... and I apparently suck at this retirement stuff.
For those of you that don’t already know me, my name is Wally and I play a Dark Jedi named Marick Arconae on television (read: in an online Star Wars club). Contrary to popular belief, we are two separate people. I know that has confused more than a few over the course of my Brotherhood career. In real life, I work in I.T. at a TV Production company - and yes, this perfectly sums up every day for me - but also freelance on my own as a Writer, Producer, and Director of multimedia content in New York City. I have a dog named Sheba who is a bonafide (heh, get it?) Sith Lord in her own right.
In the DJB, I have spent the last 4 years as a unit leader in Arcona, and have held or handled every position in the Clan from Battleteam Leader up to Consul. Outside of my home unit, however, I have worked for the Voice Staff for the last few years under Sarin, Mav, and now Shad. I helped design the character sheets we now use, penned the ACC Fundamentals Exam, and have served as a contributor or consultant on all things related to the CS/ACC mechanics. I’ve probably approved or remanded the majority of your character sheets in the first year of them being active, so you either hate or love me for that.
You may have heard of me.
The ACC is a unique activity within the DJB, and it means something different for me than it probably does to each of you.
For me, Fiction events are about how well you can tell an overarching plot or story and things beyond just what your character is doing. Not as much fun. Run-Ons are all about working with other people and their characters, collaborative teamwork and strategizing of plot, and making it all fit together like pieces of the puzzle. Better, but still not quite right. Then there is the ACC, which, to this day, is still the only time I really got to get down and dirty with my character against another character. To pit my individual creativity against theirs: my ability to not only portray my character accurately, but theirs as well. To write a conflict that goes beyond the typical crack-swoosh of glowbat battles.
People have written the ACC off as “niche”. Some people have flat out refused to participate in it. That’s perfectly fine and understandable - I personally avoid the SA like the plague, because I hate taking tests in real life or otherwise. To each his own. However, I’m not here to try and convert the non-believers. My goal is to enhance the ACC for those who already enjoy it, and to encourage those who are on the fence to find ways to give it a shot and enjoy it as well.
How do I plan on doing this? Good question. First, I’m going to need a team and some help from all of you.
Vivackus and Alaris will be staying on as judges, but I’m looking to hire more, especially for some of the plans I have in mind. I’d also like to thank Xen for doing some great work as a judge with us, as he has decided to step down as he focuses on his new shiny Clan. So, I am opening applications for ACC Judges.
Traits I look for in potential judges are members who enjoy reading, have a keen eye for details, and have a working knowledge of the Character Sheet system as well as the ACC Rules and Regulations. A match takes time to grade properly, so time and availability are big concerns. Tell us why you think you would be a good judge, but most importantly why you want to be one. We will also have a base requirement of being ACC Qualified. ACC Judges are also given the task of grading Qualifications and Fundamentals Exams.
Please send all applications to [Log in to view e-mail addresses] and [Log in to view e-mail addresses]. Please have your applications in no later than 11:59PM EST on Sunday, 3/15. We have a lot of work to do and not a lot of time, so I'm keeping the window for applications short. If you think you have what it takes and are ready to grade ALL the things, please apply!
I will also need volunteers that are willing to work on some of the various CS2.0 projects I will be talking about shortly. This includes work with Species, Disciplines, Aspects, Feats, and other features we want to get implemented. If you are interested in lending a hand, send me an e-mail. I will automatically consider applicants that apply for ACC Judge as well when looking over options for team members.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about what’s coming soon.
When you watch Star Wars battles in the movies, or longer series like the Clone Wars (CG Animated), you see things like Obi Wan and Grievous squaring off time and time again. These battles are exciting, but tend to end with Grievous fleeing or something distracting Obi Wan to run off elsewhere. Even when Anakin clashes against Doku, each bout builds up to the inevitable conclusion (spoiler: Anakin beheads Doku like a boss). In truth, most fights become more interesting with history attached to them. When stakes are involved. It’s always seemed silly to just write “two fighters enter the ring. They will now fight to beat the pulp out of each other, because...reasons. Go!” When we say “Story is at the center of the ACC,” this is what we are talking about.
In this manner, I want to redefine how we approach the ACC as a whole. There are a lot of ways we can do this, and a lot of issues to work through and address. The first of these is the distinction between the two types of matches we offer: “Alternate Ending” and “Story”.
I find that the naming of our second type of match is misleading, as the ACC is all about story. The purpose of “Story” matches was to create a more coherent battle when looked at as a whole. It was designed to balance the advantage/disadvantage one got in an alternate ending match (2/2) where if you posted second, you ultimately are following up your own post and could subsequently just write the whole post, split it into two pieces, and be done with it. This, to me, violates the very fun part of the ACC: reacting to what your opponent throws at you. It also always annoyed me that when you tried to apply that match to “history” development with characters, you could technically only apply one of the two death posts that were written. In essence, both writers’ endings can’t be worked into canon, at least easily, and there can be a feeling of, “well, that post was pointless then.”
Alternate Endings are how we’ve always done it, though. A lot of people like it. It’s not going away. With that said, my first major competition I will be running will try and shift our focus more towards the mode that hasn’t really seen the attention I had imagined it would get when I fought (literally) to have it added to the new ACC.
For starters, Story matches will now be renamed to “Single Ending” matches. The mechanics will still be the same as Story matches wherein the first writer sets the scene with the first post but the end post/finale is written by the second writer. With that in mind, I want to share an idea for the first major competition I want to run for the ACC.
Members of the Brotherhood will compete in a month long Event called “Rivalries”. Rivalries will work on the principle of “honor duels” - this meaning that there will be a blanket rule across the event that will prohibit the killing of an opponent. These matches are designed to be treated like sport, as realistically, members of the DB wouldn’t be trying to kill each other.
A competitor in “Rivalries” will be able to challenge any other member of the Brotherhood to a Single Ending duel. Anyone can be challenged, even members of your own unit, but the challenged member does not have to accept. They are free to decline, even if they have already fought someone else in the Event. Each match won will give you a point value, while losses will also reward a point value and a member that times out will receive 0 points. At the end of the month, 1st through 5th place will be determined by total points earned. On a less technical side, the fun part about these matches, and the overarching theme, is to build rivalries with other members.
I am going to wait until I have a full team of judges in place before launching this competition, but figured I would take a second to tease you guys a bit with my idea.What do you guys think, though? Let me know in the comments below on Discourse. I think it can be really fun and help bring the ACC to a wider audience.
Currently, once an ACC battle is closed by a judge, it can't be re-opened (we have no site admin for that, yet). A lot of people tend to email us with extension requests after a timeout has occurred. I have no problem with this (as it’s happened to me in the past) but we do need to maintain our queue in an orderly manner. So, from the time of a match closing due to time out, you will have 24 hours to submit a request. James is working on setting up the ACC Site so staff can edit closed and judged matches, but until then, and the policy I may go ahead with anyway, is 24 hours. That should be enough time to decide what to do with a match, and in the future we’ll have the ability to handle emergency cases where someone dropped off the earth for 26 hours somehow, came back, and “oh man but I wanted to re-open that match!” There (will) be an app for that. (Thank you in advanced, James <3)
I’d also like to remind everyone about a few cool features the ACC packs:
Open Challenge - If you’re just looking for a match but don’t know of anyone interested, Kalen coded a really nifty feature that will automatically pair you with another person submitting to open challenge! We’ve had a few matches start this way, and it has received good feedback so far.
Extensions - Things happen. Sometimes you need more time. There is a nifty little button on every battle that allows you to extend matches. If you need extra time, just contact the ACC staff as quickly as possible so we can sort things out.
Appeals - You can appeal the grading of a match. What this does is warrant the Combat Master or Voice to look in on a match and determine if the judgement was faulty in a major way. The CM/Voice does not re-grade the match, they simply investigate the judgment given out by the judge. This is, in all honesty, a safety measure built into the system for extreme cases only. It exists for instances where a judge either really misses a major technical point (that could alter the outcome of the match, and in which case we look into what happened) but really it is a guard against a judge ending a match with, “You didn’t write my brother Templar Tim better than your character, and I don’t like you, so, you lose.” Or something like that. Fortunately, I don’t think that will ever happen, but things of that nature have occurred in the past. Typically the rules you think are silly are there for a reason (like, caution hot coffee is hot).
I have plans to expand our ACC venues greatly. We had good results in the competition Mav ran way back when, and will look into ways of getting your guys input on venues. I’d love to see more DB-wide venues, neutral venues, and Clan specific ones as well. Keep your eyes peeled for updates from Shad and I.
Character Sheet 2.0 is what we are calling the next “version” of the Character Sheets we put out in what is, somehow, now two years ago? Is this what getting old feels like? Just like the original launch, we will be working on various elements of the CS’s simultaneously with a goal of releasing everything all at once in a nice pretty bundle. These elements are as follows:
"If we didn't have fancy name for things, no one would take us seriously."
One of the early concerns with the CS’s was how limited the “disciplines” were, and the fact that there really were no options for a “non-saber-pewpew” type character to be made. The other big concern was that a lot of the writing was centered around the Dark Side, whereas most of our member base leans towards the Grey areas or are followers of the Light Side. Instead of trying to make a whole new set of disciplines, I tapped Turel Sorenn to help me neutralize some of the language and names so that they could fit for any type of member.
For now, here are some of the outlines for the changes that will be made, and two totally new additions that should make more than a few of you happy!
Here are the two new ones! The first is inspired by the Nightsisters unique usage of the Force. This is meant to be a discipline for those who want to play a more cerebral character.
Perhaps the most misunderstood of disciplines, Arcanists study the Force in how it connects all living things. By focusing on the more Arcane and studious nature of the Force, they have created their own rituals and philosophies that let them accomplish tasks alien to the common Force-wielder. They can track a being through the Force using things as simple as a torn piece of cloak, and are not easily distracted when tapping the Force to accomplish their tasks.
Dowsing -- "All things are linked through the Force, and Arcanists use those links to make connections and track items or persons. Even starting off, the Journeyman Arcanist can track a target across a city and through crowds." - Modifies the “Sense” force power (a prototype description of the feat "Dowsing I")
Iron Mind -- which gives an Arcanist the ability to maintain concentration even during high-stress situations, and to partition the mind into handling other tasks even while “tracking” and “maintaining a link” on a target.
Infiltrators have a habit of getting into places they don’t belong. Locked doors are no different than open doors and “secure” is just a word in the holo-dictionary. When dealing with security systems, Infiltrators can augment their minds to work through complex patterns or obstacles for short periods of time. They also have the unique ability to overload technology with the Force, causing it to malfunction.
Peaking -- which modifies the Force Power: Amplification by increasing brain-capacity to process strings of code, numbers, or puzzles to aid in slicing and other tasks.
Hexing -- a unique Force Power for Infiltrators that allows them to use a unique wavelength in the Force to specifically disable mechanical technology like security cameras and droids.
”What about the non Force sensitive NPC I want to write?”
NPCs and mundane discipline/class options have been explored, but will be implemented at a later time down the road. The plan for NPCs in general should be shaping up with the Possessions work Sarin is talking about.
Locke asked me the other day on GChat:
”Will you integrate the Antei Contract Bureau into the ACC?”
Short answer? I’d love nothing more than to bridge the ACC and ACB together. How that will actually work on paper, however, remains to be seen. I’m happy that the ACB (my brainchild/passion project that has members request contracts and get custom-tailored fictions that get real-time feedback on their story) has received such warm feedback, but in order for it to launch properly, it still needs some logistics worked out, and would need a proper staff to pull off in my vision of it. I think this is something, like a lot of other good ideas, that simply comes after the more pressing technical concerns we need to address with the CS’s themselves, and the ACC. So, in short, stoked for the ACB, it’s just behind a few other things on the list of things that need to get done.
A number of other concerns have been brought up over the past week. I will try and address the ones I can to the best of my ability.
Young Nero asks (more or less):
...The Wiki currently lists a series of restrictions on Lightsaber Styles based on rank. As it currently stands, a majority of the styles are limited to Elders only. The CS’s seem to conflict against the information on the Wiki, so what is the deal? The best answer here I can give is that the Lightsaber Guide is huge. It was developed mostly as a means of drawing in new members looking for lightsaber information online. While we can go back and forth on the actual design, the content is really what matters to us in the CS/ACC world.
In short, I can tell you that Shad and I are looking into the best ways to incorporate the elements of the LSG, with the organic elements of the Character Sheets and the ACC.
Nero also asks:
... Can we have a hall for T1 rules!?
I’m going to give you the same answer I’m going to give to the next question.
I have ideas for Starfighter battles in the ACC
I’m open to expanding the ACC in various ways and for various new modes. However, there are a lot of things that I’ve prioritized as higher importance, and firmly believe in chipping away at things task-by-task. In the meantime, I’d love to be able to see a proposal based on T1 rules, Starfighter battles, and someone even mentioned ACC Live on WhatsApp to me I think. Write the ideas down. Think out how they would work in the ACC, and how a judge would go about grading them (does the rubric we use for ACC need to be adjusted somehow?). Put as many details as you can, and when that’s ready submit it as a formal proposal. This will help make sure your idea get’s the full attention it deserves!
When giving feedback, or asking for new things to be added to the CS’s/ACC, keep in mind the overarching design philosophy Sarin has paved for us the past few years. When presenting any new idea, the first question that really should come to play is, “Is there canon support?”. We have a thin line we dance on with creating our own additions to the SW universe, but on a grand scale we want to stick and adapt as close to canon as possible. Do you want to have a GunBlade? Find an example of a SW EU or canon reference to it. Typically, a safe rule of thumb (though not always concrete) is “is it on Wookipedia?”
Keep these things in mind when proposing ideas or add ons. I like to keep an open mind to all ideas, and don’t believe that any idea has any more or less right to be voiced by anyone. I don’t care what rank you are, or how long you’ve been in the club. If you have an idea, don’t be afraid to send it my way. Just know that while I’m open and listen, we ultimately have to make decisions that keep in mind with our vision and own ideas. I will also always play one of my favorite games, “Haaave you met Shad-Mav-Sarin” in regards to the chain of command I follow. So, ideas are awesome, just keep in mind that they might not be implemented right away or could be dismissed as not fitting with the direction we’re headed in.
Well, that was longer than any of my Consul reports. I apologize for making you all suffer through that. Hopefully you have a better idea of what I’m looking to do as Combat Master, and are now even more excited for all the cool things that are on the horizon!
Please feel free to discuss elements of this report in discourse section comments that follow. Just remember that all proposals and ideas that you have should be sent to [Log in to view e-mail addresses] and [Log in to view e-mail addresses] with the words [ACC Feedback], [CS Feedback] or [Species Request] in the Subject line. (This will help us filter, sort and organize things, and ensure that your ideas don’t get lost in a google form or shuffle of my inbox.) I’m personally also available through multiple means of contact. In fact, there should never be an excuse you can’t get in contact with me unless I’m in the middle of something at work or underground (NYC Subway). I have WhatsApp, Google Hangouts/Chat, and am now on HipChat as well testing out the service! Email remains the best way for me to ensure that I’m tracking on something you’re asking me!
I want to quickly thank Shadow, Mav, and Sarin for giving me this opportunity. I am really excited to be a part of the Brotherhood in an unparalleled time of growth and expansion. Thank you Vosh for cloning Shad's signature GFX for me, and thanks Rhi for helping me with transparency layers and PNG for my header.