Alora DeVeau

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Captain, My Captain At Large…

Since my introduction to UFOP: StarBase 118 community, I’ve been impressed with the set-up of the government at this PBEM. Recently, one position in particular has been filled by someone I’m very familiar with – the player behind Captain Cassandra Egan Manno.

DeVeau: Captain, my Captain! I have the pleasure of writing with you as you play Egan Manno, my captain, but out of character, you have recently been appointed as the Captain At Large for the Executive Council. Would you mind telling us about this position and what it entails?


Tell It To The Judge

One of the things that makes Starbase 118 so unique is not only the wonderful people here, but also its government.  Today, I had the opportunity to learn a bit more about one office in particular – the JAG, or Judge Advocate General, office.  Here with me is Fleet Captain Idril Mar who holds that position.

DeVeau: Thank you for allowing me to pick your brain.

Mar: ::The red-haired Trill woman nodded politely, crossing her legs and leaning back in the chair.:: My pleasure.

DeVeau: First, let’s get to know a little bit about you. How long have you been with SB118?


Will The Real Tristan Wolf Please Stand Up?

This is the second in a series of two interviews with FltAdml. Tristan Wolf, founder of UFOP: StarBase 118, to commemorate the community’s 20th anniversary in June. To view the previous interview, click here.

So you know how when you start a new job, you have a new boss?  And you know how you walk on eggshells until you get your feet wet because the big boss man is all high and mysterious, this strange creature that you’re not sure how to react around?  I mean, one wrong move and he’s likely to pounce on you and eat you for lunch.

I have to admit, as someone just celebrating her first year with SB118, that’s kind of how the enigmatic Tristan Wolf seems to me.  So what should I do about it?  Well, why not interview him, right?

DeVeau: Hi again Mr. Wolf!

Wolf: Hiya 🙂

DeVeau: So you promise not to eat me, right?

Wolf: I make no promises. You have read some of my past sims, right?

DeVeau: Oh dear.  Guess I’ll just have to take my chances!   Now, when my family first learned that I ‘roleplayed’, I was given some odd looks.  Depending on the family member, I still get odd looks when I talk about it.  What about your family?  What did they think of this past-time and how has that changed over the last twenty years?

Wolf: I get a lot of the same — even still. I think most people think it’s an anachronism when I bring it up, like I have this hobby that’s similar to dressing up for a Renaissance Faire (which I love, by the way!). I don’t really mention it too much, though, since I’m very sensitive about being teased.

One time, at my new job, I responded to an email at work on my cell phone and didn’t notice that the Gmail app was using my t.wolf@starbase118.net email address to reply, with my standard fleet signature. That was a year and a half ago, and I still get called “Admiral Wolf” at work from time-to-time. So I try not to bring it up too much to avoid that kind of silly stuff.

DeVeau: You’ve been in this group for twenty years.  Would you tell us a little about the various characters you’ve played and positions you’ve held over the last two decades?

Wolf: Starting with the highest ranking character in the fleet makes it difficult to pull off some things, so I’ve had to create a veritable menagerie of characters to slot in for particular situations.

My first was obviously Tristan Wolf, who I thoroughly enjoyed playing, but as he increased in rank up to Fleet Admiral, he became more and more of a villain. He was always, ultimately, doing what was best for Starfleet as a whole — never a traitor — but was entrenched in politics and incredibly callous to the human cost of some of his actions. I started this departure from sanity when he lost his wife and child in a shuttle accident, and it just got worse from there.

Considering his sardonic attitude, Wolf was a difficult character to write for in awards ceremonies and promotions, which is where most of my writing was confined once I stepped out of a full-time simming role. I created a lower-ranked admiral who — while Wolf was administrating a large part of the Beta Quadrant — was the admiral in charge of StarBase 118 and the surrounding areas. His name is Luke Reider, who had been through a very troubling deep-space mission. I never really found his soul, in writing him, but he is useful for when I need an In Character stand-in.

Captain Malcolm Lysander was a character I created to command StarBase 118 Ops during my second run as CO there.

Some other minor characters I created include Captain Cheyenne Skye, when I took over the Ranger-A for a short while as a bridge between two captains; Cavan Sage a Bajoran who acted as First Officer for a short while during a transition period; and then for the Duronis II Embassy launch I wrote briefly for Indivar Mohan, the Crown Prince of Duronis II when first contact was made with the Federation.

DeVeau: Of all the characters you’ve played, which was your favourite and why?

Wolf: Probably the character who I most like is Captain Malcolm Lysander. He was a member of the Leyron species, which is known in Trek as being one of the few species that developed written language before spoken language. Beyond that, they were a blank slate. I envisioned them as a very nature-centric species that still, despite their technological advancement, focused on conservation and had a sort of walk-about tradition when recovering from trauma.

DeVeau: Have you or do you do any roleplaying beyond Star Trek or SB118?

Wolf: I really love roleplaying, but it’s a constant struggle for me in terms of time. A lot of the projects that keep me busy with our community require a well of creativity and sometimes a lot of time and effort, so it’s hard to put time and effort into roleplaying. I feel like I have a very finite resource for the amount of work and creativity I can put out, so I try and focus that energy on the OOC stuff that’s required to keep things running smoothly.

That said, I did a lot of roleplaying before I started the group, and I’ve tried again repeatedly over the years with little success.

My first experience with roleplaying was when I was about 10 years old, and a neighbor kid did a sort of free-form Dungeons and Dragons without dice or any materials. I remember it being my favorite thing, and wearing everyone else out wanting to do that every time we got together.

When I found the the Red Dragon Inn on AOL — a fantasy roleplaying chat room in the vein of Tolkien or Dragonlance — it was pretty much all I did for weeks, burning up every minute of my online time (which, as I mentioned in the last interview, was metered by minute!).

From there I then joined Star Trek Sims, which was my first Star Trek roleplaying experience. There was also a castle-based medieval sim, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and would play again in a heartbeat.

Since then, there’ve been two genres besides Star Trek that I’ve sought out roleplaying in: the world of Myst, and Firefly.

Many folks may remember Myst, Riven, and the other games in that series, but most people aren’t aware that there was also a trilogy of books that went along with it, which are some of my favorite books of all time. There were a few MUDs based around the game, but they were never very popular and ended up closing years ago.

Similarly, there were a few Firefly MUDs which I got into for a while, and a couple Firefly play-by-post, but again, not popular enough to sustain people, and poorly organized.

DeVeau: What made you decide to pull back from simming and will we ever see you return full time?

Wolf: Mainly it’s, as I mentioned above, a time and creativity issue. Administrative issues can sometimes be very time intensive to deal with, and when a “crisis” arises in the group, I’m the first line of defense. I try and draw as much of the negative administrative work away from others when I can, although I don’t always succeed, so that they can focus on running great ships and helping to sustain our community areas and OOC activities. But again, that often means that my time and creativity are really sapped. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten set to sim for a few weeks and then something came up on day two which meant I was going to spend the next two weeks mired in administrative work.

I’m not complaining because, really, I love doing whatever it takes to keep this community alive and thriving. But many people don’t realize just much this community is like one giant, aging machine — I’m the guy inside who’s rushing from sprocket to cog with a wrench, trying to keep everything running smoothly. Take, for instance, the website. To save money, we recently “re-consolidated” our site from two hosts down to one, which required the moving of our WordPress installation. This did not go smoothly, and it meant I needed to reinstall the whole thing, and re-configure almost everything on WordPress to make it operational again. That took up literally a week of free time for me.

DeVeau: So when you’re not roleplaying, what sort of things do you enjoy doing?

Wolf: I’m such a homebody. I come home very day and stay home with my dog and my husband and watch TV while I work on stuff for this community, or some of the little side-projects I often have. I’m starting a small web design business and helping my husband start his own business, for instance.

We live near a beautiful redwood grove (http://www.ebparks.org/parks/redwood), so I take my dog up there to hike every now and again.

But for the most part, I spend my free time at home.

DeVeau: If there was one thing you could change about the group, what would it be?

Wolf: It sure would be nice to have a big ol’ budget to give new computers to the captains, build a coherent technology that makes using our tools simpler, and advertise all over the internet. Ah well, I can always dream…


Dancing With The Stars

Have you ever compared the skies and stars to dancing? In many books and stories I’ve read, heavenly bodies have been depicted as undulating in a coordinated array of motion, as if swaying to some unheard melody that only they can fathom. ‘The stars danced in the sky’ seems to be a popular description among many fellow sim players in the various games I’ve played over the last decade. So do stars really dance? Perhaps they do. At the very least, they play music! Okay, the stars may not play music, but a black hole did – well, a single note anyway.

Back in November of 2003, astronomers actually heard a note coming from the Perseus Galaxy, a massive cluster galaxies located a mere 250 million light years away from earth. What sort of note? Using technology along with gold old fashion music theory, Dr. Andrew Fabian and a team of colleagues at the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, England determined that a note detected from the cluster was, in fact, a B-flat. Don’t expect to be able to hear this celestial tone – it rings out at about 57 octaves below middle C. That’s over a billion times lower than the lowest note the human ear can hear.

So next time you gaze up at the stars and see them gleam and prance in the night sky, it may very well be to a tune that only they can hear.

You can read more about this musical cluster by heading over to Nasa’s website.


20 years and counting

Roleplay has been around since the first child was old enough to use his imagination. Over time, as adults discovered that it was still fun despite growing older, roleplaying games were created. When those who desired to play found it difficult to connect with others, play by mail games came into existence to satisfy the desire to create new worlds and write exciting characters. Those games took on a new life with the rise of the internet. Members of a group would get together in chat rooms and spend hours writing out various scenarios and reactions. Play by mail eventually made its way to e-mail.

As with anything, nothing last forever, but some games have boasted more staying power. Starbase 118 is one such game and today I had the opportunity to learn a bit more about this sim from the group’s very own founder.

DeVeau: So I might as well start with the big news first – SB118 celebrates its twentieth anniversary! Did you ever expect that group you started way back in 1994 would ever last this long?

Wolf: Never in a million years did I think it would last this long. But honestly, I can’t really see my life without this community. It’s so ingrained into my daily habits, and my story of self, that it’s hard to ever think about walking away. I’m 33 — I’ve been leading this group for well more than half my life at this point!

Most days, it’s just about taking it step-by-step and getting to next month, rather than a year, ten years, or longer. I try and think about things like our awards process, Executive Council appointments, and staff promotions in the long-term, really thinking ahead, but most everything else is about the here-and-now. Even with 20 years of experience under our belt, we haven’t cracked the “member acquisition” nut, so it’s always a struggle to ensure that the fleet is growing, but also maintaining members.


Test Your Metal

Star Trek, the original series and beyond, helped us to envision worlds beyond our own, opening our imaginations to the possibilities that could exist in such a vast galaxy. Worlds but ‘natural’ and ‘man-made’ existed, offering a plethora of life to be discovered and adventures to be had. While none of the events in the series have ever come to past, that doesn’t mean that scientists aren’t embarking on their own exciting ventures into outer space.

One such adventure could occur as early as 2015. Scientists had been putting together a proposal for NASA’s Discovery Competition – and the winner actually gets to put their plan into action. Their propsal? Study an asteroid that is a member of the Kuiper belt – the line of asteroids that separate the first four planets from the last four. But asteroids exist in an abundance, right?

True, but this is no ordinary asteroid, but one made of metal and thought to be the core of a protoplanet. The hope is that by studying this great, grey, lump of rock that scientists can learn more about the formation of planets.

Unfortunately, the Psyche mission was not chosen as one of the final contestants, but if nothing else, the discovery of this core does lend itself to the imagination. And who knows, maybe a study of Psyche will come to pass some time in the future.


In Command: Liam Frost

There are many types of characters that inhabit the world of Starbase 118, and many different positions to be held within Starfleet. For many, the ultimate goal is to advance through the ranks and become the commanding officer of one’s own star ship. It takes time, dedication, and hard work to achieve this goal. Today, we’re going to find out a little bit about the writer behind one of the characters who has stepped up and successfully slipped into the commanding chair – Commander Liam Frost.

DeVeau: So, let’s start from the beginning. How long have you been at SB118 and how did you come to find this group?

Frost: I joined the group just about three and a half years ago. The short version of how I came to be in this group is through a friend of a friend. I’ve had an interest in Creative Writing RPGs for many years. A good friend of mine (currently writing for LtCmdr Oliver Weston) heard about the group from a friend of his. We both decided to have a go at it and we’ve been here ever since.


A Diamond Is An Astronaut’s Best Friend

Ah, jewels. They come in all colours, shapes, and sizes. My particular favourite is one that’s considered on semi precious – the ever lovely, ever purple Amethyst. It probably doesn’t hurt that it’s my birthstone. Most people are familiar with that, but also stones that tend to be more desirable. Rubies, sapphires, emeralds, they are all beautiful and considered precious. When one thinks of expensive jewels and precious stones, however, usually it’s the diamond that comes first to mind.


Andromeda In The Sky

The ‘Milky Way’, home to our own solar system in which Earth resides, is enormous. How big is it? If you’re talking about diameter, why that would be right around 100,000 light years. Yeah, that’s big – and Star Trek has focused on the fictional exploration of this massive galaxy. To get a sense of how expansive the Milky Way is, Voyager’s return from its position in the Delta quadrant was estimated as seventy years en route. In our own canon, there are various parts of the Milky Way being explored as we write our own stories in this fascinating Universe. The Milky Way is not, however, the only galaxy in the Universe.


A Closer Look: The USS Garuda

To everything there is a season. Recently, two ships have come to the end of their seasons and two more have merely begun theres. One of these ships has included the Galaxy Class Starship, the USS Garuda.


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