Each month, we interview a captain or first officer of the fleet to gain more insight on what it takes to command a ship and learn more about how each of these staff members found their way into these roles.
This month, we’re interviewing the Commanding Officer of Starbase 118 Ops, Commodore Sal Taybrim, a Betazoid male.
DeVeau: The last time you were interviewed was back in 2017! It’s about time we did so again! Would you mind sharing about the real you and refresh our memories? What sort of things do you enjoy, your roleplaying and simming experience, anything you’d like to share?
Taybrim: I really enjoy roleplaying and writing because I believe that writing helps players collaborate and express themselves. I think one of the most magical moments in roleplaying is when a player is able to discover something new about themselves through the process of writing and portraying a different character.
In my real life I am an avid runner – as in yes I get up early and actually run! I’m not very good time-wise but I run about 20 miles per week and completed a half marathon in 2020. My goal is to complete a timed half marathon in 2022. I’m also keen on training in martial arts, testing new home cooked recipes, biking long distances, biking to breweries, tasting craft beers, hosting board game parties and exploring every local festival I can find. I also am really into knitting and crochet (I even am on the Quidditch team of a Harry Potter based knitting game. Yes that exists!) and sometimes I sleep if I have time. Otherwise there is always coffee!
You’ve been a leader for a long time in our community. What does leadership mean to you?
To me leadership is empowering others and building people up to achieve more than they originally thought possible. I approach problems with a focus on understanding others and removing roadblocks whenever possible. I want to work closely with every member of my crew from new Ensigns to Commanders working towards their own command to give them a place where they feel supported and encouraged to write meaningful stories.
I think the best leaders inspire through positive actions and open honest communication, which makes the game a comfortable and positive experience for any active player.
What made you decide to work toward Captaincy in our community?
I came into the game with a lot of gamemastering and simming experience and I wanted to use what I knew to craft good stories. I was interested in leadership early on and giving the chance to run an MSNPC as an Ensign and plan a mission as a Lieutenant JG, both of which I really enjoyed. That moved me into a staff position on my ship and I became a mentor when I was a Lt Commander and from there I received the awesome opportunity to be the First Officer of StarBase 118 Ops… and I never left! When the relaunch CO stepped down I stepped up and I love being on Ops and playing in the well known, but infinitely complex playground of the Trinity Sector.
What is your style of leadership? How has that style changed over the past five years?
I am very much a ‘say yes’ CO. If a player has an idea that I feel is possible within the boundaries of suspension of disbelief (or ‘realistic for the setting’) I almost always say yes. I feel that saying yes and opening doors for others is the basis of good collaboration and simming. That said, going hand in hand with saying yes, I am also a stickler for realistic consequences, so sometimes my crew will ask me to ‘tell them no if this idea will end up with unpleasant consequences.’ Then again, sometimes it is engaging to sim the idea and play through the consequences. Those consequences and the bits of messy complexity they bring to a story can really make characters feel real.
Other than being in a mostly central location, how is simming on a base different from simming on a ship?
You have to remember that being on a ship means you have the ability to go out and find adventure. This can be great for commanding officers who are new to running a game because you can pull ideas from your crew and easily go find them. On a StarBase you are playing within a structure and the adventure has to come to you and you have to have a reason to leave your base. This means you have to mine the setting and the relationships around you for stories that draw your crew into the overarching drama.
While you can have an unknown frontier ripe for exploration, with every mission a new discovery in worldbuilding with a ship, a StarBase greatly benefits from having a well known setting surrounded by well known allies and antagonists. For example, Ops is situated at the intersection of Klingon, Romulan and Federation territory, with the Orion syndicate thrown in. We draw our drama from the established canon of those groups, building on a story we’ve seen in the TV shows and novels and making it something that is uniquely StarBase 118.
How has Ops evolved during your tenure?
The Ops I inherited had some interesting holdovers from the early days before we had such a strong focus on both great writing and good storytelling. One of the more unique things was a secret criminal sublevel which from the very first days of the relaunch of Ops the entire Ops staff (I was First Officer at the time) agreed we had to deal with in character. While it was a short mission, I was always very satisfied when we finally ran a mission to have the PCs get into the remains of the secret criminal sublevel and start building a new history for it and turning it into a vibrant useable part of the StarBase. Now it’s part of the Commercial center and it’s a swanky upscale housing district with waterways running through it reminiscent of Venice. I love that the crew got really into the concept of taking this half-baked secret crime den and turning it into something we could be proud of!
For those looking to become a Captain in the future, what advice would you give?
If you want to be a Captain, you have to love storytelling and opening doors for other players to enjoy the game. You can’t be a Captain to be in control or to seek the spotlight. Being a great command officer is really all about fostering collaboration and making sure every active player is having fun and gets a chance to shine. When everyone is playing together then you, too, get a chance to shine and everyone has fun!
Thanks for your time, Commodore Taybrim!
You can read more about Commodore Sal Taybrim on the wiki.