FREqUently Asked questions
I'm a little confused by this story. What is the primary plot of the SS Fawkes sim?
A young Starfleet service member inherits an aging civilian cargo vessel following its seizure for arms smuggling and the conviction of the former owner. She and her cousin put a crew together on Deep Space 9 to try and build a legitimate freight carrier business around the vessel, but their efforts are complicated by three competing groups: the smuggling gang who owned the captured arms shipment, the law enforcement agency attempting to convict the leaders of said gang, and a Ferengi monetary lender trying to collect on a significant lien owed to them by the young sailor's long-lost father.
Why does it have to be so convoluted?
I wanted to make something that would attract and hold the attention of really good writers, and that meant integrating things from their characters' backgrounds that would make them feel like they had a personal stake in the outcome of the story. Thus with the addition of more and more PCs and NPCs, I had expanded opportunities to add layers of complexity, and while it has become more complex than I anticipated, it also makes it possible for us to shift gears relatively quickly in the event that one player withdraws. We have a few important NPCs like Hiram and Salvi, for example, who grew unexpectedly out of one-off appearances in posts concerning characters like Kelton Cryson and Lucas McGee (both of whom were abandoned by their creators). It is always a surprise to see who will become important on Fawkes, and who will fade away. Because each character has their own set of plot problems to deal with, we can change the focus of the story with little trouble.
Will this site be moved completely into Nova at some point, or will it stay divided up?
I dunno. A couple of players have expressed a desire to have everything on one site, but I have no experience programming with PHP, MySQL or related protocols, and without knowledge of those things, I'm not sure I can put a site together that doesn't look like complete crap. This site was originally intended as a holdover, but enough people (including other COs from Obsidian Fleet) have expressed respect for it that I may hang onto it.
If you have the time and programming experience, and don't mind taking direction from a very amateur web designer (me), please give a holler. Merit badges for all enthusiastic helpers. It should be mentioned again that one of our players, Brent, is hosting the Nova site, and that he has done some design work for it.
Why aren't there professional positions on Fawkes, as on an ordinary Star Trek sim?
There are a couple of reasons. Fawkes is a heavy bulk freighter with a maximum crew capacity of sixteen members (and will probably run with far fewer, since players are limited to one player character (PC) and two secondary non-player characters (NPCs). She isn't much smaller than a Federation starship, but she doesn't have scads of anonymous crewmen running around, ready to pick up after everybody or block the occasional bullet. Thus, we don't always have the luxury of letting people work within the usual prescribed departmental boxes.
That's the in-character (IC) reason. The out-of-character reason is even simpler. There are a number of decent Trek sims out there - and decent writers, too - that are crippled by the bureaucratic in-fighting sometimes resultant of one player stumbling, usually inadvertently, into another player's turf (or what that other player perceives as their turf). Nice people can wind up having long, dispiriting arguments about what is and is not the duty and responsibility of one or another character - sometimes coming to the point of making personal attacks, or invoking the resentment of players who aren't directly involved in the dispute.
By experimentally removing official positions from the equation, and bringing everyone more or less up to the same level of responsibility and opportunity, I am hoping to minimize the amount of time and energy expended trying to sharply define each character's place in the Fawkes pecking order. Anyone can establish a place at the top of the heap, or fade into the background when real life presents its usual difficulties; better still, a more democratic system of governance may help alleviate the natural tendency of most people to explore or defend their power, and concentrate on what we're all ostensibly here to do; that is, tell remarkable stories.
What is 'grittiness,' and why is it used to describe the tone of the Fawkes sim?
In accordance with Internet practice, most Star Trek sims (including Obsidian Fleet sims) require that players be at least thirteen years old (or at least claim to be). While most normal people would call this policy commendably inclusive, opening a manifest to just about anybody can leave you with a lot of players whose reach somewhat exceeds their grasp when it comes to writing evocative narrative fantasy. Of course, if you're writing Star Trek-inspired fiction in the first place, you're probably not winning just a ton of awards for maturity; still, if you're going to bother doing at all, you might as well put some sort of honest effort into it, and maybe, just maybe, try to create something upon which people who enjoy reading real fiction could legitimately spend a few rewarding hours.
'Grittiness,' then, is short-hand for the level of emotional narrative and descriptive depth we are after, though it should not be taken as a sign that we are especially interested in or require a focus on graphic violence, sexuality, profanity, or any of the other sensational subjects that some people take this term to mean. We do not ask our characters to all be rape or torture victims, to come from broken homes, or be living on the lam; nor do we necessarily need unusually aggressive or violent characters, loners, killers or outlaws. It is not required for your character to wear a leather trench coat, smoke cigars, drink heavily or insult anyone.
On the other hand, we definitely do want writers who can fill a scene with emotional and descriptive detail, who appreciate subtle gestures, and who aren't shy to examine the darker aspects or larger mysteries of life, love, loss and survival. Things hurt in our conception of the universe; people get scared, bruised, suspicious, and the good guys don't always turn out to be the good guys. We want people who can make mistakes, who don't need to be naturally good at everything or even anything, who need coffee in the morning and don't mind questioning the majesty of the law.
'Grittiness,' then, is not a measure of your willingness to offend the sensitivities of your fellow players, or to casually destroy anything that blunders into your path. If you want to create a tough customer, by all means try one out; but in the real world, tough customers are usually the most bruised, unhappy lot of all, having suffered more than they can rationally cope with, and what applies to the real world, at least where psychology and suffering are concerned, should apply equally to the Fawkes world, too.