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.
This week continues the November theme of technological lifeforms with the Hologram, also sometimes known as “photonic lifeforms”.
As computer generated constructs of light and force fields, Holograms aren’t alive or a true species. However, numerous Holograms in Star Trek have demonstrated some form of sentience or self awareness. Minuet in Star Trek: The Next Generation showed that some Federation members (in this case the Bynars) were capable of programming Holograms with near-sentience. This was demonstrated again with Moriarty, who became self aware by accident, and Vic Fontaine who was not only self aware but able to turn his program off an on. The most famous Hologram is the Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager who was an Emergency Medical Hologram designed to function as a doctor during emergencies but who became more than his programing through extended use. While most Holograms would not be assigned personhood, self aware Holograms might be awarded personhood under legal ruling that declared Data a person not property in The Next Generation episode 2×09 The Measure of a Man.
Creating a Hologram character that isn’t a retread of the Doctor is tricky, and likely not possible prior to the 2370s. A time displaced Hologram might be an option in earlier eras, as would a Hologram created by an alien species. Such a character could easily be a remnant from an long dead galactic power, such as the Iconians or the Tkon Empire. It was shown in Voyager episode 4×14 Message in a Bottle that the prototype of Prometheus-class starships had holoemitters on all decks to allow the EMH to function outside sickbay; it would not be a stretch to envision a holographic security officer working alongside traditional security to minimize casualties. The limitation of holoemitters does confine the character to the ship, but there are ways around this; ships without the supply limitations of the U.SS. Voyager might have portable holoemitter rigs that can be beamed down with an away team. When the U.SS. Voyager established contact with Starfleet from the Delta Quadrant, it’s conceivable they back sent scans of the Doctor’s mobile emitter, which could have been replicated, albeit in a larger and less compact form.
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In our campaign, the holoemitter has not been allowed to be replicated as this could be construed as a violation of the Temporal Prime Directive. What do you think?
That’s certainly a reasonable call. Alternatively, as the device has already saved Voyager numerous times, it has “influenced” the timeline enough. The damage was done, especially as it was “created” in the 20th century, and inspires its own creation. The device exists akin to the Beethoven’s 5th paradox without a creator.
Or the usefulness of such a device could prompt the creation of similar devices, albeit larger and with more constrained power supplies and thus not directly affecting the timeline.
You can imagine a small backpack or belt device doing the same with a few hours of battery life. This allows a holographic character with more limits than the Doctor.