Thursday, September 22, 2016

Starfleet Ship: USS Absolution


I'm following a podcast called "17 to 01" where Van Velding and a friend (him a veteran Star Trek fan, the friend almost brand new to the franchise) comment on an episode while they watch it. Not so much on the events of the episode as on their execution - social themes, dramatic elements, and so on - plus of course joking about Star Trek's ridiculous idiosyncrasies.

(I think "All Our Yesterdays" (recent and more polished) and then "Journey to Babel" (earlier and rougher) are pretty representative of the show's content.)

I've been following with an eye to building a Star Trek RPG. So instead of a "top ten episodes" list or anything like that, I've instead assembled my favorite* guest cast into an alternate bridge crew, and for now I'm calling their ship the USS Absolution.

The Absolution:

A captured Tholian ship, refit for use by the Federation.
  • Captain Garth of Izar (Steve Ihnat from "Whom Gods Destroy"). The more times he shapeshifts, the more his morals and discipline deteriorate. This mandates periodic mindwipes, during which he forgets he can shapeshift. (Also, I notice that a shape-shifter is an easy way to bring in guest actors, and to throw in red herrings.)
  • First Officer Alexander (Michael Dunn from "Plato's Stepchildren"). The most highly principled person aboard. And considering that pretty much everyone else here is either insane or a criminal, he's also sort of the warden and chief rehabilitator.
  • Chief Medical Officer [unnamed Romulan] (Joanne Linville from "The Enterprise Incident"). Secretly an agent of Federation Intelligence, who relies on an erratic robotic nurse (Exploded Wreckage of Nomad from "The Changeling") to conceal her lack of medical training. 
  • Chief Engineer Richard Daystrom (William Marshall from "The Ultimate Computer"). Specializes in computers and AI. Periodically (dis)endows the main computers and various subsystems with free will. 
  • Helm Janice Lester (Sandra Smith from "Turnabout Intruder"). She is in some other woman's body, via a portable mind-swapping device which can be as (dis)functional as the plot requires. (Another fair way to bring in guest actors.)
  • Astrogation Miranda Jones (Diana Muldaur from "Is There No Truth in Beauty"). Possessed by Kollos, whose race is impossibly good at astrogation, and largely unfamiliar with the sensation of having a meat body. 
  • Communications Officer Andrea (Sherry Jackson from "What are Little Girls Made Of?"). An emotional robot who isn't very good at administering Turing Tests or coping with unfamiliar situations. (I'm also tempted to put Kevin Riley, a recurring singing Irishman, here.)
TOS presents a trichotomy between three ways of making a decision: Spock's logic, McCoy's emotionalism, and Kirk's duties of command. I'm thinking to give the new crew a trichotomy about prioritization: Garth's impulsive extravagance, Alexander's moral principles, and the doctor's short-term expediency.

I wanted to change which crew positions were in the "Power Trio," but the characters I had slotted for Captain, First Officer and Chief Medical Officer just worked out well.

*Or, now that I look them over, apparently just my favorites from season 3.


  1. There are so many supporting cast members with promise as characters it's frustrating that only Harry Mudd--charming as he is--gets exploration later. I'd be interested in this.

    1. These ones were kind of a special case, because I didn't want the Enterprise to be the go-to NPC ship.

      I hadn't considered how to handle other NPCs yet, but likewise repositioning them is a good idea. Hm. Will have to see how I handle that moving forward.