Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of awards from our recent 2022 Awards Ceremony. Our goal is to give you insight into how our fleet’s best simmers write, and imagine their characters as well as their out of character contributions and achievements.
This month we’re interviewing the writer behind Commodore Sal Taybrim playing a Betazoid male Commanding Officer assigned to Starbase 118 Ops. He won the Honor of the Admiralty award: Awarded to Staff Members who have served for a minimum of five years in a multitude of disciplines.As well as the Prestigious Service Medallion as Cade Foster, a Human male assigned to the USS Constitution-B: Awarded to members in the fleet who are steady and unwavering from their chosen Duty Post.
Fairhug: Commodore, you’ve done your fair share of interviews in your time with the fleet, which speaks to your longevity and success. Is there anything about the writer behind the CO of Starbase 118 Ops that you can share with us that you haven’t before?
Taybrim: Oh boy, what a good question! I’m just your average coffee loving knitting lunatic with a black belt in tae kwon do, a penchant for running long distances, sampling craft beer, and biking everywhere! Ok, maybe that’s not so average but it keeps me busy. I usually split my daily time between fitness and roleplaying and squeeze in knitting or crochet whenever I’m sitting down. I have a deaf inbred cat and a not-deaf not-inbred husband who actually likes my sense of humor.
At the most recent Annual Awards Ceremony, you received the ‘Honor of the Admiralty’ award, the highest honor available to members under the rank of Rear Admiral. What is your advice to aspiring members who want to get more involved with the OOC aspects of the fleet?
Taybrim: My best advice is to really focus on your own simming first. I think a lot of players fall into a trap of trying to advance through taskforces or OOC projects and they find themselves stretched too thin and then they burn out. I think the first thing a new player should do is find a steady simming pace that works for them. I try to write a minimum of one sim per day (except for Wednesdays because that’s the day company comes over and we play Borderlands. Yep, Borderlands. Chaos Chambers FTW) which ends up being a totally manageable goal in my life. For others it might be one sim every other day. Whatever that pace is, get it and make it stick. After you have comfort in your simming participation, focus on your simming skills. Learn how to react to others, to add narration and add entertaining description. Learn how to react to other characters in a way that makes people want to interact with you. Get comfortable with being able to leave 3-5 tags consistently and really focus on getting comfortable with pushing the plot forward with each sim, learning how to create opportunities for yourself and your fellow players to shine. Then build you in game leadership skills. Communicate OOC with your fellow players about the goals in your mission scenes. Ask to lead an away team. Work with others and make sure that everyone is having fun together. All of this is critical for a good healthy game on each ship and the more players able to do this, the more fun everyone will have. This is also the most important part about rank advancement. Certainly get involved with OOC activities, contests and taskforces that interest you, but always remember that the point of playing a roleplaying game is to roleplay. And we roleplay through simming. So the entire point of the game is to sim. So simming always comes first!
As well as the ‘Honor of the Admiralty’ award, you also received the ‘Prestigious Service Medallion’ for continued dedication to the Medical duty post through your secondary character Cade Foster of the USS Constitution-B. What is it about the Medical duty post in particular that continues to inspire you?
Taybrim: You know, that’s a great question. I never watched medical dramas growing up, but I did always like the doctor characters in Star Trek shows. But really it was just experience. I have been simming Star Trek games since (cough) 1996 (cough – I just aged myself there didn’t I?) and I have literally played every duty post available. And just through experience my favorite past characters were all medical. While my primary character Sal Taybrim was a bunch of different things (counselor, science officer, diplomat and command officer) when I had the ability to create a secondary I decided to create a brand new medical officer since I knew from experience it was a role I liked and I could sim well.
In their presentation speech, Commodore Jalana Rajel said: “Coming from writing as a Medical Officer myself and having served with many, all of them have brought their own spin to the department. But Cade’s spin is the most authentic and raw I have seen in my time.” Can you share any hints or tips on how you make your writing so impactful?
Taybrim: I have always enjoyed playing a gritty medical officer. Someone who struggles, who isn’t perfect, and who doesn’t always save the day. Cade is particularly compelling to me because he’s a Dominion War Veteran who already retired once and then came back to Starfleet to support his son and his friends. That gives me a lot of drama to work with when I write Cade.I find Cade extremely interesting to sim because of his age and his flaws – and the ways he’s overcome some of those flaws. Cade in his thirties a complete trainwreck, a medical genius who lost his support network during the Borg conflict and Dominion war and buried too friends. Someone who didn’t have the social skills or mental wellness to communicate his needs. Someone who fell into a depressive spiral of drug abuse and self-sabotaging decisions until he lost his rank, ended up in the brig and was almost court martialed.But in the Dominion War he also did heroic things, saved lives and made some strong friendships. People who cared enough about him to offer him a lifeline. And Cade has to swallow his ugly pride and accept help. And he did. And he’s spent the last thirty years improving himself, mending relationships, raising an adopted child, regaining his rank and now mentoring and caring for others. Because he was offered a lifeline and it saved him, he now is compelled to offer that same lifeline to others.
Do you have any particular advice you can share for anyone thinking of taking on a 2PC?
Taybrim: Make your secondary PC someone fun to play. Forget about rank and advancement. Your primary character is the one you will advance with, your secondary character should be a fun concept that you enjoy playing. 2PCs great time to try out your imperfect characters, ones with tons of personality even if they’re not leadership material or not interested in being a commander character one day. Put in a different way – Sal Taybrim, my primary, grew into a competent, practiced and finally accomplished command officer pretty naturally. A primary PC for an up and coming player should have a personality that in interested and allowed for growth into command, leadership or specialized positions. A secondary PC is the type that would never be a command officer or has no interest in being a command officer of any kind. Cade only wants to save lives. Sure, he can lead, but he’s happiest in teal.
Looking back over your time with Starbase 118, is there a particular achievement that stands out as something you are especially proud of, whether IC or OOC?
Taybrim: I’m really proud of StarBase 118 Ops over the years. We started with tribble missions and musical missions and a bunch of fast and fun storylines and then moved to an epic Orion Syndicate plot arc which laid the foundation for stories for years to come. We had a long running Klingon Empire plotline with the Cult of Molor and then another period of side stories. I was so proud of Ops’ simming rates and consistently increasing simming quality over 2022 and 2023, and we’ve started the year with a dup of really compelling missions with great worldbuilding. And I think those lasting changes are the best achievements. At one point we found there was a ‘secret sublevel’ built into Ops where slave trade and illicit business happened – this was simmed years and years ago in the lawless days of the early internet. And instead of just ignoring it as something silly from the past we built an entire mission around finding this now abandoned ghost-town of a sublevel and cleaning it out, and really dealing with the past and giving a in story reason as to why it was there in the first place. And the players ended up turning this level which was under the city center into a swanky high class housing area that was modeled on Venice waterways and some alien planet art. And I love that. We took something nobody wanted and turned it into something everyone loved and we did it was a crew. And I’m super proud of that. We’re doing the exact same thing with our current mission where our crew is really giving life and meaning to an adversary that started off cartoonish and over the top evil. I love the work that our simmers, staff and guest simmers have done adding depth and realism to our adversaries.
Finally, are there any exciting plans in any of your characters’ futures you can share with us?
Taybrim: I am excited to start simming Sal Taybrim the broken Betazoid regaining some of his telepathy. Whiile I’ve never really been a fan of telepathic characters, which is why I created a Betazoid with damaged telepathy, I have been really inspired my some of my fellow crew to explore this sense more. I had to send Sal away for my first officer’s command practical and I used the story beat that he needed surgery to fix some of the damage that initially caused the loss of his telepathy, so it’s a perfect time to have some of that sense come back to him!
Thanks for your time, Commodore Taybrim!