Starter Guide

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What is Space Station 13?

Space Station 13 (SS13) is a game with heavy elements of paranoia, confusion and chaos. Created by the CDC as an experimental means of observing autistic individuals interact with one another for purposes of study, SS13 is a complex, in-depth game sure to give you, the autistic guinea pig, many hours of enjoyment.

Playing the game effectively requires the player become adept at using the UI and remembering the many mechanics and possibilities of each new scenario that greets them. If you're here, you've probably heard about this game through greentexts or other such things. You might have an impression this game is really difficult and hard to get into, like Dwarf Fort. To be perfectly candid, it'll take you a few hours to get your bearings, but you'll be a part of the shift. You could be the difference between life and death for another spaceman. After that, it's accumulating knowledge, and learning nuances. It really isn't a hard game to get into.

From another anon's description of the game:

SS13 is an atmospheric simulator turned space station turned video game dating back to the early 2000s, duct-taped togethercoded in Build Your Own Net Dream, or BYOND, a DIY game engine dating to the late nineties and filled with shitty anime games. It's 2d, with entirely sprite-based graphics, but has an incredible depth not matched by anything else; Once you get a handle on the game's aging interface and start to figure out how everything fits together, the sky's the limit. Glass shard disposal cannons, station-melting plasma floods, instant death serums and pills that make people explode. Arms trading and black marketeering, kidnapping people into your forced sex-change dungeon. Mecha-fighting tournaments, holding the station hostage with a black hole generator. Or perhaps the simpler pleasures of growing space-weed and stealing the clown's shoes. I've been playing Space Station 13 for about two and a half years now, and I'm still learning something new every time I login.

It's a lot like a mashup of FTL and Dwarf Fortress, except you're the crewman. Or maybe it's like someone made a game out of Sealab 2021, complete with the inept drunken Captain. Or maybe it's just pure, concentrated autism.

Connecting to the server

Download and install the BYOND client (required to play!), create an account (required to play!), start and login into BYOND. Press Ctrl+O, add a bookmark, and the address below in the address field:

byond:// (8Station)

Character Setup


Character Setup

Character setup is simple. When you join the server you're presented with a "New player options" window. At the top is "Setup Character", which when clicked should present something that looks like the image to the right. Customize the appearance of your character. The name is unimportant because our server(s) enforce random names. The blood type is also randomized. Of course, if you don't care what you look like you can always randomize the appearance as well. In the example shown I've given each "loadout" a name to identify them for my own use.


Once you're finished with your looks, you set your occupation preferences. Note: If you set assistant to yes, you are locked out of all other jobs. Otherwise, jobs work in an order of priority that dictate your chance of being assigned that job on shift start based on slot restrictions. Someone else may have the same job set to "high" priority, and it may be a job with only one slot, such as Chief Medical Officer.

The priorities are as follows:

  • High: Only one job may have this and it will be your highest priority roll when you're assigned your job on shift start.
  • Medium: Many jobs can share this priority.
  • Low: Your lowest priority.
  • Never: No priority.

This page gives in depth information as to how roles are selected.

Occupation preferences only apply at the start of the shift. If you're joining a shift after it starts, you'll simply be presented with a list of available jobs. If a job isn't on there, all the slots for it are filled up. It's advised that you view the crew manifest if you're latejoining to get an idea of what's needed.


Game Preferences

This is where you toggle traitor options. The only option here of note is the option to change your UI style. Just about every other option can be toggled in-game under the "Preferences" tab. This is the best place to switch an antagonist option on or off before a shift begins.

User Interface


  • Text: Shows game log all the way up.
  • Info: Opens the info-section with in-game tabs.
  • Wiki: Opens the game wiki in your internet browser.
  • Forum: Opens the game discussion forum in your internet browser.
  • Rules: Opens the rules.
  • Changelog: Opens the changelog.

  • In-game tabs:
    • Status: Lists various points of interest such as current intent, move mode, and oxygen tank statuses (if applicable).
    • Admin: The first option in this tab, 'Adminhelp', is something that should always be remembered, adminhelp sends a direct message for questions pertaining gameplay. 'Adminnotice' displays admin notices. 'Adminwho', gives a list of in-game admins.
    • IC: Gives a list of In-Character actions that can be done at the moment.
    • OOC: Gives a list of Out-Of-Oharacter actions, which are anything outside of the current game.
    • Object: Actions that can be done with objects current at hand.
    • Preferences: Gives a list of toggleable out-of-character settings.


Your inventory is along the bottom and lower left of the screen (yellow area on the first picture).

Commands are to the lower right corner, and your personal status is on the right edge of the screen (pink area on the first picture).

1 Hud-inventory.png Inventory - These are the various equipment slots you have. Hover for interaction tips
Hud-Headwear.png Headwear slot - For hats, helmets and flowers.
Hud-Eyewear.png Eyewear slot - For glasses, goggles, eyepatches and other eyewear.
Hud-Mask.png Mask slot - For masks, either for your mouth or for your whole face.
Hud-Earwear.png Earwear slot - For headsets (radio) or pens.
Hud-Uniform.png Uniform slot - For jumpsuits or shorts.
Hud-Exosuit.png Exosuit slot - For space suits, jackets, armor, etc.
Hud-Handwear.png Handwear slot - For gloves.
Hud-Footwear.png Footwear slot - For shoes and boots.
Hud-Exosuitslot.png Exosuit container slot - For big or small things, like oxygen tanks or guns, depending on your exosuit.
Hud-ID.png ID slot - For your ID, wallet or PDA.
Hud-Belt.png Belt slot - For belt-wearable items like a toolbelt, PDA, oxygen tank, gun, etc.
Hud-Back.png Back slot - For a backpack, satchel or huge items like a fireaxe, big oxygen tank.
Hud-Pocket.png Pocket slots - For all small items.
Picture of the game with the HUD parts numbered.
2 Hud-hands.gif Hands - Shows you what you are currently holding, and which hand you will interact with. This is also where you can switch between which hand you're currently using.
3 Hud-intent.gif Intent Switch - This is your intent. Decides how you will interact towards another person when you click on them.
Intent Help.png Help - Help, well, helps people. This can mean you're trying to wake someone up, help them stand (both of which require an empty hand), give them CPR (to keep them alive if their status is critical) or medication, if you're compassionately inclined. As stated earlier, trying to help someone with an item equipped will usually just make you beat them with the object, and then have you possibly be beaten by security - also known as being passive-aggressive.

Clicking yourself with the Help Intent gives you a brief self-diagnosis--if you don't have a health analyzer handy, at least you know what parts of your body to target when healing yourself.

Help intent also allows you to walk through other people instead of bumping into them.

Intent Disarm.png Disarm - Disarm has the highest chance to disable your target by either stunning, weakening or even knocking them unconscious. Disarm tends to be the most useful for ensuring that you survive and come out in top in a duel and it has plenty of offensive use in larger brawls and is used most often. As goes a popular saying, "disarm intent is best intent."

Many actions can be resisted by spamming the resist action, but if they're floored then they can't do shit. Trying to disarm someone with an empty hand will either push them down for a moment - buying you precious time to secure your escape, or make them drop their weapon which WILL make them a lot less dangerous and turn the tables if they were carrying something particularly robust, like a circular saw.

Disarm has the highest chance for knockdown when targeting legs or groin.

Intent Grab.png Grab - Grabbing someone will place a hold on them. Grabbing them again will cause to put them in progressively more advanced holds: passive, aggressive, hands, and neck.

Passive is used to make people follow you but they can break free by simply moving in another direction. Aggressive is essentially the same thing, But the targeted person must try to resist to weaken your hold to a less advanced stage (provided they're not disabled) and escape.

Hands is similar to aggressive, but you can throw them onto tables or across the room. Neck will move them onto the same tile as you, knock them to the ground and cause you to move much slower. While you've placed a hold on someone's neck, they will slowly lose oxygen, but you can press "kill" to speed up the process. You must have an empty hand slot to try and grab someone (try right clicking them and selecting "pull" to get them to follow you Try Ctrl+Clicking someone to drag them.)! You can activate your hands with Z instead of clicking to advance the Grab stages.

Intent Harm.png Harm - Harm does the most damage and will crit them more quickly than disarm. It's most useful when your victim is already disabled somehow. If you're punching someone, aim for the mouth ideally. This has a chance to knock them out. A similar example is targeting the head with a fire extinguisher.
4 Hud-walkrun.gif Run Switch - A button that toggles between running and walking. Running over wet floors will cause you to slip.
5 Hud-target.gif Body Target - Shows what part of someone's body you will interact with. Interacting with different parts can do different things. To change this, click on the different parts of the body.
6 Commands:

Hud-pull.png Stop/Pull - Right-clicking some objects gives you the option to pull them. When you want to stop pulling, hit this button.

Hud-resist.png Resist - Used to free yourself if you've been restrained by something. Hover for more info.

Hud-drop.png Drop - Hitting this will drop whatever you have in your currently active hand.

Hud-throw.png Throw - Toggles Throw mode. Clicking anywhere on the screen with this active will throw the object in your active hand in that direction. It also lets you catch things thrown at you.

7 Hud-health.gif Health - Fades to orange, then red as you take more damage. The letters CRIT means you are currently dying. You may be saved if someone administers medical treatment in time. Performing CPR on someone in critical condition can prolong their death long enough to get them to medical treatment. All players start with a box in their inventory which contains emergency equipment, including an inaprovaline medipen, which stabilizes crew members in critical condition.
8 Hud-internals.gif Internals Status - Shows whether or not you have internals running. Internals consist of an oxygen tank and a breath mask. Internals are required in areas exposed to space or hazardous gases. Clicking this will toggle it on/off if you have them equipped.

Useful shortcuts for using most of the HUD commands can be found on this very page..

Status Alerts

These icons are normally not seen on the screen. They will only appear if something is wrong.

Hud-oxy.gif Oxygen warning - The air you breath in does not have enough oxygen.

Hud-pressure.gif Pressure warning - Pressure levels are too high (red) or too low (black). Low and high pressures can kill you.

Tox in air.gif Toxin warning - You are breathing in toxic gases.

Hud-fire.png Fire warning - The air is hot enough to burn you.

Hud-freeze.gif Freeze warning - The air is cold enough to freeze you.

Hud-temp.gif Temperature warning - You get too cold or too hot.

Hud-hunger.gif Hunger warning - You're starting to get hungry, starting from yellow to red, gray means you're bloated. You cannot die from hunger, but the longer you go without food, the slower you will be able to run.

Your Very First Shift

The game uses a point-and-click system. You select which hand you wish to use with the Hud-hands.gif hand buttons and by clicking on the item you wish to interact with.

E.g. if you want to heal someone's bruise damage with a bruisepack, you first click on the bruisepack with an empty hand to pick it up and then click on the patient (make sure you have the injured limb selected!) with the bruise pack in your active hand.

Some items can hold more items, such as a backpack. To open it, simply click on it. If you wish to remove your backpack from your back (or any other wearable container item), click and drag it to an empty hand.

To drop an item, simply hit the Drop button (Q) with the item in your active hand.


First thing you do is press Tab. This enables hotkey mode. Only the clinically insane don't use hotkeys mode. This moves you to a WASD based movement system. Here are the essentials:


Q = Drop

Z = Activate held object

E = Equip held object

T = Say (in-character)

X = Swap active hand

1 - 4 = Switch to: Help, Disarm, Grab, Harm intent respectively

F1 = Send an admin a message (there must be no other dialog windows open)

Delete = Stop pulling

Mouse Functions

Ctrl+click = Pull object

Click tile while pulling object/person = Move (most) objects to that tile

Click and drag = Can only be used in various areas. If a bag/toolbox is on the ground, you can drag its sprite onto your character's sprite to look inside without picking the bag up. Works even if both hands are full. Can be used to put people in certain pieces of machinery.

Shift+click = Examine object

Alt+click = Unique interaction. Removes your ID from your PDA, for example. Flips hats backwards. Try it on different things.


When you speak in-game with the T key, there is different channels to communicate on.

;I am a greyshit -> This would communicate on the Common channel, as denoted by the semicolon.

:h I am a greyshit -> This would communicate on your department radio, such as the Supply channel. With a headset that has access to multiple departments, you'll need to use the department's specific prefix.

See headsets for details.

"I still don't get it": See this page. Has more in-depth information and some information for silicon shortcuts.

First Shift

Upon joining your very first shift, it's a good idea to do the following:

  • Wait until the shift starts, and then join. This is to avoid being an antagonist's target. Although, when shit gets real (it usually does) you'll probably die anyways.
  • Join as an assistant
  • Get used to the HUD, get used to the hotkeys especially
  • Go through the learning exercises
  • Communicate with your fellow crewmen.
  • If someone asks you to do something, tell them it's you're very new to the station. Something along the lines of, "I'm new. It's my first shift," will suffice. SS13 contains high concentrate strains of autism but almost everyone is accommodating to new players on our server.
  • Chaos may erupt. Someone may try to kill you. This is to be expected. Shit is gonna happen and you're not going to understand what it is or why it happened. This understanding will come with experience. If someone tries to kill you, you're probably better off running to safety, but who knows, maybe you can take 'em. Your first kill is going to be an exhilirating experience.

Two HOT tips to keep in mind:

  • One very important thing to remember is if something happens to you, and you see an icon above your character sprite, don't ask in-game about it. Don't ask OOC about it. If you really want to know what it is, ask an admin (press F1 to ahelp). Seriously. Don't say shit about it because you will fuck the shift up for a lot of players.
  • Don't share IC (in-character) information in the OOC channel, on IRC, board thread, etc etc. Only after the shift is it appropriate to talk about these things. As a general rule of thumb, if something strange happens to you, ask an admin about it, or if one isn't on, just roll with the punches as best you can.

Now what?

Other jobs

So you've got a hang of the game. Now you need to graduate beyond assistant. Cargo Technician is highly recommended. It's a work environment which deals heavily in object interaction of various types, while being low responsibility. The cargo bay also has a neat maintenance area and all kinds of goodies for you to play with and learn about.

Aside from that, just go in whatever direction you prefer. Note: It is advised you learn how to use tools and the basics of medical treatment quickly. You may find yourself in which a crew member's life depends on you knowing how to heal them. Healing is not a difficult process, unless if the situation is dire. Refer to this difficulty scale to help you choose:

The validity of these ranks is up for eternal dispute.


Don't worry about being an antagonist. Almost every role typically requires knowledge of a variety of departments. That being said, when you feel like you could take on an antagonist role, you should jump in with both feet. Playing an antagonist will greatly accelerate your learning of the game and probably give you a heart attack from your first thrills. Educate yourself on what the antagonists are so you can identify them in-game!


Slow shift? Not much happening? Acquaint yourself with the station. Our server uses the Metastation map. It might look like a lot but you'll know where everything is in no time. In the meantime, it's highly recommended you use the quickmap to aid you in getting around.

Just remember:

  • Port = West
  • Fore = North
  • Starboard = East
  • Aft = South

So when you hear someone say "Aft Primary Hallway", they mean that long hallway passing chemistry and robotics that leads down to departures.