Alright, let's get this party started shall we?
From the recherché WQRobb:
Okay, so here's a question: how you do adjudicate command structures and a gaming group?
OK, you know how when you wake up in the morning, before you brush your teeth or put on your shoes, you think about it really deeply and consider all the particulars and ramifications your choices will have?
No? Me neither. And that's how we adjudicate command structures in our game group.
We don't really think about it too much except to see who wants to be Captain and more importantly, who doesn't but the rest of us think will do a great job. That is the person you want as Captain.
There is an old naval saying, "Anyone who wants to be Captain isn't right for the job."
Captain means its your boat, your wins and your loses. If the tribble hits the turbo fan, it's your fault and your head if you don't fix it. Welcome to being responsible for the lives of 3-7 PCs and 400+ NPCs, some of whom might be wives, girlfriends, brothers, cousins, best friends, etc.
As for First Officer, there is always that one guy in the group who loyal to the team. A team player and a smart person who isn't necessarily the action-go-get'em person. I highly recommend that guy or gal for the First Officer position. For us it was always my buddy Allen or, going back further, our friend Anna, my buddy David F. (though his character eventually made Captain) and when playing, me.
Beyond that, almost everyone else on the crew should however around the same rank. If you have a big group, following Captain and either Commander or Lt. Commander, you should have another Lt. Commander who isn't usually someone who is on the bridge (Medical Officer or Engineer is good). This way they are important and have rank but they won't get in the First Officer's way. Make everyone else Lieutenant. If someone really wants to play a younger officer like an Ensign, let them. They gain youth and plot hooks and lose the ability to tell people what to do.
Next up, the truculent Lord Blacksteel:
You've run a fair amount of Trek. Forget systems for a moment - that kind of game would you like to run that you haven't before, beyond the one you mentioned? Maybe a particular era you haven't explored in play?
Hmmm. That's tough but if I had to choose a period I haven't covered I think it would be one of the missing eras, the transition periods between series.
I'd love to play in the period after Enterprise but before Pike, roughly somewhere inbetween the years 2165 to 2199. The true birth of the Federation, the Romulan War and all the stuff we might have seen if Enterprise had continued.
Also of interest is the period between Kirk's "death" during the shakedown cruise of the Enterprise-B and the beginning of the Next Generation. The Cardassian War, first contact and war with the Tzenkethi, first contact with many of the Next Generation and DS9 era species, etc. Could be a very intriguing setting if given it's due.
Have you ever run a non-federation campaign?
Yes. I once ran a campaign, in High School, featuring an experiment by the Romulan and Klingon empires to joint operate a starship. The idea originated with the Romulans and was proposed when they and the Klingons were negotiating weapons and technology trade agreements that resulted in the Klingon Bird of Prey (the D-12 version first seen in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock). Curious to see if a multiple species crew would do better against similarly crew Starfleet vessels, it was also a convenient excuse for spying on their new 'allies'. The Klingons in turn said yes because they needed someone to teach them how to use the Cloaking Devices and figured, "Hey, we can counterspy on them".
As you can imagine it was a riot. Like Star Trek crossed with Top Secret and a little Paranoia for good measure. Hmmm. That description sounds familiar. I think I read that someone but for the life of me can't recall the reference. -Scratches head-
Anyhoo, next question...
Have you ever run a multi-captain campaign? One group, multiple ships, all in one area or squadron.
How quickly they forget.
In addition, the Romulan-Klingon campaign was actually being run while I was running a standard Starfleet exploration game with an another group. The two eventually crossed and fought, with the Starfleet PCs being superior in space combat and the Romulan-Klingon party better planetside (just like PvP in Star Trek Online). It was the Starfleet Officers however you solved the mystery of the adventure/episode, causing the enemy ship to retreat back to the Romulan Neutral Zone.
How about instead of an officer exchange program there was a ship exchange program and you had, say, a Next-Gen era Klingon ship serving in Star Fleet? Interesting or too impractical to manage?
When you say 'serving in Starfleet' do you mean crewed by Starfleet Officers, a Klingon crew but the whole crew and the ship are considered Starfleet instead of Klingon Defense Force Officers or something else? I'm not entirely sure I'm clear on the question.
Lord Blacksteel also posted a question in the comments of my last post that reads...
"Hey, here's a question: Where did the rest of my Star Trek posts go, mister?"
Well Mister Smarty-Smart-Pants-With-Super-Smart-Pants, just you wait and see. A lot more to come.
So there. :P
"Aye, right back atcha my friend."