HOW TO STAR TREK RPG - MIRROR, MIRROR
What roleplaying tips does Mirror, Mirror hold for us?
This classic episode (with a melodramatic soundtrack by Fred Steiner), introduced the existence of the Mirror Universe and began the ubiquitous pop culture meme of characters having evil doubles with epic goatees. It also has a lot to offer us as roleplayers.
Kirk, Bones, Scotty and Uhura are transported to a strange parallel dimension where the benign utopia of the Federation is mirrored by the tyrannical dystopia of the Terran Empire, and they have to act the part of their evil counterparts while they figure out how to get back to their own universe.
The beginning of this episode shows us how you can get a lot of information across to the audience in the natural flow of dialogue between different characters. The episode begins with some diplomacy in the Prime Universe. Kirk has been sent to negotiate with the pacifistic Halkans, whose planet contains large deposits of dilithium. The Halkans refuse to give the Federation mining rights, because their moral code prohibits violence, and the Federation would use the dilithium crystals to power starships, which are sometimes called upon to commit acts of violence. Kirk respects their philosophy and beams back up to the ship, but not before sharing this exchange with the Halkan leader:
Kirk: When may we resume discussion?
Tharn: The council will meditate further, but do not be hopeful of any change. Captain, you do have the might to force the crystals from us, of course.
Kirk: But we won't. Consider that. Enterprise. Transporter room, energize.
Even if the audience had never seen Star Trek before, they would learn the basics from this opening scene: it establishes the fact that the Federation are a benign organisation that seeks peaceful cooperation with other species, and who respect the diverse philosophies of different civilisations, only every using violence as a last resort. None of this is stated outright – it is all inferred during the conversation between Kirk and Tharn. This opening shows that a lot of information can be communicated easily and unobtrusively through dialogue, which is something that prose writers – including roleplayers – should remember. Any mission-critical information or background details can be communicated through dialogue between two players, removing the need for wordy exposition and walls of text.
We then see the exact opposite, when Kirk and the landing party beam up to the Enterprise and are accidentally transported to the Mirror Universe. It only takes a few words and actions to establish that this is not the same universe, and the benign Federation has been replaced by something far more sinister. The scene directions in the episode’s script show how few words are needed to show that a drastic change has taken place:
Kyle is then blamed for a transporter malfunction and instantly punished by Mister Spock, using a personal agoniser device from his belt. Few words have been said, but the actions of Spock and Kyle have spoken loudly enough that the audience understands what they’re supposed to understand – this isn’t the same universe that they were looking at during the last scene.
This episode is a fantastic source of inspiration for missions set in the Mirror Universe, but it’s also a useful case study for any mission scenario where a small team of Starfleet officers find themselves in a strange situation and have to get out of it with nothing but their wits.
Any mission where a small team of characters have to go undercover in a hostile environment is fertile ground for excellent roleplaying opportunities. Characters are thrust into an unfamiliar environment where they have to use their own roleplaying skills to maintain their cover stories – in this case, the cover story that they are their own sadistic counterparts from a strange parallel universe.
Creating Your Reflection
At the beginning of any mission set in the Mirror Universe, you have the freedom to create a completely different version of your character. Their mirror counterpart probably has the same skill set, but a warped understanding of morality. They might be a self-serving psychopath with sadistic power fantasies, or a starship captain who wants to win themselves a throne. They might be a low-level thug who wants to work their way up in the world and enjoys indulging in wanton cruelty. They might be a slave fighting to exact vengeance upon their oppressors, or an idealistic rebel hoping to make their universe a nicer place to live.
If your sim is set in the 24th Century, remember that the Terran Empire has fallen and been replaced by a tyrannical alliance between the Klingons and the Cardassians. Starfleet ships and space stations don’t always have exact counterparts in the Mirror Universe, and your character’s doppelganger probably won’t have the same job. So you need to think of what their new role is. Are they a collaborator working with the Alliance? Are they part of the growing Terran Rebellion? Are they morally grey and hoping to make a profit of both sides? Or are they like Spock, “a man of integrity in both universes”, operating within their own personal code of honour? You have the freedom to decide for yourself, within whatever parameters your GM has set for you.
This article was written by Xon on Stardate 2393.06.02. If you have any questions, feel free to Contact us