This is intended as a guidline only to help one become better acqainted with tips on writing KDF oriented mission storylines.
|Narrating in Klingon
by S. John Ross, part of the Untaken Treks
Klingons and the Klingon Empire can be involved in your Star Trek: The Next Generation RPG series in several ways, from their traditional role as uneasy allies or open adversaries to the unique challenge and excitement of a Klingons-Only campaign, where the pursuit of glory and honor for the Empire, not the goals of the United Federation of Planets, shape the stories that are told. With the information provided in this boxed set, the Narrator can also build a series around non-Klingon infiltration into the empire (perhaps to control the potential ravages of the Klingon/Cardassian war) or even Klingon infiltration into the Federation, from the perspective of Klingon Intelligence agents. The possibilities are many.
Regardless of whether you make the Klingons the focus of the series, or simply of an interesting arc or subplot, this chapter may be of value to you. In addition to its role as a Narrator’s tool, this chapter will also be useful to players; the themes discussed here are meant to inspire character ideas as well as stories!
To these ends, we examine what makes an episode of the Star Trek: The Next Generation RPG “feel Klingon.” Klingons have an aesthetic, outlook, and a strongly-held code of ethics that is markedly different from that of the UFP or Starfleet, and episodes or series featuring them are richer and more engaging if those differences are highlighted and explored. The exploring we leave to you; the highlighting starts here.
In the Star Trek: The Next Generation RPG rulebook, we described four axioms, fundamental ideas that sit at the core of Star Trek, that must be present for your series to reflect the ethos of the TV show. Things change, however, when examined from the Klingon viewpoint! While each of the Next Generation axioms apply to Klingon stories to some degree (especially “Cinematic Action!”), there are two fundamental Klingon axioms that should sing through the blood of any episode or series in which the sons and daughters of Quo’noS take part:
Honor is Everything!
And honorable behavior in the game should be rewarded. By the same token, dishonorable behavior should never go unpunished. While Klingons, like humans and others, may certainly find redemption for their dishonors, a tale can not be truly Klingon if dishonor has no price.
What is “honorable” behavior, then, in terms that apply to writing and narrating good Klingon episodes? Honor doesn’t exist in a vacuum; there must be something to be honored. The most vital forms of honor among the Klingons can be lumped into four broad categories, each of which overlaps. A particularly rich and exciting Klingon series is one that reflects the value of each of them from time to time.
- Personal Honor: Klingons have no patience for liars, cowards and weaklings. They have a strong sense of virtuous responsibility, and personal honor is about standing up and accepting the negative consequences of personal action (if the consequences are deserved), demanding the recognition for personal triumph when it is due, and defending choices that the Klingon knows to have been the right ones, even in the face of adverse opinion or mortal danger.
- Ties of Blood: Honor does not stop at a Klingon’s skin; it extends to his brethren, his trusted companions, and most especially to his name and his blood. A dishonored Klingon dishonors every Klingon that will be descended from him, for many generations to come. And any threat to the honor of a Klingon who’s name you bear – even if that Klingon is long free from the confines of mortal life – is a serious attack on your personal honor. Familial honor is personal honor, extended to an entire bloodline.
- Duty to Superiors: It is honorable – in fact, commendable – for a Klingon to advance in rank by killing a weak or ineffectual superior. Such an act strengthens the chain of command by culling out the weak links in the chain. But a worthy superior is to be respected and obeyed, and this form of honor extends from a warrior’s immediate commander all the way up the ladder to the leadership of the Klingon Empire. Honoring the Empire and the will of those who rule it is vital to the survival of the species, the glory of all worthy warriors, and the personal honor of any who benefit from the Imperial might and prestige.
- Ancient Tradition: Honor of self, family and Empire are in many ways facets of a much larger concept, that of honoring the many traditions that have built the Empire and made it thrive. This is why honor is such a vital axiom in Klingon stories: Klingons are as they are for reasons – ancient reasons, tested by time and blood and fire and proven in expansion and prosperity. Klingon stories should recognize this and sing with the truth of it. Klingons aren’t just “hung up” on honor, honor is an essential part of being Klingon, and something to be celebrated.
When devising episodes, it’s often handy to remember that honor is often best defined in negative terms. That is, it’s often easier to see what’s honorable by defining what’s dishonorable. Nearly any ordinary, productive life can be said to be “honorable,” but that’s not of much use when you’re scratching your head with your pencil, trying to come up with an interesting story to challenge your Klingon Crew!