1. Introduction

Medals and promotions play a vital role in the functioning of the Dark Jedi Brotherhood. In this course you will learn concepts of when and how to write recommendations. This course is only a brief introduction to this matter and you will learn more as you gain experience in the Brotherhood.

These links from the Codex are additional resources you can draw upon for the exam:

2. Roles of promotions and medals

Promotions and medals play three main roles in the Brotherhood. First, they are a clear and visible sign that a member’s work is appreciated by their superiors and other members. By awarding medals and promotions at a suitable time, you encourage your comrades to work harder. In some cases, the notion that an individual’s efforts are rewarded in an appropriate and timely fashion may further motivate the member to earn more medals and promotions. Said differently: for some members, nothing succeeds like success. This is not to suggest to future leaders of the Brotherhood that medals or promotions should be used as a tool for motivation; rather, they are rewards for a job well done.

The secondary role of promotions is their place in the fictional universe of the Brotherhood and the earning of dossier goodies. Promotions provide additional points to spread among skills and Force powers on the Character Sheet, making one’s character stronger and better-prepared for various missions. Promotions also unlock additional robes and lightsabers that can be displayed on a member’s dossier.

Finally, promotions and medals signal experience, accomplishment, and dedication to others. Some leadership positions carry modest rank requirements, intended to draw members with at least a basic understanding of the position’s role in the Brotherhood and a demonstrated commitment to the club. Similarly, members who have earned Sacramental medals or high ranks can be quickly identified as motivated, engaged, and experienced.

3. When to recommend awards and promotions

Before we proceed further, it is important to differentiate what types of awards and ranks exist.

Specifically, there are three types of awards: Competition Awards, otherwise known as Crescents, given for placement in competitions; as well as Merit and Sacramental Awards, recommended by members of the club leadership based on a combination of activity and service to the Brotherhood.

A note on Merit and Sacramental Awards: the former are generally awarded for exemplary activity, while the latter is awarded for service to the entire Brotherhood. For example, one can award a Grand Cross of the Dark Side for outstanding particpation and service, but this member will not be eligible for an Emerald Dagger. Both require Brotherhood impact by the member, but use your discretion and their activity to guide your path to final recommendations.

There are also three rank groups. First are Journeymen, our junior members. Next are Equites, more experienced members. And finally, there are Elders, the oldest and most consistently engaged members.

There is a rule of thumb when it comes to recommending awards and promotions – earning them takes demonstrable effort. Whether it be a high level of participation in competitions or working on a project for your unit, there must be a good reason for recommending an award.

The higher the award sought, the more high quality work the intended recipient must have performed. Awards up to a Sapphire Blade may be recommended for high-quality participation in significant competitions over a long period of time, such as participating in all events of a multi-month Vendetta and winning novae in some. Other Sacramental awards require substantial effort put into one’s service to a House, Clan or even the whole Dark Jedi Brotherhood. On the other hand, a Dark Cross may be recommended for as little as providing a few hundred words for inclusion in a Wiki article.

Promotions are a different matter. While medals may be awarded for a one-time activity, promotions require long-standing dedication. For Journeymen ranks, the matter is easy and heavily relies upon one’s will to be active. There are guidelines defined for each Journeymen rank providing an optional path to follow to Knighthood. In this case, mere activity is usually enough to warrant a promotion, especially if one participates in large scale events (e.g., vendettas).

For Equites and Elders, earning promotions requires a change of perspective. One should focus on the improvement of their Battleteam, House, Clan or important aspects of the whole Dark Jedi Brotherhood (for instance, through service in the Shadow Academy or on special projects for the Dark Council). While casual activity is still important, one needs to participate in projects or serve in a leadership capacity to earn a promotion to Equite 3 or above.

In the case of Sacramental awards and Equite / Elder promotions, recommendations are often submitted by multiple people. This is not a requirement, and most of the time a single recommendation could get the job done. However, including more than one recommendation may show the receiving member that his or her contributions were noticed and appreciated by a large group of people. Sometimes additional recommendations do provide support for the argument that the target member’s work affects his or her unit or the Brotherhood as a whole. For instance, a Dark Councillor whom the target member assisted on a project may collaborate with the member’s Consul to write recommendations covering different aspects of the member’s achievements, the Consul focusing on the Clan level and the Dark Councillor on the Brotherhood-wide project.

Note that Sacramental awards are primarily awarded for the completion of larger projects or consistent and dedicated activity over a prolonged period of time, as opposed to merit medals that can be awarded piecemeal.

4. Double-dipping

When deciding whether to award a medal or promotion, it is critical to remember that a member can only be rewarded a single time for any particular activity. If a member won several competitions, was active on Telegram, and took many Shadow Academy courses, his or her Consul may choose to award a medal encompassing all of that activity. However, if the Headmaster already awarded the member a Dark Cross for the Shadow Academy-specific activity, then that activity cannot be included in the Consul’s recommendation.

In other words, medals and promotions “consume” the activity for which they are awarded. The only exception to this rule is that medals earned by a member since his or her last promotion can be applied toward the next promotion.

5. Writing a recommendation

As one of the purposes of awards is to appreciate people’s work and motivate them for even harder work, you need to pay attention to writing recommendations in a proper way. There are two common mistakes people make when writing a recommendation.

First, especially in case of Journeymen promotions, they tend to strictly follow the reports of the Promotheus system which shows the progress of people up to the rank of Knight. Such recommendations resemble a mere recitation of facts rather than a thoughtful piece of writing that shows one’s gratitude or respect.

The other mistake is not putting all important matters in a recommendation. Imagine, as a Dark Jedi Knight, you have done five large-scale projects for your House and maintained a high level of activity for several months, but your leaders include only two projects in their recommendation without mentioning your activity, will your promotion be accepted? If yes, will you feel satisfied? Remember to be thorough when you write recommendations for other people, no matter if the recommendations are for a low-level merit award or for a high-level Equite promotion.

Good recommendations include not only one’s achievements, but often deal with one’s general behaviour, like going out of the way to help new members. Mentioning a positive attitude and strong display of initiative is a great addition, bolstering the recommendation.

Recommendations should also display a bit of a personal touch from their authors. You need to get involved in writing them, as it will be clearly visible - forever! - if you do not pay enough attention to the details. Learn to love your subordinates!

Finally, keep in mind that all recommendations must be completely honest. Certainly, you may emphasize certain things and describe them as best as you can, but lying about a person’s work is unacceptable. Making a statement that one has completed a project that they never touched may result not only in denying a recommendation, but also in bringing you before the Chamber of Justice. Avoid it.

6. Structure of a recommendation

Certainly, everyone has their own style of writing recommendations. That is encouraged! But all recommendations should contain the same information whatever form they take. Here are the basics to keep in mind.

6.1 Target member

It is simple: pick a target member from the database when submitting a recommendation. But it is important to identify that person by name in the recommendation itself, particularly when you ask other people to support your recommendation.

6.2 Specific award/rank

You need to select the award or rank that you are recommending. This is important because it determines the amount of supporting work that the target member needs to have completed. Sometimes, your recommendation may be remanded by the Master-at-Arms with a suggestion to recommend a lower award, (rarely) a higher award, or to improve your recommendation by adding additional detail.

6.3 Primary reasons

This section may range from a few sentences for lower-level promotions and medals to several paragraphs for Elder promotions and Sacramental medals. It includes the primary reasons for your recommendation, bringing to the table all of the target member’s achievements: jobs, projects, activity, awards, and so on. Be as specific as possible in this part, because it will be the main reason for the Master-at-Arms’ decision to approve or remand your recommendation.

Note that when a request is submitted with multiple recommendations, the primary recommendation (the member submitting the request) is seen as such. View this recommendation as a thesis argument. It should contain a sweeping overview of all activity so any supplemental recommendations provide extra evidence or, in some cases, merely show gratitude to the member. The primary recommendation is the first recommendation read by the MAA staff, and as such, it should be considered to be the most important aspect of a multi-person recommendation

6.4 Secondary reasons

This section includes additional support for the recommendation that may not be strictly required but may add a positive undertone to the request. You may describe the target member’s attitude toward other members of the Brotherhood or stress the achievement of personal goals that makes him or her a valuable member.

7. Exemplary Recommendations

Mere theory may not be enough to help you write proper recommendations. For the sake of a more practical approach, please take a look at few exemplary recommendations for both awards and promotions below. Remember, these are examples of medal and promotion recommendations - they do not represent the only way to write good recommendations. The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

The Master at Arms typically highlights one recommendation each month via the Golden Recommendations Awards that stands as a good example for contextual reasons. These recommendations are collected on the Golden Recommendation Awards Wiki page with brief explanations to why the writing stood out. This list can be used in conjunction with the examples here to provide leaders with a basic understand of current MAA practices and standards.

7.1 Dark Cross

Since returning to House Puppiesandrainbows on April 3rd ACO Goodjedi has hit the ground running in a flurry of activity. She has been a constant presence in the #House Telegram channel and on the House mailing list, always quick to offer a word of encouragement or pithy bits of insightful wisdom. During the short time since her return she has accumulated an impressive amount of accolades including: a Crescent with Ruby Star, a Crescent with Sapphire Star, a Crescent with Quartz Star, 109 Clusters of Fire, and 1 Pendant of Blood for having the highest PVP score in the entire DJB for the past month.

In recognition for her contributions to House Puppiesandrainbows and the Knights of Happiness I hereby present ACO Goodjedi with a Dark Cross. Keep up the good work!

Analysis: This recommendation for a Dark Cross is relatively short, includes the competition awards the member has earned, as well as examples of two separate types of activity. It is not cluttered with meaningless fluff examples, and it does not appear to try and baffle the evaluator into approving it.

7.2 Steel Cross

Zeus has continued his torrid pace of participation this month, managing to submit to roughly 15 individual competitions and earning Crescents in 8 of them. On top of that he has been highly active on the gaming front, earning himself 112 Clusters of Fire for PvP-related matches. Zeus was also able to fully complete all 3 of his posts in his first ever Run-On, during the Fading Light event. Although his team was not able to qualify for placement, he was highly active in the planning and posting, pushing his team to get things done.

On top of his general activity Zeus has managed to release regular reports for his Battleteam and stay in communication with his members, both over e-mail and through Telegram where he is an active presence. For his high levels of activity and his continued growth as a member I believe this award is truly deserved. Congratulations!

Analysis: This Steel Cross recommendation is still relatively short and to the point, starting off with telling the evaluator what the member has accomplished (competitions) as well as earned (crescents and clusters). The concrete examples are supplemented by more nebulous mentions such as reports (though it is easy for the evaluator to check whether or not the member in question has released regular reports), as well as inter-clan communication.

7.3 Promotion to Dark Jedi Knight

When I first met Darkevil in Clan Awesome’s Telegram channel, I could tell then he was going to be a wonderful addition to the unit. He showed great enthusiasm towards the process and rapidly progressed through the early ranks as fast as I could check things off. He ripped off SA exams at a breathtaking pace, having now reached Rank IV in the Shadow Academy and holding two Dark Maven degrees. I was even motivated by his enthusiasm for the Academy and got off my duff to finish some things. He's also been active in competitions, competing in 12 to date while earning 3 Crescents.

Beyond that, Darkevil has also become a strong contributor to the clan. He sought out ways to help from the beginning and kept on trucking. Most recently he completed a write up of Clan Awesome’s main base, that had been long neglected. He did a stellar job and earned the second of his two Dark Crosses in the process. Darkevil also has written a solid fiction and is showing the potential to being a strong addition to Awesome’s writers.

I am personally quite proud to see your hard work and perseverance pay off. I hope this is just one more step in a long and prosperous career in the DJB.

Analysis: For a promotion to Dark Jedi Knight, this recommendation is far shorter than average - and this is a good thing. It is nice for the member to see general comments about what a great member he is; the Master-at-Arms is especially interested in the sentences describing concrete accomplishments. This recommendation, in concert with a Promotheus record and dossier history paint a picture of a member that has earned their promotion.

7.4 Promotion to Equite 2

I view a Sith Warrior’s activity in three facets. Individual, Clan, and Brotherhood.

Individually, Billy’s activity covers the full spectrum of the Brotherhood. He writes fiction, he games, and he is active socially through Telegram, g hangout, and Google Groups. His activity on an individual scale is solidly in the top 10% of our club and in the top 1% of those at his rank. His Clan level activity includes administrative duties concerning the AWOL (8 emails), Summit Discussions on Telegram and Googlegroups, and motivational leadership. Additionally, he has trained a new member (to ACO, maybe Hunter today). Billy's work within the Clan includes leadership, administrative and mentorship duties.

Finally, Billy has completed DJB wide tasks or Dark Council Tasks. These include the testing of our new JA server leading to its proper function for the Dark Crusade, transferring 17 run ons into word/spell checking them/totaling their word count, and reviewing run-ons for DB wide CoI rewarding.

Billy has conducted all of his activity with motivation, good will, and enjoyment. He has avoided confrontation at all levels and is a model member.

Statistically, in the nine months since Billy’s last promotion he has participated in every Dark Crusade event and has earned 799 x Clusters of Fire, 1 x Pendant of Blood, 2 x Silver Nova, 1 x Gold Nova, and 1 x Grand Cross of the Dark Side.

For his individual, Clan, and Dark Jedi Brotherhood work, I'm honored to recommend SW Billy to the rank of Sith Battlemaster.

Analysis: Like other recommendations in this course, this for a promotion to Sith Battlemaster is heavy on content and information. It tells us what the member has contributed to his unit and the club, as well as what they have earned medal wise. It is perhaps a bit too regimented and formulaic (this does not mean that a formulaic recommendation is bad for everyone, but that is a stylistic preference) for some, but it does get the information across.

8. Deficient Recommendations

The following examples demonstrate recommendations that fail to meet the expectations of the Master-at-Arms:

8.1 Steel Cross

In her first two months as Quaestor of House Clouse, SBL Lackofdetail has started the ball rolling on its fictional development and has set a course for the next few months that involves multiple House-level competitions to prepare his members for victory in the upcoming Great Jedi War.

She has also been personally active, winning 3 Clusters of Fire, 3 crescents, 11 Clusters of Ice, 1 Scroll of the Master, and 1 Silver Nova for participating in the second-place Vendetta run-on team since her last promotion.

Congratulations, Lackofdetail!

Problem: The first paragraph gives no detail on the work Lackofdetail has supposedly done. The second paragraph merely lists the quantity of medals earned for activity. To pass muster with the Master-at-Arms, the second paragraph should be expanded to explain what the member did to earn those clusters and crescents.

8.2 Grand Cross

The medal recommendation guidelines state that the Grand Cross of the Dark Side is awarded to “... those having achieved an outstanding amount of general activity over the course of time, this award may also be given to reward such accomplishments.” So in essence, it was an award designed, almost destined, for Winner. He can do no wrong. Rising through the ranks at record speed and leaving a cloud of awesome in his wake. He pushed the barriers of what one could and should expect from a Proconsul. His work is exemplary, even on tedious tasks.

He is also a trendsetter in Clan Napkin. Without his enthusiasm, Napkin wouldn't be where it is today.

~ First Recommender

Winner has sprouted up through the ranks from Aedile, to Quaestor, to Proconsul. We apparently overlooked the fact that he is one of the few members to receive a battlefield promotion during the Vendetta. I would like to remedy that with a Grand Cross, and believe that Winner has more than earned it.

Not only has he climbed the ladder and taken on leadership within the Napkin Summit at an impossible pace - he has not at all sat still or idle. He has pushed projects forward and has been the forefront of making sure that his members get what they deserve. I feel a certain twinge of pride, as his mentor, every time I'm asked to write recommendation for him. But the fact remains that I will never grow tired of writing recommendations for him, because he will continue to set an example for what it is to be a member of the dark brotherhood, as well as a leader that others should strive to be like. Even in his relative inexperience in his position, he is never afraid to take on a task, or ask questions that others are either scared or intimidated to ask.

Winner was an active participant in the Big Competition, placing 15th overall. He has been flexing his arm in gaming on top of everything, while making sure to stay on top of his Summit and training up his apprentice. Keep up the amazing work.

~ Second Recommender

A Grand Cross is a acknowledgment of a members dedication and hard work over a period of time, an award that I am honoured to be recommending to Winner who is worthy of such a merit medal. This reward is for his hard work and dedication not only to Clan Napkin but to his position as Proconsul.

He has been working non-stop on the improvement of the Clan. And despite obstacles coming up in the past, he has overcome them to make his House an active and prominent part of Clan Napkin. He never once sought reward for himself in any situation he puts the members before himself, inspiring those around him to take part in competitions and strives to achieve the highest level of activity possible. And while helping members he still finds the time to make sure that her leaders are keeping up with their responsibilities to their battle teams or the house, driving and motivating all of us as well as support us with anything that we need help with. He has participated in the Big Competition, being an active part in the four-week event, and participating in the competitions, showing himself as active as well as pushing himself and his team to do as much as possible in the time given to them.

Overall if I could see one person deserving of a Grand Cross of the Dark Side that would be Winner. His hard work has not gone unnoticed by the Clan, as well as his strive to perfect himself and others. Your hard work and dedication to Clan Napkin has not gone unnoticed.

~ Third Recommender

Problem: This recommendation appears to follow the philosophy of “more is better,” insofar as it has three people writing very similar things. If this was simply a case of fellow members wanting to echo a substantive recommendation for a Grand Cross of the Dark Side, that would be fine - but this isn’t the case.

The First Recommender does not offer us any details at all - just undetailed text about hard work and trend setting.

The Second Recommender points out that the awardee in question was battlefield promoted already, which should signal to the Master-at-Arms that perhaps this member has been recognized for their efforts. The recommendation takes a different approach in the following paragraphs, but the only thing of substance is a 15th-place finish in a competition.

It is entirely possible that Winner has earned a Grand Cross of the Dark Side - but the Master-at-Arms staff has no way of knowing it.

8.3 Promotion to (Dark Jedi) Knight

Newknight has come a long way in his three months as a member of House Spinach. He has racked up two ACs and a DC, won a gold nova in his first-ever Vendetta, earned three crescents, 180 Clusters of Fire, and recruited two new members who have nearly achieved the rank of (Dark Jedi) Knight themselves. He also aided the House Summit in a project.

He has struggled, learned, and grown in confidence, tackling one obstacle after another on the road to Knighthood. Now he is a Battleteam Sergeant and stands on the cusp of even greater accomplishments. From his amazing and crescent-placing entries in House competitions and Brotherhood-wide competitions, to his ever vigilant Cluster of Fire farming in The Old Republic and Diablo III, he has surpassed the expectations of his Summit and his Master.

Problem: This recommendation states that Hunter Newknight assisted the House Summit with a project but does not provide any explanation as to what the project entailed or how Newknight’s contributions added value.

9. Summary

Every case of recommending an award or promotion requires an individual approach, especially higher awards and Equite / Elder promotions. You need to carefully track the activity of your subordinates so they can be appropriately awarded for their work on a regular basis. If you do not know what award may be suitable, read the medal descriptions on the Wiki, ask your peers and fellow summit, browse archived recommendations on the website or review recent Golden Recommendations, or reach out to the MAA office for guidance. Just be sure to identify the most appropriate award for the circumstances and always be open and professional when discussing the matter with the MAA staff, whose position is to maintain standards across all units and members with consideration to local circumstances.

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