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You can write us at: James R. Terry, Jr. c/o Starfleet Operating Forces 11109 Otsego St. #209 North Hollywood, CA 91601

We have been around (in various incarnations) for over 20 years. We are currently doing a search of all those associated with the following: Intrepid II, Star League, Hannibal, Sol, Republic and Tactical Squadron. We are looking for anecdotes, stories, pictures, anything that can enrich the history of this organization. Please e-mail me and let me know of your whereabouts, if you have photos of yourself in uniform so we may scan it and put it in our history page, and in general, come back to us and have a good time. We also encourage new members to either become starship captains/admirals as well as crew. Let us know, we would love to hear from you.

Starfleet Operating Forces History

In the years between the last days of the five-year mission, and the coming of Vejur in his search for the Creator, there was an age undreamed of…

With two Star Trek series on television and with nine movies (and counting) already on video, it’s hard for anyone under the age of fifty to imagine a time when Star Trek was not on the air, except in reruns. Those of us in our thirties, growing up in the Southern California area, remember those reruns on Channel 5 (in the 70s) and Channel 13 (80s) as a window to another world. A frequent "visitor" to that world was a New York-born independent film student and sf-media fan named Jim Terry, Jr.

Jim was an aficionado of both The Original Series and The Animated Series. The character of Spock appealed to him most of all because his unflappable, cool yet charming disposition. His own countenance sported a certain "Vulcan" demeanor, with sharp features and dark brown eyes, and black straight hair (some people describe Jim's tonsorial aspect as "early Jack Lord," the kind of hair that is never out of place unless you bounce a bazooka shell off of it). Jim affected an unemotional personality, eventually creating a character named Serek, who Jim said was Spock’s first cousin.

Taking his cue from the role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons then arriving on the scene (1977), Jim created a club called USS Intrepid II, installing "Serek" as the captain of the starship and recruiting "officers" and "crew" over the next ten years. In meticulous detail, referring to technical manuals and bootlegged gaming modules, Jim outlined a functional crew manifest for a heavy cruiser class ship, something that only a few hardcore gamers and companies had ever or since attempted. Jim could tell you how many science officers, how many technicians, how many yeomen were on this ship at any given time. He also created a format for characters sheets that included past assignments, commendations, date of graduation and Academy standing, even cabin assignments.

Jim eventually recruited over a hundred fifty people for the Intrepid II. Many would come and go over the years, and basically fall out of touch. One of the few who did stick around was a criminology buff and graphic artist named Dave Keller.

Dave had an eagle eye for detail; he could spot the inconsistencies in a fan-made Starfleet uniform from fifty yards ("The piping’s all wrong and the boots are too short! And the shirt! What couch did he rip up to get that material?") He designed many of the ship insignias,* working with Jim over at his tiny one-room apartment in Beverly Hills that was so small you had to step over the bed to get to the bathroom.

Another frequent habitué of Jim's "closet" (oh, we can hear the jokes now) was a former voice artist and draftsman named Steve Smyth. Steve actually moved in with Jim on two separate occasions, which made it easy for all night brainstorming sessions for the Intrepid II. Steve was the only one of the three who had actually served in the Navy, and so brought a "modern" perspective to the paramilitary structure of Starfleet. Steve eventually designed an original logo for the group.

Steve and Dave both created characters for the Intrepid II. Steve's creation was Cmdr. Aristotle Enfield; a human-descended "Martian" genetically engineered for life on the Red Planet. Originally just the chief engineer, attrition through the loss of other fans caused Enfield’s "promotion" to first officer. Steve created a detailed history for Enfield, going back several generations, as well as a future history in which Enfield leaves Starfleet in disgrace before returning in order to save the Federation during a crisis, setting the stage for other rich characterizations to follow in years to come. He also created the USS Bellatrix, a "non-player" ship set in the same universe to give some background for the Intrepid II. This ship's captain was named Alexander Enfield, Aristotle's cousin. This may have been the first of the "familial" relationships to grace the Intrepid II universe; it certainly would not be the last.

Other ships would be introduced, at least peripherally, into the same universe. A fellow named John Whiting, somewhat recognized at conventions as the guy who wore a fantastic recreation of the environment suit from "The Tholian Web," had established a ship called USS Sol. This was brought in at least "peripherally" to the Intrepid II universe.

The first of the Star Trek movies merely provided more grist for the mill, as the Intrepid II would eventually gain a future history (initially, Jim was reluctant to bring the Intrepid’s universe forward; eventually, however, it became established that Enfield would take command of the Intrepid, which would lead to his disgrace and resignation from Starfleet). Any new material from the Trek universe that could be incorporated into the Intrepid II soon found its way into the fabric being woven by the three stalwarts.

Although Dave had a character (Ensign Jon Marwood) on the Intrepid II, he desired to command his own ship. He eventually selected a ship from the Franz Joseph Star Trek Technical Manual (the source for the Intrepid II and eventually several other ships), the dreadnought Star League (a type never seen on the television series or the movies) and created the character of Commodore Jake Caffey (naming the character from an obscure TV-movie about an attempt to start World War III by the Soviets involving the Alaskan pipeline). Like Jim, Dave began to recruit officers for the Star League from friends and acquaintances, mostly from two sources: a Doctor Who fan club called The Time Meddlers of Los Angeles, and another Star Trek club called USS Tradition (where a "Captain’s Meeting" was held at the apartment of Lisa Wahl, captain of the Tradition, which went "renegade" from Trek International). It was here that they recruited the last of the core members of the group.

Matt Mitchell, ex-journalism student, fan writer and computer typesetter/paste-up artist, probably caused Jim more headaches than anybody else he had recruited in ten years (well, maybe not the guy that did drugs in Jim apartment) with his offbeat ideas about characters and situations. However, he was adept at constructing characters that were both archetypal and flawed, and at deconstructing old Trek episodes, reconciling their many inconsistencies with the new Star Trek: The Next Generation television series and into the Intrepid II universe.
Matt created characters on both the Intrepid and Star League, but he eventually decided that having his own ship to command was more fun. After looking over many of the heavy cruisers in the Franz Joseph Tech Manual (Jim and Dave specifically forbade him from using a dreadnought) Matt decided to that a destroyer – essentially a saucer section with a single warp nacelle attached to the dorsal section – would be a cool ship to command. With his love of the television series The A-Team to influence him, Matt’s choice of ship was obvious: USS Hannibal. The character Matt created as the captain of the Hannibal, Francisco Cumberland, was supposedly known amongst his peers as "The Space Case." Regardless, with the addition of the new ship, Jim and Dave decided that simply calling it the Intrepid II universe would not work. They came up with the name Tactical Squadron, and it remained that for the next several years.

Two other new recruits around this time were Michael Pell and Helen Oxford. This husband and wife team had been in L.A. Star Trek fandom for years, and had created Starbase 134 as a member of Starfleet International. However, they would eventually take 134 away from SI and introduce it into the Tac Squad (for short) universe, as the "base of operations" for the ships.

Eventually, Steve Smyth moved back in with Jim, and suggested taking this expanding universe statewide. He suggested the name Starfleet Operating Forces (or SFOF for short). They continued to work on the ships, updating past and future histories for the various characters as the movies continued and the televisions series (TNG and then Deep Space Nine starting in 1992) provided an ever burgeoning background. However, most of the characters continued to be in the "Classic Trek" era, which seemed to be hampering the enthusiasm of potential new members for joining the organization. Jim in particular was reluctant to toss away ten years’ work and start over.

Finally, Jim set a one-year period where if even one member joined during this time, the SFOF would continue to operate in the twenty-third century; if not, then the group would update to the twenty-fourth. It was a long and empty year. Jim spent about two weeks reconciling the eighty-year jump before he declared that the SFOF universe was ready for the twenty-fourth century.

Jim, Dave, Steve and Matt all created new characters and implemented new ships to the new timeline. Jim, through his new Vulcan captain Sershek (Serek's grandson, naturally), assumed command of the USS Galaxy, a ship whose existence is implied by the fact that the Enterprise-D is a Galaxy-class starship. Similarly, Dave gave his Jon Marwood character a grandson, Edward, who commands the USS Bradbury, mentioned in the TNG episode "Menáge a Troi."

Initially, Steve, with his character Jacob Conner, commanded the USS Farragut, which was shown in the final scene of Star Trek: Generations. However, the Farragut was reported destroyed by the Klingons in the DS9 episode "Nor the Battle to the Strong." Needless to say, Steve was rather distraught. Eventually, he recovered enough to have Conner (who survived the ship's destruction) assume command of the Sovereign-class USS Raleigh. This is the same type of ship as the Enterprise-E, seen in Star Trek: First Contact.

Ironically, the only ship name to cross over from one generation to the next is that of the USS Hannibal. The new Hannibal is of the Nebula class, seen innumerable times in TNG and DS9. Matt’s new commander is a quasi-immortal human with the unlikely name of Ulysses Murdock (another nod to the A-Team).

Recently, the foursome began working on a timeline similar in format to the Trek Chronology done by the Okudas, which even contains original "episodes" dealing with both the Classic and NextGen SFOF characters. Many of these stories specifically deal with "missing" adventures or information in Trek history, e.g. why the Klingons went from smooth-forehead to ridged-forehead… But that is another story.

Starfleet Operating Forces Frequently Asked Questions

When did you start?

We started in 1978.
How many people have been/are in the organization?
There have been upwards of 150 and as little as one (when we started). We are now hanging between 4 and 7 members depending upon how they feel about participating at the time.

What is Starfleet Operating Forces?

Starfleet Operating Forces or S.F.O.F as it also known is a live role-playing club set in the Star Trek universe created by Gene Roddenberry.

You say you play all timelines–what does that mean?

We play in all of the current Star Trek universes. This includes a pre–Star Trek timeline we have devised using the bones of the near future that the original series was referring to. This includes most of the latter half of the 20th century and all of the 21st and 22nd centuries. We also play the Federation timeline at the time of the original series and up to the present TNG/DS9. No Voyager as we are not supposed to know of their day-to-day plight. We also play in alternate and future timelines just for fun.

What do you mean by live role-playing?

It means that uniforms and make up are encouraged but optional ways of playing your character. We improvise a given situation written by the captain or a crewmember to further develop your character. You are the character and you react to things as the character would. No acting experience is necessary just have fun.

How does one get a character written up?

Your commanding officer will help you write up your character based on position and rank. Since we start you at whatever position you can handle rather than starting you out as a crewman and working up, you can have an illustrious career in Starfleet at the time of joining the club. It is also the commanding officer’s responsibility to keep your character "human", as in a realistic character; in short, not a superhero. He/she will decide on what past assignments will work based on the current timeline and what events one can become part of (i.e. the Battle of Wolf 359).

What happens after we get written up?

It is up to you to write a biography or backstory based on the your character's past assignments. It can be as detailed as you wish as the more that is known about a character, the easier it will be for you to play the character and refer to specific incidents in the character's past.

Are there meetings and newsletters?

Back in 1982, in S.F.O.F.’s infancy, meetings averaged 30 or more people who showed up for conversation and character interplay. This has since gone by the wayside, but the basic idea of a regular meeting involving the general membership is being discussed. The main meeting for the Board of Directors is usually held every other month to plan out the running of the club. We will decide upon times for the general meeting when we have sufficient new members to justify regular role playing meetings. We also encourage our out-of-state commanding officers to hold meetings to develop their characters. We require a meeting report detailing what happened at said meeting.
As far as a newsletter is concerned, we have generated a club newsletter, "The Human Adventure..." for the entire club. This newsletter has migrated to our website and will be updated periodically. (Members without Internet access may request we mail them a printout.) Individual starships and starbases are encouraged to produce their own newsletters, on the proviso that they send the Board of Directors a copy for our archive. Newsletters should include promotions, new personnel, anything that your ship or base has role-played that would affect the ship or base, etc.

Do you attend conventions in uniform?

Yes we do, in fact we encourage a showing of your ship or starbase at SF or fantasy conventions. This can generate publicity for your ship or base and generate new membership. If your budget permits, you may also have a table promoting membership in S.F.O.F. We ask that if you are soliciting membership that you mention the main organization and promote that as well as your own group.

Which conventions do you attend?

Since we are based in Southern California, we generally attend the following conventions: Gallifrey One, a local Dr. Who convention that has supported us and given us a hand with panels and hall costume prizes; and Loscon, the convention of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (the oldest SF club in the U.S.). Many of our members attend sometimes in costume. Eventually, we will have a fan table there soon. We also attend Worldcons and Westercons when they are within state or we sometimes send a representative. Feel free to e-mail us to see if we will be going to a specific convention.

I noticed you didn’t mention the Creation Conventions? May I ask why?

Sure. We don't support Creation Conventions because Starfleet International, the role-playing club sanctioned by Paramount, does business there. Also, Creation tends to have a more commercial ambiance and offer fewer activities compared to fan-run conventions. Although there's a huge dealer room, guest access is a la carte and very overpriced. That's why we don't support them. That does not mean we might not show up as individuals and drop flyers and talk.

What does Starfleet Operating Forces offer that others do not?

Because we are run by a Board of Directors instead of an elected council, we offer a politics free atmosphere. We encourage the various crews to have fun without the usual backstabbing and toe stepping that exists within other clubs. Because we start you off at a rank you can handle, only you can make your character grow through reassignment or promotion, which is up to the commanding officer’s discretion. We let you create more than one character as long as you are willing to maintain them all and each character is on a different ship or base.

I just shelled out my money for this club, what exactly do I get for it?

All officers and crew get the following items: The Introduction to SFOF Manual explaining our rules and procedures as well as an overview of our playing universe. The SFOF Costume Manual explaining which uniforms are worn in what era you are in. It also details where to get uniforms made and materials for their production. A membership card with your real name. If you are a commanding officer or higher you will also receive The SFOF Captain’s Manual, which shows the commanding officer how to generate characters based on our procedures.