How to Play an Engineering Officer
- Written by Julia Nielson.
Welcome to How to Play an Engineering Officer. Engineering is an important role aboard all starships, and I think you'll find you have a lot of fun walking in the footsteps of Montgomery Scott, Geordi La Forge, Miles O'Brien, B'Elanna Torres, and Trip Tucker.
Things I've discovered while playing an engineer:
- You will never be bored.
- You will always be in demand and will get to interact with all ship's departments.
- You will get to play with all the ship's systems, testing them to the extremes of their capabilities, and sometimes beyond.
- People rely on you to make things work, sometimes because their lives and yours are dependent upon your skill, insight and perseverance.
- A lot of good Captains and First Officers were originally engineers. If you know what your ship can do in battle, you are a long way towards achieving victory.
- You get to develop the next generation of technology used by the Fleet.
I think the most daunting thing about becoming an engineer is the feeling that you should know all the technology you see on the show. Trust me, you don't.
The great thing about FedSpace is it allows you to use your creativity to tell the story. Sure, you can look through our engineering section or research the tech that the GM has mentioned, but as long as you sound confident in your response, you don't need to know a lick of Trek tech. Note that the more descriptive you are, the better impression your crewmates and the GM will have of what it is you're trying to do, the easier it will be for them to follow along. Also, stay consistent in what you're talking about. Don't mention the warp core is on deck 1 when it's actually on decks 14 and 15.
Also, When in doubt: techno-babble.
That said, a little knowledge does go a long way. I encourage you to take some time to get to know the major system you'll run into on a starship. Not only will it help you visualize what you're working with, if the GM mentions any of these items you'll know what they're talking about.
There's lots of other resources both online and in print to help you learn your way around Trek tech, but I definitely recommend starting with our Corps of Engineers section.
If you're really in doubt about some technology the GM has mentioned, ask them! Could be they were techo-babbling as well.
Key takeaway: As long as you sound like you know what you're doing, you're doing it right.
As mentioned above, it's always good to familiarize yourself with the key systems aboard a starship. You'll find these get referenced the most (and are usually the things that break).
- Antimatter Containment
- Deflector shield
- Distress beacon / distress call
- Impulse Engines
- Isolinear Optical Chip
- Life support
- Phaser bank
- Universal Translator
Key takeaway: These are the systems the GM will most likely break.
Finding things to do
As an engineer you'll always find things to do, so you'll never get away with the excuse "I didn't know what to post!"
If you're in a fight, things will break. If you're on a diplomatic mission, things will break. If you're exploring a new region of space, things will break. Go fix them!
Systems need regular maintenance so that they won't break. Go maintain them!
Technology is constantly evolving and changing, invent something new!
There's an away team going down to the planet. Better go with them to investigate that alien tech!
Your ship's at high warp for several days and you're twiddling your thumbs. Why not cause some mischief and make your crewmates sonic showers dispense blue dye?
There are myriad subplots you can create surrounding engineering and technology, so see what you can cook up new. Interacting with both your crewmates and the technology are a great way to feed off each other's creativity. If you're really stuck on what to do during a mission, talk to your DH, FO, or CO and see if they can break something for you (or help you out create an appropriate subplot that ties to the mission as a whole).
Keep in mind that when repairing something that the GM or someone else broke, always ask for GM input. Whether or not you can fix it right away could affect the overall mission. If the point of the mission is to strand your ship, it wouldn't do for you to be able to fix the warp core right on the first try. So always ask for GM input.
Key takeaway: GMs like to break your ship. You get to fix it.
Interaction with Other Players
Being an engineer doesn't mean you'll be confined to Main Engineering. Interacting with other players is a key part of being a member of Fedspace. Working with your crewmates will give you the chance to develop your character further through interactions with others, plus posting with someone else will allow you to draw from each other's creativity.
If your ship was damaged, you may need to work with medical teams to help injured parties. You could be conducting an investigation with security. Or you could be beaming down to a planet with a science officer to research some fancy alien technology. Your commanding officer may have to bail you out of that Risan jail (erm… I mean…).
You'll find we're a friendly bunch here on Fedspace. Get to know other players, let your character make friendships or hateships with other characters.
Key takeaway: Your crewmates will break things. You get to fix them!
Don't get frustrated
Sometimes what you suggestion as a solution won't work. Don't get frustrated. If you could solve the problem on the first try the mission would be over pretty quickly and likely be pretty boring. See this as an opportunity for development of your character and try something else.
Key takeaway: if you solve the problem on the first try, the GM probably has something bigger up their sleeve.
As an Engineer, people will rely on you to help them and to provide them with the systems necessary to do their job. You will make an important contribution to the success of your missions.
If you'd like to learn more about engineering and starship systems, I recommend visiting the Corps of Engineers page.
Good luck in engineering, and I hope you have a lot of fun!