Well, it's that time again. The one where I write a bunch of words and you can either read'em or skim'em. Either way, we're doing this thing. This won't be a world shattering report by any means, but inside of it we shall cover the following: first ACC Intel fiction, new Judge appointment, progress update for the Creative Writing Workshop, evaluating the prospectus thus far, and some general ACC tips.
There ain't no TL;DR here. This is the Wild West of knowledge drops. You take what you want.
That said, while I have you captivated and you haven't jumped to the Table of Contents (or perhaps you did, you rebel), I'd like to quickly remind everyone that we went ahead and updated the Sephi Species Feats to fall in line with their updated approach in Canon. I want to showcase this as an example where our system is not set in stone. Things can and will be changed. In this case, there were enough member remarks regarding it and it was something that had been eyed by staff several times since the inception of CS 2.0.
If you want to see change in our system, all you have to do is present your case. We don't condemn those who have differing opinions, but we do respond significantly better to constructive dialogue over simply complaints. Sure, something may be wrong, but how do you propose it can be fixed? And why? These are what we look for when prioritizing changes in the system.
So, let's step into my office.
As mentioned in my previous reports, we will be featuring member focused fictions as intel drops. This is not a platform for showcasing our personal glory (as recognizable as mine is), but an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the stories of the members that delve into the ACC. How do you get in on this? Well, participate in the ACC.
But Atra, there has to be more than that!
Indeed there is, random citizen. Participation merely gets you in the door. Each month, between reports, I am polling my Judging staff for nominations of members. Then we look at the number of matches completed and the quality of those matches. We also look at how engaged a member might be in the Fiction chat. Simply put, "do the things". That's how you get featured.
That sounds like work.
I know, and Gods forbid we catch work. Vile illness, that. But if you're enjoying what you're doing then is it really work? And that enjoyment will show in the quality of what you're doing. Downright infectious stuff.
So, with that info dump out of the way, let's delve into the files and see what we find. Looks like we got a recent field report regarding one Justinios Drake. Computer, do your thing!
So, this is a thing. As I made apparent last week, I was in the hunt for a new Judge to fill the vacuous space — and shoes — left behind by Korroth. Applications closed this past Sunday night and then came the hard part. Great apps all around, really. That's not me blowing smoke up the drapes.
While deliberating, however, I got hit with another jab. Followed by a cross punch. Then a haymaker.
I know, right? So there's this guy, Turel, and he's all about his soap box and fighting for the users. Just an incredible guy, mkay. Good bringer of perspectives. Except the perspective he brought this time is: I need to step down.
Right in the gut. It's like he has other roles to focus on in this club. Like Hand of Justice. And Consul, I guess. Not as important as ACC Judge, but he's got roles to fulfill.
Yeah, those aren't important at all.
I will disregard your sarcasm and substitute my own! So, instead of getting all mopey while I stab him for his sudden but inevitable betrayal, I chose to take a second look through the applications. No need to make everyone send them in again, you know?
And thus, we got ourselves a Buy One, Get One deal. Instead of hiring a single Judge from the pool of applicants, we get two. I'd like everyone to take a moment to congratulate (or give condolences to) Thanadd Mawgath and Kordath Bleu.
Thanadd is new to these parts (the ACC), but he shows a drive and thirst for understanding that is good to see. We feel he's going to fit in well with the group and catch on fast. It's a team environment, and rarely are we ever presenting a judgement without conferring with that team.
Kordath is the reverse: a very known entity in the ACC. This is a guy who thought he was free of me when he stepped down from Magistrate to the Voice. But you're not, Kord. Never free. This guy is probably only behind Turel in terms of experience with the current ACC system, so it's about time he takes a step over to the other side and gets a chance to put that knowledge to use. Should have died the hero, Kord, 'cause now you've lived long enough to become the villain.
Hey, it's that thing I keep talking about in every report! Well, in the interest of full disclosure, it's a big one. These things take time. Especially if you want to try your damnedest to get it right the first time around. So, where am I at on this?
Let me guess, still WIP?
Listen here you little... Calming breaths. Super calm. I'm the most calm of the calm ones. Call me Calmtra Ventus.
It's done, okay! Yeesh. The syllabus, plan of action, and the assignments have been prepared. So why am I not launching this quite yet? Well, 'cause we're going to be doing a trial run to start it off. But it has to have a few more eyes on it first. Something like this is big and we want to make sure it's as beneficial as possible for those who get in on it.
So I did the thing that I do best and I poked some folks. Those folks may, or may not, be high positioned members that may, or may not, run something called the Shadow Academy. Maybe. Maybe not. If that were to be the case, we're essentially exploring if there is any interest on that front for integration of any kind.
Once that's sorted, I'll be putting out a sign up form to get an initial pool of interest through which to select the participants for the first group. Know going into this that it is not an overnight experience. The Creative Writing Workshop is tantamount to a free educational course. It's a small group with an instructor and can take upwards of 4.5 months to complete in full.
With that in mind, we got a Great Jedi War on the horizon. That means this trial run may need to hit the pause button somewhere along the way. That's fine. Better for those hiccups to happen in the trial than a hard release. Can pick it right back up when that's done, if it happens.
I'm excited about this, if you can't tell. Hope some of you are too.
So, what sort of stuff have we accomplished thus far? Well, we got new staff, a new emblem, the ACC History wiki update, and had one new tournament so far. That's 4 out of the initial 6 or so goals I set out last October. Pretty good, I must say. But there is more to come.
You saw the sitrep. This is pending the trial run.
Yeah, so this got lost in the echo, so to speak. A lot of work went into Venues prior to the position shuffle and it needs to be un-lost. I think there's a word for that. Anyhow, this is a big one on the docket. We want lots of exciting set pieces for matches to take place. However, remember that the venues don't tell your story for you. They are a backdrop to be used. The descriptions of these locales are merely meant to give you enough information to have a mental image of what it looks like and what sort of threats and obstacles are to be found.
There are so many Feats. Gaggles of them. They are in need of prying eyes. More or less, the goal with this one will be to compile a list of all active Feats in the system and then clean them up. Get the syntax and presentation all nice and pretty. Keeping it in line with our current approach to these. Then we will be identifying what is "saturated" in terms of Skills and Powers being modified and what is "lacking". This will lead into the possible creation of new Feats, or even the removal of some. Who knows? It'll be exciting to find out.
This is the hidden skill challenge of the ACC. Honestly, it's the real killer for many members. Yeah, we get all the Time Out emails, so we got a good sense of it. I've, personally, heard two schools of thought when it comes to this. First off, there are those who aren't a fan. They feel the Time Out system should be removed and matches can just go on indefinitely. Then there's the other folks. The ones that call it part of the ACC's challenge, especially considering that all ACC major events are timed (3 days, typically).
As the current Combat Master, my view on this matter is that Time Outs are a "loss condition" in the ACC. It's a term that comes from many types of games, but most notably card games like Magic: The Gathering and Hearthstone. Many may be familiar with "win conditions". In the ACC, you can attain victory through getting a better score or your opponent timing out (though a win by TO is less rewarding, obviously). Then you have your loss conditions. Some examples are time outs and match detractors. Match detractors are errors within your posts so grievous that you, essentially, auto lose. An example of this would be writing below the minimum word count. Another would be writing something completely unrelated to the match, like a dream sequence about unicorns that never once mentions the conflict in any of your posts while your opponent is trying to write the fight.
I'm straying from the point here, but the goal is to ensure understanding. There are many ways to lose a match, and only a few to win one. Managing your time efficiently is part of the challenge, just like crafting an interesting story and utilizing the character sheets and venue well.
So, how can you handle your time management in the ACC? Know your schedule. It's easy to leave things to the last minute. We all do it. But that isn't really the best way to do things. What if you get writer's block? Now you're stuck grabbing an emergency extension with less than 24 hours until time out. That makes things a little difficult due to the process. Your opponent needs to approve the extension, so you gotta give them time to see the request, and then the staff have to extend it. Most of us have day jobs, so not all requests happening during the day (EST speaking) will get caught until later.
At the same time, especially for us Judges, we can lose sight of the emails in the Google auto-threading. A recent change by James at our request has added the name of the to-be-Timed-Out member into the subject line. This ensures a unique thread that doesn't get lost. That's what we are doing to better help you.
So, what can you do to avoid having to get an extension? Write a little every day, or write it all early. Get it out of the way and then you don't even have to worry about hitting the time out. It's good to plan out a desired word count (on average you should be aiming for 750 words per post) and then break it down into a per day amount. If I only have 3 days, I can write 250 words a day easy. Break it into manageable chunks. Also, you should always be evaluating your timetable. If you even think you aren't going to be able to finish in time, ask for an extension early.
If you can manage this, you can call yourself Master of Time!
What about the Master of Rhyme?
I will HM01 you.
Isn't this the real kicker, eh? While there are four categories in the ACC when it comes to grading, Story is the one with the most weighting. There's a reason for that. This is what we look for. An ACC match isn't just an ecounter. It's not just conflict and smashy smashy. It's a story. There is a beginning, a middle, and an end with the hint of more. A whisper of what came before and what is to come after. Weaving this all together is how you craft your story.
Could you be any more lame? Making me gag here.
Don't tempt me! You know not what horrors you may unleash! Right, so, you need to craft this tale. Yet how exactly do you go about doing it? Well, you need motivation, for one, and a hook. These generally work in tandem somehow. Before you even start writing, you need to understand how and why these characters got to this point. Hint at it or outright state it, whatever is needed to get it to the page. Make it compelling enough and you got your hook. This is the narrative thread that snares your reader and makes them not only read on, but to want to read on.
This isn't going to be the same for everyone, because we all like different things. Also, don't be disheartened that what is new and exciting for you isn't for the Judge. We are jaded folk. Been around a while and see a lot of the same story threads. That's our problem, not yours.
Anyhow, so you got them going and now the weapons are out, shots are fired, blades are swinging. Cool stuff. Now paint the picture. Often times you'll hear people discussing how an image makes them feel. That's because emotion is important, and most humans have it to some degree. The characters are the same in that regard. They are affected by the encounter. Unless they are a droid, or the equivalent of a biological machine. Then they have no emotions. A challenge unto itself. Regardless, most will feel pain, fear, hope, worry, etc. Include that in your writing. Let them be organic.
Who knows, you might be able to weave a full character arc into it. Some evolution of the story that takes the person to another place, transforming them in some way. While that is an extreme, your character should never end the match in the same place they started. Not talking physical space here, but mental. Something should change, because every encounter changes us. Even in small ways.
So, the ending. It needs to be just that: an ending. There should be no question that the conflict of the match has been resolved. Implying it is so is not enough. But the story doesn't stop there. It doesn't cut to black as the character's eyes close. There is more to come. There are repurcussions. Slip in a hint as to what that is, or keep writing a little past the resolution.
Remember, these matches are a snapshot into the lives of these characters. A particularly violent snapshot. It isn't the full story on it's own, but part of the greater biography. Never forget that.
Yeah, it got worse.
You were warned.
This is a very important concept in the ACC, and one that everyone should keep in mind. You don't have to win to win. In fact, sometimes it's way better if you don't. It's another sort of power fantasy thing where we all want to be the hero of the story. No matter the variables involved, we always yearn for our character to come out on top. But that doesn't always make the most sense. Sometimes you might even write that character into a corner all on your own. And then what happens? Realistically speaking, your character dies. And that's okay. Unless the members involved have agreed to make their match canon in some way, the ACC is a fantasy with an end result that doesn't matter. Life or death is meaningless. If Alethia kills Mar, that doesn't mean the Proconsul of COU is suddenly dead forever more. Unless they want it to happen.
Stop blowing holes in my ship!
Hey man, #TeamMarlethia. That aside, what I'm trying to say is that the story should always trump everything else. Honestly, while it could happen if very craftfully done, a Journeyman is not going to take out an Elder. The power gap isn't what it once was, but there is still enough separation that, realistically, Jedi Hunter George is going to be killed by Darth Bob.
That's just the logical conclusion. Shoehorning things to make George come out on top increases the risk of running up against the Realism score. So, I know it's hard. Really, I know. Personal experience. But sometimes you have to let the Wookiee win. Otherwise, you're gonna lose. Your arms. From their sockets.
That sounds painful.
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,
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