Ten Forward Fridays: Cardassian

Welcome to Ten Forward Fridays, where a new playable species is presented for the Star Trek Adventures roleplaying game, filling in some gaps until official material can be released.
For the month of October, Ten Forward Fridays focuses on enemies of the Federation. This week, that’s the Cardassians.

The Cardassians were a late introduction to Star Trek: The Next Generation, not being introduced until the fourth season with The Wounded In that appearance it was revealed (or retconned, depending on your definition) that the Cardassians and Federation had been engaged in open warfare for several decades, with a tenative ceasefire declared roughly around the start of the series. The militaristic Cardassians proved to be a popular villain, a more “human” enemy than the unstoppable and relentless Borg. The Cardassians quickly returned with the episode Ensign Ro, which also introduced the Bajorans and connected the two races. Originally, the occupying force in that episode was to be the Romulans, but it was quickly decided to use another species, and the Cardassians were selected. This segued into their large role in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and several appearances in The Next Generation and Star Trek: Voyager, giving Cardassians some of the most screen time of any hostile species.

Playing a Cardassian character poses some challenges. The date of first contact with the Cardassians is unknown (comics and novels place it some time in the 2320s), but it is likely well after the TOS era. Following 2347 and the start of open conflict, few Cardassians were likely seen in Federation space, making them unlikely sights on Starfleet vessels. In the later years of TNG era, the war with the Dominion also means few Cardassians would be welcome in the Federation. Political refugees and former spies are one idea. Even during the war, the Federation might accept Cardassians seeking asylum from their military-controlled government. Half-Cardassians are much easier to work into a game. The occupation of Bajor resulted in numerous children with mixed Cardassian heritage that might be more welcome in Starfleet.

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