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Posted: Mar 30 2006, 03:09 AM
Member No.: 1
Joined: 21-March 06
POSITIONS ON A STARSHIP
Captain or Commanding Officer (CO)
The commanding officer is usually a Captain on a starship, but can be a different rank. The CO gives orders to his/her crew during the mission. While off on deep space missions, problems may arise that need to be resolved for the mission to continue. It is for this reason that CO's of vessels have been given limited powers regarding discipline.
CO's are also responsible for settling disputes among crewmen, promoting and reprimanding officers as needed, and carrying out the orders of Starfleet Command and his/her starbase command, as well as interpreting and complying with Federation legal and diplomatic directives. As such, a Commanding Officer can be called upon to answer for his own actions and the actions of his crew. In addition, all CO's shall maintain accurate records on his or her vessel which should include, but not necessarily be limited to, an up-to-date Ship's Log and Crew Bio File. CO's may also chose to recommend their XO's for Commanding Officer positions.
The Captain (CO) is the creator; the story teller of a SIM, and the GM (game master). He or she will write up a SIM and then play it out through the crew. The Captain will tell you what to say or do sometimes, but most of the time they don't need to, you can do whatever, as long as it is not ridiculous, and follows the plot line of the mission.
The First Officer (XO, or Executive Officer) is just that. . . He/she oversees all departments, and has the authority to give orders to anyone on the ship, except of course, the Captain. He/she is responsible for delegating work schedules and seeing that all maintenance schedules are kept. He develops and organizes the duty roster. The first officer will lead away teams, unless otherwise specified by the Captain.
In addition to their duties to the CO and crew, the XO oversees transfers on and off the ship, by welcoming a new crew member and providing him/her with all the information and assistance needed to begin the integration process and by sending a transferring officer's information, including if possible his/her last evaluation, to the receiving CO. Executive Officers may also settle internal disputes amongst crewmen if the matter is not considered to demand the CO's attention. Executive Officers are also called upon to lead away teams to a planet or base when necessary.
At times the XO must assume command of a Starship. When this happens the XO needs the help of another officer to assume his/her role as XO. The second officer is not a stand alone position, but a role given to the highest ranked and trusted officer aboard (below the XO). When required, the Second Officer will assume the role of XO, or if needed CO, and performs their duties as listed, for as long as required. The 2nd Officer mainly assists the XO in any way possible to maintain the ship. The 2nd Officer is usually a dual role that is held by another department head.
Chief of the Boat - COB
Like the 2nd Officer title above, this is not a stand alone position. The senior most Chief Petty Officer (including Senior and Master Chiefs), regardless of rating, is designated by the Commanding Officer as the Chief of the Boat. In addition to his or her departmental responsibilities, the COB performs the following duties: serves as a liaison between the Commanding Officer (or Executive Officer) and the enlisted crewmen; ensures enlisted crews understand Command policies; advises the Commanding Officer and Executive Officer regarding enlisted morale, and evaluates the quality of noncommissioned officer leadership, management, and supervisory training.
The COB works with the other department heads, Chiefs, supervisors, and crewmen to ensure discipline is equitably maintained, and the welfare, morale, and health needs of the enlisted personnel are met. The COB is qualified to temporarily act as Commanding or Executive Officer if so ordered, and has training in almost every aspect of the ship.
The Counselor (CNS) is responsible for the mental health of the crew. He or she will provide counseling to all persons aboard the ship. He or she will also give special guidance and insight to the Captain, by providing the Captain with psychological profiles and opinions.
The Counselor is responsible for managing the ship's school, counseling office, and working in part with the medical staff with patient recovery. The Counselor is responsible both for advising the CO in dealing with other people and races, and in helping crew members with personal, psychological, and emotional problems. The Counselor has the ability to, if required, remove any crew member, including the Captain, from active duty if s/he finds his/her mental state to be unstable. (To remove the Captain, s/he must have the support of the Chief Medical Officer).
The Diplomatic Officer of each vessel/base must be familiar with a variety of areas: history, politics, economics, and military, and understand how they affect potential threats. A wide range of operations can occur in response to these areas and threats. These operations occur within three general states of being: peacetime competition, conflict and war.
They must be equally flexible and demonstrate initiative, agility, depth, synchronization, and improvisation to provide responsive legal services to his/her CO as well a diplomatic advise on current status of an Alien Species both aligned and non aligned to the Federation.
The Chief Diplomatic Officer is in charge of the Diplomatic Corps Detachment. He or she oversees the operation of it, as well as makes sure everything in that department is carried out according to Starfleet Regulations.
The Diplomatic Department is the dedicated Federation liaison. They are usually only assigned on ships that frequently handle new races or federation allies. All starship captain's are trained in the 'fine art' of diplomacy, but a dedicated staff of diplomatic officers onboard allows the Captain to focus on the mission, esp. during missions that aren't focused on diplomacy. The diplomatic department, like the Intelligence department, is responsible for being ready to brief the command staff at the drop of a hat, though the Diplomatic department focuses on the political climate of a theatre.
The engineering section is run by the Chief Engineer (CENG), who is responsible for all personal within Engineering. Engineering handles nearly all mechanical aspects of the ship, but first and foremost is the warp and impulse engines. They are also responsible for the power requirements of the ship. Engineering also does nearly all the diagnostics and maintenance of the ships systems, and ensure the weapon systems have power to operate at a given moment.
Chief Intelligence Officer
The (CIO) is responsible for being able to gather information on various cultures, weapons, or technology that a ship may encounter. This officer is also responsible to decipher enemy's reports, decode enemy codes and break them; to break and pass enemy security systems, and break into enemy databases. If possible, they can go on all away missions and is also responsible, along with the Chief Security Officer, for the well being of the away team. They can also handle communications and scans of other vessels. The Intelligence Officer reports directly to the Captain, but can liaisons with TAC, SEC, SOP, and/or any assault force on board.
The CIO receives daily briefings from Starfleet Intelligence and can assign and/or request additional security measure be implemented, up to and including the use of Marines or Special Operations Forces; if a situation is deemed to have a significant security threat to the safety of the Federation.
Intelligence Field Operatives are considered the spies of the Federation and have been known to take on such tasks as Counter-Intelligence and Espionage. The mythical Section 31, of Starfleet Intelligence, takes on more lofty tasks of having covert agents in the Romulan Tal Shiar and Cardassian Obsidian Order. These feared individuals have little regard for the rules of the Federation and feel it is their sole responsibility to protect the UFP, at all costs; and have been rumoured to be able to topple foreign governments.
Helm or CONN
The Helmsman (HELM), or Flight Controller, is responsible for all flight control operations of the ship, navigation, course plotting, manual flight, and position verification. The Helmsman may also act as Communications officer if need be. This position is usually filled by the best pilot on the ship and can pilot any shuttles, if necessary, and assault craft.
Marine Detachment (Hazard Team)
The Marine Detachment Commander is the backbone of the ground assault team on any given starship. There is usually a Marine Officer and a few soldiers on each starship. Some specialized starships are not required to carry them, depending on their individual mission requirements. The Marine CO is responsible for all the Marine personnel assigned to the ship/facility. They are required to take command of any ground operations and assault and work in tandem with security department.
Certain vessels are comprised of an entire Marine Division and those vessels employ a special group know as a Hazard Team. They are usually trained by and use some of the same tactics employed by the Special Operations Department and have proven to be a valuable asset as ground forces, in and around hostile areas. Hazard Teams have five primary missions: Internal Defense, Unconventional Warfare, Special Reconnaissance, Direct Action, and Counter-Terrorism. Because of these missions, Marines and Hazard Team are employed during peacetime, conflict, and war. The Hazard Teams are similar to 21st century U.S. Delta Force or British Special Boat Service.
The Marine CO also is a department head and a member of the Senior Staff. The Marines could be called the 24th century Commandos.
The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) is of course the Doctor of the ship. The CMO is responsible for the physical well being of the crew. The CMO will also perform studies on alien and unknown life forms; and will give medical assistance to anyone or anything that needs it.
In addition, as the senior most medical authority on a vessel, all field related missions will require consultation with the CMO. One of the unique powers given to the Chief Medical Officer is the ability to relieve a ship's CO of his or her duty if it is determined he or she is medically unfit. This power is not taken lightly, however, for if the CMO is proven to be out-of-line, he or she will be accountable for putting the crew in possible danger by removing the Commanding Officer.
Operations Management (OPS)
The OPS officer is responsible for coordinating ship activities so as to not overload any systems. He/she also handles communications, hailing, ship to ship, away teams, diagnostics, etc. OPS also handles all transporter operations, and monitors away teams status. OPS fills in for Helm when necessary.
In addition, a ship's OPS officer is responsible for providing general status information to the computer and to individual departments to inform them of any changes that might affect their normal operations. During alerts, the OPS officer is also responsible for the allocation of power from the ship's warp reactor and fusion generators to permit the vessel to meet any demands made of it.
Research & Development
The Research & Development Officer (RD) works closely with the Chief Engineer and the Department of R&D, within Alpha Fleet, to help develop and maintain all new technology, including: weapons, ships, equipment, etc.
The R&D Department is in charge of testing and developing submitted proposals for final approval, and having them distributed to all Federation Vessels, to better improve the ease, security, strength, etc. of Federation citizens.
Science (SCI) is responsible for all scans, reports, and other types of pertinent data on all types of encountered phenomenon; planetary, stellar, and otherwise. They conduct surveys and studies of same. A science officer will usually accompany away teams. The Chief Science Officer (CSCI) can have a staff of up to two other persons on the bridge.
Security (SEC) is responsible for the security of the ship and all persons aboard. A security person shall accompany all away teams. The Security Chief reports to Tactical Officer; moreover, this position is sometimes combined with TAC. Any intruders on the ship, are handled by the Security Chief and their team. SEC is also responsible if there are any intruder alerts upon a starship or base. They are also responsible for operations and personnel that may be held in the brig.
Special Operations (Infiltration Detachment)
The primary purpose of having Special Operations is to ensure the security of the Federation through a specialized team of assault personnel by using stealth and covert actions and giving the illusion that such a Team doesn't exist.
Certain vessels are comprised of an entire Special Operations crew and those vessels employ a special group know as Infiltration Detachment Teams. They are specifically and valuably trained members and prove to be useful when incursions are needed into foreign space and operations involving those behind enemy lines can be very dangerous and need to be kept secret. The Infiltration Detachment Teams conduct missions including: Unconventional Warfare, Hostage Rescue, Counter-guerrilla Warfare, Counter-Intelligence, and Clandestine Operations. This group is similar to the 21st century British SAS, U.S. Navy SEALS, or German GSG9.
The Starfighter Commander and Detachment are the ace pilots of the ship, and moreover, Starfleet. These are usually comprised of the Chief Flight Controller and the ship's shuttle pilots; however, some personnel are assigned specifically to the fighter squadron which might be stationed on a vessel or base.
The pilots are exceptional in their field and are adept at piloting small maneuverable craft in dangerous situations. They are the main line of defense on most planetary stations and Federation stations, and have proven useful in close combat whilst serving on a starship as well.
Strategic Operations Officer
The (SOP) is responsible to report to the Captain, on the situation and activity, and to deliver reports to the Captain and to Starfleet Command (after talking to the Captain) on enemy activity and weaknesses. Only the Captain may review the out going reports of the Strategic Officer. The Strategic Officer also reports only to the Captain and to Starfleet Command.
The second major part in his job is to plan strategic plans and operation, such as patrolling schedule to a group of fighters, or planning the strategy of a Fleet. When he positioned in a sector, he has a major share in planning the defense of the sector. In combat situations the Strategic Officer is acting as an advisor to the Captain.
The Tactical (TAC) Officer position is responsible for the operation of all defense and weapon systems aboard a starship (shields, phasers, photons, etc.) Tactical also scans and provides data on all encountered vessels.
The Tactical Officer on the bridge must also coordinate with the Security Officer on duty. In the absence of a COS, Tactical handles all intruders and away team security. The Tactical officer is the backbone of the ship. When ordered to by the Captain he fires weapons, raises shields, and determines damage done to the enemy. He also can handle communications for the ship if necessary.
If at all possible, the CTO will be in charge of the tactical station in time of battle. If this is not possible, then an assistant chief will be in charge. If possible, the opposing force shall be disabled before destruction unless the Commanding Officer orders otherwise. Under no circumstances shall the TAC officer fire on a seriously disabled or unarmed vessel with the intent to destroy unless good and provable cause is present or a ranking officer orders it. Unless the enemy is super-powerful(i.e. the Borg), the object of defense shall not be to kill or destroy, only disable.
The Tactical officer must know the correct balance of damage inflicted to the other ship for each firing of the phasers and photons. Tactical controls the cloaking device and coordinates with OPS in running the Tachyon beam to scan for other cloaked ships.
The Temporal Affairs Officer is basically a scientist who has a specialty in temporal and/or quantum mechanics and spends most of the time studying and cataloging temporal events. This can include the effect of time travel, time sickness, temporal causalities, and temporal incursions.
In addition the normal Starfleet Directives, the Temporal Officer also has to abide by the Temporal Prime Directives. The Temporal Officer works closely with the Chief Science Officer, but ultimately reports directly to the Captain on events that could drastically affect the ship, it's crew, or the known timeline.
Obviously, this is mostly just my opinions... but I hope it'll be a useful guideline. And clearly I've just used my pet bio format, and other people have different outlines, but I've found that this one works for me most of the time.
Your character’s name is one of the most important aspects to consider when writing a biography. Names have meaning, names leave an impression, names are important. Unless you’re going for irony, it’s rarely a good idea to call a weedy scientist ‘Chuck Steele’. On the other hand, calling a strapping marine that might just not get you taken seriously. A good way to be subtler is to look for meaning in the names – try BehindtheName.com , an excellent site for finding a little depth in the names. Try to have some sort of message behind it, even if it’s only lending a dim impression of the character at hand.
I would advise against naming the character after yourself. It can often detriment the disassociation between player and character that’s needed for the line to be drawn between IC and OOC. I always maintain that a player should be prepared to be thoroughly nasty to their character, and if you see it as yourself, rather than an extension of yourself, it can lead to an over-protective style of play – or, at worst, to a Mary Sue character ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Sue ).
In addition, one should consider the background of the character, culturally, before choosing a name. If it’s a human, what part of the world are they from? That will affect the name. If they’re a non-human, consider the names of others of their species, the types of names – T’whatever for Vulcans, the entire complexity of the Klingon language (I could write a whole book about that – go talk to K’Hare) and alphabet, and other simple challenges. If a character has a name that’s not suited to their species or culture, there’d better be a reason for it in their background.
Another highly important aspect of the character. The first thing to consider would be the level of experience you intend for your character to have – the second, what that equates to with their aging process. A Vulcan gets over a century of life in them – use it, benefit from it, unless your notion is to have a young and inexperienced character. But you don’t need to make a Vulcan equate to human terms of age, you don’t need any 28 year-old solid officers. It’s not necessary, they could have another fifty years of experience under their belts, and that makes for good development.
Age correlating to experience, position and rank is important in an environment like simming in Starfleet. I’ll set off on my ramble about CO characters as the prime example. It’s Trek canon that Kirk was the youngest captain in Starfleet history at 33. And Kirk was… well… Kirk. It’s not inconceivable that someone’s beaten his record in 100 years, but think of what sort of person it would take to do that. It’s not going to be every Tom, richard, and Harry CO out there in Starfleet. A case in point – I believe there has only ever been one Captain in the US Navy who was under thirty. I think he may have also died in a helicopter crash shortly afterwards, but that’s not relevant. I’m not even sure it’s correct, but the point is there. I would honestly not even begin to consider a CO character under the age of 34, 35, unless you want to step into the realms of God-simming. I do hear the argument that “But they were a Lieutenant Commander when I started out”, but if anyone tries to give me that justification, I’ll give them a pound to go out and buy themselves some foresight. Yes, this topic riles me up, it really does. Take it into consideration with other ranks. I tend to consider Lieutenant JGs to be not much younger than 25, 26, Lieutenants to be around the 28, 29 mark, Lieutenant Commanders to be around the 32, 33 marks, Commanders to hit late thirties, and Captains to be in their early forties. Obviously, your character can have different ascension through the ranks, but that’s often quite a safe guideline to use for the realistic character ascension. One other concept to consider for young COs might be that they were promoted during a time of war, with fewer officers at hand. However, write them like it – any of the young captains I have personally encountered in sims are all written as being just as smart and competent (sometimes more so) than captains ten years older than them. A young officer who was promoted to a position of command faster than would be ideal could be an interesting character concept… if so, write it like that. Most of the time it’s just because people like their twenty-five year-old Admirals…
Date of Birth:
Pretty much what it says on the tin. Check what year your character’s ‘era’ is in right now – BF norm is 2381 at this point in time – and calculate that from their age. It doesn’t have to be grand. Sometimes, if I’m going to town on character development, I work out their birthday with the Zodiac, but that’s never for anything more than my own amusement. It can help shape your character’s personality, to be fair, but it’s just a little habit of mine.
Place of Birth:
Important. Definitely. Where your character was born can affect their upbringing, their perspective… or they were just born there and left quickly. It says something about the character’s parents, more often than not. If your character was born in sickbay on a starship, that might suggest they had working parents. Consider your character’s background, and find something that fits.
Ever relevant. Now, I’m not someone who believes that you have to be non-human to have an interesting character. I believe that you can make them perfectly interesting and still entirely human. I admit, I haven’t played an alien character in a while except for the Pickle, but I do confess that I’m not entirely sure why. Regardless, the species of your character will often affect their entire nature. A Klingon will act a certain way, a Vulcan will act a certain way, and if your character’s going to act outside of the confines of their culture, then there’s likely to be a lot of back story in it. Don’t think of it as unacceptable, just be careful with it. Or take on one of the lesser-known species and mould them to suit your purposes. One of my favourite ‘minor’ species would be the Angosians from TNG ‘The Hunted’, fighters in the Tarsian War, the naturally peaceful people who subjected the youth of their society to enhancements to make them suitable warriors. There’s often a lot to play around with if you so wish.
99% of the time, it’s going to be decided upon by your CO. But make it realistic to your character’s back story and experience, as I’ve mentioned above under age.
Often I find a biography to be written around the position, but sometimes I have a character whose job I need to find. It might then just be best to take a look at the skills and strengths of your character, and work out where they belong. It’s also often good to consider it within the context of the sim you intend to join; work out how much a scientist will have to do on a marine ship, or a marine on a science vessel, and if you’re happy with how that will leave you.
Is your character single? Married? Engaged? Widowed? Divorced? There are few ways better to torture your character than via their love life. Also, I think Bravo Fleet has a very impressive list of single people…
Nobody is just a spontaneously created creature. Characters have parents, siblings, uncles, aunts. Who are they? What are they doing now? How old are they? A simple list and a few names can easily launch into something much greater for your character’s story, even if it’s not immediately obvious.
Not always a necessary part of the bio, but one I sometimes find useful. Lets you write down specifically your character’s linguistic ability. I’d imagine every Starfleet officer would speak Federation Standard, and then might have been expected to study another language at the Academy. So your average human might speak two, or a Bolian might speak their own language, Standard, and have studied another, for example. But to be fair, your average person isn’t likely to speak more than two languages. If you’re creating a linguist, then that’s perfectly believable, but most people aren’t natural linguists.
Handy for visualisation. I’ve also often said that it can be a good idea to get a picture of your character before you start… if only because, once you have that well-established character, it can be hell finding someone who has the right ‘look’ for them. If you have that picture out of the gate, you’ll suffer less. Regardless, pictures aside, the appearance of your character is important. Lots of people judge books by their covers, and players also like to be able to visualise their and other people’s characters. It helps an awful lot with the writing. There’s not much I can say on this, except to give as much detail as you can, because it helps everyone.
Always useful, and will often pop up in character development posts. What does your character do in his spare time? This is often quite indicative of the sort of person they are. Whether they do white water rafting, chess, or are just obsessive about 15th Century Spain, what they do in their spare time says something about their personality. It can often help round them as a character, soften any edges.
Decorations, Reprimands, Commendations and
I tend to title this section vaguely on purpose. It’s a good place to note any legal trouble, or any medals, or simple commendations… or just something the character’s done that might need to be stated. It’s a useful highlight. Don’t be afraid to give your character a medal or two if they’ve done something that might deserve it – but obviously, don’t go over the top. I used to see hundreds of characters with the Medal of Honour… but if you consider the history of those highest-level medals, it’s a medal where it’s often easier to win it if you die. That just sort of highlights the level of action it would take to win such a medal. So don’t go nuts.
I often find this to be the shaping of a character’s background, and a decent reference point. It lets you know where your character was should something pop up where you need to ask “What were they doing in 2371?” Consider that your character, unless they have a very special background (or a different maturing process to humans) would go to the Academy at 18, and I believe it’s assumed these days that this lasts four years. So they won’t be in active duty until they’re 22, 99% of the time. It’ll usually be more than two years at least before a character is likely to go up a rank at a time, so don’t have them skipping up the chain of command every month. Be real.
This is the most important part of your character biography, and yet there’s not a whole lot I can say here because this obviously differs from character to character. I’d just encourage you to make it as detailed as possible. Consider how your character grew up, what the situation was in their youth. Why they chose to join Starfleet, or the KDF, or whatever job it is they’re doing. A character is shaped by their experience, and whilst I do understand how sometimes it’s a good idea to wait until you’ve written the character for a few months, know them better, before writing all the precise details of their past, I can still advise you to get as much into the background as is feasible.
Another highly important aspect of the character’s biography. What makes them tick? What do they like and dislike? How do they act around people they don’t know? Around old friends? When on duty? When in a big party? When in private? Why did they make the decisions in their life that they have? How do they feel about what their life has done to them so far? What do they intend to do in the future?
Keep asking those questions, and their personality will come out. I’m sure I could list hundreds more questions, too, but I’d suggest using those for basic guidelines to kick off.
The most important part of your character biography is making your character talk to you. They’ll tell you where they grew up, why they joined Starfleet, and just what it is about their elder brother that gets their blood up. Let them. It’ll make the character better.