Between the end of shore-leave and the start of a mission, many vessels hold staff meetings (“briefings”). Conference room meetings can be less exciting than the main mission, but they are, however, important to understanding the mission and establishing the key facts you’ll be working with and developing. It gives players a basic scenario and then each player comes away from the meeting with an idea for how to develop the mission – what direction to take it in and what twists to introduce. This chance to ask questions IC and establish as many background facts as possible should not be overlooked. You should always try and avoid not simming because the mission briefing is taking place.
A common excuse for not simming at this juncture tends to be: “I do not have a question to ask.” Sometimes both writers and characters cannot think of a questions, however, it does not mean you have to stop simming. Instead, you can describe how your character feels about not being able think of a question – nervous, embarrassed or confident that they already know everything they need to know? Moreover, everyone can be simming their character’s reactions, thoughts and feelings as to what is being said in the conference. If someone tells those at the conference table that the Klingons have killed 500 Bajorans on the planet, then you may not have a question to ask, but you can describe your character watching the CO as he speaks and allow your character to react — for example your mouth falling openly aghast in shock to show your character’s compassionate side! (Or for contrast, you could sim your character smiling and show how much your character hates Bajorans!)
In addition to this, you can also sim how your character feels about the mission ahead and the task presented. Does your character agree they should be doing it? Does your character agree with the chosen plan? Is your character apprehensive about the risk he or she will be taking? Does your character wish shore-leave could have gone on for longer? These are all things you should be simming. After all, your Captain is telling your character something they did not know, the result of which could be fatal — would your character sit there nonplussed and silent? Or would they have a reaction?
As a crew, your characters all hear the same information in a briefing but your individual reactions do not need to be identical. If your Captain tells the senior staff that three naked Klingons will be dancing on the bridge, a male Klingon Security Officer and a female Vulcan Science Officer would have different thoughts and feelings about the same situation. Your sims should express and reflect your character’s reaction even though you all hear the same piece of info from the CO.
Even if our characters have nothing to say in the conference room, that does not mean that we should fall silent and not sim. Simming our reactions to the “mission facts” offers us a brilliant chance to do some major character building. Suppose your Captain is briefing everyone on Borg activity on the planet Centura IV and your character has a phobia of the Borg. You can convey this to your fellow players and develop that aspect of your character’s personalities through describing your character’s thoughts, feelings and reaction to the briefing. (You could even do a flashback whilst your character remembers their last encounter with the Borg!) Meanwhile, a fellow player might play a character with severe hay fever and react to the same captain’s briefing by shuddering at the thought of having to beam down to the pollen filled atmosphere of Centura IV. By the end of the briefing, we would have learned a lot of background on our crew-mates and developed our characters.
Your character’s reaction in the briefing room does not just have to be related to the facts that the Captain is providing about the mission. You should convey how your character feels about their own role on the assignment. How does a security officer feel about being sent to Manaria on a science mission when he could be arresting criminals on StarBase 118’s promenade? How does an El-aurian feel about people polluting their home-world when her own people don’t have a home-world anymore? How does a command officer feel about leading an away team of scientists? Within the mission, every character has a different role and the briefing room is a great chance for you to convey your character’s feeling about their duties in the upcoming plot. Briefings are an ideal opportunity to develop aspects of your character and for each member of the crew to learn more about their crew-mates.
Sims where Captains just give out a lot of facts tend to be dry. So give him something about your character in the meeting that he can then include to add a bit of spice! If you don’t want to ask your Captain a question then sim something else, even if you just say your character falls asleep, or looks bored with what the Captain is saying or even that your character starts rubbing someone else’s foot under the table and looking seductively at them. Anything like this then gives the Captain leading the briefing a set of small details that they can include in the sim. This way, rather than just a load of mission facts, the Captain can also add little extras in between his dialogue and write a better sim.
Rocar: Team 1 will enter the compound from here and move towards the Klingons.
::Rocar paused and wondered why Lt Nicole Kidman kept looking at Ensign Hanks with a mixture of amusement and annoyance. Giving the young Ensign a suspicious look, the Ktarian Captain returned to what he was saying.::
Rocar: Meanwhile Team 2 will enter here where Lt Garfunkel will…
::Smiling a little, the CO motioned for Ensign Simons to nudge Lt Garfunkel who had his eyes shut and looked fast asleep.::
In the above example, if Lt. Garfunkel does not sim that he’s asleep and Ensign Hanks does not sim that he is rubbing Kidman’s foot then Rocar’s sim would be a mass of dialogue outlining the mission but with less variety. Always give your Captain something to work with and stop him sounding boring!
Another briefing technique is to sit back in the conference room chair as the words being spoken by your captain begin to be drowned out by your own thoughts. Dissolve into a flashback and write a sim full of dialogue as you explore your character’s past before snapping out of the daydream and returning to the meeting.
Once a mission starts, a ship’s command staff often gets an OOC question from players. There’s nothing wrong with this, but sometimes a lot of those OOC questions could have been written up IC and asked at the conference room table in the briefing! The briefing is an ideal chance to ask your OOC question IC.
For example, rather than Ensign Bloggs on Duronis II OOCing Captain Rocar next week and asking “Is it okay if we kill off one of the Klingon NPCs and which team am I on?” He could ask Rocar the following, in character, at the conference table:
Bloggs: So I’m with Commander Jagger’s team?
::The Ktarian stopped wondering if Garfunkel was actually asleep and glanced over at Bloggs.::
Bloggs: And if we encounter resistance from the Klingons should we shoot to kill?
Although sitting round a conference room table may not be as exciting as a mission or as shore leave, it does not mean that there is not an opportunity to write high-quality and worthwhile sims – either asking questions or describing your characters thoughts and feelings. After all your characters are Starfleet officers and care, protect and work together! They would not sit in silence without a single reaction, thought or emotion simply waiting for the mission to start so they can get some action.
Next time your ship is having a staff meeting at the start of a mission try out some of the above tips and I look forward to hearing about some really high-powered conference meetings throughout the fleet!
(Written by: Captain Rocar Drawoh)