|USS Columbia Officer's Manual|
Welcome to the USS Columbia! We have a lot of truly outstanding and inspirational players and an experienced, passionate staff who take great pride in our crew and what we do.
UFOP: Starbase 118 prides itself on its focus on writing and we believe in supporting our crew via mentoring and providing the right resources to enable everyone to develop their writing skills. It is our aim to bring every member of our crew up to the highest possible standards of simming while achieving a uniform standard of presentation across all posts on the ship. This guidebook is designed to function as a complete resource for new and experienced simmers alike, whether joining the Columbia crew as a fresh new Ensign, transferring in as an experienced veteran simmer and as a reminder for the rest of us. As some ships have different conventions in certain areas (usually down to CO preference), this document also serves as a comprehensive framework that can be referred to any time whether looking formatting tips, information about how we view promotions or something else.
If you have a question that isn't answered by our guidebook please do not hesitate to contact the Commanding Officer, First Officer of your mentor - we're all very friendly and happy to help.
How to sim: Simming Basics and Tips
When you came through the academy, you were given a good comprehensive course on the mechanics of simming and you honestly don't need more than that to put a sim in the right format. As you sim with us you'll continuously learn how to improve the content that sites between the symbols. The USS Columbia SIM format corresponds closely with that used in the academy and detailed in the Tutorial Library, Tutorials 1-6.
There are two notable difference and that is that the Columbia crew do not 'ALLCAP' the last name of their character when putting together tags. and use ? rather than response when leaving tags.
SWANSON: Response (Would not be the correct form)
Swanson: ? (Is the desired form)
What to sim: Finding and making the most of opportunities
Your character! We want to see your character in action and learn about them. True, our sim has much action and adventure, but like the T.V. series and books, what really drives it along is the unique and complex characters that crew the ship. We want to see yours!
Generally speaking, there's always something interesting and fun going in the Columbia. We might be doing a set mission (a task assigned to the ship by Starfleet Command), something more free-form such as dealing with a dramatic event aboard the ship, or taking some shore leave. No matter what we're doing, your character should have something to do to contribute, even if this contribution isn't at the forefront of the action. With a dozen or more players within the Columbia at any one time its impossible for everyone to be at the forefront of things all the time but everyone will have their chance.
How your character helps out will vary dependant upon the duty post your character is assigned to in the Columbia as well as the current events in the ongoing plot. This is where your creativity as a writer comes in, but if you are ever feeling lost or in doubt, ask somebody! The Commanding Officer, First Officer and your mentor are all there and will happily bounce some ideas around with you.
|Theme & Rating|
The Columbia prides itself on realistic themes, free form nature and character driven plots. On the Columbia we believe that Star Trek 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.
Need Help Getting in to the Story?
Once in a while you might find yourself wondering how to get involved in the plot, be it because you've just been particularly busy in real life, of are coming back from having taken a break to take care of real life - whatever the reason fear not - help is at hand and there are a few ways to jump right back in. Often the easiest thing to do is send an email directly to a member of the command staff to find out what your options are IC. Alternatively, if there is a superior officer in your department you could tag then and ask IC about what needs to be done. Another option is to introduce a plot twist of your own - maybe your character spots something on long-range sensors, or there's a fight in the ship lounge. (More on that below)
The command staff will always try to keep you busy but if you ever find yourself stuck, get in touch and we'll help you out!
Creativity in simming is encouraged and the general rule of thumb for plot twists is to use your common sense. If the twist you're going to put in provides you and your fellow simmers with something interesting or exciting to do then it's likely to be a worthwhile addition to the plot. However, it would be worth contacting the CO or a member of the mission staff if you think your plot twist may have a major or serious effect on how the mission would turn out. Examples of this may include (but are not limited to):-
- The addition of a brand new alien race that has not yet been involved in the mission. (Sir, Romulan Warbird decloaking!)
- Relocation of another group of simmers other than your own.
- Destruction of an important building or ship.
Small twists, such as locked doors, system malfunctions or personal injury can be used at writer's discretion.
Under normal circumstances, Shore Leave will take place at the end of each 6-8 week mission cycle and run for approximately 2 weeks. The length of Shore Leave may vary depending on general fleetwide circumstances and may be extended or curtailed in order to provide opportunities to take part in the fleet wide plot arc or do joint missions with another ship.
During Shore Leave, standard posting requirements still apply, but players have the opportunity to further develop their characters with a little more freedom. This is an ideal time for characters to make friends, pursue hobbies, personal projects or romantic relationships, interact with other members of the crew and for their writers to give us insights into their past or inner thoughts. The galaxy is your oyster!
On the Columbia the PCs are the most important characters. These are the main characters that each of sims and are the stars or primary cast of the Columbia, if we look at what we do as being like a series. This is one of the reasons why players should concentrate first and foremost on their PC. Player NPCs, or PNPCs as they're usually referred to, are additional characters we may choose to write for if we find we have extra time for writing after meeting the posting requirements for our PCs. It can be handy to have a PNPC to write for when your PC is waiting on tag responses, or to sim a different duty post or personality than you do with your PC. It can be very fun to try new things with PNPCs, but please remember they are the support cast and should never detract from, or steal the limelight from the PCs.
Some examples of characters you might make as a PNPC include:
- A boyfriend or girlfriend for your character or another PC on the ship.
- Your character's assistant or work partner.
- Your character's family member, such as a parent or child.
- A close friend.
There is no obligation to tie your PNPC to your PC. In fact, one of the good uses of PNPCs is that they allow you to play in any division you wish on the ship, or get involved in plots you would otherwise have to stay out of. With that in mind, you also might want to create a PNPC that:
- In a different department.
- Is a different species or gender to your main character.
- Really dislikes your main character! (Nothing like conflict to get the stories flowing.)
If you're intending to create a PNPC, drop the captain an email with a short bio including species and intended rank and duty post. If a department is getting flooded with too many PNPCs then you may be asked to reconsider where your PNPC will be placed. It is not the intention of the CO to deny permission for new PNPCs without due cause, but remember that your PC is the most important characters that you write for on the ship.
|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 talk to the Commanding Officer. A good rule of thumb here is sim your PC more than PNPC and we should be good!||We recommend no more than three to four PNPCs simply because you can end up stretched and unable to give them all the time and attention they deserve.|
PNPC promotions are awarded at the same time as PC promotions by command staff only. Department heads are responsible for nominating PNPCs in their department for promotion by emailing command staff, who will discuss it amongst themselves before making a decision on whether or not to add that PNPC to the promotions list. PNPC promotions are different from PC promotions in that PNPCs should be rewarded for in character actions, rather than being promoted according to the requirements on the promotion guide on the main website. All such promotions will take place during end of mission award ceremonies.
Each mission on the USS Columbia will be facilitated by a group of officers (usually including the mission author, the writers behind any of the MSNPCs involved and the command staff). Those officers will be responsible for guiding the mission towards a conclusion within the usual 6-week operating period, assisting with the incorporation of any plot twists that may have been dreamed up by participants among the crew and keeping things as exciting as possible for all involved.
If you have any ideas for a mission that you would like to run, follow the steps below:-
- Ask yourself whether or not the mission is relevant to the Sagittarius Reach. If not, could it be adapted to be relevant, or is there a good reason for the USS Columbia to be diverting away from the region it has been assigned to by Starfleet?
- What will all of the departments be doing during the mission? Preferably they should have something to do other than just their 'default' level of operation (i.e. having a security department just standing guard over a diplomatic talk is not necessarily going to provide a huge amount for those writers to do without a little further thought). If you're short of things for one of the departments to do, can another dimension be added to the mission? Or do the existing members of that department have secondary skills which they could put to good use (training as a field medic, expert in subspace warp fields etc?)
- When you're happy with your submission and you have checked the following two points, email your mission idea to the CO. Please be aware that the mission timetable may have a few missions queued ahead of your submission, so waiting a few months before it is put in to place is not a sign that you're being ignored!
When to sim: Posting Requirements and General Etiquette
The USS Columbia's posting requirements are concurrent with Fleet full time requirements - all players are required to post 3 times per week, preferably for their main character.
As a rule of thumb you should aim to allow 36-48 hours for other players to answer tags before moving on. If someone in your scene answers tags in that time then by all means feel free to move forward but please be sensitive to the needs of the slower members of the group as well. We all experience busy periods in life and can be overwhelming to come back to several pages worth of tags. At the same time, its best practice to try and answer any tags left for you within 36-48 hours. If tags are continuously left even for three days unanswered it slows down the progress of the plot and makes it difficult for other players to meet their posting requirements, particularly if they don't have a PNPC to use. (Some people prefer to focus on just one character and that is absolutely fine.)
Basically, it's all about balance - this isn't a race and while everyone does have to meet the posting requirements as laid out by the fleet (simming three times a week) the Columbia is happier to be one of the slower ships in the fleet. We would rather someone use the extra time to polish their sims, flesh out those small details that make them so special and try to make them as close to perfect as possible. 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 some of their best work isn't desirable either.
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.
If things in real life get too busy and you struggle to keep up you should definitely talk to the command staff right away, there's no sense in struggling and we can talk about the options available to make things easier for you. This might include going to part time status for a temporary period of time, although you will need two sims per week to be considered a "part time" writer.
From time to time, you may be contacted by your mentor, a member of the command staff, or another member of the crew on 'official business', or for a JP request. While you are under no obligation to write a JP with another member of the crew, please try to answer all OOC communication if possible to avoid ill feeling.
Moving up in the fleet: PC Promotions
Promotions occur at the end of missions, during Shore Leave. While mid-mission promotions may occur from time to time, such circumstances are extremely rare. All promotions will be awarded according to the Promotions Guide. Please feel free to keep an open dialogue with your mentor if you unsure what to do in order to achieve your next promotion!
In many cases, service ribbons and awards will be awarded during the same ceremony. On receiving a fleet award, you are encouraged to add the corresponding image to your wiki profile.
Mentoring and where to find help, should you need it
No one is ever alone in UFOP: Starbase 118 and as a fleet and a crew we pride ourselves in our strong sense of community and the support we give to each other. It goes without saying that the Commanding Officer and First Officer are always available to you but in addition to that every player, regardless of rank, is assigned a mentor on arrival to the USS Columbia. The responsibility of a mentor is to act as first point of contact for new players, to help them to settle in with the crew and to take an active interest in ensuring that they meet all of the requirements for 'promotion, providing support where necessary. In many cases, new arrivals may be self sufficient, in which case their mentors may be in contact on a less frequent basis.
Where Do I Look For...?
You can find information about any of the USS Columbia's current personnel through links on the following pages:-
Duty Post Information
If you need help SIMming your duty post, the SB118 wiki contains a wealth of resources including guides for each duty post. You can find more information on the forums, as well as talk to people who have been writing for the post you are serving in for a while already.
Send questions to the ship's OOC email list, in our ship's section of the forums, or in any other relevant section. You should also feel free to contact your mentor or a member of the command staff with any specific questions (see below).
The nav bar on the right hand side of this page provides information on the [[USS Columbia].
Anything to do with the science of Star Trek is most likely to be found on Memory Alpha
Who To Contact
Any specific questions that you would like to ask can be directed through one of the following channels:-