Star Trek role playing club Independence Fleet will celebrate its 20th anniversary on Sunday. It is widely expected to announce the newest members of its Hall of Fame, which currently has 27 inductees. The fleet hosted a Star Trek and science fiction trivia day challenge earlier this year in April and also hosted a special webcast event.
One high-ranking official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said that Independence Fleet leadership is also going to publish a 20-page almanac reflecting on the fleet’s 20-year history and analyzing the current & future state of the club. In addition, a Star Trek legend has recorded a congratulatory message for members, according to those familiar with the matter.
Independence Fleet was founded on July 4th, 2001 by James D. West, Charles Star, and Robert Seldon with three original games. Despite simple technological beginnings on Angelfire and YahooGroups, the club grew to be known within the role playing community for its high quality and creative freedom. It has been extremely active within the community over the last year, having hosted the 2020 Simming Fall Festival and the 2021 SciWorld Online Convention. Independence Fleet also had four of its sims place in the most recent Tournament of Simulations earlier this year.
According to Independence Fleet’s website, it currently has 10 games, including eight set during the era of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. Another sim takes place during the Star Trek: Picard television show, and another occurs in the timeline of The Original Series films with Kirk and company.
Independence Fleet is also notable for its mix of both traditional and open role playing, and its use of prose and script formats. Open role playing differs from traditional role playing in that players are free to write for and control the actions of other player characters. While extremely rare in online role playing today, four of Independence Fleet’s games are designated as such.
The script style of role playing has fallen out of favor within the greater simming community over the last decade. However, five Independence Fleet sims incorporate the script format in some way. There is even a specific script syntax named after Independence Fleet. Independence Fleet Script, also referred to as Sunfire Script, developed organically during the early 2000’s as a combination of an older chat role playing syntax, popular on AOL and other early online services, and regular fan fiction prose.
Independence Fleet’s three founders all got their role playing start on Utopia Fleet’s original USS Sunfire sim under Commodore Jay “Robbie” Robertson. Utopia Fleet was founded in 1999 after a split from Bravo Fleet. At the time, Bravo Fleet was the biggest and most influential simming club on the Internet. However, the fledgling Utopia Fleet quickly grew to rival its mother club. While Utopia Fleet fizzled out a couple years later, its legacy lives on through Independence Fleet. Bravo Fleet itself was founded in late 1997 out of a split from Tango Fleet. Besides Utopia Fleet, other prominent splits from Bravo Fleet during that era include Obsidian Fleet, Deep Space 14, and multiple versions of Alpha Fleet.
Online role playing continues today in several dozen clubs, including Independence Fleet, and many consider it to be stronger than ever.