Saturday, 12 April 2014

Write It Up: Star Trek: Engage

One area we've not touched on is role-playing within the Star Trek universe - but then as if by magic we seem to have found ourselves the perfect commentator to explain what's going on. +Aoibhe Ni it's over to you...

In the past 15 years I have been imprisoned countless times by several malicious factions.

No, don’t worry, it's OK. I'm fine...

I swear.

It didn't knock a feather out of me, actually.

I have also lost my memory, lost a husband (literally, he went through a wormhole, and I haven't seen him since...), passed from one collapsing reality into a safer one where I now reside. I have had a building fall on me in the midst of a firefight, I have manipulated people to my own ends, and in turn I have been manipulated by others. I have yelled “Abandon ship!”, “Fire when ready!”, and uttered the immortal phrase, “He's dead... er, Tim...?” more times than I can count.

I have been telepathic, athletic, near death, crippled, excruciatingly shy, annoyingly outspoken, a harlot and a saint, and I have had several competing past lives. I have even been human once or twice, y'know, for a change.

I am a role-player and I get my kicks playing Star Trek: Engage.

Star Trek: Engage is new on the scene, but its roots go way back. Our founding members all played text-based RPGs since the '90's, using imagination and a love for the written word to pull adventure after adventure out of the bare bones of a story laid down by a Game Director.

Think D&D, without the dice, with a more fluid format, and played by dedicated players who are dotted across the globe, and you get the idea. But it's far more than just sitting in a chatroom while you describe your character doing the Enterprise Shuffle (though, we do love a good Star Trek-related meme...). A well-written character will take on a life of their own, and playing them week after week can bring out side-stories, character arcs and interactions you never would have expected.

The fact that the game is played in a chat room once a week for an hour means you have to think on your feet while all around you the story unfolds. How would you react if suddenly faced with the Borg, for instance? Or confronted with a dying planet containing 3 billion beleaguered inhabitants? What if your Captain started to act unreasonably all of a sudden... would you risk mutiny, or stand by his side trusting that it’d all make sense in the end? What would happen if your best friend was taken hostage and you were ordered to stand down? What if your consciousness was beamed into the body of that hot chick from Astrometrics? No, actually... better not answer that last one. No-one needs to know.

In addition to the hour a week you play with your fellow crew mates, you also have the opportunity to write a duty log that is then read by your crew, and by interested players across the entire game. This can be written in any format you fancy. Some people love to write occasional flashbacks to a time before their character was on board their ship, some do short conversations with NPCs, and some even collaborate with other players mid-week and produce fantastic joint-logs. Any way you slice it, these logs are an excellent way to flesh out your character and add to a crew’s growing rapport. They're also a wonderful chance to get your character's opinions and personality across.

The point is that with Star Trek: Engage, the sky is the limit in terms of story-telling. If you can describe it, you can do it. Just... try not to describe that Astrometrics lady in too fine a detail, OK?

Currently, we have five time-slots to choose from, effectively spanning the week, and we are gearing up to add a sixth ship to our ranks. We have made sure to cater for both morning, evening and weekend players, so you’re bound to find a ship at a time that will suit you. The more we grow, the more ships we’ll launch, and as a player you’ll have a direct say in when those new ships will run. 

Right now, we have the Nova Class USS Saturn, a Prometheus Class USS Hyperion, the Intrepid Class USS Bremen (shut up, I like it…), the Nebula Class USS Hooke and a Space Station on the edge of Tzenkethi space, and we have plans in motion to add a Sovereign to that list. Each ship and station has an atmosphere of its own, and each crew works together differently, making each one unique. 

Whichever ship you choose, you will start at the rank of Cadet, with your first promotion most likely happening after the 4th week. From then on, it’s a case of gathering up promotions for quick-thinking and bravery, commendations for loyal service and dedication, or reprimands for disobeying orders. Your Starfleet career is bound to be peppered with a combination of all three, and who knows… perhaps it’ll even culminate in you being awarded your own captaincy...

In Overview from SKoST

Sounds very, very interesting don't you think? If I had the time I would be tapping away at the keyboard at every available opportunity because writing is definitely my passion and there's always a part of me that wants to define my own corner of the Star Trek universe.

Back in the 00's I used to write for the sadly long-defunct Delta Fleet which was a great experience and helped hone my fictional writing skills which had been out of practice for a few years. I had a Gorn security chief and an operative from Section 31 active on the ship but time and life took precedent (the site still exists in a very different form). The great thing with Engage is the chance to create your own character or characters in an established piece of the fictional universe. Who knows, but you could be creating people who might well end up as the stars of a future

While my experience of writing for the expanded universe was done turn-based, linking characters together over weeks or months to complete a story this sounds much more focused and organised with specific times to connect up and write a new story aboard one of the featured ships. Additionally there are blogs on the site which act as workshops to help aspiring writers develop their characters in a "realistic" manner rather than making them all super-human with Q-like abilities. Certainly makes you feel like you're not alone and there's always going to be someone around top point you in the right direction - or the wrong one depending on your character's evolution!

Star Trek: Engage hasn't been around for long but already there seems to be a good level of organisation and if you want to write - and perhaps aren't quite up to creating your own backstory, ship and setting then this is a great starting point. Even if you're not and are a fan of Star Trek and want something new to be involved in that can feed your hunger for the franchise then why not drop by and see what's going on. I'm sure you'll be most welcome.

If you want to join the adventure, Enlist Here

Want to learn more? Have a look at the handy handbook.

Your crew, and your Starfleet career awaits at Star Trek: Engage!

Thanks to Aoibhe for letting us into the Engage world.

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