Saturday, July 14, 2012

Biblical Reference, part two

Last week I discussed the framework by which you might create a game, by creating a “bible” much like producers might in crafting a television series.  So we set about creating a new Star Trek game.  We chose which universe to set it in, the era, the physical location (what part of the universe and the ship it would take place on).  Now I had intended to go right into the part about creating NPCs, but upon reflection I think I should touch upon an issue that is mostly unique to Star Trek games, and that is the existence of fleets.

Let me explain what a fleet is.  A fleet is an organization of self important individuals who give themselves ranks like Admiral and titles like JAG.  They form a bureaucracy and then go about telling you how to run your game.  I had always wondered why anyone would submit to such nonsense and it was not until recently that I realized why.  You see, for me running a game was pretty simple and straightforward in that I had all the tools at my disposal.  I had an html editor (Netscape Composer, an admitted dinosaur now.), a free web host, and Yahoo Groups.  I never needed a fleet and my self sufficiency created a blind spot in regards to my point of view .  But there are those out there that for one reason or another are incapable or unwilling to create their own web sites, to do their homework where web hosting is concerned, and are content to allow someone at a fleet to do the heavy lifting for them.  All they have to do is submit to their authority.

I refuse to submit to anyone’s authority.

I am a free man!

In retrospect that may be why I find myself a much better GM than I do player.

So the question you have to ask yourself after you have decided to run a Star Trek game is, do you wish to bow before someone else’s authority-

Kneel before Zod!

and be someone else’s pawn in exchange for them granting you a slicker looking presentation for your game, or do you wish to take the high road and be your own GM?  Web sites are nice but they are not critical.  You can run a game using only Yahoo Groups or a message board of some sort.  Just because the Nova system employed by a majority of Star Trek games looks nice it does not necessarily mean it is a better system, especially when what comes with it are the chains of oppression.

As for how message boards work, a nice person at the Ultimate RPG Owners Survival Guide had this to say about in in response to my query:

I own a message board (forum) based community over at -- I'm more than happy to answer any questions.

For starters, forums are more organized than an email list - I've got something like 20 campaigns running at once and 159 subforums. Trying to do all that with email lists would be a management nightmare. Forum software can be hosted by you or by a third-party company, but if they're offering free forums you'll probably have to deal with ads. I use PHPBB3, which is open source--allowing me to modify it at the code level as needed. It's my opinion that roleplaying games benefit a lot from having a website, especially one with a wiki to keep track of your RP's growing shared imaginary universe. If you've already got a webhost for that, adding a forum is relatively easy. Most forum software has email notifications available, so when a new post is made, players can be informed of it.

Much appreciated, Wes.

If you are an aspiring GM joining this group might be beneficial.  These are peers, men and women who have dealt with the sorts of issues you might deal with in running a game.  It never hurts to ask for a little guidance when you feel lost.

Now okay, maybe “chains of oppression” is a bit much.  You can, after all, quit a fleet and transfer your ship to another one.  I have seen it happen.  Drew, a GM I hold in contempt and who I have written about here in the past, is on his third fleet.  I recently quit a game, the USS Andoria in part because of the GM deciding to swap fleets for no good reason I could see (In fact, when I first joined the game I had no idea it was part of a fleet in the first place!).  So it is not like you are under some sort of obligation to stick around.

The point is, you do have options if you so choose to remain independent, all it takes is a bit more effort.  Next week I am going to delve further into the set up of our game bible and rather than talk about the creation of GMPCs and NPCs as I had originally intended I am instead going to talk about another subject.  That subject is tone...

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