Player-Crew Ships in Argo

Updated version here: Multi-Player Crews & Info Sheet Template

Spoiler: Original GuideShow
PLAYER-CREW SHIPS IN ARGO

Player-crew ships are ships that have a player-character Captain and at least one player-character crewmember. Some player-ships are as simple as that: a captain and a crewmember; others are more complex, with multiple crewmembers and recurring RP.

All player-crews share one unfortunate commonality: if not managed properly, they will fail and nobody will have any fun. Whether the result is the crew stagnating, or going inactive, or disbanding prematurely, the purpose of this guide is to help each of you avoid that fate.

Detailed below are the fleet policies regarding player-crews, along with a list of best practices and common pitfalls that are designed to help you get the most out of your player-crew experience.



PROSPECTIVE CREWMEMBERS

Putting your character on the crew of another player's ship is one way to try to capture that classic Trek feeling, as one of a regular cast of characters going on adventures as the crew of a single ship, just like they did on TV. This can be an extremely rewarding experience for all involved, but it's not without its downsides. A lot of coordination is required, and each player is required to give up some measure of creative freedom in order to accommodate the rest of the crew. Additionally, sometimes scenarios will unfold that may make it difficult for player-crew characters to remain involved with the rest of the fleet.

FLEET POLICY

Argo Initiates may not have a character on a player-crew without admin approval. Because of the potential limiting factors of player-crews, Initiates are generally advised not to commit their characters to player-crews until they're promoted to full member. This waiting period ensures that new members have the time to consider their options and make an informed decision. Exceptions to this policy, including applications received for the purpose of joining a friend's crew, will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

BEST PRACTICES

Know your alternatives. Not every player-crew is a fit for every player. Don't be afraid to shop around before making a decision. If you're unsure for whatever reason, Argo's largest crew is the starbase. Before you write it off, consider that, like DS9 had the Defiant, our starbase has two ships assigned to it for use by the starbase crew, that can even be taken out on missions by mid-ranking officers. DS13 is Argo's recommended starting-point for anyone who wants to try a player-crew setting.

Find a player-crew that works for your timezone and schedule. Player-crews are highly dependent on the players' ability to be online at the same time. Before you commit to a player crew, make sure that the captain and other players plan to RP during times that you are available.

Understand the level of control being afforded by the Captain. Each player-crew captain has his/her own style. Some may have loosely defined guidelines for the crew, while others may prefer a more strict approach. Some things to consider: How much RP will be available outside of ship events? Will you be able to participate in fleet events that your captain can't attend (and if so, how?)? Will you be able to RP casually on the starbase between missions, or does the captain want the crew to remain off-station while the ship is not docked?

PITFALLS TO AVOID

Don't fall prey to cliquing. Cliquing is simultaneously perfectly natural and terribly dangerous to a community. While it is expected and healthy for small groups of friends to form within the fleet, this can easily and inadvertently have devastating results if those small groups become exclusive or lose interest in sharing their RP time with others. When joining a player-crew, it is especially important to remember to find time to interact with the rest of the fleet, whether through visits to the starbase, participation in non-crew events, or even just by having an alt or two elsewhere within the fleet. A fractured community is a dying community.



PROSPECTIVE CAPTAINS

Most people who have ever seen Star Trek would be lying if they said they never dreamed of sitting in that center chair, leading a ship and crew off on incredible adventures. Being the captain of a player-crew will let you do just that. A player-crew captain is part leader, part organizer, part writer, and part dungeon master. Running a player-crew is a challenge and a commitment, but for those of you who feel up to the task, it's also an opportunity to help create and participate in a great roleplay experience.

FLEET POLICY

Before taking on player crewmembers, Argo Captains must be full members. Player-crews are a significant investment in time and effort, not only for the captain, but also for the crewmembers. Without the captain, the player-crew cannot function properly. With this in mind, it is very important for the captain to be an established member of the community.

Crewmembers on Argo ships should be Argo characters. This applies to non-members as well as alts of current members. As usual, everyone is always welcome to invite friends to RP as guests, and, at the discretion of the GM/Captain, guests can be considered to be on temporary assignment as necessary for participation. Characters looking for permanent assignment on Argo player-crews should follow the usual OOC application/alt application process. Exceptions to this policy will be granted case-by-case.

BEST PRACTICES

Understand your schedule and your time constraints. A fun and effective player-crew works because its captain and crew are able to log in and play together at the same time. Before taking on the challenge of running a player-crew, make sure you know when you're going to be available to RP on a regular basis, and make sure any prospective crewmembers know it too, before letting them sign on. It's perfectly normal for some crews to meet more or less often than others, and it's even possible to run a crew even on a very limited schedule; awareness and providing accurate expectations are keys to success.

Choose a style and stick with it. Some captains prefer to run a weekly event, that they GM themselves, others prefer to have their crews attend events GMed by someone else. Some captains prefer to run foundry-based missions, while still others prefer not to schedule events at all and just wing it. All of these, and many other styles, are perfectly acceptable, as long as the captain decides how his/her crew is going to be run, makes sure the crewmembers all understand how it'll work, and preferably, remains as consistent as possible.

Only take on as many players as you can handle. Know your limitations. Managing large numbers of players can be very difficult, not only for scheduling, but for RP as well. Groups larger than five cannot all fit into a foundry mission, and increasing numbers of players make GMed events increasingly hectic. Captains need to be careful not to accept more characters onto their crews than they are comfortable providing for. Small crews that have fun and succeed are far preferable to large crews that fall apart.

Define the amount of control you want over your ship and crew. The single most common question about player-crews is, what can the crewmembers do when the captain is offline. Can the crew take the ship to fleet events when the captain isn't around? Do they have to make up their own excuses for being off the ship to do other RP? Would you prefer people only use alts for non-ship RP? How flexible do you want to be with allowing crewmembers to hang around the starbase? As the captain, you get to decide all of these things, and more, but it is vital that your crewmembers know what your decisions are. If they have to ask what to do when one of these comes up, you have failed to give them adequate guidance.

Make effective use of your resources. From the fleet timeline, to the stardate calculator, to the transcript formatter, to the list of other resources, Argo provides its members with a wide array of tools to help with RP. The most successful player-crews are usually the ones that make the best use of them.
Spoiler: The following recommendations are specifically aimed at running an organized player crewShow

  • Captain's Log
    Maintain a thread in the Short Stories forum for your Captain's Log. This is more than simply an IC log for your character. Just like the TV show voice-overs, your Captain's Log thread is also the single best OOC resource for members of your crew to stay up to date on your player-crew's ongoing story.

  • Onboard Messaging
    Maintain a thread in the Communications forum for any short IC messages, announcements, or orders sent between crewmembers onboard your ship. Using a single thread will cut down on clutter and provide a single location to reference for each ship.

  • OOC Planning Thread
    Maintain a thread in the Story Commentary and Feedback
    forum for OOC information and planning. The first post should contain updated information about how you run your ship, when your events are, what style you use, and everything else that your crewmembers need to be aware of OOCly. The rest of the thread can be used as you see fit for discussions, planning, and OOC communication.

  • Ship Record
    Maintain a thread in the Ship Records forum for relevant information about your ship. Technical data, deck layouts, statistics, and anything else your crewmembers might need to know about their starship should be made available to them here. This thread should also contain a post with links to your Captain's Log, Onboard Messaging, and OOC Planning threads, so they're always easy to find.

  • Fleet Roster Entry
    While it is the responsibility of each member to update their own roster tag post (thereby retaining control of their character's assignment), the captain of a player-ship can use their own post in the Sys Ops Network forum to keep roles updated, define static NPCs, and even advertise open positions.

  • Recent Reports
    The Recent Reports shoutbox on the right side of the website is the best way to quickly and easily give the entire fleet a glimpse of what your ship is doing. From simple things such as arriving at and departing the starbase, to short summaries of RP missions, posting recent reports greatly adds to the overall immersion of the fleet.

PITFALLS TO AVOID

Don't hamper your crewmembers integration with the fleet. When run well, player-crews can easily become very tight-knit little cliques. This is to be expected, and on one hand, it's great that people will have the opportunity to RP a close group and to make closer friends OOCly. As nice as that might sound, it carries a strong risk of fragmenting the community. As the captain of an Argo player-crew, we ask that you do what you can to avoid letting that type of situation develop. Don't schedule your crew RP at the same time as other fleet events. Don't ever force players to choose between your crew and other RP. Don't ignore non-crew players, and try not to poach from other crews. Be mindful of IC happenings elsewhere in the fleet, and don't try to avoid fleet-wide plots.

Don't forget to communicate. The single fastest way to ruin a player-crew is failing to properly communicate. Make sure that you're on the same page as Argo leadership. Make sure your crewmembers understand how you're running things. Make sure they know when to meet up for crew RP and when you're running events. Make sure they know what they can and can't do, and when they do something you're not happy with, make sure they know what and when that was, and how they can avoid it in the future.

Don't underestimate consequences. As much as this applies to every GM, it applies doubly so to the captain of a player-crew ship. From devastating tragedies, to ship movements and actions, to the simplest of orders, everything that happens to your ship has an effect on every member of the crew (including ones that may not even be online). Consider this carefully when directing your plots and events.

Never be afraid to ask for help. This is, possibly, the most important point in this guide. Nobody knows everything, and every one of us has been in a situation where we've needed a little help. This may take the form of getting advice, borrowing somebody to play an NPC, asking someone to GM an event, or any number of other things. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, but a tool for success.
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