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First Officer In Focus – Lt Cmdr Quentin Collins, USS Arrow

StarBase 118 Staff

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Each month we interview a First Officer or Commanding Officer of the fleet as part of our “First Officer in Focus” and “Captain’s Corner” columns to get to know them better, and learn more about what their positions entail.

This month, we’re interviewing the First Officer of the starship USS Arrow,  Lieutenant Commander Quentin Collins, a human male. 

DeVeau: Tell us a little about the writer behind the character — where are you from?

Collins: ABSOLUTELY! My name is Justin, and I am from the north of Texas! Just right near the border of Oklahoma. I have been a freelance writer and columnist for various websites for 12 years now.

What first got you interested in Star Trek?

Oh, man, that’s a big question isn’t it?

I guess at first it would have been reruns of the Original Series on Fox. They would play them later at night and I would huddle in front of this little black and white, heavy dialed TV I had to watch in my room. On low volume, of course, as to not wake up my parents. 

From there, after the finale of TNG which I vaguely remember, I got REALLY into Deep Space 9 (which was also played a lot in syndication at night) so I just went from there! After that, I started to mainline the movies and various other expanded universe novels like The Captain’s Table series, the Diane Duane Romulan novels, and the Titan series.

I think, as of now, the only TV series I HAVEN’T seen completely is Enterprise and the latest series of Discovery (and the remainder of Lower Decks, which I quite enjoyed the opening two episodes of). But honestly, Star Trek has just always been a part of my life. One of the first tapes I ever owned was the Director’s Cut of The Motion Picture and I am pretty sure I still have it somewhere around here. 

How did you discover SB118, and what spurred you to join?

Weirdly enough through a simple Google search!

I was feeling a bit stuck, creatively speaking, and was looking for an outlet to allow me to create just for ME and not be connected to some larger “work” or commissioned article. I started thinking about how amazing the old DC/Marvel RPG chat rooms used to be (yes, I am THAT old of a dork).

That led me to be a bit of poking around online and toward a lovely Reddit post from a former member (whose IC name escapes me sadly). THAT in turn led me to the wonderful homepage, the FNS headlines, and the wiki.

After that I was pretty much SOLD! I spent the next few days pouring over the wiki and getting my ducks in a row for enrollment and was quickly accepted into a training class less than a week after I had applied! I was (and still am, honestly) just struck at the completeness of the world y’all had created. How all the ships and installations worked in tandem. The scope of it all. The elegance of the 118’s narrative structure in regards to current “canon”. 

I just really wanted to be a part of all that.

What ships have you served on and what duty posts have you played so far in your Starfleet career?

I’ve had the honor of serving on two (and a half) ships here in the great One-One-Eight!

After my training cruise, I was assigned to the U.S.S. Eagle, under the command of the wonderful Captain Oddas Aria and Commander Randal Shayne as a Science Officer. I served the bulk of my career there, advancing through the ranks as a “Blue Coat” for much of my first year until I was deemed fit for the honor of the Eagle’s Chief Science Officer after a number of months as “Co-Chief” under the then CSO.

I also was allowed the honor of serving as Second Officer and Chief Science Officer of the U.S.S. Juneau, also under Captain Oddas and Commander Shayne, which allowed me my first taste of “Command Red” outside of my usual beat as a Science geek. The ship had just launched, the product of the fleet’s ongoing “Capstone Project”, ramping up our IC Warp capabilities to a whopping 15 with the new XV Warp Core. While I didn’t get the chance to serve there for very long (hence my “half” above), just being around that wonderful ship (and it’s equally wonderful crew) was a real treat and one of the highlights, I think, of my career thus far.

From there, a twist in the narrative (and another launch, or relaunch rather, of a ship) brought me to my current position and assignment; First Officer of the U.S.S. Arrow. Unbeknownst to me, my now CO, former XO had been working up a pitch for a new vessel and asked me to serve with him as his second. This had been one of my main goals since joining up, to be honest, both in and out of character, so naturally I jumped at the chance. That’s been my job (and privilege) ever since. 

We now patrol, along with our hearty (but zany) crew, a brand new play area to the 118 in a ship with a long, fascinating, and ready-to-be-explored history with the guild (dating back to one of the original “Summer Blockbuster” events!). I couldn’t be happier.   

You originally started off as a Science Officer.  What made you choose that duty post?

Well, the superficial reason is that all my favorite Star Trek characters are Science Officers. Or at least Science Officer adjacent. From Dax to Spock and all the Blue Shirts in between, I was always drawn to Science Officer characters in the text so naturally that felt like a good place to start.

But I think the larger, more practical reason is it seemed like an easy career track for me to write and make into something character based. In my job, I am taking in all manner of “technobabble”, comic book science fiction, and even magic. I also just naturally have a bunch of nonsense and factoids and lore shoved into my head from 20+ years of just being ME so I figured that would be the easiest way to forge it into something interesting to play with “on table” as it were.

The Science track also allows for a certain amount of “specialization” when it comes to the kind of studies one can take at the Academy based on the specific needs of each ship and it’s missions, so it was fun trying to see how I could build onto that for Quentin in terms of what he brings to a crew and how it tackles certain problems that might be just outside of his realm of expertise.

Basically just a very long way to say “Science allowed me to be weird” lol

Tell us more about your writing style. What’s your process for putting together a sim?

It definitely IS a process for sure and one I have been trying to refine for a while now.

Usually I try to start (and focus hard on) Quentin’s point of perspective in any given scene. What he is feeling, what he is seeing/reacting to, that sort of thing. That, and always having an “orientation” as to what Quentin can and will do (akin to Dungeons & Dragons’ morality charting and his interpersonal dynamics with the scene partners) usually allow me a pretty good starting place when it comes to IC action.

From there, I just try to build on the plot, dynamics, and dialogue the rest of my wonderful crew have provided me. The somewhat improvisational (and Command Staff structuring) allow us such a vast canvas to play around in and with, so a lot of my writing comes on the heels of other, really STRONG writing. So it’s easy from there to find a groove once you really buckle down and start reading through everything.  

What are your favourite and least favourite parts about playing a First Officer? 

Well, I will tell you, but you CANNOT TELL Shayne! He would keelhaul me (jkjk).

I would say my favorite is absolutely being front and center when it comes to new action and characters. Some of my favorite scenes and action recently have been leading the Away Teams and getting to meet all the new arrivals as they get assigned to the ship and those are always some of my most fun days sitting down to write.

Though I wouldn’t say it’s my LEAST favorite, I certain could be more ardent about the behind the scenes aspects that make our games so clear and functional for sure. 

What has been your biggest challenge stepping into the role?

Definitely trying to balance my IC activities with my OOC responsibilities. 

While I have a bit of Grace in that I was recently without power for about a week (thanks to the sudden Andorian winter that Texas was hit with at the end of February), I have absolutely let some scenes slip through the cracks while I had to focus on OOC elements, which does pain me greatly. 

I never want to be the reason anyone doesn’t get a proper scene or lengthy interaction with my character so I think I’ve stood in my own way when it comes to that at times. BUT thanks to Shayne’s help and a recent shift in my own personal situation, I think I am definitely on the right track for this new year of simming. 

What advice would you give to other First Officers out there, particularly those new to the position?

It’s actually a piece of advice I’ve taken to heart from Randal Shayne! And it’s “done is always better than perfect.”

I think when I took the position I put a sort of pressure on myself. That now that I was staff and in a senior IC position that EVERY sim of mine had to be perfect and had to be at least a thousand words or something like that. Just giving myself unrealistic goal posts that then really put a crinkle in my work. 

But after talking to Shayne about it and him allowing me some wonderful (and practical) advice on the day to day output here, I let myself off the hook more and with that, came the ease of writing that I experienced when I first joined up. 

I think that and trying to hold on to what makes your character YOUR character (even before the rank) are great places to work toward success from.  

What are your plans for your future here in SB118?

OH MAN, so many. 

Ambition is one of the things that I think makes Quentin Quentin and his “dream” has always been command of a ship. Not JUST for the accomplishment of it but also in the goal of connecting with a crew that only comes with serving with them. That’s always been the “blue sky dream” (as I already have a TON of notes on the type/class of ship and what kind of stories I would want to offer the crew). 

I think beyond that, I really just want to be an asset to the guild overall. This place was here for me and allowed me just an important outlet to create and build something just for the enjoyment of it and I want to help contribute to that in any way I can. I am already starting to pitch stuff with the FNS and have been trying to just observe as much as possible in terms of the running and operations of the guild. 

Honestly I’m still just so happy to be here and be included in this, so as long as I’m able to keep doing that, I’ll be golden. 

Thanks for your time, Commander Collins!

You can read more about Lieutenant Commander Quentin Collins on the wiki.



The post First Officer In Focus – Lt Cmdr Quentin Collins, USS Arrow appeared first on StarBase 118 Star Trek RPG.


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