Grand Master Report


Grand Master Report

A report, in which Muz writes oblique fiction, rambles a bit about projects that are under way, discusses progress on the vendettas, and wonders why he hasn't drank himself to death yet. Brought to you five hours after it actually posted by NBC.

-> <- <p>

The Amicus Club Antei

He picked his way through the rubble, kicking over what once was a quite expensive piece of statuary. It had been a few years since the whole planet fell under the invaders, the same creatures that ravaged the core. The call to evacuate still rang out in his head, the holorecording static-ridden from the dust of a thousand dead stars that lay between the fleet and them. Tom had only a few minutes to gather what few items he could before the old wizard's burly lieutenant fired up the ship that would take them both away from the fighting. He sneered at himself, how he had thought that it wasn't that bad, that they could weather out the storm, like they had through so many 'Great Wars'.

They finally came back to a pile of bones. The timber and steel bones of the building, and the bones of those who didn't get out before the raiders arrived mingled together with the metal bones of Crask's army. The whole place was a graveyard. Years later, with so much already lost.

He sighed as he pulled out his commlink, waiting for the bearded face of the lieutenant to appear. "Tell them it's a total loss."

The voice came back gruff. "How soon can reconstruction start?"

Tom chuckled. They truly did live in another world from the rest of them. He knew that when he started working for him. Him and the bald man. Money wasn't an issue. It must be nice.

Courtyard Kuroshin Castle Kyataru

Those unfamiliar with him would have said he was meditating, sitting on his legs and staring at the statue in the middle of the courtyard. He just let the wind flow through him, tossing strands of hair about, bringing the scent of cherry blossoms to his nose. Black eyes considered the craftsmanship, the statue of a man standing defiantly, his sword drawn and menacing the south, the direction from which Kazahide's men came.

Decades pass and years go by. Days dissolve into the ether, condense like clouds, and come raining back down.

The words flew through his mind, unsure of the source. It could have been something his father had told him, but he was only six when he last saw him. It was too poetic for Halcyon, for Sarin, or really any of the other Lords. Ashen had gone silent years ago, and it wasn't structured right for him. It had to be another, the Force did not speak in complete sentences.

He could feel her out of the corner of his senses, watching him. She had left her post in Taldryan, stepping away from the politics, from the constant back and forth. She was always near, and that comforted him.

We are blind to this debris, piling up around our feet.

He could feel the pull of the Force here, see glimmers of other worlds without trying. She was there, too. Different, but the same. It was cold there, a contrast to the warmth that the sun belted down at him. He let the concern pass. There was a warning there, deep inside it all, the music of the spheres embracing him on a level he wasn't sure he'd ever really understand.

Oblivious, and it's killing us.

All the power, all the wisdom, all the strength. He would grow weary of it all, then find himself renewed, pulled back into unlikely events because he had to. Duty was heavy, but it was always what his will was chained to. War was easy. And somehow, he knew what was coming.

Decades pass, and years go by...

A thousand miles from anywhere Osarian

He came alone, like they said to. Dressed in what he would call a beige tarp, he blended into the sun-drunk sands that extended so many miles from the lake where the transport sat down. Nine hours he walked in the heat, the mirages of cool water teasing him as he crested the small dunes.

It felt like forever. He wrapped the fabric over his head, trying to keep the wind from his face, filter out some of the sand from his breath. He pressed onward, stopping to mark the sun in the sky, trying to make sure he was still headed in the right direction. Legs ached, arms grew heavy, and a dull throb in the back of his head reminded him of the mornings after too many late night wrap parties.

He began to doubt. He began to wonder about the alleged benefits, the treatments, the all but mythical properties of the place. He knew a little bit more than what the conspiracy nuts had said on the holonet. They weren't excommunicated Jedi, they weren't geneticists, and they certainly didn't find a fountain of youth. But some of the claims were too much to ignore. It was Chaz that told him he had to come. He hadn't seen him in months, but then out of the blue he showed up in his trailer, his trademark bald head coated in thick hair. Some things had to be seen to be believed.

Nine hours. He tried to sort out when dusk would fall. They had said that the place grew phenomenally cold with the darkness, but all he wanted was for the heat to fade. Nine hours was longer than he had ever walked, longer than he had done anything except drink and party. Somewhere inside him, he felt that voice grow quiet, to give up now that it knew that he'd never make it back to the lake alive. The lake. Cold water. there had to be more of them. This was more like an endless beach than a desert he had thought. Or did he say it? He couldn't be sure. The promise of another lake drew his steps forward.

The old building fell into view, and he rubbed his eyes to make sure it wasn't another illusion crafted from desperation and fatigue. The building was curved, the same color as sand, but he could see people moving around it. It was humble, broad windows staring out over the desert in his direction. He could swear he heard the hum of repulsorlift engines. If he wasn't so thirsty, he would have spit. They had told him that they would not allow modern technology there. He left his transceiver and his commlink at home because of it.

Home. The mind wandered back to that luxury condo, the cooling streams of water pouring over him in his storm-shower as the ionizer re-energized his senses. Three million credits, and he had sworn it was worth every one. He could almost feel it from across the universe. It was more than his whole family made in a lifetime, and he pissed in it when he had been drinking. His mind twisted, recalling how often he had sat in a corner of that shower, a stream of vomit and shame pouring from him with the water. Some things would never wash away.

It was only a few hundred feet now. The movement was gone, the place had gone quiet, but he could still see the shade that fell across what had to be an entrance. He felt the wind tear the fabric from his face, and he didn't move to replace it. It wasn't worth the energy, not when he was so close. His mouth was salt, his eyes were dust. Dry took on new meaning for him, very different from merely how he liked his martinis and his wine.

His boots sank less into the sand with each step. He moved faster, trying to move into the shadow of the building, to reach the door. The line where the sun could not touch was absurdly different. Cool and refreshing on the other side of it, the sweat evaporated from him so quickly that he could not believe it. The tarp flung aside, he let the cold wick away the sweat from his shirt, his pants, his scalp. It was as reinvigorating as the fever dreams of his shower, the lake, Hoth.

The door opened in front of him. He tried to let his eyes adjust to the darkness, but all he could make out was a blur of a man. "Damen Kull?"

The voice was familiar, but he couldn't quite place it. He tried to recall the words from the package he was sent. He dropped to one knee, letting his fist touch the sand-covered concrete. "I seek asylum from the world."

"Rise, my brother." He was closer now, offering a hand to help him to his feet again. "You've been through the first step of our process here."

Damen smiled. It was the Rog movies. The guy who greeted him was Derc Kast, the star of the new Rog Draft films who brought this hidden place to everyone's attention with his interview and reappearance two years ago. "Derc?"

"Here, I am called Thran." He smiled broadly, showing off teeth that looked retouched. "Welcome to the Retreat."

-> <- <p>


There's quite a few of them going on. A few of them will have big changes in how we do things around here, and will help to enhance the club and help us grow into the future that is coming.

First and Foremost, the coder staff, headed up by Seneschal JaM3z, has started work on the site conversion/recode/awesomification. It's pretty common knowledge that the site we have has been struggling to keep up with all the neat new things. This is why we get all the random time-outs and the weird dossier errors. The guys (and Sildrin) are working on it. I don't want to steal Jam3z thunder, because I am sure he'd like to announce most of it himself, but I am pretty impressed so far with the organization and execution so far.

As a corollary to that, there's something that needs to be said as far as reccing medals and competition stuff. If you aren't tying the medals to the competitions, it makes the Prometheus program kill kittens instead of track member's activity. Add those participants, and if you don't know how, ask someone.

Next up, the lightsaber combat guide work is under way. I've got a pretty great team of people working on this, and we broke google with over a hundred mails in the first two days of brainstorming and plotting. There's some serious ideas getting tossed around, and we think that this will translate very well to how we treat lightsaber combat...not just in the ACC, but in the DB as a resource in general. It will have a lot more detail for those of us who want it.

Tied to this are the revamped character sheets. Jam3z is running point on this as well, but it's important. I know that for years we have been saying how that the character sheet 'isn't just for the ACC', but it was mostly just lip service. The character sheet really is just a combat sheet right now. There aren't any 'soft skills' or anything that would help define your character as anything but different flavors of an ass-kicking machine. And while that is cool enough for some people, it's not cool if we're trying to make it a true 'character sheet'. To that end, we've been working on filling it out more, restructuring the sheet and so forth. There's a lot more in there than we've had in a long time, and we have some great talent working on it.

-> <- <p>

Vendetta stuff!

Horizons - As far as a progress report goes, I have about half the comic from the artists in hand. The backing fiction is going to be a fair bit more in-depth than it was during the War, since it's not just me writing and coding the whole bloody thing this time (and people say that I never learn, psshhh). I am still hoping for a September launch, but a lot of that will be dependent on the comic artist. We've also got a team working on event creation, using a lot of the lessons we learned from the past (and more than a fair bit of attention paid to the feedback from the last war) while keeping in mind the unique ...particulars of this event. We're going to make this a brutal one, guys. I've said that while the event will only be three weeks long, we're going to try our hardest to make it a 'target rich environment' for comps.

...and then there is the feuds that will be set up afterwards (after a short break, of course). The intent is to give a couple week break, then work with the summits to get some feud-style events rolling, and award those events at a higher level than feuds normally get awarded at. If you've been looking to score points toward that next promotion, it should be easy to do so here.

Great Jedi War XI - A tentative script has been laid out, and this one will be a beast. We've had a few shorter wars, trying to find a good length for a vendetta to keep people from burning out while making it long enough that those of us who are out on vacation for a week won't miss critical parts of it. Without giving too much away, the Brotherhood will be going to War before the actual war begins...and the War itself will be a bit longer than the events in recent history... and once we see what we're up against, it will make a lot of sense. Right now, I'm tentatively scheduling this for late 2013. I've been considering not doing the comic for that one, since that is the part that seems to take the most time (and money). What do you guys think?

-> <- <p>

About a week ago, Mark (Andrelious) asked me a question for Ask The GM time, but it turned into a slightly longer conversation. He asked me What determined power among the GMs. It's been a pretty well debated thing, to be fair. The old way of thinking was that the longer one has held the rank, the more power that they had. This was done mostly to honor those founding members of the Brotherhood like Kane, Paladin, etc.

Later on, we found that the same distinction was being used in the non-GM ranked members. People who had been Dark Adepts for years were saying that they had more power than the guys who were just now getting there. People who had been Knights for years were trying to say that they were better than equites, etc.

That always struck me as a little odd... Like saying that you're the smartest kid in third grade because you've been there for ten years. It doesn't really fly. Thankfully, we have a ranking system to sort that out pretty easily. We do have character sheets, and things like strength and force pool are readily identifiable there, so it's more than just pure rank. That said, being in a rank for a long time does not give you more points on your character sheet to spend...only promotion does that.

Because there's no promoting GMs and most of us max out on Force Pool, the question remains for GMs. I remember a few years back (okay, it was like 7) that Jac had been asked the same question, and his answer was that it wasn't the amount of time in rank, but it was the amount of time in office. His reasoning was that if you spend the time and energy and greying hair and alcohol abuse longer, you should be more powerful than those people who only had the gig for a month or three. That made more sense to me than having someone like Crona be more powerful than Jac, Khyron, or Firefox just because he was GM first.

Now, I understand that a part of me is going to like that logic because I know I have served for a long time in the role, and maybe it's a little unfair to people who just could not stay in the job due to real life pressures, and what have you. That said, Sarin managed to be GM for two years between Iraq and Afghanistan deployments. Jac did his second term while going through the meat grinder that is law school. And I'm working two mad-hour-intensive jobs while trying to prep the house for a baby on the way. If we can do it, so can anyone.

-> <- <p>

Ask the GM time.

Scelestus asks "Do you see the DJB having an expiration date, or do you think the club could last indefinitely?"

I definitely do not see an expiration date. What I do see is the rational understanding that the DB of ten years from now will bear as little resemblance to what we are now as we bear to the DB of ten years ago. The world changes. We will change with it, otherwise we may as well stamp an expiration date on us.

Back when we formed, we were basically built up on a chat room (Warrior Chat in the old AOL days). It evolved from ad hoc RPing sessions between Kane and Paladin and a few others into a gaming society. Multiplayer games back in those days didn't have servers that you could just log into to play against someone. You had to know who you were playing, dial into them. The DB served as a way to find matches, a repository for maps and mods for those games. Fast forward a bit and the games started getting more advanced, and multiplayer changed so that the games didn't require you to know who you were playing against. The DB stopped being a necessity at that point, so we evolved, became more of a community, focused more on fiction and the story of who we are, what we do. Instead of supporting the games, we became the game.

And I hope that we will continue to evolve our game and stay fun for many more years. I'm willing to do the work, and I know there's a lot of us that feel the same.

Dro'dik asks "I've got a GM question for some of the new peeps, "I just joined the DB but the mountain of DB lore is a bit overwhelming. Where's a good place to begin?" or something like that"

Well, I would start first with the wikipedia. It is the best repository of information for DB stuff...and it's linked up so that it's pretty easy to navigate to things that you need more information on. I would say to start with your clan or house page and read outward from there... or maybe start with DB history...although that might lack context at first. Also, get a master/mentor. They're helpful as all get out.

Timeros asks "I am going to be training some Arconans to f&^*&^$ murderize everyone in the ACC. Will there be an opportunity in Horizons in which I can feed them some fodder? (i.e. will there be an ACC portion to Horizons?)"

Yes, ACC will be involved in Horizons.

For having such good questions, Andrelious, Scelestus, Dro'dik, and Timeros are awarded Dark Crosses. Watch next time for when I change my nick on IRC to 'AskTheGM' or email me your questions to get featured and a shining DC for your efforts.

-> <p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p><p> </p> <-

That's about all for this time. If you need anything, shoot me an email, look me up on TOR or PM me on IRC.

-> <- <p></p></p></p></p></p> </p>

I would vote against having a comic. While it's a great idea and I think a lot of people do love it, it is however

a) Expensive b) Time consuming

Short fictions for each week of an event should provide all of the necessary background information. Really, even with a comic we still need some fiction to flesh the plot out. This way we can get a better grasp on when we can run events

Agreed, Halc. I think the expense outweighs the actual benefit, and I really miss the fictions (says the man who had a cameo). Solid report, cuzzo.

Now hang on, boys. There is a happy medium here. If the concern with comics is the time and the expenses, why not instead cut down on the amount of art drawn for the event?

During the Vong Incursion, Muz drew certain pieces of art depicting various events within the fiction. They weren't huge pictures, but they were snapshots. If a full comic story is outlandish, there's always the chance of getting about a half dozen or so still shots of characters in action during the storyline. Six or even single shots probably would cost half of what we initially spend on a full comic or even less, depending on the artist.

This also allows the visual as well as reintroducing the fiction that Halc and Sai both desire, without cutting out one or the other. Because personally, as much as I adore reading the fiction, I understand how tedious it can be for those who aren't as enthusiastic about the "literature."

That should read "or even seven shots." Gotta love typos.

I'm not saying that I'm totally against the pretty long as they actually serve a purpose to more people than those who were actually featured in them. The few complaints I fielded were that they didn't explain enough, or they were distracting. Jus' sayin'...

I know yer jus' sayin'. I just figured, if this was a matter of discourse, to put my two pennies into the pool. ;)

plip plip Well spent. ;) You always bring up good points, Ronnie. :)

You need to be logged in to post comments