Story Structure

Created by Commander Tyro Adina on Mon Feb 8th, 2016 @ 4:58pm


Hello! Thank you for taking the time to read this page.

The methodology of timekeeping on this sim is subject to change, through experimentation. My goal will be to provide a structure that is intuitive, but it must also allow for ambiguity. For more detail about that, please read further down the page (if you enjoy ranting)

Please look over our Post Libraries . Many of the concepts discussed here relate directly the way these libraries are organised, and it will be much easier to understand by comparing these concepts to how they work in practice. I is worth mentioning that these are guidelines, which I hope will prove useful to you.

Table of Contents:

Transit Operation

Transit Operation is an essential concept to understand in the scope of Tranquility's exploration of the universe. Tranquility is a courier vessel. In-Fiction, the real majority of missions she is assigned to are simple and routine, passing from place to place within the Federation. The interesting stories we tell as Missions are exceptional, and a minority of the vessel's actual activity within the universe.

Transit occurs in the abstracted time between major missions. Unless otherwise stated, players can assume that the timeline is relatively close to the current Obsidian Fleet date. Because a mission spanning just a few weeks within the story can last several months in the Real World, the lost time all falls under the umbrella of Transit Operation.

During Transit, the ship is under standard procedure, and everyone can fill this space with whatever interesting side-stories they would like. This means a player can begin a Transit post at any time, even during a main mission if they choose. It also means Transit posts are usually independent of one another, and shouldn't specifically occur in relation to other Transit posts. They can be encounters during minor, unimportant missions or events, or simply show a snippet of life aboard the starship.

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Timestamps (Timeline)

Every JP and new Mission Post includes a box labelled as 'Timeline.' The following is a list of timestamps and their common meanings. All of these are already in use by the commanding officer:

Transit - denotes posts occurring during Transit Operation. They may relate to specific periods of Transit between deployments or story-lines, or they may stand on their own. These posts do not relate to the current plot, but are occurring in the present day.

Prologue - These posts may or may not relate to the ongoing story-line. However, they are occurring in some way in the past. They might depict events which have an indirect connection to the plot, or they may simply be used to explore a character in greater detail.

Null - are simply posts that do not fit to any other category. They may have some relationship to the plot, develop some interesting aspect of the universe, or just be a fancy of the author. These are often posts that cannot be said to occur in the past or the present or the future. As such, they probably also don't involve your character in a huge way.

Personal Log - straight-forward. These are Personal Logs, slipped into the lists of posts for each mission. They are the thoughts and feelings of the crew, sometimes relating to an ongoing story.

Captain's Log - is important in the list. Captain's Logs establish unique timestamps for the mission. They will always be context-specific, and relate less to the passage of time and more to the key elements of the situation in which proceeding posts take place. More below.

Other - especially mission specific timestamps, which are established in every Captain's Log. Sometimes I will be able to get away with less descriptive timestamps, for fun or whatever. This also includes unlabeled periods I have filled in for the sake of the catalog.

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Captain's Log (Timeline)

Always reference the most recent Captain's Log. The most up-to-date timestamp will be included in the title. I will not post logs as Commander Tyro Adina except exclusively to unload information for the mission. Please please please, make use of reading through these Logs, because they will contain necessary information.

The intent is for mission stories to develop organically. Timestamps will be contextual, rather than based on passing days. In the course of a careful diplomatic negotiation, a month may be insignificant. In the course of a battle, an hour may be critical. Instead, the recommended Timestamps included in each Captain's Log will be more closely related to In-Character events, situations, or environments. They relate to the dominating elements of the scene, which I hope allows players the freedom to develop the story as their characters, not according to external time constraints.

Additional information will also be included wherever possible, but it may not be consistent from Log to Log. I will always try to provide direction, and give some insight into where I believe a story may be going. Once again, the Title of each Captain's Log will include the timestamp for the period of time it relates to.

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24:00 Hours & More (Timeline)

Other players benefit immensely from the effort it takes to mark your posts clearly. How effectively this is communicated however is entirely up to the discretion of the player. You are not obligated, it just serves everyone writing around you.

Remember that when I list all the posts together, I think about them in terms of the unfolding story. Where a post is placed in the list depends upon my interpretation of events. Therefore, any extra detail from you will always be helpful. You don't even necessarily have to follow the above guidelines. You may feel it's more valuable to stamp posts as they relate to other posts in the timeline, and that's perfectly acceptable too. These are suggested guidelines, not rules.

One particular way to organised your posts are according to the time of day (24 hours). This is used on most sims. Aboard the ship, each day is organised into three Duty Shifts (Alpha, Beta, Gamma) dividing 24 hours. This is shown HERE in more detail. Briefly, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma shifts can be divided as follows:

Alpha - 00:00(midnight) to 08:00
Beta - 08:00 to 16:00
Gamma - 16:00 to 00:00

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Chapters & Episodes (Missions)

If for any reason you aren't sure how these work, you really can just think of them like episodes from Star Trek. Every mission is a story of its own, and the only distinction I can make is what kind of story they tell and how related they happen to be.

It might be they are simple and classic, but I would not want them to always be. If a mission takes a surprising turn, we're prepared to follow it in whatever new direction the players have diverted it. If a mission grows in complexity, that mission may become the first chapter in a series. The goals and aims of the mission may suddenly be different, and new challenges might deserve a dedicated chapter of their own. This aspect of the story structure is still a Work in Progress.

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Deployment Arcs (Mission Groups)

Diplomacy is not simple. The intent of some missions will be to reflect this, and explore issues under deeper examination. An episode of Star Trek demands a resolution at the end of 45 minutes, but Tranquility exist in a universe where things are not usually so clear-cut. Some issues will not be resolved by the end of a single mission. Diplomacy will be an ongoing challenge.

Individually, chapters and missions within longer Arcs will have their own goals and themes. They might belong to stories however that have no end-point. These scenarios may be continually evolving, even while we're away. The choices and actions of our crew, as representatives of the Federation, carry over into the events we face in the future. An arc might be broken up by other events and missions, but they don't go away once we've completed the latest installment

This is another Work In Progress.

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Now, you might be a bit confused...
I understand. What you see here represents a set of ongoing goals I have with regard to the development of this sim-experience. I'll try to explain them for you, here in the apologetic section of the page. I never wanted to be the two-month clone every player is used to, but it will not be to everyone's speed. I'm sorry for that.

Ambiguity is not a problem. I hope most of this article helps articulate this belief of mine. Mission Days will define every interaction when every player is expected to write with them in mind. Yet, I don't think it's always important what sequence of events things belong to. I think the content is important, and the story of one character can build without it being a linear progression from encounter to encounter. This is not across-the-table roleplay, and I think we can celebrate what makes writing roleplay so enjoyable. We can think, we can edit. We can decide in the moment how our characters have developed and what reactions will have the most effect to their story. My hope is that allowing for things to be ambiguous allows people to write more freely, and more creatively. You do not have to wait for one post to end before you begin another, and you have the freedom to decide for yourself how things fit together, instead of seeking out only how they do not.

Time is relative. This is a setting about space! It's only problematic to pretend it should be exact. The distraction of keeping a semblance of real-time, I think is more of a headache than is worth. Think of the show for a moment, and how meaningless the stardate is, really. Think of each episode and how the relationship between one episode to the next is extremely relative. It's ambiguous, but there's still progression! The truth is, it doesn't matter very much to the story. I don't mean it's useless information, but we should not let it be a distraction to either the story, or to us as the authors of the story. In many cases, the structure Mission Time will interfere with our ability to create a story that feels real, or interesting. It makes the story feel artificial, when there is no reason a negotiation can't take months, or years! We might encounter an alien who communicates so slowly that by the time the mission has finished, we've completed two InCharacter years of stories we haven't even written. I mean, that's obviously an unlikely and extreme example, but I do not want to be restricted in a way where I COULDN'T do that!

Writers don't write the same way. This is an Out of Character dilemma that isn't addressed when things are laid out too firmly. I still hope Tranquility can be satisfying for both active, prolific players, and others who post more gradually, have a less involved style of play. I don't like to add pressure on players that make them feel as if they have missed the time they had to be included. Diversity in the Federation, diversity in the Fleet - there's no reason for players to stop writing forever because they can't commit to the same level others can.

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Categories: Sim Anatomy