Grand Master Report #1: The New GM's Quick Hits
Welcome to my first report as Grand Master. As you all know, Grand Master Pravus has stepped down from the Iron Throne, and I have assumed the position of Grand Master of the Dark Brotherhood and Dark Lord of the Sith, following ratification by the Electorate and approval of the Star Chamber.
First, a thank you to the departing Grand Master. Pravus has guided our club for three successful years, overseeing large-scale club reorganization and the expansion of new and existing systems. Pravus was awarded his second Golden Lightsaber yesterday, and the superb recommendations describe the positive impact he has had on every aspect of our club.
I have a great deal in store for our organization, and I look forward to continuing to build an excellent Star Wars experience with all of you. For those of you that do not know me, please have a look at my most recent address, and I encourage all of you to visit the Electorate question and answer thread. In short, I have served in the Brotherhood for twenty years, and I have worked at every level to improve membership experience by creating engaging systems and content. My first goals as Grand Master are to reinstate the Recruitment Tribune, ensure the smooth launch of our Graphics Society, review our major systems, and direct the development of a new promotion system based around activity generating experience.
In the coming days, Grand Master Pravus will post his final fiction, which will contain details on the handover of the Brotherhood from Pravus to Telaris. For now, I have a few short but important announcements. I will touch on club health, provide a note on open positions in this short report, and briefly take questions from the membership. As always, my email and Telegram are open to your questions and suggestions.
Positions: DGM, R:T, and GM Staff Positions
Health of the Brotherhood
Today, the Brotherhood stands an active organization of hundreds of members spread across six Clans. We average more than a thousand competition entries a month, along with general activity generating thousands of Clusters. In total, our Summits run around one hundred competitions a month, and along with the competitions run by Councilors and their staff, the Brotherhood provides a regular stream of content to members. Our last Great Jedi War was quite the success in terms of activity, and one we will build on moving forward. The combined GJW competitions earned more than 200 unique participants and 1750 entries over five weeks, and had more unique participants than either of the previous two wars, and only a dozen less than the two before it. This Great Jedi War introduced new activities, diversified gaming, graphics, and multimedia options, and built a foundation for future events. In total, I see a club that is active and energetic, committed to Star Wars, creativity, world and character building, and gaming with one another.
But we do face challenges. Perhaps chief among them is attracting new members and retaining members once they join. Our random joins have dipped over the last few months, particularly relative to the heights we saw following the release of Episode VII. Retention is a greater problem, a historical trend that continues to this day, as we lose almost 90% of random joins that make it to Clans over a two year period, and almost 75% of recruits. These are areas we can improve on, and we will. First, we will officially reopen Recruitment Tribune to applications this coming week, as I discuss below, and improve our social media presence. We will critically examine our join process and early member experience to identify how we can improve the club for our newest members. Some units do better with random joins than others, and we will work together to try to adapt what works to different unit cultures and experiences. We will implement a new advancement system, which should make promotions far more transparent for all members, addressing a frequent complaint of membership in the Equites. Finally, Grand Master Pravus and the Regent have already started work on an additional incentive system for recruiting new members. We will provide more details on these and other plans in the coming months.
We are also going to examine our leadership structures and positions, as well as our methods of training new leaders. Virtually all Clans have had some trouble in filling leadership slots, yet we routinely receive more than enough applications for DC Staff positions, and thus it is clear that members want to get involved. This suggests to us a barrier to entry or a disinterest in leadership roles within Clans, and we hope to understand and address this to help unit health while also providing valuable experience to members in generating content and growing our Brotherhood.
Despite our lower join statistics the last few months, the Brotherhood remains an active and engaging corner of the Star Wars universe, and one I intend to grow together with all of you. With all of your help, the Brotherhood will remain an outlet for creativity and community for years to come. If you have any thoughts or concerns about any of these topics, do not hesitate to reach out to me by email or on Telegram.
Deputy Grand Master
I will not be opening Deputy Grand Master for applications. I do not want to waste the time of any leader by opening applications for positions where I already have a candidate (s) in mind. This is the case for DGM, where I have two candidates I am considering. I will announce the next Deputy Grand Master next week. For individuals that were interested in the position and have not yet heard from me, I apologize for any disappointment this causes, but you may feel free to reach out to me and we can discuss your particular situation.
Next week, we will opening applications for Recruitment Tribune. Please do not submit applications before we open the position officially. We will detail the requirements and expectations for the position over the first few months, and additionally, we will include some relevant information regarding social media accounts and usage statistics. Several of you have submitted applications in the past, and most or at least part of these will undoubtedly remain useful. I encourage those that have reached out to us to keep an eye out for the position this week.
Grand Master Support Staff
I will be opening one Magistrate position for applications immediately. I require someone with a working knowledge of the Wiki, good rapport with the Wiki Staff, and a desire to see our club documentation and history updated to match the times. This individual will find, tag (if needed), and update (or suggest updates) to outdated information relevant to the club, including the various fictional 'encyclopedia' pages and policy pages. The individual will likely work frequently with Wiki staff members and may need to manage / interface with others working on particular Wiki articles. I envision this as being a position that lasts for several months. Interested applicants should apply, by email, with examples of Wiki work and details of previous experience (leadership or otherwise) where relevant. This position is open to any rank in the Brotherhood. Applications are due March 4th. Contact me with any questions on Telegram or by email.
I will also be keeping Montressor on as my Praetor. His role will expand into unit performance metrics, and I will be in touch with summits soon regarding potential changes/upgrades to the 'quarterly' unit reports system.
Before closing this report, I wanted to give members a(nother) chance to toss some questions my way. After about a half an hour of questions on Telegram, I've tried to answer each of them below. If I missed your question, there is always next week!
Atra (CM) asks... @AskTheNewGM When are you making that CS?
Soon(TM). Actually soon, though. You'll get an idea of what my character sheet will show for Telaris in the upcoming fiction. The character hasn't been 'updated' in near 5 years now, and a lot has changed since then. I will be updating his character art and a lot of his attitudes towards the Brotherhood and the wider galaxy.
Kylex Sanguris asks...
@AskTheNewGM Will you hit Evant enough for TLJ items to come into circulation? :D
Evant is hard at work on new possessions items more or less constantly. You'll get some new goodies soon.
Benevolent Whiner asks...
@AskTheNewGM What kind of hat do you wear?
Not a fedora. Other than that, if the hat fits... wear it.
@AskTheNewGM When is the GJW?
We will be running on a plan of 2 GJWs over the course of 3 years. The first will likely be later this year, but we will release more information in March, after the DC has settled in to being under my thum... er, command.
Abbey Atty Attifer Ann asks... @AsktheNewGM I have dibs on remanding you. That's not a question, I'm just staking my claim.
Remember, I can approve my own sheet.
But I can. ;)
Kelly Mendes asks...
@AskTheNewGM How new is a new GM if a new GM is new? More seriously, how does it feel being the first 'new' GM in almost a decade?
To be honest, I don't really think about it that much. I've been in the club longer than either of the last two GMs have and have seen nearly every GM the club has had, so I don't really think of it the same way as I imagine some other members do. Hopefully, I can continue to build on the great things they both have done for our club, while continuing to add my own touches.
@AskTheNewGM Darth what?
Darth Verst? ;)
Areticus Altainatus asks...
@AskTheNewGM What do you think will be some of the hardest decisions, that you can share, that you know is coming your way as GM?
Setting and sticking to a GJW date, based on my past experience in helping run them, hah. But in all seriousness, I don't want to speculate as typically these hard decisions are made when we have to do something that ideally we wouldn't need to.
Leeadra Halcyon asks...
@AskTheNewGM What is your stance on red pandas
The only panda worth having is a red panda. glances at Howlader Hmm.
@AskTheNewGM does pineapple go on pizza?
There's always a better topping, but good pizza can survive a chunk of pineapple. For those that do not know, I currently live in New Haven.
Lexiconus asks... @AskTheNewGM Do you think Benioff and Weiss will make the Star Wars fanbase proud after being announced to make a new saga?
I hope so, but to be honest, unless they're hiring George RR Martin to write for them, I'm going to maintain a healthy skepticism.
Any ideas to attract new membership in volume? And how do we propose to do that without deviating from the core club culture?
We are planning to increase our social media presence and hope this attracts new members. We will see what comes from the upcoming Recruitment Tribune position, but I don't think there is a secret to bringing in a large volume of new members suddenly. When it has been done before, the majority do not stick around.
@AskTheNewGM As the Club grows, as we switch leaders, as we continue each year, change is natural. Even beneficial. As GM for the next three years, what are two things you'd like to see us give up (or grow beyond), and two things you'd like to see us take up (or get better at) over your term? What do you see that will make us better, as individuals and a Club?
I don't exactly have two things I would like to give up or necessarily take up; but I would ask all members, regardless of how long they have been in the club, to allow their perspectives to be challenged and accept that what is best for the club may not always seem to be what is the best for any one of us individually in the short term. We will be critically evaluating many club structures/functions in the coming months - so maybe then you can ask me about the two things. ;)
1. As Grand Master, you're effectively the head of this club. While you have an entire Dark Council to work with on various projects, many members are often curious and interested about helping on such a macro-level scale. Are there any chances that a non-DC member can get involved in such large scale projects, and if so, what would be a likely scenario that could make that happen?
There are often numerous non-Dark Council members involved in large scale projects and I will require that continues. I don't know of any large-scale project I have run that has not had several members outside of the DC, and I feel strongly it is important we engage members across units and at different ranks in projects as frequently as possible.
The best way for a member to get involved is to be proactive and if you see a project you would like to be involved in, volunteer even if you haven't seen specific requests for it. Also, some DCers - I know Wally has done this often - ask for volunteers. I would encourage members to actively ask about specific projects, rather than simply asking for work, because it demonstrates initiative and interest in a given area. It doesn't mean you'll get on the project, but you have a better shot that way.
Laren also asks...
2. Whether for a music club or a Star Wars club, recruitment is important. Currently, we're lucky enough to be in an era where Star Wars is a mainstream product, with canon content being churned out all the time, and that's likely something we can take advantage of. Though only hours into your new seat, do you have any specific ideas as to how the Dark Brotherhood can capitalize on Star Wars popularity to increase recruitment numbers, and address member retention?
I've discussed this a bit above and in various question answers above and in previous documents; the short answer is that I agree we need to increase new joins and plan to utilize Recruitment Tribune and an increased social media presence, with plans likely to evolve along the way. Retention is a multi-tiered problem and I believe some aspects of retention will be addressed by some of our early projects we have planned, particularly transparency in how to earn promotions through a promotion points/experience points system. We intend to take a closer look at where we are losing people, though, and that could adjust our plans.
Laren also asks...
3. At the heart of this club is fan fiction, pure and simple. I'm curious, what has been your experience with fan fiction over the years, in the Brotherhood or otherwise, and how are you going to approach Brotherhood related writing during your tenure?
Fiction and world building are central to the club, and as Grand Master, one of my most important roles is overseeing fictional direction and development. However, I will be taking a more macro view of our plotlines and am unlikely to write the majority of fiction that advances our plotlines. As to my background, I don't have an extensive background in fan fiction specifically, and in fact, for the early part of my career in the club I wasn't able to enter fiction competitions due to how Orders were structured. In the past, Obelisk and Sith could not enter fiction competitions without clones. That said, I have an enormous amount of roleplaying experience in online systems through various MUDs and other MMOs, along with various endeavors in real life roleplaying. I love world building and creating immersive experiences for myself and other players/members, and that is my goal as I direct the Brotherhood's fiction.
Ozosi asks... What do you see could improve with the Heraldry and what do you see or want to see expanding from this department as a whole for members alike?
This is probably the strongest the Herald's office has ever been, but I am most interested in seeing the launch of the Graphics Society. We can evaluate the office after that, but overall I am very happy with our growing art community and how the Herald's office has helped to foster it.
Whew! That was a lot of great questions. Thanks, all!
That's it for this week. Look for more announcements soon, but until then... May the Force be with you!