Thursday, July 18, 2019

Different Places, Different Methods - Starfleet Officer Rosters Depending on Circumstance

This is the third post looking at the senior officer roster of a starship and its effects on a Star Trek Adventures game. The first post described our experiences with using the senior officer roster to guide character creation as we retooled our campaign. The second examined how that roster differs depending on era by looking at different starships named Enterprise. This time, let's see how that roster changes by circumstance.

Deep Space Nine

The following list reflects Deep Space Nine's senior officer roster as of the beginning of 2371, shortly after the arrival of USS Defiant to the station. Note that Worf does not transfer to DS9 until 2372 and Michael Eddington is present. Also note that Benjamin Sisko still holds the rank of Commander until his promotion to Captain in "The Adversary" - the last episode of DS9's third season. Jadzia Dax and Julian Bashir are promoted in between seasons three and four. Finally, this list does not include notable residents of the station such as Quark or Elim Garak.

Commanding Officer Benjamin Sisko
Executive Officer/Liaison Officer Kira Nerys
Chief of Security (Starfleet) Michael Eddington
Science Officer Jadzia Dax
Chief Medical Officer Julian Bashir
Chief of Operations Miles O'Brien
Chief of Security (Station) Odo

There is much to unpack here, so let's dig right in:

  • Starfleet did not provide officers and crew for USS Defiant, instead having Deep Space Nine operate the starship as a support vessel.* Officers and crew are drawn from Deep Space Nine as needed. Most of the senior officers retain their posts from the Deep Space Nine roster. The exception is Jadzia Dax, who takes on the post of CONN in addition to her science duties. In a campaign based on a station or planet, this could be a useful guide for using a Defiant-class, Nova-class, or other small starship to get the Main Characters away on occasion. It doesn't add a bunch of characters to the game and an adventure in space or on an unexplored world makes for an exciting change of pace.
  • Two of the officers, Kira Nerys and Odo, are members of the Bajoran Militia rather than the Federation Starfleet. This arrangement is not unusual for Starfleet. The 24th century Starfleet runs an Officer Exchange Program to improve cooperation with allied governments. This allowed officers of the Klingon Defense Force and other allies to serve on Federation starships. There is also the Interspecies Medical Exchange of the 22nd century, although this is limited to medical personnel as the name implies.
  • Benjamin Sisko, in addition to commanding the station, is the Federation's and Starfleet's representative to the Bajorans. Likewise, Kira Nerys represents the Bajoran Provisional Government (later the Bajoran Republic) and the Bajoran Militia as Liaison Officer. This reflects Starfleet's role in Federation diplomacy and Sisko's mission to facilitate Bajor's joining the Federation.
  • Michael Eddington is assigned to Deep Space Nine in early 2371 to give Starfleet more direct control over station security. (Yeah, I know. IRONIC. And HILARIOUS.) This was over the objections of Benjamin Sisko. In the end, Eddington's role will be limited to overseeing security over Starfleet operations on Deep Space Nine and acting as Security Chief on USS Defiant. General station security, including law enforcement and customs duties, will remain in the hands of Odo and his deputies. Defense of the station from boarding operations remains a shared responsibility. This is an example of Starfleet overriding the concerns of a CO in order to pursue its own agenda. Having Starfleet drop someone in who just doesn't click to provide some drama is fairly common in Star Trek.
  • The inclusion of a Science Officer on the senior staff is curious, given that it is no longer a standard bridge post aboard starships by the late 24th century. It may reflect the fact that a station is less likely than a starship to have a full staff of Science personnel, including specialists in various fields. A station's Science Officer may be a generalist making do with limited resources.*
  • Deep Space Nine's Chief of Operations is responsible for keeping all station systems in good condition. This task is complicated by Deep Space Nine incorporating technologies from three sources - the Cardassians, the Bajorans, and the Federation. Bajoran and Federation technology don't seem to have any particular issues with each other, but Cardassian technology is specifically and repeatedly mentioned as being incompatible with Federation technology. The closest equivalent starship post would be Chief Engineer. This makes Miles O'Brien, a non-commissioned officer, a curious choice for the post, especially after he effectively becomes Chief Engineer of USS Defiant.* This also implies that Deep Space Nine's entire Operations staff is also non-commissioned personnel. (Yes, a junior officer is expected to listen to a more experienced NCO in that NCO's field of expertise, but would not be assigned to routinely follow that NCO's orders. That's the role of a more senior commissioned officer.)

USS Voyager

This list represents USS Voyager's original senior staff as assigned by Starfleet.

Commanding Officer Kathryn Janeway
Executive Officer (No canon first name available. See below.) Cavit
Chief of Security Tuvok
Chief Engineering Officer (No canon name available. See below.)
Chief Medical Officer (No canon name available. See below.)
Flight Control Officer (No canon first name available. See below.) Stadi
Operations Officer Harry Kim
Observer Tom Paris
  • Several of USS Voyager's senior officers are only seen in Voyager's pilot episode "The Caretaker" and names are hard to come by. The XO and CONN have no first names in canon. The CMO is not named in the script or dialogue but does appear in the pilot. Non-canon sources give him various names, but not a consistently used one. The Chief Engineer never even makes an appearance. All of these characters are literal place holders for those that would replace them early in the series and are rarely mentioned later. A note for gamemasters - take a moment to give every NPC a full name, just in case it comes up. It lends a little verisimilitude to the setting.
  • The Ship's Counselor post on USS Voyager is vacant. The ship's initial assignment of capturing Val Jean and arresting its crew is expected to be too brief to require one.*
  • Security Chief Tuvok is on an undercover assignment at the time of USS Voyager's launch. He may not have even come aboard the ship until it gets to the Delta Quadrant. Missing USS Voyager's fitting out and shakedown means that he also missed the chance to familiarize himself with the ship and his Security personnel. Janeway may have been willing to make this trade off, but it does seem odd that no one else was available to take on the undercover role.* A special assignment like this would provide a good reason for a Main Character to disappear for awhile if the player controlling them has to miss a few sessions.
  • Harry Kim is the most junior member of the senior staff in terms of rank and experience. This contrasts with his role as OPS, where he would have to be able to speak with authority on scientific and technical matters as Data did on Enterprise-D. Then again, perhaps a more experienced officer was simply not available.*
  • Tom Paris is not a formal member of the crew. He is aboard for his knowledge of the Badlands, the Maquis in general, and Chakotay's Maquis cell in particular. Observer is a good way to introduce an officer who has a limited role for a specific mission, but is will not be staying around for long.

The following is a list of USS Voyager's senior staff after a short time in the Delta Quadrant. The original XO, Chief Engineer, CMO, and CONN were killed when USS Voyager was swept into the Delta Quadrant. The crews of USS Voyager and the Maquis raider Val Jean have combined to make the long trip home.

Commanding Officer Kathryn Janeway
Executive Officer Chakotay
Chief of Security Tuvok
Chief Engineering Officer B'Elanna Torres
Chief Medical Officer Emergency Medical Holographic Program AK-1 Diagnostic and Surgical Subroutine Omega 323 ("EMH" and "The Doctor")
Flight Control Officer Tom Paris
Operations Officer Harry Kim
  • The XO and Chief Engineer are Maquis who accepted positions as provisional officers to replace lost personnel. They wear different rank emblems than the rest of the officers. The fact that special rank emblems for provisional officers exist means that there is some protocol for it on Federation starships. A qualified non-Starfleet individual might be offered a provisional officer post in an emergency that resulted in the deaths of key officers. However, it is likely that it is only intended to last until the starship can get back to the nearest Federation base or planet.
  • Chakotay was a Starfleet officer before resigning to join the Maquis. Why Janeway makes him into a provisional officer rather than reactivate his commission is not directly addressed in canon. His time in the Maquis may make this questionable from a legal standpoint. Also, although Chakotay is always addressed as "Commander" in the show, his provisional rank emblem is that of a Lieutenant Commander - the rank of the officer he is replacing.
  • Chief Engineer B'Elanna Torres dropped out of Starfleet Academy after two years of disciplinary issues and never held a commission. Her talents as an engineer prompts Janeway to overlook potential interpersonal conflicts and offer her a post as a provisional officer. While this is an extreme example, it illustrates that a starship CO does have some discretion to look the other way for a promising officer.
  • It is unlikely that Kathryn Janeway would put USS Voyager's EMH in charge of sickbay if she had any other choice. The EMH Mark I is not considered an artificial life form or sentient at this point. This does not rule out a holographic or artificial Main Character in 2371, but some explanation would be needed to fit the setting.
  • Tom Paris is appointed to CONN as he is the best qualified pilot available. As with B'Elanna Torres, Janeway overlooks possible disciplinary issues to make the appointment. He is not a provisional officer and wears regular rank emblems.

* These points may reflect personnel limitations of the 24th century Starfleet. Enterprise-D never seemed to lack for qualified personnel, but service on the flagship would be a highly sought after assignment. Meanwhile, Starfleet seems to have given Deep Space Nine and USS Voyager just enough trained personnel to perform their missions and no more. Then again, if Deep Space Nine suddenly needed an expert, Starfleet could just send them one on a temporary assignment - its not like the station wouldn't be there. Likewise, USS Voyager wasn't being sent on a long term deep space mission - it was bringing in some outlaws for trial.

No comments:

Post a Comment