Introduction to Bravo Fleet Writing

From Bravo Fleet

While Bravo Fleet offers many activities, our history as a role-play group means we retain a strong creative spirit. Members’ writing in various forms is at the forefront of driving the group’s canon as Starfleet’s Fourth Fleet in 2399. Broadly, Bravo Fleet writing falls into two formats: roleplaying games (historically referred to as ‘sims’) and fictions.

Roleplaying Games

RPGs. Group Writing. Sims. This form of collaborative writing is part of Bravo Fleet’s history, taking part most often on Starfleet ships in 2399 - though games exist for different eras, factions, and even genres.

It tends to take the language and form of a role-playing game, with members as ‘players’ writing (usually) one character, and a Game Master writing the ship’s captain and dictating the main story beats. There can be all sorts of variations within this - the GM isn’t always the captain, players may write for many characters, or plots may be improvised by players rather than developed by the GM. Even writing in a less role-playing form, where members may share writing of characters and the planning of the story, counts as an RPG.

The management of these games is overseen by the Bravo Fleet Operations Officer, who ensures they meet expected standards of quality and activity, usually agreed upon by both the Ops Officer and a prospective GM. These expectations exist because BF members can usually apply to join these games, so a GM is taking on a commitment to run an activity for the fleet.

Some of these games take place on websites provided by Bravo Fleet using the Nova system. While supported by BF, these are stand-alone sites that members have to register to use, and grant a GM more flexibility in customising appearance and content. On these sites, character biographies and crew rosters are stored, and the Nova system supports collaborative writing of mission posts, and their distribution to the game’s players.

Most games are run on the main Bravo Fleet website, using the Bravo Fleet Management System (BFMS). The BFMS also stores character biographies and crew rosters and supports the collaborative writing of members, which is easily seen and shared with the whole fleet. In Character, the 2400 Starfleet ships are the Fourth Fleet’s Forward Operation Forces. They operate independently of Task Forces, pursuing a wide range of missions under the command of the Fleet Operations Officer.

Fiction Writing

See also: BFMS Fiction Guide for how to write on the website

Fiction writing could be called ‘all other writing.’ Members can write BF fiction anywhere so long as it is linked to from the BFMS, but most BF fiction is on the main site. Here, writing in the Bravo Fleet canon of all flavours can be found, from official Lore Office releases to the narratives driving Task Force story-arcs, to the stories of individual members. This is the core of Bravo Fleet canon, lore development, and IC fleet activities.

Most fiction on BFMS, and this section of the guide, focuses on stories about the Starfleet officers and starships of the Fourth Fleet in 2400 - the Primary Characters of members, and their primary commands. Stories about other eras or factions require submitting a fiction proposal to the Lore Office once a member reaches the rank of Commander.

Once you reach the rank of Ensign, you can request your own Primary Command. For Ensigns, Lieutenant JGs, and Lieutenants, this is a smaller auxiliary craft permanently assigned to your Primary Character, suitable to small and regional activities. It might be based out of the Headquarters of your Task Force, going off into missions in that area of the galaxy, but your TF doesn't force you into any one region, base, or place. If you want some guidance on what might make a good story at that level, talk to your Task Force staff for help.

Once you reach the rank of Lieutenant Commander, it's time to become a real starship captain. IC, your Primary Command is now the starship assigned to your Task Force, commanded by your Primary Character. From there, you have the liberty to write your starship’s adventures anywhere in Bravo Fleet canon, with your Task Force’s specific mission for inspiration and direction.

From the rank of Commander, you are eligible to request another fiction. These are usually about historical Trek eras or are set somewhere other than a Starfleet ship or starbase in 2400. At the least, proposals for such should explain why you aren't just writing on your primary command!

Fleet Canon and Member Canon

Bravo Fleet canon is laid out by the Canon Policy. In brief, all members are required to abide by Star Trek canon and Bravo Fleet canon. But you are, as individual writers, encouraged to pay attention to Section 1.3 of the Canon Policy, titled 'Member Canon.'

This consists of small details that are not specified by official or fleet canon, relevant to and developed by individual members. At its most obvious, it’s things like the creation of a strange nebula your starship surveyed somewhere in the Alpha Quadrant, or the lone Klingon captain who helped a ship. These are details that affect only your stories and your characters, and while you are welcome to discuss them, write about them, or even add them to the Bravo Fleet wiki, unless or until they are ratified by the Lore Office, no other members are obligated to follow that canon or acknowledge its existence.

But those are easy examples. The Lore Office does not aspire to flesh out every single detail about the Trek universe, and nor does Star Trek canon itself provide all of the details. Some facts slip through the cracks: what’s the state of Tokyo in 2400? Who taught Basic Warp Design at Starfleet Academy in 2387? What is the current status of a very minor one-off alien race from TOS, almost a century and a half later?

Some of these are questions which the Lore Office may answer as they arise. Others - like the Academy teacher - will most certainly not be defined by Bravo Fleet canon. Members are welcome to specify these details in their own stories, but with the understanding that nobody else is bound by them. Strong and interesting ideas that flesh out relevant parts of the universe may be adopted by the Lore Office into Fleet canon, but until then, they are Member Canon.

Might this lead to contradictions? Very possibly. Is this a problem? Not usually. Often such details can be reconciled; it is possible, or even likely, that multiple officers taught Basic Warp Design at the Academy in 2387. It’s worth remembering that even Star Trek canon occasionally contradicts itself on these minor details, and Star Trek has survived it. If two entirely separate stories have different, minor details, it’s very easy to live and let live.

Members are encouraged to get on with their writing without worrying too much about these fine details of other stories. Contradictions can be justified or worked around, or you can - again - live and let live. The Lore Office can resolve glaring inconsistencies if they arise, and in some cases these may be situations that benefit from an official, canonical judgement.

But in general? Don’t sweat it.