CREATING YOUR CHARACTER
Character Biographies are perhaps the most important element of a role-playing game. They are the foundation upon which the game is built.
This guide is designed as a tool to give some information on how to create a good character biography. On the bottom of this page, you will find a summery of specific conditions which your character will have to adhere to in order to be allowed to be played in the Fourteenth Fleet. Other than that, you may use this information in any way you choose to develop your own unique character, but please keep in mind that the other players in the game must also be able to clearly identify with your character, and the more flexible or "loose" you create it to begin with, the easier it will be for the others to involve you in plots and missions.
You are encouraged to update your bio as often as you like, as your character gains rank and increases in experience.
The most basic requirement for anyone wishing to participate in role-playing game is a character. A character is simply a real person recorded as facts in a character biography. Your character can be almost anyone, or anything, with any special talents or capabilities, or most ANYTHING you can think of - as long as your Commanding Officer (CO) and the group leadership (EA) approve it. Your CO or XO (Executive Officer) will give you suggestions for improving it after you submit it. Please don't try to include too much, or make your character too strong because it you most often end up making changes to "tone it down".
In the following sections we'll give you tips on writing a basic character biography containing a name, age, gender, species, as well as a partial character history. This bio can be used simply as a practice, or if you wish, can be used as part of your application to a ship. Keep in mind this is only a basic biography; it may not cover every piece of information that a CO might ask for in an application and this is only a SUGGESTED outline.
Please note that the Fourteenth Fleet exercises a two officer maximum per user rule to increase availability and diversity amongst it's sims.
Suprisingly, your character's name can be one of the hardest choices to make on a biography. Your name can be influenced by what culture you pick (Klingons, Bajorans, and Vulcans all use special naming methods), as well as your gender (male, female, or neutral).
The easiest way to pick a name is by picking up a phone book and flipping to random pages, or perhaps you have a name that you wish you had been given when you were born. Maybe you want to use your own name or a friend's name. One way which many people find helpful for developing a name, either for their own character name, and also for alien names in a game - and just about anything else you will ever need to name in a role-playing game - is the "backwards technique". Quite simply the "backwards" technique is just reverse a word.
Say I have an alien character that I want to name. I choose an ordinary name like Phillip, and write it backwards Pillihp. Of course this seems difficult to pronounce, so I would probably edit it to be Pillih, or Illip. You don't even have to use names! My character's name could just as easily be derived from the word "Canyon". In this way I would end up with Noynac, or Nonac. Regardless of how you choose your name, you must keep it for the entire time you use that character-barring unusual circumstances.
AGE AND GENDER:
In some cases, your character will be fresh out of Starfleet Academy. Assuming that the schools and higher educational facilities run on the same principles in the future as they do now, your character will be approximately 17 - 20 Terran years old upon entering the Academy, and anywhere from 21 to 25 years old when they leave. Of course some characters may be much older, depending on the particular circumstances of your biography. Just try and keep an amount of realism when you determine your character's age.
For players going through Starfleet Academy, it's considered to be your "Cadet Cruise" - the last assignment before graduation. Therefore your character should be 4-5 years older than when he/she entered the Academy. If you are entering the Medical field your graduating age would be higher because they are a longer course, a minimum of 8 years.
It may not seem really necessary to put an exact Date of Birth on your bio, but it does provide a "standard" form of reference for everyone, so please include it. The easiest method is to just subtract your age from the "current date", 2403, to figure it out.
It may sound weird, but you do have a choice in gender as well. It is relatively easy to simulate one's own gender, but simming isn't for skipping the challenges. Many role-players have both male and female characters, and some think that by playing the opposite gender of what you are gives a chance to see a unique view of what the other gender goes through.
Possibly the hardest choice in your bio, right after your name, will be your species. Your species will affect your behavior, social skills, physique, mental skills, name, gender, and your history.
Perhaps the easiest way out is to be a Human; however I find many people attempt to portray the other "more popular" cultures, such as Betazoids, Klingons, Vulcans, and even Ferengi. We've even had some people sign up as Romulans, El-Aurians and "rescued" Borg, but please note that these are VERY strongly discouraged due to their tendency to be heroic characters. Your CO will advise you on modifications to weaken your bio in these cases.
TIP! The easiest and best way to pick a species is to review the ship's crew roster where you would most like to be placed, and see what the current balance is. If there is a shortage of Humans, then try being a Human. If there are no Betazoids on board, perhaps you might consider that. This will make the game more realistic, because most Starfleet crews should have a variety of species, but you must also be comfortable with the species you choose.
Beware of the "privileged" species - those species that have special talents, such as the Klingon "knack" for fighting, the Betazoid mind-reading, the Vulcan control over emotions and mind meld. Over-use of these powers can severely hamper your ability to enjoy the game, and make it more difficult for the other players to involve your character in the game. Often it is more preferred to be a human and have to deal with the lack of those skills than to have the ability and mis-use them.
Choosing "rescued" Borg are usually bad choices for a character species, because they most often lead to "Superhero Syndrome". Even if your description of how such a character would end up on the ship is unique, expect to have it turned down. "It's hard to work in a group when you're omnipotent", but this is not meant to limit you. If you create a good background history for why your character is here, then send it in... the worst that can happen is you have to start again. There have been some enterprising people who used a species from Star Trek Voyager, and came up with a very logical story about how they came to be in the Federation. Your CO/XO and the EA will be able to review the character and make any comments on improvement.
Many people attempt to create "cross-breed" species. These characters can often be very interesting, but you need to keep a few things in mind.
#1) Is it likely, or even possible that these species would mate? How did you get a Klingon and a Romulan to get along long enough to produce offspring?
#2) Will your multiple heritages give you superhero powers? It is a definite possibility if you make a "mutt" character that you will suddenly have them be able to do impossible things. While a Vulcan, Betazoid, and Klingon crew member working together can add advantages to the story, someone who is all three and just solves the plot in one post can make the story no fun. If you DO decide to have a "mutt", please expect the CO/XO or the group leadership to inform you that you need to add something to weaken it.
#3) Can you keep up with all these heritages? Many people have tried characters with mixed heritage, and have had difficulty portraying them accurately. This also makes it harder for other players to involve your character and makes the game no fun.
You will want to provide some history for your character. Basically it contains any event(s) from your character's past, ranging from a list of extracurricular activities at the Academy to your academy major, romances, parents, hobbies, traditions, etc...
**A note on the Academy is in order:
Not everyone can be the best, or even close to the best. We regularly get applications with characters stating to have finished in the top 1% to 10% of the class, and even 1st in the class. While this may be acceptable, it is unrealistic to have EVERYONE finish that high. The challenge of e-mail simming is to take a less-than perfect character, have him/her react to the mission plot as it unfolds and participate to his or her best skill level. This is just a suggestion of course.
Your history should NOT be just one line describing:
- How you were found abandoned without any information about who you were.
- How you were found abandoned with no clue who you were, but with indications that you might have a unique origin.
- Strange events indicating you are not who you seem to be.
- How you were raised by a pack of wolves.
- How you were raised by Q.
- That you were assimilated by the Borg and want to join Starfleet.
Having a character suddenly pop up and say "Hey, look at me, I can adjust the flow of time", or "Wow, look, I can snap my fingers and do anything" can SEVERELY interrupt not just the plot, but the game itself. For this reason, such open-ended histories are generally discouraged.
Also keep in mind that using an existing major, minor or even sub-character in any Star Trek series is not a good idea. For one, playing them directly is a violation of copyright laws, and as they are very established characters, having them as a parent, relative or friend is not a good idea. It would conflict with the series, and having contact with them would make your character seem larger than life.
A LITTLE EXTRA
Creating a biography can be on of the hardest requirements of a role-playing game, you need to following closely the accepted practice of novelists in drafting out their characters before they write a novel. Writing a bio that is flexible gives you more of a base to build your character off of, and gives the other players room to involve your character.
Additional enhancements focus around adding on to your biography, such as descriptions of your character physically (pictures are a major plus), a psyche report, and even some sample writings or adventures from the Academy help as well. You MUST be careful with some of the enhancements, as they can quickly "over-do" your character. Try to leave some room to develop your character in the sim. It also helps to add to your biography as you progress in the sim; add significant events, occurrences, promotions, and experiences that affect your character and his/her actions.
The only other way to enhance your character is in the sim itself, by relating or reminiscing on past events, reading a journal, comparing current events with what he or she has been privileged to in the past. Your bio is effectively never done if you want to have an excellent character.
In regards to Starfleet Academy or enlisting in Starfleet:
- the youngest accepted age for your character to enter Starfleet Academy is 17.
- Graduation from Starfleet Academy can only happen after 4 years.
- Starfleet Medical School takes 8 years instead of 4.
- The youngest accepted age for your character to enlist is 18
- There is a two officer maximum per user rule to increase availability and diversity amongst it's sims.
In regards to canon characters, locations, events:
- Your character cannot be a canon character, nor be related to one. (William Riker, Harry Kim's brother, etc)
- Your character cannot have been assigned to a canon starship or location. (USS Enterprise-E, Deep Space Nine, Voyager)
- Your character cannot have taken place in any canon historical events in an active role. (Lead negotiator at Khitomer, etc.)
Final approval of your character:
- Rests with both your Commanding Officer and the group leadership.