He is best who is trained in the severest school. - Thucydides
Antei Dark Hall Landing Grid 36 ABY
Raken brought killers.
The shuttle touched down softly on the landing grid. A dozen men and one monster deplaned and headed for the assembled military reception.
They were operators and looked it. Men bad at losing. Their kit was non-standard, a hybrid blend of the prototypal and blood-proven. Each a conscious reflection of individual experience and necessity. Their armor was new, the latest. Weapons exorbitant. Their entire demeanor said:
Don't kark with me.
This wasn't posturing. It was professionalism. Purely. A walk and a talk. Not practiced. Earned. Not cockiness. Confidence. Come hell, come what may. Predators again walked the surface of Antei.
"My lord," the Field-Grade officer said approaching Raken's cohort. He wasn't from the old days. The Elomin didn't know him. "Welcome home." He peered around Raken's massive shoulder, said, "Your guests are...unexpected."
Raken said nothing.
From behind him a small man with a witch's face spoke, "We're his accountants," Pipe said seriously.
The officer blinked, looked back to Raken. He was a red mountain. Serene. No expression. No response. Just a constant inhale and exhale of warm breath. The rising and falling of a tattoo-covered chest. And ageless, white eyes.
"Very well," the officer said straightening his uniform. "This way, my lord. Gentlemen."
They approached the formation. Armored soldiers dressed neatly in rank and file. The Dark Eye had done this. Few other than Muz would understand better Raken's disdain for courtiers and sycophants. The Grand Master had welcomed him with the only thing that could.
Soldiers. His soldiers.
"Detail!" The preparatory command echoed across the landing field. "Atten-SHUN!"
Six-hundred Kraytskin-armored soldiers snapped to attention with a sound like a thunder-strike.
This was his army. He had built it. These were his men. He had trained them. Many veterans stood here. He recognized them despite their armored faceplates. He could feel them. And, to an extent, they him. They had bled for him and he them. Their allegiance was to the Iron Throne, but thrones didn't lead men into battle. He had. Red Tower. Ironskin. Raken. Pick one.
Six-hundred heads locked glowing gazes onto their one-time general, now Deputy Grand Master. Gloved hands were clasped in the small of their backs. Shoulders back. Chests out. They were showing him that what had been taught had not been forgotten. They were showing him they had been awaiting his return.
Raken paced the ranks. Each one, each man. As silent as a memory. They knew this. Expected it. He would say nothing yet they would know his words. They would feel his intent. Their heads followed him like tank turrets until they could traverse no more. They snapped back around to pick him up on the other side as he completed his inspection.
Red Tower faced them, again at the head of the formation. The sensation that coursed through them was subdued, but distinct. It was as much as Raken gave and no less than they needed.
The cheer rose fierce and brief like a triple thunderclap under dark skies.
"HUZZAH! HUZZAH! HUZZAH!"
They had waited. They had remembered. They had trained. And, like all soldiers, they had no idea of what was to come.
Now the real work would begin.
Raken spun on his heel and his accountants followed.
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<font color="#800517">Thanks</font color=#800517></font> Before I get started let me first thank a few people.
Obviously I'd like to thank Muz for giving me this opportunity. Grand Masters and Deputy Grand Masters are rarely chosen devoid of controversy or contention. It takes "balls to make the calls" as they say. So Muz, here's to your balls.
<font color="#575757">(Note to self: Remove the part about balls before posting report.)</font color=#575757></font>
Secondly, I'd like to thank Team Arcona for giving me a home when I came off sabbatical. Great team. Great leaders. Great members. Thank you.
Finally, I'd like to say thanks to my long-time friend and partner, Sarin (aka Pravus to the newer members). He gave me the first opportunities I had in this club to create and contribute and without him I wouldn't be here.
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<font size="4"><font color="#800517">Raken</font color=#800517></font> Traditionally, I stay pretty quiet and go about my business here. After a battery-recharging hiatus, I've spent the last year or so getting involved again in the day-to-day of the club.
Not everyone may know me, so some brief history.
I've been a member of the club going on seven years now. Hopefully some of you remember what I've done and what I've contributed because I'm terrible at tracking it all. What I do remember though is that I have been a Flight Leader, a Battleteam Leader, an Envoy, an Aedile, a Quaestor, a Magistrate to the DGM, a Praetor to the DGM, Praetor to the GM, the Left Hand of Justice, the Fiction Tribune (now called Voice), and with my partner-in-crime Sarin, the founder and Quaestor of the first Independent House in the Brotherhood in a long, long time.
I've helped create, write, run, and score two Great Jedi Wars and a Rite of Supremacy (GJW's 8 & 9, RoS: Second Darkness). I've also been competitive in those Vendettas I haven't help to put on. I've written the descriptions for our medals and awards, created the Order Discipline system you see on your dossiers, helped write the power descriptions found there as well. I also once had the privilege of leading an Independent House to a Vendetta win over much more powerful and established Clans.
As Fiction Tribune (Voice) I pioneered the concept of creating formal Brotherhood Plot Updates in order to maintain fictional continuity between Vendetta stories. As Praetor to the Grand Master I formalized our military structure on the wiki in the form of the Armed Forces of the Iron Throne. Also as Praetor I helped create and write a good bit of the formal Antei System documents. There's really quite a lot I've been lucky enough to be a part of here. There's more on my wiki if you want to give it a look. And there's more beyond that as I haven't updated my wiki in four years (I know...shame.)
But no man truly goes it alone. On all of the above I had help from a panoply of members that reads like a who's who of Brotherhood legends: Muz, Sarin, Jac Cotelin, Kir, Halc, Kaine Mandaala, Bloodfyre, Oberst, Orv Dessrx, Troutrooper, Firefox, Xanos, and a host of others.
This is what most interests me about this opportunity I've been given. The chance to work with the next crop of legends. The chance to work with the aforementioned greats once again. And working with you to make it better.
So yeah, I'm excited. I want to work with those of you who have passion for the material as it were. Those of you who have the talent, ideas, and drive to make it happen. Positions and titles be damned. Bring me good ideas. Show me hard work. That's where the magic of this place is. The work is the reward. Ranks and medals are fun but they really don't mean anything. They're all pretend.
But imagine. Four, five, six years after you've built something that exists to this day in the club. The member who signed up yesterday finds it today and uses it to wring an hour or two of enjoyment out of what might be an otherwise dreary day?
That is reward. That is power.
Not the power to rule, but the power to serve.
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<font size="4"><font color="#800517">My DJB Philosophy</font color=#800517></font> I have always looked at the Brotherhood dynamic as a business rather than a club.
Does a business need customers to survive? Yes.
Does a club need members to survive? Yes.
As a business owner you have to go to work every day with the mindset of earning the customer's money.
As a club administrator you have to go to work every day with the mindset of earning the member's time.
Time is money after all.
An unsuccessful club only needs two nerds to get together, dress up in costumes and "pew-pew" each other until the Mountain Dew and Cheetos are gone. Clearly we need more than two nerds. We need as many members as we can get. Why though? I think it's because the best experiences are shared ones. My enthusiasm builds your enthusiasm and the two feed off one another. A great idea is conceived, nurtured, and then realized and then shared with others. It's euphoric and it's hard to do on your own.
So, the business model. Members are not members, they're customers. I've said this before, but our "business" is a little unorthodox. Our "customers" don't pay us in coin, they pay us in their precious free-time; something infinitely more valuable. Imagine what we compete against on a daily basis: Social Networking, Television, Internet, Console Games, PC Games, Mobile Games, Literature, Art, Sports, and sundry other hobbies and distractions.
Each of us is granted the same gift every day. We each get 24 hours to "spend". After work, after school, after family, after sleep, etc., there isn't much left. And then there's us competing with all the aforementioned distractions. Not only do we operate in this narrowest of profit margins, so too do we conduct business within one of the most anemic demographics: sci-fi and fantasy fans. Our product isn't for everyone. We only appeal to a very narrow slice of the population. So it is that I believe in the business model for running the club. I don't want to just "offer" the club to potential and current members, I want to "sell" it to them.
I want to addict them.
Our "customers", in many cases, are working professionals, adults, family men and women. Their time and energy is limited. Much competes for their attention. Why should we get their business? They are frugal, discerning, and demand a quality product especially if they are going to lay down their hard-earned free-time. We need to conduct our business with this in mind and the mindset that what we create is so good, so interesting and desirable, that people don't just want to join...they want to buy.
Now if we expect people to buy our product, we better be selling them something good. And we better be marketing it smartly. One of the things I feel that hurts us is that it takes "too long" for some members to figure out what the club really is, what it offers. So they leave. They didn't understand the product, or more aptlyâour presentation of it, and chose to take their "business" elsewhere.
Now again, our target demographic is narrow. No way can we reach everyone. Not everyone has that creative side the nature of the club caters to. Lots of potential customers don't write, draw, or play video games, but they do like the genre we're offering. They do buy books, memorabilia, apps, movies, etc. So the truly great thing about the club is that it offers not only products for the creator, but the consumer as well.
Over the years I've seen a lot of talk about "activity." I actually fairly loathe this word in the context it's used here. I've seen "leaders" (read: functionaries) actually berate members for not participating in certain events, activities, etc.
Let me ask you a few things:
Do social media providers berate their members for not using their products? No. They work harder to offer more and better services that hopefully entice the customer to see the value in the product.
Do car companies hassle their buyers for not buying certain models? No. They work harder to offer more and better services that hopefully entice the customer to see the value in the product.
Do city planners build sidewalks where people don't walk and then force them to walk there? No. They build the damn things where people are already walking!
So if our members aren't using our products, it's their fault? Hardly. We are the ones who need to do better. We need to improve the product and earn their business. Not scold them for passing on a Flash-based game for 5th Level Crescents.
We can do better.
"Oh, okay, Raken. Let's just stop doing competitions."
I'm not asking you to stop making competitions. I'm asking you to start improving what you're offering by looking through this lens. This goes for the Dark Council as well. It goes for me, it goes for Muz, it goes for everyone who wants to help build the club. However, what I will ask you to stop is making members feel at fault for not participating.
Is the member still on the roster? Is she acknowledging AWOL checks? If she's still there, but not participating in the little competitions, or even the big ones, so what? What if she simply enjoys getting on IRC everyday and talking with fellow sci-fi/fantasy enthusiasts? Is she wrong? Lazy? No. She's simply enjoying one of the many products we offer.
Why drive her away? She's doing exactly what makes her happy. Offer her more? Sure. Condemn her for not buying it? No.
Does the coffee shop yell at their customers for not trying the other favors? No. They work harder to offer more and better services that hopefully entice the customer to see the value in their other products. But if you never take a sip of another blend, the coffee shop is just as happy to see you there everyday for your regular cup.
Now is everyone out there yelling at members for not participating, etc.? No. I know you guys aren't. But does it creep in once in a while? Yeah. I bet it does. So handle it. Talk to your customers. Find out what they like. Talk to your employees. Help them relate better to the customer. Don't make the customer feel guilty. Make them feel welcome. They don't owe us. We owe them.
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<font size="4"><font color="#800517">On the Clock</font color=#800517></font> Now, who I am and how I think are out of the way. It's time to punch the clock and get to work. I'm not a "There's lots of stuff coming!" guy. I'm a "Here's what's done." guy.
So what I'd like to do is get down to the business of recognizing some of our members and leaders for their outstanding achievements not just during the Horizons Vendetta, but over the last little while as well.
This is the start of us getting more "regular members" names on the big page here. We see far too much of the Dark Council, Consuls, Quaestors, etc. up here in lights. What about Novice New-guy who just joined a month ago and gave you 15 points towards your overall placement in Horizons? I know you guys are doing a good job recognizing him at the Clan and House level. I want to make sure he gets recognized at the next level as well.
Recently, I asked for the Consuls and Quaestors to get me a list of their guys and gals who kicked some ass in Horizons and what they received as a result of their hard work. I asked for this in 48 hours and they all had it to me in like four hours.
This is what I'm talking about.
I also asked them to give me some names of individuals who may not have cracked the Top 5 in their respective Clans and Houses, but who worked hard and contributed to the mission none-the-less.
Here we go.
1st Place - Clan Arcona
Celahir - Sapphire Blade <font color="#f3d900">Darth Pravus (Sarin)</font color=#f3d900> - Sapphire Blade (3rd Place Overall Individual) <font color="#f3d900">Socorra</font color=#f3d900> - Promotion to Krath Archpriestess (6th Place Overall Individual) <font color="#f3d900">Legorii</font color=#f3d900> - Grand Cross of the Dark Side, Promotion to Epis in Week 0 (4th Place Overall Individual) Valhavoc - Grand Cross of the Dark Side Etah d'Tana - Steel Cross <font color="#f3d900">Graus Colvin</font color=#f3d900> - Promotion to Obelisk Templar (10th Place Overall Individual) Scelestus - Steel Cross Teu Pepoi - Anteian Cross Nadrin Erinos Arconae - Anteian Cross Snabbie - Anteian Cross Incendus - Anteian Cross Kratus - Anteian Cross Tirano - Anteian Cross Ood - Dark Cross Strategos - Dark Cross Valtiere - Dark Cross Kalon Dane - Dark Cross Wuntilla - Promotion to Obelisk Primarch <font color="#f3d900">Marick</font color=#f3d900> - Forthcoming (7th Place Overall Individual)
2nd Place - House Plagueis
<font color="#f3d900">Solus Gar</font color=#f3d900> - Amethyst Kukri (1st Place Overall Individual) <font color="#f3d900">Arden Karn</font color=#f3d900> - Grand Cross of the Dark Side (8th Place Overall Individual) Eiko - Steel Cross Alaris Jinn di Plagia - Steel Cross Braecen Kaeth - Anteian Cross Kurp Kogarasu - Anteian Cross Tra'an Reith - Promotion to Obelisk Exarch
3rd Place - House Scholae Palatinae
<font color="#f3d900">Thran Occasus</font color=#f3d900> - Grand Cross of the Dark Side (9th Place Overall Individual) Archangel - Sapphire Blade Xan Phraz-Etar - Grand Cross of the Dark Side Akatsuki - Grand Cross of the Dark Side Kell Dante Palpatine - Steel Cross Eetherbiail - Anteian Cross Koryn Thraagus - Anteian Cross Xen'Mordin Vismorsus - Steel Cross
4th Place - Clan Naga Sadow
Atra Ventus - Steel Cross Darth Vexatus - Steel Cross Methyas Pepoi L'eonheart - Anteian Cross Kalia Phoenyx - Anteian Cross Malik - Anteian Cross Roxas Buurenaar - Anteian Cross Macron - Promotion to Dark Adept Locke Sonjie - Promotion to Krath Archpriest
5th Place - House Odan-Urr
Morotheri Mithfaron - Grand Cross of the Dark Side Raiju - Steel Cross Jscumm - Anteian Cross
6th Place - House Tarentum
Malfurion - Anteian Cross, Promotion to Guardian Oberst - Anteian Cross Levathan - Dark Cross Jason Hunter - Steel Cross Telona Murrage - Dark Cross Hades - Dark Cross Scion - Dark Cross Anshar - Steel Cross
7th Place - House Taldryan
Kazmir Natas - Grand Cross Carissus - Dark Cross Shaz'air Taldrya - Dark Cross Keirdagh Taldrya Cantor - Dark Cross Rian Aslar - Steel Cross
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<font size="4"><font color="#800517">Armed Forces Points Awards</font color=#800517></font> I had a lot of people ask me about this so wanted to get it out as soon as I could having just settled in. Points were awarded based off member participation in Horizons.
Clan Arcona - 1028 Clan Scholae Palatinae - 540 House Plagueis - 500 House Naga Sadow - 376 House Taldryan - 224 House Tarentum - 168 House Odan-Urr - 164
You can see where Taldryan finished last in Horizons, but 5th in participation points. So I think that's kind of cool for those units that didn't place as highly overall. They still can benefit from their membership's hard work. Muz and I both feel strongly on participation. Yes, we reward you studs and studettes out there, but we also want to make sure that the guy with a spare hour or two can see where his efforts also made a difference.
Your Consuls and Quaestors have access to the document that lists what you can purchase with your points. The document is the latest revision from our very own Solus Gar. So get that information from them if you want and check out your new options.
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<font size="4"><font color="#800517">Potential Fleet-Only Reset</font color=#800517></font> Do you guys want one? Muz and I are giving you the opportunity to reset your fleets before the next vendetta. If this is something you want to do let us know. If you do trade-in your fleets, there will be a slight depreciation factored in. I don't know what it will be yet. Talk to the boss-man.
Also, Plagueis has already worked out a special dispensation regarding this with Muz and Halc before me, so their reset will operate a little differently.
Contact Muz and I and let's discuss what would best serve you guys.
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<font size="4"><font color="#800517">Clan/House Feuds</font color=#800517></font> I know you guys are working on these. Some of you have launched already and some of you haven't. If you need something, anything, story help, art, more guidance, etc., let us know, please.
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<font size="4"><font color="#800517">ShadowHand Operatives</font color=#800517></font> I need skilled operators to help me out with the mountain of things we want to get done. Fictionally you will be Hands of the Deputy Grand Master. Think: Darth Talon and Darth Nihl. In reality you'll be working hand-in-glove with me on everything.
I'm looking for a Praetor and a Magistrate. If someone blows my mind I'll bring on a second Magistrate, etc.
I don't want a "staff." I hate the silly do-nothing titles we pass around. I need a team. But I have got to have people with talent and drive. Let me be real clear.
Talent and Drive.
This isn't me steepling my fingers while others dance about. This is me saying, "Shit, our customers expect results and I need people who can give it to them."
So I need some fellow creators to work with me. Here's the ideal of what I'm looking for.
You can create. The DB is essentially digital clay. What have you made with it? What can you make with it? Give me an example of a system, device, institution, protocol, etc., that you've created.
You can write. I need people who can do this well. I need people who can not only do creative writing, but technical writing as well. Give me some examples of your best stuff.
You can draw/paint/2D/3D/animate, etc. Art. I need people who have some skill in one or all of these disciplines.
You can produce. I need doers, not talkers. You know the difference. If you tell me, "I've got it," I won't have the time to check back on you until the due date. We have got to get things done when we say they will be done.
You can check your attitude. I've had to check mine a couple times. We all have them. If you're truly motivated by the team concept, and not the self concept, this won't be an issue. But we can't tolerate those who don't get along and insist on letting their personal flaws compromise the mission. You think there's room for ego or hubris when you rope into a target at night and shoot people in the face? Nope. Everyone's a team player or everyone's dead.
<font color="#575757">(Note to self: Remove graphic example that may cause some to worry before posting report...TMI.)</font color=#575757></font>
You can take direction. The simplest of all job requirements, yet one of the most elusive. Right now, I work for Muz. I make my suggestions, give advice, what-have-you, but what he says goes as he wears the awesome mantle of responsibility for what happens here and what fails to happen. It's his call. It's my job to make it happen.
Working with us, it'll be your job to make it happen too. Please understand this is not ego, hubris, etc., this is reality. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is what Yoda was talking about.
So I know this is asking a lot. I know most of the people who can do these things already have positions, etc. But through long experience, I'm here to tell you this is what it takes to get things done. We work in these media and we have to have people with the skills to match to move us forward.
This is your shot.
When I first started I only possessed one of these skills. Over the years I watched what others could do with art, coding, writing, creativity, etc. Guys like Jac, Muz, Orv, etc. impressed the hell out of me with their skills in various media. I knew in order to get the club where I thought it needed to be, I would have to step up and add to my resume. So that's what I did.
Am I great writer? No. But I can do a decent job and continue to hone my skill.
Am I great artist? No. But I can do a decent job and continue to hone my skill.
Am I great coder? Hell no. But I can get things done.
So this is what I'm talking about for people who want to help make the sausage. Pushing yourself. You have one skill, maybe two. How about developing a third? This is the attitude we need.
If it needs doing. Get it done. Period. No excuses. Make it happen.
The Chinese say: Talk don't cook the rice.
If you're brave enough for all this, email me. Don't get all formal. Just send me a normal email with your thoughts, ideas, skills, samples of your work, etc. Don't bother with references. I don't care what others think you are. I will know what you are when I read what you have to say.
Remember, these types of jobs are the gateways to greater creative access in the club. This will be the job where you do something that'll be here five years from now. This will be the job you'll point back to when you apply for positions elsewhere as you rise through the ranks.
I'll watch for these over the next week. Put something relevant about the job in the subject line so I can recognize it through all the other mail. Positions will remain open until filled. If I don't find who I'm looking for, I'll go it alone until I do.
Thanks for your time on this.
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<font size="4"><font color="#800517">The Way Forward</font color=#800517></font> The whiny kid from Terminator 2 said, "The future is what we make." Actually, his badass mother said it, but you get the idea. It's true. Tabula Rasa, folks. We can make this what we want. Ten, 12, 15 years ago when a lot of you first started, we couldn't do anything like what we can now. Clubs like this were email-based. IRC-bound. A few kids on a bedroom floor with a D&D manual. Those were the difficult days. Few resources. No connectivity.
So what's our excuse?
We have none. Sweet Baby Jesus, I can buy a complete website in five minutes. Look what Sarin (Pravus) & Jac did for us with The Old Republic site. Boom. Social media. Tablets. Smart phones. Come on. It's that easy. The only thing holding us back is us. Speaking to our leaders here: you have to want to work. Speaking to our customers: you will want to buy.
So Muz has granted me access to all the deep, dark secret stuff in the alcoves and vaults of the Dark Hall (Don't say a word, Tarax.) And there are some really great things in store. Guys like James are busting their ass to bring the next generation of things to life. Macron is sending me all kinds of things I don't understand, but that look really cool. Muz is choking people to get our new major systems rolled out.
It's great. It's hard work. It's magic.
Stick around and see what happens.
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<font size="4"><font color="#800517">Next Time on the New Hit Series, ShadowHand...</font color=#800517></font> Ideas. People have asked me about what kinds of ideas I have, etc. In next week's episode, you get to find out. Screw all that "secret-project" crap. I'm going to share some things with you I think are cool, but you may not. So you tell me if any are worth the effort. Or maybe you have some ideas? Comment. Email. Let's get a discussion going.
Also next week...
My resignation! Stay tuned.
See you out there,
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