Sector 001: The United Space Federation Star Trek SIM / Role Playing Group

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USF Simulation Guide

Updated: August 28, 2006

Contents:

  1. Welcome to the USF
  2. What is Simming?
  3. General Simulation Guidelines
  4. The USF Wants YOU!
  5. Character Biographies
  6. Duty and Personal Logs
  7. When Will I Get Promoted?
  8. High Command
  9. Fleet Representatives
  10. Guidelines of Conduct

I. Welcome to the USF

Welcome to the United Space Federation! With over 350 members and more than 40 dedicated simulation hosts, the USF is currently one of the largest and most dynamic Star Trek simulation groups on the Internet. Our 20+ separate Star Trek simulations provide you with an excellent opportunity to enjoy adventure and excitement in the realm of cyberspace. Do you like Star Trek? Are you imaginative and creative? Then the USF is for you! You can serve on any of a great variety of vessels, including Galaxy and Excelsior-class starships—or even starbases, space stations, and planetary outposts. No matter the simulation, each week you will be presented with a new and exciting adventure in the Star Trek universe.

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II. What is Simming?

USF simulations (or "sims" for short) are an exciting variety of role-playing game in which you simulate the life and career of an officer on a Starfleet vessel. The game is not won or lost; the object is to have fun creating a character—and shaping that character's experiences—while becoming involved in Star Trek–style plots with others' characters.

Upon your acceptance into the USF, your character will be assigned a position aboard one of our sims. These positions include Helm, Operations (Ops), Science, Medical, Tactical, Engineering, and Security. Some USF sims have other positions available: stellar cartographer, for example. And if you'd rather play a civilian character instead of a Starfleet officer, many of our sims support this as well—there's always room for researchers, shop owners, bartenders, etc.

There are, of course, two other starship positions—those of the Commanding Officer and Executive Officer—but these positions are held only by experienced USF sim hosts.

Starship Positions

These are the descriptions of the standard starship positions listed above. In USF sims, these positions each constitute separate ships' departments—when you join a sim, you will be assigned as an assistant in a given department, reporting to a higher ranked officer serving as department chief. These responsibilities are general guidelines; each CO will have his or her own specific definitions of the function of each department.

The "Who to Watch" section lists the characters in each Star Trek series whose job most nearly approximates the given department. Please note that characters from Enterprise are not listed—at present, all USF sims take place in the "present-day" Trek universe, and as such the command structures seen in Enterprise are outdated and unrepresentative of the USF.

Position: COMMANDING OFFICER (CO/CAPTAIN, USF Hosts Only)

Character Responsibilities: The Commanding Officer of a USF sim holds the rank of Captain or higher and is responsible for the execution of Starfleet orders and policies, as well as for the interpretation of Federation law as it applies to particular situations. Starfleet orders are of paramount importance to a CO, who must sometimes make difficult sacrifices in order to ensure that these orders are executed.

USF Responsibilities: COs, carefully selected from the host ranks by USF High Command (HC), are entrusted with the well-being of the sims they are appointed to host and are ultimately held accountable by High Command for the conditions aboard those sims. In order to aid them in fulfilling this obligation, COs have a marked degree of independence in sim matters, so they can ensure that their sims provide enjoyable environments for their crews. The post of Commanding Officer, therefore, balances power and responsibility, and is arguably one of the most important and challenging positions the USF has to offer.

In-Sim: The CO is generally the chief writer of a given week's plot and, as such, possesses a rough idea of the outcome of the sim. S/he will guide the crew toward this outcome, often delegating responsibilities to the XO and the various departments. The CO distributes mission briefings to the crew prior to the sim; these documents contain the information necessary for the crew to fully participate. The CO is also empowered with the use of the ACTION command, which represents a sim-wide event and is generally used to propel the plot forward. Finally, just as a Starfleet CO would expect his or her orders to be followed by the crew, so too are the orders of a USF CO to be obeyed by his or her subordinate simmers. Regardless of a CO's rank, s/he may properly be addressed as "Captain."

Who to Watch: James Kirk, Jean-Luc Picard, Benjamin Sisko, Kathryn Janeway.

Position: EXECUTIVE OFFICER (XO/FIRST OFFICER, USF Hosts Only)

Character Responsibilities: The Executive Officer of a USF sim holds the rank of Commander (or higher, but always subordinate to that of the CO) and is the second-in-command of the ship. Under the direction of the CO, s/he is responsible for the execution of Starfleet orders and policies, but the XO's ultimate responsibility lies with the crew. The XO serves as a liaison between the CO and the crew while being concerned with the crew's welfare above all. As a result, conflicts will sometimes arise between CO and XO: should the CO lead this dangerous away mission? (Of course, should these conflicts arise in-sim, please remember that they result from the hosts playing their characters and not actual behind-the-scenes tension.)

USF Responsibilities: All USF Hosts, with the exception of those who join the USF along with pre-existing sims, start as XOs, selected for promotion by their future CO and confirmed by High Command. The XO serves as a junior partner to the CO: should the two reach an irreconcilable disagreement, the CO would have the final say. However, the specific responsibilities and degree of command held by an XO are determined by the CO/XO team, who work together to make the sim successful and enjoyable for the entire crew. Should the CO be absent or otherwise unable to execute his or her duties, the XO will assume temporary command. Similarly, if the CO departs the sim, the XO will act as CO until a replacement can be found by High Command.

In-Sim: The XO will often write the sim plots, or assist the CO in doing so, and will thus have a rough idea about the outcome of the sim. The specific relationship between CO, XO, and crew will be determined by the host team, but generally the XO will aid the CO in guiding the crew towards that outcome. The XO is also empowered with the ACTION command. Much like the CO, the XO's orders to subordinates are to be obeyed. The XO will generally lead most Away Teams.

Who to Watch: Spock, William Riker, Kira Nerys, Chakotay.

Position: OPERATIONS MANAGER (OPS)

Character Responsibilities: A ship's Operations Manager is a utility officer who does a little of everything, including running sensor scans, handling communications, and monitoring ship-wide status and functions. Additionally, s/he can pilot the ship, control tractor beams and transporters, and even arrange power distribution to major systems during emergency situations. A jack of all trades, the Operations Manager is a key figure, and anyone functioning as an Operations Manager should take care to monitor all happenings in the sim because the CO will often rely heavily upon the information Ops can provide.

In-Sim: Generally Ops is not a department and consists of a lone officer who serves on the bridge. Ops should coordinate with Helm, Engineering and Tactical and report any suggestions to the XO or the Captain. This position can be challenging during battle situations.

Who to Watch: Data, Harry Kim, Jadzia Dax, and Hikaru Sulu often perform many of the functions of an Operations Manager as well.

Position: HELM

Character Responsibilities: The helm officer controls the speed and direction of the ship. The helmsman can also handle sensors, access communications, and monitor ship-wide status, should the need arise. However, those responsibilities are more usually left to Ops or Tactical.

In-Sim: As with Ops, Helm is generally not a department, consisting instead of a lone officer who serves on the bridge. This position can be slow at times, especially if the ship is simply in orbit around a planet, so it is often considered acceptable to work with Ops and Tactical in slower situations. During high-risk maneuvers, helm is one of the key positions on the ship.

Who to Watch: Tom Paris, Hikaru Sulu/Pavel Chekov

Position: TACTICAL (TAC)

Character Responsibilities: Tactical officers are in charge of ship, station, starbase or outpost offensive and defensive capabilities. These officers have direct control of phasers, photon torpedoes, shields and any and all other weapons or defense mechanisms. They also control tractor beams, give damage reports and status reports in regard to weapons, defense, and ship integrity, and can control communications if necessary. Some of these secondary duties may be given to Ops if both posts are present in the sim.

In-Sim: This can be one of the more exciting positions on the ship because Tactical is heavily involved with the action packed starship battles that take place from time to time. Tactical officers tend to be suspicious about unknown vessels that come into contact with their ship or station. This is entirely in keeping with their duties, as they have the responsibility to see that no enemies catch them unawares. Leave the diplomatic duties to the CO and XO: the Tactical officer is all about offense and defense.

Who to Watch: Worf, Tuvok, Pavel Chekov

Position: SECURITY (SEC)

Character Responsibilities: Security officers oversee all necessary security measures, both on the vessel or installation on which they are stationed and on those occasions in which crew members need to leave the ship/installation on official business, such as away team duty. Security officers are responsible for handling intruders, supervising security on away teams, providing unobtrusive but safe escort for diplomats, etc. Security oversees any aspects of a mission involving the personal safety of those involved as well as the safety and security of any persons or objects in their care.

In-Sim: The Security officers should work on all aspects of security within the sim including (though not limited to) registering weapons, maintaining the brig, providing security for guests, escorting away teams, and conducting routine patrols. A sim's Chief of Security will generally coordinate these actions.

Who to Watch: Worf, Tasha Yar, Tuvok, Odo

Oftentimes, a sim will combine its Security and Tactical departments into a single entity under one Sec/Tac Chief. Officers in these sims will generally be expected to fulfill both roles, though this is left to the discretion of each CO.

Position: ENGINEERING (ENG)

Character Responsibilities: The engineers are the mechanics of the ship: they are responsible for the upkeep of all ship's systems including, among others, power generation, the computer, and propulsion.

In-Sim: The engineers are often considered the miracle workers of the ship; when the CO asks for the impossible he very frequently looks to his engineers to pull it off. Engineers are usually found in Engineering, but they can work on the bridge at a computer console if necessary—they also journey throughout the ship to perform repairs. Engineers may often join away teams to lend their unique expertise. The Chief Engineer is in charge of Engineering—oftentimes even the CO will be reluctant to challenge his Chief's authority in this environment.

Who to Watch: Montgomery Scott, Geordi LaForge, Miles O'Brien, B'Elanna Torres

Position: MEDICAL (MED)

Character Responsibilities: A ship's medical officers are responsible for maintaining the health and physical well-being of the crew as well as treating the injured, pronouncing the dead and performing autopsies when required.

In-Sim: This is undoubtedly one of the most challenging positions, as sim plots do not frequently involve medical problems, so medical officers are forced to rely on common sense and creativity to find ways to keep their characters busy in sim without interfering with the main plot. If, for example, the crew's health is generally good and there are no injured personnel in sickbay, a medical officer may have no situations directly requiring his/her involvement. The medical team should make sure that the crew is in good health by performing routine physicals. Medical personnel are almost always in sick bay but will frequently join away teams, especially when casualties are reported or expected or when the away team is expected to perform a medical function, such as providing aid to victims of a disaster or investigating an outbreak of disease. The Chief Medical Officer is generally the most experienced doctor aboard the ship.

Who to Watch: Leonard "Bones" McCoy, Beverly Crusher, Katherine Pulaski, Julian Bashir, Voyager's EMH ("The Doctor")

Position: SCIENCE (SCI)

Character Responsibilities: Science personnel routinely use sensor readings, tricorders and any other analytical equipment at their disposal in order to gain an understanding of the unknown. Science officers will often be charged with finding solutions to these problems once they are identified.

In-Sim: Along with Medical, this is one of the most challenging sim positions. This position generally calls for strong creative and improvisational abilities, especially when faced with unknown substances and species, as well as an ability to work closely with the command staff. Science officers frequently join away teams, and their responsibilities are delegated by the Chief Science Officer.

Who to Watch: Spock, Jadzia Dax, Data

Position: COUNSELOR (CNSLR)

Character Responsibilities: Responsible for the mental and emotional well-being of the crew members. The Counselor periodically consults with each crew member to evaluate his or her mental and emotional well-being, similar to the physicals performed by the medical staff. The Counselor will also hold voluntary sessions with crew members who have mental health concerns.

In-Sim: Counselors often possess empathic or telepathic abilities, though many do not. This position can be very dramatic and interesting and the counseling sessions can often lead to interesting joint logs and subplots. The Counselor will generally be busiest during the sim when communicating with non-Federation species and advising the CO regarding what s/he senses. S/he will also play an important role in diplomatic missions and in situations involving those with strong emotional difficulties. On many sims, the Counselor exists independently from the other departments; on others, the Counselor is considered part of the Medical department.

Who to Watch: Deanna Troi

After your application is processed, either the CO or the XO of the sim to which you have been assigned will send you a letter of welcome. This letter will advise you of the time and location at which the simulation takes place, the department in which you will be working, and anything else you might need to know before your first sim. Your sim will start promptly at the appointed time, so make sure you arrive a few minutes early to get acquainted with your fellow crewmembers and to prepare for adventure!

Role-Playing

During the sim, you should act as if you are a Starfleet officer serving at your assigned position. The command staff will give you orders and describe the general events that are taking place—it is your job to come up with realistic solutions to the problems that your ship is currently facing.

Example:

You are the Chief Science Officer aboard the USS Integrity. The CO advises the crew that the Integrity is currently evacuating a colony on a planet suffering from severe tectonic disturbances. The CO turns to you for recommendations, and after a moment's thought you say...

This is the great thing about simming: you can respond however you like. Be creative—this is your chance to offer a unique solution to a problem and potentially save your ship. However, remember that this is a Star Trek sim; your answers should be plausible within the Star Trek universe. Oftentimes the CO will write a problem into a sim and not have a specific resolution in mind—s/he will consult the crew and frequently use the most creative and believable idea to solve the problem.

Unfortunately, not every sim can directly involve every department with the plot. Most Star Trek episodes dealt with a specific character or department—it is very difficult to write a believable plot which equally involves engineering, medical, science, tactical, security, operations, helm, and the counselor. As a result, you will often find yourself without specific orders. In this situation, take the initiative! Consider your rank and position: in the current plot, what would (for example) a medical officer without specific orders do? Oftentimes you will be able, for example, to come up with a way to contribute that the CO may not have considered. However, bear in mind that only hosts are empowered to initiate events outside of their character's influence: as a tactical officer, you may not cause three Romulan Warbirds to warp into your sector. Instead, you must use the resources available to your character to contribute to the plot.

Bear in mind that, each week, your sim is telling a story. Every story has lead and supporting characters—and though the CO and XO will try to spread the action around to everyone, you will often find yourself cast in a supporting role. If you're not in a lead role, don't worry—try offering your expertise to those that are more directly involved. Alternately, try working on an unrelated subplot—just try not to interfere with the main action! Your CO and XO are trained to pay attention to everyone: if you help them make it possible to give you a bigger role, they'll frequently do it.

Let's return to our example...

You are the Chief Science Officer aboard the USS Integrity. Your ship is currently evacuating a colony on a planet that is suffering from severe tectonic disturbances. But the CO hasn't given you any specific orders, so what do you do? Here are some very reasonable options...

  • Offer your help on the Away Team. While helping with the evacuation, you might just find a clue or two about the cause of the earthquakes.
  • Offer to help the Transporter Chief beam people up. You might be able to suggest an idea that would boost transporter power so the Integrity could beam up more people at once.
  • Offer your services to the CMO to assist in the triage area. People escaping from the planet would be very likely to have all sorts of minor injuries—cracked ribs, for example—that someone with basic first aid experience could help to treat or, at least, prioritize and stabilize. If you dealt with those problems, the medical staff would be free to concentrate upon the more serious injuries.
  • Stay on the bridge, at an auxiliary station, searching for a nearby M-class planet where you could transport the evacuees until a more permanent arrangement could be made by Starfleet. After all, no matter the size of your ship, it probably won't be big enough to accommodate the entire population of the colony for any length of time.

As you can see, if you use your imagination and ingenuity, there are many opportunities for your character in a sim—even if you don't appear to be directly involved with the plot. Which one will you choose and how will it affect the adventure? That's what makes simming so much fun!

If you perform very well, you will earn the ultimate reward: PROMOTION. If you work hard, you will get a chance to move up in the ranks. Someday you might even earn the rank of Captain and get to command your own starship, starbase, space station or outpost—believe it or not, all of our hosts started out as ensigns once upon a time.

Star Trek simulations are both fun and challenging to those people who want to exercise their creativity, role-playing skills, and knowledge of the Star Trek Universe. We invite you to join our crew and BOLDLY GO WHERE NO ONE HAS GONE BEFORE...

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III. General Guidelines for Simulations

During a sim, you will have to relate your character's words and actions, while the hosts will also have to describe sim-wide events. As this would become rather confusing if everything was described in words, the USF uses a common system of shorthand to make sims easier to understand.

The examples that follow appear as they would appear in a simming environment; USF sims generally take place within AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) chat rooms. Should you see a term or abbreviation not listed below, feel free to ask for a definition—your fellow officers will be happy to explain.

Unmodified text represents speech:
Ens Thomas: Hello, sailor!

To represent a character's actions, enclose your text with double colons:
Ens Thomas: Die, Romulan filth! ::draws his phaser and fires::
Lt Pike: ::watches Thomas fire and nods approvingly:: Nice shot, Ensign.

When communicating at a distance using a commbadge or a ship's communications system, preface your text with +TAPS+, +Name of person with whom you wish to communicate+, or =/\=:
Ens Felson: +TAPS+ Away Team to Excelsior... four to beam up.
Capt Morgan: +Felson+ Acknowledged, Ensign. Energizing now.
Commander Tom: =/\= All hands, brace for impact!

When assigned to Away Team (AT) duty, you will generally be assigned a symbol to indicate your presence in a certain location. The most common symbol for this purpose is @, but others are used from time to time. Text without symbols generally indicates that you're aboard your ship:
Ens Felson: @::walking down the path::
Capt Morgan: +Felson+ Ensign, report.
Ens Felson: @+Morgan+ Nothing to report, Captain.

Some sims use symbols to represent particular areas of the ship: people in sickbay, for example, may use $ before their text. Other sims use various colors for this purpose: bridge officers might type in red. Others don't use this system aboard their ship and leave it to you to keep track of everyone's location; it's all up to your CO's discretion. However, these symbols can be helpful: when you're on an away team, it is easier to look for lines beginning with @ than to attempt to read and comprehend everything that is typed in the chat.

When you first come on board, it is sometimes a good idea to begin all sentences with (Your Post). This helps other members of the crew identify you and your position. This is usually only necessary for the first couple of weeks—after the crew gets to know you, it is no longer needed and you need not continue the practice. Sims will frequently feature "guest simmers," people from other sims playing characters different from their own, while at other times people in your sim will play more than one character. This indicator is used in these cases to inform the crew of what is being portrayed:
Ens Andrews: (Sec) The intruders are in custody, Captain.
Capt Hook: Good work, Ensign!
USF Pegasus: (Romulan Spy) ::growls:: I can't believe we were caught!

By using the copy and paste functions, you can avoid having to type your 'label' out at the beginning of each sentence—a task which rapidly becomes annoying. If you don't know how to copy and paste, someone in your crew will be happy to explain the process to you.

As before, these procedures are general recommendations: each CO adopts his or her own style for the crew to follow. It is rare, however, that a sim will radically depart from these norms.

Simulation Symbols, Abbreviations, etc.

Simulation Abbreviations:
ACTION> or AXN>Indicates a sim-wide action that cannot be performed by an individual. Generally reserved for hosts. ("AXN> A Romulan ship decloaks to starboard" would be an example.)
Computer>A line spoken by the ship's computer.
(Name)>A line spoken by a guest character/NPC.
PhotonPhoton Torpedo.
QuantumQuantum Torpedo.
+taps+The speaker has tapped his commbadge in order to communicate.
=/\=An alternate to "+taps+."
NPCNon-Player Character (a made-up character).
BOPKlingon/Romulan Bird of Prey
AT or @The speaker is with the Away Team.
AAAt the start of a sim, a host will call for the crew to come to attention. ::AA:: indicates that the speaker is At Attention.
SDStardate
Starship Locales:
MBMain Bridge
ME, MEngMain Engineering
MS, MSciMain Science
SBSickbay or Shuttlebay.
SB1, SB2Sickbay or Shuttlebay 1, 2, etc.
TR, TR1, TR2Transporter Room 1, 2, etc.
10Fwd, 10/FTen Forward Lounge. On many ships, the lounge is not on Deck 10.
TLTurbolift
Other Online Abbreviations:
LOLLaughing out Loud.
ROFLMAORolling on (the) Floor Laughing My Asteroids Off.
SIMSimulation (though this doesn't stand for anything; you'll often see people calling them SIMs or SIMming but this is technically incorrect).
USFUnited Space Federation. Can cause confusion when talking to students or alumni of the University of South Florida.
RPGRole Playing Game. Includes simming.
BRBBe Right Back.
AFKAway From Keyboard.
BAKBack At Keyboard.
PuntedUnexpectedly lost one's Internet connection/chat access.
BootedSee "Punted."
GMTAGreat Minds Think Alike
SFOLStar Fleet Online (AOL's official Trek sim group)
NAGFNon-Affiliated Gaming Forum (Keyword NAGF)
ISTRI Seem To Recall.
IMOIn My Opinion.

Again, should you encounter any unfamiliar terms or language, feel free to ask anyone for help.

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IV. The USF Wants YOU!

The United Space Federation is currently accepting applications for members aboard its various starships, starbases, space stations and outposts. The USF is looking for intelligent, creative and dedicated officers to join the crews of its existing sims and to help create new ones. We have a long tradition of honor and excellence. Please access our website at Sector001.com for more information about the USF and to fill out and submit the USF online application.

To request an application via e-mail, please send a letter to either USFCaitlin@aol.com or ViceAdmAhrele@aol.com. Either of them will be happy to forward an application to you. Your application and subsequent assignment should take less than a week to review and process.

If you would like to join more than one USF sim, you are more than welcome to do so! Please remember, though, that you must create a separate character for each sim you join.

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V. Biographies

Each member of the USF is required to write a biography of their character. A biography is a document containing relevant information about your character, from physical characteristics to a Starfleet record. Though there is no set format, biographies generally start with your character's name and personal attributes (gender, height, species, etc.). Biographies also generally include your character's Starfleet history: a history of your character's time at the Academy makes a good place to start, because this is an experience shared by the majority of the USF's characters.

From here, feel free to be as creative as you like. For example, talk about your character's life prior to the Academy, or his or her family background. Give a psychological profile—what sort of personality does your character have? How is s/he likely to react in a given situation? What are his or her hobbies? Are you creating a new species for your character? Perhaps a background on your character's people might be helpful. Remember, the purpose of the biography is to introduce your fellow simmers to your character—you don't need to include every possible detail, but a bit of time and effort will make the simming experience more interesting for everyone.

If you're not sure how to construct your character's bio, you might want to take a look at some other bios from around the USF. These are available on our message boards—everysim has a board for biographies—and should provide you with some good examples of character biographies.

Remember, too, that your character's bio will change as s/he advances through the USF. Did you receive an award or a promotion? Make a note of it! Did your character get married? Mention it in the bio! Updating your character's biography is a promotion requirement, but more importantly, updates will help both you and your crewmates remember that your character isn't necessarily the same person s/he was when you first joined the USF.

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VI. Duty and Personal Logs

After each sim, every crewmember is expected to write one Duty Log (DL) and one Personal Log (PL). You've seen these before in Star Trek: often, when an episode opens, you'll hear "Captain's Log" followed by a brief summary of the events which have led up to the point depicted, while at other times you'll hear a character making a "personal" log entry of their private life and/or feelings about the mission.

Well, it's the same way in the USF. Your Duty Log is usually a summary of what happened to your character during the course of the sim, written from a first-person perspective. Remember, though you as a player are aware of all sim events, your character is not—you should try to limit your DL to your character's experiences. A DL can also include your character's recommendations for the following sim: for example, a Counselor on the bridge during a battle with a hostile alien species could, in his or her DL, offer theories about why the aliens attacked and offer recommendations for avoiding future conflicts. Duty Logs also include your character's job-related activities between sims: if, for example, your character writes a report about a piece of alien technology s/he encountered, that's a DL.

Personal Logs, on the other hand, detail your character's off-duty life. These can include your character's plans for time off, your character's feelings about the current mission, or even your character's feelings about his or her fellow crewmembers—how are they getting along? Does your character feel as though s/he is fitting in? Just like in real life, your character will often grow and evolve as a person—your Personal Logs will give you and your crewmates a weekly chronicle of your character's development and add to the fun of the sim.

There's another type of Personal Log: the story log. Story logs, as the name implies, tell stories about your character that take place outside the confines of your weekly sim. You frequently see Star Trek characters spending free time in a holodeck simulation, for example—well, there usually isn't time to do this in your weekly sim, so why not write a story about an experience your character had in the holodeck? Want to flesh out experiences from your character's past? Dramatize them in a story log! Want to write about your character's shore leave on Risa? Story log—just keep it clean! Many USF simmers prefer the story log to the more traditional personal log—the important thing is to write something you enjoy.

A third type of log—one which is not required of a crewmember—is the Joint Log (JL). Sometimes, this simply means that two (or more) people collaborate to write a story log, just as two people might co-author a novel. More common, however, is the "mini-sim," in which the authors get together in their free time and actually sim out the action of the story. Once the "mini-sim" is completed, one of the participants writes up the events in prose form and sends the completed story to the other participants for their suggestions and approval. When all parties involved approve of the story, it is sent to the crew and posted to the appropriate message board by one of the authors.

Remember, logwriting is the best way for your crewmates to get to know your character. While you sim in-character, most sims won't provide many opportunities to show your character's intricacies—and even when they do, these details often scroll off the screen before everyone can read them. Your logs, however, can contain almost anything you like—and your crewmates can read them at their leisure. To qualify for promotion, you must write logs, send them to the crew, and post them on your ship's message boards. However, once they find a style they enjoy, many USF members take the opportunity to explore their characters and write in excess of the basic requirements.

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VII. When Will I Get Promoted?

After your first sim, you won't be promoted. Don't be discouraged, however; just like any other organization, the USF has minimum requirements for promotion that simply cannot be fulfilled after one week. Requirements generally include participation in a certain number of sims, a minimum number of logs, and a demonstrated level of ability commensurate with the desired rank. Listed below are the minimum requirements for promotion across the USF. Achieving these requirements does not guarantee promotion. Promotions come entirely at your CO's discretion, and your CO may set requirements above the USF's minimums. If you want to know how far you have to go to meet requirements, or what your CO expects of you before s/he will promote you, just ask—your CO will be happy to explain. Just don't ask to be promoted—your progress is being tracked by your CO, and asking them won't make the time go any faster.

Officer Ranks

The following are the most common ranks which one can receive in standard USF sims. All promotions are at the discretion of the Commanding Officer unless otherwise noted. Additional or alternate ranks below the rank of Commander may be utilized if the Commanding Officer so desires.

Ensign (Ens):

Ensign's pips

  • There are no sims or logs required for this position. Anyone entering the USF starts off as an Ensign.

Lt. Junior Grade (LtJG):

Lt. (j.g.)'s pips

  • A minimum of four sims must be attended, a character biography must be written, posted and sent to the crew and at least four Duty and four Personal Logs must be written, posted and sent to the crew before you will be considered for promotion to Lieutenant, junior grade.
  • Lieutenants, junior grade, are usually posted as departmental assistants or as bridge crew.
  • Commonly addressed as "Lieutenant."

Lieutenant (Lt):

Lieutenant's pips

  • A minimum of six additional sims must be attended, an updated character biography must be written, posted and sent to the crew, and at least six additional Duty Logs and six additional Personal Logs must be written, posted and sent to the crew before qualification. Additionally, you should be able to demonstrate area specialization (a working knowledge of your post, duties and responsibilities) before you will be considered for promotion to Lieutenant.
  • Lieutenants generally have a good deal of experience in their fields and may also have some experience working with other departments. Assistant Department Heads are often Lieutenants.

First Lieutenant (FLT/FstLt):

First Lieutenant's pips

  • A minimum of eight additional sims must be attended, an updated character biography must be written, posted and sent to the crew, and at least eight additional Duty and eight additional Personal Logs must be written, posted and sent to the crew before qualification. Additionally, you should demonstrate some leadership ability in-sim.
  • First Lieutenants are often Division or Department Heads. They are also put in charge of away teams in many cases.
  • Commonly addressed as "Lieutenant."

Lt. Commander (LtCdr, LtCmdr):

Lt. Commander's pips

  • When a CO decides that one of his or her First Lieutenants is ready to be promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander, he or she fills out and submits the recommendation form found on the host-only message board to the appropriate High Command member. Upon reviewing this form, if the High Command member has any questions pertaining to the promotion, he or she will ask them. Otherwise, the CO will simply receive an acknowledgment that the form has been received and a request to be advised of the actual date of the promotion, once it takes place.
  • A minimum of twelve additional sims must be attended, an updated character biography must be written, posted and sent to the crew, and at least twelve additional Duty and twelve additional Personal Logs must be written, posted and sent to the crew before qualification. As Lieutenant Commanders may often take the role of Acting Executive Officer in a host's absence, they should demonstrate advanced leadership abilities.
  • Lieutenant Commanders are often the ship's Second Officer. They also commonly serve as Division Heads, Department Heads, may be in charge of many away teams, and may serve as Acting Executive Officer in a host's absence.

USF Host Ranks

(Any promotions to Commander or above must be approved by High Command)

Commander (Cdr, Cmdr):

Commander's pips

  • There are no log minimums required to qualify for promotion. There is no maxim that dictates when (or even if) you will be promoted to Commander, although you must attend at least eight additional sims before you can be considered.
  • When a Lieutenant Commander is judged by his or her CO to have qualified for promotion to Commander, that CO will recommend the Lieutenant Commander in question to High Command for placement upon the Host for Hire list. When a sim's Executive Officer position becomes open, the CO of that sim may, if s/he chooses, select a Lieutenant Commander from the Host for Hire list for promotion to that sim's Executive Officer position and ask High Command to confirm the officer in that post.
  • As this rank grants the simmer USF Host status, Commanders must have demonstrated full leadership ability.
  • As above, this rank is generally held by the Executive Officer (First Officer) of a ship, station, starbase, or outpost.
  • It is possible to step down from Hosting but still retain the rank of Commander for simming purposes.
  • It is also possible for a non-Hosting character of a USF Host to attain the rank of Commander, but that character must hold the rank of Lieutenant Commander for one full year before such a promotion will be considered.
  • If a Commander retires from the USF in good standing and later wishes to return, it is possible, if s/he requests it and High Command approves, that s/he may be placed on the Host for Hire list and possibly be selected by a CO to fill an XO spot.

Captain (Cpt):

Captain's pips

  • There are no attendance or log minimums required to qualify for promotion to Captain. There is no maxim that dictates when (or even if) you will be promoted to Captain. While a Commander, you must demonstrate extended leadership abilities and the ability to handle extra responsibilities (i.e., the ability to command your own sim) in order to be considered for promotion to Captain.
  • When a sim's Commanding Officer position becomes open, High Command may choose to promote one of the USF's Commanders to Captain and the position of Commanding Officer of the sim in question.
  • As above, this rank is usually given to the Commanding Officer of a ship, station, starbase or outpost. All officers promoted to Captain must first serve as Commanding Officer of a USF sim.
  • After serving elsewhere as a Commanding Officer, a Host at or above the rank of Captain may serve as an Executive Officer under a CO of higher rank.
  • If a Captain retires from the USF in good standing and later wishes to return, it is possible, if s/he requests it and HC approves, that s/he may either be placed on the Host for Hire list or given a Host spot.

Fleet Representatives (FRs)

(Approved and promoted by High Command)

Fleet Captain (FltCpt, FCpt, FC):

Fleet Captain's pips

  • There are no attendance or log minimums required to qualify for promotion to Fleet Captain. Fleet Captains not only command their ships but also assume the duty of overseeing other ships in the USF; in this capacity, they are known as Fleet Representatives. People of this rank must demonstrate excellent leadership abilities and the willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty.
  • When one of the USF's Fleet Representative positions is vacated—or if a new position is created—High Command may choose to promote one of the USF's Captains to the rank of Fleet Captain and the position of Fleet Representative.
  • It is possible to vacate the position of Fleet Representative but still retain the rank of Fleet Captain for simming purposes.
  • It is also possible to step down from command of a sim and retain the rank of Fleet Captain and the position and responsibilities of a Fleet Representative.
  • At any given time, there are eight Fleet Captains who act as Fleet Representatives and assist High Command with Fleet matters.
  • If a Fleet Captain retires from the USF in good standing and later wishes to return, it is possible that s/he may be given a Host position as a Commanding or Executive Officer upon request, provided such a position is available and HC deems the person in question the best candidate for the position. While this person will retain their previous rank, any position above Commanding Officer must be re-earned.

High Command Ranks

(There are only 7 members of High Command)

Commodore:

Commodore's pips

  • There are no attendance or log minimums required to qualify for promotion to Commodore.
  • Only Fleet Captains who are active Fleet Representatives are considered for promotion to this rank.
  • When a USF High Command position is vacated, the remaining members of High Command select one of the USF's active Fleet Captains for promotion to Commodore and a position in High Command.
  • Commodores work with other High Command members to administrate and oversee the USF. They are aided in this regard by Fleet Captains and other Hosts. Each Commodore's specific duties will be decided in discussion with the rest of HC after his or her promotion.
  • For simming purposes, a Commodore outranks Fleet Captains and is outranked by any of the Admirals. For matters of High Command, however, all HC members are considered equals.
  • It is possible to step down from High Command but still retain the rank of Commodore for simming purposes.
  • It is also possible to step down from command of a sim and retain the rank of Commodore and the responsibilities of a High Command member.
  • At almost any given time, there are three Commodores in High Command.
  • If a Commodore retires from the USF in good standing and later wishes to return, it is possible that s/he may be given a Host position as a Commanding or Executive Officer upon request, provided such a position is available and HC deems the person in question the best candidate for the position. While this person will retain their previous rank, any position above Commanding Officer must be re-earned.

Rear Admiral:

Rear Admiral's pips

  • There are no attendance or log minimums required to qualify for promotion to Rear Admiral.
  • Only Commodores who are active High Command members are considered for promotion to this rank.
  • Rear Admirals work with other High Command members to administrate and oversee the USF. They are aided in this regard by Fleet Captains and other Hosts. Each Rear Admiral's specific duties will be decided in discussion with the rest of HC after his or her promotion.
  • For simming purposes, a Rear Admiral outranks the Commodores and is outranked by the Vice Admiral and the Admiral. For matters of High Command, however, all HC members are considered equals.
  • It is possible to step down from High Command but still retain the rank of Rear Admiral for simming purposes.
  • It is also possible to step down from command of a sim and retain the rank of Rear Admiral and the responsibilities of a High Command member.
  • At almost any given time, there are two Rear Admirals in High Command.
  • If a Rear Admiral retires from the USF in good standing and later wishes to return, it is possible that s/he may be given a Host position as a Commanding or Executive Officer upon request, provided such a position is available and HC deems the person in question the best candidate for the position. While this person will retain their previous rank, any position above Commanding Officer must be re-earned.

Vice Admiral:

Vice Admiral's pips

  • There are no attendance or log minimums required to qualify for promotion to Vice Admiral.
  • Only Commodores and Rear Admirals who are active as High Command members are considered for this rank.
  • The Vice Admiral works with other High Command members to administrate and oversee the USF. S/he is aided in this regard by Fleet Captains and other Hosts. The Vice Admiral's specific duties will be decided in discussion with the rest of HC after his or her promotion.
  • For simming purposes, the Vice Admiral outranks the Rear Admirals and is outranked by the Admiral. For matters of High Command, however, all HC members are considered equals.
  • It is possible to step down from High Command but still retain the rank of Vice Admiral for simming purposes.
  • It is also possible to step down from command of a sim and retain the rank of Vice Admiral and the responsibilities of a High Command member.
  • At almost any given time, there is one Vice Admiral in High Command.
  • If the Vice Admiral retires from the USF in good standing and later wishes to return, it is possible that s/he may be given a Host position as a Commanding or Executive Officer upon request, provided such a position is available and HC deems the person in question the best candidate for the position. While this person will retain their previous rank, any position above Commanding Officer must be re-earned.

Admiral:

Admiral's pips

  • Commanding officer of the Fleet.
  • Holds the responsibility of overseeing all external matters between the Fleet and the real world.
  • For simming purposes, the Admiral outranks all others. For matters of High Command, however, all HC members are considered equals.
  • There are no attendance or log minimums required to qualify for promotion to Admiral.
  • Only active High Command members are considered for this rank.
  • It is possible to step down from High Command but still retain the rank of Admiral for simming purposes.
  • It is also possible to step down from command of a sim and retain the rank of Admiral and the responsibilities of a High Command member.
  • At almost any given time, there is one Admiral in High Command.
  • If the Admiral retires from the USF in good standing and later wishes to return, it is possible that s/he may be given a Host position as a Commanding or Executive Officer upon request, provided such a position is available and HC deems the person in question the best candidate for the position. While this person will retain their previous rank, any position above Commanding Officer must be re-earned.

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VIII. High Command

The USF High Command is the governing body of the United Space Federation. Their main concerns are to oversee the Fleet and maintain the well-being of the USF as a whole. They, along with the Fleet Representatives, are also responsible for investigating complaints from Commanding and Executive Officers as well as complaints regarding COs and XOs. High Command ensures that the USF is working properly and that there are no unfair or illegal practices transpiring in sims or in other areas of the USF.

The following is an outline of the USF Chain of Command: If you become aware of a problem affecting you or your sim, you should follow your sim's specific Chain of Command, which will ultimately lead to your CO and XO. If your CO and XO cannot handle the problem, or if you aren't satisfied with the way they handled the situation, you may then contact your Fleet Representative, whose specific duties are explained in Section IX. If the resolution of the problem at the FR level is still unsatisfactory, the problem may then be brought before High Command. Please note that, though the Chain of Command is to be used for all official sim-related concerns or problems, you are free to approach your Fleet Rep or a High Command member at any time with informal questions, comments or requests for advice. Please view the host listingpage for a list of the current members of USF High Command.

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IX. Fleet Representatives

Each ship in the USF is represented to High Command through a delegate known as a Fleet Representative (FR). FRs are usually Fleet Captains, though occasionally High Command members assume their duties. The function of the Fleet Representative is to serve as an advisor and mediator to a sim's Host team, one who ensures that the sim operates in accordance with USF guidelines. The Fleet Representative is not, however, part of the sim's official chain of command; rather, s/he is part of the USF chain of command. Hosts of a sim may consult with the Fleet Representative for advice or for assistance in mediating disputes—or, indeed, for any number of other reasons—but they are under no obligation or expectation to do so. Unless a serious problem arises that cannot be resolved within the sim's command structure, the FR does not need to become involved.

In order for FRs to be able to carry out their duties, they shall have access to the main areas of the sim where the hosts and crew interact: the weekly sim and the mail that goes out on the sim string. So long as the FR is still able to fulfill his/her obligations (to the sim crew, hosts, and HC), the FR and CO of a sim are free to make another, mutually agreeable, arrangement.

Feel free to consult your Fleet Representative for help. The following is a brief outline of the duties and responsibilities of a Fleet Representative—a more complete description can be found in the Fleet Representative Handbook.

  • Fleet Representatives may not represent a sim that they Host.
  • Fleet Representatives are responsible for hearing all complaints that the complainant feels were not resolved satisfactorily by the sim's Host team. Before registering a formal complaint with your FR, please ensure that you have exhausted the options available in your sim's chain of command—if you have not, your FR will tell you to do so.
  • Fleet Representatives are responsible for investigating all complaints of a Host's malfeasance, including but not limited to ignoring crewmembers' complaints, leveling unwarranted or malicious punishment, or unfairly dismissing an officer from the sim.
  • Please note that Fleet Representatives are also available to all persons at any time to provide informal advice or assistance, or to answer questions about USF policy and procedure. If you have a question, feel free to ask!
  • Fleet Representatives are responsible for maintaining a sim in the absence of its Hosts. Though they will not assume command, they will help the officers present so that the sim may continue. Should the Hosts be judged to have vacated their sim, the FR will recommend a new Commanding Officer to High Command.
  • Fleet Representatives have no formal authority over the sims they represent. They may not promote officers, discipline crewmembers, or perform any other command functions without the CO's explicit permission.
  • Fleet Reps can only disrupt the command structure of a ship on the orders of High Command. This would be a rare happening and would generally only occur as the result of a formal complaint that made serious charges against the CO and/or XO. Even in that case, unless there was reasonable grounds to believe the CO/XO was severely damaging the sim by his/her actions as part of the command staff, the CO/XO would normally remain in charge of the sim during the investigation of the complaint.

Please view the hostlisting page for a current list of the USF's Fleet Representatives.

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X. Guidelines of Conduct

Being a member of the USF is a privilege, not a right, and with this privilege come certain responsibilities. Though the USF does not force a certain style of simming upon its members, we do have certain guidelines that each member must follow to help make sure we all have a good time. After all, if the game isn't fun for us, why should we bother to play it? The following are some basic guidelines.

  1. Every member must treat other members with respect at all times.
  2. Respectful behavior should be upheld in personal interactions between USF members outside of the sim setting. While the USF recognizes that it has no authority over how its members conduct their personal lives, when choices made adversely affect either another USF simmer or the USF itself—or threaten to do so—such inappropriate behavior outside of the sim setting can still result in negative consequences within the USF. For example, harassment of any sort, by IM, e-mail, phone or any other means of communication outside the sim environment can be grounds for dismissal within the USF.
  3. In the sim setting, you should not write or do anything that would seem inappropriate to your fellow crewmates, whether during a sim, within a log, or within content uploaded to the message boards. This includes (but is not limited to) killing or injuring a fellow crew member without their permission, writing descriptions of graphic violence or sexual acts, and inciting mutiny. If you have even the slightest thought that something you are planning may not be appropriate, run it by your CO before deciding whether or not to proceed.
  4. Each ship has a chain of command (CoC) and it should be followed regarding sim matters. Your CO and XO are at the top of the CoC for your sim and should therefore be obeyed when they give orders or AXN commands in the context of the sim or in regard to it. Following the chain of command not only helps you, it helps keep everyone informed about what is going on in and with the sim, so that the whole process can run smoothly and be fun for everyone.
  5. Because they hold significant positions of authority, and because they represent USF leadership, USF Hosts are held to a higher standard of behavior than non-Hosts.
  6. If a fellow simmer informs you that they find your conduct objectionable, and you persist in the objectionable conduct, you may find yourself the target of a formal complaint. If the complaint is deemed valid, the consequences could include a formal reprimand, probation, suspension, dismissal from your sim, or dismissal from the USF. Though simming is ultimately just a game, your fellow simmers are people, too, and are entitled to respectful treatment.
  7. If you have a problem with a fellow simmer, you should first attempt to work things out with that person one-on-one. If this proves difficult or impossible, you should then consider filing a formal complaint. If you wish to file a formal complaint, follow your specific sim's chain of command to do so. (If the person about whom you wish to complain is in your chain of command, you may bypass him or her and proceed to the next person up the chain.) While you are free to consult with anyone you like before proceeding with a formal complaint or during the course of one, action on the complaint progresses in accordance with your pursuit of it via the chain of command. Remember that formal complaints against fellow crew members or other USF members are serious matters. All complaints will be taken seriously and investigated fully, but those found to be false, frivolous, and/or malicious will likely result in disciplinary measures against the complainant.
  8. Please recognize that the USF has no "real world" power—if you have a complaint you feel needs to be addressed in the real world, don't hesitate to contact the appropriate authorities. Remember, too, that no matter how well you think you know someone from their online persona, s/he may be completely different in real life. Be cautious.

The above are just a couple of the basic USF-wide guidelines of conduct. Each ship will have separate codes of conduct. Your CO and XO will inform you of what is expected from you when you join their sim.

The CO has the power to dismiss you from a USF sim if s/he feels that your behavior warrants dismissal—but this rarely happens. None of our rules differ dramatically from simple common sense, and virtually all USF members sim with us without ever encountering disciplinary measures. If, however, you feel as though you have been disciplined unfairly, inform your Fleet Representative, and they will determine whether or not you were accorded due process and will then advise you about how to proceed.

Remember, if one sim doesn't work out for you, the USF has many, many others for you to try! Good luck on your new adventure; we look forward to simming with you!

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Good luck on your new adventure!
We hope to welcome you aboard!

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