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Career Officer
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 779
As you should know from my sig, I, or rather my Cryptic alter-ego of NCC-89471, am the author of the "Ghosts of War" mission series. As of this post I have completed and published four of the planned six missions in the series. Since my previous threads for the series have been more or less frozen in the Celtris III cave ice by PWE, I've decided to begin anew with a thread not just to announce and promote each new episode, but to tell the story behind the story - how the overall story arc and each of its four-and-counting installments evolved from my original concepts to what (I hope) you have been playing, as well as my future plans for the series, including eventual "remasters" of Parts I-IV to take advantage of the upcoming Foundry upgrades in Season 6.

It should go without saying that this thread will contain spoilers galore from my series, so if you haven't played through it yet, consider yourself warned before reading any further.

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"I take it the odds are against us, and the situation is grim." - James T. Kirk
"You could say that." - Jean-Luc Picard, in response

When I set out to write Foundry missions, the first thing I did was adopt the motto of "go big or go home". Nothing short of an epic, multi-mission, quadrant- or even galaxy-spanning story arc would do. That said, the overarching plot I originally had in mind was quite different from the one now being played out. Other than the general concept of a stolen weapon of mass destruction, virtually none of the plot points or characters you have seen in Parts I-IV figured into my original storyline.

It would have begun with a Klingon/Gorn raid on a Federation outpost, which the player arrives in time to put to a stop, but too late to prevent the raiders from getting away with some unspecified cargo. A look at the outpost cargo bay's manifest reveals that the stolen item is a red matter detonator, similar to the one used to implode Vulcan in the 2009 Abrams Trek film. (Needless to say, the story's characters are unaware of the events of that movie; even so, the device's destructive potential is obvious to them.) Fortunately the device contains no red matter, not only rendering it useless for the time being, but making your investigation that much easier: Look for any attempts to procure or steal either red matter or decalithium (its precursor raw material) and it should lead you right to the raiders, if not their superiors. However, as your investigation progresses and no red matter is found, you begin to suspect that the original theft of the detonator was a ruse.

That's about as far as I got with my original idea before starting to rethink it. Only the Klingon alliance was involved in the story, and the Romulans and Remans might possibly have figured into the story eventually, but as mentioned above, I wanted an overarching plot that would span as much of the STO universe as I could fit into it. Then I recalled the arc within the Cryptic Klingon storyline involving Franklin Drake and the Devidians, and it occurred to me that any of the Alpha Quadrant powers would covet the Devidians' temporal phase-shifting capability - any military with a similar capability would enjoy an enormous tactical advantage over an enemy without it. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Cryptic arc demonstrated that the Devidians had stepped up their game and were capable of deviousness on a par with their fellow shapeshifting baddies, the Dominion's Founders.

With the True Way seemingly beaten following Cryptic's Cardassian storyline, I hit upon the idea of making Star Trek history repeat, or at least rhyme, by having them join forces with the Devidians in place of the Founders, as well as the Breen, who joined the Dominion alliance toward the tail end of the DS9 series - hence the title "Ghosts of War", which as you may have figured out by now is a double-entendre, referring to both the ghostlike Devidians and the ghosts of the Dominion War, which this alliance threatens to wake up in a big way.

Like the Founders and Undine before them, I cast the Devidians as having infiltrated every corner of the Alpha Quadrant to achieve their ends, in particular both the Romulan and Klingon Empires. Originally the thalaron device theft was meant to be nothing more than a ruse (similar to my plans for the red matter device in my original story idea) meant to lead Starfleet on a wild goose chase, and would not have been used at all in the Devidians' actual attack plans. In fact the series was originally meant to be eight episodes long, with one of the dropped episodes dealing with the actual weapon: a metagenic device similar to the (nonexistent) one Capt. Picard searched for in "Chain of Command, Part I". For reasons that I will explain in greater detail in future posts, I dropped that episode and the next one (which would have been Parts III and IV), reducing the series length from eight missions to the currently planned six, and also making for an admittedly abrupt transition from the Romulans and Klingons to the Cardassians as the focus of the story in the current Part III. In the process I also wrote the metagenic weapon out of the series endgame and simply used the stolen thalaron devices for the same purpose.

In my next full-length post I will discuss "Ghosts of War, Part I", aka "Dust to Dust", how it evolved and how I plan to enhance it once the Foundry upgrades are in place.

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