RR #65: A peek at "personas"
This Strategy-Note was written by Kathy McCracken (aka Major Rakal) and was published first on "Decipher's Website (decipher.com)" at Nov 22nd, 1998.
This article is part of the article serie "Romulan Review" from "Major Rakal (Kathy Mc Kracken)". Also see:
- Previous "Romulan Review" (# 64): "RR #64: Flaxian Assassin".
- Next "Romulan Review" (# 66): "RR #66: Actions, Responses and Timing, Part 1".
Aefvadh! Beginning with the Alternate Universe expansion, we began to see an occasional "different version" of some of the main characters. These "Alternate Universe" versions, usually from a different timeline, or from the past or future, could be in play at the same time as the "normal" version. Then, in the Q Continuum expansion, a new concept was introduced, with different versions of a personnel who could not co-exist in the game. How do you decide which version to use? Which ones can be used together? For the answers to these and other questions, let's take...
A PEEK AT PERSONAS
My dictionary defines "persona" as "a character in a fictional presentation (as a novel or play)." This is a good starting point for understanding the STCCG "persona concept." A specific character, such as Jean-Luc Picard (Prem), represents a persona. Several personnel cards show different versions of him, representing specific "slices" of his life, such as the time he went undercover as a mercenary (Galen), or was assimilated by the Borg (Locutus of Borg). But each of these "slices" show the same man, the "Jean-Luc Picard persona," at different times in his life in the Star Trek 24th century "present." We can say that they represent different instances of the Jean-Luc Picard persona.
On the other hand, there are personnel cards that show a man who looks like the Jean-Luc Picard who captained the Enterprise-D in The Next Generation years, yet they are not that same man. For example, Lt. (j.g.) Picard is a version from an alternate timeline, created when Q took Picard back and let him change something that happened his youth. This Picard never captained the Enterprise D (and in fact may have been nothing more than a bad dream). So he is not an instance of the Jean Luc Picard persona; he is an instance of a separate persona (which has no other instances).
So how do you tell which cards represent different instances of the same persona, and which show different personas? In general, if a personnel card shows someone involved in a time-travel episode or from an alternate timeline or parallel universe, that is a different persona from the "mainstream" character. But if the card shows the "mainstream" character in a disguise, or at a slightly different stage in his life (Jean-Luc Picard during the Next Generation show, and during the First Contact movie), then that card is just a different instance of the same persona.
The simplest way to tell if they are the same persona, however, is to go by the persona rule:
Two unique Personnel cards are instances of the same persona if:
- they are duplicates (exact copies), or
- they have the exact same card title, or
- one has the other's name in boldface type in its lore, or
- they both have the same persona name in boldface type in their lore.
The most complete example involves Jean-Luc Picard.
- Two copies of Jean-Luc Picard (premiere) are the same persona (duplicates).
- Jean-Luc Picard (premiere) and Jean-Luc Picard (First Contact) are the same persona (exact same card title).
- Jean-Luc Picard (premiere) and Galen are the same persona (Galen has "Jean-Luc Picard" in boldface type in his lore).
- Galen and Locutus of Borg are the same persona (both have "Jean-Luc Picard" in boldface type in their lore).
- Jean-Luc Picard, Lt. (j.g.) Picard and Admiral Picard are three different personas. None of the above apply.
But, you say, can't you tell by an AU icon that a personnel card shows a different persona? Most of the time, the answer is "Yes." But there are currently two cases where this "rule" doesn't apply, so it's best not to rely on it.
The first is "my" persona, Major Rakal. This card was produced before the persona concept existed, and because there were so few sources for AU Romulans, the AU concept was "stretched" a bit and Major Rakal got an AU icon. But Major Rakal was not a time-traveler or from an alternate universe; she was Deanna Troi (Prem) in disguise, just as Galen was Jean-Luc Picard in disguise. So her AU icon does not show her true nature, and she is considered an instance of the Deanna Troi persona. (Errata has been issued for the card, stating that the name "Deanna Troi" in the lore should be in boldface type; if the card is ever reprinted, that is the way it will appear.)
The second case involves Lakanta and The Traveler. Both of these personnel cards have AU icons! Yet they are not from different alternate universes or timelines; Lakanta is The Traveler in disguise, indicated by the fact that "Lakanta" appears in boldface type in The Traveler's lore.
Which cards may be in play together?
- If two cards are instances of the same persona (e.g., Jean-Luc Picard and Galen), you may not have more than one of them in play at any one time. This would be the equivalent of having two copies of Jean-Luc Picard in play at once.
- If two cards are instances of different personas (e.g., Jean-Luc Picard and Lt. (j.g.) Picard), you may have both cards in play at the same time. They are no more the same than Jean-Luc Picard and Data (Prem) are.
It may be difficult to decide which version of a persona you would like to use, especially when choosing between the premiere and First Contact versions of the main characters. Both versions may have useful skills, just not the same ones. But you don't have to make an irrevocable choice, thanks to "persona replacement." You may stock both versions in your deck and put either one into play, then when you have the other version in your hand, make an exchange at the start of your turn. For example, you might have both premiere and First Contact Data in yourdeck, and play FC Data for his Enterprise-E staffing icon. But your strategy also includes a Ressikan Flute, and FC Data has no Music skill. Simply keep FC Data in play as long as you need him for staffing the Enterprise-E. At the start of the turn in which you expect to earn the Ressikan Flute, you exchange him for premiere Data, who is in your hand. Now, when you earn the Flute, Data gets you 5 points. Suppose this doesn't win the game for you, and later your Borg opponent targets your ship for assimilation. Exchange your Datas again, and use FC Data's special download for Fractal Encryption Code to protect your ship.
Note that different versions of a persona, or different personas, cannot substitute for a matching commander named on a ship card. For example, the U.S.S. Defiant names Benjamin Sisko as its commander. Even though The Emissary is another version of the Benjamin Sisko persona, The Emissary is not named on the U.S.S. Defiant, and thus is not its matching commander.
The persona concept in theory extends to ships, following the exact same rules for determining whether two ship cards are the same persona. In practice, the only part of the rule that applies is the duplicate section; you can't play two copies of the Khazara (Prem) at the same time. And while it may appear that the U.S.S. Enterprise and Future Enterprise (the Enterprise-D upgraded) might be the same ship "persona," in fact the Future Enterprise is from an alternate timeline and thus is a different persona.
Finally, facility cards may have "personas." The only one so far is the unusual case of Deep Space 9 / Terok Nor and Deep Space 9 / Terok Nor, which not only represent two "slices" in the "life" of the station, but are also two sides of the same card. Not only are these versions of the Terok Nor persona not playable by one player, they are also not duplicatable, so if one player seeds Deep Space 9, the other player cannot seed Deep Space 9 or Terok Nor.
Due to frequent requests for a list of the cards you can't play together (and which you can), here it is. (A table showing this in a different, and probably clearer, format will be posted on my website.)
- If the names are on one line, separated by semi-colons, they are all instances of the same persona, and cannot be in play together (but could be exchanged under the persona replacement rule). The name with the asterisk is the "persona name" (the name that is in boldface type in other cards' lore). The list is alohabetical by "persona name."
- If the names are on different lines, they represent different personas that could be in play together with one of the cards on another line.
P = premiere, FC = First Contact. A name in square brackets represents a card that does not yet exist, but is shown as a boldface "persona name" on an existing card.
*Alyssa Ogawa (P); *Alyssa Ogawa (FC)
*Benjamin Sisko; The Emissary
*Beverly Crusher (P); *Beverly Crusher (FC)
*Data (P); *Data (FC)
*Deanna Troi (P); *Deanna Troi (FC); Major Rakal
*Elim Garak; Plain, Simple Garak
*Geordi La Forge (P), *Geordi La Forge (FC)
*, *; Jake and Nog
*Jean-Luc Picard (P); *Jean-Luc Picard (FC); Galen; Locutus of Borg
Lt. (j.g.) Picard
*Lakanta; The Traveler
Dr. Leah Brahms (a hologram)
*Lursa, *B'Etor; Sisters of Duras
*; Quark Son of Keldar
*Reginald Barclay (P); *Reginald Barclay (FC)
*William T. Riker (P); *William T. Riker (FC)
*Worf (P); *Worf (FC)
Governor Worf (Prem)