The Dark Degrees are a way for members to show off their knowledge of a wide variety of topics, from History, over Club related matters to aspects relating to Gaming. There is however one set that the Academy uses to indicate the recipient has helped making the SA work. The Service Degrees are the oldest ones still in use. It is upon their names that all others are based.
Serving the Academy as a Staff Member (Praetor, Magistrate, Professor or Docent) for at least five months with distinction will earn you the Dark Maven: Service. Serve for over 8 months at Professor or higher as well as impressing your superior with your dedicated service and general excellence earns you the Dark Savant: Service. Serving for a long time as an excellent Magistrate or Praetor (or service above and beyond what is expected for an immensely long period of time) may earn you the Dark Sage: Service.
There is however one tier above the Dark Sage. A type that is only awarded sporadically and for a highly specific set of activities. The Master of Dark Lore is awarded to Headmasters who have served with distinction and is traditionally awarded upon the time of their retirement. The MoDL is also the only Degree that requires approval from a sitting Grand Master.
As Praetor to the Headmaster, as well as the most senior Staff member, I have the honour of bestowing upon Solari, the Master of Dark Lore. His dedication to the Academy, as well as his tireless efforts to improve the Club as a whole, lead me to believe that he has more then earned this rare honorific.
Awarding it has always been a rather shadowy affair, the general membership usually does not even notice it being awarded, as it is not published.
If you go to the Statistics section and look up the details for the Master of Dark Lore, you will find a list of the most influential and creative spirits that helped form the Academy into what it is today. In my opinion, there was no question that Solari deserved to join this hallowed hall. Solari, It has been an honour of being your Praetor and I hope you cherish this honour as a token that the entire Staff feels the same.
To show you this fact, I contacted the Academy staff and asked them to produce short texts on working with/for you, Solari.
Now I shall stop talking and instead give the word to the Shadow Academy Staff.
Aabsdu, Headmaster Emeritus – Professor of History, Master of Dark Lore
When I decided to pop back on the DB website after two years away, one of the most encouraging aspects was seeing old friends still keeping things cool. Mind you, the Windos I knew had turned into some Jedi called Solari, and I didn't immediately realize that. When the History Professor positioned opened up, Solari welcomed me back with wide mechanical robot arms and has encouraged my desires to revamp the department. The Shadow Academy persists. It evolves. Develops. Changes, but maintains the same spirit. Solari embodies that spirit. The SA Society may be the greatest example of this, and Solari's leadership was instrumental in bringing a project that started two Headmasters prior to the public. He even added flair by making the requirements a mystery! Solari's drive to make the DB better, a drive that makes him perfect as Recruitment Tribune, also made him perfect when guiding our new members through their first few days, even hours, in the Brotherhood. I'm proud to consider Solari/Windos a friend and fellow Headmaster and hope he looks upon his years with as much pleasure as I do mine. Congratulations on this rare SA achievement.
Anshar, Headmaster Emeritus – Docent assigned to the Test of Wisdom, Master of Dark Lore
If there is any measure of success of a Headmaster, it is how well that individual has been involved in the role and how the membership reacts to that involvement. While we often joke about the Master at Arms being a "button pushing" position, Headmaster can easily be much more so a "do nothing" position. You don't even have to push a button. If there are buttons that need to be pushed, you've got the largest staff out of any Dark Council position to do it for you. Personally speaking, I find that to lead to a boring tenure as Headmaster. During my time as Headmaster, I always sought do more- to completely tear down and rebuild the Shadow Academy as needed. My staff and I added dozens of new courses, reorganized and cemented the basis for the current degree program, and placed a heavy emphasis on the fictional side of the Shadow Academy (you'll note that it was not destroyed during my tenure). Beyond the confines of the Shadow Academy, I sought to expand the role of Headmaster into one that not only encouraged new members, but reached out to existing members. The degree system offered one such opportunity, as did my hosting of weekly Brotherhood trivia events, as well as numerous Brotherhood wide competitions.
So, the question then asked is: "why should Solari receive this Master of Dark Lore?" Setting aside the fact that he went Lighty on us awhile back, I would posit the question: what did Solari do to expand the role of the Headmaster, and thus the Shadow Academy? To me, that is a hallmark of someone who receives this degree. To be Headmaster, your first concern, above your own promotions/awards/etc. should be guiding new talent in the Brotherhood. Second is to remain a present and active voice in the Brotherhood and always seek continual improvement. This doesn't mean that everything must be considered a success, or that it won't be undone, redone, or upgraded by the next Headmaster. It means you were more than just a teacher, and more than just an administrator: it means that you were a leader.
James Lucius Entar Arconae, Seneschal – On behalf of dbb0t, Professor of the Journeyman Hall
While I'm technically not a member of the Shadow Academy Staff, one could say I'm writing on behalf of "GM dbb0t", the program that takes care of all the courses that are automatically graded by the website. This automated grading process, and all courses making use of it, all saw the light (see what I did there?) during Solari's rule over the Academy. A term that saw the Shadow Academy being moved between websites, new courses being introduced, existing courses being revamped, and many, many other improvements that all are a testament of the mark that Solari has left on the Academy which will surely last a very, very long time. It has been an honor and a privilege working alongside Solari, implementing the coding side of all these things. Without Solari, the Shadow Academy would surely not be at the level it is today.
Keirdagh Taldrya Cantor, Proconsul – Docent, Department of Law
In my time in the Dark Brotherhood, I have never seen a Headmaster who has made such sweeping changes to the way the Shadow Academy works. It's basically been a tried and true method for a couple decades, where you write a bunch of course notes, and the people who care about that sort of thing answer them to the best of their ability. It's a place that doesn't immediately call to mind innovation or evolution. The Shadow Academy is a place that is best defined by stability. Solari showed us all that in the hands of the right man, there is a place for innovation as well as stability. So, due to your contributions to the Brotherhood as Headmaster, I'm happy to add my name to the recommendation that you be granted the distinction of becoming a Master of Dark Lore.
Celahir Erinos, Docent – Cryptography courses, Docent Halls
Solari took me on as Docent for the crypto courses little over a year ago, a job I always thought would be nice to do, and was more than happy to get the opportunity for. Since then he's been very helpful and supportive both in the grading work, if for example someone answered a question in such a way I wasn't sure how to grade it, he'd be more than happy to help. Not of little importance either is his help in creating new courses for the cryptography set, there's plenty to write about but it's always hard to decide which topics to include or exclude and in what way to combine certain things. Solari however was able to advice and support me with seemingly no effort, something I deeply admire.
All in all, thanks for everything you've done for both me and the Shadow Academy, it was a joy to work with you!
Rosh Nyine, Docent – HTML Primer, Docent Halls
When I joined the Dark Brotherhood one of the things that attracted me most of the club was the Shadow Academy.
I remember that when I returned, Solari was there, ready to give me a chance on the Academy staff, always helping and giving advice and, overall, being the great guy he is.
I probably wouldn't be a member of this club without his support, which came when I most needed it. I think that no matter what position he’s moved to, he'll always be, for me, and probably for all those who worked with him, one of the best Headmasters that the Dark Brotherhood ever had, and a good friend.
Sanguinius Tsucyra Entar, Professor of Lore
I'm not the most eloquent person, nor am I one to give epic stories, their length surpassed only by the time it takes to read them. I'm no Patrick Rothfuss, nor am I a G.R.R. Martin. But despite all that, Solari is one of the few members of the Dark Brotherhood to actually make me do something in my own spare time. In the 5 plus years I've spent in the Brotherhood, I've spent at least 4 of them working in some capacity within the Shadow Academy. I've experienced 4 different Headmasters and each of them brought something different to the table. Solari brought a conclusion, he brought order and he brought excitement and interest. The Grind Path that was discussed and discussed for many years has seen somewhat of a result, with courses specifically aimed at helping new members understand how the DB works instead of making sure they know about how starfighters work, or how to create an alchemical nightmare.
Instead, Solari has focused on bringing the Shadow Academy into a new stage, where for so long it had been disparaged by the older members of the Club, it is now seen in more of a positive light, a way to educate and enlighten our new members and give them a firm basis of what it means to be a member of the Dark Brotherhood.
He's brought together an organised and productive staff, who worked tirelessly to overhaul so many of our outdated exams and offer countless new ones. He's a tireless promoter, a powerhouse in the Dark Council during the Dark Crusade and willingly stepped down as Headmaster because he knew he could help the club more in a different position, capitalising on the interest the new movies will generate. Solari is a selfless, caring member who works not for his own benefit, he is a truly loyal Brotherhood member. A genuine article.
When Ood came to me and said, "I want to give Solari the Master of Dark Lore award." My first thought was, "Hell, yeah!" My second thought was, "Oh crap, I have to write a rec."
Solari, you more than deserve this accolade, I can only hope that the high standard you've set as Headmaster is continued by your successors.
Xantros, Professor of Writing Studies
The knowledge is the key to success. It has not been an accident that I have chosen my character to be a Krath and that I have created its background as of a scholar, teacher and strategist, who pays a lot of attention to learning as much as it is only possible. It has been deeply embedded in my real life character, as I indeed enjoy learning new things. Why do I say this now?
I have a reason for mentioning this fact. As a regular member, I have witnessed the changes in the Shadow Academy from the outside of this society. During my service as the Professor of the Writing Department of the Shadow Academy (both in the Emperor’s Hammer Dark Brotherhood and in the Dark Jedi Brotherhood), I have been working with several Headmasters. The last one was Solari, the current Tribune: Recruitment.
I have served during his reign for over the year, since early weeks of January, 2013. It has been quite a long time and I am pleased to say that it has been also a very fruitful period of my service in the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. While we were working together, I have learnt very much from Solari. It has not been a direct teaching, but rather a chance for me to closely observe him as he carried out his duties as the Headmaster of the Shadow Academy. I could see his professionalism, zeal and never-ending desire to improve the society of the Shadow Academy.
Solari’s words and actions have been even more appealing to me, as they have been aimed to make the life of all current and future members of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood easier. His utmost goal has been to make it easier to settle in the Brotherhood for the new members of our club by providing them a set of easy courses, which deal with the most crucial areas of the organisation’s functioning. Thanks to his outstanding and continuous efforts to make the offer of the Academy more and more interesting for all members of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. Under Solari’s supervision, many courses have been revised with help of other Professors and Docents of the Academy. New courses have been released and works over even more courses have been started and continued during Solari’s reign, even though they require some additional improvements, before they will be released to the public.
In the role of the Headmaster, Solari has been an inspiration for me to learn more and to develop my own abilities. His personality and hard work have made eager to pass more Shadow Academy courses and to earn more Dark Side Degrees. Thanks to him, I have learnt that there is quite a lot of room to improve my skills, which are not only related to my service in the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. He has heavily affected my real life, as he has inspired me to expand my knowledge in the real life and to make sharing it with other people a way of life. I will be completely honest, if I say that very few people have ever influenced my life in such a degree.
It has definitely been a pleasure to serve with Solari and I have really benefited from his tenure as the Headmaster of the Shadow Academy.
Marick Arconae, Consul – Professor of Combat Writing
Solari is something else. I've been on record displaying my distaste for the Shadow Academy over the course of my entire career in the Brotherhood. Even when a close friend was Headmaster, I still avoided it like the plague and make a concentrated effort to avoid it. However, with the new site and the changes Solari pushed for, I started to look at the SA in a new light. My first real interaction with him came when he read one of my e-mails and got the idea for the Journeyman Hall- a way for new members to get a quick crash course on the basics of being a member of the DB. It was his initiative though that made it come to life, and it got me looking at the SA in a new light.
More recently, Solari helped me create my first Shadow Academy Exam. His mentor-ship, expertise, and patience with me in this process was truly remarkable. And trust me, I asked 1,000 questions and nearly broke things more than once. He never got upset, angry, or well, anything negative. I've never worked with someone more positive, to be honest. That's the type of guy Solari is, and it has been both an honor and a privilege to work with him as a unit leader, and in the past few months as a member of his staff.
Thank you for everything, Solari! You're one of a kind.
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