Friday, January 28, 2022

31 Days / 31 Characters - XERET XEET

Every good Character Design Challenge needs a Star Trek entry. The question is which character to use?

After all, I've run dozens upon dozens of Star Trek campaigns and one-shots and seen hundreds of characters. I could probably fill the entire 31 Days / 31 Characters Challenge with Star Trek personas without batting a bat'leth. What I need is one that stands out because it was unique, different, unusual in some way...

Wait a second. I got it.

Character: Xeret Xeet

AKA: Lieutenant Commander Xeet

Player: Adam Dickstein and Andrew (I don't remember his last name).

System: Star Trek, The Role Playing Game - FASA Deluxe Edition
Convention Two-Parter: The Battle of Midway

Gamemaster: Mark (I don't remember his last name) and Adam Dickstein

Circa: 1989 (I believe)

Origins: In 1989 I attended a local* RPG convention, mainly to meet with some friends and the guys I knew from West End Games. 

I bumped into a fellow I'd met a few times at my FLGS, The Compleat Strategist, who just so happened to be running a game of FASA Star Trek. He had an opening and invited me to play, knowing what a big fan of Star Trek gaming I am.

As I often do at most conventions where pre-gens are given, I waited to pick last. I've learned that most people don't like playing the kinds of characters I do, so after everyone else argues over the badasses I get my pick of the fun weirdos. Sure enough I was left with my obvious choice; the USS Midway's Chief Science Officer and Third-in-Command - Lt. Commander Xeret Xeet, a member of the Bzzit Khaht species. 

After a great first session I learned that this was a two-parter, with the second half to be run later that day. Over comes one of the organizers in a bit of a panic. The GM for Part II never showed up. Eventually we find out we was really sick - food poisoning or something - and he won't be able to run. Mark, the GM of Part I, was due to run something else in the same time slot. Without warning, Mark suggests me for the job. He sells it hardcore, "Nobody knows Star Trek or the FASA game like this guy!".

How could I say no? 

When I started Part II I made sure to have the same characters present and most were played by the same players. There were two people missing and two new people at the table, so one of them needed to be the Engineer and the other my Science Officer. A fellow a bit younger than me saw the picture of Xeet and fell in love with him. His portrayal was fantastic, though different from mine as I will explain below.

USS Midway, A Loknar Class Frigate
Mark III Refit

Backstory: The following (paraphrased of course) was noted on Lt. Commander Xeet's character sheet:

Xeret Xeet is one of the few Bzzit Khaht currently serving in Starfleet and perhaps the highest ranking to date. It is a position of great prestige and honor but one he feels pressure living up to. 

Xeet was first assigned to Scientific Research and Survey vessels for two 3-year terms before later serving one 5-year Exploration mission aboard the USS Valiant. He has just completed a 3-year mission aboard the USS Midway and has been promoted to Lieutenant Commander/Third Officer and Chief Science Officer. He now begins his second 3-year mission (within 6 months of the session). 
Xeet specializes in Xenobiology and Xenobiological Psychology. He studies and has knowledge of various alien life forms and how their biology affects their behavior. 

Overview: The Battle of Midway seemed a simple scenario on the surface.  

Our vessel enters a star system wherein an intelligent civilization is signaling the Federation/Starfleet for aid. The civilization is located on one of the inner planets and between use and them is a large asteroid field. It isn't too difficult for a ship like the Midway to maneuver through the field but hiding deep within it are a number of Klingon vessels. When we reached about half-way through the field, the Klingons attacked. 

There turned out to be a lot more to it however. The Klingons were well outside the Federation-Klingon Border. How did they get there undetected? It turned out the leader of the Klingon Squadron had a personal grudge against our Commanding Officer. Why was this Klingon out for revenge against the Captain? There really were advanced aliens on the inner planet. Did they actually call for help, was that just part of the trap, and did they know more about our predicament then we did?

While a good portion of the first session dealt with Starship Combat, there was also quite a lot of Role-Playing mixed in as we get to know the crew in a trial-by-fire. I played Lt. Commander Xeet as a man a little out of his depth. He was definitely intelligent and competent but not accustomed to actual battle conditions. He didn't want to let his friends and crewmates down but I made it clear he was out of his element. 

The GM and my fellow players game me a commendation me for original thinking - heheh - but seriously; everyone remarked how well I had done making Xeet appear overwhelmed and flustered by the situation but at no point did I display being 'bad' at my job.

In the second half of the game when I was the GM and Andrew played Xeret Xeet, there was a lot more investigation, mystery-solving, and science as the crew tried to unravel the plots and subplots behind the ambush. Here we see a very different Xeet - one who is charged with doing what he does best. Counter to my portrayal, this is Xeet completely in his element and doing what he longs to do, exploration and science. 

The Highlights:

Early in the first session I made a point that Xeet's species, the Bzzit Khaht, release a somewhat offensive odor as a by-product of their respiration and underwater coordination. He wears a deodorant that makes it considerably less powerful. I added that when nervous (breathing heavy) the odor is stronger and the deodorant less effective.  

I recall a moment in the first part [in which I played Xeet] where I responded to commands from the Captain and called out the readings while also giving additional information and ideas to other PCs. I mimed it all, physically moving like a frantic officer pressing buttons and looking from monitor to monitor. The look on my face and the quick, jerky movements I used made everyone else feel the urgency. At the same time, it made our Vulcan Navigator lean in towards me and try to calm Xeret down. 

I can see the scene in my head and recall the faces of the other players. I made them - through the situation - feel tense but also implied it was too intense for me as Xeret. 

The moment in Part II that stands out the most for me was when the PCs were arguing about what to do with knowledge that the native lifeforms on the planet were technologically advanced to roughly the 20th Century but were not Warp Capable. Did involving them violate the Prime Directive? The Klingons have essentially forced the crew of the Midway into doing just that by faking a Distress Call that made up contact the world. The PCs could not decide how to proceed. 

Lt. Commander Xeet walked up to the Captain and suggested that since the damage was done, why not ask the aliens how they feel about the situation. Explain the Prime Directive, note our concerns, ask the rulers what they think is best for their people. Interestingly, Andrew (Xeet's player in the second half) already guessed how the aliens would answer. He picked clues I'd mentioned indicating these beings would be overjoyed to learn they weren't alone in the universe. 

Game Info:

So long ago I couldn't even begin to say, though I recall Xeret Xeet was quite Intelligent, fairly Dexterous, and far better at Science related skills than any other type. 

Well that's it! Challenge Complete! Break out the Romulan Ale! It's time to move on to...What? What's that? Not finished? Sure we are.

Let me explain...

Barking Alien


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