Captain’s Corner

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Captain’s Corner: Mei’konda, CO of the USS Montreal

Each month, we interview a captain or first officer of the fleet to gain more insight on what it takes to command a ship and learn more about how each of these staff members found their way into these roles.

This month, we’re interviewing Commander Mei’konda, the CO of the USS Montreal, one of two new ships launched last month.

WOLF: The last time you were here on the news was June 2017 as part of our First Officer in Focus column – welcome back! How have you been since then?

MEI’KONDA: I’ve been very well. I found the role of first officer a fun one to play, especially under Rich (Captain Roshanara Rahman), who was and still is a great mentor to me.

You’ve just recently launched the USS Montreal as part of a fleet expansion due to an influx of members. How are you settling in to your new role as commanding officer? And what was it like to launch a new ship under these circumstances?

This is the first time I’ve been so involved in the launch of a new vessel, and it was pretty chaotic for the first one or two weeks because it was on short notice. But I welcomed that particular challenge, because I felt that if I could handle such a busy launch, I would be able to handle Captaincy itself. Thus far, I’m enjoying the role of commanding officer. I’ve been lucky enough to have some extremely creative writers on my crew, and I can’t wait to see where they take our stories.


Captain’s Corner: Toni Turner, CO of Duronis II Embassy

Each month, we interview a captain or first officer of the fleet to gain more insight on what it takes to command a ship and learn more about how each of these staff members found their way into these roles.

This month, we’re interviewing Rear Admiral Toni Turner, the CO of the Duronis II Embassy.

TRAENOR: It looks like the last time we interviewed you was just over two years ago – certainly things must have changed some during that time! Can you refresh our audience’s memory and tell us a little bit about yourself including where you hail from and what you like to do when you’re not contributing to our group?

TURNER: It’s been a busy two years, filled with changes. I’ve always live in the “Deep South,” but I moved to a new house during that time, closed my business, and now enjoy a less stressful life with my four German Shepherds.  

Some of our newer members might not know what, if any, differences there are to simming on an installation like the Embassy as compared to simming on a ship. What would you tell them to expect with such a unique venue?

They should expect the Embassy to be like a home base, because now the we added the USS Thor, a Vista Class starship, and converted the USS Thunder, an Akira class, into an all Marine ship, and a NPC ship USS Bronwyn, this has given us a wider range of exploration that includes the Typhon Expanse. This change has not only presented a challenge for players, but also gives them more time aboard a starship.

During shoreleaves they have more time for character building as they interact with other players. Family life thrives at the Embassy as  some of our married couples make their homes on the Embassy grounds, and raise their children there. The Embassy encompasses the best of both Worlds — land and space.


Captain’s Corner: Theo Whittaker, CO of the Andaris Task Force

Each month, we interview a captain or first officer of the fleet to gain more insight on what it takes to command a ship and learn more about how each of these staff members found their way into these roles.

This month, we’re interviewing Commander Theo Whittaker, the new CO of the Andaris Task Force.

TRAENOR: If I’m not mistaken, the last time you were interviewed was in August of 2016 – you were FO of SB118 Ops back then. It’s not a stretch to say that there’s been some changes in the intervening year and a half! Can you refresh our audience’s memory and tell us a little bit about yourself including where you hail from and what you like to do when you’re not contributing to our group?

WHITTAKER: My name is Mikey and I’m a (im)mature student from the U.K, studying International Fashion Business and I’m also a part time waiter/restaurant host. I’d like to work in Fashion Forecasting (hence my degree) and when I’m not simming or studying, I enjoy baking, the odd Pokemon battle (or twenty), crafts and watching trashy reality TV shows (Judge Judy is my current favourite). I also collect vinyl records (250 and counting!) mostly consisting of 1980s and 1990s pop music! I’m also a huge fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race (Michelle Visage is my everything). As several members of the ATF can attest, I am a rabid reader of Star Trek novels and I have been a fan of the franchise for over twenty years. Deep Space Nine is my favourite TV series, Kira is my favourite character and The Undiscovered Country is my favourite movie (with Insurrection as close second…. Yes, really! Ha Ha)

There were some pretty significant changes in regards to personnel in the Andaris Task Force around the time of your transfer and assignment as CO. Can you tell us a little bit about how that has been progressing and with everyone settling into their roles?

I think there is a period of adjustment during any transition, especially more so when you are stepping into the shoes of an officer like Admiral Renos. Saying that, however, I think that the transition has gone very well and certainly we’ve had feedback from players that supports that. All of the staff have been communicative and extraordinarily helpful and I am grateful. Noelle, who serves as my XO, and I came onboard at just the right time – we pretty much dove straight into a wonderful team building mission that was put together by Richard, who plays Lieutenant Jarred Thoran, and  it’s been a wonderful opportunity for us to get to know the players and for the players to get to know us!


Captain’s Corner: Brell, CO of the USS Atlantis

Each month, we interview a captain or first officer of the fleet to gain more insight on what it takes to command a ship and learn more about how each of these staff members found their way into these roles.

This month, we’re interviewing Cmdr. Brell, the CO of the newly launched USS Atlantis.

WOLF: Welcome back to the hotseat! Last time we talked to you was September of 2016 for our Training Team, and now you’re a commanding officer! Many congratulations on the promotion – your hard work has really paid off. Can you refresh our audience’s memory and tell us a little about yourself including where you hail from and what you like to do when you’re not simming or training the Academy?

BRELL: Thank you Admiral! Well my name is Lee and I live in the middle of the Arizona desert with my partner, our dog, where we help take care of the family property, along with my dad, and his cat. Been a long time Star Trek, sci-fi and rpg in general fan.

Talk to us about your writing style. What’s your process for putting together a sim?

I write my sims in google docs where I can always start with where I left on on my last sim. Then I add in the new tags and go from there. I try to reference experiences Brell has had over the years into my sims as often as I can. Also his family life (The good times and the bad.) often colors how he sees things happening around him.


Captain’s Corner: Sal Taybrim

Each month, we interview a captain or first officer of the fleet to gain more insight on what it takes to command a ship and learn more about how each of these staff members found their way into these roles.

This month, we’re interviewing Captain Sal Taybrim, CO of StarBase 118 Ops – our oldest simming installation that I, myself, founded in 1998!

WOLF: As far as I can tell the last time I interviewed you was way back in March of 2016 – that’s a shame! Can you refresh our audience’s memory and tell us a little about yourself including where you hail from and what you like to do when you’re not simming or leading super fun fleetwide chats?

TAYBRIM: Well, I live in Wisconsin, USA and spent most of my time in small towns – both for work and where I live. I grew up on a farm so small towns feel comfortable; but I love having the internet as a tool to talk to people all over the globe! When I’m not writing my husband and I run a variety of 5K races and obstacle courses, I’m still training for my second degree black belt in tae kwon do, love cooking and baking and I like to knit crazy things! Like socks that proudly proclaim “Don’t Panic!”


Captain’s Corner: Capt. Keelah Rhani

Each month, we interview a captain or first officer of the fleet to gain more insight on what it takes to command a ship and learn more about how each of these staff members found their way into these roles. Most recently we interviewed FO of the Gorkon, Alucard Vess.

This month, we’re interviewing dedicated, long-time member and captain Alex, who plays the current captain of the USS Za, Keelah Rhani. Let’s get started!

WOLF: I was surprised to realize that it’s been ages since we’ve interviewed you, so I’m glad we’re getting a chance to talk! Can you give us a little about yourself, like where you hail from, and what are you up to when you’re not simming?

RHANI: It has been a while, hasn’t it? Well, let’s see… I live in the UK, where I spend most of my time either writing in the vague hope of having something suitable for publishing and acting as primary carer for my autistic son.

You’ve been a member for years now. Give us a brief overview of your resume with us, and maybe what your favorite postings were?

I first started out here when I was browsing the internet in search of some idea what this whole “PBeM” thing was all about, and found my way to an interesting looking site that combined both it and Star Trek – and I’ve been here ever since!

I originally started out on Ops with then-Ensign Della Vetri, who was my primary character for the vast majority of the time I’ve been simming. Between her and a couple of secondaries over the years, I’ve served on a variety of ships, and have had a blast on each and every one of them. So much so, in fact, that it’s hard to pick which one might be my favourite…

I’d probably put it as a tie between the USS Avandar, which I had the privilege of shepherding into service, and the Duronis II Embassy, which has a great bunch of players crewing it.


Captain’s Corner: Capt. Roshanara Rahman

Each month, we interview a captain or first officer of the fleet to gain more insight on what it takes to command a ship and learn more about how each of these staff members found their way into these roles. Last month, we interviewed CO of the Constitution, Jalana Rajel.

According to our schedule, we should be interviewing a first officer this month. But instead, I’m talking to another commanding officer – Capt. Roshanara Rahman, captain of the new vessel Veritas – who has just been appointed as the Captain at Large. Lots of ground to cover here, so let’s get started!

WOLF: Congratulations on your appointment as the Captain at Large! Can you explain this role a bit to our newer members?

RAHMAN: The Captain at Large (CAL) is the sixth member of the Executive Council (EC), appointed to serve for one year as a representative of the Captains Council (CC) on the Executive Council. Thus, the Captain at Large is tasked with ensuring the interests of those captains not already on the EC are taken into consideration during EC discussions. Like the other five members of the Executive Council, the Captain at Large participates in discussions that mostly concern out-of-character (OOC) issues such as whether to commission a new ship, create or alter bylaws, rules, and regulations, and so forth. Unlike the other five members of the Executive Council, the Captain at Large only votes to break a tie among the other EC members’ votes. For instance, if two voted yes, two voted no, and one chose to abstain from voting, then the CAL’s vote would break the tie.

A lot of the CAL’s role and the EC’s role in general comes down to discussing the administration of the fleet and how to keep things running smoothly, helping our captains succeed in commanding their ships, and making the StarBase 118 simming experience enjoyable for our members.

I’d say to those wondering what the EC does is that it focuses on the “big picture” for the community and the issues the entire fleet faces. The EC itself doesn’t micromanage the individual ships in the fleet, since after all, the majority of EC members including myself are quite busy managing our own ships! Instead, the EC discusses fleet management and community development. How can we ensure our group continues to grow and prosper as the way people spend their time online continues to evolve from when the group was first founded over twenty-two years ago? What things have we been doing well that we should double down on? What things are we doing as a fleet that aren’t working or are actually causing things to be less fun? What things should we leave behind to history as we head into 2017 and beyond?

Since all of us, from the newest ensign to the fleet admiral, are volunteers, we are very aware of how precious the time and effort of our members are, so the EC is tasked with making sure ultimately that the fleet uses that volunteer effort appropriately and that the group stays true to its purpose of being an enjoyable role-playing game for Star Trek fans first and foremost.


Captain’s Corner: Capt. Jalana Rajel

Each month, we interview a captain or first officer of the fleet to gain more insight on what it takes to command a ship and learn more about how each of these staff members found their way into these roles. Last month, we interviewed FO of Duronis II Embassy, Brayden Jorey.

This month we’re interviewing Capt. Jalana Rajel – Jess – captain of the USS Constitution-B. Let’s get started!

WOLF: Capt. Rajel, I was just looking through our news archives and it looks like you have been interviewed only once outside of the podcast earlier this year! It’s time to rectify that glaring oversight. Tell us a little about yourself, the writer behind Jalana?

RAJEL: First thank you for having me. I’m not sure how much there is to tell about me. I am Jessica and I’m 37 years old, living in Berlin, Germany. I live there with my boyfriend of almost 15 years in a tiny one room apartment. My first steps in roleplaying I took when I was 8 years old, back then it was a German role playing game called ‘Das schwarze Auge’ (The Dark Eye) and Dungeons and Dragons. Around that time I also started to write, well I tried. My stories were short or never found an actual ending. I also wrote poetry which – remembering that I was 8 – was not very profound. But I kept writing and today I’m a self-published author working on my second novel.


Captain’s Corner: FltCapt. Zalea Solzano

Each month, we interview a captain or first officer of the fleet to gain more insight on what it takes to command a ship and learn more about how each of these staff members found their way into these roles. Last month, we interviewed FO of the Constitution, T’Mar.

This month we’re interviewing FltCapt. Zalea Solzano – Tony – who just launched a very unique new ship, the USS Za. Let’s get started!

WOLF: FltCapt. Solzano, congratulations on your recent ship launch! How does it feel to be back in the command seat?

SOLZANO: It’s exciting, definitely! We’re doing a bunch of things with the Za that we’ve never done before. Of course, the Chariot class is a new design for the fleet, but what simming ultimately comes down to is the simmers themselves–if you have a good group of people, you might well have them flying around in a giant shoe, since it’s really the community feeling that matters. We have a couple of simming firsts for the Za, too: In recent years, the Za is the first ship launched specifically to leave Federation space as a deep-space explorer, and a lot of the Za’s new simmers have been (rightfully!) excited about that. We also launched with a relatively inexperienced crew: Of our launch group of 14, 4 were ensigns straight from the Academy and 3 others were ensigns from other ships in the fleet. It’s been enjoyable for everyone to find their feet, I think!

Before launching Za you had stepped away from command for a while. What were your motivations for stepping away from command, and what got you excited to get back into it?

During my time as a CO with SB118, I’ve mentored four officers through to the rank of commander and two to the rank of captain. That mentoring has been really fun for me, and that’s one of the biggest reasons I wanted to get back into a CO spot. Both IC and OOC, I really enjoy seeing the development of a ship’s command staff and seeing those folks rise through the ranks and, hopefully, command their own ships in turn. Then, too, it’s just fun for me to pull a ship together and watch a group of writers cohere into a community of simmers!


Captain’s Corner: FltCapt. Quinn Reynolds

Each month, we interview a captain or first officer of the fleet to gain more insight on what it takes to command a ship and learn more about how each of these staff members found their way into these roles. Last month, we interviewed FO of the Constitution, T’Mar.

This month we’re interviewing FltCapt. Quinn Reynolds – Emma – who’s had a really stellar year since her last interview, this past September. Let’s dive in!

WOLF: FltCapt. Reynolds, congratulations on your multiple award wins in this year’s recently completed Awards Ceremony! You received both the Staff Member of the Year and the Christopher Pike Pendant, which is an incredibly prestigious haul. What does it mean to you to receive these awards?

REYNOLDS: Thank you! It’s difficult to put into words how much these awards mean to me. I’m obviously honoured to receive them, but most of all I was really touched to read the nominations from my crew and colleagues around the fleet. The group has been a part of my life for nearly a decade now, and it’s really heartening to see that the time and effort I invest has made a positive impact on the individuals that I work with on my ship, and the fleet as a whole.

You were originally the commanding officer of the Eagle many years ago, then took an LOA. Since you returned, you took command again and are now in the center chair of the Gorkon. Can you give us some insight into how the fleet, or the experience of command, has changed since your first run?

One thing that I’ve certainly noticed is how much more visual things are. We have the Image Collective, making sure that everyone has a character avatar if they want one; the wiki is beautiful and well-illustrated as well as informative; the website is sleek and easy to navigate; and that’s just to name a few examples. I find it difficult to write if I can’t conjure a picture of the scene in my head, and it’s so much easier with all this imagery and visual inspiration we now have.

I’ve also found that the command level of the group has made great strides toward being more open and approachable, to the membership as a whole and to each other. One of the strengths of our group has always been the sense of community, and I feel that’s really grown over the years.

You chose a Sovereign class as your current command and named it the Gorkon. What led you to that class, and that name?

I chose the Sovereign class because Star Trek: the Next Generation has always been my favourite of the series. At the time there had very recently been a Galaxy-class in the fleet and I wanted a class that wasn’t currently in active service, so there was only one solution: the same class as the Enterprise-E. It certainly helped that the Sovereign is such a lovely-looking ship!

The name came about because it’s been increasingly bothering me just how human-centric Starfleet can be, despite all the equality and diversity that it’s supposed to represent. We see very few starships named after non-human places, mythologies or people, and I wanted to chose a ship name that honoured something (or someone!) that wasn’t human in origin. It was a close run thing between the names Gorkon and Kumari: the former because the Undiscovered Country is my favourite of the Trek films; and the latter is the name of Commander Shran’s ship in Enterprise, who was by far my favourite guest character in that series.

Can you give the readers some insight into what it’s like commanding a ship in UFOP: SB118?

It’s all about listening, I find. Not just to what people tell you, but what their actions (such as sim quality and quantity) are saying as well. Understanding what people enjoy, and what they struggle with, is such an important part of being a captain. Once you’ve got that down, then everything else falls into place: you can create plots to engage your crew, give them roles within a mission that they’ll enjoy, and offer support as and when necessary.

The other important thing for me is to seek the advice and opinions of my fellow staff members. There’s a real wealth of experience on the Captain’s Council and if I’m ever uncertain as to the correct course of action, or I’d just like some input on an idea, I know that I can get some really thoughtful advice and opinions from the fleet’s captains, commanders and first officers.

I’d like to ask about your time on the Executive Council. You were inducted as a full member of the EC in November of last year. Has there been anything that’s surprised you about how the EC works?

I think the greatest revelation for me was how little the EC actually gets involved in the day-to-day running of the group — and I mean that in a good way! There’s often this perception that we’re constantly making plans and micromanaging the fleet behind the scenes, and in reality that’s not what’s happening at all.

The other surprise for me was how varied the thoughts and opinions can be on the council, and how each member can approach a problem at a completely different angle. It’s relatively rare that we all immediately agree on something, and I think that’s a good thing. Plans and ideas are often challenged and refined before they get anywhere near implementation.

Tell us more about your writing style. What’s your process for putting together a sim?

Usually I use the last sim posted in a scene, and then I work backwards through everything that has come in since I last wrote to make sure that nothing gets missed out. It’s essential to me that I respect and include everyone’s contributions as much as possible, so if someone has taken the time to describe what their character is doing, then I will take the time to make sure it’s included in mine — from my character’s perspective, of course!

Once that’s done, it’s time to add my own original content. Creating an evocative image for the mind’s eye is very important to me, so when it’s appropriate, I always try to make sure that I use all five (or six, if I’m writing a telepath) senses to describe a scene.

Thanks so much for your time!

You can read more about FltCapt. Quinn on the wiki, and read the Gorkon sims in our archive.


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