Alt.Starfleet.RPG Command Player's Guide
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WRITING GROUPS: Star Fleet: PRIME (SD- 2427) | Star Fleet: ORIGINS (SD- 2261)- DEFUNCT | Star Fleet: BEYOND (SD- 2771)- DEFUNCT
- 1 PART 1- INTRODUCTION
- 2 PART 2- DESCRIPTION AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF COMMAND BILLETS
- 3 PART 3- REPORTS
- 4 PART 4- THE ROUND TABLE
- 5 PART 5- RECRUITING PLAYERS
- 6 PART 6- NOTES ON PLOT DEVELOPMENT
- 7 PART 7- FINAL THOUGHTS
- 8 CREDITS
- 9 VERSION HISTORY:
PART 1- INTRODUCTION
This guide is for new command players in ASR.
Your Fleet CO will fill you in one how things are run in your particular Fleet but real life often means not all of the information comes across in one neat package.
This is just a general guide. Talking with your Fleet CO is the best way to head off any confusion and get things done right.
Full regs and information can be found on the ASR Bureau of Information website.
Welcome to command!
PART 2- DESCRIPTION AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF COMMAND BILLETS
Command means making the unit work.
Everyone has a different idea of what that means and that is what gives the different units their distinctive flavour and flair. Still, the main thing to keep in mind is that the success of your ship lies with you.
A few general rules to keep in mind about command:
- No player in ASR may command more than one unit at a time. It takes time and patience to do it well and we want to make sure each captain has plenty of both.
- Also, though NOT a hard-and-fast rule.. it is strongly suggested that other command billets are also limited and definitely not in the same Fleet.
The prevailing idea here is that no one player should leave too big a hole if they have to leave.
Commanding Officer (CO)
Normal Rank: LCDR (O-4) to CAPT (O-6)
The CO of a large vessel (heavy cruiser or larger) is traditionally a captain (CAPT, O-6); the CO of a light cruiser is normally a commander (CDR, O-5). Commanding officers of destroyers and smaller ships are usually lieutenant commanders (LCDR, O-4).
A Commanding Officer is the lynchpin for the performance of the unit. This includes both the supervision of role players and the development of the story.
As such, the CO is charged with the following responsibilities:
- maintaining the ship's posting rate
- contacting crew members that have not contributed recently
- managing inactive crew
- requesting or recruiting players to fill vacancies
- developing the mission story lines (in conjunction with the Fleet CO)
- maintaining the unit roster and player character biofiles
- developing/maintaining a ship web page
- liaising with the Fleet Commander and Flag Council
Most Fleet Commanders require the CO to mail them a roster, status/story update, and vacancy list at least monthly (See Part 3- Reports), and the commanding officer is also expected to represent his or her unit at the bi-annual ASR Round Table (See Part 4- Round Table).
The commanding officer can pass the actual work on to others, but CANNOT delegate the final responsibility for the unit's performance. The CO is still the one that must see the work is done.
Executive/First Officer (XO/FO)
Normal Rank: LT (O-3) to CDR (O-5)
The next senior officer under the captain, the XO deals with personnel, routine, and discipline of the ship. All department heads report to the XO.
In case of the absence, disability, or death of the captain, the executive officer assumes command.
The executive officer helps the CO administer the unit. This could mean keeping of the roster and bios up to date or helping with reports. The main job, however, is to keep the plot and sub-posts flowing. Any other division of duties is generally worked out upon acceptance of the billet. If there are too many duties being delgated to the XO, he/she should discuss this with the CO at his/her earliest convenience so that problems do not arise as a result.
If no compromise can be reached, then write to the Fleet Commander. They can be reached on cinc<name of your fleet>@alt-starfleet-rpg.org i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org
If the XO can not contact their commanding officer, the XO is responsible for carrying out the CO's duties until the commanding officer returns or is replaced by the Fleet Commander. He should also immediately contact the Task Force CO or Fleet CO if this situation lasts more than a couple of days.
Other Command Billets
Some fleets use a third command billet, often the Operations Manager, since he/she directly supervises several departments in the ship chain of command AND ASR does not appoint brand-new players to OPS.
However, this is not written in stone. Other units have had the Tactical Officer function as Second Officer, and some research-and-development units have even had the Chief Engineer function as 2O. Usually, the 2O billet is manned by the next-most experienced player after the CO and XO. Whoever is posted as second officer is, in the end, up to the Captain and Fleet CO. They will work out what suits them best.
In rare cases, a Third Officer is named as well, though this usually only happens with large-unit commands (such as a battlecrusier with several NPC escorts) or station commands. This third officer is sometimes given a new billet, that of CIC (Combat Information Center Manager) or SOO (Strategic Operations Officer), or just attached to an existing billet like Tactical.
PART 3- REPORTS
What is the Flag Council and what does it do?
Flag Council is made up of the senior officers of ASR. Their job is to make sure things run smoothly and to offer help to Captains and command staff. Most are, or have been, Captains themselves and can offer practical advice on most situations.
Normally your main contact with the Council, is with your Fleet COmmander. If they can't help, they take it to the Council and the matter is hashed out.
Other Council Members are:
- COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, STAR FLEET (CINCSF): email@example.com- the big boss and final port of call for disputes.
- CHIEF OF STAR FLEET OPERATIONS (CSFO): firstname.lastname@example.org- The person in charge of assigning players and the direct supervisor of the Fleet
- COMMANDER, STAR FLEET LOGISTICS (COMLOG): email@example.com- The person in charge of supervising and maintaining the Branches of ASR.
- COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, [FLEET COLOR]: The people who run the four fleets of ASR: GOLD, GREEN, BLUE and SILVER.
Other important people to know are on http://alt-starfleet-rpg.org/admin.htm
If you need to know who to talk about on any given issue, their names and emails addresses can be found there.
What are the reports for?
ASR tries to keep reporting down to a minimum, after all, we are here for fun not paperwork. But with any large group, you need to get things sorted.
The reports a commanding officer will need to do at some point during his or her tenure are a Vacancy/Activity Report or VAR, Promotion Requests, Story Plot Updates and Award Recommendations.
Vacancy/Activity Report (VAR)
The purpose of a VAR is to give the fleet commander an idea as to a unit's current vacancies, its posting activity, and its mission status over a fixed period of time, usually once per month or so. This allows the fleet commander to help the unit fill open billets (especially command slots), motivate inactive players, and give suggestions to keep the plot moving.
The contents of the VAR should be as follows:
- Part 1- Unit Roster (along with other personnel issues)
- Part 2- Activity Report- a rundown of who has posted and who hasn't for the month. Usually, going through the unit's post archive will yield this information fairly quickly.
- Part 3- Mission Status Update- this is not a mission summary from beginning to end, but rather an update over what has transpired over the past month and what is left to complete.
Captains have the right to promote characters in his or her units up to two grades below his or her own.
Usually, a report listing promotions are turned in after a mission is completed, about every 6 months to a year, though some units cyle through faster and others slower. Work out the best timing for the unit with your fleet commander.
Promotion above two grades lower than the commanding officer (general rule of thumb is LCDR or higher must have approval) must be approved by the fleet commander. This is considered a command rank and therefore subject to Fleet CO approval.
Please keep in mind the difference between PLAYER and CHARACTER here: promotions are for the characters, not the players. Though it is common practice to promote the characters of players who have 'done well' (posted often, moved the plot, etc.), this is because such a player has made his or her CHARACTER central to the story; there must be some sort of role-play justification for recommending a promotion for a character, something beyond 'the player has played well.'
Story Plot Updates
This is not so much a 'report' as it is just a general guide for the Fleet CO, as missions do tend to get off track. Reporting where you want to go with your unit allows the Fleet Commander to keep in touch and warn you if it is likley to interfere with any "no go" areas.
Different commanders will have their own ideas about no go areas, but basically, such 'off-limits' things would be anything that will effect cannon Star Trek, i.e blowing up Earth or Vulcan, interfere with other ships, i.e blowing up the main base, or fall outside the realm of 'Trek' i.e. magic pixies is considered 'no go.' There are exceptions to these, of course, but such exceptions are the discretion of the Fleet CO, who is tasked with maintaining the fleet's story arc.
Such an update should be filed regularly, and can even be incorporated in the VAR if the unit posts quickly enough to warrant a monthly update.
This report has a couple of variations:
RT Awards and Fleet Awards
Some fleets have their own internal awards, but all CO's and XO's have the Round Table Awards. As Captain or XO, it is your privilege and responsibility to recommend your players for those awards. They are in the categories of:
- Outstanding Player
- Outstanding Command Player
- Outstanding Unit
- Most Improved Unit
Now the final decision takes place at a higher level, but stating one's case for anyone deserving these awards in one's unit is always a good idea, even if the recommendation is for yourself.
Keep in mind that, unlike promotions, these awards are for the PLAYERS, not the characters. No role-play justifications need to be made to receive these awards, but rather some notation as to the player's posting frequency, the player's attitude, his/her ability to move the polot forward, etc. are commonplace for justifying the receipt of an RT or Fleet Award.
Note that both the CO and XO may make such recommendations.
These recommendations should be forwarded the month BEFORE the Round table convenes; this means RT Award Recommendations should be presented to the Fleet CO's sometime in March for the April RT or September for the October RT.
Sometimes, upon the completion of a mission or other convenient time, a CO may wish to have his characters awarded awards for heroism, being wounded in combat, etc. Such awards are available, and must be approved by the Fleet CO. Submitting a list of characters to receive such awards, as well as the ROLE-PLAY justification for receiving the awards, should therefore be passed along to the Fleet CO when appropriate.
Just like promotions, these are CHARACTER awards, and **not** PLAYER awards like the RT Awards. Therefore, they will be considered on the merit of whether the CHARACTER's actions merit the award, not the player's. Make sure the award recommended is therefore appropriate to the character's behavior and actions.
A description and physical representation of these awards can be found here.
Format of Reports
Each Fleet does things slightly differently, and may ask for other reports as well.
When in doubt, ask.
PART 4- THE ROUND TABLE
The Round Table allows Command and Admin characters to get together, appoint administrators, and ensure the smooth running of ASR as a whole.
What is a Round Table?
There is a great deal about the Round Table in the Star Fleet Records branch site.
Why do I have to go?
Sometimes admin duties can seem to drag, but they are well worth it. Getting together with other command staff allows each person to get an overall view of ASR. That can be difficult to gather on your own.
As a command member of your unit, it is vitally important that your crew gets their say in important matters.
Can I send someone else?
Normally the CO of each unit attends the RT, but in some cases, they are unable to, or are already there in some other role. Then the XO must step in as the unit's voice. if the XO cannot step in, then the next most senior player is usually tapped to sit for the unit.
Why are there so many stuffy rules?
The procedures are a bit complex, but whenever you have a large group of people offering opinions, problems occur. Experience has shown that keeping to a standard during Round Tables allows a lot more to get done, and a lot more cleanly than if the procedures are not used.
PART 5- RECRUITING PLAYERS
Recruiting players is one of the command team's most important responsibilities; without enough players, the unit falls behind and could eventually close.
Details of how to recruit may vary a little from fleet to fleet; so ask your Fleet Commander for help. they might know of someone to help you fill the billet, as well as the process to follow.
If a vacancy occurs in any unit in ASR, the CO has two options of filling it, depending on what it is:
- Request a new player (via the TFC or FC in charge of the unit), provided the vacancy is not for a command-level billet. This can be done by either asking for a specific player currently in training, or just announcing the position as vacant.
- The other option is to ask a veteran player to join the ship.
Formal guidelines are on the website here.
New Players Into the Game
If you see a new player you like, you may NOT email them direct.
Let your Fleet Commander know you are interested, and he/she will pass it on to the CSFO. Remember, it is the player's right to go where he/she wants to go. You can only ask.
Units desperate for players, and requested billets will be offered to the players as possible options, but the player's wishes ALWAYS come first.
If you know a current player you would like to recruit, ask yourself:
- how many characters do they already have?
- do their posts show they are already having problems with keeping up?
- do they already have command characters (if you are looking at filling a command slot)
Asking the player's current Captain is a good way to find out about any potential problems.
Ask the player if they are interested...BUT make it clear nothing is in writing, that this is only testing the water. There are a lot more steps and any one of them could mean they don't get the spot.
Regardless, in such cases, the recruited player needs to create a second character to join you. The exceptions to this are:
- If the player leaves to take up a command position (see below).
- If the player wants to leave the unit in any case due to not enjoying play there, and an offer happened to be extended to him or her before the transfer process was initiated.
The next step is to ask all the COs and FCs of the player in question whether they authorize the creation of an additional character. Once all these permissions have been obtained, an official offer may be extended to the player, who can then start creating a PC for the spot.
Any player creating a second character should follow the Second Character FAQ.
Reasons for Denying Authorization
It is up to the player how many characters they want, but we are all guilty of ego when someone specifically asks to join them. A CO will need to look at the player in question and think if the person really can handle it, taking his or her current posting into account. Using common sense and talking it out helps a greatdeal; most people are reasonable about such matters if approached with the player's best interests in mind.
Appealing Against a Decision
The player has the right to ask why you said no, and appeal if they think you are wrong. They can appeal up to, first the FC level, then to the CINCSF if they still think the decision is wrong. However, this right of appeal should never take the place of talking it out BEFORE the decision is made.
Formal guidelines for these appeals are available here.
Recruiting Command Players
Operations, XO, and CO are all vital to the success of a unit; it is imperative that such players act as a team, working together to produce an enjoyable environment for all players under their command. Because of the need to work closely together, a Commanding Officer generally recruits his/her own command team, and submits his/her choices for approval by the Fleet CO. Because of the importance of command players, they must be approved by the Fleet CO before any formal offers are made...but it is, in the end, the Commanding Officer's decision as to who to recruit for a command billet.
Players called into a CO position have the right to transfer a current character rather than make up a sceond character. They can, however, hold only one CO post (and although it's not compulsory, it is recommended that players limit XO and OPS characters to one as well.)
The group as a whole can not afford to have one player taking up too many key slots. If they leave, the effects can be devestating.
So what makes a good command player?
- the ability to maintain appropriate posting speed,frequency, and quality.
- a focus on the good of the game
Therefore, BEFORE contacting the player, ask their current CO if they think the player has those qualities they need. They can give advice, but not stop the player from going.
Then contact the player, but make it clear that no formal offeris being made at this time; it's up to the Fleet Commander to approve the player before any formal offers are made. Once that happens, the CO can make the offer, but not before.
PART 6- NOTES ON PLOT DEVELOPMENT
Plots should be is stimulating, exciting, and offer something for everyone in the crew. This isn't easy. Taking what the players want into account is one way to help do this. Ask:
- Are the players likely to want fighting and big space battles, or are they more into the more traditional explorative missions?
- Are they are more scientifically or diplomatically oriented?
A simple poll of the crew would yield the needed answers to these questions.
That said, what makes for a good mission cannot be accurately or appropriately discussed here, for it is subjective. Much of it depends on the Commanding Officer's style, but much depends on the crew's preferences as well- this is why recruiting is very important, as having a crew that responds well to the CO's style is often paramount to its success.
Some units thrive on fleshing out intricately-conceived and developed plots which are largely written behind the scenes; these missions often require a lot of NRPG notes between command players and the crew in order to coordinate action, set posting boundaries, etc. Some units, on the other hand, achieve great results by creating looser plot frameworks, leaving much of the significant details of the story undeveloped behind the scenes, depending instead on the individual creativity and inspiration of the players to fill in the necessary gaps; these missions often demand higher posting rates on the part of the command team to keep the unplanned-for twists in the plot in line with the established framework. What usually ends up working best is some sort of compromise between the two schools of thought; regardless, as a command player, having a feel for not only your crew's desires but their style and under what situations they tend to thrive would serve you well. In the end, whatever way seems to promote the most fun and enjoyment amongst your crew is the best way.
PART 7- FINAL THOUGHTS
The ultimate aim of ASR- and, thereby by extension, of you as a command player- is to provide an environment which is fun. That small, three-letter word- FUN- is our be-all, end-all. If a player is not having fun, they don't last: sometimes they leave angry, sometimes they leave quietly, often they simply stop writing. Keeping this idea- providing an enjoyable environment for ALL those under your command- at the forefront of your mind when administering to your unit is the single best thing you can do. Let that mantra govern your actions, whatever they may be.
Also remember that this is a hobby, despite the military-style structure. Work with your command team, players and FC to offer the most fun for all.
This manual was compiled by Scott Lusby and Karen Fainges; any part not otherwise credited was written by Scott Lusby.
Most of Part 2, "Description and Responsibilities of Command Billets," was taken from the "Command Billet Descriptions" document written by Jeffrey Jenkins and Jeff Finocchiaro. It was edited for this document by Scott Lusby and Karen Fainges.
Much of Part 3, "Recruiting Players," was taken from the "ASR Recruiting Guidelines" document originally written by Andrea Schalk. It was edited for this document by Scott Lusby and Karen Fainges.
- 1.1- Minor editing to reflect the closing of ALB (SD 190422)
- 1.0- First live version by Scott Lusby and Karen Fainges (SD 170815)