This is the second in a series of two interviews with FltAdml. Tristan Wolf, founder of UFOP: StarBase 118, to commemorate the community’s 20th anniversary in June. To view the previous interview, click here.
So you know how when you start a new job, you have a new boss? And you know how you walk on eggshells until you get your feet wet because the big boss man is all high and mysterious, this strange creature that you’re not sure how to react around? I mean, one wrong move and he’s likely to pounce on you and eat you for lunch.
I have to admit, as someone just celebrating her first year with SB118, that’s kind of how the enigmatic Tristan Wolf seems to me. So what should I do about it? Well, why not interview him, right?
DeVeau: Hi again Mr. Wolf!
Wolf: Hiya 🙂
DeVeau: So you promise not to eat me, right?
Wolf: I make no promises. You have read some of my past sims, right?
DeVeau: Oh dear. Guess I’ll just have to take my chances! Now, when my family first learned that I ‘roleplayed’, I was given some odd looks. Depending on the family member, I still get odd looks when I talk about it. What about your family? What did they think of this past-time and how has that changed over the last twenty years?
Wolf: I get a lot of the same — even still. I think most people think it’s an anachronism when I bring it up, like I have this hobby that’s similar to dressing up for a Renaissance Faire (which I love, by the way!). I don’t really mention it too much, though, since I’m very sensitive about being teased.
One time, at my new job, I responded to an email at work on my cell phone and didn’t notice that the Gmail app was using my firstname.lastname@example.org email address to reply, with my standard fleet signature. That was a year and a half ago, and I still get called “Admiral Wolf” at work from time-to-time. So I try not to bring it up too much to avoid that kind of silly stuff.
DeVeau: You’ve been in this group for twenty years. Would you tell us a little about the various characters you’ve played and positions you’ve held over the last two decades?
Wolf: Starting with the highest ranking character in the fleet makes it difficult to pull off some things, so I’ve had to create a veritable menagerie of characters to slot in for particular situations.
My first was obviously Tristan Wolf, who I thoroughly enjoyed playing, but as he increased in rank up to Fleet Admiral, he became more and more of a villain. He was always, ultimately, doing what was best for Starfleet as a whole — never a traitor — but was entrenched in politics and incredibly callous to the human cost of some of his actions. I started this departure from sanity when he lost his wife and child in a shuttle accident, and it just got worse from there.
Considering his sardonic attitude, Wolf was a difficult character to write for in awards ceremonies and promotions, which is where most of my writing was confined once I stepped out of a full-time simming role. I created a lower-ranked admiral who — while Wolf was administrating a large part of the Beta Quadrant — was the admiral in charge of StarBase 118 and the surrounding areas. His name is Luke Reider, who had been through a very troubling deep-space mission. I never really found his soul, in writing him, but he is useful for when I need an In Character stand-in.
Captain Malcolm Lysander was a character I created to command StarBase 118 Ops during my second run as CO there.
Some other minor characters I created include Captain Cheyenne Skye, when I took over the Ranger-A for a short while as a bridge between two captains; Cavan Sage a Bajoran who acted as First Officer for a short while during a transition period; and then for the Duronis II Embassy launch I wrote briefly for Indivar Mohan, the Crown Prince of Duronis II when first contact was made with the Federation.
DeVeau: Of all the characters you’ve played, which was your favourite and why?
Wolf: Probably the character who I most like is Captain Malcolm Lysander. He was a member of the Leyron species, which is known in Trek as being one of the few species that developed written language before spoken language. Beyond that, they were a blank slate. I envisioned them as a very nature-centric species that still, despite their technological advancement, focused on conservation and had a sort of walk-about tradition when recovering from trauma.
DeVeau: Have you or do you do any roleplaying beyond Star Trek or SB118?
Wolf: I really love roleplaying, but it’s a constant struggle for me in terms of time. A lot of the projects that keep me busy with our community require a well of creativity and sometimes a lot of time and effort, so it’s hard to put time and effort into roleplaying. I feel like I have a very finite resource for the amount of work and creativity I can put out, so I try and focus that energy on the OOC stuff that’s required to keep things running smoothly.
That said, I did a lot of roleplaying before I started the group, and I’ve tried again repeatedly over the years with little success.
My first experience with roleplaying was when I was about 10 years old, and a neighbor kid did a sort of free-form Dungeons and Dragons without dice or any materials. I remember it being my favorite thing, and wearing everyone else out wanting to do that every time we got together.
When I found the the Red Dragon Inn on AOL — a fantasy roleplaying chat room in the vein of Tolkien or Dragonlance — it was pretty much all I did for weeks, burning up every minute of my online time (which, as I mentioned in the last interview, was metered by minute!).
From there I then joined Star Trek Sims, which was my first Star Trek roleplaying experience. There was also a castle-based medieval sim, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and would play again in a heartbeat.
Since then, there’ve been two genres besides Star Trek that I’ve sought out roleplaying in: the world of Myst, and Firefly.
Many folks may remember Myst, Riven, and the other games in that series, but most people aren’t aware that there was also a trilogy of books that went along with it, which are some of my favorite books of all time. There were a few MUDs based around the game, but they were never very popular and ended up closing years ago.
Similarly, there were a few Firefly MUDs which I got into for a while, and a couple Firefly play-by-post, but again, not popular enough to sustain people, and poorly organized.
DeVeau: What made you decide to pull back from simming and will we ever see you return full time?
Wolf: Mainly it’s, as I mentioned above, a time and creativity issue. Administrative issues can sometimes be very time intensive to deal with, and when a “crisis” arises in the group, I’m the first line of defense. I try and draw as much of the negative administrative work away from others when I can, although I don’t always succeed, so that they can focus on running great ships and helping to sustain our community areas and OOC activities. But again, that often means that my time and creativity are really sapped. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten set to sim for a few weeks and then something came up on day two which meant I was going to spend the next two weeks mired in administrative work.
I’m not complaining because, really, I love doing whatever it takes to keep this community alive and thriving. But many people don’t realize just much this community is like one giant, aging machine — I’m the guy inside who’s rushing from sprocket to cog with a wrench, trying to keep everything running smoothly. Take, for instance, the website. To save money, we recently “re-consolidated” our site from two hosts down to one, which required the moving of our WordPress installation. This did not go smoothly, and it meant I needed to reinstall the whole thing, and re-configure almost everything on WordPress to make it operational again. That took up literally a week of free time for me.
DeVeau: So when you’re not roleplaying, what sort of things do you enjoy doing?
Wolf: I’m such a homebody. I come home very day and stay home with my dog and my husband and watch TV while I work on stuff for this community, or some of the little side-projects I often have. I’m starting a small web design business and helping my husband start his own business, for instance.
We live near a beautiful redwood grove (http://www.ebparks.org/parks/redwood), so I take my dog up there to hike every now and again.
But for the most part, I spend my free time at home.
DeVeau: If there was one thing you could change about the group, what would it be?
Wolf: It sure would be nice to have a big ol’ budget to give new computers to the captains, build a coherent technology that makes using our tools simpler, and advertise all over the internet. Ah well, I can always dream…