|Victory Simming Handbook|
NPC STATUS VESSEL
- 1 Introduction
- 2 The Basics of Simming
- 3 What Makes a Good Sim?
- 4 Advanced Simming
- 5 So, What do you Sim?
- 6 Theme & Rating
- 7 Need Help Getting in to the Story?
- 8 Fleet Requirements
- 9 Common Problems
- 10 Polishing your Sim
- 11 The Problem of Omniscience
- 12 Logs of All Sorts
- 13 MSNPCs
- 14 Simming an MSNPC
- 15 Ranks and Promotions
- 16 Mentor System
- 17 Mentor Coordination
- 18 Mentor's Duty
- 19 Issues with a Mentor?
- 20 Outside the Ship
Welcome to the USS Victory! It is a ship filled with many years of history, but is crewed by some of the best simmers and writers that you will find in UFOP: Starbase 118 RPG! I take great pride in my people and how amazing they are. I am glad you are aboard and want to make this manual easy and simple for you to get through.
This document contains many important tid bits of information from how we approach certain aspects of our sim and how we view promotions. If the question you have is not answered here, do not hesitate to contact your Captain, First Officer, or your mentor.
Now, on to the good stuff!
The Basics of Simming
When you came through the academy, you were given a good comprehensive course on the mechanics of simming. You honestly do not need more than that to put a sim in the right format. The part that you will be learning through the rest of your time here is how to continually improve the content you put in between those symbols!
One of the other interesting aspects is that the Victory crew do not capitalize the last name of their character when putting together tags!
Let's give you a quick run down again of the symbols that you will see here on the Victory:
|:: (Double Colon)||Encloses written description and content of a sim.|
|=/\=||Denotes commbadge in use.|
|~ (tilde)||Telepathic communication.|
|(( )) (double parathesis)||Location Header|
|oO Oo (little o, big o)||Internal Thoughts|
An Example sim would be:
Also, it is good to wait 24 to 36 hours between sims to allow people to pick up their tags before continuing forward.
If you have any other questions regarding this format, do not hesitate to contact your mentor!
What Makes a Good Sim?
When it comes to drafting a sim, sometimes we ask ourselves, "What is a good sim?". For the Victory, we consider a good sim to be at least three paragraphs of original narrative content. Meaning, we want to see at least three paragraphs of your own work to count as a sim. Does this mean at all times? No, there are times when you only can answer tags or that there isn't really that far you can go. Those these situations are uncommon, it does happen. The three paragraphs should be strived for, but there are times when it just won't work.
If you have any questions about this, your captain is more than happy to help out!
One of the things that the Victory crew likes to do and the staff like to see is that people put in detail when it comes to their tags. Instead of:
::Bob walked into the room.::
Try putting more detail in to it like:
::As Bob entered the room he looked around. The aroma of honeysuckles lingered in the air, and their was a slow song playing. Taking another step, he bent over, tilting his head to peek around the corner.::
The more ways you can think of to describe your characters senses, the better! Engage us and tell us about who your character is!
So, What do you Sim?
Your character! I know that seems to be anti-climatic and strange, but it is true. We want to see your character in action and we want to learn about them. True, our sim has much action and adventure, but 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 on on the Victory. Sometimes this is a set mission- the ship has been assigned to a task by Starfleet Command- or it's something a lot more free form, such as a dramatic event on-board the ship. In any event, your character should have something to do to contribute, even if this contribution isn't at the forefront of the action.
How, exactly, your character helps out will vary wildly based on the duty post your character is assigned to on the Victory. This is where your creativity as a writer comes in. When in doubt, ask somebody!
Theme & Rating
The Victory prides itself on its serious and realistic themes, its free form nature and its interesting character driven plots. On the Victory 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 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 ("$@#%!"), there can be shipboard romances, 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.
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 Victory fires her phasers only when she has to. It is also important to steer clear of any explicit sexual content or conversation.
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. A good rule of thumb is treat the subject the way our favorite show does.
Need Help Getting in to the Story?
Okay, this does seem to come up from time to time- how do I get involved? On the Victory, there are a few ways to jump right in. Generally the easiest thing to do is to ask the command staff OOC'ly if there's any thing you can do IC'ly to assist- they're sure to have ideas. If you have a superior above you in your department, you can always tag him/her and ask if there is anything that needs to be done. Most of the time, the Command staff will make sure you keep busy, but in some cases that may not be the fact.
Alternatively, you can introduce a twist of your own. Maybe your character spots something on long-range sensors. Maybe there's a fight in the ship's bar... who knows. The sky's the limit here.
Finally, if you're really stuck or seeking variety, you may play a PNPC. Once you're comfortable with your main character and settled in with the crew, you can create what's known as a Player NPC or PNPC. A PNPC is like a regular NPC, but only you can write for them. In some ways they're like a second character, but they're supposed to play a supporting role. A good PNPC might be:
- A boyfriend or girlfriend for your character.
- Your character's assistant or work partner.
- Your character's family member, such as a parent or child.
- A close friend.
However, there's no obligation to tie your character to your PNPC. 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.
Generally speaking, you will need one or two sims per week to be considered a "part time" writer. We here at the USS Victory prefer the latter than the former. 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 some of their best work 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 three sims a week (or 12 sims a month) to be considered active. Generally speaking, these sims should be evenly spaced out (every few days), rather than a large burst of activity at the end of the month.
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.
Not every voyage is smooth sailing, and while simming these are some of the issues you might encounter. Some of them are general, while others are very specific in nature. In any event, they should be treated with caution.
Telepathy is a very powerful sense, most commonly found in Vulcans and Betazoids (and others). As such, caution should be advised when simming telepathy.
The best way to sim telepathy is as just another passive sense. In addition to reading someone's body language, you could also sense basic emotions from them; distress, joy, sadness, pain and anger are examples of 'passive' sensing. You might be able to sense a Romulan assassin creeping up behind you, for instance, or that the Klingon warrior standing before you is just a hologram. The range of passive sensing would be, generally speaking, line of sight. This makes it a balanced, well reasoned sense.
Telepaths such as Betazoids can "talk" privately to those who can hear them. While useful, speaking telepathically to someone while others are in the room is considered very rude- it's the equivalent of pulling out your cell phone to send someone an SMS while they're standing right there, so others can't see what you're saying.
It should be noted that forcefully entering the mind of someone who does not consent to such an action (to read their memories, to alter their thought patterns or to damage their psyche) is a very serious criminal action and can be humiliating for the victim. Starfleet officers and civilians alike are expected to refrain from these actions, except where faced with no other choice.
Of course, nothing comes for free. Telepathy presents its own set of problems and issues; sometimes two people just don't get along, but will act nice to each other to preserve their feelings. How would you feel if you could tell the person you were talking to really didn't like you? Some people distrust telepaths. How will your character deal with this prejudice?
When the ship's in distress, perhaps your character is overwhelmed by the rush of fear and panic into their minds. How do they deal with that? Almost any "power" can be turned into a weakness with enough creative work.
The only hard and fast rule we have is that no character can have telekinetic powers. That is to say, no character may move physical objects with their mind. Years of experience in the simming world have taught us that such a powerful gift solves too many problems too easily, and makes a character far too powerful. This rule is fleet-wide, but we feel it necessary to reiterate it.
Polishing your Sim
When writing sims, one should be mindful of the readability of your work. Generally speaking, a properly formatted post will be clean and easy to read, with a correct use of punctuation and grammar. Occasional typos are fine, but frequently making mistakes a spell-checker would pick up can be annoying.
Generally speaking, it's a good idea to always:
- Use a spell-checker. This is the easiest and most effective way to dramatically improve the quality of your sims.
- Read your sims before posting them. If YOU wouldn't read your own work, who will?
- Use whitespace to make your posts more readable.
- Splash in actions, thoughts and the like. A good rule of thumb is, one good descriptive for every two lines of dialog for your character. It is not required, but if you use this excercise, you can increase the quality of a sim instantly. Dialog is good, but internal feelings and thoughts are better.
One should also be aware of runaway dialog. Unless your character is giving a big speech, you should keep your spoken lines fairly short, giving other players plenty of time to contribute.
The Problem of Omniscience
While we, the writers, can read any sim in the fleet (and know what's going on all over the ship) your characters do not. Part of realistically playing a character is making sure that the character only reacts to what they know. There's nothing wrong with picking up hints or clues about what's going on all over the ship, but even powerful telepaths should be mindful to keep some surprise in store for their characters.
Logs of All Sorts
Logs are an important part of our character’s lives as it gives us yet another look at how they think, act, and feel in the Star Trek universe. This also allows a different writing style and a diversion for the usual writing style of UFOP: Starbase 118 RPG.
To send a log of any sort to the official IC list, it is recommended that you make sure to include the type of log, the stardate, and in the subject line the tag [LOG]. Example: [LOG] Captain’s Log Stardate: 239202.18 The content of the log is up to the person writing it and just has to remain in the PG-13 rating as required for all writing in the fleet.
Please note, Logs DO NOT count towards your required sim total.
A Mission Specific Player Non-Playing Character, or MSPNPC, is an NPC assigned to a specific player for the duration of a mission. They are usually antagonists and are treated as a unique character just like your PC.
Any member of the crew can apply for an MSPNPC role. The call is sent out during shore leave, and you will be expected to maintain your sim rate, as well as write for the extra character. (note: The extra character does not need to be simmed the standard 3 times a week, but as needed for the plot and should be answering tags as they come out.)
Simming an MSNPC
MSPNPCs are simmed just like any PNPC. Simming an MSPNPC is a great chance to try something new or challenging with a character, since they are designed to be temporary.
It should be noted that although MSPNPCs are usually villains, writers are reminded that ALL SB118 sims must be PG-13. Scenes of extreme cruelty or sadism, even from MSPNPCs, isn't acceptable. If you want your character to commit a serious 'kick the dog' moment, it is best to 'fade to black' or employ vague or poetic wording to do so. If you're ever in doubt that a scene might not be PG-13, it probably isn't... but the PG-13 rating is a very subjective thing. As always, if you're uncertain, ask your CO.
Ranks and Promotions
Yes! The privileges of rank. Every writer in the fleet has both an IC and an OOC rank. In most circumstances, these two are the same. Where writers choose, for example, to sim an enlisted crewman rather than an officer, or to have their character decline a promotion for roleplaying reasons, their OOC rank and their IC rank may differ.
Your characters (and PNPCs) must be equal to your OOC rank or lower. You may sim an enlisted crewman of any rank. You may, temporarily, sim an NPC of any rank up to Captain (such as the Captain of a visiting vessel)- but their presence should be appropriate and their interactions brief. This is not an opportunity to order around the Lieutenant Commanders, no matter how much fun that
is could hypothetically be.
To be promoted means that both your commanding officer and the rest of the fleet (you'll be surprised who reads your sims...) have judged you worthy of being recognized for your efforts. In most cases, to meet the criteria for a promotion a minimum amount of time served is required in addition to other criteria.
When new writers come aboard any ship, including the Victory, they are given a mentor. This will generally be a staff member of rank Lieutenant or higher who guides, encourages and helps the new writer with any issues they may be facing. The Victory has a few specific officers who have signed up to mentor new Ensigns as they are placed with our crew. These officers have a history of high level simming ability and a secure grasp of how things work on the Victory and in the Fleet. Because our mentors have the responsibility of shaping some of the Fleet's future leaders, we do not take this job lightly. On the contrary, to be a mentor means both dedication to the rules and setup of the Starbase 118 Fleet as well as knowledge of writing and simming overall.
Mentors are coordinated through, and allocated by, the Command Staff of the USS Victory. As states previously, the Victory has a set group of officers who volunteer to help new members of the crew. If you think that this is a job that you might like to do, review the following requirements and send a message to the First Officer, Lt. Commander Eerie in order to apply.
- Rank of Lieutenant
- Model sim form and consistent adherence to Fleet formatting and setup
- Willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty
- The urge to help new players learn the ropes so that they might one day become a solid member of the crew
The first duty of a mentor is to contact the new member of the crew. All new ensigns receive an email from the Commanding Officer, the First Officer, and their mentor within the first 48 hours of being assigned to the crew. In this introductory email, ensigns are offered support and a place to take any questions or concerns that might arise in the first days of play.
After the new ensign has simmed once, the mentor will send an email outlining both areas where the new member has done well, as well as certain areas that might require a bit of improvement. Once again, it is important that all mentors convey that both mentors and command staff are open to questions and concerns of any kind.
Generally speaking, the feedback that an ensign can expect to get from their mentor will include suggestions and encouragement and in all other ways assistance to the new writer to help them integrate into the crew. They generally provide an IC and OOC anchor for the new character, although if they are busy IC'ly they may send along a PNPC or NPC.
New simmers are a precious resource and are afforded every opportunity to ask questions, interact IC'ly and OOC'ly with the crew, and in all other ways have a great time.
Issues with a Mentor?
We would hope that this would never happen, but nobody's perfect. If you don't like your mentor, or your mentor isn't responding to your questions in a timely and accurate manner, simply ask your Commanding Officer to have them replaced. A good working relationship is important, so we want to pair you up with someone you can get along with.
Outside the Ship
Outside of simming, there are a huge number of resources for you to let out your creative energies. Involvement in any of the OOC activities is strictly optional below the rank of Lieutenant Commander, but in order to progress up the ranks a certain level of involvement is expected.
Fleet OOC Opportunities
At the time of writing, there are a vast number of fleet-wide OOC activities you can become involved in!
- Meeting others playing your duty post around the fleet, and learning more about how to play that post better;
- Nominating well written sims by either yourself or your crew for the Top Sim contest;
- Writing articles for the Community News (head to the team Google Group and request membership);
- Joining the Publicity team!
- ... and much more!
Extra Writing Avenues
The community hosts a Writing Challenge competition, which is run every two months. The winner from the last round picks the topic for the next round.
There are also two areas on the forums where you can write freely, outside the ship: