DO: Hearts of the Hero

Assault on an Odyssey-class bridge? Not exactly…

Entry Twenty-Six.

My great deeds with the Empire seem to have caught the attention of the people at Qo’noS.  Which is to say, I’ve got stories being told about me.  Some of them are even true.  Even minor incidents have been inflated to some seriously epic tales.  I have to say that I’m honestly surprised I got singled out for this.  After all, I’m an Orion, not a Klingon.  Maybe the High Council is trying to engender greater loyalty with the non-Klingons in the KDF by hyping a non-Klingon “hero”.

Well, at least it’s getting me a lot of free drinks when I’m in First City.

Things have finally quieted down ever since the whole thing with the House of Torg.  The biggest thing to note has been an odd incident with a lunatic Vulcan and his…experiments.  I saved a copy for my ship’s use, and I wanted to burn the entire facility to the ground (so to speak), but II wants to comb over it, and who am I to interfere with what Intelligence wants?  (Do I get points for saying nice things about you this time?)

I’m still a little worried about those stories, though.  Becoming more famous means less opportunities to escape this trap-and more opportunities to “die gloriously in honorable battle”.  As I find that low on my list of priorities, I’m trying very hard to avoid that fate.  There’s at least one extra benefit, though-my crew seems less likely to want to kill me off to advance in their positions.  So as long as I don’t screw up or do something that they seem “dishonorable”, I should be safe from assassination attempts for the near future.

So I just have to act like a Klingon.

I have got to find a way out of this.

Signing off.

I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it sure wasn’t this.

With the conclusion of the Warzone arc for the Klingons in Star Trek Online, I found myself at a crossroads.  The next episode arc is the Devidian arc, but I’ve said that I have no interest in retreading that territory for this run for Dathiro.  So I can reveal my leveling plans at last for such periods.

My primary method to continue advancing will be to utilize the Foundry:  player generated missions.  It should be obvious, but I will be avoiding the blatant farming missions (blow up 1000 Starfleet ships!), but will instead be going for story based stuff.  I’ll be starting with the missions that the devs have featured in the Foundry menu, but I do expect that I may be branching out at some point.  I truly doubt that the Klingons have anywhere near the content in the Foundry that Starfleet does (which amusingly echoes the content and goodies the devs work on).  I also expect to hit some of the queues, particularly at later levels when I have better odds of actually seeing one kick off.

I’m not sure how many Foundry missions it’ll take for me to level a character up; it’s likely that I’ll be putting only the ones that impressed me the most up on the blog here if it tends to be a large amount.  I’ll try to correspond each post with the level ranges of the content I’ll be skipping; in this particular case, I only had to worry about one level before I could start the next Klingon-centric arc, so I only did one Foundry episode so far:  “Hero of the Empire”, by Rogue Enteprise.  This mission starts out with a secret mission delivered by one of J’mpok’s personal aides, to simply escort a freighter back to Qo’noS.  But nothing is ever that simple, and the mission quickly goes off the rails thanks to the freighter captain.  The real adventure, however, begins once you’ve made it back to the homeworld….  I found the mission to be interesting enough with the early part of the mission, if somewhat standard fare.  What really elevates it, though, is the back half of the mission.  I won’t go into further detail on that-I can’t bring myself to spoil it for people who haven’t played it-but its rationale at the end makes perfect sense, and says something about player habits as much as it does about the Klingons in general.  I found myself nodding at the character revealing the whys and wherefores, and thinking “He’s absolutely right.”

I had been fairly close to leveling when I did the mission, so I was all set to move on to the next arc, but timing worked out nicely for another mission.  Every Friday the Thirteenth, STO opens up a special mission called “Hearts and Minds”, which is touted as a scary mission of sorts, and offers a special duty officer at the end.  The interesting thing about this officer is that you can get him repeatedly with succeeding runs (although not on the same day; you have to run it again on a different 13th to get a working duplicate).  I’ll confess, though, that I wasn’t exactly finding much in the mission that caused me any dread or fear; if you’re looking for something that gives a good sense of foreboding, better to play the Devidian arc mission “What Lies Beneath” (“Bonnie-kin…Booooonie-kin….”).  But it’s still an entertaining mission, and it’s a very, very short mission, so even the most crazed altoholics can run all their characters through it in a single evening.  But no fear-because in addition to the Friday the Thirteenth releases, the mission is also available on (wait for it) October 31st:  Halloween.  One final note:  there is a new reward (or maybe it’s been there a while, since I don’t recall seeing it the first time I played it when this started to be a thing, and I haven’t really done it since) on the 31st only:  a zombie dance emote.  So if you want to add the ability to dance like the undead to your character, get ready to blast through this mission on the 31st upon its release!

Next up:  a return to Klingon-specific episodes!

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DO: The Game of Houses (Hah-I bet you thought I was going to use Thrones again, didn’t you!?)

I never liked going to funerals….

Entry Twenty-Two.

There are worse things than serving on a Klingon ship after all:  Klingon politics.

Thanks to “K’mtar”, I found myself embroiled in a plot to save the famous Worf of House Martok from assassins and worse.  It became a bit bigger when it became obvious that not only was there a Great House of the Empire looking to advance in an underhanded manner, but they were allying with the Romulan Tal Shiar to do it.  Feh.  Romulans.  I can’t imagine a more sneaky, underhanded, treacherous species in the galaxy.

*Cough*

Moving on….  While it managed to expose House Torg to all as an honorless bunch of Klingons, and managed to get them kicked out of the government (I never understood the whole discommendation thing), it did leave a trail of dead bodies from Klingons fighting Klingons.  I’m all for that, naturally-I don’t have any great love for any of them.  (Hi, Imperial Intelligence!  You can red flag this log, too!)  But what I didn’t appreciate was the effect it was having on my primarily Klingon crew.  We managed to paper that over with a new ship, thanks to impressing the hell out of Chanceller J’mpok, the IKS Arumso (who names these things?), and then giving them something to build their morale further-a strike on a Federation starbase, followed by an attack on one of their primary shipyards.  Unfortunately, some Klingons had the bad taste as to get captured alive, so I was authorized to go in and give them a chance to die with honor.  I hope they weren’t too disappointed when I brought the prisoners back alive.  Klingons being Klingons, they probably killed themselves after they left my ship out of shame.

It’s not hard to imagine why I hate Klingons, sometimes.  Or all of the time.

Signing off.

I love invading Federation ships, though.

I got sidetracked a bit with the new Season, but Dathiro is back on pace!  I completed the Warzone arc for the Klingon Empire in Star Trek Online, which is a sort of unholy blend of character arcs that existed prior to the Legacy of Romulus expansion, retrofitted to fit in with the now-complete leveling experience for the Klingons.  It can pretty much be divided itself into two halves:  the first half involves a conspiracy of a Klingon House and the Romulans against one of the most well-known (to fans, at least) Klingon Houses:  the House of Martok.  That house formerly was named for the previous Chancellor before he got “killed” (which itself had new shades of information shown in a much later mission that came out relatively recently), and includes the most famous Klingon in Trek lore-yes, Worf is still involved as he was in the close-out of the previous arc.  Then again, I did say that the previous arc felt like “part one”, didn’t I?  All of it leads up to a nicely dramatic confrontation in the Great Hall before Chancellor J’mpok himself, involving blood, tragedy, and resolution…and a whopping loose end that won’t see final resolution until that aforementioned recent mission.

The second half of the Warzone arc brings it back to external threats:  that represented by Starfleet, as you’re called upon to go after a starbase set up in Klingon-claimed space, and that leads to a daring strike in the heart of Federation space-and then another to help clean up the mess left over from that.  Hopefully, you got your fill of fighting Starfleet on this one, because unless my memory has gone completely faulty, this is pretty much the only time you really get to fight it out with Starfleet outside of the tutorial.  That’s right:  while Starfleet gets a whole long bloody arc fighting Klingons, while Klingons get two missions.  Meh, whatever.  Given the miracle of getting a full leveling path at all for the Klingons, I shouldn’t complain; when pigs learn to fly, it’s impolite to comment on how badly they do so.

Despite this disparity, the missions are still fairly entertaining, with the first couple of missions immersing a character further into Klingon intrigue, and the second demonstrating their commitment to the war against the Federation.  (It suddenly occurs to me how the devs are handling the Beyond the Nexus mission; it features Geordi La Forge heavily, but the Klingons are still at war at the point the devs stuck the mission in.  Why would there be any cooperation with Starfleet in this matter, particularly since it only seems to involves Starfleet vessels and crews?  This might require me to look into it once I get that far….)  It’d sure be nice to take more shots at Starfleet, wouldn’t it?  Stay tuned, because in spite of what I’ve written above, there is such a way!

Finishing this arc also-as shown in the little fictional snippet-got my character promoted up so that he could swap ships.  Still using the Birds of Prey here, although I went with a C-Store version (the Qaw’Dun) which I’m fairly sure I claimed from one of the anniversary promotions or some such.  I’d already committed to raiders (well, until I get to the right time in the rank structure), and given a choice between them, I’ll usually grab the C-Store version over the generic version, as it includes goodies like the shield destabilizer.  As I go along, I tend to start taking the special consoles with these special abilities with me to newer ships; so I’m also using the console from my B’Rotlh Bird with the induction coils that boost up power levels temporarily.  Consoles that can be used on any ship are often worth taking along-although some are better than others.

Bridge crew is growing; it now consists of three Klingons, one Naussican, one Gorn, and one Android (taken as a vet reward).  I’ve held off on using my Klingon/Borg bridge officer, as that sort of goes against the narrative I’m building for Dathiro; indeed, I’ve already sidelined one of those three Klingons (sorry K’gan!), and the other ones are on the chopping block if I get other equally alien-ish bridge officer candidates.  Sadly, I’m unlikely to see a Breen officer (I can’t recall the last time they were made available), and the Jem’Hadar officer is a little too much like the Klingons for Dathiro to be comfortable with; that leaves the Kobali and Hierarchy officers from the Delta Quadrant as the only other likely prospects of the more unusual species.  (Okay, technically, there’s one more-the Borg science officer-which isn’t too likely to happen, but not impossible either.)

Emergent Gameplay

So you’re trying to hide from the Tzenkethi and you brought the crystals they’re looking for here? ARE YOU ALL IDIOTS!?

Season 14 for Star Trek Online has landed!  So let’s take a peek at where things are at with the latest release.

This season, with the moniker of “Emergence”, is appropriate in so many ways.  The most obvious one is that we finally get to see what’s behind the maniacal quest of the Tzenkethi to wipe out planets with protomatter weapons.  Obviously, some kind of crystals are involved, based on the events of previous Episodes, but in the new feature “Melting Pot”, secrets are laid bare.  Partially because the new colony of the Kentari and Lukari decided to examine some odd crystals from the moon of their new colony world.  Which, of course, matched the composition of the ones that are being targeted by the Tzenkethi.  You get warned that the scientists are eccentric, but man, does THIS take the cake.

Fortunately, you aren’t alone.  As indicated in the last episode released, Geordi La Forge is here, along with the Lukari Captain Kuumaarke.  Like proud parents, they’re happy to show off the colony that they hope will be the new home for a reunited Kentari and Lukari species.  Enjoy the tour while you can.  Not only is it going to become ground zero, but it’s also the last time you’ll see it so pretty unless you’re in a large active fleet.  This colony is also the new Fleet Holding, which is more on the scale of the Starbases than others like the Mining Asteroid or Romulan Embassy.  I’ll hold off on any long term judgments as to how doable even getting tier 1 is, but I’ve not heard encouraging things.  (Small, mostly inactive fleets like, say, the one I’m in is probably right out.)  Also like the Starbases, you will see the colony go from a skeletal framework to something to be proud of as it advances in tiers.  One of the more interesting aspects of this holding is being able to trigger a Tzenkethi invasion where up to ten captains can try to repel.  This requires access to tokens gained via fleet projects.  How well this would work out for small fleets, I’m not entirely sure.

This was sadly predictable.  I admire La Forge’s ability to remain cool with things blowing up all around him.

The episode itself is another one that has a feel of the Next Generation series, although it still has more of those “phaser everything!” moments that you don’t expect from the series.  Maybe from the films….  If it weren’t for the revelations that take place during the episode, I would’ve said this was just to taunt players with what the colony world holding will look like when it’s fully built.  It’s probably mildly spoiler-ish, but I’ll also say that it is also refreshing to find a rational Tzenkethi who does something crazy and actually TALKS to you.  (This is a good thing.  Because maybe those Tzenkethi actually have a good reason for going nuts with protomatter weapons….)

Of course, there’s a little bit more with the new Season than just a fleet holding and an episode.  There’s a new specialization geared towards the Engineering branch:  Miracle Worker.  Guess you can’t guess who inspired that name.  I haven’t had any characters put points into it yet (I may have Dathiro go into it, should I take him that far), but from what I can tell from looking at the tree, it feels like a very defensive sort of tree that will see best expression on a ship that can do lots of healing and take lots of damage.  In other words, cruisers and the like.  I haven’t looked at the kits available for this specialization yet, so can’t speak to that-but the fact that it does have a ground component is a welcome sign.  Likewise, I haven’t seen a ship with Miracle Worker bridge slots yet, but you can be sure it’s coming soon.  There’s also a new pair of queues:  the Dranuur Beach Assault, which is a ground scenario where ten captains can push the Tzenkethi off planet (this is double the usual number for a ground queue) for level 50+ characters, and the Dranuur Gauntlet, a battle in space to stop the invading fleet from an assault before defenses can push them back, for level 60 characters.  Finally, there’s a new Red Alert available where the Tzenkethi are out to protomatter bomb more planets out of existence-so your ship is called upon to help repel the attacks, for level 50+ characters.  I will probably at some point detail my thoughts on each of those as I put a character or two through them.

So there’s a lot going on with the new Season under the belt.  The major storylines that have been building have started to converge here, and it’ll be interesting to see where things lead from here.

A further note:  “Beyond the Nexus” has apparently been placed, of all places, prior to “Temporal Ambassador” for all factions.  This seems to me to be one of the dumber places they can put this mission.  In the first case, 2409 is a year prior to when the Nexus was supposed to be back in the neighborhood again, and the kickover to 2410 tends to be during the Delta Rising stuff, if memory serves.  I suppose there could be some wiggle room to work with, though, particularly in light of the fact that we never really know how late into 2409 the game starts, or the exact timing of the Nexus’s last visit (was it near the beginning or end of its trip through the area at that time?).  Secondly, while the devs managed to remove comments on the Lukari/Kentari (which by this time haven’t been met yet), he mentions having met you again-I’m not sure when the first time was.  His ship did appear in a previous mission, but unless that mission got updated to include comments from La Forge, I’m not sure that really qualifies.  Have to make a note to replay that one and see if something happens.

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!

DO: Imperial March

I’m sure my aim would’ve been better if I wasn’t shooting in the middle of a snowstorm….

Entry Seventeen.

Things had been going just fine, or at least as fine as I could expect aboard the IKS Dravoni.  I managed to climb over the bodies to become the engineering chief, and third in command of the ship; the second was happy to have someone with no further ambitions below her in the chain of command, and I had no desire to deal with the captain beyond the usual “we need more power” demands.  And since the second didn’t want someone more ambitious challenging her, she was happy to help shield me from attacks from below me.  All in all, it was about as tolerable as one could ask for aboard a Klingon bird-of-prey.

Then that idiot captain decided to deal with the Federation-specifically, a supposed expert spy-and the second challenged the captain.  To nobody’s shock, he killed her.  Which meant it fell to me to deal with the captain.  And as a result, I’ve not only gained command of this ship-something I was trying to avoid!-but also came to the personal attention of Chancellor J’mpok!  Which means, naturally, that the eyes of Imperial Intelligence are on me (and I’m sure they are reading this entry.  Drop dead).  So any hopes of an escape are pretty much dead; I might’ve been able to eventually slip away at a reasonable port-of-call on some border planet, but as a commander of a starship, I’m more likely to be hunted down and given what the Klingons call a “dishonorable death”.

Yes, Analyst-of-II-Reading-This-Log; I’m coming right out and admitting I’d jump ship if I could.  Since I can’t, I won’t.

Naturally, my first assignment was to take the Federation spy-I later learned his name was Franklin Drake-to the prison at the First City.  Which, from the looks of things, was exactly what he wanted-he had his own little spy cell there, under the noses of the Great Houses, and got away with it!  When it comes to espionage, the Klingons are like infants.  I tracked him to Rura Penthe, and lost him there-only to get entangled in an even worse scenario than captaining this ship:  I’ve been sucked into Klingon politics!  I am to meet with Lady Sirella of the House of Martok in the morning to see if she will listen to the information I have acquired involving illegal supplies being sent to the Tal Shiar.

This can’t get much worse, can it?

Signing off.

So this is supposed to be some Klingon legend? I’m not impressed.

And so the Ordeal begins for Dathiro, an Orion KDF captain in a position he’d rather swallow broken glass than be in.  And it’s begun through the Klingon tutorial mission, which is very much steeped in the classic tradition of Klingon Promotion, and the first episodic arc, simply entitled “Empire”.  The arc is, honestly, not much of an arc; it’s more of the first portion of an arc.  But it’s probably being treated as a standalone because the following missions predate the Klingon’s full leveling experience.  Nevertheless, it does introduce some important elements, such as the son of the arguably most famous Klingon in Star Trek, as well as an interaction with said Klingon; a visit to a famous prison planet; and of course, the opportunity to blow up Starfleet and Romulan vessels.  Of course, there’s a kind of odd bit where the Romulan Republic makes its first appearance (from the Klingon POV), and they have already settled New Romulus; I’m not sure how that fits in the STO timeline, but I will leave it to more dedicated minds than mine to figure that out.

I’ve tentatively decided that most of the ships he’ll be flying will be the raiders, aka Birds-of-Prey.  It seems appropriate for a former Orion pirate (let’s face it-if you couldn’t read between the lines of the little vignettes I put in these posts, then I haven’t been doing my job right), and the raider playstyle isn’t one I’ve done much of.  There are two big details about these ships, and they go together like peanut butter and chocolate.  First, the use of the battle-cloak.  Unlike most Klingon ships, and like virtually all Romulan ships, the Birds can cloak in the middle of a fight.  It’s not an instantaneous thing, though, which means you could wind up eating a torpedo…with no shields.  And unlike the late, lamented General Chang, my ship can’t fire when cloaked.  Which brings us to the second feature:  raiders do extra damage when attacking the rear arc of a starship.  In theory, you’d think that this would work out just great for a cloaked ship; go in invisibly to the rear arc of a ship, and fill it full of disruptor bolts.  Unfortunately, if a ship isn’t aware of where you are, they tend to circle a lot-and it’s awfully hard to get behind them to start tearing them up as you decloak.  Did I mention you also get a damage bonus for a couple of seconds after decloaking?  I can’t prove that the enemy ships can’t track my ship, either-they may be circling solely because I’m trying to circle around them….

Of course, my opinion may be colored by the fact that I’m still effectively in the beginner ship, with low level gear, with limited bridge officer slots.  That’s another big deal for the Birds; all the bridge officer slots are universal slots, which is a mild misnomer.  Once, it meant you could put any bridge officer in those slots.  With the advent of boff specializations, though (such as piloting, intelligence, etc), they aren’t as universal as it sounds-you can’t use the specialization abilities in these slots.  Like it or not, you can only use specialization abilities on starships that specifically are designed to use specialization abilities (most of which are-SHOCKER-Zen purchases).

Despite the synergy with my captain, I probably will not be flying any of the Orion-specific starships.  I wouldn’t want the Ordeal to be too comfortable for Dathiro….

Most of the bridge crew are still Klingons, but thanks to the storyline, I have a Gorn science officer, and thanks to my veteran status, I have an android tactical officer; I held off on claiming my Borg engineering officer, because Borg or not, she’d still be Klingon.  I’ll think about it as I go along; a lot will depend on the officers I pick up during the leveling experience.

I should probably comment more on the story.  Despite the odd nature of the arc mentioned above, it’s still a fairly entertaining set of missions.  There is a big issue I have with them, though:  there is a fair distance to travel between some of those episodes, and as mentioned above, you’re flying a ship that’s got low level gear…which means you have a long chunk of flying time ahead of you.  It doesn’t particularly bother me all that much-in my SWG days, I had no issue using a swoop bike going from Coronet City to the player city of Horizon far to the southeast, even when we finally got a shuttleport in.  I want to say that this is a result of the great remapping when the game chucked all the sector blocks out the window and just use three major maps:  Alpha, Beta, and Delta Quadrants.  Some systems didn’t wind up as close to one another as they used to be.  Then again, it could be I’m using rose-colored glasses on this one; the Omega Leonis sector block where the Klingons spent time was three sectors long, and Qo’noS was on the border of the left and center sectors, and early missions had you cruising to the far right sector.

So, leaving out the travel details, the episodes are entertaining.  The biggest issue I have with them-and this extends to virtually every Klingon POV episode-is the presumption that your character is a Klingon.  Unlike the Federation, which has Starfleet as the melting pot where you share the same basic ideals and command structure, no matter your species, the Empire is more along the lines of chunky stew.  I have trouble seeing Gorn, Orions, and the rest having gone to Klingon Academy to learn how to gutturally growl at one’s crew (even though the Klingon Academy DOES exist in the game, so maybe I’m doing the Empire a disservice here!)  Would all the captains of the Klingon Defense Forces adopt the Klingon codes of honor (or at least pay it lip service)?  Maybe they would-they ARE still flying (mostly) Klingon starships.

I’ll close up on a semi-related note:  the anniversary events for the Next Generation has arrived, and there are a few goodies to claim.  Firstly, on the Promotions tab of the C-Store, you can claim a Class-7 shuttlecraft (which is good for only Starfleeters) and **GASP** the long awaited arrival of the Skant uniform!  This will even have a version for Klingons, and-to celebrate the coming of the Miracle Worker specialization in the next Season, Scottish kilts!  These are all apparently account unlocks, so you’re safe from having to go through every character.  However, what is not an account unlock (unless things changed when I wasn’t looking) is a special mission at either Academy in the holodeck areas with a hologram of Worf, which will net you a Klingon sash like Worf’s, and for some species, the Worf hairstyle.  So if you’ve got someone who wants to emulate the most famous Klingon in history, better get in game and run that mission, because it may be years before this returns (if ever).  Also to help celebrate the anniversary (although it has been out for a bit now) is the Galaxy-class interior.  However, the downside on this one is a hefty price tag:  2000 Zen.  That’s asking a bit much, even if it includes the bridge as well as interior sections.  It’d be one thing if we had missions that had people explore their own bridges and ships, but as this is solely a vanity item…well, it’s a damned pricey vanity item.  For comparison:  the Belfast interior (aka the Defiant’s interior) came with two more uniforms, three doffs, a shuttle, two weapons, and a pet…for only 250 more zen.  The TOS interior came with three uniforms, a shuttle, a pet, and a weapon for 2000 zen.  Compared to those two roughly similarly priced items…well, the Galaxy comes up a galaxy short, if you ask me.  (There was one more, for the Intrepid-class; that was a lot more pricey at 5000 zen, but it included three starships along with two interiors; one of those ships at least was a T6, which usually comes in at 3000 zen.  I’m not sure if this bundle is still being offered offhand, though.)

New episode comes out next week, so Dathiro may take a short pause while I run through that-and I will have things to say about the upcoming Season as a whole at that time!

DO: Dathiro’s Ordeal Begins

This is not how he figured his career would go at this point in his life.

Entry One.

So I have to keep a personal “Record of Battle”, do I?  I hate Klingons.  Fine.  Let’s take it from the beginning.

I am Dathiro of Nava, from the planet Rigel VIII, former bhar of the freighter Golden Opportunity.  I say “former” because my ship had the bad luck to be impounded by the Klingon Defense Forces, who, in an act far more piratical than any I have been accused of performing, disabled our ship, and conscripted the useful members of our crew.  The rest they simply spaced.  I mourn the loss of the ship more than the ones cast into the void; I’d expected to be cutting them off anyway, and this way I didn’t have to pay them.  But of course, now I’m in no position to profit from that.

All of this, of course, was considered perfectly legal as per the treaty signed by the “Empress” Melani D’ian (may grishnar cats dine on her liver!) with the Klingon Empire:  any and all Orion trade vessels may be considered acceptable sources for resupplying the crew of the KDF.  The whole point of serving on the Opportunity was to avoid getting sucked into their wars!  Fortunately, I am a skilled technician, and better than most of these Klingon imbeciles operating the engine room.  I imagine that I might have to make examples out of some of them; with the work I’ve seen thus far, I should have ample grounds to kill them off and take their position.  I’ll probably be running the place before too long.

So here I sit, recording an idiotic record where I’m simply counting time before I wind up getting killed by a Klingon who’s better lucky than good, or better yet, blown up with the rest of the ship by one of the Empire’s many enemies.  So, in case Imperial Intelligence is snooping, I’d just like to say:  Thanks.  That’s sarcasm, by the way.

Signing off.  Good riddance.

Looks like it’s time for me to once more create a new character for Star Trek Online, and this time, I’ll be looking at things from the Klingon point of view-or more accurately, one of the aligned species with the Klingons.  In STO lore, the Klingons have managed to put together a coalition of species to fight against the Federation; one of those species is the Orions, famously known for their green skin.  Being a guy who likes to play against stereotype, though, I chose not to make an Orion female (which I’m sure the KDF is littered with as captains), but instead an Orion male.  I went with a white/dark reddish look for his Bortasqu’ inspired uniform, with a bit of other outfit parts.  My goal is for my non-Klingon characters to have a distinctly mercenary-ish look, while the Klingons keep their more traditionally Klingon look.  Having plenty of uniform slots, you’d think I could work up multiple looks for this character, but as I’ve pointed out before, the vast majority of outfits on the C-Store are Starfleet-only.  Annoyingly, the most likely location to find other, more unique outfits is the Lobi store…and of course, Lobi comes from opening lockboxes.  Lots and lots of lockboxes.  I don’t really do that in STO-the price of keys on the exchange are significantly higher than I’m willing to dish out; and there’s still enough stuff on the C-Store that I’m willing to horde Zen in anticipation of purchasing stuff there for account unlocks.  Oh, and some outfits can be unlocks as armors from various Reputations, but since that really doesn’t come into play until high levels, that’s really sort of useless.  (Additional note:  as I was drafting this post up, STO released new uniforms from the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery show.  Also Starfleet only.  People wonder why KDF and Romulan players feel like second class citizens sometimes….)

Obviously, I had to make some early determinations about the character.  I vowed to myself up and down to not make yet another tactical captain, and wound up making him an engineering captain.  I’m not sure what route he’ll go as far as that’s concerned:  I’m a big fan of the fabrication units like turrets, portable shields, and medical generators, but it’s BECAUSE I’m such a fan of that stuff that I’d like to avoid it.  I haven’t made up my mind as to what specialization he’ll get when he reaches the lofty heights of level 50+, but I have lots of time for that.  Likewise, I haven’t decided what starships I will have him focus on, except that I have one specific one in mind for the “final” ship he’ll be on (followers of this blog may be able to guess at this one).  I do have a long term goal of having his primary bridge crew eventually having absolutely no Klingons on it, but that will depend a lot on the quality of the officers I get.

While a great deal of the storyline for the Klingons is redundant with the storyline for the Federation-particularly once one gets to the point of dealing with Cardassia-I do have a plan that will both make this less repetitive, and more interesting.  More on that as I get there.  But it’s safe to say that the early arcs are pretty Klingon specific, and I’ll be treating them pretty similar to the way I deal with my Agents of Yesterday run with Rick Masters:  posts will come with each arc, unless the arc is huge (and I don’t think the KDF arcs qualify as huge) and needs to be split into two.

Why did I decide to run another STO-centric run instead of starting, say, a new Star Wars: The Old Republic one?  Well, I’m not ruling out doing that sort of thing while this one is going on, but I’m still at work in getting my existing characters through the Eternal Throne expansion (my Sith Warrior is about to crash a party), and I’d been slacking off hard on that.  Plus, I still want to wrap up my Dark vs Light characters through the arc as well.  So not too much time to start up a new character there, but who knows?  I may manage to get done sooner than expected.  I’m sure it’d go faster if I were the type to just spacebar/bypass all the dialogue, but heck, that’s half the fun in SWTOR.

So there’s likely to be a lot of STO oriented posts incoming, including my thoughts on the new season that will be landing in a few weeks.

Visiting Energy Ribbons

New framework, but not the most impressive episode for it.

Quiet as a mouse, a new episode landed in Star Trek Online last week.  It snuck in when I wasn’t looking.

The episode was mathematically inevitable.  According to Trek lore, the energy ribbon known as the Nexus manages to cruise its way around this region of the galaxy every 39 years or thereabouts.  The last time it managed to blow up a planet-or it would have, if not for the efforts of Enterprise captains Jean Luc Picard and James T. Kirk.  39 years after that?

2410.  Or, in other words, the time and setting of the back portion of the Star Trek Online storyline.  A story concerning the Nexus was inevitable-especially in light of the 30th anniversary of the Star Trek: The Next Generation series.

For all of that, the newly released episode-Beyond the Nexus-isn’t exactly the most impressive episode written.  It’s another episode that feels like filler, taking away from the still-developing Lukari/Tzenkethi storyline (although that story does get name-checked, which means this episode will likely be slotted in the Lukari arc when it ends its feature run).  There’s nothing inherently wrong with fillers; but there didn’t really seem to be much effort put into the development of the story and mechanics of the episode.  The art was nice, but for the most part, there was little “wow” factor to be found here.

In some ways, you can’t do much with the Nexus.  How are you going to replicate paradise for your character?  Everyone has a different conception of what their character’s idea of paradise would be.  You could go into someone else’s version, of course-like Picard did with Kirk’s-but Picard still had to resist his first.  So a trip into the Nexus proper probably was never in the cards.  Then again, this episode turns the idea on its ear a bit:  someone who saw the Nexus as a prison wants out.  And let’s face it:  an ideal prison is the kind the prisoner doesn’t want to escape.  That’s food for thought as to the purpose of the Nexus, hm?  (That’s just me rambling; no evidence that more than one person sees it that way in the game, but it’s an interesting thing to consider.)

The plot for this episode is pretty straightforward:  ship researching the Nexus stopped communicating after encountering a ship that had previously been lost to the Nexus.  Your ship is sent to investigate.  Expect exchanges of fire between ships and their crews after being boarded.  It’s not quite as monotonous as the old exploration missions of “find 5 of this, kill 5 of that”, but it’s definitely a step down in quality.  I hope this is because the devs are putting their A-game on next year’s probable Dominion-themed expansion (which I don’t believe has technically been confirmed yet).  Despite this, the resolution of the episode is very much in the spirit of ST:TNG (did I mention an anniversary?  I think I must have), and could possibly lead to a follow-up at some point in the future.  I can’t believe this will be the only time we get the Nexus referenced in 2410.  And I will admit, too, that there’s a section in the episode that put a smile on my face that involves one of the most infamous purveyors of holodeck content in Star Trek lore; the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Oh, there is one more thing that makes the episode stand out a bit more than some; it features the second voiced appearance from a member of the Enterprise-D/E crew, Geordi La Forge.  (The first, of course, was Worf, and we also had a silent, not-confirmed-but-heavily-implied appearance from Geordi’s closest friend.)  There’s a strong implication that we’ll be seeing a lot more of him in the ongoing story arc, and very likely beyond; I did mention an anniversary, didn’t I?  We still are missing a number of the big names doing voice-overs, but I don’t believe it impossible at this point; after all, they managed to get most of the crew of Voyager in the game.  Surely they can pull off a few more.  I doubt they could get Picard in, but I could see Troi, Crusher (either one), and maybe even Riker to make appearances here.

We can hope, anyway.  In the meantime, we still have a new Season that’s coming up in October, which will have another episode which is likely going to be more involved than this one, plus a new major fleet holding (something more on the scale of the fleet starbases than the other holdings), which should make life interesting on the final frontier.  And as I recall, we can expect something in another week or two.  Something to do with an anniversary….

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.

Emerging from the Far Side of the Galaxy

Well, well, well.  Isn’t THIS interesting?

Star Trek Online recently unveiled its next season, “Emergence”, and dropped some intriguing information along with it.  Here’s the trailer, in case it’s been missed:

Got some very interesting things in it.  First and foremost, we have the first main character from the Star Trek: The Next Generation series to lend his voice to the game show up:  LeVar Burton, aka Geordi LaForge.  (He’s not the first major name in the game, though; that’d probably have to go to Tim Russ from Star Trek: Voyager.  Yes, there were other voice actors from episodes in the assorted Trek series, but Russ was the first from a main cast.)  At this point, we’ve had main cast appearances from the Original Series, the Next Generation, and Voyager; okay, I can stretch a point and include Deep Space Nine with Michael Dorn, but I always considered him more with TNG than DS9.  So, if you stretch that point, we’re looking at only Enterprise as a series lacking voice representation from a main cast member.  That would probably require time travel hijinks, though.  Let’s probably hold off on that.

Emergence is promising a new Fleet Holding.  Guess I’m going to need to start hording supplies again to help my fleet get to a tier-1 there.  The holding is going to be located on a new homeworld for the Lukari and Kentari, and it seems like moving up tiers will probably add structures to the holding, which is something we haven’t seen a lot of since the original holding, the Starbase-which you can see being constructed as it goes up in tiers.  Figure on it being a new Dilithium sink in the game.  Also of interest:  a new specialization path, simply called “Miracle Worker”.  I’m absolutely SURE it couldn’t POSSIBLY have anything to do with engineering in any way, shape, or form, right?  </sarcasm>  That said, it could be a very interesting spec path, and I’ll be looking forward to hearing more about it.

Of course, the season couldn’t be a season without a new feature episode, and it will feature Burton along with the ongoing arc with the Tzenkethi and the Lukari.  Could we start seeing some answers forthcoming about the Tzenkethi’s drive to wreck certain worlds?  Let’s hope-a title called “Emergence” is a hopeful sign there.

And now, for the elephant that comes crashing into the room at the tail end of that trailer.  You DID watch that trailer before reading this, right?

That elephant represents what is quite possibly the next STO expansion:  there’s a whole lot of Dominion ships rolling out of the Bajoran Wormhole, and I can’t believe we’d be doing an effective repeat of yet another DS9 invasion.  If it is an expansion, it leads one to wonder what can we see here.  Could we finally be seeing the devs open up the Gamma Quadrant beyond the wormhole?  Could we see a new faction-er, let’s call a spade a spade and call it more of a subfaction, because that seems to be loads easier for the devs to handle.  THAT could explain the rather slow pace of content recently.  Or could we be seeing something that’s been long awaited (at least on my side of the screen):  a new exploration system?  The Gamma Quadrant would be ripe for that sort of thing.

We’ve had a good chunk of content over the last few years that have hit all the eras of Star Trek.  The Iconian War has strong ties to the Next Generation’s era, and one can argue that the Legacy of Romulus is tied to that sort of storytelling as well; the Delta Rising arc drew hard on Voyager’s day, while the Temporal arcs leaned hard on the days of Enterprise-and brought in the Agents of Yesterday that took us back to the Original series era.  DS9 has been off to the side for a long time, with its biggest representation being that old feature episode series, and it’s about time that we have something big attached to that series.  And hey, I recall reading in the forums that half the reason that the DS9 interior never really got revamped was because there wasn’t content to hook it to.  An expansion could well herald a new revamp of DS9.  The only question is whether it would try to tie even tighter to the TV appearance, or go the Earth Spacedock route and do a 2410 remodel.  (Or they could go really crazy and go the same route as the novel series, and blow up the station entirely and replace it with a brand spanking new station.  That’s probably TOO crazy-DS9 is too iconic to go that route.)

But since we’re looking at 2018, it’ll be a long wait.  That’s okay, though-because the Lukari and Tzenkethi issues still need resolution, and that’s a story that’s still unfolding.  Still, I’m looking very much forward to the future, as DS9 was always my second favorite of the Trek series.  (Hey…you don’t think we could see the return of the Sisko, do you…?)

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.