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Being Perhaps a Bit Overly Dramatic

by Paddy Tye, Guest Writer

28th June 2014

The creative team have been hard at work on The Maquis over the last few months, creating titles and lore, slipping in a few references to other TV shows or Trek appearances that actors might be known for, and even a bizarre reference to Seattle psychiatrists. The last card to get signed off from the creative team was Dramatis Personae and we wanted to pull back the curtain and reveal a bit of the process and considerations that we went through in creative to marry up the gametext on this card to a particular story.

Dramatis Personae

Before I start, I should mention that the whole creative team go to great lengths to provide you with suitable, appropriate, and occasionally amusing stories and titles for the cards you see, while also ensuring that the cards remain as true as they can to the source material. What you read on the cards is a real collaborative effort and big thanks go out to all those involved for their dedication and hard work.

When we first saw Dramatis Personae, all that we really had to work with was the gametext:

“Stops” all personnel in crew or Away Team named in lore by another personnel present. Discard dilemma.

OK, that last statement wasn't quite true. We did also have a playtest title from design: “Argue About the In-Laws”. It gives you a clue about what design had in mind when they created it. The crew of Deep Space Nine has always been like a big extended family - full of relatives (Quark, Rom and Nog), friendships (Bashir and O'Brien), disagreements (Odo and Quark) and relationships (Kira and Odo, Kira and Bareil, Kira and Shakaar, you get the idea). Sometimes when we receive a card from design, the story to use will be indicated already, either by it being a conversion, or having some sort of guidance provided by design (for example, Difficult Disposal from Emissary needed to be a Harvester Virus related dilemma, so we had to draw on “Armageddon Game” for that one). In this instance though, we were free to find a story that we thought fitted the gametext as best we could.

Before we get on to the selection of the storyline to use, let’s take a look at this card from a few other angles.

From a gameplay perspective, this dilemma moves away from the traditional use of skills, attributes, and even keywords and instead picks an alternative way to slow down and filter an opponent's personnel. In the case of Borg decks it is unlikely to have any impact. But Ferengi decks (with all their exisiting 6th Rule of Acquisition connections) and Bajoran decks (thanks to Kira Nerys having romantic involvements with most of the male population of Bajor) would see more of an impact. Hirogen and KCA decks both have reporting mechanisms which revolve around personnel named in lore, so they are also more likely to be hit harder by this card.

From a playtesting angle, a lot of time was spent checking how much extra time it would add to read through all the individual lores on the personnel in a crew or Away Team to check the unconventional requirements of this dilemma weren't overly onerous compared to more traditional dilemmas. And this will no doubt lead to some questions. If a card names Jean-Luc Picard, will that stop Galen? If a card names Ezri Dax, will that stop Ezri (from the mirror quadrant)? The answer to both is no. The names need to match exactly. Much like the personnel who name U.S.S. Enterprise-B in their lore don't report for free using Finest Crew In The Fleet.

Anyway, on to the story...

As mentioned earlier, references to personnel in lore can span a variety of relationships, be those romantic, family, friends, enemies, or just work colleagues. Finding something that could reflect all of these might be tricky. We also wanted to confine ourselves to the current theme of this DS9 block (i.e. the early seasons of DS9), despite the Maquis spanning multiple series. Here are a few of the story angles we considered.

1) Searching For Loved Ones (“Emissary”). The idea of being stopped due to having family or friends made us think about how that could be reflected in real life, and likewise when that has translated to the lives of the crew of Deep Space Nine. The idea of your family being in trouble brought us back to the original family issue from the pilot episode. In the midst of the battle at Wolf 359, during the destruction of the Saratoga, Benjamin Sisko was frantically searching for his wife and son to make sure they were OK. Whilst it fit the concept, the story itself couldn’t play out with the existing cards. There isn’t a Jennifer Sisko (except the mirror version), only one version of Jake mentions his father, and as for Benjamin Sisko, only the Deep Space Nine version states an incomplete reference with him being “Father of Jake.”

2) A Friendship Tested (“The Maquis”). Speaking of references on Benjamin Sisko, you may have noticed that the Emissary version mentions Cal Hudson. Similarly, the new Cal Hudson card mentions Benjamin Sisko. And with this being a set about the Maquis, this set up seemed almost perfect. In a game, you could use Cal Hudson in your Here By Invitation deck along with the Benjamin Sisko from Emissary, send them off on a mission and they would get stopped due to their arguing over Cal Hudson’s defection to the Maquis. Great. Except it could also stop others too. Let’s say you’d also sent Anneli and General Krim along. Krim would be stopped too, but Anneli would continue. And then it no longer fits the feel of two old friends arguing as now General Krim has weighed in too, shouting “Leave it Ben, he’s not worth it!” like a bunch of drunks on a night out. Similarly, it doesn’t really work for all friendships. Look at Miles and Julian – a classic friendship from the show. The nearest they come to mentioning each other in lore is Miles O’Brien (from Blaze of Glory) stating “Friend of Julian” – again, another incomplete reference.

3) Fallen Comrades / Casualty Lists (“In the Pale Moonlight”). The idea of being stopped by grief and tragedy due to loss of a loved one is not an unfamiliar one in recent dilemmas (look at Devastating Loss from Engage for example). The idea of searching the weekly casualty lists from the Dominion War and discovering a friend or loved one was dead and it resulting in you being stopped made a lot of sense. Except that this dilemma stops the “loved ones” mentioned in the lore of your other personnel here. So it doesn’t really fit with a death of a loved one off fighting elsewhere on the frontlines. Also, the dilemma itself doesn’t kill anyone, and it doesn’t come from the early episodes of DS9 which had been our focus.

At this point, Superdave (looking for some sort of “catch all” we could use to apply these lore references in seemingly random combinations) suggested the idea of a “personality virus” and whether there was something like that in Deep Space Nine that could be suitable…

4) Zanthi Fever (“Fascination”). This definitely fit the bill for “personality virus” – Lwaxana Troi causes half your crew to be “stopped” because they can’t keep their hands off each other due to their lustful thoughts. Downsides were: a) it felt like it really needed some sort of Empathy trigger to make it fit, b) it was perhaps better to save this story for some more gender or romance specific gametext, and c) imagine how wrong this card could get: Beverly Crusher and Wesley Crusher? Jean-Luc Picard and Livingston? Ewww…

And finally…

5) The Saltah’na Energy Spheres (“Dramatis Personae”). This really clicked for us. Whatever that pre-existing relationship was, it could go out the window now as your personnel would be overwhelmed by the “personality virus”, becoming suspicious of colleagues and plotting to betray former friends, all in an artificially induced quest for power. Looking at some example personnel’s lore, Bareil Antos could now betray Kira Nerys, “stopping” her but without “stopping” him. Simultaneously, Kira Nerys could have set in motion a scheme to take down Odo and “stop” him too. With treachery and betrayal of friends suddenly afoot, all sorts of weird combinations are possible.

By the way, if the Valerian ship Sherval Das (as featured in the episode “Dramatis Personae”) ever gets made into a card, expect to see the lore laced with Game of Thrones jokes…

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this little insight into the creative process and just because we’ve discounted some of the above story options for this card, don’t worry, I’m sure that design and creative will collectively find homes for them all one day…



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