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Old 08-23-2013, 09:20 PM   #51
Agemegos
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Oz
Default Re: [OOC] The Starship 'Fritjof Nansen'

Every player has to have a voice in the deliberations of the senior staff, of course, and I want to share out the burden of playing the officer-in-charge in professional procedure scenes. So my original plan was to have each player playing the head of one of {the ship's combat crew, the diplomatic party, the marines commando action team, and the Survey staff}.

But I had trouble getting enough marines aboard that they would be commanded by an officer, and felt that a realistic NCO would not have the training to take part in staff-committee work and would deeply resent being asked to debate policy with field-grade officers. So the thought occurred to me to split the marines-leader role into two, one being an intelligence officer (staff, not field, not technically in the chain of command, and definitely not leading any commando actions) and the other the section-and-'action'-team leader. One player could play both, thus having a voice in the staff scenes and a share of command "on the ground" — just not in the same character.

Just now I have realised that although the captain has to have command in the naval operations scenes, and the ambassador has to have command in the diplomatic scenes, the Dean of Survey doesn't have to have command on the ground of whatever collection of four goof-offs and layabouts we choose to focus out attention on in the exploration scenes. At the price of having two players play five characters instead of only one having to do so, I can split the command of Survey, too.

What's more, I can split and swap. With one player playing the captain and another the ambassador, I could have one player playing the Dean of Survey and the Marines Section Leader, the other playing the Intelligence officer and the leader among the PCs in Survey operations scenes.

Comments?
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Old 08-24-2013, 03:48 AM   #52
Agemegos
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Oz
Default Re: [OOC] The Starship 'Fritjof Nansen'

Speaking of cliché, I'd like to point out that one of the themes that FLAT BLACK recites is that an efficient, decisive, effective bureaucracy that was actually dedicated to the most important issues would be about as horrifying as the "utopia" in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. It can't do that if the bureaucracy is significantly corrupt, jealous, intolerant, or inefficient. So if you suggest character concepts that depend significantly on characters being assigned to inappropriate work, denied recognition because of personality issues with jealous superiors, etc. then either I will ask you to modify them or I won't select the characters involved. The age-old and well-worn clichés of government waste and indifference, and of jealous back-biting self-serving corrupt bureaucrats belong in colonial governments, not the Empire.
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Old 08-24-2013, 06:18 AM   #53
martinl
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Default Re: [OOC] The Starship 'Fritjof Nansen'

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
But I had trouble getting enough marines aboard that they would be commanded by an officer, and felt that a realistic NCO would not have the training to take part in staff-committee work and would deeply resent being asked to debate policy with field-grade officers.
...
Comments?
I think Mink are flexible.

Yes, the US Marines would probably have a hard time filling a position like this, but these are the Mink. They don't stand on protocol if it doesn't apply or isn't efficient. They certainly don't flinch from exceeding their defined roles. Mink don't care much if this won't advance their career, or is a big change from what they were doing yesterday, or requires them to treat nominal superiors as equals. (To be fair: These things might bug them a little but they will suck it up and do it because the Job is the Important thing.) The other Mink will even laud them for it, in the understated "That'll do, that'll do" way the Mink have.

So the question is not so much is there someone who will take this job as is there anyone who has the training and experience to handle it, with a sizzling side of "what are they doing now more important that requires these talents."

Do they have folks who have field command experience, and MI experience, and NCO experience? Given recent history, that seems plausible - these are the early post FW Mink - they have lots of folks who showed surprising talents in various war-related charlie foxtrots and/or were recently promoted massively and retrained because they at least had some experience, the right minkthink, and applicable aptitude.

So are they doing something more important? I'm betting no. The "everyone wears seven hats" phase of Minkstory is over, and average hat burden is down to two or three.

Of course, there is the final consideration - does it make the game better to have only one Marine officer PC? I personally think we may be pushing the limits of a reasonable ensemble cast already, but the incremental change here is not huge. I don't think it will break anything if I am wrong and we need another.
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Old 08-24-2013, 07:11 AM   #54
Luke Bunyip
 
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Default Re: [OOC] The Starship 'Fritjof Nansen'

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Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
This would give every character-player two evenings to work on any response, allowing flexibility. But Luke's evenings would be Friday and Saturday nights, which a roaring man of the town like himself might be busy on both of. Comments?
None. Absolutely none from this quarter. Mind you, I must mention that my nickname for my abode is The Decompression Chamber.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Agemegos View Post
Knock yourself out! We're waiting on that unbearable slug of a bunyip anyway, and I'm far more of an outcome guy than a process guy.
<Bunyip discovers thread at 10:45pm EST Saturday>

OK...

<Removes digit from fundamental orifice>

Am reading background stuff for setting. Will submit finalised character sketches by 12pm EST Sunday.
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Old 08-24-2013, 08:58 AM   #55
Agemegos
 
Join Date: May 2005
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Default Re: [OOC] The Starship 'Fritjof Nansen'

Since there is now no danger of setting the other players to second-guessing their own offers, you can safely ask questions about the setting, suitability of character ideas etc. here. Or in the "Flat Black" thread in the "Roleplaying in General" subforum.

"What the Hell have I let myself in for?" And "WTF does martinl mean by frequent references to mink? This isn't a furry setting, is it?" Those might be questions to start with.
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Old 08-24-2013, 09:05 AM   #56
martinl
 
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Default Re: [OOC] The Starship 'Fritjof Nansen'

This isn't a furry setting, is it?
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Old 08-24-2013, 09:13 AM   #57
jmurrell
 
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Default Re: [OOC] The Starship 'Fritjof Nansen'

Well, I expect we'll find ourselves in some pretty hairy spots.
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Old 08-24-2013, 09:34 AM   #58
Agemegos
 
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Default Re: [OOC] The Starship 'Fritjof Nansen'

Quote:
Originally Posted by martinl View Post
Do they have folks who have field command experience, and MI experience, and NCO experience? Given recent history, that seems plausible - these are the early post FW Mink - they have lots of folks who showed surprising talents in various war-related charlie foxtrots and/or were recently promoted massively and retrained because they at least had some experience, the right minkthink, and applicable aptitude.
Major hostilities in the Formation Wars ended forty years ago. The experienced NCOs of that epoch are nearly all retired. The intervening forty years have been a time of military retrenchment during which the Senate has tried to destroy the Empire by with-holding tax revenues and the Empire has put most of its resources into developing adequate alternative sources of revenue and a minimum into maintaining the Navy and developing the Marines for future recovery. The Empire in fact doesn't have a lot of experienced warriors except at ages that are edging well towards "too old for commando operations".

And becoming a Imperial Marines officer is not something you do with a quick officer candidates school course. NCOs are the ones who know how to storm an embassy and rescue hostages; officers have to decide when it is the right thing to do, which means having a great deal of knowledge of the history, causes, and effects of war. If we storm the King's Fortress and Prison of the Pastille we will certainly rescue our people. But what will the political impact be? Will we humiliate the king and warrior caste in a very face-obsessed culture, encouraging dissidents to revolt just as we paralyse the government's will and self-belief? We want to force these places open for trade, not start quasi-French revolutions. The Mission Commander needs a military staff, or at very least a really good intelligence officer, to advise him on that. And that person ought to be plugged in to the Survey team drinking taking in data by mouth, IV, and suppository, not busy babysitting a commando section. I think sir_pudding's SoD would be wrinkled by an officer who was both keeping fully abreast of Survey's results and keeping a commando action team ready to drop hot at short notice with himself in the lead.
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Old 08-24-2013, 08:39 PM   #59
Agemegos
 
Join Date: May 2005
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Default Re: [OOC] The Starship 'Fritjof Nansen'

Luke's revised tender is in, much stronger for the extra effort. Thanks, Luke.

Here's your punishment for being last:

Eight deliberately dreadful character suggestions

1. My terrible captain is a very competent officer, and also an attractive and amorous eighty-ish playah with a decided weakness for handsome men under forty. This has never been a problem before, but she thinks it is bad for morale and discipline to screw anyone in your chain-of-command, and on this mission everyone is under her command and she is going to have to live like a nun. She keeps to her cabins except as required by naval protocol (weekly inspections, weekly dinner as a guest of the wardroom, up to weekly dinner as guest of anyone else who invites her), practising her collection of heirloom burlesque, belly-dances, and hula. Eventually she is going to lose all judgement as to whether she is favouring attractive men or leaning over backwards to avoid favouring them.
She is played by Susan Sarandon as at the age of about fifty, but she is from a background in which the biological basis of masculine facial hair is centuries in the past; she is aware that moustaches used to be a male thing, but thinks it no more important than the fact that the same is true of trousers, and has affected the impressive hairstyle of Fritjof Nansen in his photo on Wikipedia.

2. My terrible ambassador is a polished diplomat with the gift of appearing dignified without being pompous, and a bottomless fund of sententious platitudes. (Inspired by all my managers in the Public Service above the rank of SOG-A.) S/he is too self-important to pitch in for any shipboard or Survey work, treats the Survey team as s/his staff and having no purpose other than to brief him for negotiations. The goal that s/he actually works towards is to find a nice planet to get posted to as its first Imperial Resident (where s/he will have and easy life of great status and considerable power, and minimal apprehension of anything going too wrong), and then to make himself the Empire's indispensable man there. S/he is not above colouring a report to create an impression that furthers this aim.

3. My terrible Dean of Survey
  • is inspired by Peter Capaldi's character in In the Thick of It, including casting;
  • is an aggressive and profane bully and manipulator, and a ruthless exponent of political chicanery;
  • used to be Chancellor of the University of Avalon System until he hit compulsory retirement at 75;
  • considers the survey, of which he is in charge, to be the purpose of the trip and everything else ancillary at best;
  • has a deeply-ingrained obsession with academic credit, and expects everyone to produce lots of papers on everything they discover and to name him as co-author, lead author if it's a collaboration—anyone screws him on this he will screw right back, twice as hard and twice as long;
  • personally knows all eight of Tau Ceti's senators; and
  • is deeply irked by the fact that the captain and the ambassador are employed a a higher pay grade than he.

4. My terrible military analyst
  • won the Spartan Cross as a marines surgeon;
  • has supposedly been treated for his PTSD, but is still as flaky as a first-rate croissant;
  • spends most of his effort goofing off and needling people he doesn't like, but gets away with it because no-one will disrespect his SC
    • except during a mink freakout, during which he will freeze over and become very, very scary and violent.
  • Perhaps played by Ben Kingsley.

5. My terrible Marines section leader
  • Is seventy-five, with 57 years' service, and is still a corporal.
  • Was born on a colony that supported the Foundation at the time, but joined the belligerency in 477.
  • Joined the Eichberger Foundation to see (and save) the universe, but got assigned to spaceport security on his homeworld. Was taken PoW when his homeworld stormed its spaceport, was treated as a traitor, convicted of treason, sentenced to life imprisonment, and spent eighteen years in a maximum security prison as right-hand-man of a prison-gang capo. Stayed in gaol for a year after his colony ratified the Treaty of Luna, before Imperial lawyers managed to get his conviction quashed. Then had three years of paid leave!
  • Since then, has been a peace-time soldier in garrison duty, with no significant action.
  • Behaviour and leadership style are based on drill sergeants in movies about conscript armies.

6. My terrible naval officer is an uplifted-baboon chief engineer, who has a huge chip on s/his shoulder about speciesism, and speaks very little because s/his fangs make s/him lisp and it embarrasses s/him to be inarticulate.

7. My terrible diplomat is a James Bond expy played by Jorja Fox. She likes gambling, extreme sports, and fast groundcars, and enjoys casual sex especially when her partners feel that they are taking a risk or breaking a rule to be with her: she gets a sexual thrill out of seducing people into overcoming their better judgement. She is also fond of Bond-style quips and acting the smart-arse to her superiors. She is armed to the teeth with hidden weapons and shoe escape-kits, and is far more interested in the prospect of a possible clandestine operation than the dull work of daily security and bodyguard work. Diplomacy bores her.

8. My terrible researcher is a handsome 55-ish medical doctor, perhaps played by George Clooney. He is along as a biologist and epidemiologist, backing up as ship's surgeon and lifesupport engineer. Useful guy. Unfortunately when he was a naughty medical student on Seeonee he and his roomies got up a contest of who could have sex with people from the most different planets. The other guys got bored with it after a while, but for Dr. Smarmtastic here it has become a lifelong hobby. His choice to join Imperial Spaceways (as ship's surgeon on a luxury liner) was partly motivated by the opportunity to take part in shipboard "romances" with passengers from as many colonies as might be possible. And now he's off on Survey to bag at least one conquest on each habited planet he visits. And he's keeping score.
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Last edited by Agemegos; 08-24-2013 at 09:44 PM.
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Old 08-25-2013, 03:09 AM   #60
Agemegos
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Oz
Default Suggested character assignment

Assigning the character parts was, as you will understand, complicated. I had to pass up on some of the best character suggestions because I needed the player elsewhere. Even so, I'm going to have to shove some concepts around, ask some players to play others' suggestions, etc. I'm sorry, but that sort of thing is inevitable: you wouldn't necessarily have got your favourite characters in through an open scramble either.

This remains a suggestion, a starting-point. I'm certainly open to discussion of this assignment and of the character concepts within it. The character thumbnails below certainly need adjusting to fit, and sir_pudding has some choices to make.

Cast List Suggestion #1
  • jmurrell plays the Captain, the Counsellor, a quasi-rabbinical memeticist who doubles as morale officer, and a Very Young Marine named "'Bear' Karapyetchencko".
  • Luke Bunyip plays the First Lieutenant, the Ambassador, an argumentative ecologist, and a marines commando to be specified.
  • martinl plays the astrogator (or maybe astronomy officer), the Ambassador's aide, the Dean of Survey, and a marines commando to be specified.
  • sir_pudding plays the Chief Engineer, the Press Secretary, the Military Intelligence Officer, the Marines commando section leader, and maybe a meteorologist/extreme sports fanatic.

Dramatis Personae
  • NAVY
    • The Captain
      Name: Capt. Alastair Kemp-Ellis
      Origin: his family were Mayflower Space Navy when Tom Eichberger was an entrepreneur with bad business ethics.
      Elevator pitch: Reserved, undemonstrative, professorial, "British" officer.
      Thumbnail sketch: Stiff upper lip and master of understatement. Fences sabre, plays the violin. Fanatical Imperial, saw horrible events during Formation wars. Manners of a college professor usually (and sees teaching/mentoring as an important part of his leadership); icily sarcastic when annoyed with someone who deserves it. Will listen to subordinates' input until he makes a decision. Scarily cold and controlled in a crisis, will make Kobayashi’s Choice if he must.
      Player: jmurrell
    • The First Lieutenant
      Name: Cmdr ???
      Origin: Foundation Starships and Space Stations
      Elevator pitch: James Cook meets Jonathan Archer
      Thumbnail sketch: Formerly master of an Imperial Spaceways tramp merchant, ??? is a very able navigator and shiphandler, has experience of dealing with colonials on backward planets, and once managed to repair his ship and get home after a debris strike crippled it, from a system where the world was TL3. If he were real Navy he'd be commanding one of these missions. ??? considers the safety of the ship to be the absolute first priority, the sine qua non for accomplishing anything else, and whatever he will get his crew safely home.
      Player: Luke Bunyip
    • The Chief Engineer
      Name: Lt-Cmdr. Tomiko Eichberger. Yes, that's right, "Eichberger".
      Origin: Foundation Starships and Space Stations
      Elevator pitch: The heiress unsure of the legacy.
      Thumbnail sketch: Great-grand-daughter of the most famous engineer ever. It runs in the family. But she's not at all certain about the direction her grandmother (Laura) took the political legacy, and found the politics uncomfortable. She's on a Survey mission to escape.
      Player: sir_pudding
    • The Astrogator
      Name: Lt. Leah Brohn
      Origin: IDJ
      Elevator pitch: farmed-fur astrogator
      Thumbnail sketch: Idealistic in all things. Brilliant at her specialty, and strong in math and physics. Does not understand why the existing colonies contest with the obviously-benevolent Empire. Despite academically knowing the explored colonies won’t welcome the expedition with flowers and tasty cakes of welcome, she still expects something like that internally.
      Player: martinl
  • IMPERIAL OFFICE
    • The Ambassador
      Name:
      Origin: Foundation Ships and Stations (pre-mink)
      Elevator pitch: Not a politician. A negotiator.
      Thumbnail sketch: Learned s/his negotiation skills not by working up through the diplomatic service, but working for Universal Import/Export. Count your fingers after you shake hands. This ambassador is very much aware that an important goal of this scouting mission is to find opportunities for lucrative trade and to make sure that they are available when the freighters come. And though he's absolutely scrupulous about his fiduciary duties, he sees no problem in benefiting personally from opportunities that don't interfere with his work. Besides, sometimes its advantageous to seem mercenary.
      Player: Luke Bunyip
    • The Counsellor
      Name:
      Origin:
      Elevator pitch: The sympathetic cynic
      Thumbnail sketch: A highly principled lawyer and loyal friend, but he always expects the worst of humanity ("at least this way I'm never unpleasantly surprised"). Voted "most likely to show up with half a litre of Scotch and a sympathetic ear after Life has screwed you rotten". Imagine "Bones" McCoy were a lawyer and not a doctor.
      Player: jmurrell
    • The Press Secretary
      Name: Specialist Ada Solaris 496
      Origin: Simanta
      Elevator pitch: The perfect parahuman propagandist, quietly fleeing utopia
      Thumbnail sketch: Designed from the genes out and trained from decanting on to work in the propaganda machine of Simanta, Ada possesses all the qualities of a perfect Press Secretary. Perhaps her fleeing the Social Organism to work for the Empire wasn't quite unplanned….
      Player: sir_pudding
    • The Ambassador's 'aide'
      Name: Ontego Angillos
      Origin: Todos Santos
      Elevator pitch: A Todos Santos… goon?
      Thumbnail sketch: A large, blocky man who looks like a Mafia goon, he is normally strangely inconspicuous but he can loom impressively when he needs to. His mind was crafted by the dark arts of Todos Santos to be the perfect bodyguard, and in his spare time he… plays bizarre, disturbing VR games and is writing an "heroic romance" fanfic?
      Player: martinl
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Last edited by Agemegos; 08-25-2013 at 07:35 PM.
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