|STAR FLEET BATTLES
INPUT GUIDE: CAPTAIN'S LOG 20
There are many kinds of material for SFB, and we
look forward to new submissions as the source of many bold new ideas, not to
mention some hand-wringing when a good idea just isn't presented as effectively
as it could be. Here is some advice.
GENERAL ADVICE ON SUBMISSIONS
- Accept that the people at ADB, Inc. are overworked
and have a million things to do. Your submission will almost certainly not
get a full evaluation on the day it arrives. We try to get back to people
who send submissions within a month, and don't always manage that. Some
submissions are so simple and obvious that we can get you an answer right
away, but those are usually "no thanks" type answers.
- Do not send Email attachments without asking first if
we want the document. (Huge Email attachments slow down the system, take up
space on the web site, and more often than not arrive in a format we cannot
read.) Always send a brief summary first. If we're really not interested in
a series of scenarios inspired by the poetry of Khalil Gibran, we can all
save ourselves some time. If possible, send text documents IN rather than
ATTACHED to Email. This is easier for us to handle. Sometime in the future
we will post a series of instructions on how to format attachments we can
read and work with, but we simply haven't had time.
- If you do an SSD, the most important thing is for the
boxes to line up and for there to be no big empty spots inside the hull
outline. While more details on this will have to await a future issue when
we can devote the entire Input Guide to that subject, we can tell you that
all of our SSDs are done by computer "on the grid". Just about any computer
graphics program will have a grid; most can customize this to any size. We
use a two-point line with boxes 16-points (on centers) square. (The actual
outside dimension of a separate box is 18 points since the outer half of
each line adds to the "center-to-center" dimension.) All of your boxes
should either line up on each other, or be offset by half of a box. We get
SSDs all the time that have huge hull outlines with some boxes scattered
willy-nilly around inside of them, none of them lining up and plenty of room
to stick in a few more.
In SFB, one of the greatest
achievements is also (if you work the system the right way) the easiest, getting
a term paper published with one of your own tactics. Players like Kaufman and
Mizia have become game room words to many SFB players. To improve your chances
of getting published, however, here is some advice.
- To work the system, you have to understand the
system. We grade papers twice a year, for each issue of Captain's Log. So do
not expect to receive word that your paper was selected the day after you
send it. One Fleet Captain remarked recently that he had sent in ten papers
several years ago, and one of them had been in every issue of Captain's Log
since that time.
- Received papers are given a preliminary screening by
Steve Petrick for obvious duplications and rules errors. You should check
yours against all published papers and for rules errors before sending them.
If you send a bunch of papers and the first five are duplications or
illegal, Steve P may put the rest of yours at the bottom of his stack.
- Twice a year, we pick term papers out of the file for
grading. We have hundreds on file, and the way we pick them is
half-scientific and half-paranormal. There simply isn't time for the judges
to grade everything at once (we have too many), and the odds of a given
paper getting picked in a given cycle are about one-in-five. Of course, that
is picked for the "grading pool"; your paper still has to get a good grade
to get published.
- Beating the odds on this selection is the biggest
hurdle. There are no surefire ways to get into the "general pool", and even
bribery doesn't help. Being someone known to be helpful is rumored to help,
and being someone who is a constant annoyance is said to hurt your chances.
(This isn't really true; one of the most annoying people on the BBS got
published in this issue.) Having a lot of papers in the file does help, as
that one-in-five selection process means that if you have five or more
papers on file, your odds of getting into the pool approach 100%. Staffers
and Fleet Captains are guaranteed to have a paper put into the pool (if they
have one on file) and we've been known to pick a paper because the author
had done a lot of playtesting lately. Shorter papers are picked more often
than longer papers simply because longer papers are harder to use (as they
eliminate several smaller ones when graded papers are picked for the book).
If you send in several papers which are obviously the bullet points in a
longer thesis, we will almost certainly merge them into one big paper.
- Before the "General Pool" is picked, however, we pull
every single paper on each of the two "Special Subject Areas" for that issue
(e.g., this issue they were bases and simulator races). If you dumb-lucked
into having a paper on one of the selected subjects, you got into the pool
for that subject. Ken Burnside has so many papers on file that he usually
gets one into every special subject pool and the general pool.
- Now, here's a little secret that all but guarantees
getting a paper graded. All F&E TacNotes, Omega papers, and all Tournament
papers are graded in the cycle after they arrive, every single one of them,
since we get few of these papers and every one of them we had as of the time
CL20 was done have already been graded. (Some papers which received passing
grades remain on file because we had more papers than we could use.) If you
send in one of these papers that gets past Petrick, it will be sent to the
graders. Unless we start getting more of them than we can grade.
- If a paper gets graded but not used (didn't score
high enough to get in, or you already had one in that section) it will be
filed for future use. These "approved" papers do not have to be graded
again. Every single issue since the new system went into place with issue
#10 has included "previously approved" papers. These "approved" papers are
filed by their grade (best at the top) and within each grade, they are filed
in the order they were graded. So if you had even a relatively low-scoring
paper (the minimum kept on file is 18 out of 50 points) it will certainly
get used (even if takes a year) because the 18-pointers we graded for CL17
will be used before the 18-pointers newly graded for CL21.
- Posting papers on the BBS is a good way to find out
if you have run into a rules error or a duplication, or if you need to
expand or revise your paper to cover an additional point or eliminate one
minor sub-item which turned out to be illegal.
- The biggest no-no is to send in a term paper based on
an unfinished playtest rule. These will be sent to the playtest report
section and will not be graded as term papers.
LINE ITEM FORMAT
We cannot emphasize enough that when
you send a playtest report on a new rule, or even spot a place in a published
rule where errata is needed, we need it in the line item format:
- Rule number first, and please get the right one.
- What the problem is, and why you think it is a
- Your proposed fix, and why you think it is the best
one. You might also mention other fixes and why they're not as good.
- Your name, plus your Email address, plus the date.
That way we can get back to you if we need more info, and we can tell which
of two similar items you sent is the most recent. When you send a second
report on a batch of rules, DO NOT resend the previous reports unless you
have revised them with other information that needs to be considered.
Amarillo Design Bureau, All Rights Reserved
16 November 2004