Award winner – Avander Promontory, USS Octavia E. Butler (Black Cross)

Award winner – Avander Promontory, USS Octavia E. Butler (Black Cross)

Join us for another in a series of interviews with winners of awards from our 2023 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 Avandar Promontory playing a El-Aurian/Human Intelligence Officer assigned to the USS Octavia E. Butler. As a member of the USS ‘Oumaumua in 2023, he won the Black Cross: “Awarded to Intelligence officers who strive to accomplish the goals of Starfleet Intelligence while simultaneously upholding the ideals and structure of Starfleet Command.”

DeVeau: Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where in the world do you hail from, what hobbies you might have, anything you would like to share? 

Promontory:  I’m currently living in Utah, USA (originally from New England) and my day job is conducting social science research. I had hobbies before I had kids, and now that they’re starting to leave the house, I’m starting to have hobbies again, including Star Trek! I also still have an extensive (4,000+) collection of comic books (mostly 80s and 90s Marvel) and dabble in a few other genres (Doctor Who and Star Wars). I’ve started swimming and fencing recently and have enjoyed both of those.

How long have you been roleplaying, and how did you come to join SB118? 

While I’ve always been somewhat adjacent to RPGs, I had very little actual experience with them until a few years ago. My niece ran a few D&D campaigns at our house during the pandemic and I’ve played MMORPGs occasionally over the last decade, such as Champions Online and Star Trek Online. Playing the latter was what brought me to SB118. I was trying to flesh out the backstory for my main character there and was looking for resources regarding details of Starfleet Academy. I found the wiki and, within a few weeks, the gravitational pull had sucked me in!

What made you decide to play an Intelligence Officer?

Before I joined, I read through all the duty post material on the wiki (again, having such a fleshed-out world and consistent world was one of the big draws). While I like the whole idea of the future depicted in Star Trek and being on a ship, etc., I wasn’t drawn to a lot of the jobs (being an adult and having to go into a career made a lot of those posts sound a lot more like work than escapism fun!) I appreciated the flexibility in the Intelligence Officer role and how well it tied into non-specialist functions. There’s an element of “jack-of-all-trades” about it that seemed like it would be well-suited for role play.


What are some of the hardest parts of playing this duty post?  What are some of the most fun?

I assume anyone playing this post has read the excellent Intelligence (Duty Post) series on the wiki. I do not expect, however, for non-intelligence officers to have read it. This can pose a little bit of a challenge when a player wants to do something that’s intelligence-adjacent but discouraged by the guide (for example, going lone-cowboy rogue agent). There are still ways to engage with those ideas (mostly by looping in the CO), but it can still be a tricky line to ensure a consistent, professional approach to the duty post and the enjoyment of peers who want to go full bore!

The more fun bits are being put into almost any situation and being expected to have some sort of competency.  I particularly enjoy solving an IC problem in an unexpected way–talking your way out of a shoot-out or shooting your way out of a diplomatic summit; the role is versatile! I also, personally, enjoy writing in such a way that conceals some things leaving them to the imagination. What I mean by that is intelligence workers often have to compartmentalize information and keep things confidential. I find it fun when, for whatever reason, information isn’t able to flow and others assume something bigger than it really is. I think that’s a lot of the mystique of actual 21st century intelligence agencies. Like the menu for a diplomatic dinner could be confidential beforehand. Their secrets aren’t necessarily glamorous, but it feels like they are, just because they’re secret!

Commodore V’Airu/Commander Rouiancet mentioned you brought a “refreshing and realistic approach to the role” and “him as an investigator and researcher rather than a traditional “spook.””.  Would you please share with us why you’ve taken this approach with Promontory and how it contrasts with what you might have seen elsewhere?

Honestly, some of that just comes from “writing what you know.” IRL, I’m a professional researcher and deal with collecting data and writing reports. Additionally, as a big nerd, I also love reading and watching explainers about spies and history and people and languages and the world, etc. [Shoutout to “Burn Notice” and YouTube series by Wired “Spy Support”]

I think it’s funnier (as well as more realistic) for folks in glamorous jobs (like a ‘spook’) to be burdened with filing reports and getting proper medical care. Particularly in an organization like the Federation, in a pseudo-utopia, we’re really likely to be more engaged with data analysis than covert ops. Finally, I’d suggest that an action sequence has limited application (not that they should be avoided, but used, perhaps, sparingly) while the psychology of a situation can have almost limitless application.

Or, to quote a plain simple tailor, “I got off several cutting remarks, which no doubt did serious damage to their egos… I’m serious, Doctor. Thanks to your ministrations, I am almost completely healed, but the damage I did to them will last a lifetime.”

What are some things you would like to do with your character in the future?

Partly because I was writing him fresh out of the Academy, my character is a bit young (especially for an El-Aurian!) I’d like to see him grow up a bit. He has not, as far as I’m aware, ever been in a serious romantic relationship (or even much of an unserious one). So there’s lots more life to live! He’s a decent optimist (especially for being a suspicious intelligence officer) and I’m curious to see if repeated defeats would set him back much or how he’d navigate disappointments.

It might also be fun to see what he’d be like in 100, 300, 900 years. No concrete plans there, but it is science fiction!

What advice would you give anyone who wishes to play an Intelligence Officer?

First bit of advice: Read the duty post entry! There’s a lot of potential in the role and it doesn’t require any specialized knowledge or skills, but there’s also a bit of risk for power simming or detached lone-wolf-ing it. Part of what makes the SB188 community work so vibrantly is the communal aspect of it. If you want to write solo spy adventures, by all means, do that, I just wouldn’t suggest you do it as part of the SB118 collaborative writing PBEM RPG!

Second, I would encourage working with your CO and ship staff in developing ideas, proposals, and plot twists. Third, I’d say to be flexible yourself, role with the others on your ship and “yes, and” their efforts. I guess my advice for playing an intelligence officer is pretty similar to playing any officer in the fleet: have fun and make it fun for yourself and everyone around you!

Thanks for your time, Lt. Commander Promontory!

You can read more about Lt. Commander Avander Promontory on the wiki.

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