The next draft of the course is up for review until January 30th! Keep in mind that we are going to be building a better Resource Library for GM topics so some of the discussed sections people wanted to add will be included in that rather than directly in the course. And as usual, all links will be updated/added correctly in the final version for the Library.
Draft 1 Change-log:
*Added a section about communication with CO
Welcome to the Academy’s Gamemaster (GM) course, offered in cooperation with STF’s GM Department (GMD). This course will help you decide whether GM’ing is right for you, the rules that govern GM’s and how to go about getting your GM License.
In STF you cannot be a GM before being a Gamemaster Trainee (GMT). Everyone wishing to be a GM must participate in the GMT program.
Passing this exam is the first step to undertaking the GMT Program. All prospective GMTs after passing this must provide 3 GM, CO/XO references and then are placed on a ship with a GMM.
At the 90-day mark, your GMM and CO will fill out an evaluation and either Pass, Fail or extend your review period. Your GMM will also provide you with all the coaching and help you need along the way. At the end of your sim you will go through one final review to determine if you pass your Gamemaster Training.
The pass rate for the exam at the end of this course is 75%.
Please read the current version of OGRE to find out what the current requirements are. You can find OGRE here: http://www.star-fleet.com/gmd/
This document also lists all the rules you will have to abide by when GMing in STF. It will be your responsibility to check the GM Department regularly for any changes. These rules are made to protect you and the players- by having these it is hoped that disputes will be short lived and easily settled.
Section A. Have Game, Will Master?
“Regardless of skill, a GM needs to have a good rapport with the crew. Whether it’s as an evil mastermind, a benevolent leader, a weenie, he has to be on very good terms with them.” (Unknown GM)
Our Gamemasters are literally the heart of shipboard activity, they set the tone and pace for life aboard a ship. Even side sims usually utilise elements of the main sim to establish context and place. So being the GM means a greater workload as you usually monitor all the threads on a ship regardless of whether they pertain to your sim or not.
The first and most important thing for you to know before you move past this page is that a GM’s job is to entertain his assigned crew. Contrary to a very popular belief, being the GM doesn’t make you a puppet master, nor a god. The crew isn’t there to do your bidding; you’re there to show the crew a good time.
Being a GM requires juggling ego, talent and humility with a dose of common sense. You have to be tolerant without being a pushover; strong without being overbearing; flexible without being unfocused; and most of all, able to put the needs/wants of the crew above your own personal desires.
A GM also needs to accept that when they agree to GM a ship they are taking on a commitment to that crew and CO. You have the responsibility to post often, read all posts and work with the Command Staff to keep the ship a happy place.
That means not accepting a GM spot when you know that you are going to have to go LOA for a long term within the next few weeks. Planning ahead with the CO as to how things will continue if you do have to go LOA as well as setting in place some sort of contingency plan should an emergency arise. We have all been grabbed by the real life monsters at times, be it illness or computer breakdown. There are ways to cope with this.
Likewise, look at the posting speed on a ship. While the posting requirements may say every three to four days, as GM you will probably need to post more often. Be prepared to post as frequently as required to keep the story moving.
A good GM also possesses great communication skills. It’s important that there is an open dialogue between you and the CO (as well as the XO). You need to be able to bring issues to their attention and they should be responsive and address concerns. As a sim progresses, you may need to change directions or have the crew nudged to post or do something specific. Don’t be shy! The CO wants to hear from you. If they don’t, then it might not be the best pairing, and that is something that can happen. In that situation, you should also be able to talk to the Fleet Command about any issues that aren’t being addressed. Don’t keep them in the dark. They want to be on top of problems before they morph into something detrimental to the ship.
Finally, a GM needs to be professional. To be a successful GM you have to detach yourself from dealing with the people and focus on the characters. If someone you don’t like happens to join the ship, you can’t throw their character out an airlock. Giving into that temptation will quickly lead to being neck deep in complaints, reviews and probably the end of your time as a GM. Remember, giving someone’s character hell just because you feel like it contravenes the first rule of GMing.
Rule Number 1 - Thou shalt Entertain
Phenomenal Cosmic Power, Itty Bitty Living Space
Before we move on, we need to talk quickly about the separation of powers and the chain of command.
First of all, GMs have broad powers aboard ship, but within a very limited scope. You are given a vast amount of latitude to do your job. But with that trust comes some very serious lines you can’t cross.
GMs like COs and XOs are given administrative rights to a ship or Role Playing environment. You are also given a section of the MOTD that you are expected to keep up to date. You have access to other functions of ship administration such as character creation, roster functions. While you have access, you will not be using most of this functionality. Apart from keeping the MOTD up to date, gone are the days of a GM needing to create extra unrostered characters for dramatic suspense. It’s still within your purview to do so, but it is almost never done now.
Recommended Reading: Administrative Menu Primer: http://www.star-fleet.com/library/bookshelf/textbook/textbook-administrative.html [GMD Note: to be updated for Exodus]
The CO and XO are there to administer the players both OOC and IC. You are there to administer the story. If you have any problems or are stuck, your first port of call should be the CO. The CO is your partner and has a vested interest in keeping the ship functioning smoothly. If you’re having problems with another player make sure to utilise the chain of command. Talk to your CO first and foremost.
Chain of Command: CO -> Fleet Command -> President
Resources Available to GMs
STF has many resources available to you on site but Wikipedia, Memory Alpha and Beta are also excellent resources.
Gamemaster Department - This is your home department, there are a few resources to be found here. You can also ask questions and will receive advice from other GMs. First up the FAQ page or frequently asked questions. Check here first to see if it’s already been asked: https://www.star-fleet.com/core/command/gmd/
Lindsay Bayes has updated and created a new Star Trek map modified for our particular Fleets. It can be found here: Star Chart.
The Reference Manual is a home grown encyclopedia for STF, it has entries on planets, people etc. GMs are allowed to write entries for this Manual, but you’ll need to check the GM Department for the latest submission requirements. This is a useful place to find information for a sim: http://www.star-fleet.com/library/bookshelf/rm/
Vacancies on the GMD MOTD will be the place to look for a ship, here you can see which ships might be looking for a GM.
Mission Archives from the Amanda Noon Archive. The GM Department keeps a record of all sims and there are two good reasons for this. One, it helps our GMs keep track of where they have GMed and how many sims they have run for GM Rank Advancement. Two, it provides a useful database for GMs planning sims. Eventually the archive will be the place to go and see if the ship you are about to GM has been doing back to back battle sims. Or check that they haven’t done a sim very similar to the one you’re planning.
The Player’s Handbook - In the academy you can find a link to The Player’s Handbook. You need to be familiar with this document.
Personnel Department - The PDept is the place to go to find out about the ships in STF. Their ship profile page contains lots of information and is a good starting point. You could also ask the Personnel staff for information that they may have regarding ships.
This is all good research and a great starting point but don’t forget to actually go read possible ships and see if you like the feel of it. Chat with the Command staff, find out what they expect of the GM and see if it matches with your ideas. A good match now will make for a much easier sim be it a training one or later on when you’ve got some experience.
[course continued in Part 2]
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