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Communication Rules (Optional)

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REV 2.0, 3/6/01

These rules were originally written by Jeff 'Blackbeard' Tonglet. This version represents revisions based on the experience gained in PBEM play. They are currently maintained by David CatWhoLeaps Crew.

During a scenario, it is next to impossible for a fleet admiral on one ship to have a lengthy tactical discussion with a captain on another ship. Enemy ships are flying by, damage reports are broadcast, ships are blowing up, etc. Life does not have a pause button, and combat doesn't even have a "normal speed" button.

To simulate the limited capabilities of ships (and captains) to communicate with each other during combat, this is a set of rules to simulate limited communication between ships.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

(PBC1.0) GENERAL OVERVIEW
 
(PBC2.0) LIMITS OF THIS RULESET
(PBC2.1) TYPES OF SCENARIOS
(PBC2.2) HONOR SYSTEM
 
(PBC3.0) SCENARIO ORGANIZATION
(PBC3.1) PRE-SCENARIO COMMUNICATION
(PBC3.2) COMMUNICATIONS DURING THE SCENARIO
(PBC3.3) COMMUNICATIONS STEP
(PBC3.4) COMMUNICATIONS SITREP
(PBC3.5) PROHIBITED COMMUNICATION METHODS
 
(PBC4.0) FLEET ORGANIZATION
(PBC4.1) SQUADRONS
(PBC4.2) TWO-TIERED SQUADRON STRUCTURE
(PBC4.3) SQUADRON LIMITS
(PBC4.4) SQUADRON ADVANTAGES
 
(PBC5.0) COMMUNICATION LIMITS
(PBC5.1) NUMBER OF RADIOS
(PBC5.2) SENDING/RECEIVING
(PBC5.3) RADIO USEAGE
(PBC5.4) SEND OPTIONS
(PBC5.5) PRIORITY ONE
(PBC5.6) CLOAKED SHIPS
(PBC5.7) USEAGE PRIORITY
(PBC5.8) EXCESS MESSAGES
(PBC5.9) MESSAGE LENGTH
(PBC5.10) FLEET DATALINK
 
(PBC6.0) SECRET CODES
(PBC6.1) SPOKEN MESSAGES ONLY
(PBC6.2) CODEMEISTER SET (OPTIONAL)
 
(PBC7.0) SHIP DAMAGE
(PBC7.1) RADIO LOCATIONS
(PBC7.2) CATASTROPHIC DAMAGE
(PBC7.3) LEGENDARY CAPTAINS
(PBC7.4) FIGHTERS AND PFs

(PBC1.0) GENERAL OVERVIEW

Each ship may send and receive a limited number of messages every sitrep. These messages are routed through the moderator with each SOP, who then sends to the receiving ship as many messages as the receiving ship can handle.

These "comm rules" are designed for use with Star Fleet Arena's Squadron Rules. No breaks, no autobreaks, except one universal autobreak after every 4th impulse, although other 'universal autobreak' schemes could be used (e.g. the Operation Unity PBEM system, or the Fleet Action Rules).

In a face to face scenario, these rules could only be used if teammates were isolated from each other. (That's why nobody tried to develop comm rules until PBEM. The whole point of face to face is for everyone to get together.)

When combined with TacIntel (D17.0), Secret Damage (D17.6), and Deception (D17.7), it can create a situation in which even the Fleet Admiral does not know the entire picture, the "Fog of War". However, TacIntel is not required for comm rules to work.

(PBC2.0) LIMITS OF THIS RULE SET

These rules are best suited for PBEM scenarios involving several ships per side. At least 5 is a suggested minimum.

(PBC2.1) TYPES OF SCENARIOS: Comm rules should only be used in scenarios where each player controls exactly ONE ship. If one player had several ships, those "captains" would be talking to each other constantly. While it is possible for one player to control more than one ship if not enough players are available, this must be done carefully to avoid too much cohesion between those ships. Experience suggests that two small ships, or two ships with different missions (a scout and a combat ship, a carrier escort and a scout etc) can be used if necessary.

(PBC2.2) HONOR SYSTEM: Players are on their honor not to communicate with teammates concerning the scenario. (This is next to impossible to enforce, but cheating only brings hollow victories.)

(PBC3.0) SCENARIO ORGANIZATION

(PBC3.1) PRE-SCENARIO COMMUNICATION: Before the scenario starts, all players should have a reasonable amount of time to do as much communicating as they want. (The admiral has summoned all his captains to the briefing room on the flagship.) A month or two is not unreasonable.

(PBC3.2) COMMUNICATION DURING THE SCENARIO: Once the scenario starts, players may only send messages to the moderator with each SOP, who will distribute them to the other players.

(PBC3.3) COMMUNICATIONS STEP: At the end of every sitrep, as the last step in that sitrep, a "communications step" is added to the Sequence of Play.

(PBC3.4) COMMUNICATIONS SITREP: During the communications step, the moderator sends out messages to each ship, up to that ship's limits. The messages sent are those submitted during the immediately previous SOP.

Example:

a) Players submit SOPs for impulses 5-8 and messages for impulse 8.

b) Moderator sends back SITREP for impulse 8, along with messages broadcast on impulse 8.

(PBC3.5) PROHIBITED COMMUNICATION METHODS: Players MAY NOT send e-mails, post to BBS's, or in any other way communicate to each other regarding the scenario. (BIG NOTE: This entire comm rules system depends on players being on their honor in upholding this.)

(PBC4.0) FLEET ORGANIZATION

(PBC4.1) SQUADRONS: A fleet may be organized into squadrons. Squadrons must be defined before the scenario begins. A Squadron consists of a Squadron leader and one or more other ships.

(PBC4.2) TWO-TIERED SQUADRON STRUCTURE: A two tiered squadron structure is allowed in a fleet if the top tier is the "Command squadron" consisting of the fleet flagship and the squadron leaders.

(PBC4.3) SQUADRON LIMITS: No ship may be part of more than one squadron, except as part of the two-tiered structure.

(PBC4.4) SQUADRON ADVANTAGES: A squadron/group leader ship may send a blanket message to the remainder of the squadron without the message blocking the radios of the rest of the fleet. [See (PBC5.4).]

(PBC5.0) COMMUNICATIONS LIMTS

(PBC5.1) NUMBER OF RADIOS: Ships have a number of radios equal to their command rating. Ships with a command rating less than 4 are assumed to have 4 radios. Both fighter squadrons and PF's have 4 radios.

(PBC5.2) SENDING/RECEIVING: Each radio is capable of either sending or receiving one message per communications step, but not both.

(PBC5.3) RADIO USEAGE: The captain of each ship decides how to use each radio by the number of messages he sends during a comm step. For example, a Federation DN has 10 radios. The Federation Admiral decides to send 4 messages during this communications step. This allows 6 radios to be available to receive messages (but see PBC5.7 below).

(PBC5.4) SEND OPTIONS: Each radio on a ship used to send a message can send to either:

a) One specific ship but the sender must have a lock on to the receiving ship. (NOTE: There is no mention of friendly or enemy.)

b) all ships in his squadron. See (PBC4.0). Note the Command squadron is also a squadron for this purpose.

c) all ships in the fleet,

d) in the clear (to everyone with an available radio).

(PBC5.41) SHUTTLECRAFT AND PFs: Typically, the same player will fly the shuttle and the launching ship, in which case the shuttlecraft radio does not operate. The shuttle radio will begin to function if the launching ship is destroyed. If one player controls several fighters but not the launching ship, only the fighter leader's radios operate. If one player controls several PFs but not the tender, only one's (usually the leader's) radios operate.

(PBC5.5) PRIORITY ONE: Each message sent has the option of being sent "priority one". This message will be sent to the top of the priority list of the receiving ship(s).

(PBC5.6) CLOAKED SHIPS: Sending a message voids the cloaking device. Receiving messages have no effect on the cloak.

(PBC5.7) USEAGE PRIORITY: Priority for a ship's radio usage is as follows:

a) PRIORITY ONE Outgoing messages

b) PRIORITY ONE Incoming messages

c) Other Outgoing messages

d) Other Incoming messages

If there are more messages of a given priority than radios available then the messages will be prioritized with in a category (a-d) as follows:

For INCOMING messages:

a) From the Flagship

b) From the Squadron Commander

c) From other ships on the same side

d) From ships not on the same side

For OUTGOING messages:

The order given in the SOP.

NOTE: It is possible for an enemy to send a message 'PRIORITY ONE' but upon receipt it will have priority (d). (In other words you can't overload an enemies radios with junk Priority One messages).

(PBC5.8) EXCESS MESSAGES: If there are more messages than radios, then the lowest priority messages are lost. In the case of equal priority messages, random message(s) will be lost.

EXAMPLE: A ship with 6 radios sends 2 priority one messages to the Admiral (messages A and B) and 2 messages to his squadron commander (messages C and D). Both the Admiral and Squadron commander send the ship a priority one message each (messages E and F), while the fleet scout sends a priority one tactintel report on the enemy (message G). This ship has 7 uses for its radios this sitrep, but only 6 radios so will lose one message. The moderator now examines the priorities.

The priority one outgoing messages are sent (A and B). Next the incoming priority one messages are received (E, F and G). Lastly (in this case) message C is sent while message D is not sent this sitrep (message C was written before message D in the players SOP).

(PBC5.9) MESSAGE LENGTH: Message Length: No message can be more than 128 characters in length. If needed, this can be used for formating:

My squadron, fire all your plasmas at Lexington, then cloak, rea-
rm, and finish them. We shall have our glory soon.
1234567890123456789012345678901234567890123456789012345678901234
         1         2         3         4         5         6
(PBC5.10) FLEET DATALINK: Some information can proceed from ship to ship in a fleet without needing to be communicated by radio. This is done primarily to allow effective seeking weapon defense and to ease moderator workload. The information is presumed to be transmitted instantly on a fleetwide datalink which is separate from the radios of the ship and cannot be used for other purposes. The following information is shared on this datalink:

Seeking weapon identification gained by labs, probes or aegis.

Results of boarding party actions, including casualties and opposing forces.

Mutiny of a Klingon ship.

(PBC6.0) SECRET CODES

There has been some debate as to the effect secret codes have on the battle. Some players want to try to make the best codes as a key to victory, while others do no want to put in the time and just want to blow ships up. As these rules are experimental, I will try to make rules for both, and whoever uses them can provide feedback.

Use either (PBC6.1) or (PBC6.2) for how to handle secret codes.

(PBC6.1) is assumed to be in use unless otherwise agreed upon.

(PBC6.1) SPOKEN MESSAGES ONLY
(PBC6.11) All messages must be in unabreviated English. The only exception is standard SFB abbreviations may be used (e.g. SP for scatterpack).
(PBC6.12) The moderator has the right to block any message (s)he feels violates this, but must provide an explanation to the sending ship. In essence the moderator determines what is and is not an acceptable message.

(PBC6.2) CODEMEISTER SET (OPTIONAL)
(PBC6.21) All messages, regardless of how cryptic, may be sent in a ship's transmission up to the size limit
(PBC5.9). The moderator must be careful not to make any typos. (Note, to use this, both sides will need to make A LOT of preparations before the scenario begins in order to get more use out of codes than the opponent.)

(PBC7.0) SHIP DAMAGE

(PBC7.1) RADIO LOCATIONS: Radios are located in the control boxes of the ship. If a ship has all control boxes destroyed (not including security), and is subject to (G2.2), then only half the ships radios (round UP) continue to function. As long as one control box remains undestroyed all the ships radios function normally. If a ship which was uncontrolled (G2.2) repaired a control space the lost radios would again function normally.

(PBC7.2) CATASTROPHIC DAMAGE: If using catastrophic damage (D21.0), the ship's captain might be able to escape by shuttle, transporter, or some other means. However, even if he ends up on another friendly ship, the original captain is still captain and controls the comm channels. The two players may however communicate without restriction.

(PBC7.3) LEGENDARY CAPTAINS: If a player is playing a legendary captain (G25.0) (i.e., the player is on an ego trip), and his ship blows up, but he manages the 1% "Captain Kirk miracle" he may use the captured ship's full comm capabilities.

(PBC7.4) FIGHTERS AND PFs: For simplicity the radios allocated to a fighter squadron and PF flotilla cannot be destroyed except by destruction of the squadron or flotilla. (e.g. an independently controlled fighter squadron has 4 radios. It takes the destruction of this entire squadron before these radios are destroyed. If even one crippled fighter remains the squadron still has 4 radios).

Copyright 2003 Armarillo Design Bureau, All Rights Reserved Updated 15 November 2006