How to Play a Tactical Officer

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Written by Paul Braggins.

Welcome to “How to Play a Tactical Officer”! Tactical is a very fun department to play in, and is responsible for all manner of ship-wide positions, from Helm and Tactical Officers on the Bridge, to Torpedo Control Technicians and Shuttle Pilots.

Having played a Tactical Officer for many years, I have discovered that:

  • It is never boring.
  • You are always be in demand, and will often be called upon to work closely with other departments or the command staff.
  • A lot of Starship Captains and First Officers were Tactical Officers (Kirk, Sulu, Riker, Chakotay, etc.)
  • You are in charge of the safety of the ship when threatened by enemy vessels, stellar events, etc.
  • You get to blow stuff up a lot more than the Security department!

Common Character Positions

Helm

Helm can be one of the most fun positions to play on a Starship; namely because the Helm Officer gets to fly the starship! This is not always a simple as it sounds, especially to those unfamiliar with the idea of navigating in three dimensions. Whereas a ship on water may turn left or right, a starship has the ability to pitch ‘up’ or ‘down’ (as there is no true up or down in space, these are relative terms).

For example: Your Captain tells you “come to bearing 090, mark 000”. What does this mean? Your heading or bearing is the direction you are turning to face. In this case, 090 is a turn to right or starboard ninety degrees from the current direction of travel. Your mark number is the pitch to which you would raise or lower the bow of the ship – in this case, a mark of 000 indicates no change in pitch.

A more thorough guide on navigating in three dimensions can be found here.

Tactical

The Tactical Station is where all the shooting happens!

The Tactical Officer is responsible for updating the ship’s Alert Status, as well as the use of the ship’s offensive and defensive systems in a combat scenario. When not engaged in combat, the Tactical Station monitors long- and short-range sensors scanning for potential threats, and is responsible for launching scientific Probes.

Helpful Links

Finding Things To Do / Interacting With Others

A Tactical Officer is always occupied. Whether they are on the Bridge of the starship, piloting a Shuttle or assisting on an Away Mission, Tactical is one of the busiest departments – “I had nothing to do” isn’t an excuse!

If you do however find yourself lacking in things to post, consider the following ideas:

  • You’ve noticed the shields aren’t rising as quickly as they should, maybe you should talk to an Engineer about it?
  • You the standard Star Fleet Attack Patterns are too predictable, why not come up with your own in a Holodeck?
  • The Chief Science Officer is afraid of flying (specifically, crashing) and is due to be shuttled to a planet soon, why not cause some mischief during the flight?

Things To Know

Sometimes your ideas will fail. That brilliant maneuver you thought would throw off any pursuer could rip the ship into tiny pieces. That point-blank range shot could damage your own ship as much as your opponent. These things happen. Don’t get frustrated or annoyed; consider them in-game learning experiences and out-of-game opportunities for others to have some fun as well!

Note: If your plan works first time, the GM is probably about to ambush you…

Conclusion

As a Tactical Officer you will always be one of the first into the action (mainly because you sit at the front of the Bridge) and your shipmates will rely on you to get them out of sticky situations through stealth, cunning and guile; or massive firepower. Keep focused on the task at hand, and don’t do anything too risky, and everyone will live to tell the tale!

I recommend you check out the Tactical Command page for more detailed information.

Good luck at the Academy, welcome to the Tactical Department!