Column

Category Archives

Trained by the best: Jocelyn Marshall

We’re here with another interview with a member of the Academy Training Team for insight on how our training works, and as recognition for all the hard work that goes into training new members each and every week of the year!

This month’s interview is with the writer behind LtCmdr. Jocelyn Marshall playing a human female assigned to the USS Gorkon. LtCmdr. Marshall is also the most recent recipient of the Boothby Award, an annual award for trainers who go above and beyond their Academy Training Requirements. These trainers display an outstanding example of dedication to bringing new cadets to our community.

THORAN: Hello LtCmdr. Marshall! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself for the folks who may not know you?

MARSHALL: Hey! I’m Em and I write for Jo Marshall, the XO of the USS Gorkon. It’s the only ship I’ve written on since graduating from the Academy myself back in 2016. I live and work in Belgium as an Ops Officer for NATO, which is a lot more boring than it sounds. I’m from the UK and so, like most fellow expats, I have to smuggle tea across the border through France. Baked beans taste strange here and fish and chips cost a fortune. I’ve been roleplaying for years, I’m often found with a book in my hand, and if I haven’t got at least one 15-page JP going on, it’s cause for concern. And I have a slight addiction to coffee, but doesn’t everyone?

How long ago did you join Academy Training Team, and what was it like getting started?

I definitely don’t have to look it up… It’s been about a year now! I joined the training team as a Lieutenant in September 2018. Getting started was the easiest bit about the whole thing! For the first two sessions you volunteer for, you’re the resident ghost. You read the sims and feedback sent in, observe how the cadets are performing, and join in with the discussions in the staff group. All that prepares you for the real test. Writing as a mock cadet is both really rewarding and challenging. I think for the first time round, I was more nervous than the cadets! Like a PNPC, you develop a character ready to take their final examination with real cadets. It’s your job to set an example of how we do things, so every sim has to be scrubbed and polished for cadets to emulate — and they will! It’s so much fun to do.

What’s been your favorite part about training so far?

My favourite bit is always seeing a cadet I’ve helped to train graduatinge into the fleet and enjoying themselves. It sounds like a textbook answer, I’m aware, but there really is nothing like it. Over this year I’ve been in classes with some amazing writers graduatingslipping into our community who are now shooting up the ranks with boundless energy and enthusiasm. It’s a privilege to be one of the first people to sim with and get to know them before they’re all wearing Admiral tricorners.

How do you approach the role of CO of a training class – what’s going through your head as you’re simming?

I try and jump in with a lot of energy and create a welcoming atmosphere for the cadets to feel comfortable in. Coming into a group knowing you’re simming alongside existing members can be quite daunting for some, and having to roleplay in a format you’re not used to can be challenging. So, from the offset, my efforts go into making sure the cadets know they’ve got time to get used to it all, can ask questions when they like, and just have FUN! It’s a week where anything can happen — create a new species, get chased by a xenomorph through the vents, cure a plague, go back or forward in time — and I’m there to ensure they’re getting the best out of training by demonstrating those creative skills. If I’ve done my job right, they’re confident in taking their first steps into the fleet.

For some technical specifics, when I’m putting a sim together for the team, I make sure I’ve read and delved into everyone’s posts, capturing those small details they’ve included. I ask questions in character to tease out creative answers and solutions, and aim to ensure everyone knows how important they are to the story we’re crafting. Absolutely none of it could be done without a great XO and mock cadets. They help bring it all to life and make the role of CO insanely easier.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever had from my CO is, “If you take an interest in someone’s character, they take an interest in yours.” Regardless of whether we’re together for a week or a year, you’ve got a character and a story, so tell me about it.

What’s your favourite memory of your time on the training team?

Oh man, that’s a question! There’s so many classic moments! I’ve given the XO the run around on a haunted ghost ship, I’ve been the XO having issues with man-eating ankle-biting tribbles, and I’ve been the CO stranded on a planet with werebears scratching at the door and a full class of eight with no where else to go, slowly going mad.

If I had to pick just one, it would be writing for my mock cadet with Lieutenant Commander Shayne as the XO, where Shayne and my mock were trapped in a station room with a spider thing that was definitely out for eating them. The scene was eerie, the real cadet loved it and really got into it. It’s now a running joke that every class I do with Shayne or Commander Thoran becomes a Lovecraft homage.

What advice would give to those who are coming up through the ranks and headed toward the Training Team?

If you’re not quite at the point where you can volunteer for the training team, you can still start to put together those skills that you’ll need. Start thinking about facilitating the plot for your fellow crew members, how do you make it interesting and push the story forward, and observe how others around you write. It’s often said that writers improve by reading, practice and feedback, so don’t be afraid to ask for input from your mentor on how you can start preparing for the training team.

If you’re in two minds now whether to volunteer, think back to how your academy training went. Remember how you felt during that first week. Did your team make you feel welcome? Did you enjoy writing with them? Did you make friends? You can do that all over again on a monthly basis. Your time, effort and dedication to the team will be absolutely invaluable and so very appreciated. It’s one of the most important teams we have in the group — bringing in new members into the fold — and if you’ve got the experience and time to do so, you won’t regret it. As a team, we work well together, we volunteer when we can, and we have a laugh. It’s always fun, it’s incredibly rewarding…

…and you can wrestle a nine-foot tribble into the path of a xenomorph maw, if you really want to.

Thank you so much for your time — we’ll let you get back to training!

You can read more about LtCmdr. Marshall on the wiki, and learn more about joining the Academy Training Team on this page.


Poll of the Week: Citius, Altius, Fortius

The United Federation of Planets is all about bringing its members together. Federation worlds are spread all across the Alpha and Beta Quadrants, and vary wildly. Each planet has their own climate, history, attitudes, and cultures. However, all of them can still come together and work towards a common goal that benefits them all. Hundreds of species serve side by side in Starfleet and the Federation government. For the most part the interactions between all of the members of the Federation is related to defense or other vital government functions.

The Olympic Games on Earth brings together most of the countries on Earth to compete together in various sporting events. What if the Federation had something similar? Each member planet has not only the unique physiology of their native species, but also that planet’s physical characteristics and the sports they have there. While Vulcans have more raw strength than other species, they might lack as many experienced athletes or be at a disadvantage in the cold. Meanwhile the team from Andoria would likely find that operating in the cold weather conditions of most winter sports comes naturally to them.

Different sports will require different skill sets and most planets will have at least one sport where they have an advantage. But who do you think would wind up with the most wins? Does Team Earth have your vote? Which Federation world would win the most gold medals?

Click here to head to the forums and vote for your favorite in the poll. Don’t forget to add a comment!


Poll of the Week: Drinks All Around!

There are some unspoken rules of life that seem to hold true wherever one goes: Gas station sushi is a risk. Towels are inordinately valuable for any situation. And great leaders of any cause tend to have a beverage of choice.

Such is true for many of the Starfleet captains we’ve grown to know and love: We have seen the great Jean-Luc Picard indulge in a cup of Earl Grey on occasion, Benjamin Sisko frequently sip on raktajino, and Captain Kathryn Janeway’s obsession with coffee approaches legendary status.

Whether facing down the Dominion or trying to get across a hostile quadrant of space, drinks help fuel Starfleet and those that drive it. This week’s poll asks for your character’s favorite drink. Do they enjoy the bitter flavor of black coffee? Are they more of a tea drinker? Maybe they enjoy something else completely.

Head to the forums now register your vote. And be sure to drop some comments in the thread!


Poll of the Week: Character Species and You

On the wiki, the Intelligent Lifeform Index lists 188 different species that are permitted for player characters. This list includes the usual suspects like Humans, Vulcans, and Klingons. There are also plenty of species who only made a single appearance anywhere in any Star Trek series. Species original to Starbase 118 like Laudeans are also on the list. New writers have no shortage of choices when it’s time to pick a species for a character. But how can you narrow down so many choices to one?

A species like the Vulcans have a large collection of source material that can be drawn from. Decades of existing in the Trek universe have made the Vulcans very well-established. Meanwhile there are species that have little more than a name. The history, characteristics, and cultures of a species can influence how we write for our characters.

What helped you decide which species your character would be? Each species that you could choose makes a character unique and brings something unique to the table. A well-developed species with a rich history and culture provides plenty of material that can be used in sims. Meanwhile, helping to flesh out the worlds and customs of a less-explored species like the Bolians or the Deltans can be just as fulfilling. There is no right or wrong way to decide which species your character should be.

How did you choose your character’s species? Be sure to cast your vote and let us know your thoughts!


Poll of the Week: What Would YOU Do?

Captains must demonstrate astonishing qualities. They must be balanced, loyal, committed, educated, capable – and a million other things. But when it comes down to it, a captain must be decisive. Their actions, more often than not, affect hundreds, if not millions of people. While the rationale that leads them to a given decision is important to consider and reflect upon, the consequences of what happens next, both in the short and long term, may not be considered.

An ongoing point in Voyager’s plot was the various and mixed feelings people often expressed regarding Captain Janeway’s decision to destroy the Caretaker’s Array, and strand Voyager in the Delta Quadrant. The reasoning behind her decision has been debated at great length, but her choice still stood, for better or for worse. The consequences of these actions had enormous ramifications.

In the position of Captain Janeway and Voyager, would you have destroyed the array? This will be a simple yes/no question; while you are encouraged to explain yourself, the goal here is to see what you would do with all the consequences of the decision possible. In that split second, how do you react?

Click here to head to the forums now and vote. And be sure to add your comments in the thread below!


Poll of the Week: Make It So?

Recently, the first trailer for Star Trek: Picard was released. Since then, people have been analyzing everything about it – there are already fan theories and speculation about the plot based on details revealed in the trailer!

Based on what we’ve seen so far, Star Trek: Picard will feature the return of multiple old characters and introduce us to a new cast as well. Nothing is certain until the series actually premieres in 2020, but we are learning more as the series gets closer.

This week we want to know your thoughts about the upcoming series. Can the first episode of the new Picard series not come fast enough? Are you trying to control expectations based on trailers? Are you excited for Stark Trek: Picard?

Click here to head the forums now and register your vote in the poll. Be sure to share your thought, too!


Lower Decks Interview: Lieutenant Junior Grade Ben Garcia, Embassy of Duronis II 

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 Ben Garcia playing a Human male HCO officer assigned to the Embassy of Duronis II.

GALVEN: Thank you for accepting this interview! Could you tell us a little about yourself for our readers out there?

GARCIA: Hi! I’m Wes, and I write for Ben. I post from the U.K and always get caught out with post counts and time differences! I enjoy Trek, especially those episodes that make you think … I guess that’s what got me into Trek: I have great memories of watching TNG after dinner with my mum (many, many years ago!), and I’d marvel at how the characters grappled with high ideals and moral dilemmas. I was fascinated with Picard. Great stuff!

You joined the community in February. How did you find StarBase 118 and what made you ultimately choose to stay with us?

I re-joined in February; I found StarBase 118 a few years ago – maybe four or five? I’d done table top RPG when I was a kid, and wanted to find an online group. I cannot remember how I stumbled across StarBase 118, but I’m thankful you were there among those search results! When I first joined I was at University, and for one reason and another couldn’t keep up posting, so I took a LOA … or two.

Fast forward to this February, and I’d made the decision to carve out time for things that I enjoy. That meant figuring out what I enjoyed! That’s when all those really positive memories about how friendly and organised the StarBase 118 community are came to the fore. So, I decided to get back involved. I’m grateful to the Embassy for finding a place for me to sim (thanks guys!), and really enjoy the freedom we have on the installation to sim planet side or on one of the Embassy’s ships.

This is my longest stint as an active member, and I’d put it down to two things: the community ethos of StarBase 118 and my mind set about why I sim.


Poll of the Week: Your Character’s Myers-Brigg alignment

It’s almost impossible to divide the vast variety of personalities in the world into relatively solid, distinguished chunks. There will always be wiggle room, and ways to break the mold. I myself was skeptical about the Myers-Brigg test when I first heard of it; the claim that a simple test could categorize me into one of 16 subgroups was difficult to take seriously. Nevertheless, I attempted it, and was quite surprised at the accuracy of the results!

It wasn’t too long before I began to wonder how my 118 character would fair on such a test. This, by extension, led to curiosity regarding the results of my comrades in quill. For those unfamiliar with the test, or unsure of the results, there’s a surprisingly enjoyable free test available online that can be found here. I would strongly recommend answering the questions as your character would for maximum effect.

So this leads us to this week’s question; what Myers Brigg category would your character fit into?

Head to the forums to register your entry in the poll. And be sure to leave a comment!


Do you have a Poll of the Week in mind? Suggest it here!

Each week, our Poll of the Week editors – Randal Shayne and Anath G’Renn – come up with creative new questions to ask the fleet about their favorite (or least favorite) aspects of Star Trek.

Now we’re asking for your help in adding more questions to our weekly polls. If you have a great idea for an upcoming poll, drop it in the form below to let us know!

  • Your information

  • You can find your writer ID on the wiki.
  • Poll suggestion

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Poll of the Week: House Hunters

The Star Trek galaxy is full of alien worlds and while some may be very similar to Earth, many of the more developed planets have a distinct feeling all their own. Whether you want an Earth-like planet full of beautiful art and architecture or a smog-filled metropolis with near-constant rain, there’s a planet for you somewhere in the galaxy. Some, like the pressure domes of Luna or the underwater cities of Bolarus IX offer very different environments compared to Earth.

If you were to pick one of the planets in the galaxy as a place to live, where would you begin your search? Perhaps a small house overlooking the Vulcan Fire Plains. Is a large city like those on Ferenginar or Qo’noS more your speed? If you’re looking for a breathtaking view, seeing the Bolarus ocean floor outside your window is tough to compete with. Or maybe you’d be more than happy right where you are, as there’s no place like home.

This week’s poll asks: Which Star Trek world would you most like to live on?

Click here to head to the forums now and vote – be sure to let us known which planet you would choose in the thread below the poll!


Page 1 of 88123...Last