#189 – Bev knows where the laser scalpels are kept

28 Comments on #189 – Bev knows where the laser scalpels are kept

GOD, MOM, WE’RE CRIMEFIGHTING, JEEZ

Actually, the real question here is: is Lwaxana’s use of “if you know what I mean” just an idle callback to similar entendres from Riker in earlier strips?

Or is it the tell that reveals the whole strip to be just another layer of narrative, being in fact orchestrated as a one man shadow puppet story by a lonely, stranded William Riker, whiling away years of accidental confinement on Nervala IV after a transporter accident?

A William Riker who would eventually write “himself” into the narrative as an accidental twin, who would resurrect his “real” self as an Other and name himself Thomas as an act of rebirth, as a desperate dualistic bid to cope with his own isolation and mortality as a forgotten casualty of the Potemkin?

A William Riker who is, in fact, the sole source of all the narrative of not just Larp Trek but of The Next Generation and beyond; and, further, the sole isolated human survivor after a plague of Borg preemptively and decisively wiped all of humanity, all of the federation, from the galaxy?

A kind of mortal, fleeting god by accident, the lonely single author of all the remaining stories of a dead race, creator in his own fragile and unknowing way, a teller of the oral history of bygone beings even if only to an audience of one, an audience of himself, the alpha and the omega in every invented dialogue, shining now but fading soon enough, soon and forever, like the cold reaching fractured light of a distant, dying star?

I mean, flip a coin.

#188 – YES THANK YOU I KNOW KAL-TOH WAS INVENTED FOR VOYAGER

11 Comments on #188 – YES THANK YOU I KNOW KAL-TOH WAS INVENTED FOR VOYAGER

Didn’t really plan on taking a couple weeks off, but I guess maybe I needed it? I don’t know, but here we are! Okay! Missed you guys! Hi!

Writing’s a funny thing; this is in its general shape what I’d been planning all along but getting a brain outline to gel into dialogue and jokes that actually feel solid on paper is a weird kind of alchemy, and sometimes you just end up staring and staring and staring at a block of lead and it keeps being a block of lead. It’s like, c’mon, lead, what’s your problem? Why you got to be all leaden and shit? But it just sits there, not turning into gold, like a motherfucker. “Oh, don’t mind me,” it says, as if it thinks I’m trying to accommodate it, like I’m about to offer it a throw pillow or something. “I’ll just keep being dull and making paint bad for children and not actually being in pencils.”

Lead, man. Never invite that stuff to a party.

Anyway, Project Benjamin Braddock is once again under way and I expect we’re all going to feel somewhat uncomfortable before it’s over.

#187 – Just a buttload of empathy up in this mess

18 Comments on #187 – Just a buttload of empathy up in this mess

GUYS I SERIOUSLY DIDN’T THINK THEY’D STILL BE BICKERING, I THOUGHT THEY’D GET BACK TO THE GAME, WHY WON’T THE GET BACK TO THE GAME

WHAT IS HAPPEN

Also, it’s been making the rounds: The Worf of Starfleet. For me, not having seen the original Wolf of Wall Street trailer, it’s just funny editing in a general genre style, but I imagine the effect is even better with context.

I gotta get Worf back in the strip at some point.

#186 – Sacred Chalice of Rixx Astley

22 Comments on #186 – Sacred Chalice of Rixx Astley

Riker could be on an away mission and come across the charred bones of a thousand murdered colonists and still stand a like 15% chance of getting distracted by dirty thoughts about the word “bone”. The fact that Lwaxana once tried to surprise-marry him while experiencing Betazoid Pon Farr is enough for approximately five seconds of actual self-reflection before the ol’ mental holodeck gets in gear anyway.

Also, you know, it’s something that I’m sure is covered amply in handwavy explanatory detail in branded prequel novels and such, but it’s actually a little weird to me that Riker doesn’t seem to know Lwaxana pretty much at all when she first shows up on the show. I mean, they know of each other, and Lwaxana certainly has no problem ribbing Deanna about lettin’ that fish slip the hook so she’s apparently even got some amount of mental investment in the concept of Riker as her daughter’s one-time serious lover and potential husband material. And yet, not much familiarity.

Maybe I’m just being too normative about familial relations; maybe contemporary Betazed kids tend to more aggressively compartmentalize their personal relationships from their parents compared to ancient humans; maybe Lwaxana was just out of reasonable warp range of Deanna during that whole Rikers-with-benefits era; maybe Deanna specifically just didn’t want to let worlds collide; maybe the only reason Lwaxana knows anything about Riker is that she’s a shameless mind-snooper. There’s a lot of angles here. But it sort of jumped out at me, skimming through the various early TNG episodes where Mrs. Troi makes her first few appearances.

Anyway, spend the rest of the day imagining Majel Roddenberry spanking Jonathan Frakes. YOU’RE WELCOME.

#184 – Please allow me to introduce myself

11 Comments on #184 – Please allow me to introduce myself

Really, having a telepath around in mixed company seems like a really bad idea for everyone except the telepath. Think how frustrating it must be to play Pictionary against her. Think how annoying it would be for the DM to want to fudge a roll for the sake of the story.

In wholly unrelated news: if you enjoy screenshot-based inter-franchise media juxtaposition humor with Futura-font captions but are in the mood for something in more of a contemporary-drama-meets-classic-sitcom vein, you may enjoy this dumb thing I did last night during a fit of mania:

Click on through there for the full FULL HOUSE of CARDS image set, there’s seven or eight total. I’d have done more of them but it turns out there are very, very few memorable lines from Full House and also I really don’t care very much because, ugh, Full House.

#183 – Un, deux, Trois

14 Comments on #183 – Un, deux, Trois

One of the tricky things about adding Lwaxana to the strip is that I don’t necessarily want to make her actually move the conversation forward productively, game-wise, because it’s kind of fun to have her just be her nosy, brash, flirty busy-body self. I could probably just write her playfully bickering with the crew for a month without getting into any DS9 stuff, if I wasn’t careful. But we got things to do, so she’ll just have to behave a little.

She’s also not exactly easy to manage screenshots for, compared to most characters. Majel’d been on TNG as Lwaxana all of six times (and DS9 three) across the whole run of the shows, which means there’s not a lot of episodes to choose from, and worse still she changes outfits between every commercial break. So getting a suffient crop of different expressions in medium close-up shot with consistent costuming and lighting is way more of a challenge than even for one of the more fashion-mobile regular cast members like Deanna or Wes or Bev. It’s workable, it’s just a lot more work.

God bless Picard and his bald fringe and Starfleet uniform. Helping a dude out.

Keen students of TNG will sense the deep, dark undercurrent in that “only daughter” line, given the revelations of the season 7 episode Dark Page; keen students of Larp Trek will remember that if it ain’t happened by mid-late season 3, the Golden Rule says it’s at best a future possibility out in probability space, so we don’t have to worry about it here beyond maybe wincing a little bit. I do kind of wish my opening exchange here would have found its way into an actual earlier episode of TNG, though, because that would have made for one brilliant nasty subtle callback once Dark Page came along.

#182 – Out of the frying pan…

17 Comments on #182 – Out of the frying pan…

It took like six weeks for me to get around to having Lwaxana show up, but here we go. We’ll get into it properly next week. Fun fact: Majel Roddenberry is actually naked in that screenshot (I’ve got to put some actual time into getting decent Lwaxana screenshots this weekend), though I’m pretty sure Lwaxana’s got something shoulderless on in the strip continuity.

Pretty sure.

Anyway, it’s Valentines Day, so here’s a couple of poems I impulse-tweeted that you are welcome to charm the pants off the nerds in your life with:

Roses are red
And so is your shirt
Let’s make like an ensign
And writhe in the dirt

Roses are red
And we fall back.
No more!
The line must be drawn here!

I am guessing y’all can come up with some more.

#181 – Wesley wills us

27 Comments on #181 – Wesley wills us

I think the lesson here is pretty clear: don’t violate the boundaries of space-narrative if you aren’t ready to have a lot of suddenly self-aware non-people angry at you and not really sure what to make of themselves. If I didn’t already have a pretty clear idea of what Larp Trek should be about, I might explore this whole situation in its own right further, but I’m pretty much ready to put this weird trip to bed and get back to the actual DS9 stuff. I miss colored backgrounds.

But this has been an interesting diversion for me, because (and there’s a decent analogue here to the dilemma of a free-form game, really) as soon as you start lifting the constraints on something there’s both a wonderful freedom to Do Whatever You Like and a seriously terrifying realization that freedom to move means freedom to muck things up in profoundly new ways. How meta is too meta? How much more of a problem is consistency when you’re flying all over the place? What are the rules, what are the metaphysics of this storytelling environment suddenly unburdened from its more or less reliable boundaries? Does it work? Is it satisfying? Is it actually a story or just a lot of faffing about from one conceit to the next?

And the tricky thing is that locking it back down to the old constraints may not really get rid of those questions. Cat meet bag, toothpaste meet tube, knowledge meet apple. Certainly I’ve given myself some things to think about in terms of how I plot and characterize in the strip. I think that’s all in all a good thing, but it’s also a weird thing.

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