do you use principles already used in the series?.

As a whole group, do you think we do rely on it too much? Or maybe too little?

You can give us your opinion here, and discuss it with the whole fleet.

BONUS: And if you are fluent with Treknobabble, you can join our little game here. Fun with Treknobabble!

About John Valdivia

John Valdivia is a Terran from New Berlin, Luna. After some years of service on the USS Discovery-C and a short break from Starfleet, he is currently the Chief Science Officer of the USS Darwin-A.
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