Starship captains are Starship Operators who command a starship. Becoming a captain generally requires prior service as a First Officer. Starship captains typically range in rank from Taii (Lieutenant O3) to Taisa (Captain O6), depending on the size of the command and type of starship. Some admirals also command ships.
The following guide is here to help you play a captain well. Read it and follow it!
Starships are the most valuable tools in the universe; they are our homes, our weapons, our transportation. As a starship captain, you control one of the most useful and powerful tools in the universe. With that power comes responsibility and questions. What crew do I need? Is it okay to customize my ship?
The guide below is a compilation of advice and resources contributed by Star Army captains, so that they can share their knowledge with you and help you achieve success. Before reading this guide, read the Being A Captain And Making It All Work section of the Military Roleplay Guide. It's a very insightful article outlining some important points.
The public is going to judge you and the Star Army by your actions and appearance, so your conduct should be above criticism. You must also set an example for the crew by being active, forward-thinking, and responsible. Thoroughly consider your missions and prepare for them in advance. Show that you deserve your rank and position, and that you can always get the job done. Communicate constantly with your crew.
Deal with adversity by doing the right thing. Know the limits of your skills, your crew, and your ship and constantly seek to expand them by learning. When you get assigned command of a ship, study its stats, its inventory, and the crew roster. Assign it an inspiring motto and live virtuously by it.
As a commanding officer, you are personally responsible for the efficiency and safety of your crew and your ship. Your ship is a warship; you must keep it constantly ready for war. You are also responsible for seeing that your crew upholds good standards of conduct and is promptly obedient; if soldiers fail, you have the authority to punish them. Make your expectations clear. You should promote the crew's welfare, morale, and personal growth. Finally, you are expected to prepare your first officer (XO) to be ready for his/her own command.
The Star Army uses ranks to keep things organized and manageable. Your Chain of Command is the path of authority and responsibility that communication (in particular, orders and reports) travels up and down. Orders travel down the chain, while reports and information travels up.
As a ship captain, you should have a first officer to filter information and handle problems for you, so that you are free to command the ship. The lower ranking personnel should be going to their department chiefs and chiefs go to the first officer. If your enlisted personnel have to ask you what to do, there's a problem.
Also remember that while you are the top of your ship's chain of command, you are also part of the larger chain of command for your fleet, and the Army as a whole. Report to your fleet commander as often as possible and ask for help when you need it.
As a leader, you have the choice of being a dictator or a team member. Which are you?
The dictator-type captain makes decisions on personal judgment alone without seeking advice and opinions. This may work alright for more experienced captains, but no one is perfect. Under this leadership style, the crew is expected to listen and obey, but is not involved in the thinking aspect. Morale can suffer greatly if the captain is too harsh or makes a bad choice. On the other hand, if a captain sits back and lets his crew do their thing with little to no involvement or guidance, the crew may lose focus and lose respect for the captain. Don't be a babysitter in the background.
Captains who share the decision making process with their officers and crew are typically better captains because they have better access to a wider set of ideas, advice, and suggestions. Ship captains provide leadership, guidance, and goals with cooperation the crew. The crew needs to grow personally and professional in an environment where they learn to make good decisions together and on their own, instead of being stuck on just obeying orders. The reward for keeping your crew involved is better interest, imagination, and motivation from the crew.
To gain the respect of your crew, you will need:
Soldiers have both intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation is the desire to help people, to defend Yamatai, to fly around in power armor, and to operate the universe's coolest technology. These are people's personal desires. Extrinsic motivation is people's logical desires such as to get paid or build up a retirement plan. Try to foster intrinsic motivation; it is much stronger. A soldier who does his/her job because he cares is going to work a lot harder than one just doing it for the money. Build the crew's esprit de corps and encourage the crew to build friendships. Show them how the Star Army is working to improve the universe and the lives of people in it. If you help them identify with the Star Army's goals, you can build loyalty to the ship and the Star Army.
Eat with your crew when you can. This helps them see you as part of the crew rather than just “the boss.” Other “bonding time” you can have with your crew can be recreation activities (picnics, sports), the daily ship cleaning hour, and training side-by-side with them.
Your crew helps you run the ship.
For most small starships, an ideal crew includes:
Try to keep all members of your crew (particularly Player Characters) involved in the mission, unless they need to be left out for some reason (OOC absence, working on something else already, etc.)
Take control of your ship's recruiting; it's not only your duty but also a great idea. Rather than be assigned crew by Personnel Management, actively look for new players to fill open positions, and warmly welcome them into your plot and community. Drop inactive characters so that new people know there's room for them. Avoid recruiting anyone already in multiple plots; you should focus your efforts outside of Star Army, on the rest of the internet. There's a topic on places to recruit in the GM forum, here.
The captain of a ship (and only the captain) has the ability to promote crew members up to 2 ranks at a time, up to the rank of Taii. Promotions to Shosa and greater ranks have to be approved by your fleet commander. Promotions should be given based on a soldier's performance and activity. Reward characters for their good posts and for setting a good example. Don't promote anyone that hasn't earned a promotion.
In the Star Army, your job as a captain is to achieve the mission. Sometimes missions will be assigned to you, but most often you should be making them up on your own. Missions are very important because they create RP opportunities for your crew. Don't have your ship just sitting around all the time; be busy! If you need a mission or ideas for a mission, ask your fleet commander or consult the list below:
For more mission ideas, take a look at The Big List of RPG Plots (off-site link).
Star Army policy permits a captain to add equipment to starships so long as the equipment:
If there's any question at all, talk to your fleet commander to discuss the matter.
Be familiar with Star Army Strategy and Tactics.