The USS Sparta is a Post-By-Message-Board simulation, playing in the Star Trek universe of the late 23rd century (between ST I and II).
While the galaxy in general was the same back during the swashbuckling days of Star Trek's early movies, the balance of powers certainly wasn't. Neither was the level of technology, nor the variety of species which had been encountered by then, or were even Federation members according to canon sources.
Since the Sparta's sim takes place in this limiting environment, it was important to lay out a concept that would not stifle the imagination of simmers within such boundaries. While avoiding to contradict established canon information, we approach the story line from the standpoint of writing a collaborative novel of sorts, and therefore non-canon information can be used if it fits in the generally established setting for Star Trek of that time.
(For more detailed information on this see "Sim Concept".)
The USS Sparta, NX-1927, is a experimental prototype vessel with quad-nacelle warp drive. Despite its large size, the ship is also highly maneuverable. Plus, it has quite an arsenal of weaponry on board. All of these features are past the theoretic and initial field test phases. Some adjustments and redesigns had to be made after results were analysed.
During its maiden voyage, which was a one year-long field assessment in Starfleet's special testing space sector, the Sparta had been brought back to Spacedock for a month-long overhaul. At the time of the field assessment, only a limited crew was on board.
Now, the vessel is being readied for a long-range, deep space mission that is to last 3 years. On that mission, the ship's four nacelled drive will be put to the ultimate test. Some of the crew who had been on the year-long maiden journey have been reassigned to stay on the Sparta, but many more new crew members are boarding. Crew compliment will eventually be 410.
Captain Royce, who commanded the ship during the field testing tour unexpectedly could not continue to serve as CO, and his former XO, T'obiathar, now has been promoted to Captain and the position of Commanding Officer. He chose Erika Blaine, an upcoming young Communications Officer, who was to serve as 2nd Officer on board, to be his XO. (see the "Pilot Story")
Many issues will need to be worked out:
- How will Captain T'obiathar handle his command, considering that some have left the ship due to their prejudice toward Caitians?
- Does Commander Blaine have the tenacity to be able to handle the added responsibilities she has received?
- Will the quad-nacelles prove to be advantageous? Or will the many special features on the ship end up blowing the warp core?
- Does the crew have what it takes to handle the ship and the tough assignment they've been given?
- How will the Sparta be perceived by the watchful eyes of the Federation's greatest enemies, the Romulans and Klingons?
A running list of the Sparta's missions with brief summaries can be found on this page.
Early in 2009, after a failed venture with another writing sim, I found myself left with a heap of information I had collected and formatted on Star Trek's swash-buckling early movie era times (when Admiral Kirk was getting tired of sitting behind his desk). Not only had I made up several characters, but I had also spent time and energy on collecting basic data on the technology, species, and uniforms of that time. For a while, I simply sat the information aside, pondering if I should just put it away in a drawer marked "failed ventures" or actually think of a way to use my hard work in another way.
As months passed, I felt ever stronger about not throwing my efforts out of the window, and I began to look for a setting that would suit my existing fictional characters. Though, to find a ship from that era aside from the Enterprise and a few other prominent ones featured in the movies on the web proved to be more daunting than I had imagined. I wanted something special, something unique that no one else was using.
My vision began taking shape, when I stumbled across a section on Ex Astris Scientia called "EAS Fleet Yards". In it, I found schematics and descriptions to non-canon Starfleet vessels that EAS's creator Bernd Schneider had designed, some many many years ago. On the page "Movie Era Ships (2260-2305)", I came across a ship called the "Sparta type". It sparked my interest.
As I read through the brief information available on that particular design, I quickly realized it was perfect for use in a simulation. It was a one-of-a-kind prototype ship (so plenty of things to test out and go wrong), it was commissioned in 2276 (I wanted to have the sim play around 2278 for specific plot reasons), and it had a four-nacelled warp drive (something only few ST vessels had thus far, which made it rather unique). That, combined with the fact that little was outlined by Bernd, convinced me that so much was possible with this setting, it was just too good to be true.
I set out to inquire of Bernd if he would object this one-of-a-kind ship of his to be used in a Star Trek simulation role playing game. I also inquired if he knew of any 3D pictures existing of it. He had no problem with me using the ship as the setting for the simulation, but did himself not have any pictures aside from the old schematics image.
Despite the lack of a 'real' image, which I had hoped to use in the website's background, I set out to outline the simulation's setting and began planning for ships specs and crew compliment, possible plots, and the design of the website. Not long into my planning, Bernd Schneider contacted me and pointed out Thomas Pemberton's site. Pemberton had actually begun working on a 3D image of the Sparta not long before I had inquired of Bernd. The pieces of the puzzle began falling together. With the 3D image being finished, Bernd put it on the Sparta's EAS page.
Feeling this was a lucky break, I contacted Thomas and asked for permission to use the image on the Sparta's website. Pemberton agreed, with the mention of his name, of course. I set out to use the available shots Thomas had made of the 3D model and design a website background. With the help of my personal friend AutoDMC, who wrote the basic PHP coding for the site, my vision soon began to take shape on the web.
On top of that, Bernd Schneider had offered his input on the ship's specs and other information about the quad-drive and how he had envisioned it to be functioning. I was very excited about his help. Who better to give input than the designer himself? I used all the information we discussed to put together the specifications, ran them by Bernd once more, and then finalized them on the website.
In the meantime, Lee, another personal friend of mine agreed to CO the simulation for me. Since I felt he had more experience than I did, and I still needed to learn more about how to run such a project, I decided to take up the XO position for the sim. From there, slowly but surely, the rest of the core crew came together. All friends that I knew were excellent writers and role players. And before long, the Sparta began her journey...
Commander Erika Blaine