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Guide to Command

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Research DirectorHead of PersonnelCaptainHead of SecurityChief EngineerChief Medical Officer

Captain On Deck

So you've been drafted into acting as a Head of Staff on space station 13? You poor, poor bastard. Being in command is never, ever easy. You will get shouted at. You will always be busy. You will be blamed for everything that goes wrong and get no credit for anything going right.

Now, as we all know, Nanotrasen only hires the best to act as command staff on its research stations. So, of course, you already know exactly what you're doing, and you'll be able to keep your department running smoothly no matter what happens.


Oh, good. Because I'd hate to serve under you if you have no clue what you're doing. Just in case, though, here's a look at what you're expected to do as a Head of Staff.

The Chains of Commanding

First off, it's important that you know what's expected of you as a member of command.

As a Head of Staff, it's your job to keep your department running smoothly. You are not a super-doctor, THE LAW, or anything else even if you do get some toys the rest of your department would be jealous of. You are, first and foremost, an administrator. You should know how to run everything in your department, yes, but it is not your job to go around doing everybody else's work for them. Your job is to make it so that everybody else can do their jobs more effectively. You're in charge of making sure that the people in your department know what they're supposed to do, how to do it, and that they're fully equipped for it. You need to know what your department needs and where to get it, and make sure that you have it at all times. That said, sometimes this will involve doing those things yourself.

Beyond that, you're in charge of coordinating your department with the rest of them. This is why the Heads of Staff have access to the Command channel on their headsets. Use it. Other Heads of Staff need to know what's going on in order to keep the station running. Other Heads of Staff can provide you with valuable resources that make your job a hell of a lot easier, and letting them know if your department has a problem will keep things from getting backed up in future, as well as getting the problem fixed that much faster.

Meet The Team

So the basics are simple enough: you are an administrator and facilitator, not a regular staff member on steroids. Your job is to keep your department running and make sure that the other Heads of Staff know of anything important going on.

But that's very, very general, and doesn't really give you any specific instructions on how to do your job properly. That's what this section of the guide is for: to go a little bit into the details of how to keep things running. Ultimately, the best way to figure out how to do your job is through practice, but this should at least keep you from making any massive mistakes right off the bat.

The Captain

Being the Captain isn't easy. It's lonely at the top, and there's no position on the station higher than yours. Beyond that, it's sometimes confusing to know what your job actually is. Strictly speaking, the Captain doesn't have a department to run. The entire station is his domain, and he's supposed to keep it all running smoothly. But then, that's what the other Heads of Staff are there for, right? So what's the Captain supposed to do? He doesn't really seem to have anything that he can do that other Heads aren't supposed to do anyway.

Well, the Captain does actually have a job, and it's deceptively simple. Each Head of Staff runs their own department. The Captain's department is the other Heads of Staff. While the other Heads of Staff keep their departments running, it's the Captain's job to monitor the other departments, make sure that the Heads are coordinating with one another, and so on.

Who watches the watchmen? You do. You make sure that the Chief Engineer keeps the engine under control and Atmospherics running, that the Head of Security doesn't become shitcurity or allow threats to the station to run around unchecked, that the Research Director doesn't let his staff blow up half the station or release the slimes, that the Chief Medical Officer is keeping the WILD RIDE relatively manageable, and that the Head of Personnel isn't just handing out access to sensitive areas willy-nilly. Let them do their jobs - remember, your job isn't to do others' work for them - but make sure that everything is being done correctly. If there are any heads of staff absent, you are expected to do their jobs for them until one arrives or is promoted to that position.

And, when the station inevitably goes to hell, (which it will 99% of the time) you're expected to take command. Calling the shuttle, declaring red alert, calling ERTs, coordinating evacuation and defense attempts... all of these are your direct responsibility. One of the very first things you should do is to secure the nuclear authentication disk- letting it stay on your desk is a guaranteed death sentence if nuke ops show up. If you aren't comfortable keeping it on your person, give it to the HoP or HoS. You should also keep a close eye on your other belongings, as many of them will be extremely useful to antagonists even if they haven't been specifically tasked to steal them.

You're the boss of the bosses. Ultimately, the buck stops with you, and if the station goes to hell you'll be the first person people will blame for it.

The Head of Personnel

You are the Head of Personnel (HoP) in charge of coordinating the civilian personnel on the station. This usually also includes the Quartermaster and Cargo Technicians, even though they're usually considered part of supply and maintenance. Usually, you can let the station's various Bartenders and Librarians run around and take care of themselves, though; even though they are, technically, under your direct command, their jobs are usually simple and not particularly vital to the running of the station, so they can be relied upon to do them without too much trouble.

The real meat of your job rests in your two other duties. As Head of Personnel, you're the one expected to take up the Captain's position if/when they become incapacitated. This means that you need to be paying attention to everything that goes on aboard the station, because you may have to take control of the entire place on a moment's notice. Until then, though, you don't outrank any other Heads of Staff, so don't try to push them around.

The meat of your job, most of the time, is to give promotions and demotions to the various crew members around the station- and more importantly, the modified accesses that go with those job changes. If there's an Assistant looking for work, find him a job. Ask around and see if the other Heads need an extra pair of hands. See if you can get them a temporary position, like Orderly instead of Medical Doctor. And, when somebody does something particularly stupid, you're in charge of demoting them so that they no longer have access to the place they were fired from.

It's not a particularly challenging job, but it's important. Somebody's got to do it. Just make sure that you aren't handing out access to other departments without getting the okay from the relevant Head of Staff first. That's an easy way to get them mad at you very quickly and may earn you a demotion yourself.

The Head of Security

The Head of Security (HoS) has the most challenging job on the station, except perhaps for the Captain himself. You're in charge of keeping the entire station safe, dealing with criminals, conducting investigations, and, most daunting of all, keeping your own officers in line.

The first step towards keeping the station safe is to ensure that your own officers aren't a threat. Security enforces the law, but they are not above it - and neither are you. Make sure that all of your personnel are familiar with the regulations regarding Space Law, Standard Operating Procedure, and standard Security practices. If they aren't, you're going to have to clean up their messes sooner or later, and that's on your head. Any infringements against Space Law, standard operating procedure, and the like should be dealt with harshly. Do not let your force be Shitcurity.

Once your force is up to speed on the rules and regulations, send them out on patrol. Pay attention to all the radio channels for any calls for help; if there are any, dispatch some officers to handle it, and make sure that the Detective collects any relevant evidence. Make sure that the Warden keeps the Security records up-to-date, not in the least because Beepsky can help your officers catch criminals who would otherwise evade them.

Make sure that your officers are responding to any calls for help from the crew promptly, that the Detective is sealing off crime scenes and collecting evidence properly in case of a call for trial, the warden is doing his job maintaining brig and prisoners, and so on. Remember to assign appropriate times for violations of Space Law, and make sure that you only arrest people who have actually committed crimes. Remember, if they're doing something that you don't like but is technically not against the law, you can issue an official injunction - preferably in a Lawyer-approved format, written, and stamped with your Head of Security stamp - against it. Expect abuse of this power to be called out, however.

It is also important that you understand the relationship between Security and the Captain. The Captain's authority on the station is absolute, except where it conflicts with Space Law; the Captain cannot pardon criminals, cannot get away with committing crimes, and so on. Other Heads of Staff are required to follow Space Law as well. However, this does not mean that YOU ARE THE LAW. You are still outranked by the Captain. You can only arrest the Captain, or other Heads of Staff, if they've actually committed a crime. Until that time, you have to follow orders just like anyone else.

That's the essence of your job. Make sure that the law is enforced, but always remember that you are not The Law.

Chief Engineer

Engineering and its associated professions are some of the most vital jobs on the station. Station Engineers keep the place running and supplied with power, as well as repair breaches. Atmospheric Technicians keep everybody breathing. Mechanics Make copies of vial machines, like cryo tubes and SMES batteries. And you're the guy in charge of making sure they all do their jobs.

Mechanics answer to the Research Director as much as to you. and their job is less vital than Atmospheric Technicians or Station Engineers. Most of the time, you can ignore them and just let them do their jobs, though checking in on them occasionally to make sure that they aren't making guns and other illegal items for no reason is a good idea. Your job primarily consists of managing the engineers and technicians of the station to make sure that all the areas of the station are safe and habitable, and that everyone can breathe comfortably. (Good luck with that)

It's important that you know how to set up the Singularity Engine and Solars, to ensure that the station has power, and how to set up Atmospherics, so that the station will always have breathable air. As with other Heads of Staff, however, your primary job is to get other people to do this. When the shift begins, get your engineers and technicians to get to work on all three of those immediately. If they don't know how, show them, or do it yourself and then explain. It's important that you also know how to perform upkeep on all of them, to keep them working properly, and that you always make sure that somebody is watching the singularity so that it doesn't escape. If the singularity ever does escape for anything short of a direct meteor strike destroying its containment field, it's on your head.

Once the engine, solars, and Atmospherics are all running, your job is to make sure that the engineers and technicians are keeping everything on the station working properly. If somebody reports a breach, cut wiring, or other damage, dispatch some of your staff to handle it. Make regular trips to the storerooms and Cargo Bay to make sure that your staff always have wire cables, metal sheets, glass, and other vital supplies. When the inevitable emergency happens, and half the station explodes, make sure that all your staff are familiar with the proper procedure for entering depressurized areas, so they don't make the problem worse, and make sure that everybody is working to get the problem fixed as soon as possible.

Engineers and Atmospheric Technicians often have long periods of time wherein their services are not needed. It's your job to get them all back on the job the moment there's a problem, and make sure that they always have the tools necessary to do their jobs.

Chief Medical Officer

You are often regarded as the least important Head of Staff, but in reality, you hold a great deal of power. As the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) is it vital to keeping the Medical personnel of the station working smoothly. Without a competent Chief Medical Officer coordinating things, Medbay often dissolves into a chaotic mess that only manages to heal anybody through sheer coincidence.

Your job is to make sure that the Chemistry staff are supplying the Medical Doctors with all the different medicines they require to treat the patients, that the Geneticists are making genetic backups of people (especially heads of staff) and cloning the dead, and that Virology responds promptly to outbreaks.

When the round starts, review your medical staff and assign jobs. Remember, Emergency Medical Technicians, Surgeons, and regular Doctors are all the same job, and they're all required to treat patients. Their specific title just indicates a specialization. They can, and, in many cases, should be given assignments outside of that, so long as it still falls within the description of Medical Doctor work. If they're unable or unwilling to do basic medical work because "they're a surgeon, not a doctor", then they need reeducating about what their job actually entails. Make sure that you have a dedicated EMT team ready to respond to calls for medical assistance from outside of Medbay, someone manning the front desk to handle arrivals and minor cases, and someone - preferably a Surgeon - waiting in the wings to handle critical cases that require Cryo treatment or surgery. Each of these three assignments is vital for different reasons, and, once given a job, your staff should focus on doing that job exclusively except in case of emergency. If they don't, and they try to do someone else's job, it means that you have two doctors doing a job that could be done by one, and an area which is left understaffed. Make sure that everyone is entirely clear on exactly what their job is and why it is important.

When everyone has their assignments, make sure that everybody has their Medical belts stocked with the basic tools of the trade - gauze, ointment, inaprovaline, and things like that. Emergency Medical Technicians should carry more than most, and should have a variety of Medkits available for unusual cases, since they're the first responders and may have to deal with anything.

Once your main staff is set up, contact Chemistry and get them to start making medicines for your doctors. Clonexadone is a must-have, so have the Chemists take the cryoxadone from Cryo and mix some up immediately. Hyronalin, tricordrazine, alkysine, dexalin plus, spaceacillin, and ryetalyn are all important, so have those mixed up as soon as possible, and make sure that your doctors know that they're available and where to find them. Make sure that Virology gets some diluted milk and radium, too, or your Virologists won't be able to do anything. Once you have all of the basic medicines, have Chemistry mix up a little bit of everything and stock up on the important stuff.

Furthermore, consider stopping by RnD and getting medical upgrades, as your slaves Doctors will be busy keeping the crew from getting themselves killed. Advanced trauma and burn kits are standard, but no one is against getting upgraded surgery tools. Remember, your main goal as CMO is to make sure medbay keeps running. So if you have nothing better to do, help out doctors, chemists, or even use space cleaner to clean up all the inevitable vomit and blood that medbay will be filled with.

As with other Head positions, a large part of your job is to be watchful for any calls for medical assistance. As soon as one comes in, make sure that your EMTs are responding and that the rest of your staff are ready to take in anybody who can't be treated in the field. It's also a good idea to ask for an Odysseus from Robotics, preferably with two mounted Sleepers. Make sure that your EMTs know how to operate it; an Odysseus can save a lot of lives and make it possible for your EMTs to answer calls that they would normally be unable to due to its armor and internals.

Medbay is vital to the entire station. Without you, it falls apart into a mess of doctors with no direction or internal coordination running around with no real direction. If you pay attention to your job, you can turn it into a well-oiled machine that gets people back on their feet almost as fast as they can injure themselves all over again. But, despite this, most people consider the Chief Medical Officer to be the least important Head of Staff. You're often ignored by the other Command staff members as unimportant and irrelevant. Disabuse them of this notion. Make sure that you're kept abreast of all major developments on the station so that Medbay can be better prepared. Your work is some of the most vital on the station, even if you are unappreciated.

Research Director

Unlike most Heads of Staff, your job isn't so much to keep your staff working as Research Director (RD) it is to keep them from doing so. Or, at least, to keep them from doing so badly.

Technically speaking, your job is the least vital out of any of the Heads of Staff. The Science division isn't vital to the continued operations of the station, even if it is, technically, why it's there in the first place. The station won't fall apart if the metroids die, alien artifacts never get studied, and bombs never get made. It will, however, fall apart if the metroids escape, if dangerous alien artifacts aren't well-monitored, or if a poorly-made bomb destroys the Escape arm.

Your job, then, isn't to keep your staff working - the psychopathic manchildren Nanotrasen employs are only too happy to feed monkeys to aliens or tinker with high-yield explosives - so much as it is to keep them from accidentally killing themselves. Toxins Mixing and Xenobiology in particular are highly-dangerous areas, and should be monitored at all times.

You're also the foremost expert on strange phenomena on the station. When something strange shows up, it's your job to figure out what it is and how best to deal with it. The other Heads of Staff will rely on you to figure out exactly what it is and what to do about it.

So, in short, keep your staff from screwing everything up royally and keep the other Heads informed about anything weird going on.

Boots On The Ground

And now you know the basics of what's expected of you as a Head of Staff. Hopefully this will prevent you from completely destroying your entire department or making it impossible for anyone else to do their jobs. Remember, you are an administrator first and foremost. Keep your staff coordinated, make sure your team has everything they need to do their jobs, and stay in touch with the other Heads of Staff.

Good luck.

Guides of /vg/station 13
New Player Guides
General Help - The Basics - Rules - A Crash Course In Roleplaying - Guide to Construction - Guide to Combat - Terminology - Shortcuts - Troubleshooting
Service Guides
Guide to Cargo Orders - Guide to Food and Drinks - Guide to Hydroponics - Guide to Beekeeping - Guide to Xenobotany - Guide to Vox Hydroponics - Guide to Cash Registers
Medical Guides
Guide to Medicine - Guide to Surgery/Autopsy - Guide to Chemistry - Guide to Virology - Guide to Genetics - Guide to Cloning
Scientific Research Guides
Guide to Research and Development - Guide to Robotics - Guide to Toxins - Guide to Telescience - Guide to Mechanic - Guide to Xenobiology - Guide To Xenoarchaeology
Engineer Guides
Guide to Engineering - Guide to Wiring - Guide to Construction - Guide to Advanced Construction - Guide to Singularity Engine - Guide to Atmospherics - Guide to Solars - Guide to Antimatter Engine (AME) - Guide to Thermoelectric Generator (TEG) - Guide to Supermatter Engine (SME) - Guide to R-UST - Guide to Space Pods - Guide to Telecommunications - Guide to Hacking - Guide to Assemblies
Security and Command Guides
Space Law - Standard Operating Procedure - Guide to Security - Guide to Forensics - Guide to Command - Chain of Command - Guide to Silicon Laws
Antagonist Guides
Guide to Traitor - Guide to Nuclear Operations - Guide to Revolution - Guide to Xenomorph - Guide to Cult of Nar-Sie - Guide to AI Malfunction - Illicit Access - Random Events
Misc Guides
Guide to Hypothermia - Makeshift weapons - Guide to Ghetto Chemistry - Races - Creatures - Guide to Paperwork - List of Pastebins specific to /vg/station - Reading Material - NTSL (Nanotrasen Scripting Language)
Admin and Coder Guides
Guide to Admin Tools - Understanding SS13 Code - Guide to Git CLI - SS13 for Experienced Programmers - Guide to Spriting - Guide to Mapping - Guide to GitHub/Merging Upstream Changes - Getting Your Pull Accepted - DM/BYOND: Undocumented Stuff