Voice Report #24: In The End

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Voice Report #24: In The End

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Warning: This report will contain a mixture of actually important data/information, random pop culture references, and some genuine thank you’s and reflection from my three years of serving as Voice. Sorry, but not sorry.

markdog

To start, here is a short fiction I wrote because, well, I’m the Voice and allowed to canonize things until they take my power away from me.

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Voices Office
Dark Ascent
Elos Vrai, Arx
37ABY

Director Ness’arin Ohnaka stepped into the Voice of the Brotherhood’s office and immediately took note of the change in decor. The man had always kept things spartan and neat, but now it looked bare and barren.

“So, it is true,” Ness’arin spoke to the lone figure in the room.

Marick Tyris turned and walked towards her. He wore a large gray travel cloak that concealed most of his body. His too-blue eyes met her ardent stare calmly and without any hint of emotion or sentiment.

“You’re really leaving,” she spoke as her hands folded behind her back into a familiar stance. “Sure you don’t want me to organize a ceremony?”

The usually stoic half-Hapan furrowed his brow at her and actually gave her a flat look. She could not help but grin.

“I know it’s a lot to ask of you, but I’m confident you are up to the task,” came his reply.

“The Collective are not going to stop. Even now, they are making moves that even our budding alliance with the Principate won’t be able to fully accommodate.

Marick looked off towards the side, his eyes growing distant if only for a moment before refocusing on her. “There is nothing else I can do from behind the illusion of power from this office,” he gestured around them. “We’ve beaten the Collective at every turn, foiled their plans, and yet, we still lost the Deputy Grand Master. There are too many variables to blame. All I know is that I was recalled to remain here during the conflict. Sidelined. I can hear Antillus laughing now, in the back of my mind. If I stay, I will continue to be held back. I’ve done all I can from here,” he finished with a genuine sigh that seemed to show how tired he must have been. “And besides, the Brotherhood has everything it needs to continue the fight right here,“ he accentuated his meaning by pointing a gloved finger at her chest.

“Me? What do you mean? I’m just the Director of Operations. I can’t just—”

“—I trust you.” Marick said simply, as if that answered all of her pending questions without need for follow up. He placed a hand on her shoulder, looked her directly in the eyes and placed something into her hand. It was a brisk handshake, formal by any standards had anyone been somehow prying into the private exchange. He removed his hand and continued past her, striding silently out the door before disappearing into the shadows of the Dark Ascent's corridors.

Three words. They seemed so simple, and yet, coming from one of the most guarded men she had ever met, a warm sense of pride burned in the Director of the Inquisitorius’ chest. Marick did not trust anyone, from her experience. Ness looked down at a small encrypted datadisk with a neat, hand written label on it: In Case of Emergency

“Of course,” Ness’arin sighed as she rolled her eyes slightly as she tucked the datadisk into her coat pocket. She took one last study of the now vacant Voice’s office. Marick had shown her that her challenge was to ensure the continued success and operation of the Inquisitorius, regardless of who held the position.

He had placed his trust in her, though. Three words. And that was all she needed to keep going.

-=x=-

Marick Tyris stepped onto his personal shuttle, the Encanis. It was one of the few things, he realized, that he owned. He had spent so much time using either Clan Arcona’s transports or Dark Council assets. There really had not been an inbetween. The Encanis, as simple as it might have been, was his.

In the cockpit sat one of his closest and only friends, Acaelus Del'aran, or Ace as he liked to be called. “Where to, boss?”

Marick considered the simple question. He had not honestly thought about it until that moment. Everything he had done the past weeks since the conflict in Lyra-3K-a had ended. He was not lying when he spoken to Ness’arin, but he had not told her the whole truth.

”When this is all over...would you come wake me up?" a ghostly voice played across his thoughts.

He double checked the encrypted message on his datapad that he had received from Satsi back on Selen. If what she said was true, he could not simply ignore it.

“We’re going home,” Marick said quietly as he took a seat. Ace grinned and fired up the ship's controls and readied for departure from Arx. Tyris closed his eyes, and let the ambient hum of flight engines engaging block out the rest of the world and his thoughts so he could he could finally take a moment's rest.

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laisydraw

(Thank you, Alaisy, for the awesome doodle)

So, that was more of a personal send off than anything. Ness’arin is a character I created to help maintain continuity between future Voices, should not all of them be as inclined to spycraft/black ops as Marick was. Ness will continue to the fixture and go-to for Inquisitorius related faction usage, and I’m excited to see what she has to deal with next.

I look forward to seeing what the next Voice does in conjunction with the Story Group to continue the storylines we’ve worked to establish and set up for the future. I have every confidence in their ability to do so without me, and look forward to being able to compete as a regular member and enjoy the events.

Great Jedi War XIII: Retribution

I promised a quick breakdown and analysis of the fictional side of the last GJW, which has finally been wrapped up. So, here are some of my notes post-GJW.

Charts and Stuff

Everyone likes data in the form of pretty charts, right? Of course you do.

Phase I: Multi Objective Fiction

phase1

There was a clear skew of support for one objective over the other. Because of this, we decided to narrow down Phase II to two options instead of three. Another fun fact, it took Wally until Phase II to discover the "countif" function in Google Sheets. Really something that I wish someone had told me about sooner. It would have made tallying objectives a lot easier in the RoS and Phase I. Oh well.

Phase II: Multi Objective Fiction

phase2

I used hearts because it amused me. It should come as no surprise, looking at CSP's breakdown, that the Empress did not make it through this event. F.

Review

Overall, I was very happy with how fiction was run for this war. Operationally, we didn’t have any real technical issues in terms of prompts being confusing, or members not knowing where to find information to inform/empower their stories. I know that everyone is diligently filling out the survey to give Mav the delicious data and feedback he likes, but from my perspective as an organizer, I hope that the structure, format, and organization used for these competitions becomes the standard for how Fiction Competitions are run in Vendettas. I’m sure there are people with better/more exciting prompts and ideas, but all the best ideas can easily fall to the wayside when competitions do not feature clear grading criteria, objectives, or consideration for different kinds of characters and motivations.

Having the objectives you voted on for each Phase seems to have been popular. From an organizer standpoint, it’s extremely stressful due to the time crunch, so I’m interested to see how that will play out in future vendettas.

In terms of quantity of the entries themselves, I want to say I’m super super impressed with the Fiction Community across the board. We had a record breaking 89 entries for Phase I: Multi-Objective, 47 entries for Phase II: Multi-Objective combined with 36 entries for Phase II: Combat Writing for a total of 83 entries. This means that despite the typical “drag” associated with the usual crunch of the final weeks of a GJW, members generated nearly the same amount of content as the first phase.

In terms of quality, I was taken aback by how many people latched on to the world building elements established in Lyra-3K-a. The top entries that ended up placing all shared a common theme of tying into the larger theme of a cold war for information, with plenty of action, intrigue, and introspection threaded into the narratives. I did not read any two fictions that seemed like copies of one another, and everyone—from the shortest/quickest entries to the longest—really brought their A-game. There were no major issues with realism or CS/Possessions use. People told their stories, and while I could tell who rushed their entries, I still enjoyed reading them nonetheless. Having read a lot of the members entries who have competed over the past 3 years through either the previous RoS and previous GJW (XII), I can earnestly say that I’ve seen some really amazing improvement in the quality of writing and storytelling therein.

A quick note to the top placements: Bubba and I had some long extended conversations about some of these pieces. The top 5 were usually very, very, very, close. The differences ultimately came down to how Bubba and I averaged our respective scores, and how we discussed back and forth what story beats ultimately worked best for us. Grading fiction is ultimately subjective, but Bubba and I tackled these with a joint will and desire to be as fair as possible between our differences in tastes. I wanted to thank Bubba, again, for being an absolute hero in splitting the workload with me. I learned my lesson last war, and it was a pleasure working with him to grade the events of this war. My goal, and hope, has always been around helping empower the community of writers we have here to compete, grow, and have fun. I hope that you took away one of these three things from your entries. Journey before destination.

If not, well, I tried.

Storyline

Mav talked at length about the thought process and concept behind the story for GJWXIII: Discord. I won’t retread on that. What I will say is that this was an entirely different challenge when compared to the last Great Jedi War I was tasked with writing. I’ve learned a lot from then to now (with a co-authored RoS in between, thanks Vyr <3) and hope that the groundwork for what I’ve done, and what the Story Group as a team has done, really, will carry over into future wars. I’m fully aware that my writing isn’t for everyone, even when I flatten out my style and focus almost entirely on NPC/worldbuilding. I hope that the levels of organization, detail, and research continues to be upheld for the benefit of the members when interacting with the overarching storyline.

Put simply, even if you aren’t a fan of my writing itself, I hope that you enjoyed the research I tried to put in to do things right by the characters that ended up being used.

Finale

The Finale fiction was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a leader in this club. I researched, to the best of my ability, 41 player Character Sheets and had to work that into the 10 NPCs I created specifically for the event at the last minute. I genuinely hope that people enjoyed the outcome and inclusion of their characters, and just wanted to say it was an honor getting to write this, despite the hours of neck strain and lack of sleep I went through during the process. Totally worth it. :)

Thanks for letting me tell this story for you guys, and to run one last War before fading out to black.

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Fiction Center

As part of my last steps of responsibility, I’ve made sure that the Fiction Center is up to date. The Fiction Center was created to serve as the single point of reference for members both new and old to find answers to common questions and get caught up on the storylines that make up our overarching plotlines for the club. When doing this, I picked what I felt was a logical starting point for the contemporary storyline as the events post GJWXI. Everything that happened prior is still important to the club's history and lore, but anticipating where we would end up, I figured this was the best way to give us some kind of starting point. I’ll let time tell if I was write or wrong.

storyarcs

You can see the story arcs here, with the sidebar navigating you to each respective arcs page.

Great Jedi War XIII: War Wiki

Please make sure to check out the Thirteenth Great Jedi War #WarWiki. I’ve updated it to have pictures created by members and organized it to show a roster of characters involved, as well as summaries and links to each chapter update to complete the story. I hope this helps give members that went above and beyond or followed the story a sense of being a part of something bigger in the form of a wiki page that represents those member-driven achievements and efforts.

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Voice Office Administration

Outside of fiction, the Voice is responsible for a lot of things that have nothing to do with writing stories. Over the past 3 years we’ve accomplished a great many things aimed at improving the member experience when utilizing the Fiction System and with working with our Fictional Society. Not all of these are simple, or easy to execute. There were discussions and debates about the nature of Clusters of Ice, fair competition guidelines, and often just regular logistical challenges when both giving the members what they want while also staying true to the system and wishes supported by the Grand Master. These conversations included high level optics of the Grand Master and their wishes, and ultimately lead to enforcing the policies we have in place today. Beyond that, here are some things we accomplished together:

  • Voice Policies have been revised, edited, and updated to reflect current workflows, processes, and changes to the competition and character sheet infrastructures.
  • Guidelines have been clarified, tweaked, and sometimes even re-created from scratch to help make information on our systems easier to reference and use.
  • We’ve organized storylines into arcs and provided easy to track hyperlinks to aid in finding previous fictions, summaries, and information.
  • We’ve added new Species to the selector based on member request through our defined policy. Each new addition has been utilized and not just done for the sake of fad or whim, ensuring that the Species selector doesn’t become full of clutter that makes it difficult for new members to design their first characters.
  • We’ve worked hard to integrate better with Possessions, namely through policing the Physical Description field, to some members' chagrin, but for what we feel is the best way to foster integration with the Possessions and Loadout systems.
  • Created a customer-service level process and tone for engaging with members on their Character Sheets in regards to remands and revisions. Open communication with members in regards to a remand, and a staff wide effort to help make sure members get their Character Sheets approved in accordance with our guidelines.
  • Worked alongside the Regent(s) to help clarify language, organize prototype categories and granular details, launched a creature-companion system and authored and contributed to post-film content updates.
  • We’ve updated and organized the Wiki for the Iron Navy, Iron Forces, and the Factions system for the Dark Brotherhood.
  • We created a new homeworld for the Brotherhood. We bolstered the fictional role of Societies with their respective NPC leaders to help supplement changeover in the Dark Councilor roles, fictionally.
  • We’ve helped take member NPCs and turn them into Faction NPCs to be used for the club at large and in larger events.
  • We’ve created two unique factions: The Collective, and the Severian Principate
  • We’ve published 31 Fictions under the new story arc/organization structure complete with TL;DRs and recap summaries.
  • Maintained a databank within the Fiction Center that shows a whos-who of locations, organizations, and personalities that surface in main storyline fiction updates.
  • Created templates and wiki pages for NPCs and Factions for future use.

I’m sure I’m missing some other large milestones. We’ve spearheaded 31 macro-level published fictions of varying styles, 2 Great Jedi Wars and an RoS.

Fun Facts

Since stepping into the role of Voice, our office has approved 1,660 Character Sheets against 1,540 auto approves (take that, dbb0t). This of course does not track the literal hours of time the Voice Staff spends working with members on their custom aspects and descriptions to get their desired outcome within our guidelines.

Thank you to everyone that’s been a part of that process in the past: Mauro, Kordath, Marcus, Braecen, Rhylance, Justinios, and Moro. For my current team that I’ve been lucky to keep the last 2 years, Atty and TuQ have been invaluable to my ability to go above and beyond as voice knowing I had them there to cover me.

I could not have established my vision for quick turn around and positive member experience without any of these members, so thank you from the bottom of what’s left of my ever jaded heart.

A special thanks to Atty, who stuck with me the last two years as my Praetor, acting as my sounding board, person to vent to, consummate proof reader on nearly everything I published, and most importantly someone who was not afraid to challenge my thinking or rationale to find a better solution or workflow. She has been on the front lines working with remands, corrections, and tweaks for the benefit of the members, and I wish I could express with words how grateful I am to her persistence and diligence.

I will be making myself available as a resource to the next Voice, should they wish it. I’ve documented most of our processes and workflows, and trust that with TuQ and Atty staying around until told otherwise that we should see no real bumps in terms of CS or competition queue turn around.

Ask The Voice

Since I kind of started the FAQ trend back in the day, might as well do one.

Turel asks: If you could hop in a time machine and give one piece of advice to newly appointed Voice Wally, what would it be?

This is complicated, the more I think on it. Hindsight is 20/20, and there are just too many things that happened that weren't in my control. Ideally, time machine would allow me to have better control over those things. But that's just not how life or the DB work.

So, I guess I would have told myself that things will happen outside your control, and that is okay. It's okay to let things fail. You can't do everything, can't fix everything, can't make everyone happy. It's okay to not care sometimes. It's not a part time job, it is just a star wars club. You have to be realistic about these things. I guess my answer to myself would just simply be: "keep going/don’t stop”.

Appius asks: What's your process when it comes to writing stories on a macro level like that? Do you have a set structure you follow or does it normally depend?

This is actually a great question. There is a big difference for me when writing for the Brotherhoods storyline, and my personal fictions. For Brotherhood macro-level fictions, there is a lot more to consider in terms of target audience, outcome, and context. You’re not writing for yourself, you’re writing for the club. It’s not necessarily what you want to write, it’s what is needed to be written for the club. This instruction and outline, with feedback and input, comes directly from the Grand Master’s wishes. It is therefore the job of the Voice to take those outlines, or directives from the GM(s) and execute them into real fictions. So, the important thing to understand and realize is that the Voice doesn’t just write whatever they feel like. And outlines help make that process manageable in my experience. You have to let go of your ego and just put the work ahead of yourself- since the work is ultimately what stands up against the members, not your personal thoughts and feelings.

For me, this involved a lot of outlining. Once I had an outline, it was a lot easier to fill in the blanks and craft a story. If I had to invent new characters, I usually made the characters first, then wrote about them, not the other way around. When writing about player characters, or members, I did research and used what I could do my best to accurately portray them. The later is an example of why the CS process is monitored and curated from an administrative standpoint.

Alaisy Asks: Do you regret anything you've written or feel like you've missed out on anything regarding the fictions you've created?

In 3 years, and 29 published fictions, I didn't get to write a single goddamn Lightsaber fight. None. No fated duels. No severed limbs as a result of a simple miscalculation. No angry padawans cutting Sith Lords in half in their rage.

A lot of my energy/time went into making Arx real, then building an NFU organization that hates Force Users. Then we did more battles against them. Then we made another NFU organization.

So, yeah, no ragrats, but I'm actually kind of pissed that I never got to write like, an epic lightsaber duel of any kind. Humbug.

Drac asks: Top 5 DC memories?

  1. Finishing the Chapter 1 launch fiction hours before completion, leaving my apartment and going to Shake Shack to eat a chicken sandwich, away from a computer, while I watched the rest of the DC launch the Great Jedi War I’d put my literal blood and sweat into.
  2. Drac reaching out in PM to offer to help me handle some issues I was having with my initial team and establishing my footing as Voice. I really wouldn’t have lasted, probably, if he hadn’t given me some sage advice and was always there for me as a friend and supporter.
  3. Getting to see how things worked at the top level from two very different GMs. Sarin and Mav couldn’t be any different, but they both care so much about the club that it’s easy for the average member not to realize how much work goes into certain decisions that get made.
  4. ACC War Grading with Farrin and Atra during GJWXII. I’m pretty sure we all collectively lost our minds at one point in group chat.
  5. Mav asking Howie to help grade ACC. It lasted for about 5 minutes before Howie and Mav argued and Howie left. We asked Farrin to join us instead and assist. Genuinely one of the funniest Howie v Mav arguments I’ve ever seen.

In The End

If you’re somehow still reading this, thanks. I’ve already probably went over my time limit, but I felt this was important to do before I stepped down fully. Thank you to Sarin and Mav for taking a chance on me as a young leader that liked to mouth off and not back down from a fight, even if he should have known better. Thanks for taking that same kid and teaching him about leadership, hard work, and perseverance in the face of not getting your way or things not going how you planned. Serving as Voice has been a tiring but rewarding experience and I am honored to have been given the chance to serve.

Thank you to the rest of the DC for putting up with me as I went through rants and tirades and arguments that members rarely get to prithe too. I am confident, having now worked with each of you, that the club is in good hands for the coming future.

And thank you to the members of the Brotherhood who came out and supported the storylines, competitions, and worldbuilding events that we ran. I know that a lot of you don’t agree with everything the Dark Council does, but it really does make it worth it to see how this community remains active and engaged while other communities struggle to keep their heads above water. I’m proud to be a part of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood.

That’s all I’ve got. Keep an eye on the mainpage for an announcement from the GM on the next Voice. I will hold things down until that selection is made. I’ll still be around on Telegram and do my part to be a supportive member of the Fiction Society and Brotherhood community. For now, I am just excited to take a nice break.

Until next time:

wakeme

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Enjoy your break.

Good work, Wally.

Had to be you. Anyone else would've gotten it wrong. Thanks for everything, Wally.

/me salutes

Your service has truly been awesome. Great job. Now go write a light saber duel and have a beer.

See you Space Cowboy.

o7

Your report needed more Team Four Star references, but I'll forgive you. Thanks for your service Wally

You have earned your rest, my friend.

Allow me to paraphrase Hamilton:

"I have never agreed with Wally once, We have fought on like 75 different fronts, But when all is said and all is done, Wally has beliefs and many have none."

In the fairly decent amount of time I've known you, going back to you giving a job to a certain upstart BTL from Odan-Urr, you have always had my respect as one of the most dependable and hard-working leaders in the club. I wouldn't have applied for the various positions under you and signed on to the various projects you led if I didn't. A true leader will leave their mark on the club in some way and you certainly have. It is near impossible to partake in any fiction activity in the club and not touch something you've worked on. Members will benefit from your body of work for years to come, long after any point of criticism has faded.

I know your work for the club is far from over, but rest well for now. Few have earned it more.

how many clusters of Ice are you getting for this news post??? LOL

Thx for your work

Great job Wally, will miss you as voice bit look forward to the future! You did an amazing job!

Thank you for all your work and contributions, Wally. ^_^ You definitely have earned a good rest.

What a lovely wall of writing. Sad to see you go, but also happy to see Marick boarding The Encanis!

Really liked the fictions from the last war. I'm sure many of us will be using and enjoying that for a very long time to come, along with the rest of the work you and your team have done!

And now your watch has ended.

Wally, we didn’t always agree but it was nonetheless an honor to work with you. I’ll lose my mind war-grading ACC matches anytime with you (just not with Howie).

Great fiction and excellent report! Thanks, Wally, for your tireless service and dedication to being Voice! Whomever follows you will have some big shoes to fill!

Say one thing for Marick Tyris, say he's well organized. Wally, I've really enjoyed working with you over the past year and a half or so. 5/7 would co-grade fiction again.

”When this is all over...would you come wake me up?" a ghostly voice played across his thoughts.

Five more minutes...

Thanks for everything Wally!

thank you for all the gruelling hours of hard work. Very thankful for you! Enjoy your well-deserved rest

Wally, you have done amazing work as your time as Voice! Thank you for everything you have done and helped brought to us! Welcome home!!!(soon)

Huge fan of the additions of factions. Love where the Brotherhood stands with its own interesting corner of the galaxy now. Thank you for all of your hard work.

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