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.
Welcome back to Mirror Universe May, where this month’s content is focused on the distorted reflection of the Prime Reality.
For this series, I opted to focus on the eight species in the Core Rulebook, as an excuse to give them extra talents. This week was hard, as we never saw a Betazoid and only saw a single Denobulan in the Mirror Universe: the twisted and depraved Doctor Phlox. So rather than discuss some history or background, I’m going into my thought process of writing the articles, as examples of how to Mirror-ify species.
The portrayal of Phlox bugged me slightly, being more of a complete inversion and less pushing the character in an extreme direction. I like Mirror Universe characters that look at the personality of the character and then extrapolate where they would have gone had their childhood been completely different. I wondered what had happened to make the doctor such a malicious sadist. Especially when other species—such as Vulcans, Cardassians, and Klingons—were culturally identical between universes; given how short a span of time had passed since Denobula was conquered by the Terrans, it seems implausible such a major cultural shift would have occured. I find it curious that Denobulans would deviate to such an extreme, from a compassionate and ethical people to cruel torturers, and being willing subservient to the Terrans to such a degree that rebellion is seen as out-of-character. It’s not impossible, as the species did show they were interested in cultural exchange, and were extremely social. It’s not impossible they would have accepted foreign values from a dominant species. And I wasn’t able to find many details in novels or comics either to use a foundation or justification for their acceptance of occupation. Unless their cooperation was for show… unless Phlox was acted the way he did to fit in with the Terrans and be accepted, embracing their values for some mixture of self-preservation, indoctrination, and adaptation. Given Denobula has a single crowded continent (with a surprisingly small population given its apparent population density), they would be particularly vulnerable to invasion. This presents the idea that the Denobulans were playing the part of collaborators, who weren’t resisting because they were playing the long game. Which sets up a neat bit of history and story hooks.
Betazoids are harder as they never appeared on-screen. There’s been a few details presented in novels and comics over the years, but these are often contradictory, either having the Terrans dislike telepaths and banning Betazoids, or accepting them as useful tools. Having just done one world where the culture emerges largely intact, I like the idea of doing the reverse here: of Terrans turning Betazed into a police state. So that’s the interpretation I opted to run with and build upon. Firstly, because it’s tragic to have the culture destroyed, and secondly because it’s terrifying to imagine a Big Brother state with telepaths. This adds some danger and paranoida to a potential Mirror Universe campaign, which is desirable.
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