The Basics

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This section or article is a Work in Progress.
Assigned to: Hekness

Please discuss changes with assigned users. If no one is assigned, or if the user is inactive, feel free to edit.

Congratulations on your employment by NanoTrasen. Make sure to check out the other Starter Guides as well as the Job Guides.

Space Station 13 is a multiplayer role-playing game developed using the BYOND engine. In Space Station 13 (from here on to be referred to as SS13 or AP17, short for "Apollo Station 17/Apollo Gaming", our specific variant), players take the role of workers on a space station. There are many different jobs available, and each player chooses and plays a role in the space station.

Apollo Gaming is a heavy roleplay server. The choice is not optional; it is enforced. Should you be new to roleplaying, consult A Crash Course In Roleplaying. Should you still have questions, ask them at the Apollo Gaming forum.

The Rules

Yes, there are rules set in place to ensure an enjoyable experience for all players. Please take a moment and read them.

If you're extra worried, you can also read about how not to get banned.

Joining the Server

To join the server you'll need to follow a couple of steps:

  1. Register for a BYOND account to get your username.
  2. Download the BYOND client so you can play the games (Win XP/Vista/7/8/10 or Linux).
  3. To log in, click play on, add byond:// to your bookmarks or find AP17 using the BYOND client and log in manually

Character Setup

If all has gone well, congratulations! You're on the server! Before you can jump in and start playing, we strongly recommend you set up your character first.


  • Slot: You can save your character and preferences for future rounds by clicking the Save slot button at the top of the window. Doing so will allow you to play that character over different rounds. If you want to create a new character, just load one of the empty slots, set everything the way you want and click Save. You have quite a few slots, so try experimenting with different characters and personalities!
  • General: Character name, looks, clothes, background and records.
  • Skills: The skills settings here have no actual effect on gameplay — only roleplay — but give you a framework to define your character's knowledge, skills and experience. It's best to leave these alone until you're familiar with the various aspects of Space Station 13. These are covered in more detail on the Skill System page. Don't give skills unrealistic values if you don't plan on using the system, just leave them alone. It makes the mod's/admin's job easier.
  • Occupation: This is an important part of character creation and will be covered in more detail below.
  • Roles: These will put you in the running for the role of various antagonists. High will make you likely to be that antagonist, Low will only consider you if not enough others marked high, and never will select you under no circumstances. As a new player, it is strongly recommended that you set all of these options to never until you've had the opportunity to play the various Game modes as a normal crewman and have some antag ideas ready. Should you ever be chosen to play an antagonist without wanting to, tell an admin via Adminhelp (F1) that you are new and do not wish to do so.
  • Loadout: If you wish to add some special flavour to your character, you can pick several items from the list to bring with you when you spawn. Unique clothes, accessories, and some utility items are available.
  • Global: Here you are the basic preferences for gameplay, all of which can be changed during game on the Preferences and ghost tabs on the right-hand side of your screen.
The character setup screen.

Your very own character

  • Name: As part of the roleplay guidelines followed by the server, it is required that all characters have a first and last name (with the exception of different languages or cultures, but use common sense!). By randomizing your name, the game will pick a suitable name for your character, accounting for gender.

NOTE: If you play as a vatborn human, you have to use a different choice of naming: Anything such as XX-YYY where X is a letter and Y is a number, "John" (just the name, nothing else), XX-John, where its two letters and then a name, or something like "John-YYY" is acceptable. A few examples: "NQ-134" "Michael" "VD-Bo" "Bartholomew-098." This is to represent your chosen name, or your vat identity, whichever your vatborn prefers to be known as.

  • Gender: Self-explanatory; this is purely for roleplay purposes.
  • Age: The only cosmetic setting that is basically useless. It will only appear on in-game security and medical records and won't change your character's appearance. The only other effect it has is on the Skill System.
  • Spawn point: Only for roleplay reasons, changes where your character spawns when entering a round in progress.


Here you can add other languages your character knows aside from Galactic Common, which is spoken by everyone on the station. To switch between the languages while playing, use IC tab - Set Default Language or these shortcuts.

Each species has a unique language that can only be spoken by their kind and a few people granted permission on the forums (apply for whitelist and explain why your character knows this and where have they learned).


Pressing the (®) will give you a completely random appearance. Can produce some pretty strange results, so it's not recommended (unless you happen to like playing a bald woman with an enormous purple beard).

  • Neural lace: Recommended to keep, otherwise your character cannot be cloned and dying would mean the end of the round for them. Keep in mind that you will still be able to respawn as a different character after half an hour.
  • Species: This option will allow you to change your Species to one of many others, including Tajaran, Unathi, or Skrell. To play more advanced species after you learn the basics, come say hello on the forums and apply to be whitelisted. Make sure to familiarize yourself with their lore beforehand.
  • Blood Type: Blood type isn't important until your character gets injured; he or she can only give or accept blood transfusions from people with a compatible blood type.
  • Skin Tone: This will change your character's skin color; 1 is 'white' and 220 is 'very black'.
  • Needs Glasses: Whether your character requires prescription glasses.
  • Limbs: Here you can set your character to start with robotics limbs, with all their quirks and maintenance.
  • Internal Organs: Whether your character has heart or eyes replaced with their robotics counterparts.
  • Hair/Facial/Eyes: These let you change the color and, if applicable, style of your character's hair, facial hair, and eyes. Hair and facial hair styles can be changed regardless of gender. Use common sense, though: red eyes and bearded women aren't really a good idea.


  • Underwear: Changes the color of your character's underwear, visible when naked. Even if set to none, nothing particularly explicit is shown.
  • Backpack: You can choose between a standard backpack, two different types of satchels (one brown leather, the other department-specific design, and color), or none at all.

Background and Character Records

Although not required for newer players, this is where you can go into detail about your character's backstory. Where are they from? Are they religious? Who did they work for before coming to Exodus station? etc.

The records buttons will pop-up windows that will allow you to set your character Medical, Employment, and Security records, and have them be able to be read in-game by Medical Doctors, the Head of Personnel or Security Officers, respectively.

This is mostly a fun little RP tool that can be used to help flesh out your character more. However, since it appears in-game as an official record, it should be written as such. For more help, see the example record forms at the Records page.

There is one more, let's say unofficial, record. Found on the Roles character setup page, the Exploitable information is your character's shady past. Only antagonists have access to it and it can make you a target, so if you're looking for some action, feel free to fill it up with your dark deeds and prepare to be captured, killed or offered money to join the dark side.

Flavor Text

This blurb is shown when people examine your character during the game.

The text should only describe your character's physical traits and mannerisms. It's not a good idea to mention anything someone wouldn't know by looking at you or something that is opinionated (use "has long brown hair" or "has a gruff look" rather than "is extremely beautiful" or "has problems with authority").

Occupations tab

The job preferences panel.

Your occupation is, by far, one of the most important settings in the game. It affects your station access, rank, authority, equipment, and purpose in life. These range from civilian jobs such as Chefs or Janitors, all the way up to the Head of Personnel or the Captain.

Job Assignment

With the exception of an Assistant, all job preferences have four levels: Never, Low, Medium, and High. These change how likely the server is to assign you that job when it compares your preferences with those of the other players during round start. To learn more about this process, read Job Selection and Assignment.

Note that these settings only apply at round start and mostly for contested positions of CO and such. If the round is already underway, you will have the choice of profession depending on what's left when you click on the Join Game! button.

Because of the diversity and range of jobs available, there are many ways to roleplay. A lot of these jobs, however, require a good knowledge of the game mechanics, the layout of the station, and knowing how to use the in-game tools and machinery.

To help with the this, a Newbie Training scheme was launched, which gives any player the means to be an intern for a day and receive training from other players in any of the departments. Feel free to use the prepared official form within, if you like it, or simply choose one of the recommended jobs for new players and learn on your own:

  • Assistant: The most basic of all occupations, the assistant has no authority and, generally speaking, no responsibilities. It's an excellent opportunity to learn the game mechanics, but your access is limited, so feel free to ask other people if you can help, and they'll usually be happy to show you around their department and help you learn the ropes. It also lets you practice roleplaying if you're still unsure about it.
  • Janitor: A simple, if menial, a job that involves replacing lightbulbs, cleaning up messes, putting out wet floor signs, and then pointing them out to people who've slipped on the floor you just finished mopping. Your only responsibilities are to keep the station clean and well-lit. This is a good position to learn your way around the station and its various departments.
  • Chef: A fairly simple job that gives you a good introduction to mixing ingredients, and there's even the possibility of cake into the bargain. Recipes are available here, to help kickstart a budding Chef's career.
  • Bartender: Like the Chef, but with more alcohol. The Bartender's job is primarily mixing and serving drinks to the thirsty crew. The recipes are also available here. You'd be surprised at some of the stuff you can make, so try it out!

If you're interested in other jobs, feel free to browse the Job Guides. Try to avoid any Security, Engineering, or Command positions until you get a hang of the game, as jumping into a position you're not prepared to do is a guaranteed way of making people angry at you.

It is also strongly recommended to set the option at the bottom from "Get random job if preferences unavailable" to "Be assistant if preference unavailable" so that you aren't assigned to a job that you aren't prepared for.

Arriving on the station

If all has gone well, you should be just about ready to play your first round, and you'll be entering one of two ways:

Starting with the new Round

The joining and setup panel.

Each round starts with a 3-minute delay while players chat in the lobby, set up their characters and vote on the Game Mode they want to play, from the Extended mode which is as close to another quiet day at work as it gets, to various round themes full of aliens, saboteurs, and other nasty things to spice up your experience.

If you're lucky enough to join at this point, simply click Ready and wait for the countdown to reach zero. It is common to experience a bit of lag right after the game starts, so be patient while all the resources download.

Joining the Round in progress

More than likely, however, you'll arrive halfway through a game in progress. Clicking View Crew Manifest will give you a list of who's on the station, and what position they have filled. When you join the game, you'll have the opportunity to choose from a list of available positions.

When joining a game in progress, you'll spawn at your desired place (by default the Arrivals Shuttle) and will be introduced to the crew by the Arrivals Announcement Computer. From there, you can either try to find your workplace and get started or just explore the station a bit.


The User Interface

The Space Station 13 user interface, and a view of the arrivals shuttle.

This is a general guide to the game interface; note that it won't be accurate to all UI styles, nor are all the elements shown in the image at right.

  • 1. Clothing: Anything your character is wearing. Clicking the backpack icon on the bottom left will hide most of these, allowing to see more of the game. The important things here are the ID Card, which lets you open doors, and the PDA, which allows you to view crew roster, text your friends and even use it as a handy flashlight, among other things.
  • 2. Hands: The items you're holding in your hands. The hand you're currently using will be highlighted, and you can switch hands by clicking the appropriate hand or clicking 'Swap'. (Shortcuts: X or Page-Up or Mouse middle button). Little E is used to quickly equip an item in selected hand and keyboard shortcut for it works the same way.
  • 3. Pockets: Your jumpsuit has pockets, and anything in them is displayed here. You won't be able to use them if you're naked.
  • 4. Bottom row buttons:
    • Movement Speed: This will toggle whether you run or walk. Walking is slower but safer, and you won't slip as easily.
    • File:Intent.png Intent: This selects how you will interact with an object or a person when you make an action.

Green is Help, blue is Disarm, yellow is Grab, and red is Harm. Learn more about Intents.

    • Body Target: Shows which part of the body you will interact with, whether helping or harming. To change this, click on the different parts of the body.
  • 5. Actions:
    • Resist: To try and break free from handcuffs or actively resist someone dragging you, for example. Also works to unbuckle yourself from a chair or a bed, among other things.
    • Drop: Immediately let go of the item you're holding. (Keyboard shortcut: Home)
    • Throw: Throw the item in your active hand by clicking on the button and place where you wish to throw it. (Keyboard shortcut: End)
    • Let Go: When dragging an item, another button appears on the left side of these, click on it to stop pulling. You can pull people and some items by control-clicking on them.
  • 6. Normalgun.png Weapon Mode: By default, having a ranged weapon in your hand will make you shoot in the direction you click. Clicking on this button changes the mode to a more cautionary one that simply takes aim at your target, letting you take hostages, fire automatically if they make a move and other actions. Learn more about Combat.
  • 7. Status Icons: This is where your health and important alerts are displayed. Most of these are only visible if something's out-of-the-ordinary.
    • Internals.gif Internals: Shows whether you are running on internals (an oxygen tank and breath mask). If you have them equipped, clicking this will switch them on/off. Learn more about Internals and their usage.
    • File:Health anim.gif Pain: Fades to red as you feel more pain. If it flashes with the word CRIT, it means you are in too much pain to stay conscious and require immediate medical attention. Please note that, although you usually feel more pain when more hurt, certain things can change this. These include painkillers, which will make you feel less pain when injured, or stun weaponry, which can make you feel pain when your body is fine.
    • File:HUD-Hunger.png Hunger: Appears and gradually fades to red as you get hungrier. (It'll take a bit to disappear after you eat something, though.)
    • File:HUD-Heat.png Heat Warning: Appears if the air you're breathing is superheated. Usually, it shows up near fires.
    • File:HUD-Oxygen.png Oxygen Warning: Appears if the air you're breathing has too little oxygen. If you linger too long, you'll eventually pass out and slowly asphyxiate.
    • File:HUD-Pressure.png Pressure Warning: Appears if air pressure is too high or too low.
    • File:HUD-Temperature.png Temperature Warning: Appears if your surroundings are too hot or too cold.

File:Simple map.png
Simplified map of the station
Blue: Command
Brown: Cargo
Yellow: Engineering
Cyan: Medical
Purple: Research
Green: Recreation
Red: Security
Orange: Miscellaneous

Moving around

There are two control schemes you can use to move your character around the station, each with their own hotkeys available.

  • the arrow keys: this leaves the keyboard letters free and allows you to type directly into the command line
  • the WASD: press tab to disable the command line unless you click on it, and activates hotkeys for movement and other things like T to talk and such
  • up and down: If the map supports multiple z-levels you can move up or down on ladders. In space, you can use the "move up" and "move down" verbs, as long as you have mag boots or a jetpack.

Note: you can quickly switch between the methods by pressing TAB so it's really just a personal preference.

Interacting With the World

Interacting with your surroundings in Space Station 13 is mostly done by the mouse. You can click with an empty hand active to pick up items or open containers, click on something with an item in your active hand to use the item on it, click on a computer or device to view its display, and so on. Once you get the hang of managing your character's hands, things will make more sense: you can't, for example, open a toolbox in your left hand if your right hand is full.

A good way of interpreting the interaction system in Space Station 13 is to think of each click as 'using' the object (or hand) on whatever you're clicking on. For instance, to use a computer in real life, you'd essentially 'use' an empty hand on it to start typing. Using an empty hand on an object will pick it up if you can hold it. Holding an item in your hand and clicking on something can result in several things happening:

  • If the object in hand is meant to be used with the object you're clicking on, the desired effect should occur. This way you can pay for the coffee with your ID card in the drinks machine, pour the cocktail into a glass at the bar, or refill hydroponics tray with a water bucket in hand, to name a few.
  • If the object in hand is not meant to be used with the object you're clicking on, more often than not (and very annoyingly, sometimes) you'll attack the target with the object. This can result in rather funny cases of hitting people with first aid kits, stabbing someone with a pen, etc.
  • You can place items on tables or inside open lockers by clicking on the surface/container with the item in hand. Clicking on your backpack with an empty hand will open it so you can see inside and clicking on it with an item in hand will place it in, provided there is enough space for it.
  • Some objects can be interacted with by dragging their image over your character, for example, to use the chair you are sitting on to buckle yourself in, or to pick up a small creature, like a cat, and carry it in your hand.

It's okay to memorize those, but the best way to get used to the system is to simply jump in and try playing jobs that involve more object handling, such as Chef, Barman or Cargo Tech. These will really help you understand how the system interprets clicks, and what to expect when trying to use something.

Interacting with Other People

Baystation 12 is a roleplay-heavy server, and so your interactions with those around you are going to be very, very important. You won't get very far with pointing-and-clicking alone, so there are several basic commands to remember when dealing with other characters on the station:

  • Say:, Speak to those in sight. You can prefix your message a semicolon (;) to talk on the general radio channel, using your headset, or a colon and a letter (i.e. :m or :s) to talk on your department radio channel. (You can examine your headset in hand to see which channels you can access.)
  • Whisper: Speak quietly, only audible to those right next to you. Anyone farther away will be told that you're whispering something.
  • Me: Lets you narrate your character's actions in an emote. This will have your character's make in front of the text.
  • OOC: Speak to everyone currently playing, in an Out-Of-Character way. This can be used to ask about game mechanics and other things not concerning the game. Try not to mention events happening in the game in OOC, as everyone can see it.
  • LOOC: Speak to everyone within your view in an Out-Of-Character way. This can be used to ask other players to explain procedures or ask for help without having to broadcast your request to the entire server.
  • Adminhelp: If you are stuck with something and can't/don't want to use the above, you can always send a message to the admins.

Don't be afraid to be creative! Writing speech with an accent, or being descriptive with your emotes, will make you a lot more memorable.

For example:

Say ":n Dr. Glass, could you come to Xenobiology, please? I think you should see this...

Whisper "Don' bloody move, yeah, or you're a dead man.

Me "grumbles irritably and kicks his feet up on his desk, glowering at his boss.

And don't forget to type properly! Consistently making typos or forgetting punctuation looks about the same to other players as showing up to a job interview drunk and slurring.

Here's a quick list of the different radio keys: (Note: You can examine your headset in your hand to see which channels are available to you)

  • Headset.png Will send your message to your department (depending on your profession) radio directly.
  • Headset.png Will send the message to the Command Channel
  • Headset.png Will send the message to the Security Channel
  • Headset.png Will send the message to the Medical Channel
  • Headset.png Will send the message to the Engineering Channel
  • Headset.png Will send the message to the Research Channel
  • Headset.png Will send the message to the Supply Channel
  • Headset.png Will send the message to the Service Channel
  • Headset.png Will let you talk into the neighboring intercom.
  • Headset.png Will let you talk into something held in your right hand. For example a station bounced radio or an emergency phone. likewise for Headset.png and the left hand.

Note, that just like you can emote what your character does to people around, you can do stuff over the radio as well. Just like using common radio channel normally, only insert !, that is for example ;! laughs

The many tabs, aka the right side of the screen

By now you have most likely noticed the game window only covers half of the screen. On the right side is where most game Commands and shortcuts can be located, and of course the chat/action log below that.

Here is the brief summary of the tabs available:

  • Status: Useful screen with round duration and context information, for example, how much air you have left when you activate your [Internals]
  • Preferences: You can set the menu styles and how much information you see in the log. Turning off the OOC channel, if you find it distracting, might be helpful for new players.
  • Examine: Right clicking on an item and selecting examine shows brief info in the log; this tab shows even more and sometimes even how to interact with the said object.
  • Admin: Shortcut to reach for adminhelp or see which admins are available.
  • IC: In-characters actions, like talking/whispering, stop pulling, etc.
  • OOC: Out-of-character actions, like respawning or displaying the game control hotkeys
  • Object: Actions specific to the object held in your hand, for example, to show the object to others so they may examine it

There are also other tabs which appear depending on your actions, for example

  • Ghost: When you are an observer of the round and not directly playing. Here you can find anything from shortcuts which teleport you quickly around the station to transforming into a cute little mouse to annoy the crew, to name a few

What To Do Now

There are a couple of things to do to help you settle in at Apollo Station 17 once you've gotten the hang of the game:

  • Make yourself known on the forums: The server is home to a group of players who make up the AP17 community and we love to see new faces, so swing by and introduce yourself!
  • Try advanced jobs: Once you feel you have the basics of the game under your belt, don't be afraid to check the guides on the other positions available. Not only is it more fun, but you might actually get to help the station!
  • Read some of the Lore: There is quite a lot available on the Lore Wiki, with many pages filled with all sorts of interesting information, along with everything you need to know about the universe the game takes place in. You can find the Lore Here
  • Be an antagonist: After several rounds of traitor (or some other game modes), and after getting the hang of how everything works, it might be time to try your own hand as an antagonist. Here is the best place to learn the basics of the different game modes and how to be an antagonist, just make sure to keep roleplaying!
  • Help out the game: If you're good with programming, drawing sprites, telling stories or designing maps, feel free to drop by the forums and show us what you can do.

Most importantly, have fun! After all, isn't that we're all here for?

Welcome to Baystation 12 and enjoy your stay!

Newbie Gotchas

The Space Station 13 interface can be pretty unintuitive. If you want to learn by trial and error, here are some things you should try:

  • Buy a pack of cigarettes and smoke one. You will learn how to do basic interaction with objects and yourself.
  • Find the engineering department and ask for a refill of your emergency oxy tank. Then find someone to give you a drill on emergency internals use (If you want to cheat, look it up here)
  • Find the pen in your PDA and nick a sheet of paper somewhere to write yourself a job history / day's orders / etc. to enhance your assistant job getting RP

Here are questions you may likely ask yourself at some point that aren't explicitly covered in a Guide:

  • How do I buckle myself into a chair?: Stand on the same tile or adjacent to the chair, then drag your character's sprite onto it. (This is also how to climb a table.)
  • How do I consume food?: Take food into hand, select hand, click on your character's sprite
  • My hands are too full!
    • You can access most containers that are on the ground without picking them up by dragging them onto your sprite
    • Some clothing items have pockets
    • Your PDA has a slot for IDs (includes guest passes)