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 feature, we highlight different players around the fleet in various positions to show how they approach their particular duty post. What drives them? What do they like most about the post? Have they discovered anything interesting in their duty? This month we turn our attention to Intelligence, with Lieutenant Commander Aitas of StarBase 118 Ops.
VONDARYAN: To start, tell us a little about the writer behind the character — what is your name and where do you hail from?
Aitas: My name is Heather, and I’m currently living in Houston, Texas with my husband and one cat. Said cat occasionally tries to send messages via discord; if they’re supposed to mean anything I haven’t yet been able to decode them.
I’ve been roleplaying for a while now, in MMOs, on forums, as well as the occasional bit of tabletop. The Starbase is my first PBEM game, so that was a bit of an adjustment at first.
What first drew you to the intelligence post?
I usually play characters related to the intelligence field in some manner or another. Spies, agents, an information broker or two. Choosing what I wanted to play wasn’t the hard part.
When I started looking into the duty post on the wiki I did reconsider a bit, unfortunately some of the information was outdated or confusing. But I’m glad I stuck with my original intent there.
What is your favorite thing about the post?
Seeing what other players do with the information Aitas gives them to work off of. It’s always fun to see how they’ll expand on things, consider a related angle that wasn’t brought up, and so forth.
How do you play your character (quirks, ideals, drawbacks, etc.)?
My reflex is to say it’s complicated, but that isn’t very insightful. Aitas as a character has had a lot of different experiences and spent time around a variety of cultures in her life, so parsing that out provides a lot to work with.
When it comes to her work Aitas tends to be pretty nuanced and thoughtful, one scene she had recently involved a discussion of both how smugglers in the sector were both a risk and one of the few ways aid could get across the Romulan border when it was needed. She does tend to downplay her past experience; she has history with the Orion Syndicate and worked with someone who had a past in intelligence before she ever joined Starfleet, but those aren’t details she generally likes to bring up.
As for more specific quirks, Aitas has inherited the Vulcan preference for warmer temperatures, and this shows in a lot of the off-duty clothing I’ll put together for her. Given that she’s also half-Betazoid I tend to look for very ornate, often embroidered examples with a lot of coverage, to bring those two factors together.
Another detail is that Aitas speaks several languages fluently due to her various experiences, so sometimes she’ll comment on how various details translate, or contemplate the difficulties of various phrases or specific references.
Any interesting ways you’ve managed to incorporate intelligence into simming? Have you changed the wiki at all to accommodate your sims?
Most of what I do with Aitas is more focused around providing information for other characters to respond to and expand on. E.g., on her first mission she focused on analyzing the previous attacks from the ship they were hunting, and was able to put together an estimate both of how damaged their target was and what speeds it had been traveling at. Some of the other players then expanded on this with their on particular expertise, which all combined to help give the crew a better idea of what they were ultimately facing.
When it comes to the Wiki, most of what I’ve done consists of writing up an updated description for the Ops intelligence department, as the existing one was several years out of date. I’d kind of like to write some guides and update the page on the physical location for the department sometime, but haven’t gotten to those as of yet.
Have you managed to do anything with those discoveries/encounters in game, or do you plan to in the future?
As mentioned above, I specifically try to bring in information that’s useful to moving the plot along and providing content that other players can utilize in responding to whatever their characters are facing.
For another example of that, a couple missions back Starbase 118 was under attack by Chennel and the main systems wound up compromised. Once they’d gotten out of immediate danger, Aitas focused on utilizing the intelligence tower’s general isolation from the main systems, so she could do her analysis even without the main systems. She also utilized a computer testing program that intel and science had developed together as a distraction. Effectively, it was designed to play music out of any systems it was able to compromise itself. So the crew wound up bursting in for the final attack to the sound of ‘Crazy Train’.
Intelligence in general also allows for setting up different details that can be picked up and used later, so I try to scatter a few of those about-such as the situation with the smugglers mentioned previously.
Any advice to new players interested in this position?
There’s a lot I could say here (also known as why I’d like to write a guide eventually), but let me cut it down to two things. First, I’d suggest reading over the main Intelligence Duty Post page on the wiki. That page covers the basic information you’ll need to know. There’s some interesting information on the other intelligence related pages, but not all of them are up to date and accurate so I can’t provide a broad recommendation there.
A less obvious piece of advice that I’ve personally found useful is, since characters such as James Bond or groups such as Section 31 aren’t good references for what the intel officer would do in the fleet, is to actually use the science role as an example, since we do see a lot of that in the Star Trek setting.
That probably isn’t the most intuitive thing, so let me elaborate. Say you have a situation where a ship is trapped in an anomaly of some sort. Science will be the ones to analyze and figure out what sort of anomaly you’re in, and possibly offer thoughts on ways to escape it. But the engineers might need to build something for that, helm may need to ride out the shock wave, tactical might need to fire weapons in a precise and accurate fashion to set of whatever the engineers built, and so forth. If there’s another ship there your diplomats might need to coordinate the effort with them or convince them to assist.
And while it isn’t a perfect comparison, I do think it helps highlight the focus of analysis and providing information for the rest of your crew to work from when you’re approaching the intelligence post.
Have you seen (or written) any sims that highlight a good Intelligence officer?
I’ll admit that how I play Aitas doesn’t tend to result in most of the excitement showing up in her sims, as she’s usually providing information or analyzing matters to help move the situation along.
As far as how her usual approach goes, I do have a couple sims in mind. One is from one of the intelligence briefings she conducts for the XO, and the other regards her approaching another officer who considers a possible resource.
Thanks again for your time.