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Board's Plot: Blood Rites
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Established February 2010
by Jamie, Gina & Bowie.


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A Reviewer's POV

xx A Reviewer's POV
Jun 29, 12, 01:41:59 AM by Phedre

The Review Council is one of the hardest working Councils on the board and without a doubt they have the hardest job. In addition to managing the Keep’s Registry, which involves things such as maintaining Graphics Claims and the Board’s Ratios and Statistics, Review Council is also in charge of the more obvious duties that come along with reviewing characters. It is their responsibility to ensure that the characters we approve follow our guidelines, create sustainable plot, and enhance our Board’s AU. 

As a reviewer, there are specific things that I am looking for when I work through an application that has been marked ready for review.

Some of these elements are basic application standards, such as:
  • Ensuring basic word counts (Personality/History/Writing Sample)
  • Age is supplemented with Birth Year and the math is correct
  • There are at least 3 Likes, 3 Dislikes, and 3 Fears Defined
  • All of the areas of the application are filled out and nothing has been skipped


Other elements that we look at are often more difficult to describe or define, but include:
  • Ensuring that there is greater depth to a Dark Jeweled application to support the character
  • Ensuring that the avatar/play by match the Territory appropriately
  • Ensuring that the Caste of the character resonates throughout the entire application


In this post I will walk through the process of what we, the Review Council, are looking for when we go through your applications. Hopefully it will give you, as the writer, a better understanding of the review process from our point of view.

Name

When it comes to the Name we pay the most attention to naming conventions that pertain to the Territory. We also make sure that the first name does not already exist on another character. There are sometimes concerns over a name that does not fit the Culture of the Territory. For instance “Shannon Cormick” is a very Irish name and we would not expect that character to exist as a Pruulian witch, both due it being out of place and because it does not follow Pruulian naming conventions.

Naming conventions to take into consideration:
  • Pruul: Naming Conventions
  • Hayll: Naming Conventions
  • Scelt: Clans are a big part of the Sceltic culture so we do not allow for duplicate surnames that are unrelated.
  • Askavi, specifically Eyriens: Female names are meant to end in “ian” and male names in “ar”.
Age
We want to see both the age and the year born. This makes updating the characters age as time passes much easier. We also check the math to make sure it’s accurate.

Race
This is where we start looking at the avatar. Does the avatar fit the racial standards identified for that race? If not, is there an explanation in Distinguishing Features for why that is?

Racial standards that we take into consideration:
  • Long Lived should have black hair, tan/dark skin, and golden eyes.
  • For mixed raced long lived, please see this thread
  • Glacia: Blonde, blue eyed, very caucasian.
  • Red hair, while common in Scelt and somewhat less common in Dharo, is distinctly less common elsewhere
  • Raej is Egyptian, while Nharkava is Indian
  • Pruul is a complicated mix based on Persia. You can read more here

    Caste and Jewels
    Caste and Jewels indicate how critically I am going to be looking at the application. This is because typically a light Jeweled witch requires less depth of character than a Dark Jeweled Warlord Prince.

    When it comes to a dual caste female I will be looking for signs, within the Personality and throughout the character sheet, of each Caste on their own as well as a unique blending of the two castes together. It is key to show the melding of the Castes because this is what makes a multi-caste character so unique and we need to see the relevancy within the character sheet.

    Dual caste males and Triple castes females are petitions which are a more complex review process than what I am currently touching on, but in the briefest possible language, require proof that the character could not exist or stand without that specific melding of Castes. Not to worry, there will be much more in depth blog posts on Dark Jewel applications and Petitions at a future date. The depth of that topic requires a full post all on its own.

    Distinguishing Features
    This is not a required section, but if there is something different about the appearance of the play by compared to cultural norms, here is your chance to explain it to us. Does the explanation make sense with the play by? Does it explain any anomalies with the standard of the Territory or race? In some cases, does it give me a better sense of the character?

    Personality
    First we check the word count and ensure that you have at least 250 words.

    Generally, if you are writing a Dark Jewel, you may need more than this to really expand on the character and support the weight of the Jewel. This is a difficult one to define because it’s not an “I want to see this many more words from you” situation, it’s, “I want to feel the gravity of the character.”

    Again, it is a combination of Caste and Jewel that creates this need. Each reviewer will approach this a little differently. We are not machines and we cannot review your applications as if we are. While this may at times be frustrating for you, please understand that we are doing the best we can to hold a high standard of fully realized characters so that you can then have truly fulfilling RP.

    Beyond the Jewel we also need to understand how Castes, or lack thereof, affect your character’s personality. In Black Jewels, the Castes help define and mold a character’s personality and we expect that to carry into reviews. We are not looking for cookie cutter characters, not every Black Widow is going to be overly sexual, and not every Healer will be overly nurturing, but we need to understand why they break the mold when they do and how the Caste affects the character.

    One thing in specific I want to mention about personality is that we want to know about who your character is now. If you start writing a narrative with a timeline, that likely belongs in the History section. While it can be great to contrast who your character is now with who they have been before, make sure that you stay focused on your character as they are currently.

    Likes/Dislikes/Fears
    This is really a place for you to expand on who your character is. We would always prefer to see things here that continue to show depth and add more layers to your creation. It is wonderful when, during an RP, you can look at your sheet and say, “Wait, my character specifically doesn’t like…” and build an entire idea off of something that was in your application.

    Regardless what you choose, the more explanation and justification you offer, the more I am likely to agree that Like is valid and truly a part of the character’s personality. If one writer says their character likes chocolate and writes a one sentence explanation while another uses the same Like but offers me a paragraph of compelling reasons, I am much more likely to sign off on the Like of chocolate for the second character. I am not saying you need to write a paragraph for each Like, I am simply saying that the more explanation you offer, the more we understand why it matters to your character.

    One issue that has come up multiple times is “I have seen this on someone else’s sheet, why am I not allowed to use it on mine?” We try to be as consistent as possible across Review Council as we can, but again, we are not robots, we are people. The other factor that is often not considered is the character as a whole. Take for example the Fear of Being Broken. As a whole, the Review Council is attempting to steer players away from using this Fear. Why? Because all Blood fear being broken. What does it tell us about your character specifically?

    There are a few circumstances where it does in fact make sense and we will sign off on it, such as a girl who has not yet experienced her Virgin Night or a character who has felt the pain of being broken from their descent and is terrified of losing their Birthright as well, but it has to be supported by the rest of the application. These are individual calls. Overall, we’d prefer you find a different Fear, but if you feel it fits your character specifically in a way that is far beyond what other characters feel, you may attempt to persuade us. Just realize, we may still say no. 

    It’s important to remember that we view Likes, Dislikes, and Fears on a character by character basis. What we want to see from the sheet is explanation and justification for each. We want them to provide depth to the character. This is a great place to really show us who your character is. Be creative!

    Craft Strengths and Weaknesses
    While these may be optional they do provide a great depth to the character that is often overlooked.

    If you do choose to use the Strengths and Weaknesses section of the application there needs to be two and only two of each. Thanks to the advent of the Keep, we now have this wonderful resource that can help players come up with ideas for Strengths and Weaknesses if they are struggling. Another option is to look to other players’ characters to see if you can build off of their ideas.

    As a reviewer, what I am looking for are the following:
  • Are these balanced? If they are not balanced, are they more heavily slanted toward Weaknesses? I would prefer your character be overly flawed than inexplicably strong and good at everything.
  • Do they make sense for the character? Are they explained in a way that makes sense? If you are not a Hearth Witch, having Hearth Craft as a Weakness will likely get a comment from one of us. Has it been done before? Yes. But the site is ever growing and evolving over time. Our standards for Review have evolved, too.
Family
Regardless if a character is an orphan or estranged from their parents, I want to see this section populated with Jewels and Caste information. What I am looking for is family member’s names, their Jewels, and their Castes. I would prefer to have ages as well.

When we are reviewing the Family section we are looking to understand the origin of the Jewels. Were the family Jewels rolled, and, if not, do they follow the Board guidelines for choosing family Jewels? If you would like to potentially have a family member open for adoption and have the player roll their own Jewels, we still need to see Jewels for that family member on your sheet. What you can do is put an * with a note beneath that simply says *Jewels and caste subject to change so that we know it might occur. If and when that family member gets picked up and the player has their Jewels rolled, you can then go back to your sheet and simply make the needed changes. If you are connected to other characters, I will be checking their sheets to make sure that the family names and ages match for consistency.

History
The first thing we check on the History is word count. Yes, back to the word count. Yes, it needs to be at least 350 words. Some are 400 words. Some are 6000 words. It needs to be as long as it needs for you to tell the story of the character’s history. Long lived often require more words simply because, well, 2,000 years of life is a lot of history to encompass. Other times it’s that there is just a lot of say to explain how a Landen girl ended up ruling the sex trade industry of Little Terreille wearing a Yellow Jewel.

What we want to see here is a coherent, accurate, and filled out history for your character that makes sense and helps us understand where they have been and how they have become the people they are. It also needs to fit within the timeline of the surrounding Territory(ies) involved, which can be particularly tricky for Long lived. We now have the Great War timeline, which we hope has helped with this.

If your character is old enough to have survived the Purge, there needs to be mention of it in the History, including how they managed to keep their Jewels intact if they are not broken.

We also review the History for elements that help to define the Caste and Jewels. How was their childhood affected by growing up with their specific Caste and interacting with those around them? How was the Jewel they were gifted with perceived by their family and the Territory they grew up in? A Dark Jeweled child in Chaillot is going to have a radically different childhood than one in Glacia. This needs to be reflected in the History. We review the History to ensure that these elements continue to support the growth and status of the character.

Writing Sample
Again what we check first is the word counts; and this time they’re meant to be 250 words.

I love the writing sample. This is the first time I really get to hear your character’s voice. But what I want to see here is your character come alive. This to me is the most personal part of the character application and it’s the first chance I have to see a glimpse of your character in action, the way they think, the way they phrase things. Find a moment in your character’s life that was truly pivotal to them and share it with me. That’s what I want to see. 



Finally.. a disclaimer pertaining to the Review Council’s duties and evolution...

The Board evolves constantly based on the writers involved. Review Council and the standards we set forth have evolved along with the Board. We’re comfortable where we are at now, but it’s taken us some time to get there. Not every decision we have ever made has been perfect. We’re not perfect. But we do the best job that we can for you.

I’ve outlined our process for you so that you can have a better understanding of what it’s like from a Reviewer’s perspective and in the hopes that it will help take some of the mystery out of the process of character reviews. The process isn't meant to be confusing. Hopefully it will also make writing your next character a bit easier!

I have not done this so that you can now attempt to hold our already overworked Reviewers to the standards I have just set forth. We hold ourselves to them already. Neither I nor the other staff will be appreciative if we hear of any Reviewers being hassled. Be kind and give everyone the benefit of the doubt. We are all doing the best we can.

At the end of the day, what we are really looking for in a character is clear support and justification of Caste, Race, and Jewels throughout the entire sheet. Our goal is to help you create great characters so that we can enjoy enriching RP together. I hope this has helped you understand our process a bit better.


I’d like to thank Jamie for helping me with this Blog Post and for the fabulous graphics!


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xx Re: A Reviewer's POV (Reply 1)
Jul 17, 12, 05:26:58 PM by White
This is spot on - and every member of Blood Rites should have read this post.

Review Council is always fielding questions about our standards - or why one concept fits Character A but not Character B. Some of it is subjective, yes, but if you can provide strong enough explanation in character to prove the value of your concept then you will move the Reviewer to agree and accept the character.

The best advice I can give: Focus your efforts on in character explanations and not out of character justifications.
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