From Reporter issue 42.
Birds and Bees
- “I never been fond of fast relationships in real life, and I am the same way IC.”
- “I got involved in a relationship (in the game) early on. I’ll never do that again.”
- “I am almost as picky about IC relationships, as I am about real life relationships.”
Relationships in character can be a great source for character development and interesting situation. After all, nothing is as purely social and emotional as a relationship. Still, as the above quotes suggest, relationships can be as tricky IC. Each of the quotes come from experienced simmers from two different groups I belong to.
What follows is a short primer on ‘Love’ in the hope of helping YOU sim relationships well and avoid common pitfalls.
No Nasty Stuff!
First thing to remember is that we’re a PG-13-rated site. That means: no swearing, no hyper-realistic violence, and of course, no sex! Keep the intimate, steamy details inside the bedroom and end a scene before you get that far. If you are worried a sim does too much, email the ship’s command staff. I’ve written up several graphic examples of what you should NOT sim, but our pesky editor gave the thumbs down.
Take it Slow, Baby
The great thing about relationships is that they allow a character to explore life. Couples meet, get to know each other, develop affection, commit to each other, and if so inclined: reproduce (*ahem*). Then comes moving into a new place, watching off-spring mature, growing apart, and divorce. Or maybe you stay together and die of old age.
Either way, this should not all happen in the first week of simming, or even in the first month. The best IC relationships take time. Rare is love at first sight. Plan on the relationship taking several months to get to the first kiss. Sim meeting the family for the first time. Talk about commitment. Assume the first intimate contact will be after a couple missions. In the end you will have a more realistic and mature IC relationship. Or if you leap in with both feet and sim your character waking up and going, “OH my what did I just DO!” then comes the process of slowly over the course of months figuring out the pitfalls of sudden romance.
Family (OOC) Planning
It is best to have a discussion with the writer of the other character before things go too far. Negative emotions do not always begin or end with the characters. If you are angry with someone in character, it is not uncommon to feel some animosity toward them out of character, and visa-versa. If one player is looking to sim a family, and the other just wants to sim a date, maybe they shouldn’t sim a second outing. I don’t advocate planning out every step OOC, but knowing what your partner in simming is thinking can never hurt.
Joined at the Hip
Relationships can be a real detriment to beginning simmers. At a point where players need to be interacting with the plot, and getting to know all the players on a ship, they are locked in a room with their significant other. Sometimes they will even go so far as to ignore other simmers entirely, even when directly simmed to. Waiting till after a promotion or two ensures that you have a good base to start a relationship from. This is not unlike waiting till after high school or college before getting serious in real life.
Nor is it uncommon for simmers to become co-dependent, especially if one simmer is more developed than the other. The weak simmer depends on the ideas and skills of the other and never matures in their writing. At the same time, the strong simmer expends extra effort supporting this ‘partner’ eventually becoming embittered and vindictive. As you can see this is not a good situation. Pick your partner carefully, and don’t be afraid to end the relationship if you feel that it’s not going in the direction you had planned.
High and Dry
He doesn’t call. She doesn’t write. WHERE ARE YOU?!
This is a game and people are bound to leave it sooner or later. What do you do when the person you have been simming a relationship vanishes? Your options are limited and are basically: to sim them out of the story (death or dismemberment), or sim for them. As the character isn’t yours, you need to talk to the captain about what is best for the story.
The other possibility is that your IC significant other may move off ship your ship through transfer or promotion. Do you break up or attempt a “long distance relationship”? Following the other simmer could inhibit promotion and character growth. Make your decision based on what you hope to do with your “simming career” and how you think it will work out after the move. And, of course, be sure to communicate with your “partner writer”!
Sometimes the best relationship is the one closest at hand: Fly solo and create a PNPC! Some may say it is a bit sterile, but you can avoid every problem addressed above by doing so. A PNPC will do exactly what you want, say what you want, and allow a great range of flexibility. You can sim intense emotions like jealousy or love/hate without affecting anyone else adversely. An NPC is also a great choice for short-term relationships, or early in ones career.
He’s dead Jim!
Perhaps you have decided to kill off your NPC partner. Or maybe a real life partner has left the community, and the captain has decided to give them a Viking Farewell on a burning shuttle craft. Either way, your character has just been widowed. It is time to dress in black and sim grief. It takes a long time for powerful feelings to fade, usually years. You should not be getting involved in another relationship right away, and when you do, memories of that person will still be there. I suggest simming strong grief for a mission, and then scaling the emotion back over the course of the next couple missions. Once again sim at a measured pace.
Um… what is that?
Recently on the OOC boards in the “Aliens” forum, there was a brief discussion on Xenobiology. Specifically, it was about interspecies reproduction. Problems of anatomy aside, it is highly unlikely DNA from species separated by hundreds of light years, and millions of years of evolution would be compatible. Even very closely related species like the donkey and horse produce a sterile offspring: the mule. Still, Star Trek is a universe of miraculous technology. It is likely ways could be found to artificially mingle DNA. When simming a pregnancy, be sure to take in to account the need for artificial assistance between species, and potential damage to the mother. These are wonderful plot developments, and add some much needed character development. Consider how your character would feel if he or she came to the realization that even with modern science, something has gone wrong with your child – or the child’s mother?
Boldly Go Where No Person Has Gone Before?
Even in The Original Series we saw that possibilities varied for future relationships: Spock was half Vulcan, Cochrane was discovered alive and in the arms of an energy being, and Kirk had seemed to fall in love with every alien who saw him shirtless. Don’t be afraid to explore the possibilities of relationship. Most relationships I see are between comfortably humanoid, gender-differentiated species. Star Trek is in part about pushing the envelope, and expanding horizons! Relationship’s have the same potential for exploration as the Final Frontier.
(Written by: RAdml. Hollis Caley)