Dan Blum (tool_of_satan) wrote in nemesis_draco,

Klingons

Everyone here is probably familiar with John M. Ford's The Final Reflection (and if you're not, go read it). However, fewer people are likely familiar with its connection to the Star Trek role-playing game published by FASA. This was the second such authorized game (the first was a forgettable job published by Heritage Models) and was quite popular for some years.

The Klingons supplement was published as a boxed set in 1983, with a second edition consisting of two books published in 1987. The first edition credits "Designers: John M. Ford, Guy W. McLimore, Jr., Greg K. Poehlein, David F. Tepool." The second edition credits design to Fantasimulations Associates (i.e., everyone in the previous credit except JMF), and writing is separately credited to "Fantasimulations Associates (based on original material by John M. Ford)."

Exactly what relation the game supplement and novel have to each other is best explained by Guy W. McLimore, Jr., in his introduction to the first edition and designers' notes in the second edition (they're similar, but not enough that I wanted to post just one). They are reproduced here with his permission.


First edition introduction (well, half of it)

[The first part of the introduction, explaining why people are interested in Klingons, has been omitted.]

But creating a supplement allowing players and gamemasters to get into the "persona" of their favorite villains is MUCH harder than doing the same for the Federation characters. The Federation's history and culture is human-dominated - a logical extension of our own. We learn MUCH more about the Federation than we do about the Klingon Empire from the series and from professional and fan fiction written after the series left the air. A supplement on the Klingons meant gleaning what little we WERE told in episodes and elsewhere, and using that as the basis for logical speculation on Klingon history, culture, technology, physiology, psychology, and religion.

Dave, Greg and I were not the only ones facing this problem. Even as STAR TREK: The Role Playing Game was being prepared, author John M. Ford was negotiating with Pocket Books to produce a STAR TREK novel where the central characters were Klingons, with action taking place largely against the background of the Klingon Empire.

John M. Ford (known as "Mike" to his close friends) and I were roommates during my graduate school days and for a time thereafter. Mike introduced me to role-playing games and taught me my first lesson about being a good gamemaster. He was also one of the "shakers and movers" of the Indiana University Science Fiction Club at the time, and we often travelled to SF conventions together. Neither of us was totally aware that our lifetime careers were being shaped in these years. Mike soon became a regular contributor (eventually an editor as well) at Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine and later at Amazing and Pocket Books. My own first published work in role-playing (a very early Dragon article) was completed while we were roommates, and I have remained in the field ever since.

It was perhaps inevitable that our professional paths should cross again, as Mike's interest in role-playing has kept him active there (when his schedule of science fiction writing permits). Mike remains one of the most prolific contributors to The Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society, and is currently chairman of the Games/Computers Committee of the Science Fiction Writers of America.

When we discovered we were working on parallel projects, we couldn't resist a collaboration of sorts. Thus, the research on the Klingon Empire for his upcoming novel The Final Reflection (from Pocket Books) became the basis for the background material for this expansion set. The Final Reflection promises to be the definitive fictional work on the Klingons (as well as a rousing good adventure story), and I feel sure it will shape the way the Klingons are presented in the STAR TREK universe from now on. (Mike has since been contracted for a second STAR TREK novel, in which the Klingon Empire will play an important part.)

The research-sharing went both ways on the project, with background data on the STAR TREK universe in The Final Reflection sometimes being based on data presented in STAR TREK: The Role Playing Game. In this way, the STAR TREK universe inhabited by game players and the novel's characters remain consistent, and support each other in richness of detail. Thus, what you hold in your hands is not just a game supplement, but is also a background on the Klingon Empire. With its detail and background supported both by the game framework and a major piece of professional STAR TREK fiction, it can lay more claim to being an "official" look at the universe.

A collaboration between fiction author and game designers in this manner is the exception rather than the rule, but we are most happy to have been able to coordinate out efforts in this way. Frankly, we hope it will start a trend. Many thanks to Mimi Panitch and the folks at Pocket Books for their encouragement and cooperation. After all these years, working together again has been a lot of fun for Mike and I, and we hope you will enjoy incorporating the true Klingon Empire into your gaming as much as we have putting this package together. In writing this, I've become convinced that the Klingons are too fascinating to waste just as foes. Try playing from the Klingon perspective and see why they are among the most popular characters in the STAR TREK universe.



Second edition designers' notes

Although the STAR TREK TV series, professional and fan fiction, and the recent movies all provide information on the Klingons, much of it is fragmentary, opening up as many questions as it answers. To create a more complete picture of Klingon history, culture, technology, physiology, psychology, and religion, we had to use these fragments as the basis for logical speculation. Though care has been taken to avoid contraditing the TV episodes or movies, most of the 'holes' in Klingon background had to be filled in by the authors' imaginations.

Dave, Greg and I were not the only ones facing the problem of creating, from whole cloth, and entire background for the Klingon race. Even as STAR TREK: The Role Playing Game was being prepared several years ago, author John M. Ford was negotiating with Pocket Books to produce a STAR TREK novel where the central characters were Klingons, with action taking place largely against the background of the Klingon Empire.

Ford (known as "Mike" to his close friends) and I were roommates during my graduate school days and for a time thereafter. Mike introduced me to role-playing games when Dungeons and Dragons™ was first released, and taught me my first lesson about being a good gamemaster. He was also one of the shakers and movers of the Indiana University Science Fiction Club, and we often travelled to SF conventions together. Neither of us was totally aware that our lifetime careers were being shaped in these years. Mike has since become a well-known science fiction author, with several novels and short fiction works to his credit, including the novel The Dragon Waiting, winner of the World Fantasy Award. My own first published work in role-playing (a very early Dragon article) was completed while we were roommates, and I have remained in the field ever since.

It was perhaps inevitable that our professional paths should cross again, as Mike's interest in role-playing has continued (when his schedule of science fiction writing permits). He has been the author of a number of roleplaying adventures, as well as articles for such magazines as The Journal of the Traveller's Aid Society (now Challenge magazine) and Autoduel Quarterly. In the field of gaming, he is known for his somewhat bizarre sense of humor (and for leaving player characters in the most incredibly dangerous positions without warning!).

When we discovered we were working on parallel projects, we couldn't resist a collaboration of sorts. Thus, the research on the Klingon Empire for his novel The Final Reflection (Pocket Books) also became the basis for much of the background material in our first edition of The Klingons. (Some of the background material given in the player's book is presented as excerpts from An Informal Guide to the Klingon Empire, by J. Ford and E. Tagore. This fictional book was published during the time of the Enterprise's five-year mission, and was based on the findings of the Committee on the Klingon Estimate, a UFP study group. These excerpts are set off from the rest of the text and are credited.)

Ford, meanwhile, was able to draw on material we had generated on the STAR TREK universe when designing the basic game. In this way, both the novel's characters and player characters in the game inhabit a universe that is consistent and mutually supported with rich detail. Indeed, The Klingons is not just a game supplement, but also an important reference work on the Klingon Empire.

The Final Reflection went on to become one of the finest pieces of STAR TREK fiction ever written. It has changed the way the Klingons are viewed by STAR TREK fans everywhere, and I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in roleplaying with the Klingons. (See if you can pick out Greg, Dave, and myself as Klingons in the final chapter of the novel!)

The authors find Klingon society to be a fascinating alien culture. We do not, by any means, admire Klingon ideals and practices! As Mr. Spock would say, "Finding a culture fascinating does not imply approval." To understand all is not necessarily to forgive all. (We don't suggest that you be a Klingon, only that you try playing a Klingon!) In writing this, I've become convinced that the Klingons are too fascinating to waste just as foes. Try playing from the Klingon perspective and see why they are among the most popular characters in the STAR TREK universe.


Here's one of those excerpts from An Informal Guide to the Klingon Empire that McLimore mentions. These actually appeared in both editions, despite only being mentioned in the second piece above:

Students of Klingon trivia will recall that, at first contact, the Klingons referred to the Federation as an Empire, i.e., they used the same word for both.

The word komerex means "the structure that grows". Its counterpart/antonym is khesterex. All societies are described by one of these two words. Khesterex cultures are, by definition, kuve (servitor races). There is no Klingon concept of an equilibrium culture, "Zero Population Growth", etc. If a society is not growing, it must be dead.

Khex (or kh'ex) is a slang term for "corpse", analogous to the human "stiff" or "flatliner", and is used in general for anything non-functional.

[NOTE: The authors are seeking funding for a sociolinguistic study of the enormous array of terms for things that do not work: the Rigellian/Orion "discount goods", the Tellarite quat (literally, "tastes lousy" or "inedible"), the Andorian bouf ("pink"), and so on. Only the Vulcans have no such word - apparently on Vulcan everything always works. We disallow the famed "illogical", because something may be illogical and still work. This study, when completed, will be entitled A Bushel of Lemons.]


For those who will be at Boskone, it may be of interest to note that a copy of the first edition of The Klingons will be in the auction.
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