One of the biggest things that Cryptic as a developer has always had going for it is a love of customization. You can create all kinds of characters with all kinds of appearances. Star Trek Online is a shining example of it, but not in the way one might think. After all, even with all the uniforms out there, it’s still a pretty limited selection in comparison with, say, Champions Online. But that’s not where it truly shines. No, where STO really earns its reputation is with the alien species, where you can literally design an alien species in almost all aspects-as long as it’s hominid, of course (no Tholians for you!); it’s also notoriously difficult to design a species that appears like some of the major ones in the shows (Jem’Hadar, Cardassians come to mind-and it’s not impossible to get a close facsimile).
Given all of this, you would think I’d have more alien characters; new cultures to work with and conceive of. And if I were doing more RP in STO or fiction writing in the setting, maybe I would have. But…nope. I’ve designed some alien looks for bridge officers, but very few captains.
One such captain is Chyrim, who has the distinction of being the second Klingon Empire aligned character I created. The character is a (sigh) Tactical captain (I swear, I DO make other types of captains…), and originally my goal was to have him go hard on the assault ships, the “raptors”, which were the functional equivalent of Starfleet’s escort ships-in other words, hit hard, hit fast…with hull like tissue paper. (It isn’t really that bad.) I regret to say that I never did come up with a name for his species, but I did envision it as sort of an almost barbarian species; think Cimmerians in Space. A warlike species is one that would work nice and neat with the Klingon Empire. It’s worth noting that, when creating a character for the Klingons, I’m always thinking about “why is this person in the Klingon Defense Force?” Klingons have a very specific code of honor and viewpoint towards warfare-and it’s not really shared by their allied species such as the Naussicans, Letheans, Gorn, or Orions. So I had to consider why a) Chyrim would join the Klingons, and b) why the Klingons would follow him. Hence, the idea to go barbarian.
With that in mind, I had a general idea as to his appearance-at least as far as outfits go. Originally, it was pretty limited-this was early in the game’s life, after all. But when veteran rewards started coming available, I could slap on fur-lined costume parts, and really play up the barbarian look. As for the alien look itself, I wanted to give him a long, narrow sort of head, and I wrinkled it up substantially from one of the alien facial options. His skin is more on the greenish side-something I sort of regret, but at the time, I hadn’t used green skin tones much.
One of the things I had decided to do with my early characters was to plan out their professions and ship types in advance. For Starfleet, I was going to mix and match captain professions and their ships. For the Klingons, though, I was going to match the professions to the ship; so my main Klingon, an engineer, got to go with battlecruisers, which were strongly engineering. Chyrim, being a tactical guy, got to go in a tactical based raptor. I eventually ended up having him swap over to the veteran Klingon ship, a Duvqu’ class heavy destroyer named the IKS Koloth (I’m a fan of the classic Klingons).
Bridge crew, sad to say, tended to be mostly generic Klingons. When the Breen episodes first came out, I’d run most of my characters at the time through it, and the result was that I had a Breen bridge officer available for Chyrim. So I made him a part of this crew, so that Chyrim wouldn’t be so alone in his alienness. Chyrim, as well, has suffered as other Klingon Empire characters have surpassed him, and he’s been stuck at level 50 for a very, very long time-long enough that he’s never done the Fekl’hri story arc. That’s a long time! I guess the barbarian sort of character doesn’t fit me after all. (Or, if I’m being more honest, I’m just too damned much of an altaholic.)