Most rosters in the StarBase 118 fleet are filled with members of well-known species – humans, Vulcans, Betazoids, Klingons, Trills. Spiced throughout are the uncommon species, and this series hopes to investigate those unique characters and the writers who decided to explore the strange new worlds of Trek.
from the USS Tiger-A, Eyas Wulfantine, a Pythron
Every previous article in this series has dealt with a species of some background, from the multiple appearances and mentions of the Orions and Caitians to the episodes based around the Brekkians and Gideons. The Pythrons, however, were not so lucky. “In the DS9 episode ‘The Rivals,’ a ‘Pythron’ couple were mentioned in passing (but never seen) as having been swindled by a confidence trickster on the station. … Once I had made sure there was no Memory Alpha details beyond the DS9 episode, I essentially let my imagination run riot. The sources I used were not so much Pythron-specific, but getting a better understanding of the Trek galaxy, and what an allied planet would be expected to be like. For example, how advanced would their spacecraft be or their domestic technology level – so that I wouldn’t create a race that would be too powerful or too weak vis-à-vis the established species.”
While many characters from uncommon species initially require a great deal of early development, I was interested to learn that Eyas didn’t. “Eyas Wulfantine is a character from my own universe that I have been developing for years, and I thought he would be a good ‘guinea-pig’ for my foray into RBE role playing. The original Eyas is human, but has many of the traits (both physical and mental) of his UFOP: SB118 counterpart.” This background helped not only determine Eyas’s character, but also the direction of the Pythron species, their history, and their mythos. “Partly from his original description, and partly as I had this in mind for the Pythrons in general – I envisioned him as a very tall, blond warrior. It was therefore manna from heaven when Trek-actor Chris Hemsworth played superhero Thor. Whether he liked it or not, he immediately became Eyas’s wiki and forum avatar. From this ‘Eyasine’ appearance of a tall long blond haired warrior from a militarised society, I expanded the whole species template for the Pythrons. The Pythrons essentially became a planet of space-faring Vikings! I deliberately avoided the temptation of making the Pythrons into reptilians (as in the Earth snake ‘pythons’) because I thought it was too obvious.”
A species of space Vikings plays well in the established Trek narrative, especially when compared to the honor-bound Klingons and the like. “The Pythrons are a very independent-minded race, and although allied to the Federation have not joined their fold and do not trust them fully. The Pythrons are a highly militarised race, with nearly half the male population being enlisted in their defence forces. However, this has been forced upon the Pythrons by bitter experience, and in truth they would rather be at peace than fighting. They have a highly developed sense of honour and duty, and failure to live up to their society’s expectations can weigh heavy upon a young Pythron’s shoulders. My character of Eyas has had his fair share of injuries and accidents, and is convinced that his misfortune in recent missions (he has yet to complete one without ending up unconscious) is due to his lack of prowess and feels deeply guilty for not honouring his people, and especially his late father’s memory. He takes any slight mishap as a personal failure, and is eager to make amends by throwing himself into the thick of the danger – usually ending up even more injured than before.”
One of the many challenges inherent to writing a primary character from an uncommon species is continuing to write for that character over many months and years. In the case of Eyas, Paul not only had to create and keep fresh his character, he also had to continue the development of the Pythrons. How did he do this? “I tried to develop Eyas’s Pythronic backstory including him being framed in the assassination of his overbearing father, and this has helped add extra depth and I hoped made the readers interested in learning more about him and his home planet. … In the SIM, he is quite weak and unwell now after numerous injuries, so I am hopefully having him venture back to his homeworld to search for a cure to his Pythron-specific ailments. Although I have been writing for him for over a year now, part of the fun of simming is not having total control over your character, and I am genuinely intrigued and open-minded about whether his journey home will be successful or be his last – depending upon what others sim. Either way, it’s going to be epic… I hope.”
Finally, Paul offered some advice for other writers thinking about writing for uncommon species: “Let your imagination run wild. It’s a whole world to be created – so go and be creative. Using genuine Earth history (ancient Rome and Greece, medieval literature and more modern periods) can be a great resource for ideas.” This is not only a good idea, it’s also precedented in Trek, in which the original series Klingons were based upon the Soviets and the Romulans were a mishmash of 60s China and ancient Rome. “If the species is more established (for example Caitian), but still an uncommon species, then do your homework. Watch episodes where they appear to see how the species act and behave, and don’t be afraid to email writers who already sim for that species, or go to the Guild of Uncommon Species on the forums. I know I would be thrilled if anyone else wanted to sim for a Pythron, and I bet other writers would be happy to help too.”
“I think a lot of the stories we tell for our characters are the same, regardless of their species. In essence it is the human story of love, adventure and death. So I think there is no substitute for good deep character development and consistent simming. Keep the character true to his or her personality, and don’t have them be a lazy surly individual for a few sims, then become a hard-working superhero the next. And most of all, have FUN!”