Introduction to Role-Playing

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Whether you've played a forum-based Role-Play Game or not, your time here at Star Fleet Academy is intended to teach you the rules and gameplay of our site. This document will give you a basic rundown of how we "play" the game.

Role Playing Basics

Playing an online RPG is similar to writing a story. In this case though, there are several authors contributing to the crafting of the story. One of the authors, the GM, is the one that sets up the basic plot line of the story and helps to keep it moving. For instance, a GM may say something like, "Your ship is ordered by Star Fleet Command to explore the Crab Nebula and discover why the USS Yamato has disappeared." From there, the players add their portion to the story. The GM will continue adding to the story, placing conflicts within to spice things up a bit.

Formatting and Grammatical Rules

There are a few simple rules to follow when filling out your posts. Simply follow the rules of writing to the best of your ability, with a couple of additions.

  • Double-space your individual thoughts, and all dialogue between characters.
  • Use bold for extra emphasis, and italics for your character's thoughts.
  • Enclose any radio or computer communications within brackets [ ... ].
  • Place spoken text in quotation marks "..."
  • Please don't use profanity. This page is not limited to adults.
  • This game is rated PG-13, so please keeps posts at that rating level.
  • Though the message board software allows the posts to be formatted in different colors and styles, please post without formatting.

Out of Character Comments (OOC)

OOC comments are real life statements such as, "Hey Joe, how 'bout them Cubs." As a rule, OOC should be kept to a minimum. If you wish to talk to a person outside the context of the game, please get their email address and do it that way, use GTalk or another instant messenger service, or post in your Crew Announcements or Hailing Frequencies. Those are free discussion areas where all of the conversations are Out Of Character. Certain areas of Federation Space will conduct business primarily in OOC. For example, Red Alert, Hailing Frequencies or some of the areas in Star Fleet Academy.

Composing Your Message

The body of your message should contain the actions, thoughts, speech, etc. of your character. Nobody is expecting Pulitzer Prize winning writing here. Our primary goal is to have fun. There is one hint, in particular, which could help you out when writing your messages. When you write out your message, try to use the five senses of taste, smell, sight, hearing and feeling when you give your description. This helps to make the scene vivid. Also, the readers don't know what your character is experiencing unless you tell them. As an example, lets look at the following sentence and see how it can be improved.

Mike opened the door and walked down the stairs into the cellar.

Notice the only sense used is sight. Only what Mike sees is described. Now lets look at the same text, phrased differently.

As Mike opened the door, the mustiness of the cellar filled his nose. The stairs creaked loudly, protesting against the weight of his body. With each downward step, the temperature dropped and by the time he reached the bottom of the stairs, goose bumps covered his skin. He felt an eeriness settle over him, and in the darkness of the cellar he became acutely aware of every sound.

It is not always possible to use all the five senses, but if you use them as much as possible, I think you will see your writing improve.

Open Role-Playing

When writing your messages, it is important to leave some things open-ended. As an example, here is a message that is NOT left open ended.

Jake leveled his phaser at the Cardassian and pulled the trigger, vaporizing him instantly.

Notice the finality. Here is the same message left open ended.

Jake pointed his phaser at the Cardassian and pulled the trigger...

Notice it doesn't say if the blast from Jake's phaser hit or not. It's left to the GM to decide what happens. Maybe the GM wants the Cardassian to survive to haunt the players at a later date.

Remember, those characters not controlled by players ARE controlled by the GM. Let the GM decide.

Other examples would be tricorder or sensor scans. You can't assume what the outcome might be. If you do, it could ruin the storyline from where the GM planned to take it.

Another big mistake is to write in the actions of another player's character. Most people wouldn't take too kindly to someone writing a message that made their character do something they didn't want them to do, so please avoid doing that yourself. There will be times when you will need to write in some actions of other players characters to keep things moving, but these should be minor actions. Use your judgment and ask yourself, "If someone else wrote the same action for my character, would I be upset?"

Plots and Sub-Plots

At Federation Space, a story is called a mission. A mission must contain a main plot. The main plot is what the story is about. For example, the USS Excalibur is ordered to cross the Federation-Romulan border in an attempt to acquire Romulan-cloaking technology. That’s your main plot. Main plots are controlled by the GM and the CO. It's their job to guide the main plot. The players should react to the plot by developing sub-plots. Though your mission should have only one main plot, it can have several sub-plots.

Sub-plots are secondary stories not necessarily related to the main plot line. The primary role of the sub-plot, at Federation Space, is to develop characters. In other words, a sub-plot should focus on a character and that characters perceptions of an event, which can and often includes the main plot. Sub-plots can center on things such as romance, family relations, personal problems, or anything else that gives the reader a clearer understanding of the character in question. Below are listed some plots and sub-plots, from the Star Trek movies, to help clarify the difference between the two.

ST: First Contact
Main Plot: The Borg travel back in time to prevent First Contact.
Sub-plot: Picard’s hatred and desire for revenge against the Borg and how it affects his judgment.

ST: Undiscovered Country
Main Plot: The Federation and the Klingon Empire discuss peace.
Sub-plot: The relationship between Spock and Valarus and how neither truly understood the other.

ST: Wrath of Khan
Main Plot: A genetically engineered madman desires revenge against Kirk.
Sub-Plot: Kirk's relationship with Carol Marcus and the son he never knew.

ST: Generations
Plot: A man desires to re-enter the Nexus.
Sub-Plot: Worf gets promoted.

Notice, some of these tie in with the main plot, but others don't have anything to do with it. Your character bio's should be written so that you have some ideas on sub-plots. Remember, sub-plots, at Federation Space, are used to develop your character.

The biggest thing to remember here is that if you are going to write something that is going to change or impact the main plot, ask your GM/CO before you post. If you are going to write a sub-plot focusing on how the main plot changed or impacted your character, more power to you! If there are any questions, please ask your GM/CO.

Your Introductory Post

User names: All messages must have a user name. You will not be able to post on the site unless you are a registered user. If you are a new member, please go through the joining process to begin. If you've already received your welcome email, then you're all set with your account.

Passwords: To post as a member, passwords are required. Without a password, you cannot post on Federation Space. You can only become a member after Registering your character and having it approved by the Academy admins.

Email: All players need to have a valid email address to play. The reason is that when you register, we need to send you a confirmation email, and players may want to contact you from time to time.

Once you've registered your account and confirmed it, the next step is to make an introductory post in the Academy Auditorium. This is your cadet, recently accepted to Star Fleet, reporting to the Academy for their first day of training. Many new players ask, "What should I put in my first post?" Here are a few basics to help you along.

First off, at this point we don't have a copy of your bio. We'll be meeting you for the very first time. Your first post needs to give the readers a brief picture of your character. We're looking for more than, "Hi, I'm Joe, reporting for assignment." Yes, we want you to tell us who you are and that you're ready for your assignment, but we need to be more than told, we need to be shown. What I mean is, we want to know what your character looks like. How does s/he walk onto the Auditorium. Are there any noticeable tendencies, are they scared, excited, or do they have a klutz-attack?

Below is a brief example of a first post:

Lorissa Craven strode, all confidence, into the grandiose Academy Auditorium. Most of the male crew members knew she was there without looking. The pheromones of the green skinned Orion women were legendary and even with an inhibitor, Lorissa was noticed immediately. It didn't make her uncomfortable though, she was used to the stares. She flicked her long black hair playfully as she rounded the corner to center herself in front of the Dean of Admissions. Her gait became a little less confident when she saw who, or what, was sitting next to the Dean. A Klingon. She hated Klingons. They'd murdered her family and more. Much, much more. The Klingon looked up at her so she couldn't turn around like she wanted. She was trapped and it showed on her face.
"Cadet Craven, reporting for assignment." She handed the Dean a PADD with her orders and waited for her to speak, trying not to stare at the Klingon sitting next to her.

What have we found out about Cadet Craven? We know she is an Orion female with green skin and long black hair. We also found out that she hates Klingons, and her family is dead. She was confident, until she encountered someone she felt threatened by. All that in just a paragraph. That's what we'd like to see in the first post. Again, we're not looking for Pulitzer prize winning writing. Have fun telling us about your character. Read some of the other posts to learn how other people tell you about their characters.

Conclusion

The formatting rules of Federation Space can be a little daunting at first if you have never played an RPG before. With practice and by following the suggestions and guidelines laid out on this page, you can easily become a dynamic member. Remember that the primary goal of Federation Space is to have fun!