Voice Report #7: New Hotness
Hello and welcome to my 7th report as Voice of the Brotherhood. In this report, I will talk about some cool new things and cover the following:
Table of Contents
- New Exam: Run-On Studies!
- New Competitions: Fictions!
- New Feature: Non-Player Characters!
- New Quick Review: “Thrawn” - Timothy Zahn
- New Species: Devildudes and Murder Teddies!
- Voice Project Status/Updates.
- Final Thoughts
History is important, and those who forget it or refuse to learn from it are doomed to repeat it or fail. That said, forward thinking is what will keep the Brotherhood going. So in the wise words of a character in a TV Show: always forward, forward always.
Here is the latest news from the Voice’s Office. I wanted to give a quick shoutout to my team. Congratulations to my Praetor, Moro, on his Sapphire Blade, Atty on her Steel Cross, and Justinios on his Anteian Cross. They are hard working individuals and allow me to focus on the larger scale projects and issues that come up as Voice. Make sure to thank them, as they are the ones getting down and dirty with your Character Sheets and competitions.
Combat Master Atra Ventus is also an important part of the Voice team, and carries not only my unwavering trust, but my confidence in his abilities to manage his own team while assisting me with my tasks. He will be rewarded in time, but for now, I am going to share Alaris’ winning tweet from the May the 4th competition.
(Seriously, I need this in Telegram Sticker form. ...Atra, fix it!)
Run-On Studies Exam
The first exam of my Writing Studies Department rewrite is now complete. I want to thank Wuntila and Kul for their initial help on the draft, but wanted to isolate Dek Ironius for really stepping up and carrying the torch for this exam. I left a lot of notes and Dek patiently waded through them all and made the necessary revisions. This resulted in not just a new, informative exam, but also a new, comprehensive guide to creating and setting up a Run-On competition. I’ve gone ahead and awarded Dek an Anteian Cross for his work on this exam and as an extension of the Voice Staff as a freelance helper.
Check out the new Run-On wiki article here.
Once you’ve read that over, and are feeling bold, check out the new exam here!
As with any new exam, I will be closely monitoring this one. The exam, like many of the others I’ve designed, is multiple choice based and therefore auto-graded. The idea is, and will continue to be, to get members to read documentation and understand the material, so if the questions seem straightforward or a bit boring, that is intentional. I don’t see the merit in adding trick questions. By completing the exam, my hope is to cut down on remands and confusion I’ve seen in members either trying to set up, run, or compete in Run-On competitions.
Let us know what you think. Next up will be a very similar Fiction Studies exam. After that, we’ll be looking at more specific exams that cover the actual writing and techniques that go into a Run-On or Fiction.
May the 4th Be With You
The DC is working on finalizing the last details of the Celebration: May the 4th Be With You! competition. For the fiction section, we had a whopping 19 entries for this one. I left individual feedback on each entry, but I enjoyed reading all of these. It was an honor to celebrate a mutual appreciation and love of the Star Wars universe with you all. Bonus Clusters have been awarded to all who competed, and I appreciate everyone who did so.
You can view the results of the competition here, but I wanted to give a shout out to the top five: Atra, Vodo, Maenaki, Tali, and Xantros, and Tarvitz!
DB Wide Fiction Competitions
There are a lot of exciting competitions going on right now. I wanted to highlight (#shamelessplug) the Voice Dialogue Series, as it will not only award Bonus Clusters of Ice, but is a great opportunity to flush out your shiny new NPCs and practice your dialogue writing. Check out Part III: Three's Company
I’d also like to highlight one of my Magistrate (of course it’s Atty’s) competition: "My Favorite Color is Dead Parents". This is an example of an idea for a competition spawning from Fiction Chat conversation. If you haven’t joined, now's a great time! [Click here - Log in to view join link] if you’d like to join the DB Fiction chat!
That said, here are the other great DB Wide competitions we have going on.
- Look What I Found
- Forbidden Fruits: A Tale of Two Cookies
- Once Upon A Star
- Sudden Encounters
- A Whole New World
- Turnabout Protagonist
- Haiku Week 4
- Two Hearts as One
Thank you to newly appointed BTL Lucine Vasano for rounding up these competitions for me and putting them nice and neatly into Markdown. I appreciate it :D
Non-Player Character Slots
In my 9th Voice Update, I talked about our newly launched feature: NPC Character Slots!. This project has gotten incredibly positive feedback, and I honestly don’t have much else to say on them. I personally enjoyed buying possessions that I never would have touched thanks to my main character’s specialized focus on weapons and equipment. It was cool to look at all the different explosive-thingy’s, and pew-pews. Please continue to let us know what you think, and thanks again to everyone who helped make it happen.
Quick Book Review: Thrawn
So, I’m going to give this a shot. Reading and keeping up with the new Star Wars books isn’t required of the Voice position, but do I enjoy and try my best to do so. I’ve read multiple Star Wars books over the past year, including the Rogue One prequel — Catalyst — and the novelization. I was honestly ready to take a break from SW books for a bit, but then remembered that there was a new book coming out I was excited about.
When I was first getting into the DB, and asked some of the older veterans what I should start reading to get more familiar with Star Wars, the universal answer was almost always: “Zahn. Just read Zahn’s books.” I dove right into the Thrawn Trilogy, and was immediately pulled into Star Wars in a way I hadn’t been before. While I’d jumped around to a few different series in the Legends EU (X-Wing, NJO, Courtship because it had Hapan in it, and a few others) it wasn’t until I read the Thrawn Trilogy that SW seemed to come to life, and make me really want to be part of the universe. He took some of my favorite characters from the movies and gave them character. Luke’s struggles with being the “savior” of the universe, Leia’s deals with her never-ending task of fixing the Galaxy, and Han somehow barrels headfirst through every single challenge and comes out more or less unharmed. Zahn introduced characters like Talon Karrde and Mara Jade. He also gave me the first Star Wars villain other than Palpatine that I genuinely respected. You somehow almost rooted for him, even though you knew he was clearly the bad guy.
Fast forward to 2017. While a lot of clamor has been made about the separation between Legends and the new Canon, Zahn was asked to write an origin story about the character he had once created to terrorize the heroes of the original saga.
Thrawn starts with the arrival of exiled Chiss by the name of Mitth'raw'nuruodo on a remote planet found by the Empire. The book then follows "Thrawn" on his rise to becoming a Grand Admiral in the Imperial Navy. We also learn more about the cast of characters that accompany him on this journey, and get a really thorough look into the politics and strategies of the Galactic Empire that I don’t think gets covered much in the main storylines. The story builds on Thrawn’s legacy by organically showing all of his successes and the obstacles he faces. For those that might have thought his “strategy through art” was a bit Mary-sue and overpowered, I think this novel does a very good job of showing just how unique and talented Thrawn is as a critical thinker. Every time he says “Consider” at the beginning of a sentence, you start feel yourself smirk as you know he’s about to drop some introspection that literally no one else thought of. His genius comes from his lateral thinking, his utter devotion to studying and anticipating his opponent, and his ability to unflinchingly make decisions with a cool head. It really creates a believable prodigy of a character that we know can grow to be a powerful antagonist for the heroes of the Star Wars universe.
When speaking at Star Wars Celebration, Zahn said that he already knew Thrawn’s origin story, and also knew that he had to end with his appearance and arrival in Season 3 of Star Wars: Rebels. With that knowledge tucked away, I was still very much surprised and delighted with how Zahn managed to tie everything together. I think this is very important because it really does show the Lucas Story Group's dedication to empowering its writers while also maintaining continuity throughout all its Canon mediums. This will, in the long term, I think, give us better and more enjoyable content.
Speaking of the Del Ray panel at Star Wars Celebration: it was really cool. Disney is all-in on creating more Star Wars for us, so expect to see a lot of it. I was fortunate enough to discover author Delilah P. Dawson, who wrote a short novel about Bazine Netal, the undercover mercenary that reports BB8’s arrival to Maz’s Castle in The Force Awakens. It’s a short novel, but I’d highly recommend checking out The Perfect Weapon short story. Really cool NFU perspective from a spy/Infiltrator archetype. I’m also a major fanboy of Delilah now after hearing about her process as a writer at one of her panels. She will also be tackling the new Phasma novel set to drop in the fall.
I tend to call them “Devildudes” in chat originally because I couldn’t remember the proper spelling, and at this point I just like it better. That said, Devaronians were added for multiple requests by members, as well as a pre-existing proposal that had been ready to be implemented but was lost in the shuffle transition between Evant and I. Beyond that, I believe firmly that Devaronian provides an easily identifiable and unique additional Species to add to our collection.
Devildudes (and dudettes) are now live in the Character Sheet system. Have at them.
Ewok are probably one of the most identifiable aliens in mainstream Star Wars. The original reason we never had them as a species was issues with smaller species. Thanks to Aleena being added in, we’ve seen that we can make them work thanks to each Species' unique feats. Three members approached me about having characters be Ewok, and the proposal met all my criteria for adding a new Species. I also think that with the addition of NPCs, this will become one of our more popular and more used Species. Time will tell, but for now, check out the Wiki article for Ewok.
UPDATE: After reviewing some feedback, it's been decided that we will treat Ewok similar to Wookiee's in that they will be granted Galactic Basic as a language by default. This allows them to understand the language but does not enable them to speak it.
If we see a Canon example of the Ewok speaking in Basic or broken-Basic like in the EU, we will update the Wiki to reflect these changes. Thanks.
Murder Teddy Bears will be available in the Character Sheet system shortly. Pun partially intended.
Between the Voice Staff and my additional helpers, here is an outline of the projects I’m currently working on:
This is more of a personal project for me as Voice. Outside of what we will be looking to set up and establish for the GJW plotline, the Inquisitorius is meant to be a long-running fictional identity within the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. With that in mind, I want to try and move the INQ away from the pseudo Gestapo theme and transform them more into a network of professional contractors and covert agents that are loyal to the Throne, but not necessarily to the Grand Master. While not a major revamp, this slight shift should help allow members an easier way to work the Inquisitorius into their character. That said, it will never be perfect. No system we deploy in the Dark Brotherhood will be perfect. This goes for most projects. We try hard to make everything as all inclusive as possible, but keep in mind we are still the Dark Brotherhood. That means that certain liberties and creativity will be welcome from those who want to follow their own or a different path.
I am also working on a new kind Fiction Activity that I’m calling the “Arx Mission Center” for now. This is a major work in progress and is part of my personal project I’m developing alongside Great Jedi War prep. More details to follow when I have them.
The backend for the Dark Brotherhood’s new home has been completed and approved by the Grand Master. We are just finalizing and working on a few more details that will most likely have to do with the upcoming Great Jedi War. I am excited to share Arx with everyone, so please continue to be patient :).
Writing Studies Revamp
Status: Active Development.
I’ve been tasked with updating/fixing up the Writing Studies department. As with previous exams, I’ll be re-working almost everything, and tend to go for a ground-up solution. I have a bunch of talented people I trust working with me on this, and the final result will be put through Laren and Farrin before being finalized. I will share more details on this as they are more readily available. Please note that as a result of recent changes from the Headmaster, Writing Studies courses are being handled by the SA staff, not the Voice staff.
As featured above, the new Run-On Studies exam is the first exam to be completed under this directive. Make sure to leave feedback to both the SA and Voice teams.
As I mentioned previously, once the department re-write is finalized, I will assign a Professor to oversee the exams. This means that the Voice staff is involved in the re-writes, but ultimately the exams won’t fall on the staff who have other duties.
Canon Character Guidelines
Status: Active Development.
I’ve delegated a few NPC Character Sheets out to members of my teams. My goal with these is to demonstrate how characters we see in New Canon would work or exist in the Brotherhood Character Sheet system. You can track progress on this, and see a snapshot of how each Canon Character stacks up, here on the Canon Character Guidelines article. We also outline some good tips on how to perceive “power levels” in the DB Character Sheet system. Please keep in mind these are for reference only, and subject to updates/changes based on changes to the character in new and developing Canon.
Iron Legion / Navy
The DC is working on flushing out the DC’s fleet, known as the Iron Navy. Right now we have a shell Wiki article, and more information will be flushed out as we get closer to war. Keep in mind that as we go about our timeline for unit storylines, the Iron Legion doesn’t have an infinite pool of resources. We don’t specifically define it, but just try and keep in mind that there probably aren't three ISD’s just laying around. Everything the Iron Navy has is probably active and in use, with some extra smaller ships probably in construction that would potentially make interesting targets or points of interest.
Wait, hold on, what was that...did you say War?
So, you’ve heard the whispers, the echos of encroaching conflict. Drums in the deep, and so on. All I can say, right now, is that it’s true. All of it. Great Jedi War XII is coming, and it’s going to be legend, wait for it —
—Dary! Legendary. Keep your eyes peeled for a Grand Master report soon with more information on the upcoming War. Just know that the DC is hard at work on the planning phases and it’s about to get real, yo.
...as you can see, I’m a bit tired, and this report took about two full evenings to write. To be fair, there was a lot to cover, but I just wanted to finish with something I have been talking about the last two days in various chats.
Decision-making is part of my job as a Dark Councilor. I didn’t get here by accident. I worked my way from the bottom as a project assistant, weaseled my way into a Magistrate position, then worked my way up and made myself an asset. I’ve been working with and for the DB’s fiction systems for a very long time, and while you are not going to agree with everything I say or enforce, know that it comes with the full understanding of the intended design of the systems themselves. I communicate with Sarin and Mav directly, and both are former Voices that understand the challenges I tend to face. In short, no decisions are made on impulse or without consulting or running things by my teams. I also talk about my personal experience and involvement with the Voice office because I hope it can, at the very least, give some direction or hope to aspiring members or younger leaders in the club. Don't be afraid to step up and volunteer to help make changes. Even if you're starting on the simple small things, I firmly believe that hard work will ultimately rise to the top. So my overall advice I'll repeat time again is simply:
Work for the change you want to see in the Brotherhood, and then become a part of that change.
That said, I want to remind everyone that even if I don’t act or do something you suggest, it does not mean I am not listening. I read everything directed at me. While I appreciate constructive feedback more than anything, I do also read everything from insults to passive aggressive side-swipes. I read every proposal that gets sent to my desk ([Log in to view e-mail addresses]), and if I don’t get back to you within a few days, feel free to follow up with me on Telegram. I tend to be working on multiple things at a time, and while I’m confident in my ability to get things done, I’m human and sometimes I can forget things.
So, just remember that I will always listen to your concerns. Know that in doing so, I expect the same level of respect in return from you. And remember that at the end of the day, I’m the Voice. It’s my job to make decisions, popular or unpopular, difficult or easy. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.
Voice Staff Resources Guide - Your one-stop shop for all your fiction needs. You can catch up on past reports and easily find links to Voice Staff policies, guides, and other documentation.
Fiction Center, the one-stop resource for fictional information on the Dark Jedi Brotherhood, it’s characters, stories, and history.
Reminder: Reports* and Updates from me are a bit different. Reports are my larger, monthly news posts that cover everything I can think of that is going on. Updates are news posts where I want to share details or a few changes in between the release of a report. Sometimes these are longer, but Updates allows me to address things quickly in between the space of a formal full report. If you are an active contributor or like take part in the fiction elements of the Brotherhood, you should read both reports and updates as they are where I outline and announce important things.
One Last Thing
When I was at Star Wars Celebration, I had a lot of fun. It really was a magical experience for me, to see so much love for the Star Wars universe in one place. The other big take away for the DJB, I think, is that our decision to adhere and move in time with the new Canon universe was the right choice. We have a lot of content coming our way. And all of it looks good. One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting to meet the authors of the new Star Wars Visual Encyclopedia. They are top level members of the Lucas Stroy group, and have been hard at work creating guidebooks and dealing with countless retcons and continuity changes. At the DK books booth, I asked Cole Horton to sign my book with something along the lines of “Forget the old ways”, which is something Tarkin says in the new Canon novels. He laughed and said, “I could do something like that. This is what he wrote for me.
It’s encouraging to me on many levels, as I’ve kind of been the person that’s been in the crossfire over being the poster child for being a New Canon fanboy. Despite that...I really did love the convention and recommend the experience to anyone that truly loves and appreciates the larger metaculture that is Star Wars fandom. Which, at the end of the day, is why we’re all here, isn’t it?
If you want to check out my photo album from the trip, you can find it here.
I think that’s everything I have for now. A lot of exciting things are coming up.
As usual, if you have any questions, let me know at [Log in to view e-mail addresses].