Discourse Single Sign On

All users of the forum can now use their Discourse login credentials to sign into the WordPress. This will automatically link your Discourse information and profile from the forum to the WordPress database. I’m working on possibilities for using Discourse as a Single Sign On solution for the Wiki as well but that is a long way from finished.

Those people who already have accounts on both, the system will use email address to link the two, if anyone has any issues let me know and I’ll do my best to fix them. This is going to make it a lot easier for people to post their own updates for their own stories.

Fighting for your Author in a Coma

A writer slips into a coma, all of the characters in their head are fighting to keep them alive.

The prompt here is simple. The concept of an entire world taking place all inside the mind has been done in movies before. In particular the movie Identity from 2003 which explores one possible scenario. Another movie with this idea is Sucker Punch from 2011 showing an entirely different concept of the world inside the mind.

A writer slips into a coma, all of the characters in their head are fighting to keep them alive.

How would this work? What would this look like? Would the characters be aware? Where does your creative thought go with this?

Infinite Codex – Notes & Tags

For a long time now I’ve been using OneNote for my notes, before that I used Evernote. I’ve used a lot of other software as well, the problem comes when you want people to collaborate on those notes.

Discourse has a feature they call a “Wiki”, by that it means a post which can be edited by anyone the way a Wiki is. This isn’t nearly as powerful as our wiki, but is still pretty useful. I have called this kind of universal notebook the Infinite Codex. As I explain in the description of the area, it is a place on the forum to put notes about plots and other ideas which can be edited by everyone, commented on, and doesn’t have to be correct nor is it instantly part of our canon. This is designed to be informal, similar to a post where people comment and reply but where the author or anyone else can go in, make changes, additions, and the like.

I’ve started by posting to it almost all of the half-finished storylines I have notes on in hopes that this will give people an idea of how it can be used. All of the information is up there, it can be easily edited, and it can be easily linked to elsewhere on the forum or anywhere else. My hope is that when people want to get some ideas out, they feel comfortable just making a post in the codex and editing it as they need.

Tags

I have also enabled the tagging feature of the forum. It’s had this feature for a long time, but until today it was disabled. Posts within RP areas need to be tagged with the tag for that setting. This allows using the tags to pull together information from across form areas. Major plots will also have their own tags for the same reason. People who’ve been here long enough to be in the “Regulars” group or otherwise have sufficient access can create their own tags, otherwise use the ones that are already there.

I’ve gone through and tagged most everything where it should be. Hopefully this will allow better organization and finding information (say from Phoenix Nebula or the Codex) and tying it to a particular post or series of posts.

Rebuilding the Community

For those who want the short version, I’m looking to have people increase participation by using the posts on this site as a starting point to have characters / NPCs who may not otherwise interact to do so. Short or long doesn’t matter, but use these as a source or a topic to talk / interact on in RP sessions. Next, help others, try to gently pull people in via inviting people into scenes. Finally, help get ideas rolling be constructive, be a sounding board providing feedback on pros and cons and help refine and build ideas for play. Don’t be afraid to be wrong or look silly, just create.

Usage has been on the decline for a bit now. Even before the server split participation has been on the decline. A few have been pushing forward anyway and being active. I want to support those players who have been active. First off, a shout-out to Winter who has been working on some amazing stuff in Embers of Soteria. Her contributions have been aided by many but her writing, effort, and creativity have been exceptional in adding a flavor to the story and components that fit into the greater narrative of the setting nicely.

I still fully believe that the server split was a good idea; though I do question it at times. Regardless the genie is out of the bottle with that one so either way that is how things are set up. I do recognize that it might not have been my best idea.

TL;DR

For those who want the short version, I’m looking to have people increase participation by using the posts on this site as a starting point to have characters / NPCs who may not otherwise interact to do so. Short or long doesn’t matter, but use these as a source or a topic to talk / interact on in RP sessions. Next, help others, try to gently pull people in via inviting people into scenes. Finally, help get ideas rolling be constructive, be a sounding board providing feedback on pros and cons and help refine and build ideas for play. Don’t be afraid to be wrong or look silly, just create.

Why is there a lack of participation?

We did a survey last year about participation. I have discussed the results at some point with the staff and I don’t think the situation has really changed that much. One of the biggest issues is that people don’t have a lot of time to sink into role playing and if they do, they may not want to role play here. It’s unreasonable to assume everyone with time is going to really become a devoted role player / writer here so I largely classify this as an unfixable problem. We cannot make people have more time and we cannot dictate how people should spend it. I myself have very few bits of time to string together and real life often gets in the way.

The other issue the survey brought up was about the games and playing; there is a feeling that the lore is at times impenetrable and there is a general enthusiasm with plots but a general inhibition or hesitation toward posting. People who are here who have a lot of good ideas, want to role play, are even talented at role play, but have no idea what to add to a game. This timidness toward being wrong or somehow screwing up a game is a huge factor, the second of all factors for people not participating (the biggest being time).

What do we do?

What I’d like to do is to use this site as more than just a collective history or creative narrative to add spice and color to the setting. I would like to use this to provide background that then people can use to base role playing on. So we have some recent posts about the Solas Tempus Marines and what their training is like. As an example, we have a lot of military characters and they could talk about or comment about the marines and their training in Finnegans (good or bad). People could NPC a group of marines for character to interact with or even make a marine character to play. This provides a place to go for shorter (or longer) role plays with characters that may not otherwise have a reason to interact. A drunk marine in Finnegans being an asshole and provides a reason for two military (or non-military) characters to react, talk, be brought together over a drink.

Similarly we had a recent post about troubles brewing around Chicago. This is intended as not just the introduction to a story arc (which it is) but also players in the Saevae could be talking about that and that could bring in other characters who normally wouldn’t interact. There’s a lot of fear that would be going on, fear is a powerful motivator. There would be everything from scam artists to heros showing up and with so much social pressure people are bound to get into conflicts. This is a jumping off point for side-RPs.

One of the biggest things I want people to take from this is to really try the dumb idea out, don’t be afraid to be wrong, don’t be afraid to look stupid. Make stuff up, you won’t be wrong. Often the crap that gets made up becomes part of the story arc and there suddenly you’ve participated in the whole arc!

Pulling vs. Pushing

I also want to ask everyone (especially staff) to begin pulling. I say pulling because I don’t think it is a good idea to go and pester people to role play. A lot of people have @here and @everyone suppressed and the server muted. So ping or DM someone whose on the server that we haven’t seen for a while and invite them to do a role play. Look at what characters they have, don’t push… Don’t ping them 3-4 times in a row and then keep at them but offer… “Hey, haven’t seen you around the server for a while, we’ve got some stuff going on, maybe want to do a scene?”

From what the survey from last year said a lot of people don’t know what to contribute, so I ask everyone to try to help fix that. Be vocal with ideas, advocate for the people that you know are good writers and help them with ideas. It’s often so much easier to see ideas for other people than it is to see ideas for yourself! A lot of this is about collaboration no one has all the ideas on their own.

Trouble on the Horizon?

For many people in the cities around Chicago gangs and gang violence are just part of everyday life. For those in Ford Heights and similar areas, the violence has been steadily escalating for days and no one quite knows why. The dominant gangs appears to be splitting along previously unknown fault lines. Loyal members vanish for a few days and then come back only to shoot up their former allies with no demands or talk involved.

The most recent shooting has even gang members shocked and willing to talk to each other. Previously, it hasn’t been easy to get the leaders of the different territories to get together, but something has changed.

Bobby just came at us. We hadn’t seen him in a few days and figured he’d just been layin’ low, pissed someone off. Saw him next and he got the drop on us, just started shooting. It was bloody, I don’t know what could make anyone do that, out of nowhere, we grew up together and he just shot me in the chest four times. I’ll never forget it though, I see him again he’ll be the one bloody.

Eye Witness to Shooting in Ford Heights

Even with the chronically low levels of educational success, the local community leaders have been able to broker meetings between gang leaders in the area. So far, no one is accepting responsibility, in fact local leaders have taken them at face value.

When one of them is fronting, you can tell. You can just tell, more often than not they’ll tell you themselves that they did it without saying it. A lot of these people lead out of fear, fear of reprisal. No one wants a war, but most of these boys agree that one is coming, the only problem is they don’t know from where.

Local Community Leader

So far the police have been silent, but that is nothing new for these neighborhoods. Word has it, that this isn’t isolated to the Heights either. Word has come in from other neighborhoods that similar things are starting to happen elsewhere. Investigations reveal numerous 911 calls from surrounding suburbs and even getting into the edges of Chicago proper. Calls are often answered late and when the police get there, there isn’t much to do other than call the coroner and file a report.

Kids are dying. Kids. I don’t care what they think, these aren’t perfect kids but who is? And what do the cops do? Nothing. They don’t care, to them it’ll be all the same if we all drop dead tomorrow. Maybe then someone will build a nice mall and golf course, then the cops would care. No, we’re on our own.

Local Pawn Shop Owner

Community outrage has yet to reach officials in Chicago, or if it has they have been entirely silent. Repeated calls to the mayor’s office or the police chief have been met with no comment. The silence is deafening. If this continues, they won’t be able to stay silent forever.

Orbital Deployment Exercise

What you’re about to see is really something special. Each trainee must complete some of the most extreme combat and insertion maneuvers we can put them through, so when they are out in the field they can go through whatever is needed and complete their objectives. I don’t personally know of any training programs which do this as a standard training program either.

Recently Vice Admiral Emily Artis allowed reporters from the Soteria News Service to tag along with the latest group of trainees which are nearing graduation from the Solas Tempus Academy and become members of the young but illustrious new group, the Solas Tempus Marine Corps. Our reporter met with their commanding officer to tell him about what this was all about.

What you’re about to see is really something special. Each trainee must complete some of the most extreme combat and insertion maneuvers we can put them through, so when they are out in the field they can go through whatever is needed and complete their objectives. I don’t personally know of any training programs which do this as a standard training program either. The trainees are taken up to around 250 km, with an orbital velocity of right around 180,000 kps. Our drop point is randomly chosen at liftoff to prevent anyone from knowing what they’re going to jump into. Once we’re in the window for the drop point, the trainees are deployed. They must safely deploy from the vehicle and arrive within the target landing zone within a set time from. So what you’re about to see is their final exam of sorts, these people have been training for a long time to do this, all building to execute this drop.

Captain Reginald Armando

Captain Armando is quite proud of his people, he talked further about how the trainees are trained in order to accomplish this. The Orbital Deployment Exercise is just one small part of the overall examination process.

The team loaded up at Serenity Station in a Type 6 Shuttle, giving each other a hard time about who might fail and making jokes about who might throw up in their armor. The armor is of particular interest, as Solas Tempus bagan developing advanced exoskeletons before the incorporation of the Serenity Concord, what the marines are wearing is termed as Class 1Z Advanced Cybernetic Exoskeleton, developed specifically for use by the marines. We spoke to one of the trainees about the armor and what it allowed them to do.

Oh, the 1Z? Yeah, it’s pretty amazing technology, it’s like it lets you do what your mind sets out to do. It’s some powerful stuff, we’re all pretty good soldiers, well trained, and there’s always limits. The body can only handle so much, with the 1Z though it’s like a perfect kind of partner. The 1Z helps you do what’s got to be done.

Trainee Brett Evans

Mr. Evans, soon to be Ensign Evans, went on to talk about how the armor was an extension of who he was, just a hunk of alloys and technology until someone like him straps in. Many of his fellow trainees felt the same way, like they were pretty good but the armor let their body do what needs to be done, beyond what others can do. Of course, the Captain had a slightly different take on things.

The 1Z? Yeah it’s impressive hardware, and these kids really like it. There’s a lot to like about it. They aren’t wrong when they talk about the fact that it becomes an extension of the wearer though, we picked these people for a reason though. Each one of them makes the 1Z look like a toaster in comparison to the possibilities. These kids have the best training without even touching that armor before they even qualify to look at it.

Captain Reginald Armando

Captain Armando went on to talk about the training that each person goes through, in fact one of the qualifying tests is about armorless-operations where for their finals the trainees will go head to head with seasoned veterans who know all the tricks and tools of the trade. The program is really impressive.

The Jump

Once the shuttle lifted off, the trainees were made aware of their drop coordinates and the joking stopped. That’s when the Captain issued orders for the trainees to prepare to drop and each one secured and checked the armor, plugging the drop coordinates into the armor’s on board computer and securing their helmets. The rear hatch opened and the trainees gave the thumbs up, when the shuttle was over the right orbital window, they got the green light and jumped out, two at a time, right out of the protective force field and over Soteria in hard vacuum.

The Captain as well as the Vice Admiral and myself watched from the shuttle cockpit as the trainees descended and hit the atmosphere, according to the Vice Admiral that was the moment where a lot of the pass and fail grades would be decided, being able to go from hard vacuum to atmospheric reentry in a suit of armor is not an easy thing. All the trainees made it to the ground in the end, though their grades are still being decided. On the ground, the group was in good spirits, some expressed wanting to hop back up to orbit and do it again. They would get their chance, this wasn’t the only orbital drop they’d have to do in order to become marines. All of them were eager to get onto the next phase of the process.

Writing of a Saga

I know that most of us have spent a long time crafting responses, stories, and characters over the last few years. What is on the Wiki remains persistent and can be easily exported in the event that I can no longer pay the bill. Still there is character biographical data, setting information, but not really stories of any kind, just background and source material. In that vein, I would really like to begin actual work on writing a kind of comprehensive main plot of the settings. There is just so much to write and I cannot possibly do it on my own.

As a site we’ve been going around for almost three years now, since 2016. We’ve got a lot of stories written and a lot of those stories have yet to be canonized, some of the information has even been lost when channels have been deleted on Discord and such things. I would like to really start to cobble together the saga that we’ve built, so that it doesn’t get lost forever someday. Back in the old days we had persistent chat logs on IRC that could be saved (I have a lot of them myself, still) and forum data could be easily backed up (as our forum is). In the age of Discord and many related servers (such as Slack, Zulip, or Mattermost) there is the problem of how to get the data out of Discord. The short answer is that, you can’t. I suppose one could code a bot to dump all of the Discord information to a text file, but as I can attest to with chat logs and like they are nearly impossible to parse.

I know that most of us have spent a long time crafting responses, stories, and characters over the last few years. What is on the Wiki remains persistent and can be easily exported in the event that I can no longer pay the bill. Still there is character biographical data, setting information, but not really stories of any kind, just background and source material. In that vein, I would really like to begin actual work on writing a kind of comprehensive main plot of the settings. There is just so much to write and I cannot possibly do it on my own.

In that vein, I’m asking for help in getting this ball rolling. I’m getting some of my creative mojo back after a long span of having no real creative fire left, so I don’t mind firing it up. I’m still up in the air for what would be easiest, given the prevalence of using Google Docs, I am inclined to believe that would be easiest for everyone and thus, I envision this as a folder on Google Drive that is shared and people can collaborate, write, and start things for their characters as they want to. I will have a main file for the Saga of Blazing Umbra which will contain the main story itself and other stories be satellites to that (that also stand alone). The idea is that we’ve got the actual stories of all of our characters and plots written in a narrative form, perhaps even cut-paste largely off of Discord itself.

To that end, I’ve made a shared folder on Google Drive. The link provides view-only access, since these are our stories I would like to actually add people’s editing access as needed, to protect the work from vandalism. I have also enabled version histories, so if there are changes that a person doesn’t like to their story, they can be viewed and the original is recoverable. Please comment or DM me for direct access.

Operation Stellar Horizon Update

Progress report was transmitted by the Stellar Horizon on schedule and was received at 0300Z via the transdimensional receiver array at Janus Station. Recon proceeding for uncharted star system, so far no hostilities have been found. The Stellar Horizon is holding position pending study of entertainment broadcasts received. At the time of the transmission the vessel had not encountered any resistance, hostile or otherwise. See file TDO-SOV-0010-1 for details.

OOC: Remember this feed is kept under wraps from the general public, internal Solas Tempus communications.

Stellar Horizon Reboot

So, it occurs to me that we’re going to need to do a reboot of the Stellar Horizon plot. We have a few spots for people to join, this is going to be formatted like your average episode of Star Trek. We’re going to have a bridge crew / senior officers and a few extras. Not everyone will be required at all times, and people can go in and out of scenes as needed.

We’ll be doing a storyline. We have two right now that we can do, that I am planning to run myself. So, right now, I know for sure that we have no active CMO (Chief Medical Officer) as that is played by @buckethead and I don’t know if Cake is interested in being involved still, also T0l hasn’t joined the server either to be involved. It has been a while, we’re going to start in-space after the ship goes through Janus Gate and is on its mission and go from there.

Looking to start this story by sometime around this upcoming week.

Pushing the Investigation

We are looking for 2-4 players to participate in a 2-3 hour long session that will be scheduled in about 2-3 weeks from now, to allow me time to finish with the semester. We will be playing off of non-combat areas of mental illness, classic horror concepts, and a much darker universe than we’ve been going with before.

So the introductory thread for the Angelic Sins setting was supposed to have been over and done with years ago. However, we have been having trouble getting players to consistently want to participate. We’ve tried to do it on the forum and such since times don’t like to add up so people can do things. However, this is a plot that I’d like to finish. At this time, I’ve put out a call for players to volunteer for an as-yet-unscheduled event in Angelic Sins.

We are looking for 2-4 players to participate in a 2-3 hour long session that will be scheduled in about 2-3 weeks from now, to allow me time to finish with the semester. We will be playing off of non-combat areas of mental illness, classic horror concepts, and a much darker universe than we’ve been going with before.

If all participants are able, we can arrange for the session to last longer, but right now I’m looking at doing several short sessions that deal specifically with this in an episodic kind of way. Rather than trying pack an TV style episode of content into the game, these will focus on one or maybe two concepts important to the whole plot, closer to a small MMORPG Quest style of episode.

If anyone knows any players who may which to participate who may not be on the server, please invite them and see if we can build a following.