This week’s If It Were A TTRPG post re-imagines the seminal “Odo’s choice” scene in the Deep Space Nine Season Three Episode “The Search: Part II” as a tabletop RPG. As always, spoilers ahead!
A main character on DS9, Chief of Security Odo is a shapeshifter who has never met another one of his kind. He grew up in a laboratory on Bajor, not knowing where he’s from or who his family is, constantly being poked and prodded for study throughout his young life. While arguably treated well, Odo always felt that he was ultimately a laboratory specimen to the “solids” around him – and nothing more.
But eventually, when Odo becomes Chief of Security on Deep Space Nine, he’s able to forge real bonds and friendships with his fellow Executive staff, especially Major Kira. He realizes that his friends genuinely care about him as a person and he too, for them.
But when Odo is taken into the Gamma Quadrant on a secret mission to contact the leaders of the powerful, aggressive, and yet mysterious Dominion, led the Founders, the DS9’s crew’s ship, the Defiant, is boarded by the Jem’Hadar, the Dominion’s elite forces. In the resulting struggle, the DS9 crew is overpowered and the Defiant set adrift in space. But Odo is able to escape – along with an injured Major Kira – and in inexplicably drawn to the nearby Omarion Nebula.
There, Odo and Kira discover a hidden planet capable of supporting life. They land and make a startling discovery: Odo’s family – an entire race of Shapeshifters – is there, ready to greet him. Odo has finally made it home!
Over the next several days, Odo’s family does their best to teach him the ways of the Shapeshifter, to try and help him understand what it’s like to be like them. Odo grows by leaps and bounds, finally becoming more in tune with his heritage and feeling a renewed sense of belonging.
But when Major Kira discovers that the Shapeshifters are also the Founders, the oppressive leaders of the Dominion, and are keeping Odo’s friends captured, Odo is forced into a bind: side with his friends, the first ones who treated Odo with dignity, respect, and care – or side with his family, and take his rightful place back in the Shapeshifter link.
That choice is the basis for this week’s If It Were A TTRPG post: a re-imagining of Odo’s choice as a group of people playing a tabletop RPG, rather than a television show.
The Choice Is Yours
“Well Odo,” begins the GM, “the choice is plain: your family or your friends.”
The player playing Odo looks pained. Normally reserved, emotion flashes across their face. The player playing Kira puts their hand on the Odo player’s shoulders as a show of solidarity.
“Whatever you decide,” says the Kira player, “we’re behind you 100%.”
“I know,” replies the Odo player. “And that’s why this choice is so clear.”
The Odo player takes a moment, savoring their character’s last moments of being welcome in his own home. “I look to my family and say: Release them to their ship. I will be joining them – and I will not be a party to your brand of “order” – there is no justice in this behavior.”
“Roll for Persuade,” says the GM in reply.
The Odo player rolls their two, six-sided dice: an 11! An excellent roll. The table is all smiles, but is quiet out of respect for the moment.
“Your family looks to you,” says the GM. “And they say: “They can never love you and appreciate you like we can. There is still so much for you to learn. But we will respect your decision and allow you and your friends to leave. But the next time we meet, we will not be so generous.”
The table explodes in cheers before focusing on the Odo player whose happiness at getting their friends to safety is dimmed by having to leave their home, a type of self-imposed exile. The other players become quiet and contemplative as the GM looks on, observing this fantastic moment in the story at the table.
The Kira player again puts their hand on the Odo player’s shoulder. “We’ve got your back my friend. Now and always.”