Star Trek simming & online role playing club Independence Fleet is set to celebrate its 20th anniversary next week on Sunday, July 4th. The club is widely expected to announce the newest members of its Hall of Fame. Twenty-seven individuals have been inducted into the Hall to date. The fleet hosted a Star Trek and science fiction trivia day challenge earlier this year in celebration of its upcoming anniversary and is planning a special webcast for July 3rd.
One official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said that Independence Fleet leadership is also planning to publish a 20-page almanac reflecting on the group’s 20-year history and analyzing the current & future state of the club. In addition, a famous Star Trek actor has recorded a congratulatory message for members, according to people familiar with the matter.
Independence Fleet was founded on July 4, 2001, by James D. West, Charles Star, and Robert Seldon. Despite humble technological beginnings, the group grew to be known within the role playing community for its high quality games and creative freedom afforded to players. It has been very active within the community over the last year, having hosted the 2020 Simming Fall Festival and the last SciWorld Online Convention earlier this month. Independence Fleet also had four of its sims place in the most recent edition of the prestigious Tournament of Simulations.
The fleet currently boasts 10 games, including eight set during the general era of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager. Another takes place during the events of the new Star Trek: Picard television show, and the final occurs in the timeline of The Original Series films.
Independence Fleet is notable for its mix of both traditional and open role playing, and its use of the prose and script formats. Open role playing differs from traditional role playing in that players are free to write for and control other players’ characters. While extremely rare in online role playing today, four of Independence Fleet’s games are designated as open according to its website.
The script style of role playing has fallen into disuse in 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 known as Sunfire Script, developed 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. Utopia Fleet was founded in 1999 after a split from Bravo Fleet. At the time, Bravo Fleet was the largest and most influential simming club on the Internet. However, the upstart 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.