Your character represents the alter-ego that you control in the Star Trek universe. It’s important to put a great deal of effort and thought into making this a person that you want to spend a lot of time with! In this area, you’ll find out more information about creating your character.
Before you get too deep in developing your character, there’s some things you will want to consider:
- Don’t “over-produce”: Part of playing the game is creating as you go. The last thing you want is to develop your character so much that you’ve “written yourself into a corner.” Leave plenty of character development for when you actually get to your ship!
- Age appropriate: If you’re planning on playing a doctor, then your character will have been in medical school for a while both before, and after StarFleet Academy. In that case, your character would be around 26 once they got to their ship. For everyone else, your character will likely be about 23, as they would probably joined the Academy at the age of 18 (the end of their “high school” or secondary school experience), and then would have spent four years in the Academy, and one year on a “cadet cruise.” Adults sometimes enter StarFleet, as well, so you’re free to have your character be older than 23, and don’t forget that this age can vary wildly for other species. A Vulcan might be 75 or older before they enter Starfleet, for example.
- Consider your character’s maturity: Think back to what you were like at around 23. (Or, imagine how you will be at that age!) If you’re much older, you’ll know that your life has changed, your personality has changed somewhat, and you have a completely different perspective on the world. Keep this in mind as you develop your character, and don’t forget that people don’t always emerge from Starfleet Academy as wizened, mature adults.
- Avoid “widow/orphan syndrome”: Inexperienced writers sometimes assume that for a character to be interesting, they have to have experienced a lot of tragedy in their life. They often write into a character’s history that they were orphaned at a young age, or that their loved-one died in a tragic accident – or both. Consider, in real life, how many orphans do YOU know that had to raise themselves? How many widows, or widowers do YOU know that had a spouse die? Probably not too many, and that type of thing would be even more rare in the future where medicine had advanced far beyond where we are today, saving many a child from losing a parent to disease. If you’re looking for ways to make your character interesting, draw on your own experiences as a person and think about the small, but just as important struggles you’ve been through. As they say, “write what you know.”
Don’t be Mary Sue (or Wesley Crusher)
Star Trek can sometimes be a hard genre to write for, because most StarFleet officers are, by today’s standards, driven, well educated, moral, and empathetic individuals, who mainly care about exploring, bettering themselves, bettering the galaxy, and finding new ways to make the engines run faster on a starship. In turn, some people feel the need to ensure that their character stands out among amazing people. Sometimes, this means making a character who graduated first, or second, in their class at StarFleet, or someone who is nothing less than the best engineer StarFleet has ever seen, even upon graduating StarFleet Academy. We call these characters “Mary Sue: an overly idealized and hackneyed character, lacking noteworthy flaws, and primarily functioning as a wish-fulfillment fantasy for the author or reader.” (Wikipedia)
As much fun as it is to conceive of that character who overcame adversity (dead parents! life of poverty! overly-critical Academy professors!), graduated first in their class, and was the envy of their peers, these characters just aren’t that much fun to write. First, you’ll find that you don’t really have very far to grow with a character like this. How do they develop themselves when they’re already the best? How can they possibly have healthy, interesting relationships when everyone they meet is but a lesser version of them? And second, you’ll find that others resent these characters, because they hog the limelight. No one should be the center of attention all the time — everyone should have a chance to shine!
Think about your own experiences in life. Did you meet a lot of people who were truly exceptional? Did you meet a lot of people who were able to be the sports star, and graduate at the top of their class? Have you met anyone who overcame incredibly adversity, and was able to not only meet everyone else’s level, but exceed them too? Chances are, those people are pretty rare. We want them to be rare in our game, too, because those people are few and far-between in real life. And believe it or not, reading about characters that are normal people in difficult circumstances is more interesting than reading about extraordinary people.
Interesting stories come from learning about how people behave when faced with new and difficult situation. How will your overly average character deal with the loss of a friend when your ship meets the Borg? What will your character do when they don’t know how to fix the problem in their work? How will your character react when they finally meet someone on the crew that they’re romantically interested in, but that other person doesn’t think your character is attractive enough for a mutual relationship? These are the types of stories we want to read because they’re about the human condition. We want to know and understand how to overcome adversity “as it happens” in the sim. Learning that a character has already overcome many difficult life challenges before they even got through StarFleet just means that they’ve already learned their lessons!
Consider ways that your character can find trade-offs. Perhaps they did well at the Academy, but their social life suffered, which now means they have a hard time relating to people on the ship. Or perhaps they had a great social life at the Academy, but barely squeaked by on their exams, and now has a hard time adjusting to the rigors of their new job, which tests the limits of their knowledge and capabilities.
Avoid other common mistakes
If you want to avoid some of the other common character creation mistakes, you can check out the “Mary-Sue Litmus Test.” Beyond just checking to make sure your character isn’t a Mary-Sue, it also lists dozens of other common, overly-done character traits. You don’t have to avoid all of them — after all, there are only so many common stories we can tell! — but this can give you an idea of whether or not your character might be headed in the wrong direction.
Need some inspiration?
There are some places around the internet that can help you get started with character generation. Here are a few links:
- General Person Generator: detailed descriptions of characters including appearance, clothing, and general attitude.
- Quick Character Generator: quick, simple character descriptions, generic or for specific settings. Choose “Science Fiction, Specific: Starship Crews”
We do not allow any of the following:
- Section 31 members: Section 31 is a tiny, and extremely exclusive organization. Less than 0.1% of StarFleet members would be a part of it. As such, Section 31 characters may only be played by group staff, and only in specific circumstances.
- Superhero abilities: none of the species we allow for the game can fly, burn objects with their eyes, or other such abilities which generally are found in superhero comics.
- Characters seen onscreen: you are not allowed to play a character who has appeared on any Trek series or movie.
- Telekinetics: this is the ability to move objects with your mind.
- Q characters: as with telekinetics, Qs, Dowds, and such are simply too powerful for our use.
- Delta Quadrant races: we do not allow characters whose species originated in the Delta Quadrant.
- Federation enemies: distinct enemies of the Federation, such as the Borg or the Breen, are not allowed.
- Pre-warp species: the Prime Directive of the Federation requires that no one disturb pre-warp species. As such, it’s unlikely that an entity from a pre-warp flight species would find its way into StarFleet.
- Sexually explicit or disgusting characters: when describing characters, please be sure to keep them decent.
Choosing a Species
Perhaps one of the most important parts of your character is the species you choose. As such, we encourage you to visit our Intelligent Lifeform Index (ILI) before you consider anything else in your character creation process. The ILI has a list of all species which we allow to be played by members of our fleet. Choosing from this list will ensure that you don’t spend a lot of time creating a character around a species we don’t allow! (Look for the species marked “Permitted.”)
We know you designated a species on your application, but you’re allowed to change your species during training. Just notify your training officer, when training begins, if you find a new species you’d rather play.
Guilds are small groups of people who share common, In Character interests. Below are the guilds that are currently active within the group. Using the guild resources may help you develop your character and learn more about the species you chose.
- Characters Guild: For general information about developing characters.
- Readers Guild: For those who play Telepathic or Empathic species.
- Lambda Alliance: For our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered members, and their characters.
- Guild of Vulcans: For anyone who plays a Vulcan.