Perfect for the Nameless Extra in Your Life

By Shamus Posted Saturday Jul 14, 2007

Filed under: Nerd Culture 44 comments

Think Geek always has great shirts, but Wil Wheaton points to one which is particularly funny.

Which reminds me:

In talking about shows and movies which are ripe for the DM of the Rings treatment, I think the richest target out there is Star Trek: TNG. It has all the ingredients that make DMotR work:

  1. Like LOTR, the material is popular, widely recognized, and filled with familiar tropes. Even people who didn’t watch the show are likely familiar with the idea of Holodeck Mishaps and Expendable Extras.
  2. It has a huge supply of material to work with, even larger than LOTR. (The show ran for seven years and 178 episodes. Chances are if you need a shot of character X talking to Y with expression Z, it will be in there somewhere without the need for lots of tedious photoshopping.) The sets and costumes didn’t change much from one episode to the next, which means the screenshots would be nicely interchangeable. The only things you’d have to watch for are Wil Wheaton growing up and Jonathan Frakes growing the beard.
  3. Like LOTR, the show takes itself pretty seriously, which makes the jokes and dialog easier.
  4. Like LOTR, the show borrows from other works of fiction, and in turn is used as a source for later works. Thus an ST:TNG parody would have a reach well beyond the show itself. (This would be less true for something like Firefly, for example.)

I don’t know how good it would be as a source for roleplaying jokes. I’m betting there’s a Trek RPG out there somewhere, but if there is it isn’t nearly as popular as D20 Star Wars. I think using it to parody sci-fi in general would work much better.

Picture Picard as a touchy-feely pacifist politically correct diplomat, Riker as an intergalactic manwhore, and Wesley as a sarcastic potty-mouth teen. The jokes pretty much write themselves. You could do ten pages with just those three characters. It’s a goldmine.


From The Archives:

44 thoughts on “Perfect for the Nameless Extra in Your Life

  1. Marmot says:

    Just for the record, I didn’t take this post as a “wow Shamus is starting Star Trek” announcement – but I heartily agree, that one is a goldmine. No matter the age gap though, I would really like to see a parody of the “worst fight scene ever” as part of it, though! Maybe as a part of the old holodeck projection…

    ( )

  2. Dan Morrison says:

    I’m not familiar with an RPG-style treatment of this to get enough out of it, but a parody of the ACTORS playing a TV series, moaning about the directors or the dumb lines they’ve been given (possibly with reference to a Galaxy Quest type treatment) could be good.

    “Didn’t we do this stoyline last season?”
    “Yeah, but that was with the guys with latex ears, this time they have latex noses”

  3. You’re right, Next Gen would definitely be a hoot. Personally I’d love to see you take on Classic Trek… Kirk as the cowardly manwhore, Spock as the stressed and put-upon competent officer resigned to his fate, Sulu and Checkov as the closeted lovers, Uhura as thw wisecracking comedy relief and Scotty as the corporate climber determined to kill off as many underlings that he sees as a threat to him as he can.

    Combine all of this with cheesy costumes and special effects, and turn a modern eye towards such dated material and it could be very, very funny.

    And by skipping to whichever gen or show you wish, you won’t have pigeonholed yourself and would have more creative freedom. Today a wisecrack about looking up Apollo’s toga from Checkov, tomorrow a wisecracks about 7 of 9’s breasts, and Picard trying to flee the first encounter with the Ferengi the next day. Think about it.

  4. Tango says:

    Any Trek series could be fun to poke at. Likewise, so would Babylon 5.

  5. Patrick the Evil Twin says:

    ‘m still upset you didn’t use my idea for a star wars type dmotr. wesley as a potty mouth teen? not nearly as funny as jar-jar bimks as a wealth driven slut puppy? Imagine the same player who is currently playing Legolas to get ahold of jarjar, or the guy who currently plays aragorn to play senator palpatine? seriously….and when it transitions from the madness and silliness of episodes 1-3….you can “…switch DM’s cause I am tired off you idiots playing like tools!”…the “old DM” picks up his NPC ‘obi-wan’ and quickly gets killed off by the same guy who currently plays gimli as pay back for all his DMing transgressions….
    anyways…you write it…i’ll just read it

  6. Doug says:

    You know, i always felt the Star Wars movies sometimes took themselves a little too seriously and would benefit from what you’ve done to LOTR.

  7. Scott D. says:

    Only probably with Trek is how serious some of the fans take it. The hardcore trekers/trekkies might get upset (e.g. they have two names and the fight over which one is correct). But I say go for it anyway!

    If it’s RPG based, the first strip could have them arguing over which system to use. If you’re going with the conceit of DMotR that the GM created this universe and Star Trek doesn’t exist, then you can’t use the Star Trek RPG; but they could fight over Traveller vs. Star Frontiers vs. D20 Future vs. GURPS vs. GURPS Traveller – you get the idea. Then they could drop their system and start the argument over midway through.

    The really nice thing about doing a Star Trek strip is that, unlike DMotR or Star Wars, you don’t have to go in sequence and it never has to end. But you probably thought of that already.

  8. phlux says:

    Giving a heads up on your next project? Sounds great! Beware, though, I’m pretty sure those Trek DVD boxed sets can be a little pricy, and you have to buy 7 of them.

    Also, just to show my nerdery, the uniforms did change from the god-awful spandex jumpsuits to the nicer-looking ones with a collar around season 2 or 3 I think. I can’t remember if they then changed again during the TV show, but they did a couple times in the movies. Should make for great material about characters griping about the ridiculous uniforms.

  9. cavtroop says:

    Meh, I personally can’t stand Star Trek, but thats just me (please, don’t start a flamewar in this thread, thats not my intent!)

    I’d much prefer a Star Wars themed one – once again, lots of material, and with the new Star Wars RPG out now (and the D20 and D6 versions before it) the RPG tie-in is there.

    The only problem I see is there is significant character differences between movies – they all get visibly older, at least in IV – VI.

    But man, the scene where Luke finds out Leia is his sister would be a GREAT strip!

  10. jpetoh says:

    Actually, I think there is another property that would be a better source: the X-Men films.

    All you need are all three films and a copy of Mutants and Masterminds.

  11. Katy says:

    > jpetoh
    I second this!

    Star Trek: TNG will always have a place in my heart. I loved the entire crew dearly, which is why a parody comic of it would be COMEDIC GOLD. Excellent idea. (^^)

  12. theonlymegumegu says:

    “it will be in there somewhere without the need for lots of tedious photoshopping.”

    Though in turn, it would require tedious *searching*, right? ^^;;

  13. Chris Curran, Crazy Chainmailler says:

    “Also, just to show my nerdery, the uniforms did change from the god-awful spandex jumpsuits to the nicer-looking ones with a collar around season 2 or 3 I think. I can't remember if they then changed again during the TV show, but they did a couple times in the movies. Should make for great material about characters griping about the ridiculous uniforms.”

    Actually though they changed a few times in the series, most of the variations of the uniforms appeared simultaneously in star trek generations. so having riker speak to geordi in different uniforms is accepteable. depending on when in the timeline you do it.

    I’m chris curran and i’m a trekkie :D great idea shamus :D

  14. Sadara says:

    Please do! I’m a TNG trekkie and I think it would be fantastic. As people stated, with TNG, you don’t have to keep strictly to the plot, there’s a huge potential for humor, and lots of interesting characters. I was a little worried that this was approaching the end of the LotR plot and there wouldn’t be anymore comic. But I’m very happy to see that you’re planning ahead.

  15. Mitchy says:

    I adored ST:TNG but I agree, it’s perfect for this kind of parody. I live in hope it’s something you do at some point in the future :)

  16. Hal says:

    Here’s how I imagine it:

    DM as Picard: Commander, there’s a battery of Romulan troops down there attacking the colonists. I want you to lead an away team with Geordi, Data, Beverly, and Deanna, and stop them any way you can.

    Riker: Wait, that doesn’t make any sense. Why are we sending all of the senior officers into a heavy fire fight? Why don’t we just send down a bunch of flunky ensign security officers to do it?

    DM: . . . Fine, we send down a team of yellow shirts. Oh, message from the team, they’re being slaughtered. Looks like we need to send in reinforcements. Commander, I want you to lead an away team . . .

    Riker: I hate you so much.

  17. Anonymous Coward says:

    Hmm, I’d vote for DS9 (my favourite Star Trek series). They changed the uniforms 2 times during the run, though, IIRC…

  18. Clint Memo says:

    LOTR offers something easily translated to D&D and has a plot that the readers are familiar with. With ST, you don’t have a plot to follow so you would have to make up your own.

    Other candidates:
    The Matrix trilogy
    Narnia (only one movie so far, but more are coming)
    Harry Potter – let the player who is Aragorn be Harry, Legolis can be Hermione(since he likes to play girls :P ) and Gimli can be Ron

  19. trigear says:

    You know, even if you don’t go with screen caps from the shows themselves, Trek lore is ripe for a comic strip done in satire/homage. Not only do you have the characters, you have the archetypal sci-fi roles they’ve come to represent, the parodies of those archetypal roles, the parodies of those parodies, etc. You’ve got a lot of layers of analysis, ripoff, and satire. For examples, see the Space Quest series of adventure games, and also my feeble attempt at a generic Star Trek parody comic series (I got through 14 joke-a-day before I ran out of steam/funny):

  20. Doug Brown says:

    Updating Hal’s earlier comment:

    DM: . . . Fine, we send down a team of yellow shirts. Oh, message from the team, they're being slaughtered. Looks like we need to send in reinforcements. Commander, I want you to lead an away team . . .

    Riker: I hate this campaign.

    Also: Wil Wheaton? Sympathy linkage ahoy!

  21. Mars says:

    Also, like most of the other people, I was a big fan of Star Trek (TNG is my favorite), and also, it would surely be a gold mine for facial expressions so great comics could come from that

  22. oldschoolGM says:

    There was indeed a Star Trek RPG. It’s been collecting dust in my basement for a LONG time. I played it a few times (maybe 5 or 6 sessions) and haven’t really had the desire to revisit it since. Now Star Fleet Battles on the other hand, there’s a geek gold mine. Still, maybe 1 in 10 of even the hardcore gamers who currently read DM:otR would get a joke based on those systems.

    But, as for the idea of just a general parody of the Sci-Fi genre using Trek. Hell yeah!

  23. Lanthanide says:

    There were 2 different uniforms in TNG, not counting the minor changes like Wesley’s cardigan being ditched, the women all wearing tiny miniskirts in season 1 and Picard getting a grey undershirt thingy. Beverly wasn’t in Season 2 at all, so that restricts her character a little.

    Then DS9 had another uniform again with coloured shoulders and black body rather than the reverse as in TNG, which then changed to the grey shoulders with coloured undershirt to coincide with TNG First Contact (or was it Generations?).

    Voyager always used the same uniforms, the first ones from DS9, although they introduced a few different ones for specific episodes (the white/grey racing one in particular). Nelix and Seven of Nine tended to have particular clothes that they wore for different series, and B’Elanna had a little pocket full of engineering gizmos appear on her uniform (which also turned into an open jacket) around seasons 4 and 5 although I believe she went back to a regular uniform later.

  24. Scott D. says:

    I think you should have all new players and GM. Rather than trying to tell his own enormous story, the GM could be totally inexperienced and running games out of store-bought modules – often screwing them up by not reading them completely.

  25. Zaghadka says:

    Which gaming system would you be lampooning with ST:TNG?

    For me, the funniest thing about your current comic is your insight into the absurdities of D&D, both the game and its players.

    So it feels to me that in a new comic you’ll wind up less concerned about which movie material, and more concerned about running out of gaming stereotypes to skewer.

    So which game?

    (On a side note, it occurs to me that “the Matrix” trilogy would be good fodder for a sci-fi gaming parody, too. Roll the red die or the blue die, vorpal squids, the Hugo Weaving cross-over potential. It’s a goldmine as well.)

  26. Zaghadka says:

    Well, crap…

    I LOVE the shirt!!


    (You can just delete the mistake)

  27. Shamus says:

    Zaghadka: Above I said, “I think using it to parody sci-fi in general would work much better.”

    I was thinking a TNG comic wouldn’t parody a game system. It would just riff on sci-fi in general.

    I’m not saying I’m planning on doing this, though. I was just throwing the idea out there. I keep hoping the idea of a screencap comic will resonate with some clever soul out there and we’ll see another one spring up.

  28. Zaghadka says:

    Sorry. My comprehension skills must be slipping. (*blush*)

    Ripping on TNG is completely do-able. Heck, by the end of its run the show was ripping on itself.

    I’m sure the trekkers would not be happy. If any of them were here, they’d probably be unhappy that “Scott D.” only spelled it with one “K.” ;^)

    It’s a fine idea. If you decide to go forward, you may want to check out Jammer’s Reviews ( for one-star or no-star episodes to lampoon.

    He’s got a fair wit for reviewing Trek. Actually got his fan-base to pony up for an entire set of TNG DVD’s so he could review it. Until then, he had a strict “No TNG” rule.

    I don’t know who else might develop this idea, but TNG is just begging for it.

  29. DocTwisted says:

    Sounds ripe with potential, Shamus. I agree that it might not work as well as an RPG parody, but as a sci-fi parody? Golden.

  30. xbolt says:

    You know, my ‘Trekkie’ friend recently got me interested in Star Trek. And I agree. ST has a lot of potential for a parody.

    If someone… Somewhere… Was to make a ST parody as incredibly awesome as DMotR, I would be a very happy camper.

  31. Nobody says:

    There IS a Star Trek the Next Generation RPG. I happen to have it.

    On the other hand it is kind of numbers and story intensive, so whether the charecters would even put up with it long enough to get charecters made is an issue.

  32. Myxx says:

    I’ll definitely tune in for a DMoST:TNG!

  33. bruce says:

    I would be interested in seeing it, as looking through the rest of the website I enjoy most of the stuff you write. However, half of the humour of DMOTR is lampooning the D&D system (which is the most widely known RPG system) as opposed to just the LOTR movie.

    I don’t know if whatever RPG system you use for Star Trek would be as well known for the humour to carry as broad an appeal (I mean everyone who has roleplayed has probably played or is at least familiar with D&D/AD&D) – but I look forward to being proved wrong.

  34. Dann-O says:

    I think TNG is ripe for parody. I always felt they took themselves too seriously. (It is my least favorite trek but seen most of it) DS9 my favorite self parodies a lot so I think it would not be so ripe. (ferengi and alternate universe episodes) Anyways look forward to whatever you do.

  35. Doug Sundseth says:

    I know of at least three different Star Trek RPGs. The first was from FASA, the second from Task Force Games, and the last was from Decipher.

    The FASA and Decipher games took themselves much more seriously than the TFG version did.

  36. Joshua says:

    Hmm, I like the idea of the perspective of the actors approaching the scripts as mentioned above. I’m also thinking that the “dramatic” death of Tasha Yar being killed by a black pudding is ripe for spoofing. Also the part where the actress comes back.

  37. sir pudding says:

    There are not one but 4 (or more depending on how you count them) Star Trek RPGs.

    The first (IIRC) was Fasa’s amazingly disordered game (called, I think, Deluxe Star Trek Roleplaying Game and Tactical Simulator or something). Fasa then lost the license and Decipher made a game (the name of which escapes me but was probably called Star Trek Roleplaying Game or something). They lost the license to Last Unicorn which had a different core rules book for each era of Trek. I believe Last Unicorn is out of business, or at least no longer makes this game.

    Meanwhile in the parallel Star Fleet Battles Universe, safe from Paramount’s interference (by the strangest licensing deal ever), ADB published their Prime Directive rpg. This was later replaced by the Powered by GURPS version, which is now in it’s second incarnation using 4e rules. It is the only Star Trek RPG still in print, AFAICT.

    I’ve played all these games at least once and ran my own version in GURPS (3e). Never again, I think.

  38. Doug Sundseth says:

    I forgot about the LUG version; it was really quite pretty, but I don’t know how good the game was.

    Mark Costello described Prime Directive as a game of playing the actors playing Star Trek characters. The game has a mechanism for gaining points that can be spent to avoid unpleasantness. Mark described this as the actor going to the producer and saying, “Dude, my fans would really hate for Lt. Smith to be horribly maimed. You have to rewrite the script.” Success depended on how popular your character was.

  39. sir pudding says:

    I should have said, I’ve played all these games at least once except the original Prime Directive (I’ve only played the GURPS version).

    I don’t really remember much about the LUG game I literally played it only once (an in-store demo) and I don’t recall a single thing about it except that there were different core books for TOS, TNG, and I think DS9.

  40. sir pudding says:

    Oh I totally forgot about the D20 version of PD. That would be perfect for Shamus’s purposes (since he seems to only know D&D all that well) and a PD based game could play off the differences between the STU and the SFBU.

  41. Count_Zero says:

    As far as the Star trek RPG goes, there have actually been 4 incarnations.

    1) Star Trek (FASA)
    2) Prime Directive (it’s own system, then Gurps, then d20)
    3) LUG (Last Unicorn Games) Trek (with rulebooks for Class, Next Gen, and DS9)
    4) Decipher Trek.

    And there may be some more variations that I may have forgotten.

  42. Cheesemaster says:

    I can only see one major problem with this idea. It’d be harder to parody than LotR. In DMotR, you had two well known things – D&D and LotR – meshing amusingly. There’s not really any equivalent for D&D if you were going to do TNG.

    The alternative would be to do, as many people suggested after you had Frodo and Sam go off to play it, the Star Wars RPG, or to do one of the millions of half-arsed fantasy movies lying around (none immediately jumps into mind, but there are probably a few which would work especially well).

  43. El Zoof says:

    The most important thing to remember with parody is you have to *adore* the stuff you’re parodying. That’s why Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein worked, and why Spaceballs really didn’t.

    Well, that and Gene Wilder.

  44. Guy in the Hat says:

    If you want to stay within the D&D universe you may want to try Ladyhawk, Willow or Robin of Sherwood(BBC/Showtime TV series).

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