Headmaster's Report #13: This Isn't an Unlucky Report
Victory-II Star Destroyer Paladin, Main Bridge
“Has the candidate been brought aboard?”
“Yes, my Lord.”
Farrin Xies, Headmaster of the Brotherhood, nodded slightly. A small grin that did not reach his eyes could be seen through his unkempt beard, which he scratched idly with his left hand.
“See to it that the mercenary stays with his ship. He is not to move until I say otherwise.” His voice was deep and rough, but firm. Farrin was not a man who was used to being in a subordinate position, bearing a commanding presence even as he hobbled slightly toward the exit of the bridge.
The Headmaster went over the details in his head as he exited the bridge. Laren Uscot, twenty-nine years old, born on Pantora but taken as a slave. Mercenary, informant, and a man with a penchant for murder without question. He looked down at the detailed dossier in his hands, reading it half-heartedly as the lift began taking him away from the bridge. He had already combed over and memorized the important details, learning everything about the man. Some used blasters or lightsabers as their weapons. Farrin prefered to cultivate assets through subversion and superiority by knowing those whom he desired better than they knew themselves. Uscot wasn’t the first mercenary to attempt this meeting, though with luck he would be the last.
“Lord Bnar” Farrin said, speaking into his commlink. “Prepare to meet our guest in the hangar.”
“Perhaps the last. I sense something…” Farrin trailed off, terminating the commlink.
Shoutout to Laren for writing an excellent opening fiction for a SA Staff Run-on. You can find the entire thing (as well as the rest of the run-on as we get it rolling) here.
The old History Courses are, well…
Two and a half years ago I researched and wrote something like 20,000-25,000 words of Star Wars History courses for the SA. I was, and still am, very proud of them.
Then Disney bought Star Wars and the majority of my courses were no longer canon. No, I’m not still bitter…
My plan for these courses was to condense them, spin off the material that wasn’t canon anymore into separate courses and keep a smaller number of core, canon courses. This was a bit more of a project than I had time for, so I brought in Lexic. He did some great work getting them started, and when he stepped down my Praetor Extraordinare, Laren, and our Magistrates stepped up and got them finished. I’m pleased to announce that they are now done.
The new, canon-friendly courses are:
The old courses have been added to the Legends Department and are being renamed Galactic Legends 101-108. Also alongside these changes, the History and Legends degrees will be updated as soon as James can tackle it:
The Dark Maven: Galactic History now requires the four GH courses, 101-104.
The Dark Savant: History and Lore no longer requires the (now Legends) GH VI-VIII.
There is a new Dark Maven: Historical Legends that requires Galactic Legends 101-105.
There is a new Dark Savant: Legends that will require the Dark Maven: Historical Legends, Dark Maven: Legends, and the remaining Galactic Legends courses (106-108).
Now Hiring: Magistrate
Celevon has stepped down after serving an excellent six month term. I want to thank him for all of his hard work, and he will certainly be missed. With that said, Laren and I are looking for someone new to join our merry band of misfits. Applications must go to both of us (send it to only one of us and we’re automatically rejecting you) and are due by 6/23. We’re looking for someone detail-oriented that can help us write/rewrite/edit courses. As a reminder, we no longer have the six-month terms. Specific requirements are:
No minimum rank, but preference will go to someone below EQ2.
24 hour email turn-around time, with sub-12 strongly preferred. Telegram presence is preferred as well, even though I can't make it mandatory.
Strong grasp of the English language and comfort in researching, editing, and writing content.
No history of plagiarism or SA-related Justicar offenses.
I end each report asking for your help in spotting and notifying us of any errors you come across using our Google Form. I wanted to include a reminder about that in the main section of my report in case y’all don’t read all the way through. :)
Ask the HM!
I think my favorite part of writing reports is the #AskTheHM section, and this month’s was yet another wonderful example. Here are some of them:
Katicorn (Maenaki) asked: “Who are you and what do you do?!”
- I drink and I know things. Mostly the former, sometimes the latter.
Sang Entar asked: “Can you get 6 people to take one of my exams to help me reach 1100 exams marked? :P”
- Damn, 1100? I’ll see what I can do. Take his exams!
Kelly Mendes asked: “what advice would you give to someone struggling to complete an exam?”
- Read the course notes, read the course notes, read the course notes. If you're still struggling, there's no shame at all in reaching out to the course PROF/DOC or the SA staff for assistance. We can't/won't give you the answer, but we can point you in the right direction.
Locke asked: “what are you doing for the GJW?”
- There will be an SA component. I’ve got a really cool idea but I need to work out how to make it work. I’ll also be assisting others with grading, specially Wally.
Malik Sadow asked: “when will we get rid of stupid essay questions? :P”
- We're never gonna get rid of them across the board. I think they serve a useful purpose in making sure that you actually understand the information presented. I'm always open to suggestions on how to improve them though :P
Kelly Mendes asked: “Is there a balance to be found in the leadership courses between new/prospective leaders and those who have been in positions for some time and just never taken the courses?”
- Revamping the leadership courses are something we're planning for the next month or so. The DC is still having a discussion on what we officially think their purpose is, but my viewpoint is that they need to illuminate best practices we expect leaders in the DB, new or old, to utilize
Juliana Kelrune asked: “Are there any plans yet to introduce a course on those battle plan things?”
- Not yet, but I'd recommend looking up old battle plan comps and look at the entries. Some of them are fantastic
Kelly Mendes asked: “What’s currently your favorite thing about the SA?”
- Definitely the kickass staff. Laren, Ood, and Bentre are fantastic and we’ve got a really solid PROF/DOC line-up.
Malik Sadow asked: “Why do we still have courses that make you look outside the notes to find answers?”
- The vast majority shouldn't, and if you feel that any do I invite you to let me know so I can have those fixed. Now a couple are special circumstances - the ACC courses come ot mind most readily. But for the most part all info you need to pass the exam should be in the notes. Now, some might invite you to do extra outside reading if you want to delve deeper, but that's different.
TuQ’uan Varick asked: “if it were only possible to take one course in the SA (prerequisites aside) which would you do and why?”
- I love the History courses (because I wrote them and because I love history). However, if I had to pick one course... probably one of the two ACC courses. As a RL educator I really like how they're laid out and how the exams work - they're practical and teach you a skill that you can immediately apply in the DJB.
Arden Karn asked: “Has there been any development of more interactive delivery methods/courses?”
- That project got put on the backburner for a couple of different reasons, but it's definitely something I hope to get working again after the GJW.
Furios asked: “Why wouldn't a system in which certain courses and degrees have additional rewards on the CS be viable? (I.e. an extra point in Tactics for earning a Sage in Tactics)”
- Hmm... so, solely speaking as HM, I don't see why that wouldn't be viable. I wouldn't think the coding element would be difficult on James' end (famous last words). With that said, you're touching on elements from a couple of other DCers' purview, so that's a larger DC discussion.
Kultak Drol asked: “Is there any possibility for exams that cover specific powers and skills? So as to provide examples of how one might use them and possibly help guide newcomers.”
- Are you talking about powers/feats/etc. on your CS? I've never thought about it, but it's something I can talk to Atra and Wally about and we can see if there's a better way to present that info
Shadow Academy Staff are currently engaged in the following projects:
SW History Department Rewrite - Laren: Because of the evil Darth Mickey, my beloved Galactic History courses aren't fully canon anymore. The courses have been rewritten by Lexic and Laren, and as you’ve already read are being released as we speak. Woot! Estimated completion: Done!
DJB History I & II Update/Rewrite - Alishu: Alishu has completed first drafts of both courses and they've been sent to the DC for approval. The DC has a lot on its plate right now, but I think we'll see some movement on this soon to get these courses released for all to enjoy. Estimated completion: TBD
Operation Remodel - SA Staff: In an effort to streamline the organization of the Shadow Academy and make it easier to initially get to information and then to find similar information, the SA will see a fairly extensive reorganization. The first phase of this is done, and the graphical elements will begin shortly. Estimated completion: end of 6/2017
Operation Remodel (Degrees) - SA Staff: The reorganization, as well as the addition/removal of various courses, has left some of our degrees a bit outdated. With the release of the new History courses, we’ve asked James to rework the History and Legends degrees as outlined above in my report. The Leadership and Law degrees are still being sorted, and I don’t have a timetable for their completion. Estimated completion: TBD
- There are a couple of things in the earliest planning stages, but aren’t quite ready for prime time. Stay tuned for more.
Top Exam Takers
|Name||# of Exams||# of ACs|
|Neophyte Wolfe Whitehorn||63||71|
|Proselyte Joforth Reed||29||14|
|Knight Hiset Tval||25||51|
|Warrior Azmodius Equesinfernum||24||54|
|Hunter Erik Cato||24||56|
Note: these numbers cover the period from 5/15/17 to 6/14/17 and count both initial attempts and retakes.
The Shadow Academy covers tens if not hundreds of thousands of words, and those words were written by imperfect humans (GASP!). We try our best to catch and fix any and all errors before we release courses, but we're not always successful. Because of that, we will always need your help. If you spot an error, please report it to the SA Staff using this simple form; if it's a major enough error, or you spot enough, you'll be rewarded. At the very least, you'll get the thanks of a grateful HM... that's gotta count for something, right?
In Darkness -
Headmaster of the Shadow Academy