The DC was able to meet with the Chief of UFS Operations for a few moments to ask a few important questions about setting up a roleplay character in UF Starfleet. Vice Admiral Kermie Mistwallow has some nifty pointers on choosing a species, see our Q & A below!
Q: When choosing a species to roleplay as a member of United Federation Starfleet, assuming that species is not on the restricted list, what kinds of considerations do you think folks should consider before making their choice?
A: When it comes to choosing a species, the easiest ones to choose are those that we have seen the most on screens, Humans, Vulcan, Betazoids etc. But when you are looking at Role play there are many opportunities. If people ask me, I always say ‘what is the one you are going to have the most fun with?’ and I think that is the most important thing. Each species has pros and cons and weighing them up with your own unique roleplay style can have both a huge impact on a story and create opportunities to have fun – even if you do choose to be a Vulcan, they have fun, right?
Q: If a member is inventing a new species, what are the criteria you use to assess whether to permit that species to be added to the Intelligent Species Index?
A: The first thing we look at is whether or not it is believable in the Trek Universe, because ultimately that is what we are here to play, and where we take our inspiration from. Now don’t get me wrong, we do not only have characters from the Trek universe; after all, it was about seeking out new life and new civilizations. Trek movies and TV shows did not meet every species in the universe. However, we also want to keep the illusion that this is Star Trek, this is why we all came here, this is what we want to “grow up to be when we are older”.
So yeah, believability is a huge factor, but that is not all; we also need to look at strengths and weaknesses (which is why some species are forbidden). Is their species creation going to ruin and make it not fun for other participants? I mean you would not want to work with an Engineer that walks around with a wand hidden in their toolbelt who can breath outside the ship in space and can fix the hull with a spell and then fly around to the bridge window, give it a knock and a wave of the hand to be let back in. Funny, but not believable.
Q: Have the new shows (Discovery, Picard) inspired any additions to the Intelligent Species Index? For example, Kelpien or Cyborg?
A: No, in fact it is very rare that someone actually submits something for creation these days. Whether this is because they don’t know how or because they already have a huge selection to choose from in the more popular species is unknown, but we always welcome new submissions and look forward to discussing them with people.
I would love to expand our database, even with visited planets and what we call NPC species that ships have visited during missions, a CO can then submit that species to be added to our index, or even email ops to have the species page updated with encountered missions
Q: Will the species a member chooses affect their ability to join a ship of the line? For example, if a ship has decided to exist in the decade before the USS Enterprise left on its five year mission, and a member has chosen to be a Klingon, canon from Discovery and TOS would suggest that the Federation and the Klingon Empire were in conflict at that time.
A: In reality the answer is yes, again it goes back to the believability factor; however, we also don’t want to totally ruin someone’s fun. If they have a good backstory and reason why they would be there, then I would encourage it. But I would also take into consideration the CO of that ship: if they wanted to completely stay within the canon of the shows and movies then that is up to them.
Q: How does any Ship of the Line (SotL) justify having a crew member who belongs to a species that defies reality? For example, someone so big they can’t fit at a console or on a transporter pad; someone too small to reach door bells or turbo lift call buttons; someone who doesn’t have hands or whose body is so distorted that it’s impossible to do normal tasks?
A: This is a good question. Generally speaking, we have to remember that we are in a setting that not only has a variety of individuals, species and backgrounds, but is also set in the future. Just as we are accepting and accommodating to a variety of circumstances now, so will society in the future. If you think of some of the TOS technologies, we are currently capable of many of those technologies – in fact, if you consider our smartphones, they’re much better than the communicators of the ‘future’. Thus, many of these circumstances can be ‘roleplayed’ out so the UFS member can explain their circumstances.
Will there occasionally be situations where you’re, say, clipping a doorway in Second Life? Yes – but that can be explained away with a few lines. While we strive to welcome a variety of individuals, the fact of the matter is that Second Life can be limiting on its capabilities, just like Real Life ships and stations, a Real Life ship could not have one of those hunky Orions because in reality they do not exist ……. Or do they?
Q: Should a member take a look at the Uniform Code before choosing an avatar for their character? Is it advisable for them to provide a snapshot for you to approve?
A: It is always advisable for everyone to read all the policies and procedures we have, regardless if they are choosing a species or not before they dive into roleplay; however, there are certain things that we can’t adhere to at the moment. Size of an avatar can be one of those factors that someone has to take into account. I mean, you don’t want to be the outcast, but you also want to stay a little unique, and while we are trying our best to adhere to everyone it is just not possible, “the needs of the many” is a good quote there.
So yes, I would recommend people take a look at the uniform policy, check out the cadet uniform options while they are still in the academy and decide and see what would be best. We will try to make some allowances for different avatars, however, at the end of the day our Uniform represents us, showcases who we are as a group and to fully break it down: Uni means one, One Fleet, One group, One representation.
Q: Once someone has chosen a character’s species and roleplayed as that species for several months, is it possible for them to change the species? How does that work ICly?
A: Anything is almost possible, as I have said before it is about having fun, so it could be worked into the story that they have always played that species (they could just never get the avatar parts or just fancied a change). Or they could speak to their CO and work it into a roleplay mission, perhaps there was a transporter malfunction, maybe they contracted a DNA changing disease or simply they drank some unrefined Sludge. There are many possibilities, and it is all about fun and interaction, creating a story.
While I would encourage people to stay with the species they have chosen (the Academy is a great point to learn all this stuff and figure your character out), we also want to give people the opportunity to evolve. So while we do have some restrictions, almost anything is possible.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
A: Something important!
Many people ignore the restricted or forbidden list and this causes issues down the line. Not only with having to reverse potential stories in part, but it impacts the general story of UFS.
While we are open to suggestions and we want people to have fun, these restrictions are there for a reason. Let’s take a “Q” for example. Would it be fun to have a Q in Starfleet? Sure, there may be some fun elements to it with comedy; however, it is not believable. It would be unfair to have an omnipotent being that could just snap their fingers and fix everything.
Another situation is sticking within the scope of Starfleet. Examples of things that would not work within the Trek universe are: A Jedi, Superman, a Queen of a planet that commands many subjects, a slave that is leashed to an ensign that follows them around all the time. These would all be considered “forbidden” as we are here to “play” in Starfleet. What you do at “home” or on your own or other sims is fine, but those characters are not your UF Starfleet Characters.
Roleplay aspects that need to be taken into consideration when creating a character or new species is vast and not everything can be listed here. The rule is that we are Starfleet, we roleplay as those within that universe, that is our fandom, that is our story, try to make things fun, but believable.
The Office of the Chief of UF Starfleet Operations is always here to assist, answer questions, probe our …. Minds (yes I said minds) and bring characters to life if the help is asked for.
Intelligent Species Index – https://wiki.ufstarfleet.org/wiki/index.php?title=Intelligent_Species_Index
Forms of the Chief of Operations (This link is for Planetary Index Submission, New Species Creation/edits, Request for playable species that may be restricted or Forbidden.) – https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScu8lhWywtnyRUPkhu6SBz6RycoE39DyMBxekMSYQ9lRZM3hw/viewform