This is an article about the Gorn as they exist in the Star Fleet Universe and not as they appear in various canon Star Trek sources. If you are seeking information about mainstream Star Trek, see the above link.
In the fictional Star Fleet Universe variant of Star Trek the Gorns are three reptilian races from different planets who are of such similarity that they must have all had a common progenitor. This, and evidence from the biologically similar Paravians, has led some to postulate 'seeding' by an ancient 'Lizard Kings' race millinia ago.
First contact between them came when the Grey Scales of Ghdar developed interstellar travel, and soon discovered the Green Scales and Brown Scales on Geydar and Gihdahr. While these others had not developed to interstellar travel, it was clear that they were all related.
The Gorn are a large race, standing taller and massing more than the average human (and even the Kzinti). While they are not a particularly 'aggressive' race, they are quite capable of fighting back on even terms. The marines of the Gorn fleet are justifiably respected by most races of the Alpha Octant.
The Gorns originally appeared in one episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, entitled "Arena". From this it was known that they had interstellar travel, and ships possibly comparable to the USS Enterprise, but it is not shown on screen. The only other Paramount appearance of the Gorns at the time of creation of Star Fleet Battles was a token appearance in the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "The Time Trap". The Star Trek Star Fleet Technical Manual placed Cestus III and the Gorns on the 'east side' of the Federation near the Romulans.
The Gorn are a parliamentary democracy. Details are not known at this time, but it is known that the Gorn parliament is rather tight fisted with allotments, forcing the Confederation Navy to make the most of what they have.
As of this writing, it is not known exactly when the Grey Scales first discovered their less technologically developed cousins. Despite some problems with racism initially (such as Green Scale merchants taking advantage of cheap Brown Scale labor), the three races have developed into a unified whole on equal terms.
In Y24, the Gorns encountered the bird-like Paravians. The Gorn were fascinated to find that the Paravians showed close biological similarities, and even more when they learned that there was evidence of a Gorn-like race on the Paravian homeworld which had been wiped out by an asteroid strike. Unfortunately, the Paravians had seen the bones of the proto-Gorns as physical evidence of the 'demons' of their religion, and viewed the Gorn in the same light. By Y30, a low grade raiding war had begun. The only advantage the Gorn had was that the Paravians tended to operate as lone raiders, and had developed no colonies beyound their homeworld. The constant war with the Paravians would be an element in Gorn development over the next several decades.
In Y33, the Gorn meet their next neighbor. Contact with the Romulans is initially tense, and by Y36, war has begun. The war would last till the battle of Gorn-Shima, marking Romulan victory, halting movement in that direction.
Until Y62, relative peace reigned. While the Paravians continued to be a persistent annoyance, the Gorn were able to build and expand. But in Y62, war again erupted with the Romulans. In this time, development of Tactical Warp systems (which would allow combat operations to extended to low warp speeds, rather than the previous sublight only) had begun in both nations. The Gorn were able to begin deployment of ships capable of moving at tatical warp, but with sublight weapons, while the Romulans were restricted to sublight movement, but were able to detect, target and fire at warp-capable targets.
The Gorn begin to have the advantage, but raiding by the Paravians takes a sharp upturn, diverting Gorn resources. But, the Gorn do discover that the Romulans are on the verge of developing Tactical Warp movement. Acting before the Romulans can finish, Vandgaurd Teams strike at several key places with the Romulan Star Empire, disrupting the development. This, along with internal Romulan politics, would halt development of Romulan warp. This allows the Gorn to win the war in Y68.
With the Second Gorn-Romulan War over, the Gorn turn their full attention to the Paravians. Unlike the Romulans, the Paravians had managed to develop full Tactical Warp technology, giving them a slight advantage as the Gorns rushed to deploy their own fully capable ships. Over the next decade and a half, the Gorns manage to hunt down and destroy every Paravian raider ship they can find. By Y85, Gorn have managed to isolate and blockade the Paravian homeworld, destroying all space-faring technology.
Y90 marked the beginning of the Third Gorn-Romulan War. Using their newly developed 'masking devices' (forerunners of the infamous Romulan Cloaking device) and new plasma technology to drive deeply into Gorn territory, despite being at a tactical disadvantage, movement wise.
Attention from the war would diverted in Y92. In that year, a Sunsnake, a spacegoing 'monster' that preys on stars, drove past the Gorn blockade and dove into the Paravian star. The Paravians refused to even talk to the Gorn blockade, and even if they would, there was no way they could evacuate any significant portion of the population. The Gorn barely escape the system as the star went nova.
In Y96, the Gorn manage to push the Romulans back to the border. Any further advance was stopped by Paravian Guilt. New open war would not happen for the next 24 years, but Romulan 'privateers' would harass the Gorn on a regular basis. In Y120, the Romulans attack again. In the next five years, the Gorn would advance into Romulan territory, firmly defining the border and destroying the bases used to launch Romulan aggression. This keeps the border reatively quite for the next thirty years or so.
In Y157, a brash Gorn captain discovered a colony in Gorn territory inhabitited by a new race. He attacked and devastated the colony. Unfortunately, a cruiser from that race arrived, having been invited before contact. The opposing captain was just as brash, and soon a low grade war had begun between them. After a few skirmishes, the Federation met with the Gorn and soon differences were resolved. In the end, the Gorn imprisoned their captain for excessive force and paid the Federation reparations. [Note that this is about as much detail as the licence allows Star Fleet Battles allows about the events of Arena (TOS episode).]
Relations with the Federation grew warmer over the next few years. After an incident in which the Romulans attacked a negotiation meeting, forcing the Gorn and Federation to work together to survive, a full alliance was born. It is worth noting that this would become one of the only alliances in the Alpha Octant born out of mutual respect and friendship. Other major alliances such as Federation/Kzinti or Klingon/Romulan are mostly out of political convienence than actual trust.
Events from the other side of the Octant would affect the Gorn in Y159. The Federation was watching the Four Powers War with concern and attempted to bluff the Klingons with the threat of getting involved. The Klingons replied by signing the Treaty of Smarba in Y159, giving the Romulans full Tactical Warp Technology along with a number of older Klingon warships from their mothball fleets.
More skirmishes would continue with the Romulans, but in Y160, one would have a much wider effect. Unknown to both sides, another young power observed the battle from affar. The Interstellar Concordium was shocked to see that nations advanced enough for interstellar travel were still fighting wars. This battle in Y160 would galvanise their decision to try and 'save the galaxy from itself.'
In Y168, word reached the Gorn of the start of the newest 'Lyran-Kzinti' war. Over the next few years, this would escalate, involving the Klingons and Hydrans in Y169, and the Federation in Y171. In Y173, the Romulans struck the Federation, forcing a decision on the part of the Gorn. In Y174, the Gorn struck the Romulan border to relieve some of the pressure the Federation was under in the General War.
The war would continue for more than another decade. In Y177, the Klingons attempted to crush the Tholians, bringing them into the war. While the Tholians were leary of allowing their powerful neighbor (the Federation) from deploying ships inside the Holdfast, they did allow Gorn and Kzinti ships. The Gorn would be involved with nearly every major theater, making major contributions to both Operation Remus which would have devastating results on that Romulan capital world, and Operation Cavalry which would be a major thrust at the heart of the Klingon Empire.
The war would finally grind to a halt in Y185 with all sides exhasted and virtually no changes in the final borders. The Gorn were content to rebuild and watch the Romulan Civil War when the ISC made their move. In Y186, forces of the ISC drove down the neutral corridor between the Gorn and Romulans towards the Federation border. Pushing into each's territory, they set up bases and task forces to separate the combative powers, enforcing peace by force. By Y188, the ISC had occupided the border areas of the entire Alpha Octant. No nation liked the occupation, but all were too weary from war to make an immediate move against the ISC. So, the Gorn, like the rest of the Octant, built up and prepared to reassert their independence.
They never got the chance. Over years of the General War and after, a persistent mysterious nuisance had appeared across the Octant (and beyond). These ships, having been identified as being extragalatic in origin, raided everyone at different points, ignorning any attempt to communicate. In Y190, they struck in force unleashing the Andromedan Invasion. Their first target was the spread-out ISC fleet, decimating it. Then they turned their attentions to the other powers of the Galaxy. While the ISC had only occupied the borders, the Andromedans were driving into the hearts of every nation. The Gorn found themselves working not only with their previous allies, but their enemies also.
In Y195, a Federation ship discovered what would be the weak-link in Andromedan power. Using what they learned, the Galactic Powers began hunt down the bases the Andromedans uses to be able to redeploy rapidly across the Galaxy. By Y200, they had pushed the Andromedans back and were preparing to set fourth against the Small Magellanic Cloud where the Andromedans had used as their staging point. The war ended when Operation Unity destroyed the core Andromedan starbase.
The warships of the Gorn Confederation follow a general pattern. From the beginning of the Tactical Warp Era, the ships consisted of a bubble-like disk with a secondary hull attached directly to the rear of it. Two small winglets held some weapons and impulse drives, while warp engines were mounted top and bottom. As the need for stronger ships came about, it was found that it was possible to add a second disk to the back of these ships, with larger warp engines, making the 'double bubble' designs.
The Primary weapon of the Gorn is the Plasma Torpedo, along with the ubiquitous Phasers.
The Gorn legislature was notorious for being penny pinchers. The result was that some Gorn ships have misleading names, not for fooling the enemy, but to get funded. The primary example was the Heavy Destroyer which was what everyone else would call a 'light', or 'war' cruiser.
In the brief time of hostilities before the alliance between the Gorn and Federation, the Federation added code-names to the Gorn ship classes for ease of discussion. As the Gorn were large reptiles, they used dinosaur names, resulting in things like the Allosaurus-class heavy cruiser. Even after friendship formed, the Federation continued this tradition, much to the amusement of the Gorn.
As fighter technology spread across the galaxy, the Gorn found a minor problem. They could not physically fit in any but the largest, least manuevable fighters. The Gorns quickly found a solution though. Across the Federation border, an unrealated lizard like associate member of the Federation lived, whom had strongly identified themselves with the Gorn. Roughly human-sized, they fit easily in the cockpits of purchased Federation designed fighters. Other Skoalians would serve as scouts and in other positions with the Gorn military (along with smaller numbers in Star Fleet itself). The fact that they were technically Federation citizens serving in a foreign military was conveniently ignored.
- (R6.1) Gorn Background. Star Fleet Battles Basic Set (ADB, 1999)
- Star Fleet Universe Timeline: The Early Period. Star Fleet Battles Module Y: The Early Years (ADB, 2000)
- Gorn information page on the Federation Commander website, retrieved October 2007
- The Space Gamer Number 54, August 1982, pp 4-5