In Game Problem Solving
So, you’ve joined Star Fleet. You’re one of the best of the best, with your Department Head calling on you to help solve every problem. What do you do? You have no earthly idea what you’re supposed to do, but they told you to do it, so you have to.
That’s where this guide comes in. Here you will learn how to solve the problems you’ll encounter, whether by some legitimate means or by making the solution up (which happens more often than you think).
Problem Solving in the 25th Century
Now, you may think that everything would have changed between today and the setting of Federation Space, but you’d be wrong. The decision making process hasn’t changed one bit, but you may want to think things out a bit more on site than you would in your regular life. And since the site is not real-time, you have the luxury of doing so. Anyway, I’ll go over the process here, so that you can see it spelled out.
First, you have to figure out what the problem is. Usually, it will be straight-forward, and laid out in clear terms by the GM. For instance, you could have something from the GM like this:
- The ship was gliding through space on its way to the Delta III conference, peaceful in its passage. While the diplomats aboard were preparing their speeches and their bargains for the other delegates to this treaty convention, the crew went about their jobs. One of the sensors picked up a blip, though, only for a brief instant. No one thought anything about it at the time, and life went on as normal.
- Then it suddenly became the most important thing on that ship when it resolved from the cloak to be a Romulan battleship, ready to squash the frigate like the bug it thought them to be.
That is an example of the straight-forward problem. Some others will be more subtle, like a date gone bad, or some friction between you and your DH, FO, or even your CO. These problems are solved no different from the one above, so I will just use it as an example.
Next, you figure out everything about it that you can. You look at what happened and glean everything that you can. In this case, you know that you have diplomats on board to protect, you’re in a frigate, and so are vastly outmatched by the battleship that you’re going up against. You also take the information that you have from other sources, like using the engineering section of the wiki to find out the armaments of your ship, a Berlin-class frigate. You can also look up the Romulan ship to compare the two ships.
Once you have all the data, figure out what to you can possibly do. In the battle scenario, the choices are pretty simple: fight or run. You have different options in those, like using different attack plans or evasive patterns, those types of things. Other scenarios offer more options. In the bad date above, you can try and sweet-talk them, try and make it up to them later, or you can just say ‘forget this’ and walk away. Each option has consequences, so at least try and figure some of those out before hand. You probably will miss some, but try and weigh the consequences and the benefits before you do anything.
Then, the last steps are simple: pick your best solution and run with it. Once you’ve figured it all out, post about you actually enacting the plan, or asking the CO permission to do it. From that point, the ball is out of your court and in theirs.
While some of the solutions will be straightforward, some may elude you. Never be afraid to ask for help. Most people on site are on GTalk, so you can ask there, or you can e-mail your Department Head, another person in the same department, or even your FO/CO if you need help. Most people will be willing to lend a hand, or will at least be able to point you in the right direction. Never be afraid to ask.
A warning, however: Before you do anything that might affect the main plotline, such as discover a new type of weapon that will defeat your enemies quickly, or find the major weak point of an entire class of ship that might otherwise destroy at least your ship if not the entire fleet, ASK THE GM’s PERMISSION! They are the keepers of the plot, and so they must give approval before anything major happens. If you’re in doubt as to if it will affect the plotline, then ask the GM anyway. They’ll either tell you that it will and give you an answer, or will tell you it’s not and leave it up to you.
What Did He Say?
Now, one of the major things in Star Trek that gave their solutions a futuristic feel was a little thing called Techno-babble. It’s exactly what it says: meaningless words that sound extremely futuristic. For example, the Chief Engineer may ask one of the Engineering PCs to go and fix the Anticyclic Refraction Adjuster. Now, neither of them have a single clue as to what exactly the Anticyclic Refraction Adjuster does, but it’s still up to the Engineer to fix it. So the player should have his character run some diagnostics, and then he can come up with the solution, most often using some other such device like a Pulse Phase Calibrator to restore the faulty Adjuster back to working order.
Now, remember, Techno-babble is not a fix-all. Sometimes, the GM will come in and say that it didn’t work, or will give you something to use. In these instances, you have to try something else, but only after your character ponders some more and runs some more tests. Never use it lightly, but still you will probably use it quite often. And always make sure it makes sense before you do.
Included below is a Techno-babble chart. You use it by taking one word at random or by selection from each column. The prefixes are optional, for those times when you really need something specific.
Now, while this will solve problems for most people, the Medical players need something else. For that, here’s a Medi-babble chart to help you in making diagnosis of your patients. Use it in the exact same way the others do above, only you don’t have an optional prefix column. Just choose one from each row.
As you go through your career here at Federation Space, you will most likely become very familiar with the use of Techno-babble in your problem solving process. In some cases you will probably be able to make up your own without the aid of the charts above. But still, never forget that the entire purpose of this site is just to have fun. If you enjoy the game, it won’t matter if you become an expert in Techno-babble or if you never use it at all. Your career will be filled with good times and great friends either way. Here’s hoping that that will be the case in your career.
- Thanks to Trek-RPG for the Babble Charts above.