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!

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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.)

The Cast List: Introducing Gunfighter of Champions Online

Well, coming on the heels of Willforge’s finale, it’s time to expand the List to include Champions Online characters.  I debated on adding CO characters to my Cast List; after all, a very large portion of them are already out there on the web in assorted locations.  But it occurred to me that while that’s all well and good for a role-playing perspective, those don’t really go into my thoughts on when I put those characters together.  And since CO is still a game that I’m playing, it made sense to me to part the curtain here.  (At some point, I may well add characters from defunct games like Star Wars Galaxies-that’ll be a short list-and City of Heroes to the list, but the current games I’m involved with should cover this nicely for the foreseeable future.)

So.  Gunfighter.  I can’t say he is the first character I created for CO; but he is the oldest surviving one; I’d wiped out a couple of other characters over the years dating back to when I started playing CO, but Gunfighter had evolved into my “main” character for a short period of time when I had that free time from game purchase, then got shoveled to the side until the game went Freemium-it was still shoveled to the side, though, because I didn’t have access to the Freeform archetypes, and I wasn’t willing to convert him to a Marksman AT.  Eventually, when I started doing the sub again, I was able to continue advancing the character.

Since the character was put together at a time when I wasn’t interested much in developing an RP backstory for him, his creation came not from any story concept but from “gee, what if I make a modern-day cowboy”?  A man in black, complete with a black hat, but a good guy?  Since this was the game’s early days, everyone built via Freeform characters, and the powerset that obviously suited this guy was the Munitions powerset, which had all the good stuff like dual pistols and sniper rifles.  My plan was to give him all the gun-related powers, regardless of type of gun-he was going to be as familiar with rifles as he was with pistols; over time, he’d also get access to submachine guns and even a gatling gun!

It also meant that he got what I consider the character’s pride and joy.  Early in the game’s lifespan, there were items that were considered “Power Replacers”; items that basically meant you could replace a specific power with a modified version of the power.  Somewhere along the line when I wasn’t involved with CO, they got rid of those-or more accurately, stopped letting them drop.  They still existed, so if you had them, you could still use them, but nobody was getting these anymore.  Well, at one point in the character’s career, he got a replacer for his sniper rifle, an alien Gadroon sniper rifle; the weapon looks alien, and instead of doing a sniper-bullet, it was a sniper-energy-pulse.  It was the only power replacer I’d ever gotten.  I believe some of them have come back, but they require heaps of Questionite-the CO equivalent of Star Trek Online’s Dilithium-to purchase, I’m unlikely to ever get my hands on another similar type of item.

I could have given the character a classic cowboy appearance, but since I was going super-modern, I went with an armored suit, with extra plating on the upper body.  I had to include the black hat, though-that just wasn’t negotiable.  I added gold as a secondary color, and I think the look worked out pretty good.  The character’s face is a bit rugged looking, which is exactly how I figured it should be.  Finally, I slapped on a black eye mask, because, why not?  It’s a superhero setting!

I did eventually start up a backstory for the guy; my time in CoH made that sort of thing almost a reflex nowadays.  I wanted to work with the game’s setting-I often try to do that-and found my link in the organization called PRIMUS, which, among other things, is a law enforcement agency working in the US concerned with superhuman activity.  I figured that an ex-military guy might migrate to the organization, so I made him an ex-Marine; then, because I can’t leave well enough alone, I came up with a back story how a faction in PRIMUS was annoyed at how the international agency UNTIL often took over jurisdiction on superhuman activity, and this faction decided to take twelve people and enhance them in various ways (beyond what PRIMUS is normally capable of doing, that is)-one third got cyber enhanced, one third got “gene-mapped” new powers with an experimental process, and the last third simply got hi-tech toys.  Gunfighter would be in the latter category.  These would be superhuman operatives that operated more or less in international territory, and given plausible deniability to avoid issues with the assorted governments.  Because I didn’t want to get too crazy with rogue factions, I had the faction found out by the higher ups in PRIMUS and shut down-but not before they cut the survivors of the twelve loose to operate as heroes.

Worth noting that I had planned to mine this basic concept for future reference.  I have no less than three other characters tied to this rogue PRIMUS experiment, and in addition to that, I also put together one Nemesis (not all of the survivors from the original 12 wound up as good guys in the end), who conveniently is Gunfighter’s.  I planned to build a foundation similar to what I had done with a chunk of my characters in CoH, just in case one day I’d be actually doing any RP with the guy-or any future characters.  As I’ve more or less drifted away from that scene, that idea’s something that now only exists in my head.

Gunfighter was not my first level 40 character, but he was somewhere in the first three.  The Munitions powerset has gone through its ups and downs, but Gunfighter managed to get through them intact, and-as most of my top level guys do in this game-is now more or less enshrined in my personal hall of fame, as I work on new characters.  With new character slots that open up when you get a character to max level in CO, it’s painfully easy to move onto new ideas and indulge hard in altoholism.  This sort of helps encourage a guy to actually try to occasionally focus on getting characters to 40, so the addiction to alts can be continually fed!

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

Here’s the original character….

Since I’m presently making a push to get a couple more characters through the Eternal Throne expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic, I thought I’d look at another of my characters over there.  This entry for the List has its origins, somewhat, in the predecessor of SWTOR.  Well, it’s MMORPG predecessor, anyway-Star Wars Galaxies.  During a break I was taking from that game just after the Combat Upgrade, I made a character named Idievak Bialar, who was a much different sort of character than my Ranger on my main server.  That character directly inspired the creation of my Jedi Knight, Idievak, in SWTOR.

It’s true that I have no shame in reusing names sometimes.  I could say that the SWTOR version is an ancestor of the SWG version, but I prefer to think of it this way:  just because they share a same first name means nothing.  How many people in the state you live in are named “John”?  I simply see Idievak as something similar.  It’s easy to get away with things like first names; it’s the last names that are trickier, and I never established one for the Jedi Idievak-so I’m free and clear of having to deal with any ancestry issues.

…And the present day version. He’s a bit more badass….

I knew from the start that I wasn’t going to mess with the Dark Side; this was a true-blue Jedi Knight, strong in the Force and Light Side all the way!  I did hem and haw about what advanced class to use, but eventually went with the Sentinel and the dual lightsabers.  The other big choice I had to look for was the idea of romance; as was indicated early on in the Jedi storyline on Tython, romantic attachments are a no-no, at least as far as a pair of Jedi Masters there were concerned.  This led to a big question mark with an early companion, Kira, who is a romanceable companion for the Knight.  Well, everyone needs one vice, right?  Of course, since Idievak’s gone along the Knights of the Fallen Empire and Knights of the Eternal Throne storylines, Kira’s been missing in action along with a large percentage of the former flames of the character classes.  That hasn’t kept Idievak from doing the right thing all through the Zakuul story, where he definitely kept an antagonistic relationship with his unwanted head-guest.  It probably shouldn’t be a surprise what decisions he made at the end of the Eternal Throne, being my third character to complete that arc.

In spite of my insistence that Idievak isn’t actually related to the SWG version, I certainly crafted his appearance to have some similarities-a darker skinned Zabrak, although he lacks facial tatooos.  As an early character, he tended to go back and forth on his outfit until I got some “orange gear” which could slot mods; it wasn’t a bad look, but it really popped once color dyes became available.  A white-and-red dye gave him what I consider his signature look.  Lightsaber blade colors remained blue for a time, but thanks to a hypercrate of gamble-packs I’d picked up (I had so bloody much cartel coins that I HAD to spend them on something!), I acquired some crit-enhanced white/blue crystals, and their look was suitably impressive enough to me to use them-particularly since this character was the one to whom the collection item was bound, so he could replicate heaps of bound crystals for use by him and his companions (well, nowadays, the only thing they’d get out of it is color, but that’s progress for you).

Ultimately, I was extremely happy with the character’s final look, and how he dealt with the class story and succeeding content.  And now that the war is back on between the Republic and the Empire (c’mon, you gotta know which side Idievak chose to support), things are only gong to keep busy for a Jedi in the Eternal Alliance.

The Cast List: Introducing Ailar of Star Trek Online

In the beginning, they were a broken race, thanks to Star Trek Online’s backstory-which tied neatly to the J.J. Abrams backstory of his Star Trek film.  They gained significant focus in a Feature Episode series as their…let’s call them planetary siblings…broke away.  And then it got followed up with a large portion of their species deciding to effectively revolt-and eventually became a sub-faction available in the game.  People love ’em, people hate ’em, but the Romulan Republic arrived and is here to stay.

Obviously, when the Romulans were finally brought in as playable characters, I had to make a few.  Like the major factions, I could choose species.  Unlike them, there were only so many available.  The Romulans.  The generic Aliens (which I never did take as much as advantage of as I could have).  A little later came the Borg-ified Romulans.  I did have Reman access early thanks to having completed the Romulan Republic reputation prior to that period, so I didn’t have to do anything exotic like spend Zen.  And, naturally, true-blue (er, green?) Romulans.

A new hope for the Republic

So.  It felt right that I should have a pure Romulan as my first (and main) Romulan character, so I designed Ailar.  Ailar was a Science captain (another non-tactical!  I’m on a roll!).  Now, as a sub-faction, it was required-after reaching a certain level/point in the STO story-to choose a faction to ally with, the Klingons or the Federation.  Ailar chose to go Federation (although the Klingons had a real good argument at the time.  I remember really wavering with the choice when the time finally came).  This would allow me to make use of Starfleet vessels up to and including Tier-4 ships; Tier-5 ships were not made available to the Romulans from Starfleet, mainly because of an outcry on the forums that it would be insane for Starfleet to make their best ships available to an allied power outside of their control.  Same with the KDF.  I’d agreed with that at the time, but later reflection had me recall that it wouldn’t have been without precedent; in the original Star Trek series, Romulans could be seen flying top-end Klingon battlecruisers.  So its not as if there wasn’t precedent for that sort of thing.

The Romulans had their own set of outfits, and didn’t share much with the other factions-which meant there wasn’t that big a variety of uniforms.  Certainly not as much as, say, Starfleet.  That said, the devs didn’t do too badly here.  There were a couple varieties of Romulan “civilian” outfits, a pair of Republic officer outfits, and even Klingon/Starfleet specific Romulan outfits, depending on who you chose to ally with.  (And for the Romulan purists, a Tal Shiar style outfit.  Because it’s good to be bad.  You got it from going undercover….)  Some of the cross-platform outfits came across too, such as the Intelligence uniforms.  The C-Store eventually got a few more to work with, if you wanted to go classic or real classic.  For the Romulans in the crew, I went with the straight up uniform, although I individualized Ailar’s uniform as she was in charge.  Well, mostly straight-up:  the Reman representative has her own look, and one of them is sort of unable to have any other uniform options.  I figured that was okay, though-given the relative “age” of the Republic, it’s a wonder they have anything resembling a consistent look.

The bridge crew was mostly the default crew; as the first of my Romulans, I didn’t go too crazy on using them.  I had access to Starfleet officers as well, but, well, I was feeling like a purist here.  I’d be willing to have a Starfleet officer help man the ship weapons (I think it was a Ferengi that joined when I declared for Starfleet), but for the longest time, I would only use Romulans and Remans in my away teams.  I eventually picked up a Hierarchy bridge officer during the Delta Rising arc, and I eventually included him in the main group.

I knew from day one that Ailar would be flying a Scimitar-class warbird in the end.  It hadn’t been available at the Romulan launch, but I knew that as sure as Starfleet had Odysseys and the Klingons had Bortasqu’s, the Romulans would get a flagship, and it would be the Scimitar.  I was dead right-and for a while, that was exactly what she flew (using the science variant, naturally).  However, when the Tier-6 ships came rolling around, I saw that while the basic Scimitar skeleton was still being used, the appearance was distinct from that used by the Tier-5s, and I decided that it made sense to have Ailar in command of a brand spanking new Republic-constructed warbird-the RRW Hobus.

Ailar, as my primary Romulan character, has had the benefit of having gone through the vast majority of the episodes of the game, and is at max level; she hasn’t maxed out her primary specialization (Command), though.  In part, this is because it’s tricky enough to get new characters leveled plus keeping my Klingon and Starfleet mains at the latest and greatest.  At some point, I expect I’ll try to locate where I left Ailar and binge from there to the latest episode.  If one is looking to rebuild into galactic power again, it’d behoove one to make sure their best and brightest lead the way.

The Cast List: Introducing K’ratukar of Star Trek Online

This will come as a shock, but the Klingon Empire side of Star Trek Online?  They’re named for the Klingons.  It’s true!

I know that’s a shock-we have all these Orions (and judging from the look of things, most of them are women), Gorn (none of them are women that we can tell; nobody’s been brave enough to check.  O Klingon Warrior!  HERE is a task to get you glory!), Naussicaans, and Letheans, and oh yes-cat men.  Not to mention aliens of even stranger origin that could well be the only ones of their species for all we know!  And then there’s Klingons assimilated by Borg, and this nothing-Delta Quadrant species that have the gall to think they can command Klingon warships!  They’re all crawling over the surface of glorious world of Qo’nos.  How did all these beings become captains in the Klingon Defense Force?

I gave an eye to the Empire, with the promise I would take the eyes of its enemies.

So, taking back the Empire in the name of the Klingons, I put together a new Klingon:  K’ratukar.

The character is an Engineering captain (YES!  NOT A TACTICAL GUY AGAIN!), and the character came about because I wanted a captain to handle a very special kind of ship.  This requires some backstory, and illuminates another great injustice to the Klingon Empire in STO.

Way back, at the game’s third annivesary, there was a feature episode.  It was called “Temporal Ambassador”, and when it was first released, you got a couple of special rewards for completing it.  First, you get a uniform unlock-it’s not exactly fancy, a sash similar to that used by Starfleet characters in the Next Generation episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise” (to which this mission was a sequel).  Then, you got a ship-an Ambassador class ship if you were Starfleet (or Romulan aligned with them) or a Kamarag Battlecruiser if you were with the Klingons (or a Romulan aligned with them).  Both ships were Commander level ships.

BUT…during a limited time, which was “the 3 year celebration” period, you would also get a tier-5 variant of that same ship.  But ONLY for a character that completed that mission.

Now for that injustice part:  a while back, during another celebratory event-according to the Internets, an end-of summer event in ’14-the Ambassador was made available again-the tier 5 one, I mean.  And THIS time, it was as account unlock from the C-Store.  So any Starfleet character could go gallivanting around the top line Ambassador class (well, it was top line until the T6’s came around…).

The Klingons, for the same event, got…well, not the Kamarag.  To date, it has never been made available as a T5 variant beyond that first time.  Cryptic, MAKE THIS RIGHT!

But that’s getting off track.  The point is, I’d made this Klingon character, and I knew the Kamarag’s T5 version was going to be limited time, so I pushed to get him to a level which could run the mission-recall, most Feature Episodes had low requirements until the initial period had passed, and it got put somewhere in the game’s episodic storyline at its “true” level-and got the ship unlocked, where it would wait until he got high enough in level to use it-both the Commander version and the T5 version.  That’s pretty much the only reason this character got run through.

Still, I had to design the character first.  You can’t really see it on this image, but he’s not a bald Klingon-he’s got a long ponytail in the back.  I gave him a “General Chang” eyepatch.  He’s bounced around uniforms over the time I’ve had the character around, but I did eventually start grabbing the Bortasqu’ parts for his primary uniform-well, at least for his crew’s primary.  He often goes around in the outfit shown above, because he was an engineer and he WORKED for a living!

The battlecruiser was named the Vegh’Ka, because of course it is.  As far as I know, it doesn’t translate to anything in the Klingon language, so it’s probably a place name or something like that.  Or a proper name.  This is a hazard of using the randomizer for names.

While the character was backburnered for a long time, he did recently gain spotlights again.  See, a friend had reformed a Klingon fleet after the original one had gotten stolen (this is the kind of thing that can happen when you’re absent for an extended period and have recruited people without knowing them well as officers).  My main Klingon joined that fleet, but he had a minor problem.  He couldn’t do much in the way of helping with building the fleet holdings, because the choke-points involved Dilithium (which, of course, is the currency which can get converted to Zen at the exchange), energy credits (because it adds up)…and duty officers.  Specifically, white/common duty officers.  My main Klingon has a minimum green/uncommon rarity for his people.  So if I wanted to help the fleet out with some rough patches, I had to use a different KDF aligned character.  I chose K’ratukar as my go-to guy here, so I was able to assist in a number of projects by blowing away heaps of commons, and use the fleet credits to buy more commons to throw into the mill.  There were diminishing returns there; the amount of fleet credit gained by donating them isn’t as high as it costs to buy them at the starbase-but then, I could always donate fleet marks or other materials to get the fleet credit numbers up again to start a new round of “Grab the Random Duty Officer and Stuff Him In A Fleet Holding”.  The character hasn’t done much else outside that-he’s holding tight at level 50, and has been for a long, long time.  I like to think that he’s more or less transferred to the fleet starbase and is in charge of its personnel, given how many duty officers he’s stuffed in it so far.  Perhaps occasionally giving glances at a docked battlecruiser that is just waiting for a chance, one day, to go into glorious battle once more.

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

Waaaay back during the Closed Beta of Star Wars: The Old Republic, I knew that I wanted to be playing a Smuggler.  So, I made a deliberate choice to test with a character that wasn’t one (although obviously, I did do some testing with the Smuggler just to get familiar with the idea).  I decided to go with a class that wouldn’t interest me all that much:  the Republic Trooper.  That was the design origins of the character of Jesken, who I recreated at Launch.  Boy, did I blow that original analysis:  I wound up having the Trooper be my second Republic character to complete his class story.

For the Republic!

The general concept was simple:  what if you had someone who was a True Believer in the ideals of the Republic serving as a soldier?  What if you had someone who had the right personality to be a Jedi, but had not a lick of Force-sensitivity?  What if my Trooper was, in other words, a knight in shining armor?  This became an even bigger deal for me as I went through the early levels of Coruscant, where the character’s commanding officer was far more of a pragmatist and willing to consider collateral damage to be sure of a successful mission.  I managed to hold true to this, with a single exception where he did the selfish thing-and there were consequences.  (I won’t go into detail since it is POSSIBLE that it could spoil a small part of the Trooper story, but I will say that there were no good endings to that situation-and it impacted my play such that the character would not pursue a romance with any of his companions.)

I chose a Cyborg as the character’s species-something near human.  There’s nothing really special about that-really, character species doesn’t count for much except for certain Imperial storylines and special social moves (Cyborgs scan people).  Since he was leveling up during the first/second year of the game, he didn’t have as much possible armors to choose from as my later characters did, so his armor tended to be a constant work-in-progress.  The color matching to chest armor code wasn’t exactly perfect then, either, so sometimes he and his companions had some hilariously mis-matched armor in terms of coloration.  And this was before the special dyes became available.  Over the years, I’ve stabilized him to most of a single set:  the Yavin reputation armor.  It looked like it could take serious damage and serious abuse; the helmet was the piece I chose to pass on, keeping one I’d gotten while leveling.

In keeping with the personality I molded for him, Jesken would choose the Vanguard advanced class, with the Shield discipline.  I made him as tanky as I could-and he would either use Jorgan for damage dealing or Elara for healing (this was, of course, before Knights of the Fallen Empire allowed any companion to be set to any role).  This has made things a little tricky at times going through some missions, particularly as nerfs came to the damage dealing abilities of the class-and the removal of abilities that had any real range to them.  The Vanguard has become a very up-close-and-personal class, virtually melee with a ranged weapon.  But he’s able to survive, and that’s a good thing except missions where he doesn’t get a companion.  Then it’s a little more of a slog.

Jesken turned out to be the kind of guy you could write a recruitment ad around.  He wasn’t as gung-ho as a certain droid companion of his, but he was definitely all about doing the right thing, even if it damaged future strategic goals.  Saving lives was what the job was about more than killing the enemy (even if killing the enemy might save lives in the future-you can’t live with a hypothetical future when there’s a clear and present danger now!).  This would put him in conflict with his superior officers at times, and he would develop a dislike for politicians-although he certainly answered their questions with respect and honesty.

Recently, he found himself considered KIA by the Republic at the beginning of hostilities with the Eternal Empire.  Cue surprises when he showed back up, and able to claim a posthumous promotion to Colonel (props to the KotFE writers for including that detail-and to the developers for adding Colonel to the list of titles he could use-and of course, it’s the one he’s now using), and heading up an alliance to overthrow the Immortal Emperor.  I recently completed the Knights of the Eternal Throne story with this character, and it’s no surprise that he found it easy to tell his companions, “I’m no emperor”.  With the Iokath world being recently introduced, Jesken becomes the only character of mine to have interacted with all of his former companions from the class story, and has returned four of them into the fold.  (And no, he didn’t kill the fifth on Asylum.)  This makes the Trooper the current leader in the Great Companion Recovery, with all five former companions accounted for.

I had a lot of fun playing Jesken, and I enjoyed running him again through the Eternal Empire stories.  Says a lot about a character who was basically a throwaway character during Beta!

The Cast List: Introducing Chyrim of Star Trek Online

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.

Why, no, I’m not a standard Star Trek species. Why do you ask?

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.)

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

I confess, there are certain classes/professions in the Star Wars setting that do not appeal to me at all.  The top of that list is the Bounty Hunter.  Blame it on Boba Fett backlash; I always felt that he was overrated-sure, he had the cool armor, but he needed Vader and a heap of Imperials to get Han Solo (and of course, Solo was my favorite character at the time, so that didn’t help), and then he wound up killed by a blind smuggler with a pike and a Sarlacc.  So it drove me somewhat nuts that the Expanded Universe for Star Wars had to find a way to dig him back out of being digested for a thousand years and overcompensate.  When Star Wars Galaxies was a thing, my opinion didn’t improve when a heap of content was thrown into the whole “Jedi vs Bounty Hunter” thing they had going there, at the expense of other professions; that said, I didn’t really have a big issue with them actually, you know, hunting bounties-it was what they did!  If only the Smugglers in that game had been able to smuggle as THAT was what THEY were supposed to do, but that ship is long, long gone.

So, I have some prejudices against Bounty Hunters as a class.  That’s probably why this class was the next-to-last one I did in my work to level up all eight classes in Star Wars: The Old Republic.  But hell, I’m a completionist sometimes, and so I put together my future Grand Champion of the Great Hunt.

You can run, but you can’t hide. A job’s a job.

Chadam started out simple enough:  I wasn’t going to go out of my way to have him kill and eat kittens Dark-Side, but at the same time, he wasn’t going to be the nice guy.  I wanted him greedy, but with a code:  he did the job, and he got paid.  He would move heaven and earth to make it happen.  Not an evil character, but not exactly a role model.  Smarter than a thug, but not interested in the bigger picture or deep philosophy.  In other words, someone well suited for the fringe and not comfortable in the halls of Imperial power.  (Boy, did that go south on him…)

In appearance, my first goal was to use a different body type.  For those unfamiliar with the game, there are four body types for each gender.  I tend to use body type 2 for my males; fit, athletic, strong guys.  But I wanted Chadam to have a more imposing presence, so I went up a notch-someone who makes you think of a space marine.  As far as species went, well, I was still going for a wide variety among my characters, so I went with a Chiss, a popular Expanded Universe species who recently got canonized with the on-screen debut of Grand Admiral Thrawn.  His out fit look varied a lot during my gameplay; for a long while, he used a sort of turban-styled headgear and whatever mission-reward armor he could get.  Eventually, I was able to get a damaged set of Triumverate armor off of GTN (damaged in appearance, not in stats).  Later I picked up the restored version of that armor.  The icing on the cake, though, was the final helmet I used.  At one point, I looted a Sith Warrior helmet that was just too good to ignore.  I thought that a mildly terrifying helmet would suit Chadam just fine for his work, so I finally settled on the look shown on this post.

I went with the Mercenary advanced class, and went with the pyrotech discipline.  Because plasma fires are fun.  The Merc was chosen because I didn’t really want him to be the Boba-lite kind of character (well, I sure blew that one, when you look at the image above).  The dual guns made him an amusing mirror for my Smuggler main, who was took the Gunslinger path.

I actually got to like Chadam as I played him.  Sure, he had no problem shooting and executing people he was hired to off, but he wasn’t big on collateral damage.  He was interested in a fast credit-got along great with Gault-but Mako helped keep him more or less ethically honest.  He had no issues taking advantage of advertising-there are two moments in the game where a bounty hunter can effectively advertise himself to the galaxy at large, and man, he did it.  He came to respect the Mandalorian code, though, and his struggles tended to come in when that ideal came into conflict with his desire for ready cash.  The result of this all meant he was mildly Light-Side in nature-there were a heap of Dark-Side choices that kept him fairly balanced, not the least of which involved the reason why we got a Chancellor Saresh in power in the Galactic Republic.

The character completed the Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion, but I have yet to run him through the Eternal Throne (just like in my leveling work, the BH is near the bottom of the list).  He knelt before Valkorion not for any desire of power, but because he saw what happened to the last guy who didn’t kneel; in other words, sometimes the best thing you can do is lie to the guy with all the power and hope you get another, better opportunity.  Which, honestly, he sort of did, since Arcann chose that moment to go after his father-but as a result, Valkorion keeps harping on that initial kneel-down, and Chadam only wishes he had an option to say to the dead Emperor, “Hey, you know I was only doing that to buy some time, right?”  I think the worst thing for him in his future isn’t the possibility of taking the Eternal Throne-it’s that he’s going through all this and not getting paid.  (I do seem to recall him having Gault funnel some of that loot from that treasure run into profitable enterprises, though.)

I can safely say that while the Bounty Hunter is still not on my list of favorite character types in the setting, Chadam is still a character I enjoy; sometimes, it’s not about “good” and “evil”; it’s about having credits and not having credits, and the things you will or won’t do to get them.

 

The Cast List: Introducing Bill (of Borg) of Star Trek Online

I promised a non-tactical based captain for the next installment of the Cast List (for the Star Trek Online guys, anyway), and I deliver!

So, who assimilated whom?

Bill was either the second or third character I made for Star Trek Online, and I made him for one reason only (among many others): I had a lifetimer sub from pre-launch, and since I had the ability to create a Borg captain, I was damned well gonna make one!

Bill was my second Starfleet guy, and I was already going with a pattern.  My initial Starfleet captain-Walt-was a Tactical captain flying a cruiser; I was interested in mixing and matching ship types with captains, so I wanted Bill to do that sort of thing as well.  So I made him a Science captain, and I threw him at the Escort class of ships, eventually winding up in a Defiant variant.  Back then, there weren’t nearly as many ships as there are now at the upper levels-and I keep considering finding a new ship for him, but keep deciding against it.  Unlike what you see in the picture to the left, Bill’s ship-the Integral-is loaded with Borg tech; in fact, he was the first guy I went into the effort for to get the three-piece set of Borg technology from the original Special Task Forces related to the Borg, before Reputation became a thing, and I have the visuals enabled, so there’s an awful lot of Borg attached to the hull.

Originally, the character of Bill was designed to wear the old late 23rd century uniforms, as originally seen in The Wrath of Khan.  Thanks to some really stupid moves from Cryptic/Atari in the earliest days of the game, they attached that costume code to retail items to promote the game; not a big deal, honestly, except they had the brilliant idea to just use a single code instead of unique codes.  This meant that it only took one person out there to put the code out into the public domain.  (This is why the devs eventually just made the damned thing free to claim; I’m not sure what the status on it now is, though.)  Full disclosure:  I saw the code out there, and I used it-but I felt guilty and purchased a DVD that had the code in it to salve my conscience.  It was arguably my favorite Star Trek uniform that’s ever been on the screen, so I really wanted a chance to use it.

That made it all the more ironic when, eventually, I decided to update the uniforms to what’s on the picture above.  Of course, that’s sort of hard to tell, since my primary bridge crew is…well, let’s go back and do some story time.  Early on, when those aforementioned Borg task forces came out, word came that you could get a Borg science bridge officer as part of an achievement.  This had me dreaming of one day, perhaps, having an all-Borg away team.  It never happened, but I did the next best thing.  Over time, I got the veteran reward of an android bridge officer, and thanks to some circumstance that I can’t even recall, I got a holographic science officer.  So every member of my team is, in some way, technological and mechanical in nature.  Three Borg, an android and a hologram.  How’s that for a crazy bridge crew?

I didn’t have much in the way of story concept behind the character.  There were a significant number of lifetimers at launch, and so there was a lot of liberated Borg floating around as captains-not to mention the even larger pool of people who had access to the Borg Bridge Officer at the same time.  Fortunately, there were a couple of places where one could locate liberated Borg if you look back at Trek history.  There was the Borg Cooperative, for example, introduced in Star Trek Voyager, and liberated drones from Unimatrix Zero from the same series.  I decided, though, to go with a different branch-one freed by the original liberated Borg, Hugh, introduced during Star Trek: The Next Generation.  I figured that Hugh would have definitely become the Big Deal Leader guy as the first to be freed and returned to thinking as an individual, and wouldn’t have stopped with the ship he wound up on-or simply stayed on that nameless planet that the android Lore manipulated a bunch of liberated drones.  Hugh struck me as the kind of guy who could create a revolution.  (In the Delta Rising expansion, in fact, you can encounter Hugh, who seems to have thrown in with the Cooperative).  Anyway, given Hugh’s simple name, I figured that other liberated Borg who had been freed by Hugh would adopt similar names-thus, Bill.

The other pair Borg on the bridge officer crew don’t have as fancy names, still choosing to use designations like Seven of Nine did.  I named the hologram “Hertz”, a play on words for a doctor for both his holographic nature and a pun on what he treats.  The android has a more normal name, “Jen”.

Bill hangs around in the mid 50s as far as level goes, and represents a different method of leveling.  Back in the day, STO had exploration missions that were performed in star clusters.  They were basically the STO version of City of Heroes’ radio missions (or newpaper missions if you were a villain), a randomly generated mission choosing from a pool of maps, opponents, and goals.  Don’t bother looking for them now; they don’t exist anymore.  I still haven’t forgiven the devs for that stunt.  Anyway, Bill leveled up almost exclusively via exploration missions in the various star clusters; the only exceptions were the tutorial missions and the then-new Feature Episodes.  I haven’t really put much more into Bill since the early days, but I would suspect that if I were to continue to develop him further, I’d be tempted to push exclusively through Foundry missions-the next best thing to the old exploration missions.  The quality might vary on those dramatically, but then, people had no problem using the Mission Architect for their characters in CoH-why should I have a problem doing the same with the Foundry?  (Admittedly, a significant portion of the folks using MA had special “grinding” missions to do nothing but power level themselves, and I’d be shocked if similar didn’t exist in the Foundry….)

That sort of puts me in mind to consider a new series of posts that center on Foundry missions.  I’d been considering the idea of a new post series on STO from the Klingon side (much like I did with Rick Masters and the Temporal Agent angle), but worried that the experience would have a lot of repetition thanks to the tripling up of Starfleet missions to include Klingon and Romulan sides for the Cardassian/Borg/Undine content, not to mention the shared content for Nimbus and the ramp-up to the Iconian War.  But the Foundry offers some possibilities here.  (The con of this idea is that, well, Klingons don’t get as much nice stuff in anything, and that includes people putting time into developing missions for the Klingons with the Foundry.  Still….)

Anyway.  Bill’s in a state where I’m fairly happy, although there is one area that I sort of keep thinking about developing further.  I don’t do much in the way of crafting in the game, but Bill had been my main crafter in the beginning.  Crafting has gone through various iterations, but when the new system came in-the current system, that is-most of my crafting effort went to my Starfleet main character.  Buuuuut…Bill’s prior experience entitled him to a special crafting duty officer that would allow him to craft AEGIS equipment, one of the early starship sets back in the day.  It seems like it’s a damned shame to not have Bill work up the ability to craft stuff that makes use of that officer-and thus, the AEGIS equipment-for use later on.  Food for thought.