It has been a while since I wrote one of these. I tried continuing the Worldbreaker’s summary posts but they’re just not flowing these days. I hope to get back to them, but we’ll see. I also haven’t really had much to talk about on here until now.
Having started a new job which will certainly alter my opportunities to play real-life games with friends, I was looking for an outlet that would let me still roleplay but at a much slower pace and one that I could do on my own time, i small chunks if necessary. Wondering what I would do I was reminded of one of the first online communities I ever joined. It was the year 2000 or ’01 and my friends and I discovered an organized group that was writing Star Trek fanfiction and roleplaying at the same time. That group was called Bravofleet.
It was with no small amount of surprise that, when I looked it up, I found that Bravofleet was still going! Fifteen years later there is still an active and, by all appearances, thriving group of people still exploring the Star Trek universe together. They’ve been playing so long the simm has an internal timeline which has advenced well past any of the TV shows and is nearing the technically-not-but-kinda-sorta cannon of the Star Trek Online videogame which was set a decade in the future past anything seen on television.
Now, the interesting thing about the way Bravofleet is set up, and I have to assume this has aided in its longevity, is it is structured very much like an umbrella, much like the chain of command in Star Trek itself. There are people in charge who make some of the big decisions. They write the rules both for how the game functions and what kind of behaviour will be tolerated. They used to have a judiciary system – where people were actually summoned to testify in instant messenger courts if it was deemed a serious offense – but that part has been scratched out of the constitution that they wrote determining the rights and freedoms of all their players. These are also the folks to whom a player submits a request for command of a starship or space station.
The individual ships and stations are the main body of Bravofleet. Each one is a self-contained roleplaying simm with a crew set up just like any of the TV shows. Every simm must have a commanding officer. The CO sets the tone and plot for the simm, but he must apply to an appropriate task force for the kind of story he wishes to tell as well as for the kind of ship he wishes to command and rating level of content which will be permitted in that simm. Once accepted he or she sets each mission, guiding the plot to the desired conclusion. But the CO cannot do it alone, and so they need a crew. They can actively recruit through any of the usual channels – real life, forums, etc – or people can browse each of the running simms and choose one that they think seems fun. A crew member must apply to the captain for both desired position or rank.
Once accepted onto a crew, though, that crew member is a registered member of Bravofleet, which is, I think, the most interesting part of this entire process. The Bravofleet games exist in a shared universe, meaning ships, crews, and characters can meet and interact with any or every other ship, crew, or character in Bravofleet. Sometimes task forces will coordinate massive joint-missions, involving every crew in that task force much like the Dominion War in DS9 or when the Borg cube was attacking Earth. Your ship could also dock at one of the stations, which operate as simms themselves, and get involved in the ongoing plot there or merely enjoying some R&R. You can build relationships, yes, even those kind of relationships, with characters in other simms or, if you’re a super lonely sad-person, another one of your characters.
Because all of this happens within Bravofleet you can also apply for or be awarded promotions. The CO of a ship has the authority to promote any of his crew up to a point. However, maybe your character arc is such that you feel that character no longer has anything to gain by staying on that ship. You can apply for a command position, choose your own ship, and begin your own simm. Or maybe you’re happy on the ship but still want to try a command yourself. Having participated in a simm for the requisite amount of time still qualifies you for a command and you can create a new character for that purpose while your previous one continues to enjoy the friendships he or she has made.
Sadly, I do not recognize any of the currently running simms from my old days, but that is understandable. I no longer see any of the friends I made of other players either. But I found a small crew, one just starting out on their first adventure and I couldn’t help myself. I am now registered as their Chief Science Officer, a non-violent Andorian with a name nearly as long as his backstory, who dreamed of exploring the Gamma Quadrant and will soon find himself involved in a galaxy-wide manhunt for a dangerous criminal. How will this affect his sensibilities? How will he contribute to the mission? How well can I purposefully make him seem like the most socially awkward character on the ship? We will have to see.
If anything I have said seems cool or interesting, I urge you to check it out. Start at Bravofleet itself, check out the different task forces and their purposes, then explore the individual ships they contain. I’m proudly serving about the USS Triton and if any of you would like to join me I could put in a good word with the CO. (note: I do not have any real influence with the CO because I have talked to him once, but he seems nice) Now would be as good a time as any to jump aboard into a department head position, from a logical standpoint, because soon we’ll be leaving civilized space. You still could afterwards, you’d just need to explain why you weren’t at a meeting for head-cannon, or maybe get field promoted. There are tons of other positions as well so if you’re a Star Trek fan who likes to write, please do check us out.