Combat Master #12: The Way Forward


Combat Master #12: The Way Forward


So...that happened! Finally got to experience what all the buzz was about with the whole "Great Jedi War" business. Was a bit of a crazy process, especially seeing as it was my first. Throw on top that I got to participate while also running my own corner of the event and you get a bit of a whirlwind tour from both ends of the spectrum. Gotta say, it was a lot of fun and a lot of work. Hope a lot of you found the fun you were looking for in participating and congrats to all who got even one entry in.

As for the ACC portion, I've already covered in previous reports how utterly insane you all were with the Phase I numbers. Since then, we had the final bracket (with a few twists and turns therein) and the Collective Strike competition. More or less, things went smoothly and we had a large number of entries to go through. My favourite fact to come out of that competition was the diversity of the top 10 placements. We had representation from every single clan. All of them! That's some parity right there.

Then, still recovering from all that, we got hit with the Star Wars hammer upon the anvil that is The Last Jedi. It all goes to show that this world we all write in and experience, this fandom, still has life in it. It's still growing, and so too must we. A Combat Master's work is never really over. Things just get quiet on the western front from time to time. Doesn't mean we aren't toiling! So, let's discuss that toil.

Table of Contents


Ongoing Projects

CS Changes

This is always fun, and seems to be a bi-annual event. That's good. The system shouldn't be static because nothing ever really is. However, this one was fun because we very rarely get to look at so many matches over such a short period. Phase I of the GJW ACC is to thank for that! So, we identified a lot of stuff we wanted to look at. Some of those were quick fixes. The Elder Force Lightning feat was always meant to combine the sub-feats that came before it, but the actual text only included a few of them. This was already corrected. Similar things happened with a few other feats, such as changing the requirement for "You Killed My Father, Prepare to Die" from Force Sensitives to everyone, since there was nothing that relied inherently on the Force for it.

So, what things are we looking at? Well, Telepathy was the first to come in for review. It has always been an odd little duckling compared to the rest of our powers. As some might have noticed, all of our abilities are constructed around the concept of "concentration". Each tier relates to amount of effort to do the thing. This wasn't the case for Telepathy. It was sort of all over the place. That was something we wanted to change. Then, from there, we started poking around at a variety of feats, such as the Iron Skin series, and other powers like Telekinesis and Precognition.

As yet, these are still under review and you probably won't see any sort of system implementation for these changes until the new year. But, at least you know something is coming.

Also of note, utilizing some functionality James added to the system, we went through and updated every single Skill and Force Power with their 0 through 5 scale, so the tooltip will give you all the information you need without going to the wiki page. Beyond that, over 350 feats have been updated with references to their related skills and powers. This will—eventually, if not already implemented—limit what feats are shown to you in the selector based on the skills and powers you already have. It's the little things that put a smile on my face. This is one such thing.

Venue Review

This review feels like it has been going on forever, but there's a good reason for that. We have a lot of venues and my staff had other priorities for a fair while. The good news is, traction has been made! Archenksova went hard into the list and added a bunch of potential locales ready to be written up. In the mean time, the Arx venues were updated to no longer be [REDACTED] and a few other venues have been prepared, with one already seeing launch into the system.

V'yr and Morotheri approached myself and the Voice with a venue concept. It is Luprora: Rising Tides and is the aforementioned launched venue. I'm drawing attention to this mostly because I want some transparency on the process. They had provided rationale for the venue and a sample write-up, which makes our life easier, especially when they provided images for use on top of that. However, we still had to review it as a staff. The sorts of questions you end up asking are as follows. What does this add? If it's similar to places we already have, what makes it iconic enough to be of use? Is it clear and understandable?

So, after those questions were answered, a new venue description was written, borrowing from the sample and from our own research, and added to the system. That's all there is to it. It really is that simple to get a venue into play. However, you have to allow for due process and the chance that the venue may be deemed redundant with what we already have. Not everything that gets suggested will be added. Now, when it comes to clan specific venues, we have a bit more of a caveat. Those must all come through the clan summit. The reasoning behind this is that they have control over the fiction of the clan. If we add a venue from a member and the clan leadership had no desire to invest in that locale? Well, things can get awkward. Especially if the Consul decides to nuke said locale from orbit.

Then no one gets to have any fun, and that's no good! So, feel free to make suggestions and send them our way, but please follow the chain of command when it comes to Brotherhood exclusive content.

Scenario Hall

As I recall, shutting down the Scenario Hall was one of my first acts as Combat Master, if it wasn't already in disuse before then. The reason for this is that it wasn't functioning as intended. That was due to limitations. Limitations that no longer exist. James has facilitated the ability to assign venues to specific halls. What that means for admins is a whole lot of checkboxes. For the members, however, it means that you will be working with a different venue pool in Scenario Hall (or future halls) than you will in the others.

That is what was needed to bring this back. But it isn't time to throw the switch yet! Kronk better not pull that lever! The ACC staff has to populate that venue pool with scenarios. The way this is going to work is that we will have venues made exclusively for the Scenario Hall. They will include not just the description of the venue, but also the scenario the members will be entering into. This creates a Dungeon Master sort of mode where the "story" is set up for the members and they just have to craft something within it. This will run the gambit from cooperative to competitive. Hopefully, it will get some good use from members that want to react to a story rather than craft it exclusively on their own.

I'm excited. Are you excited? You should be excited. Get excited!

Armor Implementation

This is a mandate with a self-imposed time limit. We want to get this done as fast as possible before even more content pops into the Possessions system. So, what's the hold-up here? Why isn't it as simple as just allowing armor to be a thing? Complexity, mostly. We want each and every member to know exactly how they will be graded before they are graded. That means minimizing ambiguity while emphasizing ease of reference.

So, how are we going to do this? That's the big discussion right now and there are a lot of ideas being tossed around. First and foremost, the easiest reference is already in place. If it is Lightsaber resistant, the weapon/armor will say as much. Doesn't get simpler than that. Beyond that is where the complexity rears its ugly head. What, exactly, does that armor protect you from? Cuts, bruises, slaps? Blaster bolts? Just how many licks does it take to get to the center of that Tootsie Roll pop?

So, we're looking at ways to simplify all this into an "at-a-glance" structure. I'm favoring a tiered system approach myself where we have one resource that explains the tiers and each armor is matched to a tier. One glance and you know! But we'll see. I'm just one of the many heads on this hydra and all perspectives are welcome. Needless to say, this will be sorted out, but it will be done in a way that is best for the ACC and for Voice Fiction competitions both.

Creative Writing Workshop

Hey, this thing that keeps getting interrupted by bigger things is still a thing! So, what's going on with it? Well, after Christmas I'll be hitting up the remaining participants and finishing the final course. There's a lot of lessons to come from this first trial run, beyond just the issues with constant starting and stopping. That wasn't fair to the participants, but it was the reality we hit. I can do better. I will do better.

So, before opening up another run immediately after this, I have already started bugging Vuvuzella—erm, Farrin—about ways to more integrate this workshop into the Shadow Academy interface. Create accountability for the participants and the instructor alike. Ensure the best experience and results we can manage. I don't expect this will take forever and a day, as the groundwork we have is solid. It really is. Just need to make it that much better for everyone involved. The end goal is to have this be held regularly, multiple times a year, by a handfull of instructors so that everyone is afforded the opportunity to take part.

ACC Clan Reps

What in the nine hells is this? That's what you might be asking. Or might not if you frequent Fiction Chat on Telegram. So, it's an idea. The seed of one really, but it doesn't hurt to test the waters to see what folk feel. Poll the public!

So, here's what I'm thinking. Grab hold of at least one member in each clan as a point of contact for the ACC folks and their members. Sometimes it's easier to deal with folks you know on the inside. For instance, I know Odan-Urr assembled their judges as a bit of a consulting team during the war. I'm sure that was a comfort to their members. I want that in more clans. I want parity. The ACC doesn't cater to a niche clientele. Everyone has the capacity to succeed in it.

So, these reps/ambassadors/spokesman/what-have-you will be the resident hype men and women. They'd help spur activity and engage in spreading the gospel that is the ACC. Be that friendly familiar face for the members that are just finding their feet and ease them into it. There's a lot of complexity to be found in the ACC and that can be daunting. But there is also so much chance for growth. Turel and I are not shy to mention that the majority of our character development and relationships with other members are forged during and from ACC matches. It's a great resource.

So, let me know what you people think. I'm not a tyrant looking to tell you how things are going to go. I have ideas, just like anyone else, and I want to hear from members. Tell me if I'm onto something here, or if I'm bonkers. (Editor's Note: He is very much bonkers, but not necessarily on this subject!)


CM Tips

Challenge Your Perspective

This is something important to all writing, not just the ACC. You're dealing with multiple characters and at least one that isn't of your own creation. That's a big task and one that is faced in multiple activities on this site. In Fiction, Run-Ons, and the ACC all. So, how do you go about wrapping your head around that? Well, the first step is that you're not always going to be "right", at least not to everyone. You're not the creator of every character. How you perceive the world colors your characters, just as another author will color theirs. Don't assume. Don't take anything for granted. Rarely will you ever be faced with a situation that has only one "right" way of going about things, but often the people who hold these things dear to them will not consider it to be "right". And that's fair. Expected. I have heard from a fellow writer that I have full confidence in—writing ability wise—that they fully expect to get my character wrong if they were to write him. Probably not solely because they've heard me mutter about the missteps of others during their attempts.

This is a perfectly natural part of the writing process. You're interacting with someone else's ideas and notions. Accepting this reality is the first step to overcoming it. The challenge here is to not see things in black and white. Don't settle for your own "certain point of view". The next step to writing someone else is seeing how they write them. Yes, I'm telling you that research is necessary. Check out any wiki info and past competition entries. This is something I leaned into heavily when writing from the perspective of other members' characters for the "Intel Drops" in my earlier reports. Walk a mile in their shoes for a bit and see how they fit.

Now, what that gets you is knowledge. Knowledge is a marvelous resource, but it's just that...a resource. You need the tools to make use of it. These tools are developed and honed through two things, and two things only: reading and writing. Read others just as much as you write for yourself. You will learn and assimilate. You will grow. You will see how unique characters can be formed and how each person in a scene has their own voice. Their own perspective. Learn to take yourself out of the equation when writing someone else's character. Don't be afraid that they will be mad by the portrayal. Don't get lost in getting it "exactly right". Just do the best you can. Write a character that isn't you or yours. If it is unique in your story, if it adheres to the aspects and feats they've created, then you've gotten it "right". No one will ever know this character the way the creator does and that is just fine. It can be good. I've seen how others write mine and changed them as a result. I've seen things I didn't expect. A different perspective. Those might be good or bad, may be integrated or adjusted to avoid, but they always result in growth.

Challenge your perspective and don't be afraid to make the other characters as interesting as your own. You may just come away with something you didn't have before.


Ask The Combat Master

Sariel Dhejueti asks:

I haven't seen TLJ yet, but has it inspired anything power related for the DB?

Without spoiling anything, there is minimal changes we ended up having to discuss. It either ended up being in line with what was already discussed or just a minor tweak here or there. Could mean a lot of changes, or could mean relatively few. I'll let others figure it out after the release.

Locke Sonjie asks:

This may not be a ACC type of thing, but is there a possibility of more cooperative type stuff coming to the ACC in the future, or would that remain a Voice thing? I guess my question would be more about expansion.

Right now the Cooperative Hall is a great avenue for doing these types of events. It was released to a lot of fanfare as a requested addition to the ACC offering but has grown out of favor of late. I'd love to see it make a comeback! Aside from that, we will be expanding via the Scenario Hall, as some such scenarios could result in a cooperative course of action. Hopefully you'll find what you're looking for there.

Arden Karn di Plagia asks:

When it comes to grading, does how you look at realism change after each movie?

Outlook on Realism and grading in general changes with every piece of content that is stamped as Canon. I, for one, am always looking for the new additions and examples. We want to be as up-to-date with the current experience as possible, so that a new join will look at it and see they can do what they saw happen in the movies—rank willing, of course.

Luna Okami asks:

Are you looking for non-staff volunteers to help with all the CS initiatives going on?

I'm always open to Venues. Vyr and your predecessor sent in a Venue concept that was reviewed, revised, and already implemented. As well, if anyone ever has an idea hit them I'm more than open to it. I have been PM'd with feat ideas more than a few times. Doesn't always happen, but I always listen.

The other initiatives are internal for now, and it looks like it'll stay that way unless we get overwhelmed. It's good to not get overcrowded with voices.

Would you be open to ACC competition ideas from members or would you rather those flow to unit leaders?

My preference is leaders, since they have the experience, but I am open to working with members if they have an idea. I hope that no one is ever afraid to reach out to me and talk. If you got an idea, I'd love to hear it. I like making things happen and not just throwing up roadblocks.

There's a wide perception that some clans are ACC clans and some are not, do you agree that's accurate to the current state of affairs and if so what can be done to address it?

I don't think that's very accurate to the current state of affairs. There are individuals in each of the clans that are more than capable of contending in the ACC with the best that others have to offer. What I see, though, is a difference in culture. During the war (both phases) I saw some clans digging in and providing a real support group for their members, old and new. Everyone was afforded the help they needed to excell and the end result was that a relative newcomer that we hadn't heard of before almost took the top spot in the Phase I event. If more people worked together, or weren't afraid to reach across clan lines to the ACC staff (cause while I can vouch for them they are still clan folk), then we'd see much more parity. It's all about how much importance is placed upon it. Some summits may just decide it isn't their clan's "thing". That's fine and up to them. It's just one service that the Brotherhood provides. That doesn't mean a member of that clan can't do something about it themself. While in CNS, I put together a "dojo" program to get members involved with the ACC with opportunities to practice and discuss the mechanics. I will help any member that wants to do so with their own clan.


ACC Exams

Remember, any questions on ACC mechanics, the CSs, or features, email [Log in to view e-mail addresses]. We do check this email, and often. Best way to get a proper response with all the staff on the same page.

Thanks for reading,


Watching with great interest - especially the armor developments!

Mmmm, Scenario Hall incoming, Telepathy getting fixed, and...oh right, armor rocks in the corner it'll all work out, we'll make it all work, Atra-senpai

lekcheer No more arbitrarily enforced blind spots!

Much approved!

Excited for the new Scenario Hall!

good report atra

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