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Incoming Commands for Junior Officers: Raven-class

February 22, 2022

The short version of this message: Ensigns can now request their own Primary Command, their own smaller ship on which to house Stories, Missions, and Characters, until they’re eligible for starship command!

But I do like to explain my thinking, so here’s the longer version:

One of the great changes we implemented in Bravo Fleet two years ago is: ‘Everyone’s a captain.’ Everyone can earn their own ship, whether they want to write long stories with it, use it to occasionally dip their toe into competitions and events, write up a shiny wiki page and leave the rest to imagination, or just keep it on their shelf for bragging rights. We put a rank restriction on becoming a starship captain out of practicality and fairness: there are only so many starship names, so you have to do a little work to get that far (and stay active!). It also gives people something to work towards, a reward for your participation.

This has led to different options for junior officer activity (those ranked Lieutenant and below), at least when it comes to writing fiction, as starships are used as both an in-character vehicle to go out and engage with the setting, and the BFMS home for posts and missions. Stories have to be housed under a Command (they act like a folder, containing your missions and their posts), most of which are starships. Presently, junior officers have to put their writing on Task Force HQs; OOC, they’re the Command you post to, and IC, they’re launch points from which you can shoot off on your adventure (or hang out on the starbase if you wish).

There have been a few problems with this setup. One is that the TFHQ system was inherited from the forums, where it was no more complicated than a section to contain storyline threads. Giving all members writing access to their TFHQ has various administrative burdens, and it has several organisational drawbacks (which are numerous but minor and not worth boring you with). TFHQs are simply not the most efficient way to support junior officer writing on the modern BFMS.

The second is more pertinent: it’s harder to explain to a new member, both as a concept and in terms of website accessibility. You join up – but you don’t have a ship, you’re assigned to a starbase, except you’re not crew of the starbase, you’re just launching missions off the starbase, oh and go sign up to this thing on the website and make sure your TFCO has pushed the right buttons –

Time for something simpler. Now members can request their own Command the moment they reach the OOC rank of Ensign.

Instead of a starship, with its crew of potentially hundreds of people, Ensigns can request one of the many Raven-class auxiliary ships in the registry. These are smaller ships with a crew between 1 and 20, unable to support long-term missions and generally operating on small assignments in and around Federation space. The expectation is that a junior officer can write their primary character in command of a small team on a smaller-scale mission ahead of their assignment to starship command. Because we want people to be excited about moving onto a starship some day, Ravens are somewhat limited in what they can do. We’ve picked a naming convention, too: all after the Martian canals once believed to exist, as an IC act of remembrance for the massive loss of life on Mars in 2385.

The process to request a Command is exactly the same as it will be when members are eligible for their own starship, and the Raven-class Command will function on BFMS exactly like any other. Its records will be attached to a member’s dossier permanently, even when they’re no longer in charge of it, as a home for the Missions and Stories they’ve written – instead of becoming buried in the backlog of a TFHQ. A Raven can be used for individual writing, for writing with others, for participating in campaigns and Fleet Actions, or just to have for fun (this is all make-believe anyway!).

We will be scaling back support for the TFHQs as Commands; members will not use them any more OOC (they won’t disappear immediately, I know some people are using them right now). IC, the flotilla and starbases are perfect hubs from which you can launch your Raven‘s missions.

It is our hope that now we have two very clear paths for new members who want to write. If you want to RP and collaborate with others, you can immediately get stuck in by applying to a game or hopping onto Starbase Bravo. If you want to write your own story, it can take as little as a day to reach Ensign, at which point you can request your own Command and get started. Either way, it’s quick and easy to engage the way you want to.

Just hit the ‘Command’ button on your dashboard, and pick the Raven of your dreams! I look forward to all the new adventures.