Federation starships, even Captain’s Yachts, have dedication plaques which bear the name of the vessel, its class, its shipyard of origin, lists of Starfleet officers involved in building the vessel, as well as the ship’s motto.
The ship’s motto could be drawn from quotations by famous historical figures, songs and lines in a play, or even made up. There are many serious and not-so-serious examples of dedication plaques on record, such as the U.S.S. Sao Paulo‘s “Give me Liberty or give me death…“, to the U.S.S. Brattain‘s motto “…a three hour tour, a three hour tour” drawn from Gilligan’s Island. The most famous, of course, is the U.S.S. Enterprise‘s “…to boldly go where no man has gone before.” One motto, “No matter wherever you go, there you are“, has been used by several ships (the U.S.S. Excelsior, U.S.S. Hathaway, and the U.S.S. Phoenix). Even Mirror Universe ships, like the I.S.S. Avenger, had a motto: “Dedicated to serve the Emperor“.
A ship’s motto could be an opportunity to distinguish your starship from others, with a quotation that gives the ship something akin to a Value.
When my players were constructing their starship, they found only one Starship Trait (Federation Starship) worked, as the few examples in the book didn’t quite fit their ship concept. Since a starting ship could have up to three Traits in total, I’m giving them an option to pick the ship’s motto and use it as a Trait: Fitting Motto.
If a ship has Fitting Motto, the crew is known for adhering to the principles of their ship’s motto. For example, if the U.S.S. Sao Paulo has Fitting Motto, then the ship and crew are known to be champions of freedom. But that could be a positive or a negative, depending on the situation and how the crew acts. If the Sao Paulo allowed a slaver ship to leave without confrontation, for instance, then others who hear of the incident may react negatively. But live up to the motto, and perhaps it works to the crew’s advantage.
Of course, not every motto works in this respect, and new ships may have to undergo some missions before gaining such a reputation. But hopefully player groups can enjoy picking a motto for their ship, and try to live up to the ideal embodied in the quotation. Even if the ship does not use this new trait, it should give the ship some additional personality.
I present two tables below, if your group can’t think of a quotation and would like to roll a d20 instead. The first is a set of 20 known mottos. The second are 20 new quotations. But it will probably be most satisfying for a group to come up with their own motto.
What is your starship’s motto?
Known Mottos (roll d20)
“…a three hour tour, a three hour tour.”
“Audentes fortuna juvat – Fortune favors the bold.” – Virgil
“Hope is a waking dream.” – Aristotle
“All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.” – John Masefield
“All things can be understood once they are discovered; the point is to discover them.”
“To boldly go where no man has gone before.”
“The night of time far surpasseth the day.” – Sir Thomas Browne
“No matter where you go, there you are.”
“All glory comes from daring to begin.”
“Its origin and purpose, still a total mystery.”
“I swear by Apollo the healer, by Aesculapius, by Health and all the powers of healing…”
“All the World’s a stage and all the men and women merely players, they have their exits and entrances and one man in his life plays many parts, his act being seven stages…” – William Shakespeare
“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen all at once.” – E.M. Rauch
|14||U.S.S. Sao Paulo||
“Give me Liberty or give me death…” – Patrick Henry
“All existing things are really one.”
“To bring light into the darkness.”
“There will be an answer, let it be…”
“The Earth is the cradle of the mind but one cannot remain in the cradle forever.”
“We set sail on this new sea because there is new knowledge to be gained and new fights to be won.” – John F. Kennedy
“For I dipt in to the future, far as Human eye could see; Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be…” – Alfred Tennyson
New Mottos (roll d20)
“We shall show mercy, but we will not ask for it.” – Winston Churchill
“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.” – Helen Keller
“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” – Leonardo da Vinci
“Virtue is the fount whence honour springs.” – Christopher Marlowe
“Come forth into the light of things, let nature be your teacher.” – William Wordsworth
“Study the past, if you would divine the future.” – Confucius
“Look up at the stars and not down at your feet.” – Stephen Hawking
“A clear and innocent conscience fears nothing.” – Elizabeth I
“Who seeks shall find.” – Sophocles
“Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.” – Hippocrates
“Never relinquish the initiative.” – Charles de Gaulle
“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” – Marcel Proust
“Nulla tenaci invia est via – For the tenacious, no road is impassable.”
“The safety of the people shall be the highest law.” – Marcus Tullius Cicero
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandi
“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.” – Albert Einstein
“Jump, and you will find out how to unfold your wings as you fall.” – Ray Bradbury
“Everything is theoretically impossible, until it is done.” – Robert A. Heinlein
“Do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?” – Abraham Lincoln
“There is no darkness but ignorance.” – William Shakespeare