Cadet Orientation/Your Character

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Cadet Orientation

An Andorian male.
Your character represents the alter-ego that you control in the Star Trek universe. It's important to put a great deal of effort and thought into making this a person that you want to spend a lot of time with! In this area, you'll find out more information about creating your character.


Primary Considerations

Before you get too deep in developing your character, there's some things you will want to consider:

  • Don't "over-produce": Part of playing the game is creating as you go. The last thing you want is to develop your character so much that you've "written yourself into a corner." Leave plenty of character development for when you actually get to your ship!
  • Age appropriate: If you’re planning on playing a doctor, then your character will have been in medical school for a while both before, and after StarFleet Academy. In that case, your character would be around 26 once they got to their ship. For everyone else, your character will likely be about 23, as they would probably joined the Academy at the age of 18 (the end of their "high school" or secondary school experience), and then would have spent four years in the Academy, and one year on a “cadet cruise.” Adults sometimes enter StarFleet, as well, so you're free to have your character be older than 23, and don't forget that this age can vary wildly for other species. A Vulcan might be 75 or older before they enter Starfleet, for example.
  • Consider your character's maturity: Think back to what you were like at around 23. (Or, imagine how you will be at that age!) If you're much older, you'll know that your life has changed, your personality has changed somewhat, and you have a completely different perspective on the world. Keep this in mind as you develop your character, and don't forget that people don't always emerge from Starfleet Academy as wizened, mature adults.
  • Avoid "widow/orphan syndrome": Inexperienced writers sometimes assume that for a character to be interesting, they have to have experienced a lot of tragedy in their life. They often write into a character's history that they were orphaned at a young age, or that their loved-one died in a tragic accident – or both. Consider, in real life, how many orphans do YOU know that had to raise themselves? How many widows, or widowers do YOU know that had a spouse die? Probably not too many, and that type of thing would be even more rare in the future where medicine had advanced far beyond where we are today, saving many a child from losing a parent to disease. If you’re looking for ways to make your character interesting, draw on your own experiences as a person and think about the small – but just as important – struggles you've been through. As they say, "write what you know."

Don't be Wesley Crusher

Wesley Crusher on the bridge of the Enterprise-D.
Most StarFleet officers are – by today's standards – driven, well educated, moral, and empathetic individuals, who mainly care about exploring, bettering themselves, bettering the galaxy, and finding new ways to make the engines run faster on a starship. Because we're working with characters who are overachievers, newer writers often look for ways to help their character stand out among other amazing characters, which sometimes manifests with characters who are even more amazing than their peers – graduating at the top of their Starfleet class, being recognized as the best engineer Starfleet has ever seen right out of the Academy, holding multiple degrees, or being an expert in a number of sports.

Remember Wesley Crusher? It seemed like he knew everything. He even got to sit at Helm on the bridge of the Enterprise-D from time-to-time! Most would agree that it seemed unbelievable that he'd be quite so smart and capable at such a young age.

As much fun as it is to conceive of a character who overcame adversity (dead parents! life of poverty! overly-critical Academy professors!), graduated first in their class, and was the envy of their peers, these characters just aren't that much fun to write in practice. First, you'll find that you don't really have very far to grow with a character like this. How do they develop themselves when they're already the best? How can they possibly have healthy, interesting relationships when everyone they meet is but a lesser version of them? And second, you'll find that others resent these characters, because they hog the limelight. No one should be the center of attention all the time – everyone should have a chance to shine!

Think about your own experiences in life. Did you meet a lot of people who were truly exceptional? Did you meet a lot of people who were able to be the sports star, and graduate at the top of their class? Have you met anyone who overcame incredibly adversity, and was able to not only meet everyone else's level, but exceed them too? Chances are, those people are pretty rare. We want them to be rare in our game, too, because those people are few and far-between in real life. And believe it or not, reading about characters that are normal people in difficult circumstances is more interesting than reading about extraordinary people.

Interesting stories come from learning about how people behave when faced with new and difficult situation. How will your overly average character deal with the loss of a friend when your ship meets the Borg? What will your character do when they don't know how to fix the problem in their work? How will your character react when they finally meet someone on the crew that they're romantically interested in, but that other person doesn't think your character is attractive enough for a mutual relationship? These are the types of stories we want to read because they're about the human condition. We want to know and understand how to overcome adversity "as it happens" in the sim. Learning that a character has already overcome many difficult life challenges before they even got through StarFleet just means that they've already learned their lessons!

Consider ways that your character can find trade-offs. Perhaps they did well at the Academy, but their social life suffered, which now means they have a hard time relating to people on the ship. Or perhaps they had a great social life at the Academy, but barely squeaked by on their exams, and now has a hard time adjusting to the rigors of their new job, which tests the limits of their knowledge and capabilities.

Avoid other common mistakes

If you want to avoid some of the other common character creation mistakes, you can check out the this test. Beyond just checking to make sure your character isn't testing the bounds of believability, it also lists dozens of other common, character traits that are overused. You don't have to avoid all of them – after all, there are only so many common stories we can tell! – but this can give you an idea of whether or not your character might be headed in the wrong direction.

Need some inspiration?

There are some places around the internet that can help you get started with character generation. Here are a few links:

  • General Person Generator: detailed descriptions of characters including appearance, clothing, and general attitude.
  • Quick Character Generator: quick, simple character descriptions, generic or for specific settings. Choose “Science Fiction, Specific: Starship Crews”

If you need some help with a name, check out The Forge or the Seventh Sanctum Name Generator page.

Choosing a Species

Perhaps one of the most important parts of your character is the species you choose. As such, we encourage you to visit our Intelligent Lifeform Index (ILI) before you consider anything else in your character creation process. The ILI has a list of all species which we allow to be played by members of our fleet. Choosing from this list will ensure that you don't spend a lot of time creating a character around a species we don't allow! (Look for the species marked "Permitted.")

We know you designated a species on your application, but you're allowed to change your species during training. Just notify your training officer, when training begins, if you find a new species you'd rather play.

Character Rules

We do not allow any of the following:

  • Copyrighted characters: You are not allowed to play a character that is copyrighted or trademarked by any other entity, including Paramount, CBS, or any of their affiliates. This means no characters that have appeared in any episode, movie, or published work of any genre or fandom. Similarly, you may not play a character that is related to a copyrighted or trademarked character, or one that has an identical name.
  • Names of real life persons: You are not allowed to play a character named for any living or dead celebrity, or intentionally name your character after someone you know. While we allow players to make their character name the same as their real name, we don't recommend it. Our application has a link to a name generator that can provide you with some inspiration if you need it.
  • Section 31 members: Section 31 is a tiny, and extremely exclusive organization in the era of Trek we play.
  • Superhero abilities: None of the species we allow for the game can fly, burn objects with their eyes, or other such abilities which generally are found in superhero comics.
  • Telekinetics: This is the ability to move objects with your mind.
  • Q characters: As with telekinetics, Qs, Dowds, and such are simply too powerful for our use.
  • Federation enemies: Distinct enemies of the Federation, such as the Borg or the Breen, are not allowed.
  • Pre-warp species: The Prime Directive of the Federation requires that no one disturb pre-warp species. As such, it's unlikely that an entity from a pre-warp flight species would find its way into StarFleet.
  • Sexually explicit or disgusting characters: When describing characters, please be sure to keep them decent.

Guidelines on Religious Characters

In the Star Trek universe, and the universe we've created here, we’ve seen few references to present day, real world religions. In most cases, we’ve seen limited references to the religions practiced by characters in shows and movies. However, we recognize that religion, for some players, may be an important facet of the character they wish to portray.

While we want to support players as they bring their whole selves to our game, and write in a way which is fulfilling for them, we also wish to set some clear boundaries to ensure we maintain the integrity of our game, and encourage our members to feel comfortable writing alongside religious characters where the personal views of the writer may not align with in-universe attitudes.

We strongly believe the ability to write a religious character must not impede the ability of other players to enjoy the game. Taking part as a collaborative writer in a diverse roleplaying group, we can enter situations where the reality of the game universe is fundamentally different to our own, and while we explore situations we may not encounter in real life, they can also challenge our worldviews.

Here are our expectations for considerate play:

  • Respect religions: Players who create a character who follows a certain religion must first and foremost ensure their character is both respectful to the faith the character appears to adhere to, while also portraying the character appropriately for the Star Trek universe.
  • Avoid modern stereotypes: Proselytizing, religious terrorism, and other extremist views are generally unwelcome in the Star Trek universe except in very specific, carefully planned storylines, with the help of your ship’s staff, for the purpose of simming a dramatic goal.
  • Do not infringe upon the rights of other writers: Going hand in hand with respecting religions, the religious beliefs of one writer may not be used to infringe upon the rights of another. If your religion means you are strongly opposed to an event or situation within the simming game, please contact your command team to discuss this. Our goal is to make the game enjoyable for everyone within reason.
  • Your captain has the final word: All the commanding officers are fully versed in our rules and regulations regarding what is acceptable, and we entrust them to create a welcoming, respectful game for all players of different faiths and backgrounds. Your captain has the final say on whether to implement a proposed character on their ship. They may require changes to a character to abide by the expectations laid out above, and if they do not believe the character can be played respectfully, or in a way that does not infringe upon the rights of others, they retain the option to deny the character concept, and they will ask you to submit another character biography for approval.

Here are some helpful guidelines for best practices:

  • Understand the setting: Our game is structured around exploration of a fictional universe. This requires the suspension of disbelief and separating our fictional universe from our actual universe – there is no direct "one-to-one" comparison between what we live today and what happens in Star Trek, so none of our present-day, Earthbound religions will have survived exactly as they exist now into the future. To that end, players should avoid thinking too critically about how religions may have evolved and instead think more about the literary ways in which religion can be explored.
  • Help worldbuild, avoid mimicking: We welcome the literary exploration of religion but want to avoid rewriting the works of modern, published authors for the sake of exploring the same themes. To that end, don't recreate something you've already read in a work of fiction – instead, try charting a new course. If you are unsure about how to proceed, please seek the advice of your command team to help guide you through the rest of the process.
  • Expect lore to change: Your contributions to a species’ religious practices are one part of a larger collaborative mosaic between writers at StarBase 118, and just as theological concepts in Human religions have changed since religion first developed, someone in a few years time may have a different take on what is and isn’t acceptable for this religion, or changes in the social structure of a species might have altered perceptions. This is a natural form of evolution for a species, and as a writer in a collaborative environment, we should approach instances of cooperative world-building like this with an open mind that we do not set our definitions in stone.

If you are unsure of your approach, do not hesitate to reach out to your ship’s staff. They are there to help you portray the character you want, have an open and honest discussion about expectations, but also be able to meet the Federation ideals of “universal liberty, rights, and equality, and to share their knowledge and resources in peaceful cooperation and space exploration."

Character Guilds

Guilds are small groups of people who share common, In Character interests. Below are the guilds that are currently active within the group. Using the guild resources may help you develop your character and learn more about the species you chose.

  • Lambda Alliance: For our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender members, and their characters.
  • Soong Society: For disabled and neurodivergent players – and those that play characters with those qualities.
  • Readers Guild: For those who play Telepathic or Empathic species.
  • Characters Guild: For general information about developing characters.
  • Species Guild: Promoting the development of Star Trek universe species.

Further Reading

Starfleet Academy