Saturday, December 26, 2009

Day 1: Klin Zha!

Klingons are often depicted as being mindlessly aggressive barbarians without culture, art or sport. Nothing could be further from the truth and to prove it, this year, I have put together a simple to make portable game board and playing pieces for Klin Zha, Klingon chess! This game, steeped in the spirit of combat and valor is uniquely Klingon: you do not capture pieces, you kill them! Play boldly and with honor and along the way learn something of the final reflection, the great game of life.

John M. Ford only wrote two Star Trek novels but both of them are considered to be classics of Trek fiction, recognised as such even in the wider genre of Science Fiction. The Final Reflection's main claim to fame is as the first instance where Klingons were treated as anything other than stock villains as shown in the exhaustive Wikipedia, Memory Alpha and Memory Beta articles. It was certainly a popular book as can be seen from the reviews on the Amazon website. This was back in 1984, three years before the premiere of The Next Generation where we were presented by a vastly different picture of the Klingons from that shown in The Original Series. There's a body of evidence that suggests that this work was a leading influence on that change so that, although there were other social and political reasons, The Final Reflection stands as a landmark in the published Trek landscape.

There were other aspects of the story that gave it a rich, detailed fictional backstory. For the first time we saw the first attempt at a Klingon language, klingonaase, we saw their complex family and clan structure, their education and military. Ford's reference for dates and events seems to have been the non-canon Star Trek Spaceflight Chronology and The Final Reflection was a seminal work for the popular but doomed FASA's Star Trek: The Role Playing Game.

However pervading the whole book is the Klingon game, Klin Zha. More than a game, it is a code of conduct, a philosophy of life, in some ways it is the very backbone of Klingon society! It trains the Klingon military from child-recruit to Thought-Admiral and aspects of its gameplay underlay the machinations of their secret service and diplomats.
It is also a very real game of tactics and strategy that has been developed and codified by Klingon fans over the intervening years. Using material from The Authorized Klin Zha Homepage, I have designed a portable board and playing pieces that you can simply cut out and put together in an afternoon so that you can try your hand at this fascinating game.

This is a Beta version, so I actively welcome any comments or problems you might have. Watch this space for an updated version of this portable game in the new year, after the end of the Twelve Trek Days, when I will get the time to go over this is in more detail.

1 comment:

  1. I should cut this out and try it with Jet and Andy :) They're nerdy enough to give this a try.