Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of awards from our [YEAR] 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 Lt. Commander Toryn Raga playing a male Al-Leyan formerly of the USS Chin’toka, though he has since moved to the USS Ronin as First Officer. Before that move, however, he won the Shaxs Star: “Awarded to dual posting Security/Tactical officers who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in protecting and preserving the lives of their crewmates.”
DeVeau: In our last interview with you, you shared some things about yourself. Would you be willing to go into more details about your experience with D&D both as a player and Dungeon Master and how you think that influences your participation in SB118?
Raga: Hmm. Talk about my happy place and possibly favorite thing in the world? Yes, yes I can. Hah! My experiences with D&D definitely contribute a lot to SB118. As a player, it’s the joy of making and developing a backstory. Embodying the role of that character(s) and having fun, while also engaging in the utmost shenanigans. Doing anything and everything that I can imagine, that fits in the personality of that character. From the DM side of things, it’s the further creativity of having to develop and expand on worlds, lore, races, myths, etc. Dealing with crazy players who actively engage in shenanigans and make all those hours long careful planning mean nothing. Heheh..heh…I’m fine. It’s fine.
It’s the mix of both that help me to write for SB118 while having the restraint (most of the time) to make sure things don’t get too out of hand and keep the narrative rolling smoothly. Especially now that I’m an XO. The experience as a Dungeon Master comes into play more than being just a member of a ship’s staff.
This is the second year in a row that you have been honoured with an award in this duty post. Would you tell us a bit more about what it’s like to play Security and Tactical, and how you brought that into your scenes, both when on and off duty?
Raga: Absolutely! Tac/Sec is a great duty post(s) to play as and have their own unique challenges like every duty post has. While yes, the primary function of both is the safety and protection of the ship and crew whether onboard the ship or away from it, it’s not all about making things go boom or pew pew. Just like the Starfleet Marines, there’s a balance between knowing when to kick in a door (quite literally in Raga’s case, just ask the Astraeus crew,) but keeping things secure in other ways. They’re the primary protectors of the ship/installation and to quote a famous Security officer, “There is no physical training anywhere that matches Starfleet, especially its Security people.”
One reason both departments are often joined together as the needs of a ship/crew determine if they can be separate or not, it’s about the little things as much as firing phasers and launching torpedoes. While Tactical may spend time running diagnostics on the tactical systems. Recalibrating things. Running drills on the holodeck. Or helping out with Security. And Security has lots of things to do when not in combat. Even Starfleet vessels have security reports to file. Maybe that diplomat got into an altercation with a crew member or another visiting dignitary. A noise complaint to respond to? Someone was seen in a restricted area and you find a pair of crewmembers who snuck in to fill out a spot on their bingo card. The armory hasn’t had the weapons inspected to ensure there are no malfunctions/defective weapons/components? That can be done. Got a boring/easy shift staffing the brig that’s empty?
There’s a lot of options that Tac/Sec officers can do on duty and off duty, that’s only limited by your imagination and your character’s personality. Toryn for example is an avid mountain climber. Who often ran classes for shipmates to learn how to climb. He also reads/writes Al-Leyan poetry and cares for his Seiuri (Al-Leyan barn owl) who’s participating in a specialized breeding program to help restore the species to above endangered status.
What do you feel is the most difficult part of playing this duty post, and how do you overcome that?
Raga: The biggest difficulties are what I mentioned earlier. How to write/showcase how capable both Security and Tactical officers are when not in battle. For me, it’s easy to write action scenes. I can and have gone into great detail describing battles both space and ground, or aboard starships.
But just as important are the sims you write because maybe some crewmen got swindled by a merchant on a new planet that the ship discovered. Security are Starfleet’s law enforcement personnel. Even with the great advances in the far flung future people still die of old age or mysterious circumstances. Or malevolence. It can be fun, if challenging, to occasionally write your character having to do a forensic analysis of a crime scene. Or run an interrogation. Look after those lower deckers who had too much alcohol in the mess and need to sleep off their inebriation in a controlled/monitored environment. Or even have to get someone’s tribble out of a tree in the arboretum. It can sometimes feel like there’s not much to do when things aren’t all red alerts and explosions. But they are equally as rewarding because they add to the narrative and the life of a ship’s environment.
Al-Leyans tend to discourage participating in this type of employment or duty. How did that come into play when writing for Raga?
Raga: Oh, it came into play heavily. Even Al-Leyans have their protectors/military. After all, they are on the border of Klingon space and have a long history of being raided. Toryn’s father is a Captain in the Al-Leyan fleet. That’s where he first served in the Security/Tactical Prote among his people after he was old enough and had gone through training post Haemachuo. The issue was with him joining Starfleet. Al-Leyans are complex, but primarily xenophobic and Exile away from the homeworld is a death sentence due to their mating cycle.
He had a lot to prove, to himself and his people since Al-Leyans are not a member species. And being around alien cultures constantly was the concern of him being ‘contaminated’ by said cultures. Toryn still to this day is a primarily traditionalist in regards to his own culture. Even though he’s suffered personally at the hands of some of their practices he loves his people and defends their culture vehemently, however over the years of being in Starfleet he understands that some things need to change. Not drastically or instantly, but gradually. And that some things will nor should ever change. It’s a fun balance that has led to a lot of drama and great stories. Especially now that he has twins.
Recently, SB118 launched the USS Ronin and you were chosen as the First Officer. How do you think Raga’s experience in Security and Tactical will influence his new position?
Raga: Oh I think it will definitely influence how much he scrutinizes the Department Chief for sure. Sorry, Carpenter. Heh. To clarify, because that’s his Prote (life career) and he’s done it for so long it will influence how he approaches things as an XO. Toryn is very much a sheepdog, as a former member of the fleet once put it. In that he will stand as a shield against threats to his crew no matter what.
He’s spent a lot of time with a phaser or manning Tactical and as such, he definitely has a strong understanding of how to keep cool under threat. Something I think an XO definitely requires, just for dealing with their Captain at the very least. But it will also mean that he’ll rely heavily on the opinions of the other Department Chiefs, Medical, Science, Engineering. Because those are the areas that are outside his prote and where he’s weakest.
Toryn’s got a very tactical and somewhat strategic mindset and he’ll bring that to the role of First Officer. Just like when he’s free climbing up a massive mountain, you have to pick the most stable path in order to progress safely but sometimes you also have to risk that leap to another ledge and hope you can both reach it and that it will hold under your weight.
What do you think might be the most difficult part of moving from his previous duty post to his new one?
Raga: Imposter syndrome. Definitely. It’s something that I personally struggle with and that because of his life experiences Toryn similarly faces. Because of his upbringing/culture it’s taboo to change specializations outside of one’s Branch (career). As a Starfleet officer, he’s obviously learned a baseline of varied extra training. Basic medical, engineering, science, etc. that all Academy graduates get.
The biggest difficulty though will be that aside from a few (the PNPCs of mine that came with) this is a whole new crew. A whole new family that he doesn’t know, yet, and that he’s had to leave behind the people he’s served with for so long and loves dearly. Toryn’s two best friends, Serala and Valin Dermont are both back on the Astraeus. And while his mate, Ishkabella Journs (played by Lael Rosek’s writer) did come with him because they have twins, the transition to the Ronin has been roughest because of this. Stranger in a Strange land as it were. And the entire Astraeus crew gave him a great send off, which of course makes things better and worse. So many emotions.
Toryn knows the Par’tha Expanse and its threats/species well. He’s been basically thrown into the deep end of a new place with species he’s never encountered before and where they can actually travel faster than warp 5 safely. I think that deep down he’s worried if all of his experiences and accolades he earned there will translate to the Alpha Isles.
Thankfully, the Ronin has a great crew that he’s just learning of their capabilities. So I’m sure that the destroyer of furniture will be just fine in the end.
Thanks for your time, Lt. Commander Raga!
You can read more about Lt. Commander Toryn Raga on the wiki.