This month marks our very first player interview and I am happy to introduce Richard Nunes a player from USS Discovery, the Federation’s Flagship in the Delta Quadrant.
STB: Hello, Richard. Why don’t we start this by having you tell us about your experiences in Play By Email role play BEFORE you came to Star Trek: Borderlands.
Hi, Rich. Thanks for having me. How far before? I roleplayed in a PBM based on the 1995 series “Space: Above and Beyond” in high school. It was more of a turn-based wargame than collaborative storytelling. I think the game lasted a few months at the most. After that, I don’t think I participated in any roleplaying until I signed up with Star Trek: Borderlands. I’m really enjoying my time aboard Discovery. It’s a really good group.
STB: How did you find the transition from your “Space: Above and Beyond” experience?
The transition was painless. Caleb, Discovery’s CO, roleplayed a couple of scenes with me when I first signed up outside of the group. I had a style guide and he nudged me towards some best practices. The mechanics of putting these stories together works very well. Borderlands started over 20 years ago and along the way previous players have fine-tuned the process. When I decided to join a Star Trek PBM, I looked at a few and Borderlands stood out because of the explanation on the website of how the story comes together.
STB: We’re very proud of our heritage here at Star Trek: Borderlands, Richard and we’re equally glad that you found a home aboard the USS Discovery. We DO have 7 groups all with different backgrounds and histories. Have you played or considered playing in any of our other groups yet?
That’s a discussion to have my CO. As a new player both to Star Trek: Borderlands and PBMing, I want to make sure I can fit it into my everyday schedule. I joined in March and have had three months of escalating interaction. I now have two main characters, two NPCs and a couple of walk-on roles. Everyone has ups and downs in their personal lives and it can be very easy to come into a group full throttle and find out too late, after one has committed too much, that it’s not sustainable. I’m comfortable with the pace I have, even when I’ve been very busy with work and roleplaying during a week-long vacation, and see taking on more characters in the future.
I interact with Discovery both via email and directly on the Yahoo! Groups site which gives me the ability to follow other duty stations with public, read-only permissions. I poke my head into Starbase Phoenix and the S’Task every now and then to read the goings-on. It’s a very different kind of fiction reading player-generated content than published novels. When I do look to expand my horizons, with my CO’s blessing, I’ll have some background knowledge; more than I get from monthly reports.
STB: As a long standing member of Borderlands, myself, I can certainly say that I’ve seen my share of fantastic players who pushed their limits too far. It sounds like you’ve got it figured out pretty well, at least for now. You mentioned that you write several characters, why don’t you tell us about one or more of them?
My primary character, Ensign Maarten Nadacic, is a Human-Andorian tactical officer who served in the military of a planet that has since become a provisional member of the Federation. He still has to learn the finer points of diplomacy demanded of Starfleet officers. If you’ll indulge me, I have an excerpt from a recent posting. In this scene, Nadacic is going toe-to-toe with Lieutenant Bell, Discovery’s Chief Engineer:“Sir, your judgement is clouded by your own self-preservation.” Nadacic was careful not to raise his voice to a senior officer but the tone was clear. “These things have shown no consideration for our lives. I will not be victim. I will fight with my life. If Engineering is lost, the ship is lost. I will see Discovery burned before I see it under the hand of these aliens.”Lieutenant Bell was taken aback by the forcefulness of the Tactical officer’s words. He realized that he was not so much suggesting the destruction of the ship as a last resort as he was telling him that his was their first, best option. “No, we will not and can not let these beings have the ship” he replied. “On that we are in agreement. I will say again, however, that the Captain is still in command of this vessel and I will not undermine his authority. If drastic measures are to be taken, it will be at his order, Ensign” said Bell.“The Captain, sir, is not in effective control of the ship. He is isolated with the leader of an invading alien species, a species that has placed considerable military forces at the door of the only command and control position aboard Discovery.” Ensign Nadacic couldn’t understand the Engineer’s deference to the Captain. “If I may seek clarification, sir, what is your plan if the alien military force breaches the blast doors? What will you do with your last breath?”The Engineer all of a sudden felt the authority of Command and it’s responsibility come rushing back. He’d never thought that he would miss it, or even that he had, but now this hot headed Ensign’s remarks were making him nostalgic and aggravated all in one little package. Bell was a southern gentleman and easily likeable. He made a point to keep his cool and not loose his temper. In this moment, however, being questioned as this blue-skinned, trigger-happy officer was, he could feel his blood beginning to heat and he knew that this was no good. He looked at the man square in the face, taking a moment to calm himself. “We’re not the only one’s on this ship, Ensign” he said plainly. “Lieutenant Dante is likely right outside those doors developing her OWN strategy for just his occasion. Her call will be valid, I’m sure. Unfortunately, we can’t and won’t know what that is” said Bell, calm and collected.“Those orders will come too late. When these bulkheads are breached, it will be too late to hold conference with department heads. Leadership is not the deference and avoidance of decision. A leader takes control when no one else is willing to bear the mantle of responsibility. Consider that carefully, sir.” Nadacic, in leaning forward, took a half-step closer to the Chief Engineer.
I also play as Ensign Vashic Martla, a Bajoran physician and surgeon. I’ve pulled both characters from near the Cardassian border which gives them pasts atypical of Federation-born-and-bred crew. Vashic’s grandfather died during the occupation of Bajor and she has her own mental and physical scars from her childhood. When the current crisis is resolved, I’d like to explore her past a bit more.
I really like my self-absorbed Betazoid navigation officer. He knows he’s disliked by members of the crew; he can sense the feelings directed at him. He executes his duties efficiently, never socializes with the crew and spends a lot of time in his own head. He, somehow, received approval for a Pakled-Federation crew exchange program which allows him to keep the helm operated a Pakled crewperson, tells himself it’s to broaden his understanding of the Pakled mind and spends much of his time in the holodeck.STB: It seems that you’ve got some unique character traits going for these individuals. So, how are they integral to the storyline being played out, now on the USS Discovery?
I wouldn’t say that any of my characters are integral to the primary storyline. The Tactical officer only spent a few minutes at his station before a bomb was set off that destroyed the Bridge. My physician patched up characters after both explosions, the Bridge and deck 10. Later on in this storyline or the next storyline, they may play a part in the primary story. In the television series’, it was always important to have more than one story given the ensemble cast. I see the same with Star Trek: Borderlands duty stations. A tactical officer doesn’t need to be handcuffed to his station. Nadacic spent time trying to find any tool that could help track down an alien intruder and spent much of his time painting deck 12 with bio-sensitive gel in lieu of internal sensors. These actions never resulted in locating or corralling the alien intruder. Because I don’t know where the story is going, I want to give the story editors opportunities to move the story along. While painting deck 12, the alien intruder made an appearance. The alternative is to have characters staring at the wall waiting for direction.
STB: I want to discuss your character Maarten Nadacic. He would seem to be a real firebrand. You indicated that he’s Human/Andorian. Where do you draw your inspiration for an Andorian character?
I started with wanting a character from the fringes of the Federation. He grew up during the Cardassian Wars with a harder personality than the typical Starfleet officer. There is a bit of Chief O’Brien who experienced the war first-hand aboard the USS Rutledge. The decision to make him Andorian was to have an Alpha Quadrant species whose species I could explore; there is some background in canon but plenty of room to make things up. I enjoyed the character of Shram from Enterprise, really, all of Jeffrey Combs characters (Weyoun, Brunt). There is also a cheat in that I can take an actor’s photograph, add cyanotones to turn him blue and have a Human-Andorian hybrid.
STB: Is Enterprise your favorite Star Trek series?
No. I have mixed feelings about Enterprise. TNG clearly distanced itself from Original Series aliens and I was glad to see those aliens come back in Enterprise to some degree. Enterprise also gave those aliens some depth that was completely absent in the Original Series. Voyager is my favourite series. Jeri Taylor had an impact in the middle seasons of DS9 and had a hand in crafting Voyager. The characters have more divergent personalities than previous series. The Delta Quadrant is in a different stage of development with nascent (Kazon, Talaxians) and ancient (Saurion, Krenim) species co-mingled. It was very well crafted.
STB: Do you feel that Borderlands, and in particular the USS Discovery, honor the spirit of Star Trek that you have come to love?
Absolutely. I get to explore the Delta Quadrant. The Alpha and Beta Quadrants are pretty dense with all of the major species occupying every square inch. Some players want to butt heads with the Klingons and Romulans and Cardassians. I would rather land on a planet in the middle of nowhere that has never been explored. Despite picking a character out of the Starfleet norm, I want that environment. I want to be on a Federation ship. I have a strong sense of where everything is. I like all of the characters aboard USS Discovery. There are a great set of players behind those characters. Borderlands offers duty stations with different environments if I decide to be more adventurous. I like the idea of standing on the bridge of a Federation starship, Captain in his or her chair and boldly facing the final frontier.
STB: Richard, we’re excited to have you as a player and that you’ve found a niche for your characters that works for you. Hopefully some of our other players get a better idea of who you are through this interview and what motivates you as a player. It could also be a valuable guide to newcomers of what they can expect from Star Trek: Borderlands. Thank you so much for both your time and your talent. I hope that you continue to play in Star Trek: Borderlands for years to come.