The only thing more mind-blowing than the fact that it took 10 entries to reach my first Star Wars character is that it's taken 13 to get to a Star Trek character.
What the Devil in the Dark is going on here? Am I right?
This character is rather special and unique for reasons that will become obvious fairly quickly. Let's get right to it...
AKA: Lt. Commander Herek
Player: Allen Halden
System: Star Trek, The Role Playing Game - FASA Deluxe Edition
Campaign: Star Trek: Gryphon
Gamemaster: Adam Dickstein
Origins: My dear, departed friend Allen Halden and I were driving to Connecticut to attend RobCon and it was a very long trip. RobCon was a convention, held annually, at the overly large home of our friend Rob. Rob's massive house was in a secluded woodland area that could only be reached by driving to the middle of nowhere, making a right, and then continuing down dirt roads for another hundred miles.
I don't actually drive so it was Allen that was doing all the hard work, asking only that I help him navigate and keep him awake and focused. It was the least I could do.
We joked, told stories, even sang, and finally started talking about starting a new Star Trek campaign. Allen wanted to play an alien Science Officer, as he often did, with each alien being stranger and more well thought than the last. For this campaign, set during The Original Series era and using the FASA system to give it that old school feel, Allen was curious to play an Edosian (or Edoan as they were known back then).
With very little canon information on the species and some of the published non-canon information being a tad contradictory, Allen made a dedicated effort to merge all the known data and then extrapolate something totally new and fleshed out from there.
What he created was, like his other alien species developments, absolutely brilliant. The focus was the conflicting ideas that the species was very individualistic but also focused on community. How can one be about the group but also very much about themselves? The result was hilarious, thoughtful, and most of all downright alien.
He saw the Edoans as very much about the community and the greater good. Their society embraced socialism and true (not as it is normally enacted) Marxist communism. Everything was done for their neighborhood, region, province, nation, planet, species, or the Federation as a whole. Privately they were welcome to indulge their own interests, to set aside time for the self, but publicly this was a taboo and seriously frowned upon. This went so far as having Edosians experience extreme anxiety and embarrassment if publicly identified or called out for any reason, positive or negative.
If the Federation News Network announces that Inax, an Edosian doctor, has cured an illness effecting Humans in several sectors and the UFP wants to give him an award, poor Inax will likely never live it down. How disgraceful, having his contributions pointed out like that. Better that he cure the disease and it simply be announced that the disease was cured. No need to point out that any one person had anything to do with it.
This has led an increasing number of Edoans in fields where they might gain off-world notoriety to join Starfleet. Still, adapting to the cultural differences of Starfleet life could be very difficult. I asked how we'd make that matter to his character, Herek. "We make him First Officer if that's OK with the rest of the group", said Allen. "In addition, there aren't any Edoans at this time above the rank of Lieutenant and he's just become Lt. Commander. It's all over the news."
"Oh my gosh. It's the talk of Starbase 7! You know how fast gossip travels", I teased.
"Don't remind me. I don't know how I'll show my face back home."
Backstory: The nephew of famed Starfleet Medical Officer Inax, who now lives in self-isolation at the Medical Research Outpost on Caduceus III, Herek knew he would one day join Starfleet. It wasn't because of his drive to do so or even his brilliant mind but rather his uncanny ability to stand out and be noticed.
Before submitting a paper on Xeno-Anthropology to the Vulcan Science Academy, Herek was careful to be accepted to Starfleet Academy first and requested the Vulcans quote, 'not make a big deal about it'.
Overview: Sadly, we only played three sessions of Star Trek: Gryphon, the campaign that saw Lt. Commander Herek as the First Officer and Chief Science Officer of the converted Avenger Class Destroyer-turned-Scout. Various personal and professional conflicts got in the way of that campaign and we had to scrap it.
While looking through my Star Trek gaming archives (yes, I have Star Trek gaming archives), I discovered that I had converted many aspects of the campaign over to Last Unicorn Games' ICON System, clearly hoping to get back to the game using those rules.
When we later resumed a regularly scheduled game the group make up and dynamic had changed slightly and we decided to run something else.
My memory of and affection for Herek comes less from how he was played than it does from the long car ride where Allen spit-balled, organized, and edited the ideas for the character. Well before we used the game mechanics to generate him, he existed in Allen's mind and mine as well. He was a well thought out individual from an interesting alien society before he saw a second of in-game action.
Yet another reason my buddy Allen was an amazing guy. Miss you brother.
There are two moments that stand out as highlights for me.
The first was in the initial episode/adventure when Herek, after putting together all the clues to the mystery at hand and coming to a realization about what was going on, made a sort of 'Ah-Ha!' or 'Eureka' exclamation to the group and then quickly apologized, composed himself, and called the Captain into a private meeting.
In his one-on-one with the Captain, Herek divulged his findings, theories, and recommendations. Before returning to the rest of the bridge crew, he asked the Captain to down play his contribution to solving the relevant conundrum. She smiled and said she was less surprised by his request than she was at his conviction that he had the right answer. Hanging his head he replied, "I usually do", further shaking his head and whispering, "I usually do".
In the third of the three episodes in which Herek appeared he did this...this amazing thing that could only be done by Allen. Once he realized what was going on in the adventure, he would hint at elements of it to each of the other players and several of the NPCs. Over the course of the session he would make inquiries, lead conversations in particular directions, and subtly, almost imperceptibly, guide the rest of the crew toward solving the situation at hand. In the end the mystery of the episode was not solved by Herek but by the combined talents of all involved; but really mostly by Herek.
Legacy: It has been some time since I've thought about Herek and I don't believe I have ever used him in a game post Star Trek: Gryphon. In an odd twist, I have used Inax as an NPC in a medical-oriented adventure.
Like every character that appears in one of my games, I am sure he is out there somewhere, doing incredible things, helping people, and hoping nobody notices.
Lieutenant Commander Herek
Edoan - Male, 30 years of age.
Position: First Officer, Chief Science Officer
Current Assignment: Executive Officer - USS Gryphon, NCC-D386, Avenger Class
Herek's areas of specialty included Planetary Ecology, Xeno-Anthropology, and Xeno-Biology. He was quite adept with a Phaser and quite the Acrobat, especially in jungle environments.
Next up, behold the Helmet of A Thoughtful Warrior! This relic of the First Age has been donned by knights and killers, conquerors and saints, but only once by a young man from Brooklyn who would use it to become a Superhero. To become, THE HYBORIAN!