(Interview by Great Inquisitor
On a personal note, I applied with my character at Samantha’s board Star Wars Tales around a year ago, give or take. It’s a character I’ve played for more or less 5 years of my life, I know him inside and out. I basically brought him over as is from the former RPG in which I participated because I was so thoroughly impressed with how well done Tales was. Unfortunately, in my infinite wisdom, I tried to maintain some things from his past that simply didn’t mesh with things at Tales and would not have been congruent with how their story was and is ran. Samantha and her fellow cohorts pointed out these problems and asked that I fix them. They didn't just deny my application, they were incredibly willing to work with me to make him fit, but needless to say I couldn’t be bothered at the time and decided to ‘retire’ from RPing for a bit. When I brought up this to her, she actually remembered me. That tells you the degree to which she takes RPing seriously and holds it close to her heart.
And now, on with the show.
Character Name: Samantha Koortyn
Sub Genre: Star Wars
Setting: Star Wars Tales (now Star Wars Epics)
Your views on Samantha
I:How long have you played Samantha?
S:I've been playing Sam about five years. She was created in November 2000,
when a friend approached me about creating a character for a new, all-female
fighter squadron. Formally known as Nightwing Squadron, it was more infamously to be called “Bitch Squadron.” So, with that to go on, the Alderaan-born, Coruscant-raised, Imperially trained, former Rebel Alliance pilot turned freelance smuggler, freshly re-recruited into the New Republic against her better judgement, was born.
I:Did you ever consider giving her up and starting over?
S:Not for even one second. I couldn't imagine giving her up, or killing her off; it would be like losing a piece of myself. She is too real to me. Even if I had to put my writing on hiatus, Sam would still be there in the back of my mind, waiting to make a comeback, in whatever genre I might decide to place her.
I:What type unique traits do you feel you've given the character?
S:I think I've fleshed Sam out considerably over the years into a completely three-dimensional character. In the Star Wars genre in particular, where nearly everyone wants to use the Force, Sam is just a normal human. And in the roleplaying world in general, where nearly everyone wants to be attractive, sexy, and near perfect, Sam is imperfect, often unattractive (I think I’ve had her vomit more times than any other roleplayer), with fears, flaws, weaknesses, and even prejudices and addictions. For example, growing up in an Imperial household, she has a certain prejudice against non-human species, which she knows is irrational and tries to hide. Additionally, I have added little details over the years that I feel really round out the character, such as what her favorite color is (light blue), that she subsists on a diet of ration bars, alcohol, and stimpacks, and that she hates to be called Samantha.
I:Noted. How old is Sam currently, and are you aging her regularly or remaining static with her age?
S:Sam is currently 30. I started her at age 29 and she is aging normally, but in five years of roleplaying a continuous story, only about a year has passed.
I:What is her greatest attribute?
S:She really has none; that is what I like about her. Sam is basically an ice cold bitch, closer to her droid than to living beings, and lacking in almost every social skill. Stubborn and rude, she doesn't think twice about using her blaster. She has killed without regret, and thinks only of her own safety. She is a hero of circumstance; not of character. Every good thing she has done in her life has been solely to help those few to whom she is closest; she honestly doesn't care about the grand scheme of things.
I:What, in your opinion, was the best scenario in which she was ever involved?
S:I have many favorite scenarios, this is a difficult decision. I will say that I really enjoyed her role in the beginning of the Battle of Ithor, in which she is captured by the Storm Commandos of an Imperial warlord, shot, beaten, and interrogated. Later, she kills the Squad Leader of the Commandos -- the one who inflicted the most damage on her -- by stabbing him through the neck with a nail file and watching him die slowly. This ordeal brought out all of Sam's strong points and began her path to becoming a more caring individual toward certain others, while at the same time set her on a road to drug addiction and mental instability which has been fun to explore. That story arc took over two years to complete and Sam is still suffering from other incidents which took place in it.
I:Please describe her relationships with her family members.
S:Sam's mother, Thera Katal, died in childbirth, and her father, Jared Koortyn, an Imperial ISD Captain, never forgave the girl for that. He treated her very badly, both physically and mentally; that is, when he was home at all. Kept sheltered throughout her childhood, she grew up in the company of droids rather than other beings, and has little to no social skills because of this. She had no siblings growing up, nor knew of any other relatives from either side of the family.
Sam killed her father in self defense at age 15 when the abuse took a sexual turn, and spent several months in psychiatric care after this; it was her first mental breakdown. Later that year, while attending the Imperial Academy on Carida, she was crushed when Alderaan was destroyed, as it had been the home planet of her mother's family, whom she had never gotten to meet.
In the present time, Sam discovered almost by accident that Jared was not her biological father; Thera had entered into an affair with a married man named Hal Antilles. The pregnancy was accidental, and Thera, knowing the affair was only meant to be short-lived, sent him on his way without telling him of the unborn baby. Although Hal found out later, Jared refused to give the three year old girl up, so it was assumed by all that he truly cared for Sam. In reality, he kept her out of spite.
Only when Sam was 30 did she learn about her real father, and that Corran Antilles, whom she'd recently met, was her half-brother. Additionally, she suddenly had an uncle Janson Antilles, a half-sister Sasha, and "new" grandparents Ronan and Chiara, still alive and well and living on Corellia. She is very uncomfortable with this.
I:What is Sam's marital/relationship status? Has she been married or had a long standing significant other?
S:Sam has never been married, and has failed in every relationship she has ever had. Her first significant other was Marcus Arete, a fellow officer and classmate at the Imperial Academy on Carida. It ended badly when Alderaan was destroyed; with her leaving the Academy and going AWOL, while he remained loyal to the Empire. They met again recently during the Battle of Ithor and reconciled, Marcus having also left the Empire during the interim.
Her second relationship was with Han Antilles, and it also ended badly after the Battle of Ithor when she had her second mental breakdown. However, the two still love each other, and Sam is about to make a very large sacrifice for him.
I:How many children does she have if any, and has she lost any children?
S:She has no children, has never had any, nor does she wish to.
I:Who are Sam's closest friends? Please tell me a little about each.
S:Sam had a very close relationship with Molly Gibson, a fellow smuggler, while in her twenties, and the two were nearly inseparable. This unfortunately ended when Molly began to show certain abilities associated with the Force, which Sam was and still is very paranoid about. She left without a word of goodbye to her friend when things got too weird for her.
Currently, her closest “living” friend is her half-brother Corran, and although he is a Force user as well, she is slowly learning to get to know and trust him. Neither of them are fully aware that there is a very slight Force bond between them.
Her closest “non-living” friend is Frak, her astromech droid. She built him while at the Academy and has never wiped his memory. She considers the R2-Unit to be an individual, equal in every way to her, and has repaired and upgraded him countless times. His personality often mirrors that of his creator, and he likes to pinch her in the leg if she gets within range.
The Character's Heart
I:Do you consider Sam to be a happy person, or is she stringing from heartbreak to heartbreak with brief glimpses of happiness in between?
S:Sam has had very few happy moments in her life. I wouldn't say that she is going from one heartbreak to the next, as her heart is made of stone. However, she has gone from one traumatic experience to the next, with little relief in between, to the point where she is on the verge of breaking down permanently.
I:What are Sam's greatest 3 regrets? They can be people, or events or both.
S:Sam's greatest regret is abandoning Han after the Battle of Ithor, after her near death experience. This brought back many old memories she had buried, and she withdrew completely from him, caught up in her own dysfunction. Although they agreed to talk one last time, when Han didn't show up she assumed the worst, leaving Coruscant, and him, behind. Little did she know that he had been captured by Black Sun and was being tortured for information, which she has just now found out.
Her second greatest regret is abandoning her best friend Molly. When she tried to put things right, and track down her friend years later, she found her too late, as Molly had lapsed into a coma after a long battle with the Dark Side of the Force. She never recovered, and Sam never got to apologize or say goodbye.
Her third greatest regret is never going to Alderaan to track down her mother's family, always thinking she had plenty of time to do so.
I:What was her greatest achievement?
S:I would say that her key role in liberating the planet of Ithor from an Imperial warlord was her greatest achievement; she, along with Rogue Squadron, led a convoy of rescue ships through a fleet battle and a minefield, and only lost one of them in the firefight. She is considered a hero of the New Republic for this, a fact she finds rather humorous, since her sole reason for going back to the planet was to rescue Marcus.
I:Conversely what was her lowest point?
S:Her lowest point was her breakdown which began shortly thereafter. She was choked and left for dead by a Dathomir witch on the surface of the planet, and was subsequently healed by a Rogue Jedi en route back to Coruscant. Her irrational fear and paranoia of Force users -- of all kinds -- spiked at this point, and her mind couldn't take the continuing onslaught of old memories brought back and relived as though they were happening all over again. It was at this time she became addicted to stimpacks.
Those Around You
I:You've undoubtedly been exposed to some tremendous role playing, and surely some that is not so tremendous, who are some of your favorite fellow RPers?
S:Of those with whom I have roleplayed this character, my favorites include (ezboard names) Corran Antilles and Han Antilles, as well as Jedirich and Tram Law. I also have some new favorites who have joined recently and have really impressed me with their writing and storytelling abilities, such as Rylander Baine, DAC 85, Surprize 152, and Skidiot.
I:Have you portrayed the character anywhere but Star Wars Tales?
S:Yes, I have played Sam on the now defunct ezboards MDS and Star Wars: New Horizons, and currently play her occasionally on The Rebel Faction, where there is a 200,000-credit bounty on her head. (She just can’t get a break anywhere…)
Form Follows Function
I:Do you think something that allows you to log-in with its excess of buttons and fancy graphics as well as user interfaces is more conducive to quality role play, or is it better to gather in an ez-board type setting and throw the stats out the window and just write?
S:I dislike too many bells and whistles, and I prefer to see a clean design and ease of use, especially navigation, rather than a lot of flashy graphics and gimmicks. Usually when I go to a site with a big fancy front page, I skip directly to the board. Stats like a high post count are encouraging, but ultimately, the community is much more important, no matter how much or how little they post.
I:Tell me a little about how Star Wars Tales came about, at least for you. Were you there from day one?
S:Star Wars Tales has existed since 1999; I joined it in 2000 when it lived on a site called The Scifivine. When that site died, we found our way to ezboard and began again as one forum on a board called MDS (Multidimensional Space), which was a haven for roleplayers of all genres from the dead site. We were the most popular forum, with the most activity, so the next logical step was to break away, which we did in 2001. I was honored to be asked by Corran Antilles to help him admin the new board, which he founded. We have been growing ever since.
I:Are you satisfied with the current state of affairs in Tales or would you like to see it grow and expand to more members?
S:I am very satisfied with our current status, our quality, and our growth since our inception as a stand-alone board. I would love to see more growth and more members, but we do not want to compromise on our quality. We feel that by keeping our standards up, we will continue to attract others like us who want to write good stories and make great friends, without worrying about the drama that so often infects other boards that concentrate more on member number and post count than writing great stories and making a real community. I feel we’ve been successful in this endeavor.
I:Are you and the other admins flattered or more disturbed that so many people 'borrow' things from how Tales is run?
S:It's flattering, but at the same time bothersome, especially when they do it without giving any credit. It becomes even more frustrating when the same people do it over and over again, while denying it right to our faces. And we would give them whatever they want if they would just ask first, and give credit -- they don't have to "borrow" it.
I:How hard is it to come up with fresh ideas for scenarios? Do you usually take motivation from books and movies, or try to be original and creative?
S:For me it's very hard to come up with new ideas; I am more skilled in character development than plotting, and I usually rely on my co-writers to help with creating new scenarios in which my characters are involved. Usually we try to be original but occasionally we will be inspired by a scene in a movie or book, and put a new twist on it. We allow our members to come up with their own plots as well; we don't control or stifle their creativity to keep an overall "storyline" for our board.
I:I've been around the net RPG arena for a while now and I constantly see you out there interacting with people on other boards, what motivates you to do things like that? Is it pure enjoyment or do you derive pleasure from meeting new people?
S:I like to read message boards, roleplaying and otherwise, and I have met several wonderful people through my surfing around Star Wars ezboards, at least one of whom has become a great friend. Additionally, by my posting on someone's board, I am hoping that someone will be curious and see what Tales is all about. I prefer this to blatant advertising (although I advertise as well), or throwing my weight around the ezboards with an "I'm older and wiser" attitude. The choice is left up to the reader.
I am active on a number of non-ezboards as well, though I tend to lurk more than post. Ezboard is just easier because I can stay logged in and visit many boards without registering multiple times. Lately it's gotten harder for me to visit as many of them as I’d like, as Tales seems to have surged in activity recently; it sometimes takes me as many as three hours to read every post – yes, the admins do read every post that is made.
I:Lastly, any good tips for people just getting into role play in the Star Wars universe?
S:Have fun, don’t be afraid to ask questions, look for a staff who actually cares about you, stay away from out of character drama, and “may the Force be with you.”
And that my friends is the great Samantha Koortyn. She was incredibly accessible and polite throughout the interview process and as you can read very forthcoming with her tale. I highly recommend you take a stop by her board and read some of her work. If you're a role player maybe you can even help her create some new stories.
Many thanks go out to Sam and the crew at Tales for giving the Star Wars expanded universe such a great character.