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Athena Simming Guide/Athena New Officer Handbook

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Introduction to the Athena


Welcome to the USS Athena! We hope you enjoy simming with us! If you're reading this, you've either clicked the link or been directed here. This page is meant to serve as a welcome and handy guide for simming as part of the USS Athena crew. Whether you have just graduated from the Academy, or been simming for a while as part of Starbase 118 Fleet, this handbook will serve as a handy point of reference for when you have a question.

N.B This handbook is meant to supplement rather than replace the one on one guidance that you get from the command staff or your mentor.

Find an error or have a question? Don't hesitate to contact your mentor or Captain Selene Faranfey at any time!

Some Helpful Resources


There are many reasons why people join the Starbase 118 fleet. Many people join out of a love of Star Trek, but some officers join simply because they have fun writing these characters. Either way, there are times when you might want a bit of extra help ironing out the tech and canon Trek information for your sim. Here are some trusted websites that the fleet has found really useful. Consider searching one of the following websites:

  • The Starbase 118 Fleet Wiki: Every character has a page as do every installation, team, taskforce, or group that is involved in the Fleet. You can find a lot of information on both Trek and the members and workings of the fleet by searching our Wiki site.
  • Memory Alpha: The know all and end all of all things Trek. This site is invaluable when you are looking for anything that is considered canon in the Trek universe.
  • The Main Starbase 118 Website: There is plenty of information to be found on the main site for the Fleet. Some of this includes fleet specific information, such as our rank and promotion guide, while other information and articles are based on Trek, Science, and what's going on 'OOC' in the realm of Trek and the franchise as a whole.

Still feel lost? Don't hesitate to contact any member of the command staff with your questions. If they don't know the answer, they can find the answer for you.

Formatting Your Sims


Here is an good example sim for you to keep in mind here

The Athena corresponds to the format you will have learned in the academy, but here and there there are a few small differences that we’ll detail here:

Subject Lines


Here on the Athena we use the format of Rank Name (Including NPC Status), ‘Sim Title’ for example:

  • Commander Shelther Faranster - Here there everywhere
  • PNPC Lt. JG Aigle Phos, ‘A little shoreleave trip’
  • MSNPC Dr. Lilavati Chandur - Incoming message

One difference from other ships you may have simmed on however, is that we don’t include tags in our subjects, this is to help encourage everyone to read all of the sims that head your way - who knows, by skipping one you could be missing a masterpiece!

General Formatting


In this area, the obvious goal is legibility. People don’t want to struggle to read your sims anymore than you do this. To this end there are a few things you should keep in mind:

Size


Receiving Gigantic Text like that can just be annoying for people to read (although it is very legible) as is very small text and it can be very hard to read! As a result, we’d recommend a happy medium of between 12 - 15px.

Bolding


Excess bolding burns the eyes and besides, it is supposed to be used to emphasise things. Typically this should be limited to:

  • Open tags that require a response (E.G.: Seff: Response)
  • Indicating stage direction after a tag with double colons :: text :: (E.G. Shelther: :: nodded :: )
  • Location headers: (( Sickbay, USS Athena ))
  • Adding new dialogue in response to an open tag (This is not always necessary, depending on how old the tag is.)

However, really bolding is usually unnecessary in nearly every circumstance. It is strongly recommended you do not bold.

Colour and Fonts


This is probably the biggest thing that could harm your readability no one likes having to struggle to read light colours on light backgrounds. And having a lot of mixed fonts or even having everything one strange font can really make your posts hard to read! To this end, sticking to one font and black text on a white background is really helpful for everyone!

That said, feel free to pick any one font that is pretty normal - for example, some people write in Times New Roman, some in Arial, and others in Calibri. Those are all fine.

But wait, I copied and pasted replies from someones sim into mine and now all of the fonts are mixed up?


Don’t worry, you're not the first person to have this problem and there are lots of simple solutions! The most popular seems to be to copy and paste your sim into a program like notepad which doesn't understand formatting, then pasting it into your email before you send to make everything uniform. If you're using gMail there is also a ‘Clear Formatting’ button next to the send button, which will clear the formatting of whatever you selected for you. Other email clients may have this option too, so if you use something other than gMail this too may be an option!

Is there some examples of things I shouldn't do?


Sim Content

Starbase 118 prides itself on its serious and realistic themes, its free form nature and its interesting character driven plots. On the Athena, we believe that Star Trek and all good drama in general is about the characters, first and foremost. While we do have missions, plots and external forces at play here, our primary focus is on our characters and displaying strong character development.

We do not limit character development to shore leave only. While some ships like to concentrate on the mission while it is running and only allow development posts during shore leave, the Athena welcomes development posts at any time. This doesn't mean, however, that the plot should be abandoned. The quality of writers on board makes it easy to both develop characters and push the story forward at the same time.

Themes

We also tend to be slightly more "European" in what constitutes a PG-13 rating. Generally speaking, this means that we tend to prefer a euphemism ("Frak!") over a censored word ("$@#%!"), we have a number of shipboard romances (and as of 2388, a pregnancy) and we explore these through tastefully written sims and Joint Posts. We also take a relaxed, 24th century view on the personal choices and freedoms of the crew aboard.

For a good overview of what PG-13 is on our ship for the roleplay, please look here

Accordingly, this means that we tend to avoid scenes with strong violence or gratuitous bloodshed if at all possible- especially acts committed by Starfleet personnel in good standing. While an occasional sim may contain violence, it is unbecoming for officers in good standing to wound or take lives unnecessarily, gratuitously or with relish. The USS Athena fires her weapons only when she has to.

Realism

This ties in with the realism of things that we enjoy on the USS Athena as well. While we do explore plot lines and missions that involve Trek and other fantasy related topics, we try to make things as realistic as possible. For example, children should not be on the bridge, no character should have too many 'powers', and we all pride ourselves with being able to realistically react to events such as death, injury, and animosity. We also believe in the motto of "IC consequences for IC actions." So if your character does something against the rules, it won't be broomed under the rug or ignored.

Ultimately, it is the simmer's responsibility to ensure that their sims are tasteful. Repeated violations of the PG-13 guidelines may result in a warning or disciplinary action. If you have questions, or you simply wonder if a sim is pushing things to far, either tone it down or contact a member of the command staff. They can clear a scene for you and make sure that you are adhering to the PG-13 guidelines. Often we can apply "If you have to ask if something is okay, it probably isn't."

If you want any more examples of specific sim examples, look here!

Arcs and Background


The Athena was launched in 2016, and the Raytas Sector is a brand new region ripe for exploration:

  • Raytas Sector - The general page about our Area of Operation. It includes details on the various native species, planets, and the details on the Federation Presence in the area.
  • Athena Missions - Details on the past adventures of the crew of the USS Athena!

Contributions


As a rule, we would like everyone on the Athena to be hitting the Fleet’s Full Time requirements: at least three times a week, making 12 posts in a month. Ideally, as many of these posts should be with your primary character (PC), however posts written for either Personal Non-Player Characters (PNPCs), Non-Player Characters (NPCs), or Mission Specific Non-Player Characters (MSNPCs) will count towards it. At first this can seem like a pretty daunting number, however it is really surprising how quickly you pick up the steam!

If, however, you can’t make this for some reason please don’t hesitate to contact the Command Staff! There are many options that we can discuss with you to help you out which don’t necessarily mean forcing you to take a Leave of Absence (LoA).

How long do I have to wait after I post before I can again?


The rule is 36 to 48 hours, once you post, give everyone you tag 36 hours to respond before simming again. This gives them ample opportunity to be included in on the plot, as all of us have real lives, work, school, children, housework, etc, that can keep us from responding immediately. However that said, if those you tagged haven’t responded within 48 hours, you are strongly encouraged to post again, keeping the plot moving, as we also don’t want to hinder your fun.

What if everyone I tag responds within an hour?


Feel free to post again, the above said rule is to allow everyone a chance to post. However, remember there are 10-15 people on the ship at all times, so while we encourage big plot twists, if you do, give others an opportunity to jump on board with reacting/solving them, before closing it up. (Example: Sending a sim with an Alien Holographic AI showing up on the bridge, you are only tagging the captain and First Officer, but there are 3 other people on the bridge, don’t make the AI disappear before the 48 hours of that window expires on them too.)

What if the person I am simming with doesn’t respond in 3 or more days?


You’ve waited more than 72 hours? Well, I can understand the desire to give everyone an opportunity to respond to my tags too, but at this point my suggestion is to move on, if there’s no one else in the scene responding with you, write another set of tags, and move to tag someone else. Sometimes real life creeps up and bites us in the rear, and we don’t want to hinder your ability to have fun, so we definitely will understand if you move to another, more active, crew member to interact with.

So, I posted three times on Tuesday, I’m done for the week, right?


Would you like if you had to wait a whole week for someone to respond to your tags, because they posted all their sims in one day? Personally, I wouldn’t, because it hinders the ability to write full time, or have an interactive conversation if you are making full time by pushing the scene. The recommendation here is, write three separate times a week, and if you wish to and can write more, we would certainly enjoy the sims and activity.

Adding to the story


Creativity in your sims is not just encouraged, but is really the reason why we sim. While our missions have usually been planned in advance, nothing is set in stone and plot twists are welcome and encouraged from all levels! Every character, from Ensign to Captain, helps decide the direction of our missions.

That said, before you go ahead and sim 10,000 Romulan Warbirds appearing off our port bow, stop and think:

  • Does this make sense in the context of the mission? Have we dealt with the Romulans in this mission? Are we even near to Romulan space?
  • Is it logical? Would the Romulans have any interest in this mission?
  • Is it possible? Do the Romulans have have 10,000 Warbirds?
  • Does it evolve the story?

As long as you can comfortably answer all of these questions with a resounding ‘Yes!’ should you go ahead and add it. The only additional thing to think about with this, is when new additions take control of another writer's character out of that writer's hands. For example, you should never injure another character without talking to the character's writer first.

Also, feel free to be creative! We want everyone to feel free to change this because the more people exercising their creativity, the better the story is for everyone. Just remember, though, that a plausible solution would be grounded in what would make sense. A solution to the aforementioned 10000 Warbirds (for a rather extreme example) would not be Hammer Time. This doesn’t mean that the situation would be in the box - it might be something as outre as closing the quantum rift that was causing them to appear.

Thinking outside the box and sometimes inside the box are both valid solutions to problems that will come up in sim.

Remember, if in doubt you can always contact your Mentor or a member of Command Staff to run it by!

Of course, the only way to move the plot forward is to tag people…

So, just how do I tag anyway?


This is a topic I’m sure you’ll have heard all about in the Academy but it does deserve reiterating some basic points. The average sim should contain between 3 to 5 tags per post, although obviously this is at the writers discretion. On the Athena, we also mainly use two forms of tagging:

Writer: Response

and

Writer: ?

Also, there will be times when you will be assigned to work with someone. Make sure to tag them and work with them, and not just the CO, First Officer or Chief. Like in the show, people are often assigned so the Commanding Officer can pay attention to something else, handle other work, or issue other orders. It also will help you grow friendships and connections within the ship as well!

Shore Leave


Broadly, we split writing time on the Athena into two parts Mission Time and Shore Leave. During Missions, there tends to be a central plot - a bad guy to fight, a planet to save, or a new phenomenon to investigate - while Shore Leave is a time for you to explore your character and to mingle with the crew. There is not usually a central plot, so its a perfect time to go hit up the bar with a few of your crewmates, send a message home, or go climbing with that strange tactical officer.

While this is a time for your character to relax, that in no way means the writer can drop the ball on posting! Ideally, Full Time rates should still apply over leave!

Want some help getting into the Story?


There are many times where you might sit back and think to yourself, "How do I get involved?" Often you might find yourself asking this if you have just been assigned to the station, or if you have been gone for a few days and you are catching up to the rest of us. You may also ask this if a plot or story arc is going on with only a segment of the crew involved.

This really doesn't have one answer, but we can offer a few answers right now - you can ask the command staff in the OOC list if there's anything you can do IC. If you can't get in anyway, you can ask another fellow simmer to leave tags, and many of us have PNPCs or NPCs that we love to use and can interact with your character.

Alternatively, you can add a twist of your own, per above guidelines.

Finally, feel free to write a PNPC or NPC of you're own!

Tip: Feel free to play your PNPC as often or infrequently as you like, but if they start to eclipse your main character you should consider making them your main character (and your old main a PNPC). You can do this at any time, just ask your CO.

Regardless of what you choose, make sure that you maintain the weekly post rate of at least 3 posts per week with your main character. You are, of course, not limited to this amount of posts, and you may post as much as you wish with any of your characters, but to properly consider a PNPC what it is, they should play a supporting role rather than one that would shut your main character out. If you find that you have more fun playing a PNPC, and that your post count reflects this, you may consider switching your main character for the PNPC. Then, your main would become another PNPC, while the PNPC in question would become your main.

Switching characters is allowed, but on a case by case basis. These changes have to be approved by the command staff of the USS Athena, so contact a member of the staff to discuss the change that you are thinking of. Keep in mind, however, that switching characters is not something to do every month. If a switch is approved, another will not be immediately approved. So think about these changes deeply before you decide to jump.

Participating on the Forums


While it may only seem like a small thing, posting on the forums is part of being part of the wider fleet! We’re a pretty awesome bunch (even if we do say so ourselves) and would love to get to know you! The forums cover a wide variety of activities from discussions about Star Trek, to memorable quotes from ships, to even just funny image threads! If you find yourself with a little free time, there is certainly worse places to hang around.

The Wiki


As you’ve obviously found out, the wiki is a treasure trove of information both from an In-Character Perspective and a Out-Of-Character Perspective. For instance, every player on the Athena should have a wiki page for their characters (This includes you!) which will tell you something about who they are. So, perhaps your character enjoys playing Vulcan Chess and you notice that a Vulcan Engineer does too, there is no harm in emailing the writer to see if having the two meet is something they would enjoy - you never know, both you and your character may get a new friend out of it!

The Wiki also contains substantial information about the Athena herself, for instance a full deck layout is available here and detailed statistics on her can be found here. Feel free to use this info to enrich your own sims - not to mention to find fun places to hang out during shore leave!

If you find you really enjoy helping out on the wiki, the Athena is always looking on people to help out with our own pages! Not only is it fun, but its a great way to show your ready to move up the promotion ladder. Contact the Command Staff Today!

Ship Requirements


Generally speaking, SB118 requires at least ten sims a month to be considered a "part time" writer- any less than that (without reason) may be treated as an LOA. A "full time" writer generally sims three times a week (twelve a month) and some sim every day or every other day. Some sim more often than that... but that's far from required and, as discussed below, is sometimes undesirable.

It's a casual observation that the more someone sims, the lower the quality and the shorter the length of the sim is. So sacrificing quality for quantity is obviously not desirable. However, someone who only sims twice a month- even if those sims are the bees knees- isn't desirable either.

So each writer must find a balance, must find what works for them. But no matter what you decide is best for you, membership in our group requires at least ten sims a month to be considered active, and twelve sims per month to be considered a full time writer. While there are some characters who sim less than this, it is often difficult to really integrate said characters into a full out plot.

Generally speaking, these sims should be evenly spaced out (every couple days), rather than a large burst of activity at the end of the month. Since our plots and story lines run throughout the month, it will be difficult to contribute appropriately if you are only simming one week out of the entire month. However, if you feel that you have been away too long (perhaps you went on a week vacation or the like) then you can always ask a member of the command staff for help getting back into the story so that you can meet the posting requirements.

Consistently maintaining a sim count higher than the bare minimum (generally 20+ a month) and answering your tags with alacrity looks very good for your development, keeps your character involved in the plot and allows for a much more fun simming experience for the whole crew.

Questions


Something not covered here, or spotted a glaring mistake? Please feel free to contact either your Mentor or any other member of Command Staff for assistance!