Time to go over some of the larger topics and updates since the last report. I will introduce some new guidelines and provide an update on possessions. Overall, I am happy with the progress on possessions. It’s shaping up to be both scalable and manageable after launch and creates a foundation for some great potential updates in the future. We have to start somewhere, though, and that’s the plan.
I have made some adjustments in my reports on fiction results and opportunities. I’ve mentioned a few times in my other reports and long term that I want to get this into a fiction center or hub of some sort, but I’ve shelved that ambition for another day. I’ve read and seen some great stories, and not all of it was just by members who happened to submit to DJB wide events. I hope to see it created in my vision someday.
So I’ll get on with it ...
I want to disclose and review a few things about the newly documented and released NPC Character Sheet Guidelines. I won’t go over all the guidelines word by word in my report because you can read them on the wiki, but I’ll give an overview of the obvious major inclusions and reasons.
Clan Usage: Clans can now request NPC Character Sheets for competitions and storylines. When it comes to competitions, an NPC Character Sheet can be a valuable tool to create a better experience for members where they end up writing other characters and have a valuable frame of reference, so these new guidelines enable their creation. Some character persists beyond just one set of competitions, and can become a valuable storytelling tool who is developed and grows with the Clan. Where it makes sense, with collaboration and approval, these NPC Character Sheets will remain in the hands of Clan Summits to tell their stories and build up a fictional identity.
Vendettas: The Dark Council will both create and assign NPC Character Sheets to help enhance Vendetta competitions. Hardly a big change, since this has already been taking place as many members likely noticed in recent events, but naturally extends to Clan Feuds as well where the use of these valuable character sheet tools can help with competition prompts and member activities. This is all just now documented across all types.
Individual Member: For completeness sake, I mentioned it again, but we are waiting until after possessions to decide what to do regarding individual members having additional character sheets beyond their own. I like the idea of allowing members at least 1 NPC Character Sheet to utilize for their own storytelling purposes, but how to go about it will be determined later. I didn’t want to hold up extending this to Clans while waiting to figure it out for members.
Just some of my own opinions on the matter that I brought up when discussing and developing these guidelines. Members should always come first. One reason not to allow NPC Character Sheets at all would be that Clans should look to highlight and work with their members to make them part of the story as much as possible. If a member’s character works, always go there first. However, I recognize that isn’t always possible and manifesting a villain or creating specific persistent characters that can interact with everyone is preferable and ideal.
Used and developed appropriately, an NPC would be a recurring member in a Clan storyline that would show up in multiple competition prompts over time as they develop along with the Clan. Losing that established character could then become as detrimental as giving up a member’s own character that they have been attached to for years. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to write guidelines that prevent poor character development, but it’s encouraged and this is intended to reward those who do it by giving them access to more as they need.
The wiki is an amazing and flexible tool that allows anyone to create as many characters as they put their mind and energy into. I will always ask myself, why not just make a wiki article in every instance of a request to create an NPC Character Sheet. There are great wiki resources in the Shadow Academy, Basics and Editing, and you can even put more details than the Voice staff is going to allow in a CS anyways though you should still mind Wiki guidelines and best practices.
As always, you can always go to the Character Sheet Approval Guidelines for guidance on CS approvals. Here are a few important notes of things that have come up recently.
Precedence: Just so it’s clear, a CS being approved does not immediately make all content on that CS precedent to be referenced when trying to defend why your own CS violates CS approval guidelines. Insisting that the Voice staff has erred and needs to approve it won’t help you achieve your goals, nor will accusations of my staff holding heinous double standards. The error might be in the approved sheet that’s being referenced, but just remember that we’re human. Sometimes things get missed, but we work through them.
Wiki v. Character Sheet: The idea behind a character sheet is to help others to write your character, and understand how and why they do things and what their motivation might be. The lines start to blur when I talk with members about a character’s history and backstory, because while it in a large part shapes the reasons a character acts, there is still clear separation. This continues to come up on a weekly basis as backstory and history show up in the physical description and weapon loadout or in unnecessary detail in custom Aspects. If history plays a part in a specific element for your character's behavior, it belongs in the context of a Custom Aspect. You can list what caused your character to get a scar in your Physical Description, and give the story of how it happened on the wiki, but if the scar is a reminder of your past failures and gives you a fierce determination or has any other impact on how your character will act that’s the part that goes into aspects. Or as another example, you can say your character has a muscular build and is a perfectly conditioned shape in your Physical Description, and go into detail about a life in the military and character history in your wiki, but regarding their discipline and solid work ethic would belong in aspects.
Active v. Invalid: On the same topic of precedence and content of character sheets, once the CS is approved and active we will always try and maintain that status unless something is majorly broken. Of course systemic changes may invalidate a sheet, but that’s a different topic. There are a few reasons why I am against an “invalidate” type button. First, the character sheet might already be in use in some manner, and the continuity of that storytelling is important. Second, it might take some time to address the issues that a member doesn’t have right away and it could prevent a member from being active in some manner after the unexpected change. Finally, it prevents a potential witch-hunt of sorts of members bringing character sheets to me for any reason at all, be it harmless or vindictive. The preferred method will always be to reach out to the member in question and work with them on their schedule if there are major issues that got approved that shouldn’t have been. In the end, we’re all just trying to have fun.
Remember: You can have someone proof your CS (Voice staff email:[Log in to view e-mail addresses]) or your unit leadership should be willing). You can preview your CS before submitting. Both are easy, and make the process go much more smoothly and result in a higher quality CS.
There is a new code deployed that creates a Fiction Competition Archetype. This goes to great lengths to automate word counting, before submitting those words counts for automatic review by the Voice staff upon conclusion of an event.
Word Count Adjustments: There might be adjustments to the word count that are automated, for ID line inclusions or other details on a document that aren’t part of the actual story and work of fiction. It is the responsibility of the competition organizer to review and make these adjustments. Small shifts will likely go through unscrutinized, but major adjustments from what is automatically calculated will be reviewed and questioned.
Regular Competition: Despite words being written and submitted, does not always mean a competition makes sense to award Clusters of Ice. If grading it trivial or the prompt doesn’t lend itself to storytelling using the Regular competition type over Fiction will make more sense and could get a competition remanded. If there are questions, just ask.
Invalid Submissions: Not necessarily part of the new archetype but a competition organizer will setup requirements for their competition if there are any. This can be any number of things from a minimum word count to requirements that it be from the perspective of your character. During the later grading phase then, submissions not meeting those requirements of the competition should be invalid. I’ve had discussions with organizers wanting to award clusters of ice despite not meeting requirements or still reward effort. I don’t decide the requirements, and there doesn’t even have to be a minimum word count, so think a bit harder if it’s actually a requirement if you’re okay awarding members who don’t meet them otherwise they’re arbitrary.
I wanted to give a brief update on possessions since it consumes most of my time not spent working through character sheets, competitions, and new guidelines to support the Clans. I have goals and plans to keep up with the Grand Master’s ambitious plans while working through the details. Currently, the team (mostly the Voice staff with input from a few others) are completing the initial sets of data with plans to be complete by the end of April. With help from Yacks (or at least, oversight and well thought out complaints), I will get everything into a spreadsheet format for modeling and review with a plan to have a beta rolled out to the greater membership by the end of May. It’s hard to say how long it will stay in beta, but it will likely be at least a few months before things are ready to go live. As we get ready to go into beta, I will look to rely on the entire membership to help provide feedback and collect data to have input into the system within a few months. Around Aspects, and completeness of the information.
If we fail to meet these deadlines, I'll be sure to discuss it and give further updates on what's holding us back.
[INQ] A New Order's Rending: The Voice is running a Fiction competition where your character either carries out an objective for the Inquisitorius or takes on a mission for the Resistance against them with a bonus of additional Clusters of Ice for completing this Brotherhood plot level competition. It runs until April 13th with about 3 weeks left to submit.
Jawa Jail Break: Savant Kordath Bleu d'Tana is running a Fiction competition where your character breaks a high-value prisoner from a remote prison guarded mainly by a heavily armed Jawa force ending on the 31st at the end of this month.
Dungeons and Krayt Dragons: Ranger Turel Sorenn is running a Fiction competition where your character ends up in a traditional fantasy universe and the resulting tale ending on the 31st at the end of this month.
Using the appropriate archetype will automatically award clusters of ice for competitions. However, for plot and storylines still email [Log in to view e-mail addresses], for Clusters of Ice to be awarded including a link.
I’ve had a lot of fun the past few months debating and discussing Star Wars items, as I am a Star Wars fan after all. While many guidelines I’ll leave on cruise control as is, for now, I really picked up on the NPC CS Guidelines discussion to enable Clans to do what they do and create a better member experience. I prioritize my work around what benefits the members first, as I aim to serve them, so it was a quick win to get that out there amidst the possessions discussions. If you ever have any questions, ideas, feel free to let me know. I do my best to reply quickly. Telegram works for a quick question but major proposals and long thought processes definitely get more reception in an email.
Voice of the Brotherhood
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