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 JG Nolen Hobart, a Human/Betazoid male, Engineering Officer assigned to the USS Arrow
Nilsen: Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from? Anything you’d like to share?
Hobart: Hi there! I’m Isaac. I’m originally from Massachusetts, and now I live in Southern California. In between, I’ve lived briefly in China and Germany, and then more lengthily in The Netherlands.
What was your introduction to Science Fiction in general and Star Trek specifically?
Star Trek was my introduction to science fiction. The Next Generation aired every Friday night on Channel 56 in my house. Because it conflicted with Shabbat services, most weeks we taped it, so that we could watch it over the weekend. From TNG, I went on to consume mainstays like Star Wars and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and also less well-known gems like Earth 2 and Space: Above and Beyond, once we got cable and access to Syfy, née SciFi, née The Science Fiction Channel.
What is your experience with roleplaying?
Whew. Okay. I dabbled in D&D and Traveller in middle school, and then in the late nineties my family finally connected to The World Wide Web. We had trial discs of America Online to burn, and I had chatrooms in which to “sim.” That’s what we called it at any rate, but it was more or less playing spaceship battles in a sandbox in our heads. No rules, just keep it somewhat believable.
From there, I was introduced to PBeM, most of them Star Trek. Not SB118, though “Fleet Admiral Wolf” definitely rang a bell with me that I couldn’t quite explain when I joined about 10 months ago. Back then I wrote for a different fleet that I can’t recall and I cringe at the thought. Looking back it was the literary equivalent of a child playing dress up in his father’s suit. It’s hard to write a believable human being until you’ve grown into one.
After that, I had an actual life, did the aforementioned growing, and moved to forum-based play by post, and thus ends the recounting of my pre-SB118 roleplay. Almost.
What brought you to SB118?
Let the recounting continue! See, a few years into the PbP TTRPG, somebody introduced me to Star Trek Adventures. Then a few of my non-Trek games sputtered out. I couldn’t find any new ones on the forums I used, so I went out into the wilderness in search of more Trek. And here I landed. Now, I’ve moved away from the TTRPG and focused on SB118, which represents all the things I liked the most about every kind of roleplay I’ve done: the collective discovery of stories no one’s told before.
Why did you choose this specific character and duty post?
Hobart was a transplant from my longest-lived STA game. I made him originally because I liked the idea of a Betazoid whose gifts were more or less professionally useless, and occasionally a practical hindrance. Like a species with a non-prehensile tail, it’s cool but doesn’t do much on the ship, and sometimes gets in the way. Reading others is not actually helpful in realigning a matter/antimatter containment field, and the couple in the quarters three decks up are having a lover’s quarrel at the same time, it’s unhelpful.
And since “Empathic Engineer Who Would Rather Not Be” isn’t a fully-baked character concept when you actually have to narrate an interior life, well, I had to come up with bits and pieces to accentuate and explain some of it.
Where would you like to be in a few years? Have a taste of command of your own? Or maybe planning on joining one of our great OOC groups?
I have not thought of myself as being in command. IRL, I’m more of the XO in my workplace, and that feels like a good place to be. Of course, it’s also comfortable, and a life unchallenged isn’t a life fully lived. So, we’ll see.
I am looking forward to becoming a training officer, hopefully someday soon. In the Academy, I can really scare off the weak. Thin the herd. I’m joking, of course. Probably. After that, I enjoy spending way too much coaxing AI to produce images roughly in the neighborhood of what I want, and then even more time photoshopping so that it’s actually the thing. So, maybe the Image Collective is in my future.
The great thing about SB118 is there are a lot of ways to pitch in and make this community a community.
Thanks for your time, Lieutenant Hobart!
You can read more about Lieutenant Nolen Hobart on the wiki.