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New RPG Format

September 23, 2021

For at least the last decade, Nova has been nearly the only game in town, so to speak, when it comes to running a Star Trek play-by-post RPG. It’s a powerful piece of software that has a lot of flexibility in giving groups the ability to manage lots of characters, use custom ranks, and tie posts directly to the characters and users related to them. It’s great for very large RPGs, too. One of the issues we’ve run into several times as a fleet is that new members who haven’t previously use Nova find that it can be quite a steep learning curve, in addition to the complexity of both needing an account on the BFMS and on each individual RPG’s website. A lot of the things that veteran users of Nova now know can be bewildering for new users, but beyond that, every website takes resources, time, and a lot of energy to maintain.

One of my largest priorities for our RPG offerings is to streamline the process for new members as much as possible, to make the experience for RPGs as seamless as it is now for fiction. Duty Ribbons for RPG posts are now the only type of writing ribbon which must be still nominated manually, so alleviating that burden is another part of this objective. It is also still necessary to maintain a character roster both on Nova and the BFMS, as well as to keep both sites updated, which is a burden for GMs. Indeed, being a least somewhat competent using HTML and other web design skills is by circumstance a requirement for being a GM, even though those skills do not have anything to do with the ability to set a plot or to manage a group of writers. This does not mean that I wish to take away the option to use Nova, but I am eager to find alternatives that better suit the needs of our group.

To that end, thanks to the amazing work of Emily, our BFXO and BFIO, I am pleased to announce that we now are able to run RPGs directly through the Bravo Fleet Management System, using the collaborative writing feature of the integrated fiction system! These RPGs will be treated the same way as other RPGs, in that they will be listed alongside our Nova-based RPGs and their GMs will have access to our recruitment area, and receive both the same type of support, and be subject to the same expectations of activity and communication as other GMs. This system has the ability to do collaborative writing directly on the BFMS, with email notifications for every saved draft, and email notifications for every post. Stories produced this way will also feature directly into the BFMS story feed and our Discord server’s feed, bringing the work of RPG players directly into the main community in a way that’s never before been possible.

As of this announcement, I’m able to announce our first two BFMS-based RPGs: the Asger and the Truckee, each run by a Bravo Fleet veteran, with premises that I think you will find very appealing.

For more information on these games, please click the banners above, which will take you to the command’s page. To join, get in contact with either Sean (for the Truckee) or Womprat (for the Asger), or check out their forthcoming recruitment posts!

(Anticipated) Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does this mean we’re getting rid of Nova?!
A: As I said above, no it does not. This is just another option for RPGs to use.

Q: How can I propose my own BFMS-based RPG?
A: The requirements for proposing a BFMS-based RPG are the same as proposing a Nova-based RPG. You must reach the rank of Commander and make a proposal through the BFMS. 

Q: Will there be premade BFMS-based RPGs for beginning GMs?
A: Maybe. Part of the point of the premade program is to provide a fully-built Nova for those that don’t want to set their own up, so the necessity for premades in this format is lessened, but I’m considering a bank of game concepts that could be used in a similar way. Stay tuned.

Q: How do I join a BFMS-based RPG? I don’t see an application form.
A: Contact the GM of the RPG you’re interested in to get an application. Most RPGs in the fleet prefer a conversation before a blind application, anyway. If you can’t figure out who the GM is, reach out to me (David) on Discord.

Q: What’s the difference between a BFMS-based RPG and inviting a few friends to write with me on my Primary Command?
A: RPGs are allowed to use the recruitment area and GMs have specific responsibilities and requirements because they’re being trusted to provide an experience for other fleet members. To be a GM means agreeing to be in regular contact with the Operations Officer, and to maintain a level of activity, to work through applications, and to help newer members integrate with the fleet if they come to us through a game. Ad hoc collaborative writing with a friend is a much lower-stakes option, which doesn’t have the same level of oversight, and which isn’t listed alongside RPGs as options for any member to apply to join.

Q: Is this just a way of giving people more than one command?
A: It’s already possible to get more than one command, with a proposal to the Lore Office. As the requirements to propose an RPG are higher (needing the rank of Commander) this new option is not meant to circumvent the existing Canon Policy.

Q: What genres are being accepted for BFMS-based RPGs?
A: Currently, only proposals for RPGs within our canon will be entertained, which would include (canon) historical RPGs but not alternate universe or non-Star Trek RPGs.

Q: That still seems like a lot of hoops to get a game.
A: Even without creating a domain and a website, an RPG still needs a Discord, recruitment support, and the time and energy of our volunteer staff. Getting to the rank of Commander represents about three months of commitment to Bravo Fleet, if you’re starting from the lowest cadet rank. Given that many returning members have a leg up on that (starting at Lieutenant Junior Grade if they had an account on April 25, 2020) this is not too much to require before trusting you with a game. Also, the command system (i.e. fictions) allow you to be a captain without needing to be a game manager, and we’ve found on multiple occasions that this is a much better fit for most people’s schedules and interest levels, given that being a GM requires if not daily availability, at least every other day.

Q: What if I just want to write with a select group of friends without recruiting or needing the other oversight of an RPG?
A: Contact the Lore Office and discuss the requirements for a command proposal, as that would be a better fit for you. You can also do collaborations on your primary command!

Policy Updates

To accommodate this new format, I’ve updated the RPG Policy, which has also now been spun off to be its own document from the Operations Policy, as it is now about 3x as long as the rest of that policy. Also included in this update is the end of support for RPGs with a 333 rating, to be in line with the Canon Policy’s limit of 222 for fiction. The department heads felt that no content above 222 (which is equivalent to 16+ and the most mature content one would see on Star Trek itself or most movies) was necessary for anyone to be able to tell there story. You can view the new policy here.

New Staff Assistant: RPGs

I’m also pleased to announce that Lieutenant Heather Kowal (aka Stephen) has joined us as SA: RPGs, to help out with everything behind the scenes, including mentoring new GMs, helping vet proposals, and work with me to keep wiki entries updated. Stephen has a tremendous amount of upper-level leadership experience in other organizations, including until very recently as Chairman of 22nd Fleet (you heard it here first, folks. 😉 ), so we’re pleased to be able to add him to the team and bring in some new perspectives.

Premade RPGs Available

There are several premade RPGs available for applications if you’d prefer to try running a Nova-style game, which are listed at the bottom of this page. You must be at least a Lieutenant Commander to apply to run a premade game, and I strongly encourage you to try out the command system (i.e. your avatar fiction) first. The premade program is intended to provide you with either a fully-finished game concept, or part of one, to jumpstart you into running a successful game, and they vary from the Kennedy which has a full concept and first mission ready to go to the Sagan which has a finished Nova but less of a defined concept to the Armstrong which has a Nova, but would need a lot of fleshing out.