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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Consider the Backgrounds

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

One of the constant problems with submissions, like scenarios and fiction stories, is the effort by the author to create something grander than a simple scenario or story (granted, this is an increasing problem in the Star Trek universe where every novel gradually involved the Enterprise being the only ship in position to stop the total destruction of the Federation, and sometimes of the whole Galaxy, and sometimes the whole universe). We had a fiction story that included as a final anecdote that the various members of that one particular crew went on to totally redefine not just how Lyran Prime Teams operated, but the whole of Lyran society, putting an end to the divisions between the Counts, Dukes, and Emperor and creating finally a truly unified and internally peaceful Lyran Star Empire. Another author submitted a scenario in which the single battle became "the most renowned combat in the entire octant" setting the stage for how all other empires saw and treated that empire. There is also a submission in which the Iridani quests are transformed into an Octant-wide peacekeeping operation.

While we encourage people to be creative, and are always looking for good stories and articles and scenarios to publish, sometimes things are taken too far.

Sometimes we can fix things (like deleting the final anecdote from the fiction story, or editing out the more grandiose statements in the scenario), but sometimes we cannot. We usually send things back to the authors in these cases to see if they can fix them. For example, we got a recent article about how the Lyran officer promotion system works. The author, however, had decided that all officers were basically promoted by the Empire (other aspects of the system he devised I will pass over as we have asked him to try again). The problem is that Lyran background makes it very plain that there is not one Lyran Navy, but 21 Lyran Navies. This has to be, otherwise it would not be possible for the various civil wars that keep things "interesting" in the Lyran Star Empire to occur. The officers of the ships of Lyran Count X have to be loyal first to that Count, or when he decides he wants to be the Duke, they will not obey him.

So one of the things that keeps the Lyrans from dominating more space (as their background notes) is their internal divisions. The waste of resources because each Count, for example, has his own spy agency to spy on his neighbor counts (and his Duke, and the Emperor). And the Counts and Dukes are not created equal, so the Count of County X might promote the officers in his fleet purely on competence, while the Count of County Y promotes them based not on competence, but on Loyalty, the Count of County Z might promote good qualified people, but does not provide adequate funding for training, and so on. Twenty-one Counties, twenty-one different ways of doing things, all tied together by a Feudal System. (Yes, everyone is supposed to be loyal to the Emperor, but there is a constant internal turmoil as each Duke and Count weighs his chances to seize the throne.)

Articles and fiction about the Lyrans should reflect (at least at some level) this divisiveness. The Lyrans are very much a "Me against my Brother, my Brother and I against our neighbor, and all of us against the outsider" society.

Similarly, Fiction about the Klingons should have some indication that the Subject races are not always unquestioningly loyal to the Empire, and the Empire Security Service is omni-present in the background. Romulan fiction should at some level reflect their House system. Orion fiction should probably reflect that the crews are not all from a single planet, and so on.