There are a number of different categories of players/characters. To clarify what each type of character is, we have the handy glossary below. But first, let’s recognize that there’s a difference between “Writer” (you), and the “Character” (the persona you embody in a sim). There’s only one of you, but you can have many characters, and those characters can be used or written-for by others in the sim, depending on how they’re categorized, as below.
A Player Character (PC) is a character owned and written-for by a writer in the group. The character you regularly write for is a Playing Character because you are the only writer for that character.
Only you can play for and speak for your own player character.
A Non-Player Character (NPC) is any character within the game that serves only a plot-related purpose. For example, let’s say that you sim your character going to Ten Forward on your ship, and asking a bartender for a drink. Your character, and the bartender, have a discussion which you write yourself. The bartender is considered a Non-Player Character.
Non-Player Characters can be picked-up and used by anyone for limited purposes. Anyone can follow you into Ten Forward and strike up a new conversation with the bartender, that they write on their own.
Because you generally don’t write for NPCs on a regular basis (instead, you just use them once or twice during a sim, and then maybe never again, or very infrequently), you can create as many as you need-to, within reason. Feel free to create NPCs that your character waves to in passing, or talks to while docking the ship — whatever strikes your fancy! Others will be able to interact and write for those characters as well, so it makes the universe richer.
A Personal Non-Player Character (PNPC) is a character you create for your own purposes and use regularly in the plot. For example, let’s say you’re the Chief Medical Officer on your crew, but there are no other real player characters in the medical department on your crew. You’ll need a few nurses to help you with the care of the crew, right? So you create a PNPC, let’s call her Nurse Jones, that you use to help with medical procedures. If you mark her as a PNPC (as opposed to just an NPC), you’ll be the only one who can write for her.
You’re welcome to create whatever PNPCs you need to sim better, within reason. Generally, your ship will keep a record on a wiki page of all the ship’s PNPCs, so talk to your First Officer or Captain for more information about how to keep track of yours and others’.
PNPCs are not part of the normal promotion process, and are only promoted if you want to promote that character. PNPCs can only have a rank that’s as high as your own. So, if you’re a Lieutenant, you can create PNPCs who are Ensigns, Lieutenant JG, or Lieutenant. They can also be any warrant officer or enlisted rank.
A Mission-Specific Personal Non-Player Character (MSPNPC) is a special PNPC assigned to a specific person for the duration of a mission. Usually, these characters are antagonists, or important parts of a story. Think of them as analogous to the guest stars of an episode in the series. Sometimes your Captain may assign the writer of a MSPNPC a special e-mail address that he or she can use for simming this character. Only the assigned writer may write for the MSPNPC.
Primary Characters & Secondary Characters
Primary Character refers to the character you write for most often. This is usually the first character you joined the group with. Often, this is your character with the highest rank, and the one you’re attempting to advance through the ranks.
On your ship, you are allowed to create PNPCs for whom you send complete sims. For example, you might decide to write a whole sim from the perspective of Nurse Jones (created above), which is titled for her and written entirely from her point of view.
However, let’s say you’d like to create a whole new character that you want to play regularly, but on a different ship. This is known as a secondary character and will only be played by you. This secondary character will advance through the ranks at the regular pace and will be subject to the rules and guidelines of the other ship you want to play on.
For administrative purposes, we don't make a distinction between you primary and secondary character -- you can consider either character as your primary. But if you decide you want to put either character on hold and sim just with one character, you'll need to notify your commanding officer immediately.
Primary characters and secondary characters are both player characters (PCs).
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