The Portland Pulse
Feb 3, 2392
USS Asphodel Quarantined
Following her return from the Gamma Quadrant six months ago, and subsequent repair and refit, the USS Asphodel was ready to launch. However, reports suggest she has detached from facility 729 and is in a state of quarantine.
Six months ago, shortly before the new year, the USS Asphodel returned home from the Gamma Quadrant, three months into what was intended to be a two year mission, heavily damaged. She was sent to Facility 729 for a repair and refit operation, to be supervised by her CO, Commander Oliver Lancaster.
Today, at 1600 hours, the Asphodel detached from Facility 729. Reports are currently scarce, but they suggest that the ship is quarantined following some form of outbreak. This news comes mere days before the Asphodel was due to launch.
Attempts to contact both Facility 729 and the Asphodel have so far failed.
Alenis appointed TGCO, Portland now flagship of 72A
With a vacancy at the top of TG72A, Captain Alenis of the USS Portland was appointed as the new Task Group Commanding Officer, making the Portland the new flagship of 72A.
Reactions to her appointment were mixed.
“Wha…?” commented Admiral James Washington, clearly surprised at the news. “There has to be some mistake. I don’t remember approving this. And who uses a century old light cruiser as a flagship anyways?”
A signmaker at Starfleet headquarters was more blunt. “Wait, did you say she’s Bajoran? Damn it, that means I’ve got to redo all these signs because of their stupid backwards names,” he commented, throwing an office door sign reading “Captain Meru, TGCO” in the trash.
Captain Alenis was unavailable for comment. Our hails to the USS Portland were answered only by a confused hologram and a large, colourful bird.
Chief Morale Officer’s Report
Acting Ensign Ko-ko
January was another great month on the USS Portland. While our posting numbers are down slightly, a combination of both coming off of an amazing month and a number of players dealing with LOAs and/or various personal issues, we still had a solid 47 posts and we did advance the story.
We also invited two new players aboard – Ero Cenza, who will be playing an Intelligence officer, and Eilis Ross, a teacher. I’m encouraging everyone to give them a warm welcome and shower them with JP offers.
I’m hoping to get this mission wrapped up by the end of the month. With our teams down in the caves, we’re very close to concluding this mission. I’m excited to get cracking on the final confrontation down in the caves. After this, we will likely stop back at DS9 to deal with some of the aftermath of the mission – including telling the Admiral about his daughter getting knocked up!
Captain’s Corner: Good Writers and Good Players
Captain Alenis Meru
One of the most pleasant aspects of being a CO is reviewing applications and welcoming new players aboard the USS Portland. Opening my email and finding a new application to read and review can be quite exciting. However, as a CO, you have to be selective about who you accept on your simm, and this is where things get tricky.
Making the wrong decision on a potential applicant can cause a lot of headaches down the road, as many COs have learned the hard way. We have a lot of tools in the application process to determine whether a new player is a good writer – the biography and the sample post are generally a good indicator of writing skill – but is that enough to determine whether the applicant is a good player?
Being a good writer and being a good player are two different things.
To be a good player requires more than just being well-written. More than just solo writing skills, it involves playing well with others (which is something that most people learn in kindergarten, but there are unfortunately some people out there who were obviously home sick that day) and writing well with others in order to collaboratively produce a story that is not only the best story possible, but also one that is fun for everyone to write.
(I’m including COs in this because GMs are players too!)
Unfortunately, for many of the same reasons why a frustrated fantasy novelist often makes a poor DM in D&D, sometimes there are aspects of solo writing that don’t translate well to simming.
First is, of course, the famed writers’ ego. While there are a number of good writers out there who are humble, well-adjusted people who are great at working as a team, there is unfortunately a little grain of truth in the stereotype of a writer as massive egotists. And if you hang around the simming community long enough, you will eventually come into contact with one.
This ego can manifest itself in many ways. Being overly protective of one’s writing, one’s characters, and, if one is the GM, that glorious plot that you came up with for everyone else to enjoy, is one way. Trying to hog the spotlight and have everything revolve around your character is another. Being dismissive of other people’s writing skills or lack of knowledge of Star Trek technobabble is another.
In fact, I’ve seen it get to the point where players will actually go out of their way to punish other players by making people’s characters look bad if they think their writing or technical prowess isn’t up to snuff. When it gets to this point, no one is having any fun anymore.
We can be proud of our writing, but simming is a collaborative endeavor, and being a good player sometimes involves checking one’s ego.
When you’re writing solo, you are often dealing with one or a small handful of primary protagonists. You can have cool central characters like James Bond who always kill the bad guy, save the world, and get the girl. But in the world of collaborative roleplaying, James Bond would be the ultimate Mary Sue. Not because he’s a bad character, because he isn’t, but because he would steal the spotlight, making the players of Q and M and all the other characters feel pretty inconsequential. Knowing when to share the spotlight is much more important in simming than it is when you’re writing a fanfic.
The other thing with collaborative writing is that sometimes it involves giving up control, which is something that solo writers aren’t used to doing. We can’t always control what goes on around our characters, and in fact, simming sometimes demands that you even be flexible with your character’s actions and intentions in service of the story and out of respect for other players. This sort of thing can be anathema to a frustrated novelist turned play-by-post role-player.
Finally, simming is a fun hobby. More importantly, it’s one which should be open for all people to enjoy – including those whose writing skills may not be the greatest. When it comes to writing, not everyone has the advantages of being well-educated, having English as a first language, or being free of learning disabilities. We should strive to be accepting of those who occasionally mangle some spelling and grammar, or whose prose may not be as flowery as others, because it is much better to have some mangled syntax and frustrating grammar than mangled feelings and frustrated players.
Let’s stop striving to be good writers. Instead, let’s strive to be good players.
Quotes of the Month
“I heard that the EMH console in sickbay is out of commission. You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”
“Didn’t you ask me to get rid of her?”
-Alenis Meru and Timothy Rouse
"Just out of curiosity, what are your plans for the EMH?"
"Lieutenant Commander Rouse has ensured that the EMH has been permanently deactivated and deleted. Why do you--…you know what, Lieutenant, I don't want to know."
- Jason Beauvoir and Alenis Meru
"Unlike my offer to assist with filing paperwork, I am sincerely pleased to be aboard the USS Portland”
- Thoval sh’Kor
"So... Doctor... why was the EMH reprogrammed with the image and personality of the captain? And why the cocktail dress?"
- Nikki Barclay
"I don't think Tim is going to see a counselor, unless you order him to.”
"I'll keep that in mind. I have the power to do that you know,"
- Judith Rouse and Alenis Meru
"The terrorists seem to have shops."
“Throw the spoon.”
“There will be time for questions when I’m holding the cup. I’ve got a race to prepare for.”