Promoting more RP in the group

Terran Stellar Navy Forums (OOC) Division Development Promoting more RP in the group

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    Last shift, I took the time to listen to each ship channel during the missions. What struck we was how different the ships where in the level of RP. There were some people coming up with great RP moments! I also noticed times when the RP didn’t happen for one reason or another. Discussing it later with another member of tbe command staff, it made me think back to the primary aim of this group:

    to provide an environment where people can play as the officers of the TSN. Officers with the boldness of Kirk, the genius of Pickard or the courage of Janeway.
    Officers with the determination and resolve of the crews of the Enterprise or the Voyager; with the friendships, the camaraderie, the adventure.

    With that in mind, I have been thinking on how to promote the roleplay more. I know not everyone joins the group for the roleplay but there are a lot who are really in to it. I was some time ago that our name changed to the TSN RP Community too; a deliberate change to emphasise the importance of roleplay in the group.

    We already have roleplay within the group in the way we use things like Attack Patterns and Combat Formations. These set the tone straight away. Not only this, but the rank structure also reinforces the RP, and the fact it applies both to in-character chat and interactions and out-of-character structure of the group further reinforces the level of RP we want to aim for. This is something I have realised whilst I’ve been updating the Officer’s Handbook.

    Why am I writing this post? Basically to illustrate how important I feel the roleplay is and stimulate more discussion of, as well as participation in, the roleplay of the group.

    I have played Artemis for many years and seen a lot of tricks and tactics developed. There are lots of effective ways of beating the game – dragging monsters, kiting fleets to blackholes, surrender spamming to name a few – but I think ultimately we should focus on how ships cooperate and communicate to really drive the RP over utilising the quickest method of destroying all the enemies.

    One idea I had was to use the Sandbox to run our sims rather than the solo mode. Why? To move away from the idea that we are just trying to clear a level 10 sector and more towards coordinating the actions of 4 or 5 ships. To be frank, with the right tactics and a bit of luck with the terrain generated, you could solo a level 10 in a scout. What I am trying to say though is that is not what we are aiming for.

    I am also going to be talking with the SOs about promoting the RP because I feel the role of the more experienced and higher ranking officers play in leading this is key to the roleplay.

    Are there any thoughts from you guys about the roleplay? How could we include more of it?


    I am one hundred percent in agreement with this analysis. The TSN RP community does not simply play Artemis, they Role-play Artemis. The focus of all activities should be RP. So for example, the new examination structure helps that. The discussions about new vessels do not, unless they can be phrased in RP terms as to why a particular type of vessel will be made available to the Fourth Light. Is it a new development? Is it a failed experiment, but several were built and we have to get some use out of them? (See the “Polyphemus” in the Aubrey/Maturin books). Is it a shortage of capital ships forcing us to use lighter escorts like Destroyers? What attributes should a destroyer have?

    Is there a way to introduce or encourage some more RP content in Discord? At the moment it is total immersion in OOC discussion and that is noticably changing the overall balance of IC vs. OOC in my weekly experience of the TSN. (Not helped by being unable to attend the last five shifts). The forums have a mix of IC and OOC. Discord not so much. Can we have a Bar channel? Even one for each Bar we frequent (Promethean, Atlantis, Cerberus Command, CP-27X, Hjorden DS-12) each with their own barkeep (Guy, Galya and Lepton so far). Can we have channels that post links to Personal log, ONI reports, Command announcements? I would be happy to maintain.

    Adam Parra

    RPing hard is something I need to work on. I am glad you made this post.


    I see three primary obstacles to what Xavier outlined.

    Problem 1: It is common practice to maintain comms discipline in combat situations. At present, with the partial exception of the conclusion of a mission and return to base after achieving a significant objective, we are always in a pre-combat readiness state. Moreover, quiet side conversations are difficult because we are always speaking into the entire bridge’s ear rather than having a quiet conversation over at the science console that doesn’t disrupt the officers standing watch outside of a combat situation. I know I tend to be more quiet off the Phoenix’s bridge unless I have something else to say because I don’t want my less than important chatter to interfere with someone’s call to action stations.

    Potential solution 1: We allow the non-combat atmosphere to be more casual and understand that we aren’t always on a combat footing. Also being careful not to train cadets so thoroughly to purposed silence.

    Problem 2(and solution): TSN doesn’t have an awful lot of context. We’re going out to get the thing. Oh, baddies showed up. Now we are fighting them to get the thing, now we did the thing, now we are going home. That’s most of our missions. I don’t know if we need more in-depth briefings, but missions need to be brought alive more than just another force recon outing. I know the GMs are working on this and that ONI is quite responsible for helping to create the atmosphere, but this can and should be improved. Providing context will for certain styles of RPer (such as myself), lend a framework that they can build off of rather than inventing things out of whole cloth. As a player, my norm is not to speak for NPCs or to automatically say I do a thing unless I’m in a very small tabletop group where GM time is abundant on a personal level. We don’t have that here, so we need a bigger and more obvious sandbox with toys to play in to help encourage things rather than just the narrative thread of missions that helps keep the storyline going to justify the next mission.

    Problem 3: Intra-ship RP doesn’t feel very consequential. I’m not saying it needs to be extremely consequential either, but I don’t generally enjoy shuffling paperwork level of roleplay. When I’m on a ship, particularly an unfamiliar ship, I’m supposed to “do things” and “roleplay” but if I’m just saying I’m doing things then confirming 15 seconds later that “yep, I did a thing”, I don’t consider that rewarding. I enjoy roleplaying, particularly roleplaying a specific character or persona, rewarding when I can get into the details of things, when I can have a conversation with someone who doesn’t necessarily agree with me completely, and when there are consequences. And the current format doesn’t really allow for consequences without essentially playing the disruptive officer that needs correction which people don’t seem to enjoy on an IC or OOC level. Not only that, but such a character might also limit someone’s prospects for promotion. Not unreasonably, but since promotions are also tied to IC authority and OOC ability, deference, and recognition, it’s counterproductive.

    Solutions for problem 3: Ideally, GMs should spread out mission related/critical roleplay between ships rather than usually just giving it to the flagship. If they had the bandwidth, also step into other ships and interject a non-combat problem to be solved. If we want Artemis (and therefore the TSN) to be more than just a combat simulator, then we need problems that we can’t just solve with a gun.

    I know @admin has repeatedly heralded Picard, Kirk, and Janeway, but there are other people in those universes too like Sisko. And not only are there other people, but even the characters that Xavier mentioned also have flaws. Kirk was brash and a lech. Picard is particularly damaged over his experience with the Borg and doesn’t generally have any grounding given his on again/off again relationship and lack of family. And Janeway…. is difficult for me to criticize because I feel she was inconsistently written but definitely also has flaws as well.

    It’s difficult to have paragons, or have meaningful paragons, without flaws to overcome, those who are willing to do low things for their higher ideals, those who are willing to do low things for their own selfish desires, or those who have yet to hear the call (or were too scared/etc. to answer it). We should also likely talk about the space within which people can explore with roleplay. In these discussions should also include how someone’s willingness or interest to play a character who does not act or follow their highest ideals at all times can stifle their IC rank progression which would prevent them from gaining eventual access to a command position if they were so interested, and given that IC rank also translates to OOC levels of participation and authority at the senior and command staff levels how that also limits OOC contributions as well.

    : The way I read your comment, it seems like you are proposing that IC drive OOC. I’m of the opposite mind. OOC should always drive IC. Is there something happening IC that we don’t like(such as right now)? Then let’s have an OOC discussion about it. Let’s figure out what people actually feel is wrong, what would fix it, and how that can be done, then go back and change IC to make it work better. Similarly, IC considerations can limit or hinder OOC ones. If we are extremely particular that everyone must participate in RP, that could drive away new members. By the same token, someone could roleplay someone who was dyslexic or hard of hearing, etc, and they might intentionally and for RP reasons sometimes confuse combat orders. That violates what I view as our overall OOC expectation that orders will be carried out faithfully and accurately. Normally I’d use a different example, but the TSN doesn’t normally tread into areas likely to be the source of someone’s trauma. But failing to retain cadets or losing officers leads to an attrition issue which harms the group overall. If we adopt a more accepting view of different levels of IC/RP contribution, then we can retain more numbers and hopefully they will eventually want to start engaging on the RP level too. The more people we have, the better time people seem to have. I would caution that we not be counterproductive to an OOC consideration in a rush to reach an IC ideal in the shorter term.

    Matthew Vaj

    One problem I’ve seen and experienced myself it that when someone first joins the TSN, he or she probably doesn’t know all that much about the universe our characters live in. Just the other day on discord there was a discussion about the admiral Xavier answers to, Admiral Coates. If I hadn’t been around during a couple shift where Coates was mentioned or gave orders himself, I wouldn’t know his name, either.

    There’s so much information scattered around that we consider canon, but I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know all that much of it, and knowing the background is an important aspect of RP. For example, I’ll bet most of the cadets and possibly some of the Ensigns and Lt. Jrs. have no idea what the Unukalhai uprising was, yet we fight the USF fairly frequently.

    I’m currently working on updating the Campaigns section of the forums so that everyone can learn more about past events, which will help to mitigate that particular issue, but it’s a work in progress.

    One thing I’d like to see is more discussion in the bar about the missions and overall arcs going on that ONI is so lovingly trying to make enjoyable. There’s usually something in the missions that relates to the current arc, and having IC discussion about the missions can help us to gauge how well we’re doing in terms of story design. Sometimes IC discussion can give us ideas for later missions.

    Nhaima’s problem #2 is certainly valid to some extent. We GMs try to keep things interesting, and while combat is the simplest way to keep y’all occupied, it shouldn’t be the only way. Realistically, a GM can only do so much. I can’t speak for Hall or Matsiyan or Donovan, but if we were in the middle of an escort mission and I was the GM, I’d be tickled pink if someone were to spontaneously come up with an idea and report to CIC that “our sensors are picking up an odd signal coming from one of the ships we’re escorting. We think there may be a traitor aboard. May we have permission to board the ship and search for the transmission?” Or something like that. Maybe not every five minutes, but I’d love to see people having ideas and making their own mini-stories.

    Even in transit, you can have a lot of fun with spontaneous stuff. I remember back when I was an Ensign on the Phoenix, Dante had me go and inventory our supplies or something silly like that. Every couple minutes he’d ask for a progress report, and at one point I said something like “Looks like we’ve got plenty of chocolate, but we’re running really low on TP”.

    My point being, feel free to take make your own stories when you have time for it. If you’re feeling bored, find a way to make the situation exciting, or at least interesting. Don’t leave it all up to the GMs.


    I think you’ve hit on an interesting point there Vaj. It is perfectly possible to script a ton of buttons for the GM to send little messages to prompt RP chatter. These could be both pop-up messages and comms messages. Ot would save time for the GM having to type, and some similar stock messages that are given meaning would give us an idea how to reapond. For example, know that a ‘phase varience in the em band’ could mean some kind of transmission coming from a ship would mean we could start to suspect odd comms traffic from one of the escorts.


    Something I am going to try working on are guides to each role on a ship and background/RP stuff to help prompt more chatter in character. This could link to the idea above about looking out for things from the GM, or to stuff to comment on and like things mentioned in the discord chatter (e.g. what damcons might actually be up to).

    Matthew Vaj

    Having buttons on the GM console would make it easier for GMs to prompt RP stuff like like you say, but I’m not convinced that it should be necessary. One of my main points was not to rely on the GM for RP inspiration. The GM team is great for planning story arc and individual missions, but I think the best way to encourage RP in general is to encourage spontaneous stuff that the GMs might not have direct control over.

    Even things that the GM is directly involved in are often flexible. I’m thinking of Act. Ens. Jafar Ironclad’s report last shift of the boarding party he piloted. That was awesome, first of all in how thorough his report was, and second because of his enthusiasm. I think there is lot of wiggle room for role-play that isn’t utilized as best as it could. Ultimately, if someone wants a better role playing experience, he has got to be putting some effort and creativity into it himself.

    Having guides to roles and background would definitely help, though, especially newer recruits.


    I also notice that a little bit of example setting seems to go a long way. Once you have one or two people taking the lead with RP others are more comfortable building off what is happening.

    It is not easy, even if it seems natural to me. A player who contributes well to the environment will be careful not to propose anything that clashes with established fact and leaves open the possibility of correction or confirmation.

    Nhaima mentioned not wanting to speak for NPCs. Agreed for things where statements from established figures with spheres of control have input to the management of the division such as senior officers or station personnel or hostiles, or alien diplomats etc. That should be handled by the GMs.

    But individual friends/assistants/colleagues like DamCon members or MedBay staff, should be okay, if saying something that does not materially change the overarcing structure for anyone else, but which adds texture or reinforces something your character can’t really harp on about. I have not tended to do that with live vocals but that was exactly why I introduced Polano, and adopted Solari’s wounded DamCon as Kaplan. I use them to illustrate things generic DCs might say or know. I don’t mind other people interacting with them in the same way, but I would take it kindly if someone checked with me first before changing them in some measurable way – like having them die. So far I have been lucky in not specifying they were in a place where all DCs died. And I’ve tried to use them sparingly.

    Mundy was doing something similar with her doctor.

    Buttons on the GM console for standard messages could be interesting and does involve the Comms officers more. But I confess at that point I tend to adlib vocally. I would need to practice to use that effectively – as I still do with the rest of the GM console.


    OK, as an example, here is an extract from the technical handbook I’m working on. I started with helm, as there’s already information on things like engineering that I need to dig out (most of which was written by Jemel).

    Note, this is only a first draft and is subject to change (as well as editing to make it read better). I am only posting to give an idea of what I am aiming for and a teasee as to what to expect.

    The extract is about docking and what occurs when the docking sequence is started (i.e. you hit the ‘Dock’ button on the helm console)

    In doing so, several actions occur. Along the hull, key ports, known commonly as teathers, are exposed. Usually, these are kept retracted within the ship’s hull, but on activation, hull sections retract to expose them before they raise and lock into place. Once locked, a tractor beam from the base locks on to these teathers and begins drawing the ship in. When the ship is at a safe distance, the tractor beams ensure the ship is kept beside the base and maintains a stable location in relation to the station itself. At the same time, the crew aboard the ship are alerted and begin making preparations to receive energy and ordnance from the base. For more information about these preparations as well as transfer of energy and ordnance, see the relevant Weapons and Engineering sections.

    There is a lot more for the helm console, including things about the impulse control, maneouvring thrusters and warp engines. For other sections, I am going to delve into how crew members contribute to the things going on, for example what is actually happening when you load a torpedo.


    Is teathers a misspelling or just a variance between British and American English? Also, why the specialized area required for lock-on (and what happens when the tethers are damaged from combat?) rather than simply locking on the hull?

    Other thoughts that occurred to me:
    * What keeps the station in place while the tractor beam reels a ship in? Is it an unknown property of physics or is there a reaction control system emitting micro-amounts of thrust opposite the force imparted by pulling the docking ship in?
    * Did you want to throw a lampshade on the fact that ships rotate in place in time with the station rather than rotate around the station while maintaining a constant bearing relative to the station? I.E. do our tractor beams impart some kind of torque scientists have been unable to counter yet?


    I also feel like some points from my original post were lost, so I’m forking the conversation here so we also talk about quality of RP, not just quantity. Anyone who has already posted in this thread was tagged in the other too.


    ‘Teather’ is a misspelling. I did say it was a first draft and not yet edited.

    When writing, I have mostly focused on the ship functions, rather than all the detail to explain all the physics that is going on. I feel going into that kind of depth, at this time, isn’t really needed and would not be of much benefit anyway. I am going for information that officers can then use to comment on. How the station compensates isn’t something we’d be too concerned with.

    As for why specialised areas, I just thought it sounded cool. Undocked, I imagined the tethers to have been retracted into the hull and covered with hull plating. There would also be several tethers, so if one or two were inoperable, the others would still be of use. If you consider a tractor beam pulls a ship too, then you probably want it pulling at certain areas than randomly along the hull. That way, you can monitor those areas and the stress rather than having to have some way of monitoring the whole hull, or designing the hull to be able to cope with it. What happen if the tractor locks on to something like an aerial for a sensor array? It might just pull it off…

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 8 months ago by Xavier.
    • This reply was modified 6 years, 8 months ago by Xavier.

    I always imagined tractor beams as a diffused force so there was less point pressure. That also means you don’t need to reinforce the docking points and the rest of the structure from needing to bear that much localized sheering. You’d certainly want to avoid sensitive areas like exposed sensor arrays, or just use a localized forcefield to distribute the force of the tractor to something that isn’t the aerial itself.

    Jemel Eahain

    if people are feeling they dont know whats going on would it benefit if oni made i slightly more in depth brief that the command officers could read to the crews before going out? i feel with a div wide brief ppl are typing in chat and doing other things and could be missing out ?

    what about expanding the rp “play book” ? look at different tasks we do and think on how we can expand them in a rp way, from picking up life pods with friendly’s or foes, docking, inspecting ships, survey mission stuff etc etc
    There must be tones of things we do that could be expanded upon ?

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