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.
First appearing in The Original Series episode 3×09 The Tholian Web, the desire to keep the Tholians alien and non-humanoid limited their appearance in later TV series until Enterprise, when they appeared in the two part In a Mirror Darkly storyline, being CGI creatures.
Tholians are decidedly different from humanoids, being insectoid silicon-based lifeforms who exist in extreme heat. Most Tholian worlds would likely be much warmer than Federation colonies, as their body temperature is over 200 degrees Celsius. This sounds horrifically hot—almost implausibly hot—but both Venus and Mercury have temperatures that reach well above 400 degrees Celsius, so 200 degrees is almost temperate by comparison. However, this does make Tholians difficult to include in a game, as their bodies would shatter from the cold of normal human temperatures. I imagine with technology such as force fields and environmental suits, Tholians might be more able to interact with Humans for limited duration, especially in later eras like The Next Generation.
The Tholians are a surprisingly large power in the Alpha Quadrant. This makes it odd that they haven’t played as large a role in galactic politics as the Romulans and Klingons. That said, there’s more than enough gaps in the timeline for a dramatic war with the Tholians, such as prior to The Original Series or between the original cast movies and The Next Generation (which is something the Decipher RPG did. In a game set during the Dominion War, the Dominion could be making overtures with the Tholians to force the Klingons and Federation into a two-front war. Or the Tholians could emerge as a hostile faction following the war, taking advantage of the diminished opposition, perhaps claiming Cardassian territories. Alternatively, in the name of peace, a player could play a Tholian ambassador or envoy taking part of a cultural exchange program.
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