The Cast List: Introducing Kalox of Star Trek Online

One of the earliest purchasable species in Star Trek Online was the Klingons.

No, you read that right.  I don’t mean, though, Klingons of the Klingon Empire.  I mean Klingons for Starfleet.  As this was in the era of the Next Generation-well, really, 30 years past it-it wasn’t unreasonable to assume that Starfleet had gotten more Klingons in Starfleet, but not enough to rate being in the base set of species for Starfleet.  Or maybe they figured it was a money-maker.  I’m sort of cynical that way.

This was not a purchase I made right off, though.  If I wanted to play Klingons…well, the Klingon Empire was there.  With Klingons ships!  Surely, that would be sufficient for my needs.  But eventually, as the years rolled on by, and I found myself looking at my collected Zen from my lifetime sub, and thought, “I can spare some of this for a Starfleet Klingon, right?”  And that was the genesis of the plan to make yet another character.  In keeping with the Original Series traditions, I kept the first letter of the name as a “K” and created Kalox.

You cannot defend yourself to victory. You must attack.

He was going to be a tactical captain; there was just no way around that.  Yes, I could’ve gone against type and made him a thoughtful science captain, or a creative engineer, but when push comes to shove…sometimes it’s good to play with type.  (Besides, I already had an engineering Klingon in the form of Kelleth in the KDF.)  The concept I had in mind for him was also pretty straightforward:  I would go in the opposite direction than what I imagined for the character of Koreth (who I had imagined as “the cavalry” for Starfleet).  Instead of being a reactionary force, Kalox and his crew would be a proactive one; the tip of the spear, the vanguard.  I was inspired substantially by the MACO troops from Enterprise-guys who knew they’d be looking for trouble, and dealing with it when they found it.  This crew was designed to have graduated in the thick of the Klingon War of 2409, knowing that exploring strange new worlds was going to have to come in second to holding onto the ones they had.

I went to take an interesting direction for my character uniforms for this one, and it went a route that I generally don’t take.  Some backstory:  back in the days of the early game, the armor you picked up would replace the uniform you wore.  That, unsurprisingly, led to outrage from players-what was the point of painstakingly designing uniforms if they were always going to be hidden by the armor?  So the devs put in a “disable visuals” switch so that you wouldn’t have to see the armor.  Later on, those armor pieces got thrown in the woodchipper entirely, no longer linked to the armor you got in-game.  Instead, they got put into the tailor, but different variations would unlock as you leveled.  Well, I’d eschewed the armor stuff entirely for my other characters-but decided that this sort of thing worked just fine for Kalox and his crew; if you’re going to be the tip of the spear, you better be wearing something that gives you a reasonable shot at coming out of a fight intact.

The ship I went with for his “final configuration” could have been an Escort; it could’ve been one of those C-Store “Pilot” ships.  But instead, I decided to go with something recognizably Starfleet, but still up for battle:  one of the battlecruisers (I might have mentioned having a chunk of spare Zen).  This was tough enough to take a hit in the face, and strong enough to punch back hard.  The U.S.S Kashima felt like the right fit for Kalox.

Kalox is sitting comfortably at the level 50 area, and is likely to stay there for a while until I decide to pull the trigger on the Cast List Revival Party.  While the Klingon War is over, the Iconian War lies ahead of him-not to mention all those other annoying conflicts that are in the later portions of the game.  When you’re at the vanguard of a war and survive, time and time again, you can sort of expect to lead the charge whenever called up:  as a Klingon, Kalox would desire nothing less.


The Cast List: Introducing Victor Storm of Star Trek Online

In Star Trek Online, in the days when it was just starting out, I had created a couple of Starfleet captains.  One was a Tactical captain in an Engineering ship-a Cruiser; one was a Science captain in a Tactical ship-an Escort.  So, it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that when I made up my third Starfleet captain, he would be an Engineering captain in a Science ship.  Beyond that, though, I wasn’t sure of anything except the name, which was something I’d been looking for an excuse to use for ages.

Then I realized that all my captains and their crews were fairly normal.  (This was well before my Borg Science captain got access to androids, holograms, and Borg officers.)

Some extra explanation is probably in order here.  I’ve been a reader of Star Trek novels for…well, practically since they started making Star Trek novels.  For the most part, the novels tended to be one-and-done affairs, much like the average episodes of the assorted series.  The timeline would vary wildly, from the early years of Kirk’s Enterprise to the post-Motion Picture years, and sometimes a bit beyond.  (They had to walk carefully to not step on the movies after; Wrath of Khan thru Final Frontier were pretty tight, timeline-wise.)  Later, they started alternating with Picard’s Enterprise, then came Deep Space Nine, Voyager….

And the novels evolved, too, starting to experiment.  There were storylines that crossed between the assorted series, although Kirk’s crew never interacted with the others, thanks to the time gap between them.  And eventually, the people in charge of the novels decided to green light something really experimental:  a series based on a ship that had never appeared in a show, with a crew that mixed brand new creations with bit characters from the shows; it was branded “New Frontier”, written by Peter David.  How big was this?  It introduced Mackenzie Calhoun, a character who not only got his own action figure at the time, but also is present in STO!  His crew wound up being…well, let’s just say it didn’t exactly scream decorum as far as Starfleet regs might prefer.  TV Tropes calls them a “Ragtag Bunch of Misfits“, and they aren’t wrong.  But they took off, and other writers in the Trek setting noticed this.  Not long after, we had books based on Picard’s pre-TNG days on the Stargazer, we had a ship that was cobbled together from the wrecks of a number of others in Kirk’s era, we got a space station around that same era that had its own secrets…and all of them had crews that were closer to Calhoun’s example than Kirk, Janeway, or Picard’s gangs (Neelix notwithstanding).

These are just the relatively normal members of the crew….

So, I embraced this idea with Victor Storm, a Betazoid captain.  Over his career, the character managed to get the Breen, Reman, and Jem’Hadar bridge officers from the feature episodes of the day, the Borg from my preorder, and a Mirror Universe officer thanks to picking up those uniforms as part of a pack.  If/when I pick his story up again (I’m still kicking around a Cast List Revival Party at some point), he’ll probably grab a bunch of those other ones that have become available, like the Hierarchy bridge officer in the Delta Rising expansion-and possibly make use of some other extras I’d picked up over the years.  In other words, I had my own “ragtag bunch of misfits”.

Because of this nature, I eschewed a standard uniform…mostly.  I took a Jupiter variant and applied it to the “normal” Starfleet crew, but my Mirror Universe rep got a Mirror Universe outfit to match, and my Breen, Reman, and Jem’Hadar boffs couldn’t be customized.  If I get around to messing around with his bridge crew slots, I’m going to phase out the remaining “normal” crew for the crazytown ideas; I’ve got at least a few Jem’Hadar thanks to “Victory is Life” to play with, a couple of others, maybe bring an android into the mix….

You get the idea.

The ship I chose kind of evolved over time, but settled on a Solonae Science Destroyer, the Phaethon, an oddly hi-tech choice for this sort of crew.  It was that or the Obelisk Carrier, which was around at roughly the same period of time, and I wasn’t quite ready to mess around with carriers at that point.  (I should eventually have someone go primary on that ship, but I’m not sure how I’d get it given my circumstances…although that new T6 rep could come in handy there.  That’s an awful lot of work, though, for a sub T6 ship.)

Much like my other STO characters featured here, Victor’s gotten to level 50, and not much further.  No specializations at this point, although if the Revival Party happens, he’s bound to get at least one, maybe two spec points.  And I’m dead certain the bridge crew shuffle will continue, because…well, see “ragtag bunch  of misfits” above.

The Cast List: Introducing Jennifer Rodgers of Star Trek Online

When a new faction in Star Trek Online rolls around, I tend to try to make two or three characters in the faction, one representing each career:  Tactical, Engineering, or Science.  When the “Agents of Yesterday” expansion landed, my main character there-Rick Masters-was an Engineering guy.  So that gave me two other branches to play with.  Additionally, I had managed to acquire a temporal ship due to buying one of the cheaper packs on sale, so I had motivation to get at least another character up to level 50.

I chose to go with a Tactical captain for this one:  Jennifer Rodgers, another temporal refugee.  She’s a product of her time:  shoot first and ask questions later.  I usually try to go for a consistent look for each of my Starfleet characters and bridge officers (barring the “outsider” boffs), and I chose to go an unusual route-at least for me.  I kept the general color scheme of the current Starfleet “generic” outfits (the Odyssey outfits, for those wondering), but went with one of the Jupiter style of uniform.  I think it worked out great (check the picture to the left).  One of the bridge crew members has a visually different look to indicate her status as a medic.  There’s a style guide floating out there somewhere that had been released by the dev team as far as uniform colors for the Odyssey uniforms go, and I stayed with it for the most part even though I applied them to the Jupiter look.

The “final” starship for Captain Rodgers-the U.S.S. Champion-was indeed a Temporal vessel.  Specifically, a Paladin-class temporal battlecruiser.  In a bit of amusement, I named it for the tier-1 ship that Rick Masters had used prior to jumping to the “present” day.  I do things like that to amuse myself sometimes, even if it’s a bit of a paradox (after all, the storylines assume that your part in the story is unique-or maybe Agent Daniels really screwed up the timeline…).

As with most of the Cast List STO Captains, Jennifer has cracked into level 50+, but not much further.  High enough to be flying a T6 ship, but not enough to get a lot of use out of it.  One of these days, I should consider doing some kind of personal event where I break out all of my Cast List Captains and have them do something that’d tie them together somehow.  Maybe a bunch of Foundry missions in an arc, with a captain doing a separate mission and passing it on to the next?  I’ll have to think about that.  It just seems a shame to have so many characters lying fallow, and it’d be neat to give some of them an additional push for more levels.  Come to think of it, it’s an issue with most of the MMOs I play.  I’ll have to think about this some more.  Surely, I can find something to do with all these alts to freshen things up.

The Cast List: Introducing Teranok of Star Trek Online

While I keep things in suspense a little longer about my next character chronicle, let’s take a dip into the past with a new entry to the Cast List.  For those unfamiliar:  I have the Cast List category to highlight the characters who haven’t been given a chronicle, the ones who aren’t necessarily primary characters.  The intent was to feature characters from past and present games, but I haven’t really hit any of the past ones yet.  ‘Tis the danger of being an altoholic!  It’s been a while since I put up any entries on the List, and I felt that this would be a good time for a couple to make their debut here.

“The Federation defends. The Klingons avenge. I know who I want at my side.”

So here we go.  Back when the Legacy of Romulus expansion landed for Star Trek Online, we had the option of making Romulan characters who could ally themselves with either the Federation or the Klingons.  My main Romulan (for lack of a better term) chose the Federation-but I certainly could see the point of view with joining with the Klingons, especially given how the Klingons acted during the formative arcs for the Romulan Republic.  And given how I do things, it was only a matter of time before I created a Romulan to see the Klingon point of view.  Hence, the character of Teranok.

Teranok’s name hailed to the days of early Next Generation episodes; I wanted something that fit in with a name like Tomalok, an early Romulan nemesis for Picard’s Enterprise.  I was pretty happy with the name I came up with.  I wanted to make him a bit more authoritarian-so one of his uniforms tends to be less about Romulan Republic and more Romulan Star Empire (which means trading on the Tal’Shiar outfits).  Likewise, I wanted his crew to be an eclectic mess, less about looking pretty and more about looking like they’re out to get the job done.  I sort of saw them as a resistance movement against the Tal’Shiar and Empress Sela (not to mention our good friend Hakeev) than as a military arm of the Republic, and their looks had to match.  As I was looking to reduce my reliance on tactical captains, I made him an engineer.

The bridge crew itself made heavy use of the Klingon alignment.  While I kept a pair of Romulans, I grabbed a pair of Klingons, to fit the theme that I was going with this character:  they weren’t interested in defending the Republic, as avenging Romulans killed by the Star Empire and the Tal’Shiar.  This is a crew looking to do war against the enemy.  (Of course, one of those Klingons is actually a Liberated Borg; I get my money’s worth out of my preorder so long ago….)

As far as ships go, I gave him the Romulan version of the 1000-day veteran reward ship-a warbird destroyer, T6 version.  The RRW Vrelnec-the name manages to sound alien without having to throw in those annoying apostrophes in.  (Full disclosure-I’ll ruthlessly use apostrophes in alien names too.  I have no shame.)

Teranok is at level 50, but never got used further to bump him up those extra levels; so, no specialization points for him.  I’m not sure I can even call him top tier anymore, since we’re at a level 65 cap these days.  Still, because of his allegiance to the Republic and to the Klingon Empire, I like to think he’s a useful dagger to have in the offhand when the main forces of the Republic can’t get a job done.  If the Romulan Republic ever were to develop their own Intelligence service, I think Teranok would definitely be a major player in that profession.

The Cast List: Introducing Lasken of Star Wars: The Old Republic

I’ve detailed out six of my primary eight characters in Star Wars: The Old Republic, and the seventh, as a part of the blog logo, has a blurb on a page dedicated to those characters.  So it’s time, at last, to detail the final member of this bunch in the Cast List:  Lasken, the Jedi Consular and Sage.  And his story is an interesting one.

In happier times

Lasken was pretty much the last of the eight that I pushed through the class stories; the Consular didn’t really “grab” me as a concept.  That said, I had an idea that I wanted to mess with that I thought could make him a bit more interesting to me.  I’d had a Sith character who leaned more Light Side than Dark Side of the Force; so I thought it would be interesting to go the other way with Lasken-have him decide at some point in the Consular storyline to shift to the Dark Side.  In short, to play out the Fall of a Jedi.  All I needed was an inciting incident-maybe something like what happened to the planet Uphrades in the Jedi Knight story.

Unfortunately, nothing really seemed to jump out at me during the Consular storyline.  I kept going, and going, and going, and kept building up that stock of Light Side points.  In the end, I found I had maxed out my Light Side numbers.  I felt sort of stupid.  I’d even picked up a dark robes outfit for the character that I thought worked great (although I’m continually irritated by the clipping of the hood into the head-but I did find a solution to that…).

Clearly, I needed to take less passive steps.  So I decided to use the character’s status as a springboard for a classic fatal flaw:  hubris.  Overwhelming pride.  Arrogance.  As I ran him through Makeb, I started having him take the impatient path, irritation with his allies, and contempt for his enemies.  Oricon allowed me to have him subtly influenced by the Dark Side’s presence.  Things REALLY kicked off with the Shadow of Revan stuff, though-Lana Beniko’s influence as a rational Sith (but still Dark Side!), along with his exposure to a similarly minded one in Darth Marr, allowed me to more easily choose some of those Dark Side choices.  The final straw for the character to go full on Dark Side was being frozen in carbonite for years by the Eternal Empire.  After that, I had him jump right off the slippery slope (the revelation did hit after saving the Spire on Zakuul from being melted down, so he actually managed to keep Koth in his crew).

Thing is, though:  all those choices were drops in the bucket.  In order for him to actually BE Dark Side in the game, he has to have Dark Side points exceeding the Light Side points.  And since he doesn’t have the Diplomacy crew skill, that’s a long, long, long ways away.  But in my mind, he’s already gone-I mean, Anakin Skywalker didn’t have to work too hard to drop his points down the cellar (although I suppose slaughtering younglings netted a heap of DS points…).

Lasken the Fallen

Lasken’s appearance was set fairly early.  I chose to make him a Miraluka, a species that tends to see via the Force and not their eyes-mainly because they didn’t have them.  I went after hooded robes early, because that worked well with his appearance.  Somewhere around Chapter Two of the Consular story, though, I grabbed the Diabolist robes, which gave him a darker air-and foreshadowing his fall.  Eventually, though I got really sick of the clipping of the skull through the robes, so I picked up a helmet.  I went through a number of them; some would remove the hood entirely, and some worked within the robe.  Eventually-around the time he went full on Dark-I started using a Dramatic Extrovert helmet, which worked better than another one I’d tried (the Eradicator’s Mask).  I justified his use of it by the simple conceit that he can no longer stand to look at his own reflection in the mirror anymore.  His lightsaber has varied in color; in happier times it was blue, but then it went Sithy-red.  He’s using a purplish one now, though, thanks to a chance cube he got in a Command Crate.

This personal arc for the character influenced another side of his story.  His slow decline might have begun when he started romancing his companion, Nadia (Jedi, remember, aren’t supposed to have attachments).  Unlike most of my characters, though, who basically did the “one true love” thing, Lasken latched onto another after his carbon freeze:  Lana Beniko, who really hasn’t been what I’d call a good influence on him.  I’m hoping for a suitably dramatic return for Nadia someday where confrontations will be had.  At that point, we’ll see just how dark Lasken’s become, in the form of a choice between Lana and Nadia.  (If such a choice even happens-Nadia may take one look and go “Oh, hell no” with this.)

Lasken, naturally, did not kneel before Valkorion-and in the end, he chose to take the throne for himself.  The story of his arrogance and hubris have led him inexorably to the conclusion that if the galaxy is to be at peace, it must be imposed-by him.  In his heart, he has already decided to conquer the Republic and the Empire-because the rulers of both have proven to be hopelessly inept at the task.  Perhaps he will be a benevolent despot.  And perhaps not.  I haven’t run him through the post-Knights of the Eternal Throne content as of yet, so he has yet to choose a side to support on Iokath-and unfortunately, there is no choice to say “a plague on both your houses”.  I may flip a coin.

While I wasn’t able to get Lasken down in Dark Side points as far as I’d like-or technically Dark Side at all-I’m happy with where I’ve taken his story.  He’s fallen in all but game mechanics.  A terrifying end to his story…for now!

The Cast List: Introducing Alcaran of Star Wars: The Old Republic

It occurred to me that I’d missed a pair of fairly important characters for the Cast List in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  I’d assumed that my Smuggler was covered in one of my earliest posts on the blog (well, earliest after the WordPress move), but the banner didn’t include him at the time.  I added a menu page under my “about this blog” section to more fully describe the characters in the banner, which includes the smuggler (not in the same detail as what one sees in these posts, granted, but good enough).  However, this does not cover my other missing link, my Imperial Agent, Alcaran.

Once a Cipher, now a cipher.

Alcaran started life on an RP server, where an old guildmate from the Star Wars Galaxies days was hoping to put something together.  The character’s name started as Alcarin there, and I’d even written up some fiction for him (the semi-open RP going on at that guild’s site is long gone, though, along with that guild’s site, and likely the guild itself).  Eventually, I chose to relocate him to the server where my other characters were.  To my amazement, someone had already taken the Alcarin name there (proof positive that there are no original ideas), so I changed the “I” to an “A”, and that was that.

Alcaran, in a way, came out of a conversation I’d had many times with my old SWG guild:  is being a member of an Evil Empire something that automatically means you are evil yourself?  I’d long argued that the rank and file of the Empire-Sith or Galactic-were not evil, and in some cases not necessarily bad-at least, not until you climbed up the ranks and started having to really do some of the nasty things that involve exterminations and genocides.  Going after pirates or stopping really bad guys is a good thing, after all.  Where does the line exist?  At what point is the Moral Event Horizon crossed?  The Imperial Agent class seemed custom made for me to put my thoughts into action.  As the Keeper of Imperial Intelligence put it, the character was a garbage man, cleaning up the messes and doing the work nobody else wanted to do…or, as it turns out, could do.  Despite this, I was definitely going hard with the Light-side choices.  Of course, since protecting the Empire involved dirty work, he also did a number of Dark choices, too.  So like my Sith Warrior, he never maxed out his Light meter, but never devolved into a monster.

As one of my old guildmates pointed out to me during those aforementioned conversations, though, could a good man remain an Imperial after he’s exposed to the darker and more evil side of the Empire?  As the Agent storyline closed up, I had the opportunity for the character to cut himself loose from the Empire-or rather, from the Sith who ruled it.  Alcaran had no problem cutting his ties, and serving the people of the Empire as he saw fit, and put the command structure of the Empire behind him.  Well, at least until Makeb effectively trashed that ending-guess the writers didn’t want to have to deal with the ramifications of the IA storyline.  Even then, however, Alcaran remained independent, although he did at least respect Darth Marr for not being the psychopathic Sith he was used to dealing with (a feeling he also had with Lana Beniko, later; he had no issue with her taking over Sith Intelligence, even though he refused to join it).  Then along came the Eternal Empire….  He wouldn’t kneel before Valkorion, resisted his “destiny” with all his might, but he got shoved out of the shadows he preferred to work in and into the light as the Outlander; now he commands the Eternal Alliance.  Clearly, his career path has been derailed quite a bit from what he’d envisioned in his early days in Imperial Intelligence.  He’d had a number of romantic liaisons, but none since he got involved with Ensign Temple, who remains missing after his carbonite break (but if one has been paying attention to the upcoming roadmap, one will realize that the MIA status will be shortly revoked!).

The more formal looking Alcaran

Alcaran’s had a number of appearances in his outfits as the game has gone on.  For a while, he got a tan longcoat, but eventually I got a black one that fit him better.  I also made ruthless use of the Appearance Tabs once they came out to give him a “formal” white Imperial uniform; additionally, I took advantage of my status as a Collector’s Edition owner and purchased a full set of Imperial Trooper armor for those occasions when he had to go on the front lines and fight it out-which, as it turns out, I almost never wind up breaking out.  Maybe if I did more group content with him….

The constant dance between light and dark exists with Alcaran, and his story has been a big reason why I consider him my primary Imperial character; when new content comes out for SWTOR, he’s usually the second character through it, and the first Imperial.  He may be a lot more public than he wants to be these days, but he’s still a super-spy who understands that who you appear to be may not be who you are.  (And as such, he’s the one character in my roster who is fully aware that recent betrayals may not necessarily be what they appear to be; he’s been in that role himself….)

The Cast List: Introducing Silver Paladin of Champions Online

I’ll confess it:  I’ve been a long-time fan of the superhero character “Iron Man”.  I liked Tony Stark long before he became a household name from the movies, although there were long periods where I didn’t follow the character because of the frankly idiotic moves by the comic writers who I often felt just didn’t actually like the character at all.  I could go into more detail, but this is a blog about MMOs-and in this case, Champions Online.

The relevance comes with this thought:  I wanted to make a very different Iron Man-like character.  Iron Man is, in many ways, a modern version of the medieval knight:  skilled with his weapons and encased in a full suit of armor to protect himself.  I thought, “well, with all the tools that technology can offer, what would happen if someone managed to more or less convert an actual knight’s armor to modern specs?  Or to be more accurate, super-heroic specifications?”  With that as my opening move, the character of Silver Paladin was born.

The first thing I did with the character was design the look.  Fortunately, costume parts for a knight were easy to put together.  I deliberately chose nothing that made him look obviously hi-tech; all of those goodies were inside the armor.  I didn’t really go overboard with accessories here; it was a link to what some might consider a simpler time (is any time simpler?).  The next step was powers.  Sadly, there is no shield powerset in CO, and no “block” power that manifests as a physical shield; there’s a missed opportunity, if you ask me.  So I couldn’t go all out with the simple sword and shield combination like I could’ve with a certain City of Heroes character I’d had once.  (Someday, I may do a Cast List for those, but it’s hard to bring myself to do that for a game that’s no longer remotely current.)  But I was bound and determined to mix melee weapons with powered armor stuff-which meant this had to be a freeform character, as none of the Silver Archetypes would have what I wanted.

So I wound up going with a ranged/melee hybrid, with a few extras.  The melee part of the equation used Heavy Weapons, which allowed him to use an almost anime-esque broadsword.  On top of that, I used the Power Armor powerset to help round things off, including a shoulder-mounted gatling gun (with mercy bullets, naturally, that wonderful comic-book-friendly answer to lethal rounds) and the energy shield block power so he would have a tech-looking defense.  Threw two layers of healing on the character-one that was a straight self-heal, and another that came in the form of a set of drones that could be swapped from offense to healing.  (The healing was also helpful in teams, as they’d heal any friendly nearby.)  The character was a pretty tough cookie as he leveled, particularly after slotting an Invulnerability passive to give him improved survivability.  He couldn’t beat a Cosmic like Grond, admittedly, but he could survive a hit or two from him-empirically tested the hard way in Snake Gulch.

I did manage to get a Nemesis for him, a villain called Techknight; nothing really fancy or unusual on him-I like to make a Nemesis that I can contrast and compare with the hero in some way, and this one was designed to be what you usually think of as a power-armor wearer as opposed to Silver Paladin’s old-fashioned, knightly look.  By the time I got this guy to 40, I still hadn’t finished his Nemesis arc, so Techknight is still at large….

As is often the case for my costume slots, I would create a “civilian” look for the character.  I also did a couple variations on his armor, including a more armored up look (heavier helm, for instance), and a helmetless look, for conversation outside of a combat scenario.  But nine times out of ten, if one were to encounter this character, it’d be in his usual appearance-ready to deal out justice the old, OLD fashioned way!

The Cast List: Introducing Runelord of Champions Online

When City of Heroes shut its doors, some of the folks in the supergroups I’d been involved with decided to try out Champions Online as a replacement.  (That’s actually not entirely accurate; that implies we hadn’t tried it before, which we had-but not as a group.)  As we were doing the RP thing, we decided to set up a supergroup there and made a bunch of new characters.  My offering was the character Runelord-a character I had very, very loosely based on an old Marvel Superheroes RPG character I’d made years and years and years ago.

I wasn’t entirely sure what my future was going to be in CO, so he was originally designed as a Silver Archetype.  Some explanation for those not-in-the-know:  subscribers were considered “Gold” players, and were able to create characters with pretty much complete freedom, mixing and matching powers that didn’t necessarily go together; if you wanted a magic-throwing/hammer-wielding healing character, you could conceivably do so.  However, Silver players-the ones who did the “free” part of the “free-to-play” equation-could not create a freeform character (unless they purchased a freeform character slot); they were instead led to choose among a variety of Archetypes, which had a preset path for gaining powers.  I don’t recall all the pluses and minuses involved, but the part that is important here is that Gold players could ALSO use the Archetypes, even though they could also create freeform characters.  My thinking at the time was, “If I make a Silver Archetype here, I should be able to keep using him even if I let my sub lapse.”  So I used the Grimoire Archetype, which is a Hybrid archetype; it does a little of everything, although not nearly as well as those that specialized in things like damage, tanking, healing, etc.

I’ll admit that in the fullness of time, I decided to grab a lifetime sub to CO-which has “matured” to the point where the amount I spent on it during a sale was roughly equal to the amount I’d have paid if I’d kept up a subscription.  Once I’d done that, I made use of a “once per character’s lifetime” ability to convert the character from a Silver character to a Gold character-allowing me to do a changeover from the Grimoire to freeform character.  I re-established most of the character powers, and got a couple extras (freeforms ALSO have a different leveling experience that winds up with two extra powers by the end).  This didn’t happen until well after I’d gotten the character to level 40, though, so his entire leveling experience had been done as a Grimoire.

The character concept was fairly straightforward:  a wizard who had newly come into his power (but still growing:  low levels mean you gotta have room to grow the character) by making use of “rune magic”, allowing him to create various effects-in other words, the powers in the Grimoire repertoire (I couldn’t help that one.  I’m bad.)  This was actually the only CO character I’d bothered putting any fiction together for, but things more or less fell apart as CO just really wasn’t what the people who’d come with me were looking for, and my own will to actually run a new supergroup had burned out faster than I had expected; so the story I had been building towards with that character remains locked in my head.  That origin did include one of that character’s future Nemeses, a demon called Fhtagath, who had killed his master/teacher; I’d actually effectively had the villain “banished” with some SG help during the last Nemesis mission which allowed me to create a second Nemesis, Black Blade, who was a a thief of magical artifacts.  I had planned up a third Nemesis, who would be the wizard who had held Fhtagath’s leash, but I don’t believe I ever got to the point of opening up a third Nemesis for Runelord.  Nevertheless, merely by virtue of having complete even one of the full Nemesis arcs, it made Runelord the holder of the most Nemeses of all my characters.

The appearance of the character was planned to evolve.  The first outfit (pictured here) is very much a wizard-like look with the deep hood; I also made a version of the outfit without the hood up, so he could have it up or down as the situation demanded.  A third outfit that was very “Dr. Strange-esque” was put together, which I had planned to have him start using at level 40-where he could legitimately be said to have mastered his magic.  But that never really came to pass, as the SG had more or less ended by that point, and there wasn’t much point to it.  I tended after to swap among the outfits according to whim.

Obviously, as noted above, I did manage to get the character to level 40, but he hasn’t seen much action since.  He was the second character of mine to hit that milestone, and probably the last one that I bothered keeping track of as far as the order of that milestone goes.

The Cast List: Introducing Vesehn of Star Trek Online

It had long been speculated in Star Trek lore that there were a people on the planet of Remus, the sister world of Romulus.  The movie Star Trek: Nemesis finally brought us the natives of that world, the Remans, who didn’t turn out anything like I’d have imagined.  A slave race, but apparently they had it together enough to take over the Romulan Empire, thanks to the work of that movie’s antagonist, Shinzon.  Naturally, things went back to status quo afterward-well, maybe.  Honestly, since the next Trek movie after that was Abram’s Star Trek, it’s a little hard to nail down.  Well, unless you’re a player of Star Trek Online, where we have a nice “Path to 2409” that indicated that things had more or less settled down.  Until Hobus blew up, of course, and set the Romulans on the course of becoming a Romulan Republic.

But before that happened, we got a Feature Episode back in the day which featured the Remans in revolt, led by a charismatic leader named Obisek.  The Remans more or less won (although even Obisek acknowledged it was an ongoing struggle), and eventually tied their fate to that of the newly emerging Romulan Republic.  So when when the Legacy of Romulus expansion landed, the Remans were there too.  Of course, there was a catch:  while bridge officers could be Remans with no issues, you couldn’t have a Reman captain unless you went to the C-Store and unlocked that species…or one of your other characters had gotten to Tier 5 on the Romulan Reputation grind.

Need I mention that by the time the expansion landed, I’d already gotten to Tier 5 of the Romulan Reputation?

“You merely adopted the dark; I was born in it, molded by it. I didn’t see the light until I was already a man; by then it was nothing to me but blinding!”  With apologies to Bane.

Thus, my second Romulan aligned character was a Reman:  Vesehn.  Vehsen would be a Tactical offering, and he wound up aligning with the Federation.  (Despite my Starfleet leanings, I didn’t ignore the Klingons-my third Romulan went that way, but that is a story for the future.)  Like Ailar, I eschewed using any Starfleet vessels, though, preferring to stick with the Romulan warbirds.  Call me a purist that way.  I think I’ve had exactly one Romulan captain who made use of lower tier allied-faction ships-my Delta Recruit offering for the Romulans.  But aside from him, it’s all been Romulan pride.

Unlike most of my Romulan characters, Vesehn would eschew the basic uniforms of the Republic and go with a uniquely Reman look.  I had been tempted to pick up a Reman outfit from the C-Store, but I was pretty happy with what was offered for the character at base, and aside from a brief period where the eye-lenses clipped with the hood graphically speaking, I haven’t regretted it.  The rest of his bridge crew did go with the more traditional Romulan Republic look (save for his Reman officer, who went with a similar look as he did).

As with Ailar, Vesehn’s bridge crew was mostly the default crew, although I did rename them and modify their appearances from their defaults-so one has to wonder if they really count as default crew anymore?  The exception, of course, was Tovan Khev, who is famed on the forums for being impossible to get rid of, or rename (I remain convinced that “Tovan Khev” is the “John Smith” of the Romulan language).  Because of the Starfleet affiliation, I grabbed a Starfleet officer too and incorporated him into the main crew.  I made that one an alien instead of one of the standard species, but never developed much backstory there.

Given that the character was a Reman, there was no doubt that he, too, would be flying a Scimitar-class dreadnought when he reached the right level-and unlike my main Romulan, Vesehn would keep that appearance rather than use the Romulan aesthetic when the Tier-6 versions came around.  He’s a Reman, it’s a Reman design, and dammit, he’s proud of it.  The RRW Dera-named for that major outpost run by Obisek during the Featured Series-also took advantage of the Romulan Reputation items by using the named Reman gear (yes, I ground out a heap of Romulan reputation on this guy, after grinding a heap of it on my main character to allow me to make this character in the first place.  I must be insane).  Vesehn hasn’t forgotten who he is.

Vesehn isn’t at the top level, but he’s high enough to play with the Tier-6 ships, at level 50+.  Due to the raw number of characters I have floating around, it’s probably not surprising that he’s now in the background.  Despite that, he’s still available for the Reman point of view whenever I want to revisit that.  I like to think that Obisek is proud that a Reman has advanced so far in the Republic’s fleet!

The Cast List: Introducing Astirth of Star Wars: The Old Republic

Since I’ve recently finished running this fellow through to the end of the line, it’s time to look at my Sith Warrior representative in Star Wars: The Old Republic.

Once the Emperor’s, once the Empire’s, now he is simply Wrath.

This character was designed with purpose in mind.  I had two big ideas to show how I was going to play this character, Astirth.  The first was inspired by a quote from a playing card in the long running card game “Magic the Gathering”.  The Black Knight’s quote:  “Battle doesn’t need a purpose; the battle is its own purpose.  You don’t ask why a plague spreads or a field burns. Don’t ask why I fight.”  That was a quote that just screams Sith to me.  But the other side was that I didn’t want him to just be a kill-machine.  I decided that this character is the road not taken; a character who could have been a Jedi if he was willing to surrender himself to its serenity, willing to quiet his emotions for the greater good.  But he loves the battle (see aforementioned quote), has no desire to cut off his emotions, and is just as happy to cut loose with every weapon at his disposal.  What I came up with was a character who can be cold blooded in slaughtering his enemies, but capable of showing mercy to the helpless (or if you look at it less charitably, to those who aren’t strong enough to actually give him a challenge).

Unsurprisingly, this attitude has given him a light-sided nature, but with heaps of dark-side choices that ensured he’d never max out the light-side meter.  He didn’t choose the needlessly sadistic options, but had no problem executing a fallen opponent.  A worthy fight would allow him to spare a life if the foe asked for quarter, but for the most part, if you took arms up against Astirth, he’d wind up delivering what was deserved-a swift death.  Thanks to the assorted betrayals he’s been delivered, particularly from a certain Emperor, it’s probably not shocking that he more or less spat in Valkorion’s face when offered a chance to join the Eternal Empire; he had nothing but contempt for the Emperor’s spirit, and although he spared Arcann in the end (see:  worthy foe, plus he’s useful…), he had no problem taking the throne for his own.  On the romantic side, it’s not shocking that he romanced Vette; her shock collar was off roughly ten minutes after arriving at the Imperial Fleet off Korriban, and he came to appreciate her ready wit.  Probably impacted some of his early decisions and helped the light-side part of his nature grow.

It took me a long, long time to settle on a final look for the character.  Nothing wrong with the looted stuff, but I kept experimenting with the appearance until the cartel crates brought along the Remulus Dreypa set, which looked to me to be perfect for the character.  He’s no armored behemoth (he went with the Marauder spec), and this look felt both fashionable and deadly.  I had gone with the standard red lightsaber crystals for the longest time, but I eventually had a black-core red crystal fall into my hands, and figured, “why not?”  I used a pair of curved hilts until Knights of the Fallen Empire, when I swapped one for the attuned saber crafted on Odessen.

All told, I’ve always been pretty happy with Astirth as a character.  Quick to avenge, quick to defend, eagerly seeking to test himself in battle against his enemies, and willing to reward his friends lavishly.  He doesn’t take betrayal well, though; folks who have done the Sith Warrior storyline will understand that I was regretful that I couldn’t kill a certain traitor at one point, but I made up for it by replacing his armor with cybernetic parts.  I like to think Astirth hacked off a number of parts with a lightsaber.  Like I said:  quick to avenge….  That said:  since the post-Eternal Throne storyline included the return of that character, I chose to let Astirth bring the character back into the fold; it’d been five years plus the length of the storyline, plus the time between the beginning of the storyline and the end of the Sith Warrior Chapter Three, which includes the entirety of Shadow of Revan and Rise of the Hutt Cartel.  The character had paid the price and had effectively repaid Astirth with excellent service; and, well, Astirth may hate betrayal, but is fond of loyalty.  I haven’t taken Astirth through the most recent mission, though, which reveals the Alliance Traitor, so when I eventually put him through it, we’ll see how things shake out.

Only two more of my “main” characters to go through the KotET story, plus the two “Dark vs. Light” characters!  And one of them will be getting their own Cast List posts likely at that time; it’s such a convenient time to take care of these things….  (The other is Chadam, who’s already had his turn here.)