Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comments?

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by NervousEnergy, Jan 11, 2015.

  1. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    Disagree with JD5000. I love detailed world-building if you have the inclination for it; even if you only ever use a fraction of it "in-frame" it's still useful to have it as a guide to which characters would be present in a given scene, why, and what frame of mind they'd be in. Potentially important details for really selling a story and making its world feel lived-in. (Obviously you wouldn't need to flesh out actual characters for more than a small handful of positions.)
     
  2. JD5000

    JD5000 Captain Captain

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    We probably agree more than you think - big difference between what's in one's head, and what makes it to paper.
     
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  3. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    Well okay then. :techman:
     
  4. Akirapryde

    Akirapryde Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    For me, my head hurts enough already. I need to write down my own crew make up so I don't loose sight of what I am doing. LOL
     
  5. JD5000

    JD5000 Captain Captain

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    I don't think I accurately said what I wanted to say in my previous post...it was late and blah, blah, blah, excuse excuse...

    I think what I called 'overthinking' can be fun. I kinda put it in a negative light. There's something about an evening alone spent with a notebook (paper or electronic) and your imagination fleshing out a fictional world. I was that D&D playing kid that would sit there with the Dungeon Master's Guide and a bag of dice and just make up towns and maps and characters for the hell of it, no intention of using them for a game or anything. It's like you're writing a grand epic opus about these 'people' in your head without ever needing to put it on paper - you can imagine the sights, sounds and smells, the faces of the characters you create, etc - it's a blast and in my opinion a bit of a lonely way to spend an evening but by no means unproductive. For all we know, when we imagine characters, they become real in some alternate universe or timeline or something and we're really giving life to someone!

    Probably not, but it sounds good.

    Anyway, I think the point I was trying to make was that while 'world-building' is super-fun, you gotta stay focused on the plot and your main characters....even if you're George R.R. Martin and your story has twenty main characters, you have to largely ignore a lot of the details in your imagination to effectively tell the story you're trying to tell. Or maybe I'm trying to say that one can 'merge' these details into the way they write the main narrative without actually describing them, if that makes sense.

    I still like dreaming up settings and all the largely inconsequential aspects of them as a 'bored time' kind of project, but I rarely use them in my own writing and make up many details like those as I go. However, we all write differently and organize our thoughts differently. I'm not saying this type of outlining is a bad approach, just different from what I use when writing.
     
  6. Akirapryde

    Akirapryde Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    JD5000, I like what you wrote. As a avid table top gamer, I know what you mean. I have worlds upon worlds in my book shelf. I love writing out these worlds. Every player I have gamed with has said 'man you should be a writer.' LOL okay so I am taking that advice here in another thread. My first really big attempt at writing a story. So yeah I can understand what you are saying.


    I guess the bottom line is, if the readers like the story who is to say that the method is wrong?
     
  7. JD5000

    JD5000 Captain Captain

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    I think story-writing is very much like GM/DMing a roleplaying game. Common advice is to start small, and expand as needed. Again, writing technique is very individual and thank goodness for that or literature would be really boring, but I have found this to be the single most useful piece of advice I have ever received when it comes to expressing creativity.
     
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  8. BigJake

    BigJake Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    You definitely want to avoid the temptation to include too much of the world-building in a story, and to let the world-building take over to the point where you never write the story. Very much so.
     
  9. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    Cool thread. Not only have I drafted full crew manifests before, one of them was published as the "official" list for the Burke-class frigate within the Star Fleet Battles universe (see ADB's Captain's Log #43). Much of my work was restricted by confines already defined in game terms. The crew size was locked in at 160 (+/- 4) of which 30 are defined as being Marines and 10 are shuttle-bay deck hands. The ship has exactly "X" number of weapons and such, so I had to account for personnel to man them. It was an exercise in compromise.

    If you have no set limits or boundaries, you can create a manifest any way you want. Logic should prevail, however, while you tailor the manifest to the ship's mission. For example, above I noted three full crews for the shuttle bay to handle 24-7 operations. Unless the ship is a combat carrier with a full wing of attack shuttles, is that really necessary? Ditto for medical facility -- unless it's a hospital ship and/or has a crew of a thousand-plus, do you really need more than a nurse and/or a corpsman on night shift? If someone gets hurt bad enough, you wake up the doctor.

    Likewise, you only need enough weapons crews to man all the weapons during one shift only. Figure two per phaser mount (or two/three per pair of phasers), and three or four per photon tube plus a supervisor for each bank. Larger ships might have extra weapon crews, or during time of war enough for two full shifts. During routine patrol, one phaser bank would be manned at all times. The rest of the gunners would be on stand-by and off pulling K.P. duty or some such.

    In reality, you only need a full 24-7 rotation crew for bridge ops (Watch Officer, Helm, Nav, Comms, Sensors), engine room (two techs per warp drive, two techs for impulse drives, two to four techs for auxiliary systems, plus a supervisor), one phaser bank as mentioned above, a nurse/corpsman in sick bay, and one or two in security. Everything else would be a "day-shift only" function and/or on-call. For most ships, there's no real need to man the shuttle bay, cargo bay, labs, transporter, or most anything else on a 24-7 basis.

    On the flip side, larger ships would likely have a fourth or even a fifth set of bridge crew and such as listed above to make a 6-on/2-off duty schedule. Other departments would have extra bodies working on a staggered schedule to give crew a day or two off per week or ten days.

    I hope my ramblings have helped some. As I said, it's a cool thread. I hope you continue to work on it.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2015
  10. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    I drew up a full roster for my Border Cutter Silverfin series. There are a little over 120 onboard and the purpose of the ship is far more practical and directed than that of an explorer--more focus on operations and security personnel with no scientists onboard.

    I worked out all the species onboard and also named them all, from the Captain to the lowest Transporter Technician.

    If you're interested in looking at what I did, follow this link.

    Likewise for my new Archer-Class scout ship, I filled every position, though that was a lot easier, given that there are only 14 of them :)
     
  11. fourbrickstall

    fourbrickstall Cadet Newbie

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    Very cool. I 100% agree with you about the transporters so thanks for leaving that out.

    One thing: in the future, we still follow an 8-hour shift? I imagine that this had been rethought by then.
     
  12. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    I have no problem with transporters, but I totally distain replicators.

    In my mind, yes. In fact on my ship, they work five days of twelve hours shifts and two of eight hour shifts, not counting any combat situations. For the twelve-hour shifts, they pull eight hours at their duty station and then four hours of routine maintenance, emergency action drills, training, K.P. duty, and the like.

    However, if you look at modern wet-navy, you'll see that they work five four-hour shifts and two two-hour "dog watch" shifts per day. See the Wiki article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watch_system It seems logical that's how things would work in the future.
     
  13. NervousEnergy

    NervousEnergy Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    Hey! So it has been a LONG time since I posted this. Four months! I basically sat back from this project over the last few months, but suddenly decided to come back to it this weekend and try and finish it. It's got lots of scope for changes!

    Here is a pretty big update!

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    My questions are:
    Do the ranks make sense?
    Do the positions make sense?
    What would you add or take away?

    Things I haven't properly pencilled in yet:

    Civilians, non-Starfleet staff (no more than ten or so). And obviously I've not finished out doing the Speciality section for each person.

    Cross-divisional staff: these are all Engineering-folks who come under the control of the other Division they sit in instead of the Chief Engineer.

    Hospital corpsman is red because I want a better name for it, but can't think of one.

    The position is basically an EMT: someone who is trained for triage and trauma. Any ideas?

    I have had a read of this thread but it is now 3am and I should get to bed! Thanks for all your kind feedback back in..February. I'll try and respond to them some time tomorrow!

    So, yeah. Any advice, criticism, opinions, feedback.. whatever! I'd really appreciate it!
     
  14. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    NE: Yeah, I'll have some inputs for you, once I digest all that. A couple things that jumped out during my initial scan:

    Yes, Corpsman is the right title. Or you could go with Combat Medic. You should have more than one.

    Nurses aren't enlisted, but rather officers.

    I take it CN = Crewman, yes?

    The Second Officer / third in command should be a Cmdr or perhaps LtCmdr, not a "lowly" LT.

    Training Department ... not needed, per say. You would have a person or two assigned as the Training Petty Officer whose job it is to track On-The-Job Training (OJT) for new / junior personnel and to schedule formal training seminars and the like. On a smaller ship, this might be an additional duty for someone or rolled into the Yeoman's job description. (Note: Yeoman = Admin Clerk, not the Captain's main squeeze, I mean not the Captain's Personal Assistant)

    Each section would tag someone with experience to provide the hands-on OJT, and the immediate supervisor is responsible to document said training (with the help of the Training Office). In short, I would get rid of the six PO1 Trainers, unless I am totally missing something.

    You list nine Support Craft Pilots. I presume these guys fly the shuttlecraft, no? If so, how many shuttles does the ship have?

    And what does the ship have for weapons? My crew lists always have two to five people per weapon mounts. I suppose if you say the weapons are fully automated, you don't need to do that.

    '''''''''''''''''''''

    I hope you don't feel like I'm picking your work apart bit by bit. I know how hard it is to let someone else "review" my work. My inputs above are just my opinions, which I freely admit are tainted by the Star Fleet Battles background, and serving 26 years in the military (and my wife served 23 years as a Reservist).

    '''''''''''''''''''''
     
  15. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    Is your chaplain starfleet or civilian?

    And you could make some of your nurses enlist, say practical nurses are enlisted while the higher trained registered nurses are officers.

    What do your shuttle pilots do for weeks on end when there's no shuttle use?

    The Captain's yeoman could officially be a part of the administration department.

    :)
     
  16. NervousEnergy

    NervousEnergy Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    Thanks for the input! Please don't worry about picking it apart; I'm trying to go for maximum realism here so it's great to have critical criticism from someone who has Real World experience.

    This thing is for a fan-story of mine, so there is a reason for the Second Officer to be a Lt. He's the main character, and after the Captain and First Officer are killed he is "battlefield promoted" and forced to take command. The idea being that he is inexperienced and the thrust of commandship completely overwhelms him. To me, a LtCmdr/Cmdr would have too much experience for this to be believable. Any way of fiddling it to make it more realistic? I was trying to work out how the Chain of Command would work, as I thought that the Chief Tactical Officer/other Chiefs of Divisions would be next in line, especially as they are all LtCmdr's. But I haven't really yet worked out how our Second Officer is jumped to Acting Captain.

    I like your way of doing the Training department. It makes more sense, and I'll change it.

    Because there are no Transporters in this canon fork of mine, shuttles are the main way to get around. I was going to have two Long-Range Shuttles (that are sort of proto-Runabouts), three Medium-Range Shuttles (for intra-system transport), six Trans-planetary Shuttles, and one Cargo Shuttle. And then five Workbees. How's that sound? Maybe I have two many Pilots.

    It's really going to be a defensive-only ship, with minimal armaments apart from fore and aft torpedo bays and the standard complement of phaser strips. When you say 'weapon mounts', do you mean in the Nu-Trek style of phaser cannons?



    Chaplain is non-Starfleet.. ish? As in she is part of the rank-structure and does come under the Captain's jurisdiction, but sits outside of the normal Chain-of-Command.

    Comment about the nurses makes sense, thanks.

    As for the shuttle pilots.. I just don't know what they are going to do, but I wanted enough of them to cover shift works. Any suggestions? There may be too many of them anyway.

    Also very good point about the other Yeomans going into the central Administration Department. Will change it!
     
  17. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    Yes and no. There would be enlisted medical personnel, but they aren't "nurses" but rather Hospitalmen or Corpsmen. If you want, you can differentiate between the two by saying that Corpsmen are combat medics who are rated to go on away missions, and Hospitalmen only work in sick bay.
    Ah, I see. Yeah, you have five LtCmdrs who outrank him, including the Tactical Officer and Chief Engineer, both of whom I presume to be command rated.

    In my crew lists, I have Ship's Captain (O-6 Captain or O-5 Commander on smaller ships), Exec Officer / First Officer (one rank below ship's captain), Operations Officer / Second Officer (same or one rank below Exec), Chief Navigator (O-4 LtCmdr or an experienced O-3 Lieutenant). After these four, next in command would go to whomever the captain designates, usually the Chief Engineer based on rank and experience.

    There are three or four more Navigators (O-3 LT) under the Chief Navigator, and they are the ones who sit in the center seat during routine patrol (if they can pry the captain's butt out of the chair).

    For your story, if I were to write it, I would send the Ops Officer away on leave or to a conference / school, and the Chief Navigator (your hero) fills that spot while he's gone.

    In my crew listings, the Tactical Officer leads the combat away teams. Ergo, he may outrank the Chief Navigator but lacks the ship-command experience.

    One flaw in your story line is Starfleet Command wouldn't leave your hero in command for very long, not unless it's on the front lines of the war and they can't spare the time / manning to replace the top two (three with the Ops Officer) command slots. Another option is the ship is far away on an exploration mission (hence the large science department) and can't get back quickly. But then, why let the Ops Officer go?
     
  18. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    Okay, that I can work with. And with no transporters, perhaps you really do need pilots at the ready round-the-clock .

    I would think the Runabouts need a pilot and co-pilot. The medium-range shuttles need a pilot and co-pilot or an enlisted flight engineer. Standard shuttles only need a pilot, unless it's a hazardous / combat mission. The cargo shuttle also only needs a pilot but would usually have an enlisted load master.

    I presume the Worker-Bees are tiny one-man things, like a big exoskeleton, not capable of atmospheric entry, for repairing the outside of the ship and such, yes? In that case, they'd mostly be used by enlisted Boatswain's Mates.

    Again, the game Star Fleet Battles taints my opinions. Photons are the main heavy weapons, and phasers while quite powerful in their own right are considered secondary weapons. In SFB, a typical Heavy Cruiser will have a bank of four Photons (Disruptors for Klingons or equivalent Plasma Torps for Romulans and Gorn, etc), and six to eight Phasers, usually mounted in pairs. The ships are NOT bristling with rapid-fire weapons that JJ Abrams used (even if that was cool to watch).

    The game designer has declared that SFB ships are not fully-automated and thus require crew to run the weapons. Each Phaser has two (a Gunner and Fire Control tech), and Photons have three for each tube, plus a supervisor or two for the entire bank.

    Some have argued that, like during World War Two, you would have cooks and such manning the guns during General Quarters, and thus you don't need dedicated weapon-crew. To me, I figure it's the other way around; you have trained gunners who pull a lot of KP duty.

    """"""""""""""""""""""""

    To give you an idea of my crew rosters, I have a thread on the Federation Commander (sister game to SFB) bulletin board here: http://www.starfleetgames.com/federation/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=5321

    The ship in question is a Police Cutter, which is not part of Star Fleet, and looks like this:
    http://www.starfleetgames.com/images/Mongoose/Starline 2500/Federation/Fed_POL_2_-_top.jpg
    http://www.starfleetgames.com/images/Mongoose/Starline 2500/Federation/Fed_POL_2_-_side.jpg

    In game terms, here's the Police Cutter and the Heavy Cruiser:
    http://www.starfleetgames.com/feder...ion 2 Ships/FC_Federation_Police_Sqaudron.png
    http://www.starfleetgames.com/feder... Modifiction ships/FC_Federation_CA_SQ_MY.PNG
    I have drafted a full set of deck plans for the Cutter, but as they are slated for a future publication I can't post them anywhere on-line.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2015
  19. NervousEnergy

    NervousEnergy Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    Sounds like an interesting idea. The CMO also gets killed at the same time, so that just leaves the Chief Tactical Officer, Chief Science Officer, Chief of Operations, and Chief Engineer as the other LtdCmdrs. Do you think the latter three would be Command rated? Trying to work out how my Second Officer could slot into acting-Captain. And, yes, the acting-Captain role is fully temporary; in the story Starfleet Command rushes a retired (Admiral/Commodore?) to the scene to take command, and bring the ship back to Starbase for a full investigation. Things happen along the way to change this situation, but the crux of the story is that the protagonist, who is an Engineering Division graduate on the Command-stream, has his confidence destroyed by the short stint as acting-Captain and is racked by massive survivors guilt. It sets him back into a bad state; the character growth arc over the "First Season" is him coming to terms with the events and finally being ready to start looking into command again.

    In the story, the Captain appoints our protagonist as Second Officer as a "testing exercise", to explore what he is made of. The idea that Second Officer is an executive-post with little real-world decision making (am I wrong?) and allows the Captain to see in-depth his performance, suitability, and style. Then it all goes to shit, of course, but... The only issue I have is how to get the Chief Engineer and Chief Tactical officer out of the chain-of-command. I don't want to kill ALL the Division Heads.

    Good shout about the crew needed on the shuttles, thanks for that. Worker-Bees are these , but actually I like the idea of big exoskeletons better. The workbees always seemed a little cumbersome to me.

    All good stuff, and I actually used the your crew roster in my initial research. Would be interested in buying the deck plans when they get released! My second fascination is with deck plans. Got any sort of date?

    I think my concern, which is maybe unwarranted, is that terms like Signalman, Gunner's Mate, Boatswain, Corpsman/Hospitalman, etc etc all sound a little too archaic and naval. I know that the entirety of Star Trek is based off submarines, so has the according terms, but some of the above just don't seem very, uh, 'spacey'.
     
  20. Sgt_G

    Sgt_G Commodore Commodore

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    Re: Creating a realistic crew manifest for a Starship. Ideas & comment

    Wow. I can only take that as a compliment. Thanks.

    As to the job titles, what can I say? My wife was in the Navy, so of course I used their rating system.