"Not now honey, I've got to beam this luggage to that shuttle before the Captain finds out I'm drunk."

#19 – Miles and Keiko IN: A Double Date with Destiny!


I’ve been dancing around this, but let’s discuss timelines. NO DON’T GO I’LL BE GENTLE JUST–

This strip, to the extent that one can or should take this idea seriously (one probably shouldn’t!), takes place during the series run of The Next Generation. Not after the last episode, not in some amorphous before-during-and-after miasma where all times are one: it takes place sometime in late season 3 of the show.

I want you to be calm if you are now flinching and being like “man, I didn’t sign up for this nerdlinger continuity crap, I’ve only seen three episodes of Star Trek, I’m just here for the double entendres and I sort of think Picard’s sexy, what the hell is all this now”, because this is not information that you need to care about. You are fine.

This is information I’m making explicit specifically for my fellow nerdlingers, the folks who are asking stuff like “but if Miles and Keiko do have a baby named Molly, did Keiko change her mind?” or e.g. “but how can Bev invent the Trill in strip #12 when she has met a Trill and fallen in love with the Trill and then the Trill was in Riker and she loved Riker but then the Trill was in some other lady and she couldn’t get over her heteronormativity and seal the deal the third time”?

The answer to all those questions is, hey, it’s still somewhere mid-late in season three. And that’s where it’s going to be indefinitely, because they’ve got a lot of downtime on the Enterprise and we’re seeing maybe two minutes of conversation at time here. So, Miles and Keiko aren’t married yet. Bev never met the Trill-who-didn’t-even-resemble-the-Trills-on-Deep-Space-Nine-anyway. Riker’s got a beard now. Wes is an acting ensign. Picard’s never been Borgified. None of the stuff that hasn’t happened yet has happened. Maybe none of that ever will.

IT’S A SCHISM, BABY. Embrace it. Love it. Leverage that information in combination with your knowledge of ST canon to ferret out subtle additional humorjokes. Or totally ignore it, because I can’t promise I won’t at some point if it makes a better joke or I just forget.

But so yes, I feel like while most of the crew are going to be terrible at this game, Miles & Keiko will mostly just be sort of terrible for the game. We’ll see what happens.

"Bloody, handsome, charming Picard!  How I hate and desire and respect him!"

#24 – O’Brien vs. O’Brien, Picard vs. Picard


As far as I can tell, letting your players improvise is simultaneously the best and worst thing you can possibly do in a role-playing game, a lesson I guess Geordi is going to learn the ancient-fashioned way. And I’m a little worried about the toll this whole thing might take on Keiko and Miles relationship.

But boy are lightbulbs going off in Picard’s head right now. Unexamined possibilities! Riker may be Picard’s Number One, but deep down inside we all know that Picard is Picard’s number one fan.

I was trying to figure out what rank to give Miles here, since the DS9 assignment is a promotion but I’m not sure what to or even what from. He was apparently referred to as both a Petty Officer and a Lt. junior grade on TNG, and at some point later on in DS9 it’s made finally explicit that he’s a Sr. Petty Officer, but it’s not clear to me whether at that point he became one or someone just said it out loud finally, and nobody seems to be really sure up to that specific point what he’s actually been in the mean time. And I don’t know anything about military hierarchy and officer ranks except that Captain Picard is damned sure a Captain and also whatever I’ve learned from getting people killed in X-Com.

So if someone wants to sort this whole thing out in the comments, please feel free.

"Miles, this is you, 'oh, i love you transporter, you're so haptic, let me kiss your interface, omnomalllarglleargle--'" "Keiko, what are-- Captain, I have *never* made sexual advances toward the transporter console--"

#39 – more like miles o’beamin


Miles and Keiko! Where have you guys been? What jerk hasn’t been giving you any strip time? I really do like writing these two, honest, there’s just been so much pilot plot getting in the way. Blame Geordi!

But so really my feeling about what is going on here is that (a) everybody has a job, (b) everybody has things they don’t like about their job, and (c) everybody vents to somebody about that stuff they don’t like, right? Even if you love your job, it still has its moments. Even in the post-scarcity utopia of tomorrow, that seems like a given, more so on the Enterprise for everybody who isn’t at the top of the pecking order and constantly having big adventures.

So Miles meets Keiko, they hit it off, maybe Keiko’s not really in love with her botany assignment on Enterprise, she complains about work to him, he complains about work to her, it’s a bonding thing. But there’s this asymmetry, right, where he actually really digs his job, a lot more than she does hers — maybe he’s the kid with the Tonka truck who grows up to work in construction, except for transporters on starships — and so she’s essentially created this larger-than-life sympathetic negativity about his career. In her mind he hates that he’s stuck beaming people around, hates that he’s not captain of his own ship or whatever; it’s a mix of projection of her own job dissatisfaction and a sense of care for and loyalty to him as the new important person in her life.

But then that all spools out inappropriately in public. Like things do. Et voila! And so: drama. And one probably shouldn’t engage in drama at Picard’s expense, even Ha Ha Just Kidding But No Really drama. But at least it’s a game, so there’s plausible deniability. I don’t really feel like this is going to help Miles get promoted, though, Keiko.

Miles experimented with Andorian transporters one time in college but he didn't like how it made him feel.

#45 – Next, we shoot at the replicators until they can make rainbows.


Seriously, this scene from the pilot. Miles just kicks the damn thing. That’s the actual thing that happens: the transporter is confusing, so he kicks it, and then it works.

Which, look, I am willing to go out on a limb and support the idea that the station is in disarray and the equipment is all in not great shape thanks to the Cardassian evac, so maybe there was a loose connector under there? A feed off an EPS conduit, whatever the hell those things are? So maybe a rough shock and a millimeter of resulting nudging put into place a cord or a plug or a chip or something that needed reseating. I will go there; I will wave that hand for you, show.

But it’s still cartoonish. It’s like, “okay, we’re doing a little set piece about a heist here, lots of moving parts and multiple players, what we need is…slapstick? Yeah, let’s do some slapstick.”

It’s a bit weird, tonally, is all.

Also, I’m really making an assumption with that aboot joke, that Canadian regional dialectal quirks in English would (a) still exist as such four centuries in the future and (b) would survive exposure to the magical goddam Universal Translator and (c) that people would still meaningfully recognize it when they’ve been exposed to a whole quadrant full of weird alien linguistic phenomenon. And also, yes, (d) it’s really more like “a boat” in any case but shut up.

But maybe O’Brien, as a (however gently) lilting Irishman, is more aware than the average human of accents and perceptions thereof. Maybe in the future, being Irish has gone back to being one of the crappier class determiners in Future Western society? Hmm.

Also I have no earthly idea whether O’Brien had ever been to Canada by season three of Next Generation. That’s called artistic license. I am an artist. I was done working on the strip when that issue occurred to me, so I blew it off.

With art.

If somebody wants to investigate Torontogate and report back, that’d be keen. Maybe there’s a memory-alpha.ca?

The worst part is that Riker is going to turn around and use these lines on women in Ten Forward.

#46 – Stop the kid before he says something about “watersports”


You can’t even explain to Wes why what he’s saying is problematic without things getting even more awkward. Off-screen: Bev’s head actually, literally exploding.

But hey, so, you know what totally didn’t exist until Deep Space Nine? The noble runabout! It showed up in the pilot of DS9, obviously, and then a runabout did make a brief appearance later that same year in season 6 of Next Generation.

And so this is my official headcanon: Geordi made it up.

He was bored at some point in let’s say season two, he was doodling on a PADD, and this thing is what he came up with. He pulled out the old sketches when setting up this game for the crew and polished things up a bit. (But how could Geordi make it up for DS9 if it showed up in season 6 of TNG? Remember the golden rule of Larp Trek handwaving: if it hasn’t happened yet by most of the way through season three, it hasn’t happened. Anything that contradicts this is a coincidence or something Q did. Carry on.)

And, really, if on Voyager they let Tom Paris not just design but build a Yellowstone class ship while stranded alone tens of thousands of lightyears from home in the Delta quadrant, I think Geordi is pretty justified in throwing the whole of imaginary Starfleet’s shipyard workflow at this problem.

Also, I see little thumbnails of the strips when I’m writing up these posts, and let me tell you, with the “color for in-character content, grey for out-of-character bullshitting” scheme I’ve been using lately, it’s pretty clear at a glance that these guys aren’t doing a great job of staying in the game at the moment.

Later, Bashir and Dax keep that dinner date but Bashir still isn't convinced she's not an orb hologram and the whole thing plays out like an episode of Seinfeld.

#51 – Nothing’s certain but death and Daxes.


Bev might just be on to something with that character sketch, is what I’m thinking.

And a quick hello to the pile of people from reddit who appear to have noticed or re-noticed Larp Trek this morning. You are here!

No strip-specific thoughts at the moment, but I would like to say a little something about tribbles, because I’ve had tribbles on the brain the last couple days for odd reasons. In fact, I should probably do this in the other order, so, reasons first, thoughts second.

Reasons: because I spent Monday recording a Taylor Swift parody called “I Knew You Were Tribbles (When You Dropped In)” and then constructing a music video for it out of footage from The Trouble With Tribbles. Which is the sort of thing that could probably be pretty terrible but I think it came out rather nicely, actually:

But, so, yes, then: tribbles! Rewatching that episode got me thinking about what the hell their deal is. And someone on Metafilter yesterday suggested that, well, their deal is that they’re racist against Klingons, hence screaming when they come near one.

But that seems a little unfair, to me; if nothing else, I think it’s reasonable to suggest that tribbles seem to be pretty darned low on the intelligence scale, basically just eating-and-breeding machines that purr like cats but aren’t nearly as cognizant or mobile. They’re fuzzy lumps of not much, mammalian chia pets, not capable of racism per se any more than a goldfish is capable of literary snobbery.

What I think is that the tribbles are the product of a genetic engineering arms race. Their makers certainly had a problem with Klingons, and in fact created the tribbles as a sort of passive detection system in direct response to the Klingons developing a method for reliably producing Klingons who don’t look like Klingons but rather like humans with sassy facial hair. Klingons go under the radar, tribbles ferret them out with their tiny little screams. Et voila.

In the director's cut of this strip, there were thirty-seven additional panels in which Miles and Geordi argued at length about the impracticality of creating an intertial dampening bubble around the whole station but then started discussing the time they did something like that on an episode of Babylon 5 and then they just started quoting Monty Python at each other.

#53 – Joss Whedon no longer has monopoly on space westerns


I feel like someone with time on their hands should do a couple things:

1. Systematically analyze episodes of Star Trek for brilliant, insightful solutions to crises and tech snafus and so on that never, ever get used again in other episodes for some reason.

2. Do a statistical analysis of the distribution of such events to test my theory that they occur overwhelmingly near the start and end of television seasons.

Aside from which, a couple things always bothered me about the “move the whole station” bit: it’s still an unarmed hunk of metal sitting in space, so DS9 being near the wormhole seems like about as much of a deterrent as DS9 not being anywhere near the wormhole, and the presence or not of actual Federation (or Bajoran, if they could really spare any) armed forces seem like it’s the more important issue anyway.

And is this wormhole in Bajoran space or not? If it is, that should sort of settle the question jurisdictionally, I would think; if not, why would “but we flew a space station here” really be a rock-solid gambit?

And! This is a minor thing maybe and possibly there’s a nice solid answer somewhere already but I’m feeling kind of belligerent this morning so I refuse to google, but is the position DS9 takes up near the wormhole actually like a stable orbital point like a Lagrange point or something, or is it just constantly having to run thrusters to fight off gravitational decay into the Bajoran sun or the wormhole? And wouldn’t the wormhole generate like seeeerious gravitational effects when it’s open? Does the station have to consistently fire thrusters during wormhole events to not get knocked out of position or even sucked in?


Wes: "I bet Thoron particles are named after the mythical figure Thor...because of how they really hammer your sensors!"

#56 – Bluffin’ with his muffin’


I totally had a thought about this situation earlier this morning but I have no idea what it is now so I’ll veer wildly in another direction:

Cheers, the sitcom, as The Big Lebowski, or vice versa. The Dude is Norm; Walter is Cliffy Claven; Donny is Woody. Walter’s rambling exegeses are Cliff’s trivia; Donny’s cheerful hanger-on cluelessness is the Woodster’s affable, naive bartender patter; and The Dude, accidental zen master just coasting through the world, is no-ambition Norm with his resigned acceptance that all this, the nightly retirement to the local hangout for drinks and routine with familiar faces, is what life is and has been and will be.

Lilith is Maude, I suppose. Fraiser is The Big Lebowski, estranged from his close relation but somehow trapped in a shared orbit with her. We’ll ignore the uncomfortable jump from divorced spouses to father/daughter, there, shall we?

Sam is Jackie Treehorn, charming sleazeball with sex on the brain.

Not sure where Diane or Rebecca fits into any of this. I suppose we could say Rebecca is an aspect of Bunny Lebowski, and Diane is some previous Mrs. Lebowski? There must have been a previous Mrs. Lebowski, as Maude presumably came from somewhere other than her father’s forehead fully formed, though with Maude one wonders a little.

One wonders.

J. Michael Straczynski: "And you totally ripped this off from the campaign setting I told you about last week in Ten Forward!"

#63 – Everybody’s a critic


So I think that’s officially that for the pilot. I have a few jokes that never quite made it out of the notes file and onto the page, but I think trying to shoe-horn them in to an extended directionless denouement wouldn’t have worked out all that well, so let’s just have Geordi put a lid on it, shall we?

I should emphasize that my read is that when Troi says she’s teasing, Geordi is the person in the room it’s probably least directed at. It’s a failure of execution with my dialogue this morning that I feel the need to emphasize that here, but I just wasn’t firing on all cylinders this morning with the strip.

You know who plays poker? Worf. Worf plays poker.