Hello, one and all, to the Proconsul report of the Ascendant Clan! This makes it report number three. Since I sometimes take the saying, "Three times a charm", a bit too seriously, I decided I would do things a bit differently this report around. Along with the usual Brotherhood News updates and competition highlights, I opted to have members ask me some questions, using the hashtag #AsktheMerc. There will be no words of wisdom this report around, as I think the questions themselves do a lot of good in addressing some major areas of interest among our membership. And also I get to talk about my own character, so that's always super fun, too. Finally, I'll touch briefly upon the upcoming episode of the PlagCast, as well as the podcast's bright future.
I suppose we can get down to business, then. So without further adieu, let's get to it.
While we are focused on our own worlds, the club and its leadership never sleep. Reports are released almost daily, filled with super useful and intriguing information. While not the most important aspect of being a member, I would say a top three good thing to do in the Dark Brotherhood is read all the reports. At least skim them. It keeps you in the know of news and important changes that positively affect your member experience, and we like feeling gratified knowing you read stuff. Can't hide the latter.
Grand Master Report #1 - The first report by our new Grand Master and effective head of the Dark Brotherhood, Mav aka Telaris Cantor. In his first report, Mav provides another quick overview of the health of the club, and provides some insight and information about upcoming administrative team decisions, mainly the process he is using to choose his new Deputy Grand Master, upcoming applications for Recruitment Tribune (R:T), and open applications for a special Magistrate (M:GM) position due March 4th. I recommend this as a must read.
Shadow Academy Seeking Professor - The Shadow Academy is still seeking applications for a Professor of Legends position. Seriously, working for the Shadow Academy was an amazing experience. A majority of you probably qualify, so why not go ahead and give it a shot?
Ajunta Pall Aedile Report - In which Azmodius seeks to make fun of me, and actually provide some really encouraging words of wisdom in the process.
House Karness Muur Quaestor Report - In which Furios strokes me ego, and oh my god this is his 12th report! One year as Quaestor of HKM. Unreal.
Master At Arms Report #9 - Where Howie poorly advertises his super fun puzzles, and provides some tips and tricks to leaders and regular members alike on everything MAA related. No featured scream at Howie questions, though. Shame, Howie.
New Chamber of Justice Staff - In which Jac congratulates the outgoing Chamber of Justice team, as well as welcomes (and also congratulates) the incoming Chamber of Justice team. Hint: it's a bit Plagueis heavy! More on the details below in awards, promotions and appointments.
Important Recognitions and Appointments
Arden Karn was awarded an Amethyst Kukri for his efforts spanning years of past Brotherhood experience and extended efforts on all fronts. In light of this, Arden was recognized with this award. Today, he was also appointed as Right Hand of Justice (RHoJ), a member of the Chamber of Justice team. On both counts, congratulations and well earned.
Dacien Victae di Plagia, along side being appointed a member of the Star Chamber Team of Advisors, was also appointed as Left Hand of Justice (LHoJ), another important member of the Chamber of Justice. For your continued service and presence, congratulations and thank you, Bubba.
Tahiri Thorn Morte Tarantae, aka the Best, was appointed as an Appeals Panelist of the Chamber of Justice (APL). Congratulations, Tahiri.
As always, remember to take a regular look at the Competition Page. Lots of competitions require little to moderate effort, and for the miniscule amount of time you take to participate, you get to have fun and enjoy yourself in the process. So please, for me, go and do the things! For valid gaming submissions, you can earn Clusters of Fire or Earth. For valid Fiction submissions, you can earn Clusters of Ice. For valid graphics submissions, you can earn Clusters of Graphite! And for all competitions, from flash games to gaming to puzzles and beyond, with a little effort, there is always the chance you can earn Crescents for a Top Three finish. But as I said, you’ll never know until you do it.
Also, though it may not be a competition, it is still competitive. I recommend checking out the ACC for a fun writing experience. Like everything it may not be for everyone, but I recommend all members qualify (for those Shadow Academy credits) and try it out before making final judgement. It's a unique system that the club offers, run by a great group of folks.
Organized by the lovable Kel Dor mercenary, our very own TuQ'uan Varick, your task is to write a piece of fiction explaining how our Clan mascot got stolen, and how you get it back (or fail to do so). The competition is open to the entire Brotherhood, but I know there are a few of you out there with the writing chops to make a good story out of this.
Type: Flash Gaming/Puzzles
The competition title is fairly straightforward, and it's a chance to earn some Third Level Crescents. If enough folk do it, there might (maybe) be a Crescent upgrade! There is also a seventh competition, another MAA Puzzle #17 as well. Perhaps do both? You decide.
Have you ever pictured your already super cool character as an actual super hero? Do you ever day dream what it might be like if Obi-Wan had actually been Superman? Imagine no further, and draw it. Depict your character in the a qualified medium as a super humanoid on the streets of Coruscant. Jedi and Sith are already basically super powered, so feel free to go a little over the edge on realism and enjoy the artistic process. Go, flex those pencils and brushes and photoshop skills!
Last night (Sunday, February 25, 2018), the upcoming fifth episode of the PlagCast was recorded, with special guest and our favourite Rollmaster Arden Karn as our lovely guest! The PlagCast will be released in due course. It might be our longest episode yet, and poor Vivackus has to edit the behemoth.
In the meantime, if you haven't already taken a listen to the Plagueis podcast, here are the locations of each of the episodes and their corresponding news release:
Stay tuned for Episode V, folks!
And here we have come to it. The bulk of this report. I hope you all love me for answering every... single... question.
And in no particular order.
Dralin Fortea asks: If Laren were Dralin's companion aboard The Bad Idea, where would he want to go and why?
So since this is basically Dralin Who (DW) and Laren is some sweet sidekick with a crazy backstory, let's start off fresh with a complex plot. Laren already has the fixings of a decent DW character: humanoid like alien with a harsh past, smarter than he first appears with room for growth and compassion, the capacity for genuine friendship with Dralin in his ship that isn't quite so big on the inside as it is on the outside, because physics.
All that aside, Laren would want to go where Dralin created the most chaos. To be clear, I don't mean chaos in a good or bad sense, just into situations or planet's that have a lot going on. Laren likes being in the midst of the action, and if Dralin can prove himself worthy of not stabbing him in the back, Laren might just find himself another friend. That's why he approves of TuQ', after all.
Dralin Fortea also asks: You have experience with both Bravo Fleet and the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. Are there any other fictional universes you wish you could explore with the same depth?
Yes, and three in particular come to mind. I have always wanted to run a Stargate based collaborative fiction project, for sure. I used to write fan fiction, actually (it's deleted, I checked). The second is definitely Warcraft based, mainly around the pre-WoW plotlines of Warcraft III. And the third is the Wheel of Time, but not the contemporary universe, but rather writing during the era following the Trolloc Wars.
Leeadra Halcyon asks: #AskTheMerc How do you feel about that FIST guy stealing your Q&A thunder?
Not only did he start it first, but he's the Fist. He could just cuff me down a snot or two. But Drac's good peeps so I don't mind. I even asked the Fist a question myself!
Vivackus Kavon asks: #AsktheMerc if you had control of Disney for one day and you’re able to do one Star Wars related thing, what would you do?
I would make sure all the writers for Knights of the Old Republic and Knights of the Old Republic II were hired in top tier writing positions for the reintroduction of the world of the Old Republic into canon on the big screen and on television/Netflix land because I need that back in my life and I am still bitter KOTOR was incomplete at the end and wow. It counts if it's one run-on sentence, right?
Vivackus Kavon also asks: #AsktheMerc how many porg sized Wookiees would it take to beat a Wookiee sized porg in a fight?
One. Porgs are ruthless, man. Its flipper would crush the Wookiee without pause.
Wrathus asks: Here's a question, not just for #AsktheMerc, but everyone. Have you ever regretted inviting someone to a group or game that you enjoy?
As I answered prior, absolutely. But I've been fortunate enough to have friends that recognize this and we can move past that. Sometimes we aren't meant to share certain experiences with certain people, and that's okay.
Furios Morega asks: #AsktheMerc what are your top three incentives for doing things in the DB?
First incentive: we all get to nerd the hell out about Star Wars. Second Incentive: for every single thing that you do in this club, from talking on Telegram to participating in competitions and everything in between, you get recognized for it with either credits, clusters, crescents, or written recognition during awards of promotions based on your activity. Three: you form lasting relationships, online or otherwise, with the people you get to nerd out about Star Wars with.
#AsktheMerc Having had plenty of both, what do you think it is about DC assistant positions vs. clan summit positions that creates the disparity of applicants described in Mav's GM Report?
This is a question I've been asking myself a lot recently, as well. I don't know if I have the end-all-be-all answer, but I'll provide my nickel (five cent piece in Canada) on the matter.
Firstly, the differences. In short, any position outside of a Clan is largely going to be its own, unique mixture of project-based work with smaller group sizes. You're working with a specialized group of people drawn from various corners of the club, under the leadership or with the advice of others, to create long term content. In contrast, a Clan position is less project based and primarily based in "front line" leadership, working with a larger member base with a specific, shared identity, driving them to participate and enjoy the long term content created by the former.
So in answer to the question, I think it's all a matter of perspective and value. For one reason or another, people are perceiving there is more value in expending effort in the chance to apply and be a part of something that will have a larger audience, rather than applying for positions with a specific audience in a Clan. Furthermore, I also think it comes down to a flawed perception of the type of work available, whereas DC-related positions are more subject specific while Clan leadership is member specific.
Overall, I think that perception is flawed, and here's why. Everywhere a member decides to put in effort is important, especially in the contemporary leadership field. Whether you want to be involved as a Clan leader, or be involved as, say, an ACC Judge, or a Magistrate to the Herald, you are in the midst of creating content in a specific "place" in the Brotherhood. Do not discount being a leader in a Clan versus a leader or staff member in one of our departments. Nurturing Clan members to activity, and showing them the ropes and how to have fun is the most important aspect of our club. Without folks who believe what they do is valued, how can we hope to have new and incoming members stick around and help the Voice or Shadow Academy create fantastic content in the future?
We all matter, basically. And truly.
Kelly Mendes asks: #AsktheMerc What is your view on House specific fiction? It's something I've thought about but even when every event we ran was House vs House there wasn't really anything to set the two houses apart except participation numbers.
I think, ultimately, House specific fiction is fine, I guess? The idea is that the Club runs a plot, the Clans find their place within it, and the Houses of that Clan work with their Summit to find their place and own subplots. I think. Does that make sense? They're fun though.
Kelly also asks: #AsktheMerc What does Laren really think of Selika?
Foremost in Laren's mind: she's hella scary. She strikes fear into him, and though he can keep a level head, she is literally a space witch.
So his ultimate task, though he knows he is perceived to be nothing of importance in comparison to the other Force Users of Clan Plagueis, is to find ways to make himself completely invaluable to Selika. Running missions on her behalf, or on behalf of the Clan, and using information she wants or needs as leverage to keep himself useful and alive.
Guess what, Kelly asks again: #askthemerc Where do you see Aliso going fictionally? Currently Aliso City is somethiing of a frontier city, would you rather see it become one of many cities/outposts that pop up despite Plagueis' seemingly attitude of apathy towards it or develop as the one city on the planet but it's pretty big?
We've been there for two years. I still see Aliso as this frontier city on the edge of nowhere, but it is slowly growing. The Clan itself is growing. Growing both within itself, and perhaps elsewhere. Keep your eyes peeled for some potential new Aliso City or other Plagueis related content later in the year, perhaps of the ACC venue kind. ;)
Kelly, again: #askthemerc Also what do you see as being Plagueis' next big fight? What we have so far seems like we'll have to fight off the Collective in some way shape or form, but would we be seeing them fight through proxies, and would we be alone in fighting them? I mean I know the other clans will also have to fight them, but like would we maybe reach out and have some form of temporary, potentially longer, alliance to defeat them?
Well, considering Selika's loyalties are to the Brotherhood and the Inquisitorius, not to mention herself, it is safe to assume our next big fight will be with The Collective itself. While most of our fictional development is under wraps (even from you) and on hold until some real administrative shuffles have been made, I can tell you this: I ideally want to fight one part of The Collective, perhaps make one of its three arms our largest enemy, and flesh out a story on that regard a bit more. But as I said, more to follow.
As for alliances... you'll see. ;)
#AsktheMerc this is going to be a long report isn't it?
God damn it, Kelly.
TuQ'uan Varick asks: #askthemerc why are you blue? Do you need a hug?
I love blue characters. Always have. And always need a hug.
TuQ also asks: #askthemerc does Laren have a secret agenda to take over the Ascendant clan and replace Force Users with NFUs? I'm asking for a friend.
I mean, maybe? But probably not. He has poor leadership skills at the best of times. He likes to think he just wants to keep killing people, but he's starting to gain a bit of a softer side for gasp his friends.
Tahiri Drakon Tarantae asks: #AsktheMerc What do you think of the Collective?
Interesting question with a complex answer. I think the Collective is a fascinating antagonist, or I guess I should say set of antagonists since it is comprised of multiple factions. And honestly, the factions are what make the Collective so enticing as our primary antagonist. We finally have an enemy that is truly huge, an enemy that can match the size and strength of the Brotherhood in some capacity. Furthermore, it's a group of (mostly) Non-Force Users giving the good ol' Sith, Grays and Lighties a run for their proverbial money. There is nothing worse than being challenged by someone with an obvious handicap, and still finding it hard to defeat them.
As well, the ethical and moral motivations of some of the key figures behind the Collective are truly fun to be able to see in action. Daggo Mouk, for example, is absolutely bonkers, reminding me of an Ithorian Riddler without the riddles and with more immoral scientific experiments. The entire Liberation Front, led by a man who bears immense pain, and has turned that pain into a warped yet genuine desire to achieve what he considers is true "equality", noble in its own twisted way. These are just a few examples, but I think good ones of the true diversity we have in such a villain.
Tahiri also asks: Do you think that they will make an appearance in any upcoming DB or Clan fiction?
Julius Caesar asks: #AsktheMerc what do you think is the most crucial step in member retention at each rank group (Elder, Equite, etc).
Great question, Julius. For new members and Journeymen (JM), the most important aspect of member retention is twofold. Make them feel welcome, and make sure they feel like they're achieving. Make them feel that the time they invest here to have fun is fun, and is worth it. In fact, the same goes for all three levels of rank.
For Equites, another aspect of member retention is what I would perceive to be "stagnation". Some feel stuck in their rank progression, and no matter what they do, that won't change. As leaders, it's our job to help them not feel that way, to find them meaningful experiences to keep them around.
For Elders, the most important aspect of retention is everything mentioned before, as well as their own ability to adapt. As long as you keep in mind that the club changes year to year with the intention of improvement and adaptation for the current membership, and that you embrace those changes, you're golden Ponyboy.
Julius also asks: #AsktheMerc does pineapple go on pizza?
No. Full stop.
And finally, Julius asks: #AsktheMerc What is the single most important metric you look at when judging a unit?
I would argue there isn't one, but the single most important metric is overall participation numbers. That gives us a sense of member activity in a nutshell. How many things are people doing, what things are they doing, and when are they doing them? Among so many other things.
Bubba aka Dacien Victae di Plagia asks: #AsktheMerc Is this an acceptable question?
I mean, it's a question, so let's go with that.
Mark Schueler aka Andrelious J. Mimosa-Inahj asks: #AsktheMerc Another draft event with Tal? :D
Third annual Pro Bowl is approaching, friend. So perhaps.
Teylas Ramar di Plagia asks: #AsktheMerc Was your biggest mistake all those years ago meeting me, or being friends with me? :P
Second biggest. First was meeting Brad. God damn it Brad.
TuQ'uan also asks: #askthemerc who's your favourite NFU other than yourself? (and) #askthemerc why did you bring me here? (and) #askthemerc how's your day going?
Julius Caesar also asks: #askthemerc when do you start your new job?
Monday, March 5th. Employed again! Retirement lasted only weeks.
Wrathus asks: #AsktheMerc why?
Kelly asks: #AsktheMerc are we there yet? Is the report almost done?
Well, you keep asking questions, so there we have it.
Bubba finishes with: Only you can end it?
Change is afoot, friends, and it's for the better. Once this new administration has its feet under it and we hear more from the top, the pace of Clan activity is going to kick into gear once more. If all keeps on as it is now, expect for a possible Clan (or larger) event sometime around early/mid April, subject to change if necessary. I encourage you all to organize and participate in competitions across the Brotherhood, while we await our coming days with glorious anticipation.
Finally, I wanted to give a shoutout to outgoing Grand Master Pravus for his 2nd Golden Lightsaber, his recent reign as Grand Master, and all the work he has done and continues to do for the club. You'll find him over in Shadow Academy land as a lowly Professor, now. Wherever you may end up, I wish you smooth sailing, best of luck and happy days.
Friends, as always, it is a pleasure.
Adapt. Ascend. Avail.
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