We’re here with another interview with a newer member of our community. The title of this column is “Lower Decks,” hearkening back to the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode titled “Lower Decks,” in which junior officers aboard the Enterprise-D speculate on the reasons for recent unusual actions taken by the command crew near the Cardassian border.
This month’s interview is with the writer behind Lieutenant Artinus Serinus playing a male Magna Roma Security Officer assigned to the USS Arrow.
DeVeau: Would you be willing to tell us a little about yourself, the writer? Where are you from and anything else you’re willing to share?
Serinus: Sure! I’m Joseph. I hail from a small town north of Amarillo, Texas. But I currently reside in Austin.
I am a disabled Army veteran that is trying to draw a pension. I served as a Combat Medic(68W) and spent most of my four years in Germany, doing one tour in Iraq.
My hobbies outside of SB118 include D&D and other TTRPGs, as well as various other online roleplaying venues. I share a love of strategy games with my character. I was an active member of one of the bigger “boffer” L.A.R.P.s both before and after my time in the military.
Other passions include listening to music, singing, drawing, political activism, and spending way too much time on social media.
I currently serve in the Publicity and Social Media task forces.
What was your introduction to the world of Star Trek?
Like so many of us who grew up in the eighties and nineties, my introduction to Trek was TNG. I was never a religious watcher at that time, as I was a very busy (that is hyperactive) child and teenager. Occasionally, I’d also catch an episode of DS9 or Voyager as well. As I grew older, I’d binge TNG every once in a while. So I suppose I could be labeled as a more casual fan.
I think that I’ve watched more Trek as a SB118 member than at any other comparably long period of time in my life, including all of the first seasons of Picard, and LD. Lower Decks, twice. I just adore Lower Decks.
What is it about Lower Decks that appeals to you above all the other versions of Star Trek?
Oh boy, where to start? The premise, a second contact crew, seems simultaneously ridiculous and an absolute necessity.
The main characters are archetypal without feeling cliche, each one is a three dimensional person with strong (sometimes contradictory) personality traits that can go against their nature when they have to, thus achieving growth.
The comedy style is absurd without being overbearing, rarely drawing out a joke for too long, which is often a problem with absurd comedy. The timing of the gags as well as the pacing of the stories are both at a speed that works well in my opinion.
And what’s a good Star Trek series without political commentary? The lower class ethos of our four favorite Ensigns really speaks to me, potentially putting LD up there with DS9 for it’s commentary on modern systems, if it enjoys as long a run. The episode critiquing our culture of overworking and burnout is hilarious and yet sadly relatable to most of us.
While each episode is littered with tons of references, the plots are structured in a manner that I believe that a total novice to the franchise could get the gist of the action on screen.
How did you find Starbase 118 and what made you decide to try us out?
I was hanging out with some online friends on a MUSH that I used to frequent, and we were just doing some OOC chatting. One of the players told us about this game they were playing elsewhere, based on Star Trek. The more I heard, the more interesting it sounded. So, I read some of the sims they linked for us, visited the website, and I was instantly hooked! The design quality of the site, the layout and thoroughness of the wiki, all just icing on the proverbial cake.
You’re the first person I’ve personally known to play a Magna Roma character. Why that particular species?
Well, I like Star Trek a lot, but as someone else said recently in one of these, I’m not as devoted to the fandom as some of the other players are. I wanted to play something atypical, not run of the mill Human or cliche Vulcan, but nothing too lore heavy.
Browsing through the Playable Species Index, I stumbled on the Magna Romans, and vaguely recalling the TOS episode that introduced them, I decided that it was an interesting choice and one that fit my parameters.
I’ve enjoyed it, it’s great fun to get to look back on a real historical society and adapt it for a Sci-Fi future. There are a few places to get canon, and non-canon references, but I have enough leeway to use historical and mythological information as well and adapt them to my heart’s content. Arrow crewmates will attest to the fact that I will occasionally link a video or article about Roman history or culture in our discord channel.
Most interesting is exploring how a somewhat atypical citizen of one of the Federation’s most insular and conservative member planets emphasizes or downplays different parts of his personality to better cooperate with crewmates of other species. Downplaying the massive ego that Magna Romans, and superstar athletes are both famous for, with a facade of humility, for instance.
Then, when one really needs their character to be themselves it pays off. There was going to be a disciplinary JP where a subordinate polished all of Artinus’ wrestling trophies and cleaned the rest of his athletic memorabilia (don’t worry, it was an “ironic punishment ” appropriate to the infraction) but the writer had to take a L.O.A.
What significance does his name have?
It’s certainly not an actual Latin name to my knowledge, I just pulled it out of my hat, but thinking back, I had a Dragonborn Fighter with a very similar, but feminized, first name for quite some time. I didn’t make the connection at all at the time but I suppose there was something subconscious going on with that naming scheme.
Perhaps there is something to the contrast between the hard R sound at the start of his name, with the softer inflection of the rest of the name. Or the very word Art, meaning not only the creative impulse and it’s results, but the older connotation of one being skilled in their line of work, a certain craftsmanship if one would. Both Artinus and his female, fantasy counterpart are skilled in their craft.
What adventure or event has been your favourite since you’ve joined SB118?
That’s a hard one. Most of my great character moments have been during shore leave. Cliff diving with Jona ch’Ranni on the holodeck then a few days afterward showing Jona Artinus’ holodeck war game, the Arboretum picnic with other crewmates from the Columbia, sword fighting lessons with my current XO Quentin Collins (again in the holodeck) way back on the Eagle, the wine tasting contest between Artinus and the Tellarite bartender judged by Maxwell Traenor, or the acquisition of Artinus’ pet targlet right after an awards ceremony. Not to say that there haven’t been some standout happenings during missions either.
Such as: An eldritch horror invoked hallucination that sent Artinus into an existential crisis was a particularly wrenching scene. Imagine you’re on the way to the science lab, and then suddenly the ship explodes away from you and you are in the void of space. You hold your breath for as long as you can, then exhale as slowly as possible, then hold your lungs empty until you can’t anymore. Then, fully prepared to die, you inhale involuntarily and draw in air that isn’t supposed to be there. You’re alive! The incongruity hits you hard, that’s impossible. You must be dreaming. Slowly finding your footing, you use the walls to guide you to your destination until the hallucination subsides.
My proudest moment was certainly having Artinus recognized as the official Arrow’s Chief of Security. He had shared the responsibility of the acting position since he was a fresh Ensign on both the Columbia and the Eagle, was thrown in a three way race for the job for a brief moment on the Juneau, then was sole acting Chief on the Arrow for a bit. It was a relief to both of us to see that work acknowledged.
What goals do you have for Artinus and for yourself as his writer?
My immediate goal for Artinus is to get that Commander at the end of his title (It’s both of ours, truly). For a longer term goal, I’d like to see him eventually get a command of his own. On a more personal level, he’s to learn about a long lost family member soon (He might already have by the time this is published), this will lead to another shoreleave adventure, as well as a JP with someone from another post.
As a writer, I’d like to continue to improve my style and skills. As the player I’m striving to join the Training team next. New members are, cliche as it may be to say, the lifeblood of the community, and our welcoming atmosphere and fun and thorough training really do help to attract like minds. As much as I loved the idea of the game before, going through the Academy made me love the game itself.
Thank you very much for your time, Lieutenant Serinus!
Want to know more about the character? Head over to take a look at Lieutenant Serinus’ wiki page.