Writing Primary Characters

From Bravo Fleet

The moment you join Bravo Fleet, you have a Primary Character. This character is the Starfleet officer assigned to one of the Fourth Fleet’s Task Forces as an up-and-coming leader and future starship commander. They are your member dossier’s In-Character (IC) representation as an officer of the Fourth Fleet. Out-of-Character (OOC), they’re the face of your member dossier, the name attached to the starship you’ll get when you make Lieutenant Commander. The ‘avatar’ as you engage with Fleet activities, progress through the ranks, and win awards. Their adventures can happen in fiction or in competitions or even just in your head, but if they’re on the dossier, they’re real to Bravo Fleet.

Your Primary Character is the In-Character face of your Bravo Fleet dossier

While you will create them as part of the joining process, we anticipate their development to be an ongoing project. It's okay to start with little more than an idea, or even just a name, and figure out where you're going as you learn more about the fleet and what you enjoy. You can also change your Primary Character. In no way are you committed to your first idea. It's okay for the Primary Character to change and grow as your participation in the fleet does, and as you rise through the ranks.

We encourage that you make your Primary Character distinct and separate from any character you’ll use if you join a Game. Even if you don’t participate in fiction writing, the idea is that you as a member represent an important, command-level officer (and, eventually, their starship) within the Fleet, not merely a crewmember. Your Primary Character is that officer.

Creation and Development

While you create a character upon joining, they don't need to be the finished article. As mentioned, it's fine to start out with a name and short paragraph. You might have a strong concept for a well-established figure in Starfleet, and want to get down hundreds of words in character background. That's fine. You might want to figure things out as you go along and start with a loose framework you can fill out later, or a character who is, as you are OOC, at the start of their journey.

It's okay to leave gaps. It's even okay to go back and change things later.

Using Your Primary Character

IC, your primary character is a command-level officer in the Fourth Fleet. But that doesn't mean you have to be a creative writer to make this so. That doesn't mean you have to churn out hundreds of words of fiction to portray their adventures or experiences. The character is no less real, no less a part of the Fourth Fleet, if your engagement in Bravo Fleet takes other forms.

Perhaps you're a gamer, or perhaps you only want to do RPGs or competitions. These are all valid forms of participation in Bravo Fleet. This makes your Primary Character an avatar for your achievements, a dossier on which you can hang your earned bragging rights through awards, ribbons, or even your Avatar Command. Many Fleet activities come in different forms with different faces - your Star Trek Online character, your role-playing characters - and if that's all you do, your Primary Character is still a unifying, IC face for your dossier. Even if they're just a picture, a name, and a character description.

Rank, History, and the Primary Character

When you join, you’re a Cadet. Soon enough, you’re an Ensign. Within a few weeks of activity, you’ll be a Lieutenant Commander. How does that affect your Primary Character?

In short: be flexible. We don’t encourage you to 100% cleave your OOC rank progression to your character’s IC career advancement. It would strain credulity, to say the least, for a Cadet to become a Lieutenant Commander within a few weeks - and then a couple of years later be an Admiral. So, how do you reconcile this?

It’s worth bearing in mind that you won’t spend very long at the junior officer ranks. If you’re an active member who wants to start writing immediately, you’ll probably be an Ensign or even a Lieutenant Junior Grade by the time you’ve finished working out any significant details of your Primary Character! And from there it’s just a few more weeks to Lieutenant Commander, the first significant stretch of time at one rank. Bear this in mind when considering your choices.

Primary characters represent the command officers of Starfleet's Fourth Fleet

You could keep your character’s background fluid, treating it as a work in progress that changes as you reach new OOC ranks. You could adjust their age and history as they rise through the ranks. Or if you’re eager to write your Primary Character while you’re a junior officer, maybe consider writing stories set in their past when they would have held that rank. This can give you a few weeks OOC to flesh out the character’s past.

One option is to disregard OOC rank in your writing. You can create your character as a Commander or a Captain from the beginning, commanding the small Raven Class you can request once you're an Ensign, on a temporary mission until you become eligible for a proper starship at Lieutenant Commander. They might be fulfilling a special operation for the Task Force, be on a command training mission, or anything of that kind. Despite this, the Lore Office expects you to not write your Primary Character at a rank higher than Captain until or unless you have OOC achieved that rank. A Captain is a high enough rank for any kind of story or any kind of character with any level of experience.

My preferred option is a blend of the two. Start writing, or envision your character, at the rank of Lieutenant Commander - or maybe Commander, depending on their age and experience. Write towards that point while you’re a junior officer, developing their history or perhaps their missions on their little Raven-class. And once you reach Lieutenant Commander OOC, you can easily wed IC and OOC ranks together, adjusting their history if necessary. This gives some of the fun of sharing the major OOC milestone of reaching Captain with your character if you so wish.

A more dramatic choice is to change your Primary Character as you go up the ranks. Maybe you write a young Cadet when you’re at that rank, perhaps sticking with them as you reach Ensign. You can then write a new Primary Character when you become a lieutenant, and again when you make Lieutenant Commander, or maybe again when you make Commander or even Captain. These characters don’t need to go to ‘waste’ - your starship will need a crew someday, and this way you have a handful of characters with stories you’ve already crafted, ready to go!

Despite all of this, the main rule is: don’t sweat it. While we want ranks to be an entertaining progression, and it can be fun to share those milestones, we don’t ask you to unduly contort your storytelling around them. Respect that OOC ranks are rewards for members’ hard work and commitment to the group, and tell the story you want to tell, and you’ll do fine.