As players in any roleplaying game we’re drawn to certain character classes and types. Some like the strong fighter-type, some like the sneaky information handler. In this new feature, we highlight different players who are in the same position to show how they approach their post. What drives them? What do they like most about the post? Have they discovered anything interesting in their duty? This month we focus on Science Officers around the fleet.
Trellis Vondaryan: To start, tell us a little about the writers behind the characters — what are your names and where do you hail from?
John Valdivia: I’m Eric, and I am from Barcelona. My character is John Valdivia, Chief Science Officer aboard the USS Darwin-A. Valdivia is a mathematician, and so am I. However, my Real Life character is not a Starfleet officer, but a future high school professor.
When I was little, a public TV here passed sci-fi shows at dinner time, and that’s how I started, first with TNG, but then Stargate, Babylon 5, Farscape, Voyager… On the other hand, I have been into tabletop roleplaying for years (started with D&D, but I would play possibly any game). My playing mates, however, were not that much into Star Trek, so I did not manage to get any Star Trek roleplaying done, decided to look on my own… and you know how that ends.
Ayiana Sevo: My name is Aaron. I’m from California, in a small town just south of Yosemite National Park. My main character is Lt. Commander Ayiana Sevo, Chief Science Officer of the USS Gorkon. She specializes in Quantum Mechanics, Subspace Mechanics and dabbles in Stellar Cartography. We both have a love of science, but my skill ends at math. It hurts my brain.
Star Trek has always been a part of my life. I can’t remember when I was first introduced to it; it was always just “there.” I grew up watching TNG, then later DS9 and VOY. I love pretty much anything sci-fi, from Farscape, Stargate, to Babylon 5.
I live in several places along the east coast of the USA, but at the moment I live South Carolina. I started roleplaying in general in middle school in the mid 80’s. Starting off with Dungeons & Dragons (D&D, AD&D, AD&D 2Ed), and progressing into Villains and Vigilanties, Star Frontiers, DC Heroes, Marvel and even a home spun version of Transformers. (Yup the friends I had liked to roleplay!). From 2000-2004 I enjoyed the MUSH/MUX sites which allows you to roleplay with other in real time. I played on Transformer sites, most of which are gone now unfortunately.
However my love for Star Trek goes back to 1979 when I saw Star Trek: The Motion Picture. At that point I was hooked and went back to watch all the other episodes and then later on onto TNG and beyond. I have played at one other Star Trek RPG site before coming here, but I didn’t stay there long. This place is just awesome!
What first drew you to the science post?
Valdivia: I am mathematician in real life, and in some sense I wanted to portray myself in Star Trek. Not only that, but I had always seen Star Trek as a series about exploration, and with my background, that’s were I could sim comfortably. That being said, my character’s research interests have been changing slowly as he mover in Starfleet, as I saw his original background was not that useful on a starship.
Sevo: Except for the math, I love science. I am always reading up on the latest advances and experiments, and comprehend most subjects well. Just don’t put numbers in my face. My eyes will glaze over more than a donut. I learned that the hard way in college. I tried to major in Physics but could just not grasp Calculus.
R’Ven: Well I have always been a Spock fan and I like science. Even when I was playing on the transformer sites I liked playing scientists, so when I came here it was a natural thing.
What is your favorite thing about the post?
Valdivia: Your ability, and responsibility, on explaining what your ship is facing. You might be up against a phenomenon that is affecting your shields while preventing your phasers from working. Ok, someone on the ship wrote that, to use as a plot hook. But they will look at you and say “what is exactly happening?”. And it is ultimately your job to find an explanation that will make it sound as an interesting Star Trek story instead of a chain of random events invented by an overly cruel Game Master.
Sevo: Mostly because it matches so well with my own interests. I have a natural grasp of scientific concepts. It is also a great way to explore and explain the Star Trek universe. I try and figure out, scientifically, how a particular piece of technology or science works, if it’s not already explained. There are many times where a unique solution needs to be found in a crisis, and a scientist’s unique perspective of the world may just turn the tide.
R’Ven: Being a know-it-all?? LOL!!! I like all the technical details and the information. I am a person who thrives on data and making connections, so having characters who do much the same thing makes it fun. In many ways the science officer becomes the interpreter of events. When there is a strange object coming or an energy weapon in use, it can be the science officer who defines what it is . . . and perhaps how to counter act it.
How do you play your character (quirks, ideals, drawbacks, etc.)?
Valdivia: In the beginning, I wanted to present Valdivia with a complete lack of social skills. But that is not easy to sim and in the end, not that interesting. So as I have grown as a simmer, so has Valdivia into social skills. But possibly he still has problems transmitting his science ideas into common language.
However, something I definitely like on him, is that he is non-violent, and he is a problem-solving strategist. He will refuse to carry a weapon if he can. And in a firefight, he will take cover, pull out his tricorder, and start shouting data at his more-adept-at-shooting companions, like who is hiding where, possible structural weakpoints, that sort of things. That is, if he ever gets stuck in a firefight, which he utterly avoids. Even out of firefights, he has a similar approach. He has great ideas, but usually needs someone else to implement them. That’s more of an OOC decision. Seeing Star Trek, you could see always saving the day, with a beam, or radiation, of polarity change, or whatever. So I try to have him find the way, but then find a problem that needs another department (“we can do this, but the generator must be right into the enemy camp. Security?” “We can do this, but I need the deflector modified, engineering?” “For this to work, we have to be within 2km of the enemy ship. Helm?”).
Sevo: In the beginning, Ayiana was extremely shy. She wanted to be a wallflower, being ignored and staying out of the light. As she has advanced in rank, and found herself in a position of authority, she has had to quickly come to terms with dealing with other people; sometimes stumbling along the way. She has a brilliant mind, and if you get her talking about scientific things, she won’t shut up.
The thing I like most is to explore the Trill species and culture. I find them one of the most fascinating races ever conceived on Star Trek. It is difficult to conceptualize how one lives multiple lives, but is fun to do. In a way, it allows me to sim different characters, personalities and timelines. One thing I explored was how a particular disorder in a past life might affect the new host. Early in Ayiana’s career, I had her suffer from claustrophobia, eventually falling into a coma. There, I explored the dreams and memories of the symbiont, going all the way back to it’s birthing pool. A particularly tragic event in its life lay mostly dormant through multiple hosts, and manifested greatly in Ayiana.
R’Ven: One of R’Ven’s biggest drawback is his lack of people skills, so I play him as an awkward individual and even ignorant of many of the nuances of social interactions. I wrote this elsewhere but I am including it here since it is such a driving force in his character. Up to this point Merrick has been a self-Isolationist. he grew up as a Rodulan on a Vulcan ship and then went to school on Vulcan so he has always felt like the outsider and has tried to make up for his perceived deficiencies with intellect. However what he has become is a Rodulan who acts like a Vulcan, so he is still cut off from most people by his own efforts to adapt to his environment. At the moment I have him studying the behavior of others, watching vid-programs, trying to learn how to be more natural. The results have not been the most spectacular as of yet, but it is an interesting journey. I have gotten good help from my Mentor and my Captain in spreading him out a little.
In a recent episode R’Ven has undergone quite a few changes in his life and the drive to fit in has become quite a bit stronger. So this conflict between wanting to fit in and not knowing how to do that is interesting to play out.
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this feature.