In Rulers of the Sea you experience the life of a Captain, Officer or Director. When it comes to sailing a ship, running a business or commanding soldiers, there is little that gamers do themselves. They give the orders and the staff carries them out.
Every staff member is unique. They have a custom name, birthdate, birthplace, personality and appearance. When a gamer employs them, the experience adds to their abilities and resumé. If they quit or are fired, they rotate back into a recruitment pool and can be hired again. Their employment track record, including certifications, promotions and incidents, are all registered in their logbook.
The quality of a ship, an army unit or a business is largely determined by the quality of its staff. The quality of the staff is determined by the values of morale, loyalty, ambition, health, courage and charisma. These values are influenced by how they are managed and by circumstances. Losing battles, a poor diet, an extremely strict boss or a nasty disease, none of it helps. But a staff member also has a personality, not everyone is as ambitious or charismatic as the next person.
Education and skill also determine the quality of staff. Their level of literacy and numeracy determine whether they can progress. If they are capable and ambitious enough, they can be sent to the same University and Academy courses gamers go to, and gain skills and certifications that make them expert seamen, craftsmen, officers, specialists and even Captains and Directors.
Managing staff is not without challenges. The gamer often gets confronted with issues. Maybe a staff member misbehaved, had an accident, got ill, shows poor performance or demands a promotion. All these issues need to be addressed and the choices the gamer makes have an influence on the staff member, and possibly on the entire staff, as managers are often judged by their decisions.
Gamers that do not care much for the headaches of management can concentrate on getting good officers or managers that take care of the issues. They might not always make the best decisions, depending on their personal qualities, but they do keep the problems away from their commander.
When it comes to the effects of management, it is never quite clear how decisions impact them. Differences in production or performance of a crew or workforce can be noted, but individual characters get officer notations in their performance logs such as ‘average’, ‘good’, or ‘poor’. There is never a clear report on what impact a decision has. Management is as much a matter of instinct, principles and heart, and staff will gradually shape itself to the management style of the gamer.
The management simulation makes crew, workers and soldiers real. In Rulers of the Sea gamers will care about the fate of those they command, but if management is not their passion, they can leave the details to their officers.