How does an Email Simulation work?
Email simulations are broken down into missions, or chapters. As mentioned, the episodes last at least two months, but usually stretch a little longer, sometimes three or four months depending on the level of complexity and writer interest. This allows the writer some movement in getting involved with the plotline, Joint Posting (which is where one or more writers pen a piece together), or just getting a feel for the sim if they arrived while a chapter is in motion.
As to the "hows" of the simulation? Firstly, the GM posts a 'teaser' to the common mailstring being used; we use a listserver here, which I will get into later. When this teaser is posted, the chapter begins. There are some limits to what can be written on your character's behalf, but those limits are well within reason, which we will also get into later when we discuss etiquette. Otherwise, you can pretty much do what you want.
When you join the simulation , the GM will introduce you to the list, detailing a synopsis of the current chapter and introducing your character to the masses.
It is on this same mailing list where you will post your own stories of your character's experiences, whether it be as a subplot of your own creation, or as a posting to further the plot along either through conjecture on your part or as part of a request from the GM in private.
The mechanics of an E-mail sim are quite simple. Each participant (or player) creates their own biography for the character that they will play in the sim. This biography is important, because it will describe to the other players how your character looks and acts.
Once the character biography is completed, it will be posted on the website so that it can be referenced when stories are written involving your character. You should always read each player's biography (or reread it) before posting a new story entry involving that character. It can save you the embarrassment of making a false reference in one of your stories. Example: "Chris ducked to the right as the disrupter blast streaked past her head." Which would be fine as long as "Chris" is a woman, but if it is short for "Christopher"....
Most web browsers will allow you to print out and make hard copies of the articles you browse. Feel free to make yourself a hard copy of the player's character biographies for easier referencing.
When you think of the player characters, you should be thinking of "the stars of the show", as that is really what they are. In this sim, the USS Galaxy has over 1600 men and women on board, but really, the few player characters are the stars of the sim.
Along with the player's biographies, a list of all the player's e-mail addresses and positions are stored on a members-only section of the website, of which you will receive the URL upon your acceptance to the sim. These files are updated each time a new player joins the sim, or an old one leaves. You may wish to download these files and print them out from time to time.
When you turned in your character bio, and it was accepted by the GM, your email address was added to a mailing list. You should have received an automated welcome message directly from the listserver telling about the sim, and how to turn on and off your email there in case you leave town for an extended period of time. If you need to have your email address changed, or a new one added to the list, you need to email the GM as only they can add or remove an address from this private list.
The email list server will mail out copies of your stories as you post them. Usually this happens within a few minutes, but can sometimes take a few hours depending on the general level of network traffic out there. If, for some reason, you do not receive a copy of your story from the listserver within 4 hours, go ahead and resend it. The worse thing that can happen is everyone receives the story twice!
The last E-mail sim "mechanic" is that each player is expected to make a minimum of one sim entry every two weeks. You may post more frequently than this, but I would like everyone to at least post this frequently. If you are unable to post to the game because of vacations, or final exams, etc, just let the GM (and the rest of the sim group) know ahead of time.
There is no order, or "round-robin" rotation for each of the story posts to the Sim. You do not have to "wait your turn" to post into the game as is the case on some role playing games. Of course there are exceptions to this, which will be discussed later, but usually, you do not have to wait for all of the other players to post a new message before you post another one.