Thursday, June 23, 2011

Expedition Fleet: An Explanation and an Invitation

Hello.  I am Captain David Louis Nida of the USS Broadsword, a Akira-class starship which has seen its fair share of battles.  The Federation is caught up in a number of conflicts, each of which is threatening its very existence.  The Cardassians are the most pressing threat, and the war with them is only just starting to turn in our favour.  However, the drain on resources puts us in danger of losing everything we have rebuilt so far after the devastation of the Borg War.  Kimira Industries, a galactic corporation, is a mixed bag of assets and dangers, supplying us with technology and resources at some times and then working against us at others.  The Romulans are up to their usual tricks, and on top of all of this, there are seven ancient devices being uncovered by each faction, devices which if brought together, could grant incredible power.  Even one alone is enough to pose a serious security risk.  Ancient races are re-emerging, old enemies are gathering on the horizons, and current events could overwhelm us at any time.  These are dangerous waters we sail in...  However, my crew are more than up to the challenge.  My senior staff are some of the most impressive officers in the fleet, and we will not see the Federation fall on our watch.  Not if we have anything to say about it.

So, welcome to Expedition Fleet.

If you haven't guessed, this is a summary and introduction to one of the many RPGs I play.  I thought this one deserved a special post because it is done in a style of gameplay which many people are unfamiliar with and often find confusing.  This is a play-by-forum SIMM with 4 ships (4 games) running simultaneously, which comprise the fleet, overseen by a friend of mine who wrote the background for this timeline, and captains the Vendetta.

What this means is that everything is done in writing.  Every event that happens, every move you make, every conversation you have and every thought you think is entirely decided by what you write in your posts.  A mission takes place within a single thread on the forum, with a separate thread for Out of Character (OOC) discussion.  There are no dice to roll and no stats to reference - your character is who you say he/she is and can do what you so they can do.  The captain of the ship is effectively the DM.  The DM the mission and push the plot forward.  As the captain, you give assignments to your crew and ask them to carry it out.  If you're clever, you've thrown in some twists and intrigue to keep them interested.
Playing an android or an engineer with a visor may be considered plagiarism...

Players take the role of crewmembers, generally the senior staff - Chief Engineer, Chief Medical, Chief Tactical, Executive Officer, and the like.  You write up a biography and a general character background - the more in-depth the better - and that's it.  That's your character made.  Apply for a position and wait for the captain to accept you on board his ship.

Play takes the form of a forum thread, as I said.  The captain generally starts things off, either wrapping things up from the last mission, granting a bit of shore leave, or just going straight into the next mission.  You can post about your own actions as often as you like, and the more creative you are the better.  There are points where you really cannot go much further, like if you are waiting for a meeting to start or generally having a conversation with another player.  At those points you have to wait for the other players to respond.

That's totally my character... give or take

An example of how conversations works could be the following:
==Bridge, Deck 1, USS Broadsword==

Captain Nida sat in his chair, waiting for each department to report ready for launch.  He was anxious to get underway with the new mission.  It looked dangerous, but exciting, which would make a nice change from the last mission which was just dangerous.

"Helm, have you finished the diagnostic on the warp drive yet?" he asked impatiently.

<tag Chief Flight Control Officer>

"I see," he replied, and went back to waiting.


The helmsman would respond in the next post by copying the above post, and either adding in their own thoughts and actions as background and then inserting their half of the conversation, maybe adding extra bits in if they feel like it.

This is where we play.  Take a look.  It's pretty awesome.  All 4 ships would love to have more people, and it's a really interesting style of game play.  It has its advantages and disadvantages, like how it allows you to really explore the background and thought processes of the character and challenges your creative writing skills, but at the same time can be difficult to, in the middle of a mission, express true initiative, because you can only deviate so far from the main plot (although you can send a message to the DM asking if certain actions could be allowed, which can make life very interesting).  All in all though, it's an excellent system, and doesn't take much time, as you generally post a few times a week, instead of an entire afternoon which it takes to play a game of D&D.

So boldly get on over there and join in!

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