ASR Manual Chapter 4: Character Creation

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Introduction

NOTE- Much of this document makes up the very first section of the QuickStart Guide.

This chapter is intended to familiarize new players with certain aspects of ASR and to provide a reference for current players. Everyone in ASR begins their career as an ensign in the Star Fleet Navy or second lieutenant in the Star Fleet Marine Corps regardless of experience in other role playing games. Most characters will have attended Star Fleet Academy, so we begin with a description of life at that institution. The end of the next section also explains alternate routes to commission as an officer, but these are not recommended for first characters.


An Explanation of Star Fleet Academy

Star Fleet Academy provides a common point of reference and experience for nearly all of the serving officers in the Star Fleet Navy and Marine Corps. Its rigorous academic standards; moral, mental, and physical training; and professional development are intended to lay the ground for a career as an officer in the military forces of the United Federation of Planets. NOTE: Because of the professional development program, it is not possible to graduate from Star Fleet Academy in less than 4 years. The Academy is, fundamentally, still an undergraduate college. Those with advanced degrees have either received additional training after the Academy or have pursued and alternate route to a Star Fleet commission.

When one has reached the age of maturity and has completed the pre-requisite coursework in mathematics, science, and the humanities, he or she may apply seek appointment to Star Fleet Academy. The minimum age for humans is 16 years. Appointments to the Academy may be granted by Star Fleet officers at the rank of Captain (O-6) or higher. Appointments may also be made by high ranking planetary officials, ambassadors, and Federation Council members. After a candidate is sponsored, he or she is then eligible to take the Star Fleet Academy admissions examination. Given annually, this challenging, competitive exam screens out all but the top candidates. This highly competitive process takes tens of thousands of applicants for the 2,500 appointments and selects 400 beings who are offered admission. Acceptance rates for admissions offers are normally around 85 percent, giving an average orientation class size of 340. This corresponds to the Academy enrolling less than 1 percent of those who seek appointments.

On the first day of orientation at the Academy, Induction Day, the new class is sworn in to the Corps of Cadets. The first summer at Star Fleet Academy, known as Plebe Summer, is a grueling regiment of physical and mental conditioning meant to push the new cadets to their limits. A day during plebe summer begins at 0515 with fall out for reveille at 0530 and formation for physical education at 0540. Physical education lasts from 0600 to 0700. Plebes then clean up and prepare for the day by memorizing the day's schedule, menu, selected current events, and basic military information. Morning formation for breakfast is at 0745. The first training evolution of the day begins at 0845 and cadets attend various evolutions until 1145. Squad leaders require the plebes to recite the requisite day's memorization on demand until Noon meal formation at 1210. After lunch, afternoon training evolutions begin again at 1300. At 1600, athletic practice sessions begin. Evening meal formation is at 1800. Evening training evolutions begin at 1900. The plebes are allowed personal time from 2110 until 2145. Counseling time lasts from 2145 until TAPS (lights out) at 2200.

During the plebe summer, cadets receive instruction in military drill, marksmanship, and character development. Because of the careful screening process, most cadets complete the summer. However, around 10 percent request to drop from the program, leaving an average class size of approximately 300 beings.

At the end of the first year, each cadet selects an academic major in the College of Arts and Sciences or the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The academic majors provide a foundation for the intellectual development of the cadet and encompass a wide range of fields. Regardless of academic major, there are numerous core courses that must be taken in the sciences, mathematics, government, leadership, Federation history, military history, and military science. Cadets also select a professional major. Professional majors for Navy-option cadets are engineering, navigation, tactical operations, computer operations, sensor operations, communications, and sciences. Professional majors for Marine-option cadets include infantry, armor, artillery, logistics, engineering, communications-information systems, financial management, and military police. Air-space choices including pilot, flight officer, air command and control, anti-air-space warfare, air-space maintenance, and air-space supply also exist for both options. (Note: pilot training is completed after graduation from the academy.)

As a cadet progresses through his or her 4 years at the Academy, he or she may be placed in a position of authority over other cadets. Each year, a first-classman (4th-year cadet) is named cadet-commander, and is the highest ranking cadet at the Academy. The other cadet officers report to him and are responsible for supervising the plebes and other underclassmen.

At the end of the four years are over, the cadets graduate and are commissioned into Star Fleet at the rank of ensign (ENS), for Naval option cadets, or second lieutenant (2LT), for Marine-option cadets.

Some officers elect to pursue graduate training to earn advanced degrees. Medical degrees require an additional four years of instruction and 2-4 years of residency. Ensigns may apply to the Star Fleet Medical Academy or other accredited medical institutions. Counselors require advanced study in psychology and must attend additional training at Star Fleet Medical Academy or an appropriate institution for approximately 2 years. A law degree requires three years beyond the four spent at the Academy. Those completing or working on law degrees are assigned to the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps and are not assigned to individual starships. Master's degrees in various fields can take anywhere from one to three years to earn. Doctoral programs typically last between four and eight years.


Alternative Routes to a Star Fleet Commission

While attending the Academy is, by far, the most common route to becoming a Star Fleet officer, there are three alternate route to a commission as a Star Fleet officer. One is to enroll in SFROTC (Star Fleet Reserved Officer Training Corps). Students at colleges and universities throughout the Federation can take core courses at their schools, spend summers in Academy training programs (including cadet cruises on starships), and, upon graduation, also be commissioned at the rank of ensign/second lieutenant.

The second alternate route to a Star Fleet officer's commission is is OCS (Officer Candidate School). OCS is a special, intensive twelve week course that allows those who have already completed their baccalaureate or higher degree to become Star Fleet officers. The course covers engineering, military indoctrination, military history, navigation, damage control, leadership, personnel administration, military law, professional development, Federation history, physical fitness, and military training. The minimum age for a human candidate to enter OCS is 20 years of age, though many are older as they have completed at least their basic college degree. This age will, of course, vary with race, but should indicate an equivalent level of education and development to that given for humans. Many Star Fleet personnel that went through OCS are counselors and doctors. However, it is possible characters that enter Star Fleet via OCS to be commissioned into unrestricted line billets such as navigation, engineering, the various operations billets, etc. Line officers are eligible for command billets.

One exceptionally rare option for receiving a commission is a direct commission from the enlisted ranks. These "mustang" officers seldom reach ranks above lieutenant commander (O-4) and are almost universally restricted-line officers. If you ever want a particular character to be eligible for a command billet, do not have him be directly commissioned!

Details on the basic rules of the game, can be found in ASR Manual Chapter 5: Interaction.

Character Creation

Most officers entering service have attended Star Fleet Academy for four years. A few have also graduated from SFROTC or OCS. Nearly all will be Star Fleet Navy option; however, it is also possibile to have a character who is in the Star Fleet Marine Corps. If you are interested in such an option, please ask the Personnel Officer for more information.

Players and Characters

In simple terms, a "player" is a real-life person involved in the game (Alt.StarFleet.RPG). A "character" is someone living in the fantasy world of the ASR universe.

Players know that ASR is a game based on writing to and interacting with other players through game characters in a common place in a common fantsy world. The player often has knowledge that the character does not. In other words, if someone writes about what their character is thinking, but does not say it to another player's character, then there is no way for the character to know about it. However, the other player does read what is being thought by another player's character and this helps that player gain a clearer picture of the thought processes of the character and helps make for richer interactions. A player must always be cautious to make sure that their character is acting on information that the character knows, not extra information that the player knows.

To facilitate interaction and to distinguish clearly between characters and players, you cannot use your real name for your character. The minimum age for a human character is twenty years. Alien characters may have different ages, but must also be adults be the standards of their society. There should be a clear distinction between the player and the character. Your character may share some of your personality traits, your hobbies, your likes and dislikes, but your character should be more than just a projection of your own personality.

In order to describe your character, you need to create a biographical record ("bio" for short). A bio provides information about your character. Your character's bio tells other people what you think your character is like, and it is a record of your career in Star Fleet. When your character joins a ship, your bio is the first thing the crew will want to see. It's a resume and a character sheet all wrapped up in one. Keep your bio handy and update it periodically.

Biography Files

The bio file is essentially a summary of your character's physical traits, educational experiences, service history, and personal chronology. ASR's personnel officer will help you with write the bio and will also 'red-flag' any problems that may be present. Bios must contain the following information at a minimum.

  • player name (your name)
  • player's e-mail address (your e-mail address)
  • character name
  • physical description
  • age (as mentioned above,
  • education (especially Star Fleet Academy)
  • professional qualifications
  • species
  • home planet
  • current assignment
  • current position

Just that would make for a pretty boring bio, however.

Some additional information might include:

  • Family: parents, siblings, spouse, children
  • Background: place of birth, beliefs, tradition, service number
  • Character traits/personality: quirks, ambitions, annoyances, psych profile

Also, you should indicate any limitations on your character about which other writers should know. You can also indicate information that the player should know but that characters would not know by adding a non-role play game (NRPG) section to your bio.

There are other things that need to be considered when creating a bio. Certain characters, certain races (such as Q), and certain powers are simply not allowed. Disruptive characters are not allowed in ASR and will not be assigned to ships. Disruptive characters include those characters with active connections to the Mafia, underworld, and/or rival intelligence communities (members of the Romulan or Cardassian secret services, for example); extraordinary psionic capability; 'hard' immortality (Q-like beings), felony criminal records, training as an assassin, etc. These types of characters are generally not conducive to good role playing.

Other characteristics (called 'red flags') will be examined closely by the Personnel Officer, and may or may not be approved. Red flags include enlisted service experience (mustang or fleet appointments), special operations training, marine/naval commensurate commissions, non-felony criminal records, conscientious objection, unusual age, awards/medals/decorations obtained at Star Fleet Academy, unexplained leaves of absence, obscure racial origins, 'soft' immortality, extensive psychological problems, and other such exceptional characteristics. Characters like these need to be handled responsibly and with maturity. Anything that confers status and/or advantage over others is subject to a certain scrutiny.

The above restrictions may seem limiting, but there is good reasoning behind them. Your character is a commissioned officer of Star Fleet and, therefore, must have some characteristics reflecting that fact. Star Fleet Academy would not, for instance, admit any criminals; neither would it tolerate "troublemakers" and those with murky backgrounds.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the character should be believable. This means that he or she should *not* necessarily be "the best ever" at anything (the chances of this are extremely small). On the other hand, complete incompetence is also unrealistic and, therefore, unacceptable. Please remember at all times that you are playing with other people; if they can't take your character seriously, they will probably disregard the bio at best.

If you are not sure about whether your character is acceptable or not, ask the Chief of Star Fleet Operations for guidance.

A good suggestion, if you are having difficulties, is to look at other bios. They can be found at the web pages of many ships.

Some players like to include a set of RP notes to describe how the character might behave. This gives you a chance to almost provide an instruction book to your character. It doesn't have to be really specific (and many players don't even create one), but it does help those who are unfamiliar with your specific character role-play them more realistically.

NOTE: The bio file that you submit to the Chief of Star Fleet Operations approves is a basic bio file that you should continue to work on and develop when you report to your fleet commander for assignment. Your bio file is not complete until it has been read and approved by the fleet commander to whose fleet you are assigned.

Starbase ALPHA

Starbase ALPHA is the command starbase of ASR. It is a large facility that houses over 500,000 people, both military and civilian. Starbase ALPHA is also where the CINCSF (Commander in Chief Star Fleet), CSFO, and COMLOG (Commander, Star Fleet Logistics) maintain administrative offices.

The CSFO is responsible for placing characters (and thus players) in the fleets, depending on the vacancies available as well as requests made by the player in question. Since the ultimate goal of ASR is to have members who are content, she will do her best to match your wishes.

Be aware, however, that your favourite ship or station may not have a vacancy when you join ASR, and that not every position is available at every time. Unsurprisingly, they differ vastly in popularity

(Counsellor and marine commanding officer are usually least popular. Tactical officer, security officer, and engineering officer are usually the most requested. It is not uncommon for there to be no tactical of security billets open ASR-wide, while at the same time there are five or six openings for another position. This is why we ask you to list three positions you would be prepared to accept.

Once you have submitted your bio to the CSFO, you should also send the following to the CSFO at the above address:

  • your requests as far as billeting goes (name three positions, as well as a description of the kind of ship/fleet you would enjoy)
  • any of your posts as a sample of your writing

All these serve to give the CSFO an idea of where you would fit best, given the available vacancies. In return, the CSFO will answer whatever questions you have, comment on your bio to help you tighten up areas which may need that and embellish on others, and finally supply your character with orders to report to one of the Fleet or Task Force Commanders, and tell you in NRPG who to contact next and how to go about that.

If by that time, it is clear which ship you will join in which capacity, the CSFO will tell you that as well - but sometimes, a fleet may have more than just one suitable open billet.


Being Assigned to a Unit

After the CSFO locates a fleet with an appropriate vacancy or vacancies, you will be directed to report to the office of the fleet commander for final assignment and billeting. Report to the fleet commander as instructed by the CSFO and send them the same materials that were sent to the CSFO:

  • your PC's bio
  • your requests as far as billeting goes (name three positions, as well as a description of the kind of ship/fleet you would enjoy)
  • any of your posts as a sample of your writing.

The fleet commander will take all available information into account and provide a final duty assignment for your character.


Creating a Second Character

'Second character' is the term used in alt.starfleet.rpg for any additional player characters (not non-player characters) beyond the first.

It is recommended that any new player take at least 6-8 weeks to settle into regular role-play in ASR before considering the creation of another character. Answers to frequently asked questions about creating a second character are included in ASR Player's Manual Appendix A: Second Character FAQ.

Fleet and unit commanders are also referred to ASR Player's Manual Appendix B: Recruitment Guidelines for details on the rules regarding the recruitment of players to create second characters.