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Cptn Swain

Excalibur Simulation Policies and Guidelines

Sim Guidelines and Policy Packet

Current: January 22, 2018

Version 4.5

Welcome to the world of play-by-chat simming!  You might know the basics, but there are five items of which you'll need to be aware. These items apply specifically to the Excalibur sim; other advanced sims may follow different guidelines. These guidelines supplement the STSF rules, so make sure you are familiar with those as well.


Real life happens. No one can be expected to attend 52 sims a year. All your fellow crewmates ask is that you send an e-mail out if you know you aren't going to be able to attend an upcoming sim. This way, any plans that involve you and your character can be postponed or changed. If you are, for whatever reason, incapable of sending out advance notice, don't sweat it; send an e-mail afterwards explaining your absence so we know that you didn't simply miss the sim because of lack of interest. Absences should not be frequent. If you find that you're missing many sims because of real-life distractions, you may want to question whether you are able to commit to the sim; even with plenty of advance notice, inconsistency on a player's part can be detrimental to the game. If you're not interested enough in the game to attend, either start attending to allow it to grow on you (it eventually will) or leave--a player with no desire to sim is simply taking up roster space.

If you have to take some time away from the sim, you can request a Leave of Absence. Generally, a LOA should not last longer than three months. Beyond that time, the command team reserves the right to relinquish your position to another player, reduce your rank, or remove you from the roster entirely. Players who will be gone longer than three months and who plan to return may request an XLOA, however they should not extend beyond 6-months. Note that attending, for example, only three sims over a three month period could be treated as a three month LOA. If you miss four sims in a row, you are automatically placed on LOA.

ALL ATTENDANCE matters shall be the purview of the First Officer. The XO is the assistant simulation host and is to be accorded all due privileges.

Rank and Promotions

All new players shall assume their positions at the rank of Ensign. Promotions to the next available rank will be assigned as the Commanding and Executive Officers warrant. Sim attendance, involvement, and logs are all points considered when deciding promotions.

The rank structure allows us to maintain a clear chain of command. Players who demonstrate a solid command of the Problem Solving guidelines below make more effective senior officers, while junior officers are expected to input more of the ideas that the senior officers work with. In addition to this, solid attendance, consistent log writing, and good sim etiquette are all considered before a player is promoted. The Excalibur rank structure follows. Note the abbreviations in parenthesis.

- Ensign (Ens) - The rank you start with. Many players enjoy playing Ensigns most and actually ask to not be promoted. Ensigns have few responsibilities and are allowed a lot of creativity. 

- Lieutenant, Junior Grade (LtJg) - The easiest promotion to receive. To reach this rank, you need only attend a few sims, be on your best behavior, and write a few logs.

- Lieutenant (Lt) - The top of the junior officer ladder. To reach this rank, you should demonstrate a solid grasp of the Problem Solving guidelines. Input ideas, preferably ones that allow a lot of room for other players to contribute. Develop those ideas with logs as well as simming.

- Lieutenant Commander (LtCdr) – A Lt is likely to become a department head (aka chief). A department head receives ideas offered by the assistants and coordinates both with the command staff and with other department heads to translate ideas into action. This is the life of the senior officer, and it carries heavy responsibility. If a player handles that responsibility well, he will be promoted to this rank. The LtCdr's (referred to as "Commander" for short) are leaders even among the senior officers. Within the Excalibur rank structure, this rank is reserved almost exclusively to those in the Senior Officer positions of Department Head. The rank may, however, be given to any non-department head at the discretion of the command team.

NOTE: As ascension to this rank is a requirement for GM recruitment, it will be the policy of the command team to consider this when promoting non-department heads.

- Second Officer - Under certain conditions, a Second Officer can be officially appointed by the command team. This player's role will be defined by the command team and the player. The player holding this position will not have the full authority vested in gamemasters, however they will be given limited ACTION authority based on need. In normal simming conventions, even if this position remains unofficially filled, there would be a second officer aboard the ship, regardless of OOC structure.

- Command Staff - The CO and XO are GM's assigned to the sim. A player can not be promoted to the command staff without becoming a GM and applying for an open command staff slot. The command staff ranks are usually Commander, Captain, Commodore, or Admiral.

The following is a Marine rank equivalency chart for reference.

Fleet Rank - Marine Rank

  • Ensign (Ens.) - Second Lieutenant (2Lt.)
  • Lieutenant, junior grade (Lt.,j.g.) - First Lieutenant (1Lt.)
  • Lieutenant (Lt.) - Marine Captain (M.Cap.)
  • Lieutenant Commander (Lt.Cmdr.) - Major (Maj.)
  • Commander (Cmdr.) - Lieutenant Colonel (Lt.Col.)
  • Captain (Cptn.) - Colonel (Col.)

ALL PERSONNEL matters shall be forwarded to the ship's XO for resolution (CC all ship's business to the CO), pending the Commanding Officer's final approval. This includes division and ship-to-ship transfers. A roster shall be posted to all crew members and the director of STSF personnel and periodically updated.

Exceptions: On accepted transfer, and with the Commanding Officer's consent, a new member may be allowed to retain his/her former rank. The same may be accorded to any veteran STSF officer depending on the circumstance. Simply because a member creates a screen name with a specific rank DOES NOT imply that this rank shall be accepted on assignment to a simulation.

On many ships there is often a member who serves in a different rank or capacity on a different ship/sim. That rank is NOT carried over to the Excalibur except when specified as above. Therefore, the Captain on another sim may not necessarily be allowed that rank or those privileges on a second simulation. On Excalibur we are fortunate to have several seasoned veterans who participate in other capacities because they enjoy this venue of entertainment


It's easy to assume that any given Advanced sim, just like any given Academy, is a 1 hour per week activity. This is not the case. The advanced sims introduce logs, and both writing logs and reading logs written by others could make a sim a 5 hour per week activity. You should allot enough of your free time every week to read your crewmates' logs and write one or two of your own. You could just ignore the log-writing aspect of the sim altogether, but this would hurt your ability to both understand and enjoy the sims. Why are logs so important? There are a number of reasons.

The most basic log is the duty log. Despite its simplicity, it's also the most important type. The shortest duty log (a single paragraph) can be nothing more than a summary of the last sim from your character's point of view. A more complex log could include analysis of events that occurred, speculation as to why they occurred, suggestions as to how the crew could react to them, and plans for the next sim. Such a log accomplishes quite a bit. By reading it, your crewmates can enjoy an extensive recap of everything that happened during the last sim, especially events that they weren't paying direct attention to. In a busy sim, there can be over five separate events occurring around the ship and possibly off of it, all at the same time, from the integral events that drive the mission to the subplots that occupy the departments; even an experienced player can have difficulty keeping track of all those plot threads. Without duty logs, the only recap available is the recording of the chat session, but reading this is boring and still requires separation of the plot threads, though many players find reading the chatlog (which is posted weekly) helpful. A duty log also sets the stage for the next sim. By recapping a previous sim and indicating what your plans are for the next sim, you won't be lost when the sim starts. Additionally, your crewmates will be aware what you plan to do and make their own plans accordingly. Keep your eyes open for the mission briefing, usually written by the CO; while other logs may set the stage for various plot threads, the briefing sets the stage for the central plot thread.

You were encouraged to make a "stock" character in the Academy--less personality, more attention to duty. In the Advanced sim, where you're simming with the same group every week, creating and developing a unique character and his/her relationships makes for a much more vibrant game. To start, you should write a character bio. Your bio can be as simple as a short list of attributes (name, age, gender, etc) or it can include more detailed background information--childhood history, education, personality, medical records, or anything else you can think of. It doesn't need to be this detailed at first since your bio can be updated as you sim. Whichever your preference, your character can be developed further in the sims and through use of personal logs.

You are asked to create a biography within a month of being posted to the simulation. All Biographies should be sent to the CO and the XO for approval before being posted into the Bio's folder on the Excalibur boards. The host team reserves the right to modify all biographies to fit the simulation regulations, and will be subject to the "magic bullet" rule.

Personal logs usually have very little to do with the mission, instead focusing on your character. You can define your character's feelings for another player's character, detail an important lesson your character recently learned, recount moments from the character's past, describe strange hobbies, habbits, personality quirks, emotional struggles, mood swings, or anything else you can think of to give your character extra dimensions. But be careful--don't get so wrapped up in your personal logs that you disconnect your character from ship business. If you plan to write a lot of personal logs, mix in enough duty logs to create a healthy balance.

Sometimes, logs are made for two... or three, or four, or five, etc.. This is where joint logs come in. Joint logs are a collaborative effort by one more than one log writer. They can be duty logs featuring several officers discussing and brainstorming a plot thread (same as a standard duty log, only with several people offering input). Or they can be personal logs, recounting an off-duty hangout such as a poker game, movie night, a friendly stroll through the arboretum, or even something a bit more intimate. If you have an idea for a log, and you think it would involve some of your crewmates, send them a PM or E-mail to arrange a joint log. Joint logs are usually simmed out in a PM or chat room and converted to a more log friendly format afterwards, but a few are exchanged by e-mail with each writer contributing a piece in turn.

Check out the Advanced sim forums on the STSF message board to get ideas of what sorts of logs are written and how they are written.

Logs also let the command staff know you're following along with the storyline and enjoying it. It also helps you focus on the events of the last sim and how to prepare for the next one. It doesn't need to be a novel, just however much you want to put down to express your thoughts at the moment.

All logs should be sent to the entire crew as E-Mail and posted to the Excalibur boards. This ensures that everyone aboard receives the mail and allows everyone in STSF the ability to see what is happening aboard our vessel. This is often helpful for newly assigned crew members who can read the boards to get up to speed on the current mission.

One more reminder on logs: Please, make your logs readable. In other words, try and use standard grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Read a few of the other crewmember's logs. You'll get the idea.



For most people, this is not a major issue. We can all respect each other as gamers and enjoy the sims together. But a reminder of the various points here can be helpful in avoiding problems between players. These are simply basic rules of conduct. You'll see the term PM (Private Message) used a lot. PM's are the "magic lamp" of player etiquette, useful for both resolving disputes and for getting to know your fellow players better.

Don't take your rank too seriously. Rank is only a convenience that allows for a more smoothly run sim. A Lieutenant does not have a right to "talk down" to an Ensign, unless they've both agreed by PM that it's appropriate (see OOC and IC below), and junior officers are just as important to a sim as senior officers. Our characters may outrank one another, but as players we're all on a level playing field and we can all at least role-play seniority in a respectful manner.

Keep in mind that a fine line exists between what goes on out of character (OOC) and what goes on in character (IC), and that that line can sometimes become blurred, leading to confusion and conflicts. Sometimes a character can be *very* different from the player behind it--rude, bitter, and ill-tempered, for instance, whereas the player is far more amiable. And sometimes arguments and fights can take place between characters whose players are actually very good friends OOC. If you see something like this in a sim, assume that it's exactly what it is... a staged performance by online actors. If you think you'd like to sim a little tension or even hostility between your character and another player's character, first be sure to let that player know what you want to do and make sure it's alright. Any physical violence between characters, no matter the circumstances, should be cleared by PM.

PM's are useful for many other reasons. Sometimes, a character speaks to another character in sim but isn't answered. Don't assume you're being ignored if this happens. Sims can be busy, and chat lines can be missed. Simply send a PM to the player pointing out that you're trying to get his/her attention. If you're confused about something (you've lost track of a plot thread, you're not sure why someone's doing something, you've forgotten how a certain technology works) PMing the appropriate person can help. PM's are exchanged regularly during a sim to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Avoid clogging the chat room with excessive << OOC statements like this >>. A few such statements are ok, but back and forth discussions should be moved to PM.

If you write a log that involves another player's character extensively, send the log to the player for approval first. No one wants a character misrepresented in someone else's log. If you're planning a log that involves another player's character extensively, you may want to consider contacting the player for a joint log.

Finally, if you have a dispute with another player, take a simple two-step approach. Politely contact the player by PM and try to resolve the dispute yourselves; if this doesn't help the situation, notify the command staff. The best way to avoid disputes is to get to know your crewmates. How can you do this? Simple... send them PM's.

But please, please be aware that each of us has "feelings." Out-of-character attacks upon another crew member will not be tolerated. There is absolutely nothing wrong with two "characters" arguing, but make sure that each person understands it is a "character" interaction. If the hosts feel the interaction is disrupting the simulation, we will warn you via IM or email. Continued disruption will be dealt with under the Terms of Service.

In addition to your play on Excalibur, we expect you to maintain your behavior across the board at STSF. This includes any other games you may participate on, Academies and the general boards. If you are reprimanded by another GM, or caught behaving poorly, this is not only a reflection of yourself, but also the entire Excalibur simulation and the GM-team. Any incidents reported to the command team will be dealt with under the terms of service and may result in the player(s) being demoted, held back from promotion, removal of the game or any other methods deemed appropriate by the command team. Excalibur's command team takes great pride in the simulation and we would ask that you would show this same pride by abiding by standard behavioral conventions.

Problem Solving and Game Play

In the Academy, you weren't expected to do much--follow the chain of command, watch out for and react to ACTIONs, don't lose focus of the mission, keep busy, and interact with others. You graduated past all of that. In the Advanced sims, with missions continuing from week to week, problems will tend to be a bit more complex, but this will offer you the opportunity to be more creative. You're now expected (rather than encouraged) to chip in with observations and ideas about a mission. But you also have to be mindful of the limitations...

Excalibur's missions are generally series of problems to be solved. You have the one central problem (first contact with a new species, exploring a new system, investigating an anomaly, etc) that must be ultimately solved, and several smaller problems that crop up along the way (not all of them related to the central problem). A common misconception by an inexperienced simmer is that the goal of simming is to solve these problems. Actually, the goal is to have fun role-playing the effort to solve the problems... possibly failing miserably along the way. In fact, not all missions end with a positive result, but as long as the players had fun, the game was a success.

Sometimes a player will try to be a superhero, coming up with and executing the one action that quickly solves everything (usually involving the character performing a feat well beyond his/her capability or the use of some technobabbical innovation that no one understands). The problem with such a solution (aside from possibly not making sense) is that it will cut any given mission down to one or two sims, which means no one will have any opportunity to enjoy pitching in. You want to contribute ideas, but how can you do it without going overboard? Here are some suggestions:

-Practical solutions - If you go before your chief or the CO suggesting that we escape the nebula with a baryon/tetryon deflector pulse combined with a phaser beam modulated to an alpha wave frequency, you're going to get some glazed expressions... at best. At worst, your idea will actually be used, the problem will be solved, and there will be no room to come up with anything more creative. Use of technobabble is appropriate to fit the Trek setting, but it should not be the sole solution to any problem. Rather, it should be used to embellish a more practical solution to a problem. Ask yourself... what, exactly, does the baryon/tetryon pulse do? Or the modulated phaser beam? Would they push the ship, create a protective bubble around the ship, open a rift that the ship could use as an anchor? Outline what they do, and your superior officers will be able to figure out what sorts of consequences would arise (more of those "smaller problems") and how those consequences could be addressed. If you're not sure yourself what they would do... you might not have the best solution. It's often best to start by putting the problem in practical terms. If the ship is trapped in a nebula... what exactly does this mean? What smaller problems are posed? Can you draw analogies between the problem and real-life scenarios (maybe a car being stuck in mud during a hurricane)? When you have the problem in practical terms, come up with practical solutions, then put the solutions into a Trek context.

- Imperfect solutions - Should your solution be the immediate answer to everything? Of course not. If it is, you have something to learn about teamwork. Simming is a team game, and the best players are the ones who find ways to involve others. When coming up with a solution, don't say "I think it will work." Instead, say "it could work, but there are a lot of elements that need to be addressed." Maybe the baryon/tetryon pulse would create radiation harmful to the crew. Maybe the phaser modulations would require direct modification of the phaser arrays. Maybe the nebula would have to be monitored for dangerous particle concentrations. Make your solution full of even more smaller problems, and the rest of the crew will have ways to become involved. If another player is presenting a solution that isn't full of holes, put some holes in it yourself (especially if you're a department head). The solution wasn't your idea, but your character is an expert in areas that the other player's character is not, so you might know more about some of the problems that would be posed. On the other hand, don't simply say "no, that won't work." That's just negativity. Indicate that the solution could work but that there are a lot of gaps to fill first.

- Believable solutions - Obvious enough and something that any Academy graduate should understand. You're not going to move the comet off its collision course by detonating the system's star, and you're not going to send a command that makes the consoles in Engineering come alive and fight off the intruders as if Excalibur has become Fantasia. Some solutions are not quite that exaggerated but are still outside the realm of possibility. But don't even respond to a solution like this with "no, that won't work." Take the solution presented, acknowledge that the idea has merit even if the method does not, and offer alternatives. You're not going to blow up the star... but maybe you can create a smaller shockwave significant enough to push the comet. You can't make the Engineering consoles pop up and fight... but you might find a way to surround them with electricity fields.

- One tree, many branches - If a solution to a problem is being worked on, do you... a) lend a hand and/or your brain to help develop the solution or come up with a completely different solution? Saying "I've got a better idea" is a signal that you're ignoring your teammates and trying to become the focus of attention. Contribute to solutions that have already been presented. If you're a department head, develop the solution by presenting problems that need to be addressed (as indicated above). If you're an assistant, and you're not sure how you could pitch in to the problem solving effort, ask your superior officer what you can do to help. Don't scrap your "better idea" entirely--maybe it can somehow be integrated into the solution already being developed, or maybe it can be saved for a similar problem further down the road.

- Imperfect characters - You're sitting in the holding cell in the middle of the mysterious alien lab... but you're not about to stand for this! You bust open a wall panel with your bare hands and disconnect the circuits inside, shutting down the force field. Out of your cell, you overpower the four guards, managing to dodge all of their pulse rifle blasts. You move over to the nearby computer terminal and start accessing all of the lab's systems, even though this terminal is only meant to access the brig. You seal off all the doors, lock the aliens out of the computer, and send out a distress signal for Excalibur to pick up. After a few seconds, you remember to release your crewmates from their cells. By the way, did I mention you're a medical officer? This is called "god moding" and it's inappropriate because if one character can do everything you don't need any other characters. This was an exaggerated example, the kind of thing that would hold you back about 10 sims in the Academy (not to mention invoking a swift GM ACTION killing your character off). But god moding can always creep up in more subtle ways. Try to remember... you're not here to solve problems, you're here to have fun making the effort. Avoid the mindset that the sim is a challenge to be overcome and put more emphasis on what you're *not* capable of doing. Flaws encourage teamwork and are a lot more fun to role-play.

- In-Character Romantic Relationships - While the Excalibur Command staff does not discourage romantic relationships "in-character;" we strongly advise against jumping into them the first week you're on a game. And while they can certainly add depth to a character, and realistically romance would be a normal part of any fleet officer's life, we advise extreme caution.

Some pointers:

  • Don't turn it in to "Days of Our Lives: Excalibur," a little drama now and then is okay, but melodrama isn't a way to win points with anyone. And besides, most people really don't want to read it, if they did, they'd check out a copy of Twilight.
  • Take care to make sure that both parties are aware that relationship is IN CHARACTER ONLY. When OOC becomes involved, things tend to get messy
  • Please keep the in-sim relationship to a minimum. After all, in-game is usually while characters are on duty, and this a military ship where flirtations would not be looked upon kindly.

- Gamemasters Actions - It was once said that if everyone had a perfect life, it would be boring. Occasionally, the command team might decide… at random… to throw a huge monkey wrench in your characters plans. If this happens, don't panic! Just like real life, not everything should work out the way we plan it. In fact, it usually doesn't.

If a GM decides (or their dice decide) that something is going to go wrong, just go with the flow. If you have a problem with something, talk to the GM in private and ask them about the situation. Generally a GM isn't going to turn your character's life upside down without asking you about it first, but even if they do… go with it. You might find that a little bit of strife once in a while can be far more fun than being June Cleaver. Also keep in mind that you can, and most likely will at some point, die.

- Telepath Players - In regard to telepaths, please note that as with logs, permission MUST be obtained from other players before your character can sense any particular thought or emotion that is not explicitly spelled out on screen. For example, without permission, the following is NOT acceptable

  • Swain> ::throws chair across the room::
  • Telepath> ::senses Swain's anger::

Since Captain Swain simply may like throwing chairs, the following IS acceptable:

  • Swain> ::is extremely angry::
  • Telepath> ::senses Swain's anger::

- A Final Reminder on Role Playing - This is a game, played for enjoyment; it is natural to assume that a variety of circumstances will occur. However, please understand that while this simulation is not real we still expect an atmosphere of realism. Thus, it is expected that your character will not engage in actions that exceed the bounds of what can be called realistic. There are no "super heroes," just a team of dedicated officers. Likewise, the ship does not heal herself. Any damage the ship receives must be repaired. Please note, repairs take time, they are not instantaneous: no "magic bullets." Finally, while 24th century technology is quite advanced, Star Trek has its limits, and we work within them.


The USS Excalibur is a sim of Star Fleet Simulation Forum. This document is an internal policy packet intended only for the USS Excalibur simulation. The command staff of the Excalibur reserves the right to modify this document at any time without notification.

Edited by Cptn Swain
Updated to Reflect New Policies and Language Regarding Academy Simulations

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