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 and their out of character contributions and achievements.
This month we’re interviewing the writer behind Lt. Commander Toryn Raga playing a male Al-Leyan assigned to the USS Chin’toka. 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: It’s been a while since we’ve done an interview with you! Would you mind resharing a little about yourself — where in the world do you hail from, what interests do you have, and anything you’d like to share!
Raga: Certainly! My name is Rameses. I’m from Florida in the United States and I am a nerd. But we already knew that. We’re here. Haha. Aside from being with SB118, going on my fifth year, I’m an avid gamer, including a Dungeon Master/Player for D&D that I play twice a week. I also play video games, preferably RPGs, RTS and 4X games, Strategy, Sims, FPS and Racing. And I, of course, love Star Trek! And Star Wars… Babylon 5… LoTR… Did I mention I’m a nerd? 😀
Would you tell us a little about your character?
Raga: Gladly! Lieutenant Commander Toryn Raga, as mentioned, is an Al-Leyan. A Nocturnal species from Leya-I, they’re a complex and perhaps flawed species. Both liberal in some ways and almost tyrannically xenophobic in others. They have a mating cycle similar to Vulcans, where if they don’t mate, they die, so marriage isn’t a thing for them. And yet, they are adherent to their culture so much that they will rehabilitate their own who fall from the status quo. And have a fear of telepaths due to a psionic entity in their past that nearly enslaved their species.
Toryn is telepathic, so that makes for an interesting dichotomy. He also possesses the typical Al-Leyan mega-strength because their world has a higher gravity and a thicker atmosphere. So, he’s a telepathic asthmatic with enough strength to break things. Which has sort of resulted in his long-standing nickname of Destroyer of Tables. And doors. Bulkheads. A holodeck. A shuttlebay lift and shuttle, though that was because of a rather skilled and dangerous piloting manoeuvre.
Duty is everything to Toryn, and he can be a little overprotective of his shipmates and ship.
What made you decide to take on the role of a joint Security and Tactical officer?
Raga: Well, when I first joined SB118, I graduated from the Academy as a security officer. Posted to the Athena for about two weeks, then onto the Atlantis. When things changed, as all things do when people leave or transfer, we ended up combining the Security and Tactical departments into one. And it’s sort of been that way for a while now, though it’s gone back and forth a few times. I was even the Marine CO on Atlantis for a few weeks at one point!
As for why I decided on security. That was partly because of having loved all of Trek, but especially TNG and knowing I can write for that type of role well. While he wasn’t my favourite character, I loved Worf, but especially Tasha Yar. So, Toryn borrows some aspects from each and then the rest is my own. Being an Al-Leyan, that idea of being alone among aliens that Worf had to deal with seemed to fit well for Toryn. Especially being from a culture that many in Starfleet would consider bad guys with some of their cultural tendencies.
Captain Delano mentioned they can count you on to “drive the plot forward in creative and action-packed ways”. Would you mind sharing a bit about how you do that and where you derive your inspiration?
Haha. I’ve been known to spice things up from time to time. From the time Toryn did a site-to-site transport to a Consortium ship to rescue the Captain (then Brell) without a way to get himself back. To brainstorm an insane manoeuvre for us to pull off. Involving the Chin’toka flying in the upper atmosphere of a planet, Toryn piloted a shuttle, and both had to invert to recover the away team. Had a lot of fun writing that scene with Riley, Cadfael Peter’s writer, as Peters was piloting the ‘Toka.
How I do this partly comes from being a DM for D&D and also a writer. I’ve been working on a sci-fi novel for a while, which involves a lot of action scenes. When I write for a scene, particularly if it involves any sort of combat, I try to imagine in my head how it would look if I was watching it in a movie theatre, or a video game cutscene. Not just what would look cool, which is part of it, but since this is a collaborative effort, it’s about coming up with ideas, twists, or curve balls that challenge everyone in the scene and those not in the scene. Since that torpedo that just struck the hull near engineering might not have detonated, but it breached the hull and now there are intruders on board. But my characters might be nowhere near Engineering, but others might.
So in essence, I think it’s about how our characters would look doing these missions in a movie. While skirting that fine line of not power gaming, and making the thing that happened makes sense in the scene’s context. TLDR: How badass/epic could this scene look if we were watching it in a show/movie?
What is the most significant thing that’s happened to Raga since you started playing him?
Raga: Oh boy. That’s a lot to choose from. However, I think the most significant would actually be something that just happened during our most recent mission. We investigated signs of Klingons near the Par’tha Expanse, which turned out to be Al-Leyans. (They have a long-standing feud with Klingons over being raided a lot over decades since they’re on their border, and most Al-Leyan ships are just Klingon ones that they’ve made better.)
The Al-Leyans were fighting each other. Or, rather, one group was actively hunting the other in a nebula. The ones hiding are known as Exiles. Those who’ve been subjected to the highest criminal punishment in Al-Leyan culture. To be banished from home. And since every few years, they have to mate or die, it’s a death sentence. Or should be. There ended up being an entire colony in the nebula somewhere and the other group hunting them were Al-Leyans sent by the Council. Those who would see their cultural ways as not subverted since many Exiles are those who refused to stick with their Branch (Their cultural way of life/career path) and who refused to undergo attitude readjustment therapy. As well as those who are legitimate criminals or self-imposed Exiles because they have telepathy abilities. Which are grounds for immediate Exile.
Toryn’s father, Ket, led the Council group. And the father of another of their shipmates, Lael Rosek, was with the Exiles. It was revealed that the Council was hunting them because they know of the colony and Toryn’s father had orders to wipe out the colony because they had proof that La Tirano, the psionic entity that once tried to enslave their species, had at least partially, controlled some Exiles and was using them to dominate the minds of other Al-Leyans.
Toryn essentially has had his cultural beliefs tested while straining the oaths he swore to Starfleet and the Federation. Despite having gone through two readjustments himself already and having spent so much time away from home, among aliens, still loving his people and culture has been a trying to experience for him. I’m excited to see how this will shape him going forward.
What are your goals for the future, both IC and OOC?
To have my own ship one day, obviously! Haha. I’m currently working towards meeting all my requirements for full Commander rank. I recently joined the ASDB (Advanced Starship Design Bureau) to help design a new Al-Leyan starship. And I’ve also worked with the Podcast and Training teams in the past. So, I’m almost there.
I do hope to, aside from making Commander, be a First Officer or Captain one day and definitely want to continue to help contribute to SB118. I love it here and hope to be here for a long, long time. It’s an amazing community with a bunch of wonderful, chaotic, creative hooligans!
As for IC goals. I hope to see Toryn as First Officer or Captain one day and recently just introduced a new PNPC to the ship’s crew. A Tellarite Counselor. Yes. You read that right. A Tellarite. Counsellor.
And above all, I want to keep writing amazing, fun stories with my shipmates. Because they’re a bunch of wonderful, chaotic, insane, talented group of people and I love it!
Thanks for your time, Lt. Commander Raga!
You can read more about Lt. Commander Toryn Raga on the wiki.