Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of Duty Post awards from our recent 2021 Awards Ceremony. Our goal is to give you insight into how our fleet’s best simmers write, and imagine their characters.
This month we’re interviewing the writer behind Major Kiran Han playing a Male Trill Marine Commanding Officer assigned to the USS Juneau. He won the Semper Fidelis Award, given “to those Starfleet Marines who have shown great skill in protecting their crew, accomplishing their mission, avoiding tragic loss of life in the line of duty, and upholding the values of the United Federation of Planets in times of crisis.”
DeVeau: Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from, what sort of hobbies do you have, and what else would you like to share?
Han: I grew up in Rochester, New York but moved to the Boston, Mass area after college.
How did you find Starbase 118 and what made you want to join?
I had been a part of other PBEM Star Trek groups in the past, back in 2004-2008 until the group fell apart. I met my now wife through one of them. Back in October of 2017 I got the bug again and started looking to see what was still around. I stumbled upon the website and honestly the wiki was what got me. I’m a sucker for a good wiki crawl. What made me pull the trigger was the organization of the game. The groups I had been a part of in the past had been great people, but lacked a cohesive leadership. Seeing the dedication to detail and the solid foundation made me pull the trigger.
What has been the most challenging part of simming a marine officer?
A lot of the hard part is avoiding being pigeonholed as just a person with a gun. It’s bad from a character progression point of view and can really hamper what you get to write about. Because marines don’t appear on screen there’s no good canon examples of marines doing things beyond their obvious role. I really suggest finding a secondary specialty so on missions where there’s no combat, and it’s Star Trek so they are going to happen frequently, you don’t end up becoming Worf continually suggesting to arm the photon torpedoes at every turn.
Marines are more than muscle, how do you show that with Kiran Han?
I actively took a track with Kiran where he doesn’t like combat. He’s good at it, he’s willing to do it when necessary, but believes that he should be a last resort. He wants to know that every option to avoid conflict before being put into play. In uniform he is meticulously formal, he relies on the process of Starfleet, chains of command, and duties, to make sure he isn’t used when he shouldn’t be.
What’s been your favorite part about simming a marine officer so far?
I enjoy pomp and circumstance. I never served and would make a horrible member of the military for any number of reasons, but I have always liked the uniforms, the procedures, the ranks, and roles, and traditions. Playing a Starfleet Marine gives me a little access to that world.
Was there a character who acted as inspiration for your marine? Perhaps a Star Trek character, or someone from another series or movie?
I don’t know that there was a good inspiration for Kiran. He’s mostly what I would want a more military force in the world of Star Trek to be.
In your opinion, what distinguishes the marine from a security officer?
If I had a good answer to this the Captain’s Council would already have it in writing. But as not having a good answer has never stopped me from talking before, here goes. In my conception of all of this, the difference comes down to intention. This answer really only works in a universe where the Starfleet Marines exist, it can’t be overlaid onto any of the shows because the shows had to deal with there being no marines.
Security is an internal force. A security officer’s job is to, one, protect the crew from outside threats, and two protect the crew from internal threats. Their job is reactive and focused on a group that they are a part of. Remove the crew from the equation and the Security Officer’s justification starts to fade.
The Marines are independent of the crew (this is less so in the writing world just to keep people together). Their job is external. They are tasked with going to a place (ship, starbase, planet) and doing a thing (hold ground, fight the bad guy, protect the population). They may ride on a Starship, but they are meant to be deployed, and for the ship to leave and maybe come back later to pick them up when they’re done. It’s why the leader of the Marine detachment is the Marine Commanding Officer instead of the Chief of Marine Officer (although Chief of Marine Operation has a nice ring to it). The MCO is a commanding officer in their own right, they may functionally report to the ship’s captain when they are on board (and in the game because of how the game is structured), but they aren’t part of the crew in the same way a security officer is.
This is a debate a bunch of the Marine PCs have had, and I’m sure the CC has had as well. No one has stumbled on a really good answer that fits everyone’s view of Starfleet Marines, mostly because everyone sees them with their own bias and point of view, and without anything on screen we’re all basically right.
What advice can you give to other marine officers in the fleet who are striving to sim realistic characters?
Make your character realistic. Have hobbies, friends, a family. Sure, you’re a Marine, and that’s going to say something about your personality, but you don’t have to be a combat junkie 100% of the time. Most of the time you’re not going to be shooting a gun, so figure out what you do when that’s not happening. You can only shine your shoes and clean your rifle so many times.
Remember, you exist in the world of Star Trek where, even with all of its flaws, the Federation really does stand, and often achieves its goals of peace and exploration. Even as a Marine, you’re a Starfleet officer and that comes with some belief in Starfleet’s stated goals and beliefs.
Thanks for your time, Major Han!
You can read more about Major Kiran Han on the wiki.