It's report time. Raken and Sarin and I (among other people) have decided that we don't need to keep putting a bajillion words of fiction in our reports. Fictional development will be done in the future in news posts (and voice reports on occassion) to progress the fictional storyline and so on. So yeah, No fictions here.
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There have been quite a few things going on lately, so while I will get to the Member Survey, there's a bit of housekeeping to take care of first:
Locke resigned as Consul of CNS. He's done a great job (and put up with a LOT of my meddling, since it's my home unit) and he was going to be hard to replace anyway. Compounded with the fact that a couple other recent resignations have plagued the clan, Raken and I had decided to take a lesson out of the old book. Korras, our Master At arms, and a former consul in Sadow was sent over there to help make sure things get rolling down the right path again. His is not an indefinite assignment, and part of his gig is to help train up people to replace him as consul. We've done this sort of thing in the past, with Mav and Sarin back when they were DGMs, if I remember correctly, so it's nothing new, just a bit old school.
Tra'an resigned as Quaestor of Plagueis, and applications were opened. In the end, We decided that former Headmaster and Consul emeritus Ronovi would be the best to run things over there. She's currently seeking a replacement for Aedile, since that was her old job before accepting the new one, so if you're interested, drop her an email.
The latest bit is the resignation of the Fist. Fremoc resigned the other day and has left the TOR guild (with a few of his friends), due to real life concerns and burnout. It's sad, but it can happen to the best of us. At any rate, this leaves a Dark Council position open for applications. If you are interested in handling the gaming concerns of our brotherhood at a high level, including testing new games for use in the club, maintaining gameservers and having oversight of our TOR guild, go take a look at the wiki article for the position and send Raken and I an application by the end of the month.
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June is almost over, and the new chapter and phase of the Dark Crusade is slated to start the first weekend of July. There will be a few differences with how this phase will run. There will be 'special forces' teams that will determine, on a purely skill based level, what units win the planets. The whole unit will participate, on a participation only level, to accumulate fleet points and to help earn their unit an additional member on their special forces team. See Raken's report for the full write-up, if you're interested.
Clan summits will need to have their teams selected and in my email inbox before the month ends EST. Theater Selection will start before that.
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There's been some discussion lately about how nepotism affects this club. We have had a policy for some time now, and you can find it here, but we've been pretty relaxed on the enforcement of it. There was a pretty huge blowout when the policy was written about how it was unnecessary and just another level of complication that we didn't need in the club. After all, we're all adults here, and we can handle dealing with the intricacies of human relationships while keeping the clubs interests at heart, right?
As it turns out, we can't.
As a result, we're going to have to be a lot more strict about it. The policy did not cover what happens if a relationship arises in a chain of command scenario, where corporate policies definitely do (they tend to frown upon things like that and call it 'fraternization'...it got a few people fired from where I work, and I imagine the same can be said where you work). And while the quality of work is usually not the problem, it does lead to sticky situations that are bad for the club, or for component parts of it. So, I'm going to make a hard and fast rule here and say that if a romantic relationship transpires in the same chain of command, then one party or the other will be required to resign.
Now, I can hear someone out there making fun of yet another correlation about how the Brotherhood is a pastime activity, a leisurely fun thing, and we shouldn't be worried about anything but fun, as opposed to the often maligned analogy to running the DB like a business. The problem is that when people can't keep things on the up and up when their livelihoods depend on it, we surely can't expect them to keep their hormones and emotions in check when it's just for grins. And where that sort of thing becomes a problem is where it effects other people. When a Clan has to hire two new positions because of a lover's quarrel, or has to go restore a deleted site or has to undo things that were approved when really they should not have been, it is an issue, and it detracts from the very same fun that we're trying to provide here.
So the short story is that we have to enforce the nepotism policy a lot more than we have been doing in the past.
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I ran a survey not all that long ago, to see what people liked, what they didn't like, what their goals were, and what people wanted to get out of the club. Also, whether or not Salacious Crumb would beat grand masters up in a fight.
So, the good stuff first:
People overwhelmingly love our sense of community, the friends that they have made here, and the fictional aspects of our organization. A lot of people are in love with their houses and clans, and have ferocious loyalty there, and these are all great things to have. Some people love the creative outlet that the Brotherhood offers, and others are just here for the social aspect. Some people really go gaa-gaa for competitions and vendetta events (specifically mentioned wars a few times). A few people have really enjoyed the support of new communication methods (G+, TS, etc), and some people are just fans of being able to put in their own work to contribute to what we have going here, even if at a small level.
The flip side of this is Drama. A pretty constant category in the 'stuff we don't like' column has been drama. This can be from how people treat members from other units, the stereotypes people have for the various units, or the politics that arise from having a club made up of people from different units, each trying to put their unit first.
So, what can we do about drama?
Nothing that you'd really want us to do. The issue is with the clan and house structure. So long as people put their units above the club (and based on the feedback in the 'what we do like most' section, that's most of us), there's going to inherently be some drama. People thinking that rules are biased against their unit for whatever reason fits most, that certain units get a bigger share of awards than others because they have a former clanmate in a position of power.
If we were serious about destroying this sort of drama for once and for all, we'd remove the clans and houses entirely.
But that just makes problems different. Instead of being clearly defined cliques to ward against, we'd have roving bands of friendships that we can't exactly put eyes on. And we'd be removig one of the structures that our membership really enjoys, and benefits from: having houses and clans and the leaders to help administer to them.
People in the Brotherhood really hate Jar Jar Binks. Ewoks are almost as loathed.
There were a couple complaints about how long it seems to take for a member to progress through the equite ranks, and up to elder, et cetera. Most of those complaints also showed that the same members admitted to not doing a whole lot of activity or were on-again-off-again members. It'd be too easy to point at that as being the reason for the first part. "Well, do more, and you'll get promoted, right?" Too easy. But what if that's backwards. What if people are getting disenfranchised and doing less because they feel it takes too long to get promoted.
I've been talking with Korras about a few of these concerns. We're not about to issue a checklist for equite ranks (as some had suggested) because frankly, that's just not healthy for the club to survive and thrive for the next ten years... people would inherently just do what they had to and nothing else, and we'd have very little growth or anything, resulting in us shutting our doors somewhere in the nearer future than any of us would like. But we are working on consistency, on making sure that standards are upheld, and helping to coach the summits in the houses with what is appropriate, and what can be given to their members by way of promotions and medals to help keep them 'paid' as it were. That said, Korras is just one guy, and with a staff of 3 i think, he is doing the best he can to keep in contact with everyone who needs his help (and that was before i made him double as consul in Sadow, sheesh).
Some folks were pretty unhappy with the ACC being down.
I get it. I loved the ACC, too. And the fact that I can't get to it makes me want to do something there, even if I wasn't going to before. It's the forbidden fruit issue in a nutshell. When we closed the ACC for renovations, it was averaging less than 5 regular matches in a non-vendetta month, if i remember the stats right. That's pretty sad, considering I remember a time when I was in that many matches in a month. Somewhere down the line, the rules and the character sheets got som involved and grading got so weird that people just stopped doing as much with it. Telaris 'Mav' was appointed to Combat Master despite the ACC being closed. His whole job is to fix those problems and deliver us an ACC that we will all want to play in again. His work with the character sheets already has been pretty cool, and I am excited to see what his collaboration with Jam3z for the actual ACC site will bring.
Most people like 'Empire Strikes Back' as their favorite Star Wars film. Our members have great taste.
Almost everyone has a bit of optimism in how the new movies are going t run, now that George Lucas is out of the loop on them. This is a good sense... we have hope that these new films aren't going to suck, and it helps us and the club in the long run, since better films = more potential members. Since a majority of our members say that they already have recruited people into the club, it shows that we love the club enough to break that fourth wall and make our nerdery known on the other side of the monitor: with our real world friends and family. This is a great indicator of our long term prospects. If we felt great enough about the club when the last few star wars films were ...middling, to be nice... imagine how much fun we'll have with bad-ass movies helping to grow us.
Some interesting things the survey told us: Most members are between 20 and 35 years old (up from the years when many were teenagers), picked 'Sith' because it's the only order that they recognized (or liked the fictional background), want to become an elder in the club, and have left the club in the past, but keep coming back. We've joked that the DB is like crack... Once you're in, you can never truly leave for good. It's addictive, man. Also, most people want to see a Thrawn movie (unless you're in Arcona, then the 1313 idea seems popular).
Some comments to address:
Possessions could be amazing. But if elders can buy Star Destroyers and Equites can only buy blaster pistols, then newer members won't have any mid-term goals for possession ownership and the whole thing will seem like a give away to those on the top.
I got you covered. Star Destroyers are pretty much out of everyone's individual budget, first off. I ran the numbers on Paladin some time ago, since he was on the DC the longest across his history. He could only just barely buy a capital ship, but that was about all he could buy. Not even a cool one. Cap ships are expensive. Equites will be able to buy far more than just blaster pistols, and as a matter of fact, the big unlocks are from journeyman to knight and from knight to equite. There's a few things that unlock at elder and i think one item that unlocks at GM, but those things are silly rare. If you're an equite, odds are you will be allowed to buy it. If you can afford it will depend on your career, your medals and what you've done...but you'll be able to see it in the store.
We're getting more and more stingy with lower ranking merits.
Korras assures me that this is not the case. That said: KORRAS! HAND OUT MORE DARK CROSSES!
_The DJB is an amazing place for people of a variety of interests, and the key thing to remember is that interests themselves are varied. Not everyone is highly competitive, nor do they enjoy the concept of competing. While such people do exist, and deserve to be catered to, there are also those that just want to have fun and create something awesome with others.
These people should not be punished or bad mouthed for such things. This is a volunteer society, and fun should always be the focus._
Agreed. Vendetta placement is touted very highly by a lot of people. It seems to be all that gets airtime, most days. I'll tell you this: it's not all that counts. I am much much much more concerned with how many members a unit is able to retain and promote to knighthood, since that represents the units ability to engage new members and show them how things work. Activity gets measured, down to the number of emails on the google groups (I have a great team of people who count these with me), so every little thing counts. What I think gets confused sometimes is that if I see a unit flagging in one category or another, i tend to talk to them about that specific category, not necessarily about the things that they are doing well. For example, I give Wun and Wally untold amounts of grief about their lack of reports, but I don't ever have to say a single word to them about using the mail list or the forums or about encouraging activity in vendettas. I haven't had to say anything to Naga Sadow about their knighthoods or their forums, but I have had to talk to them about getting people to play in the vendettas, since they're below par there. I tailor my discussions with the summits based on what they are doing well and what they aren't doing well. That's kinda the gig. But yeah, vendetta placement is not all there is, not by a long shot.
I love you
Aww, thanks. I love you too.
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Ask the GM time.
Sang asks "With James close to finishing the coding for the new SA and the majority of the bugs ironed out in the new site, when do you plan to announce a wholesale move to this new server? During or after Dark Crusade? Or are we looking at longer than this?"
Tarax asks "When are we going to get/see the Crusade Ribbons? In January, Shikyo led us to believe that the ribbons would be uploaded/added to our dossiers as the Crusade is progressing, but that has clearly not been the case. Is there a date we can expect them by? (And will that date/deadline actually be honoured?)
These both are kinda related. I don't have a hard date from Jam3z as to when the new site will be able to fired up and we can make a full transition. He's also said that he's waiting to code in the campaign ribbons on the new site, so they'll show on the new site right away, but not on the old (he said something about how the warranty on the old code is out).
Vaar writes:With a lot of DC and Summit members changing in the past two months, is the Council looking at further ways of improving member/Summit retention rates?
To be fair, the people who are retiring have served for long times. Fremoc was Fist for 2 1/2 years, Traan was Quaestor for almost 2 years, Anshar was Quaestor for a year and three months, and Locke was Consul for a year and two months. Those are pretty substantial terms of service, so I'm not sure that we need to be worried about those. If we had constant turnover at 3 months, then yeah... but not at the rate we're looking at. We're actually a bit ahead of the curve now. People used to take the position for a lot shorter times in the past.
For having such good questions, Sang, Tarax and Vaar 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.
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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.
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