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Updated this post with a few more examples on 'unusual powers' and what is considered okay vs. not, as well as specified the applications of this rule when it comes to the Free Company vs. random pick-up roleplay.
So here we are: the year of the cock. And I'm not just talking about my wedding night. As is typical with anything I do, I like to leverage the oppressive, inevitable march of time as an opportunity to to reflect on where we've been, and more importantly talk about where we're headed next.
Zal looks quite peaceful when he's reflecting.
2016 was an interesting year for us. We spent a great deal of it experimenting with various systems to try and spur roleplaying in a certain fashion, only to find that at the end of the day, people are either going to roleplay or not, and no amount of incentives is going to change that. That's not a bad thing, it just means a return to form and elevating the concept of organic roleplay we've striven for all along.
One good thing to come out of that experiment however was the revision of the Collective's internal hierarchy. We tightened up a previously loose structure and fleshed out exactly what it means to achieve each rank, as well as what is required and what each confers. There's still some room to improve here as I feel that many of our members are stuck in lower ranks longer than they ought to be, and much of that has to do with the availability and ability of leaders to recognize growth and activity, so we plan to get better at that going forward and are delegating some of those decisions for promotions back down the ladder.
Membership has been solid, which is great to see especially considering some of the extended leadership vacations and holiday conflicts towards the end of the year. I owe an ENORMOUS thanks to Kataani for getting the word out there, handling new recruits, and keeping that ball rolling. She has been doing an amazing job and without her we'd probably be overcome by attrition.
Speaking of attrition, we did see some peaks and valleys throughout the last year, including some characters whose stories ultimately had to come to an end at the Collective. This is fairly normal for any company, but particularly for one as discerning about membership as we are. So I want to also offer a huge thank you to everyone who has stuck it out through the quiet times - at the end of the day we're only still thriving because we have a community that wants to be here, and wants to see us succeed.
We'll be continuing to recruit in 2017, though it seems we're starting to get a number of word-of-mouth applicants without needing to advertise directly. This is great to see, because it means all of you are out there in the world, bringing visibility to the Collective, and doing so in a way that represents us well. That's exactly where we want to be, and that's where I plan to put the majority of our focus in the coming year.
Our 2017 will be built on three pillars: Community, Quality, and Story.
Community is something we've neglected for quite some time. In part this is because I've maintained a policy of getting our own house in order before we put ourselves out there. I think we've finally achieved that and are seeing people engaging with one another in ongoing story development without requiring oversight or incentives from leadership, and we're strong enough now that we can open ourselves up to the broader community with a strong showing that reflects what the Collective is all about.
There's a two-pronged approach to this. The first is the establishment of The Gargoyle's Perch - a bar/lounge venue located inside of the Black Vault. Although this may seem a bit uncharacteristic to some, it's important to remember that one of the Collective's founding tenets is that knowledge - particularly that which others seek to destroy - should be celebrated, cultivated, and shared. So imagine if Lucius Malfoy decided to host lavish, Great Gatsby-esque parties for all his Deatheater friends, and you have an idea of what we're going for.
Of course, running such an establishment isn't really in the Collective's immediate interests, so we're introducing a new cast of characters to handle management as an external group, with the Collective merely renting the space out. We're hoping to see this vision take shape over the first month or so of the year, as we hold auditions for some dedicated staff and sort out the logistics of running some regular, public events.
The second is simply more of what we've already been engaged in: roleplaying out in the world where it's visible, and hopefully creating new and interesting hooks with other groups.
Quality is a sticking point in all of this. Not to rag on other roleplayers, but I don't think it's any secret that we have particular standards which aren't exactly shared elsewhere on Balmung. Unfortunately this poses problems, as we find ourselves at odds trying to maintain those standards whilst at the same time expanding our footprint. As the saying goes, it's all fun and games until someone transforms into a voidsent god and fucks up what was an otherwise perfectly interesting storyline.
I've recently outlined our 'No Bullshit' rule for the sake of making our stance on certain undesirable behaviors as clear as possible. While it thankfully isn't pervasive, we have had a few instances where characters in the Collective have either had bullshit traits that weren't declared during the application process, or who simply grew into bullshit over time. Unfortunately allowing these situations to persist, even for a short time, has resulted in some individuals choosing to leave the company. That is simply not acceptable - we advertise a particular environment, and we need to make sure we deliver on that. So I'm asking everyone to do your due diligence and call people on their bullshit, or bring it to the attention of leadership if necessary.
We'll be keeping our fingers crossed that patrons of the Gargoyle's Perch adhere to this rule as well, and it will be an interesting experiment to see if there's really enough of a community out there to make it work, but at the very least we should stick to our guns and be certain not to enable any interactions or story threads that are at odds with this core mission.
Story is what we hope will result from all of that. Not just story for the sake of story either, but twists and turns informed by the ongoing events and interactions that take place, whether at the Gargoyle's Perch, in the Black Vault, or out in the wilds of Eorzea. That is the continuing vision for organic roleplay, but in order for that to succeed we need an environment where we can all trust that the story is going to be handled responsibly, with characters that make sense to us and to the world, be they part of the Collective or no.
We hope to continue to see new stories develop dynamically, but leadership will be coordinating behind the scenes to bring some additional plots to the fore. We'll tie things in where we can, but we may throw a curveball at times just to keep you on your toes. The directive for all of this is to keep those stories focused and break them up where we are able with clear timelines, whilst also avoiding reliance on particular characters as much as possible, so that we don't run into the issue of half-finished plots we saw last year.
I'm hoping to test the waters in this regard within the next month or two, but at the very least we'll have a lead in for Stormblood, so please look forward to it.
So that's the plan as it stands. We'll of course adapt as we move forward, and everything remains iterative, but our commitment remains to you, to the Collective, and to Final Fantasy XIV. So again, thank you all for your participation and loyalty, your creativity and humor, and everything you've done and will continue to do to keep this company thriving, and breathe life into nuanced, restrained, and engaging antagonist roleplay this side of Garlemald.
Ala Mhigo awaits!
As often occurs when we go through a recruitment spike, it has come to my attention recently that there are some members who may be engaged in activities or are demonstrating character elements that might be considered in conflict with our company's stated goals.
We've stated elsewhere on the site that we will not mandate how others roleplay. While true, there is a difference between mandating how one roleplays, and limiting the amount of pure nonsense that occurs within a roleplaying atmosphere for the sake of keeping things fair, consistent, and in-line with what we advertise ourselves as.
To that end, it is clear to me that I must invoke our 'No Bullshit' rule, and do so in a way that specifically outlines what constitutes said bullshit. This is not a negotiable policy for Free Company members. If you are engaging in 'RP bullshit', consider this our way of "level-setting", making our expectations clear, and giving you one last chance to correct course. If you or your character are guilty of these or any similar offenses, you are expected to cease and desist from any related activities or storylines and adjust your character to be in-line immediately. Second chances will not be given and we will start to remove offenders indiscriminately.
This is not enforceable outside of our Free Company, however: While we're not going to be nazis and tell people how to RP, we do expect our members to act responsibly and avoid exposing the company to any more bullshit than is necessary to avoid interrupting a scene. Unfortunately when it comes to random RP in the community, there's no telling what will happen, so we prefer to roll with the punches and let the RP flow, and then correct course after the fact.
To that end, we ask that members adhere to the below guidelines:
- If someone IN the free company engages in bullshit, call them out on it and if it continues, report it to leadership. We'll shut that shit down so fast.
If someone OUTSIDE the free company engages in bullshit, ask yourself: is it so egregious that you can't be involved, or can you work with it in the heat of the moment to let the story proceed? If it's the former, then just walk away. If it's the latter, then work with it, BUT:
- Avoid letting poor behavior turn into an ongoing story thread or involve the FC more than is necessary to continue the immediate scene. If someone is perpetuating bullshit, deal with it in the moment and then avoid those interactions in the future.
- Don't start an argument. Don't be passive aggressive. Don't make snide remarks or deride someone in FC chat. If something is bothering you that much, then you should have already shut down the scene and moved on.
- If someone OUTSIDE the free company is engaging in bullshit that you know we won't abide, but you still want your character to engage with them regularly, that's fine. Just be certain to maintain enough of a degree of separation that you aren't exposing us to bullshit regularly by virtue of your in-character friendships, otherwise you're just accomplice to the bullshit.
If you're worried that you're engaging in something we might consider to be bullshit but you don't see it listed here, ask. We're more than happy to work with you and ensure everything lines up, but if you don't reach out to us first, don't come crying that we didn't give you an opportunity to talk it through.
WARNING: I'm not going to pull any punches on this. If you feel personally offended by my opinions or that I'm trampling over your 'creative liberty', we are not on the same page and this is not the company for you.
Voidsent & Void Magic
Voidsent are peculiar beings, often possessed of powers beyond mortal limits and typically with motivations that are not easily understood (even if they often boil down to 'consume aether'). A lot of people like to play them because lolgrimdarkdemon. Others play them because they just have no other concept of how to play an 'evil' character. Beyond the fact that many people playing voidsent do so based on real-world 'demon' analogues that don't actually synchronize with the lore, at the end of the day the official Eldritch Collective policy is that voidsent are too powerful / too otherworldly to be responsibly represented by player characters.
This includes playing a voidsent, being possessed by a voidsent, voidsent familiars, voidsent penpals, so on and so forth. The only exceptions to this rule are:
- Minor voidsent 'pets' deemed unintelligent / unobtrusive enough to be containable (basically the various in-game minions as described).
- Specific use of temporary voidsent characters or elements approved by me personally for storytelling purposes.
Void magic wielded by a 'normal' character is permissible, however it should be noted that due to its natural relationship with the void, it may present challenges that players must reconcile with our rules towards actual voidsent. Therefore we still recommend against its use, but if you are dead-set on playing a void mage, remember that we will not abide interacting with or involving voidsent characters in the Collective's roleplaying environment.
Primals & Summoning
A personal favorite of mine. Primals are FFXIV's big 'A Wizard Did It' catch. With enough aether and faith, one can theoretically conjure forth everything from Ifrit or Shiva to The Flying Spaghetti Monster. Some people like to treat this as a license to invent a magical monster in whatever fashion they please, or even to play the 'my character can be possessed by a primal' card. We like to treat it as the 'sacred ground' of the Final Fantasy universe best left in the hands of the game's storytellers.
That means that members of the Collective should not be inventing their own primals or engaging in stories involving other player-invented primals. They should not be becoming primals. They should not be summoning existing primals. It's also worth noting that engaging with a primal has some nasty, irreversible consequences unless your character possesses specific traits, and you should consider this if or when a confrontation with a primal arises in the course of roleplay.
Summoning is of course a viable player ability, however due to the laws and limitations of aether in the Final Fantasy XIV universe, these summonings are limited to Egis as specifically outlined by the Allagan art. Remember that if you intend to play a summoner, the egis require your character to have been exposed to that specific primal's aether, which means you will need to take the prior statement about encounters with primals into consideration.
Death, Healing, & Consequence
As outlined in our 'Ten Commandments of RolePlay', we expect our members to consider and accept the consequences of their actions. Among other things, this means not picking fights you aren't prepared for your character to lose, not making enemies you aren't prepared for your character to contend with, and not saying anything you'll regret your character has said. And if you keep all of that in mind and things still don't go your way, well, tough cookies. Roleplay isn't about 'your way', it's about the mutual story. So play it out and explore where that story goes.
In the event that those consequences reach such a severity as character death, our policy is that this choice remains solely in the realm of the affected character's player, and if the player is unwilling or unable to accept character death, the story should be rerouted in as logical a fashion as possible. This, however, is not us granting freedom for characters to commit egregious crimes and then simply avoid all consequence: if you are unwilling to accept a valid, logical consequence for your actions to such a degree that the story cannot move forward, we will remove the barrier to the story: you. Similarly, removal from the company is a very possible consequence for characters who fail to demonstrate an ability to learn from previous consequences imposed.
In the event that your character does die, bear in mind that we expect this to be a fairly permanent ordeal. 'Raise' serves a mechanical function, but should be used sparingly in-character and often only in immediate circumstances, at great cost to the caster. Otherwise if you want a dead character resurrected, it is expected that this will be done through a fairly involved story-arc, and should be approved by leadership in advance.
On that note, undead / ashkin characters are also not permitted.
The Echo & Other Unusual Powers
The Echo is a thing. We recognize this, and we have no problem with it's incorporation into player characters - in fact, we may encourage it in some circumstances. It is perfectly acceptable for your character to possess the echo, and to have the various traits conferred by it, with the understanding that any powers given by the Echo should be suitably subtle as otherwise represented in the lore.
Any other powers should remain fairly consistent with what is demonstrated in-game as being capable by player characters. Drawing on existing lore elements such as thaumaturgy, conjury, machina, etc. to devise something custom-yet-feasible is acceptable. Wielding a spell like Ultima and leveling half a city, not so much.
It should also be noted that while we're allowing some creative freedom here, you should be mindful not to impose concepts outside of the FFXIV universe into the game, even if those concepts might exist in other Final Fantasy titles.
- Example A: A character wields a sword, whilst also leveraging black and white magics. The character is specifically defined as a 'red mage' (prior to Stormblood's release and insights into actual red mage lore and implementation). The fact that the character is defined using a clear external concept that is at risk of being contradicted by a future implementation [as the expansion now proves] due to its ties to the Final Fantasy franchise makes this unacceptable. However, if the character is not specified as a 'red mage', the concept becomes viable as swordsmanship, black magic, and white magic are all world elements available to player characters (though they will still need to keep in mind the need for a focus when spellcasting).
- Example B: A character wields clear representations or analogies to monster abilities, but does not refer to themselves as a 'blue mage' despite the obvious connotations. This is still considered out-of-bounds for the Collective, as it is clearly imposing concepts from the franchise that do not yet exist in-game, nor are they readily available to player characters. So even though the character might not be throwing the title around, the base concept itself is not grounded by anything players have access to, and thus unacceptable.
Basically the best rule of thumb when it comes to character abilities is to ground it in something already available in-game, and extrapolate from that, rather than invent something entirely unique.
Magical Girls, Mood Eyes, & the dreaded Fantasia
There are a lot of really stupid anime tropes that unfortunately get dragged into the Final Fantasy roleplaying scene by virtue of it being an eastern title that shares similar aesthetics. While there's nothing wrong with incorporating tropes, there's a difference between what is viable and character-building, and what is purely asinine weeb bullshit.
I've already posted a lengthy write-up about character consistency and the concept of magical girl transformations as it pertains to equipped items and how to play current state against changing circumstances. I'm not going to repeat what has already been said, but I am including it on this list to ensure that people are clear on what I consider to be 'bullshit'.
In that same vein of consistency however, I do need to talk about some of the more egregious behavors: specifically physical characteristics. Now I'm not asking everyone to be as obsessive as I am and actually represent a hair-growth cycle over time, but for the most part the character you present should remain consistent over the short-term unless external factors do something to impact that. More simply stated, this means shit like eyes that change color based on the time of the day, hair that changes color based on mood, nails that change color based on your character's current bathroom needs, and anything else along those lines is not acceptable. Dye your hair. Paint your nails. Wear contacts. Commit to a choice and play it out.
That brings us to Fantasia - a feature both loved and loathed. Having the freedom to modify our characters to such a degree as changing their race or gender on a whim is great when we need a breathe of fresh air. It's also absolutely terrible for roleplaying continuity. The Collective does not view fantasia as an in-universe tool, and our expectation is that the character you apply with will remain the same race and gender barring exceptional, story-based, leadership-approved circumstances. Do not surprise us by showing up as a roegadyn one day after you've been a lalafell for three months. If you absolutely need to undergo such an enormous change, consider doing so by inventing an entirely new character to match the appearance. Our expectation is that our members can commit to a character concept and see it through over the long-term.
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it will become a living document as astounding, so-ridiculous-we-couldnt-even-think-of-it roleplaying scenarios creep up. Hopefully that won't occur too often, but at the end of the day the 'no bullshit' rule shouldn't be that hard to follow.
Our company is a community, and while myself and the officership are responsible for resolving issues that arise, we are not omniscient. So we ask that everyone work together to uphold our ideals, and collaborate towards the mutual goal of respectable, grounded roleplay we all signed up for.
At the end of the day if you're witnessing what you feel is 'RP bullshit' by any members of the Collective, it is your responsibility to report it (take a screenshot and send it privately to myself or an officer), and remove yourself from the scene. If provided with visual proof of a breach of our policies, we will take immediate action.
Don't be an enabler, don't 'play it out'. Do your part to uphold our vision; our success depends on it!
The Gargoyle's Perch is an up-and-coming social roleplaying space located in the Collective's manse at Lavender Beds Ward 7, Plot 28. Our goal is to evoke a lounge / speakeasy-style environment that caters specifically to Balmung's morally grey and antagonist population, while maintaining our standards for quality roleplay and congruence with established game lore.
Following our 'Grand Opening', the Perch will be open to the public one night each week, though pick-up roleplay may be available during off-hours as well. Our goal is to provide a large-scale hosted gala on a monthly basis as well, so please stay tuned for more!
All patrons of the Gargoyle's Perch are required to abide by the house rules.
Where Weary Demons Rest
The Black Vault has long stood as a haven for Eorzea's less virtuous souls, a place in which the decried and downcast could seek refuge with like company, and continue their varied pursuits under the watchful eye of the Collective's Archmagister. Yet the Black Vault has not always been readily accommodating of visitors, and the Collective has maintained an understandable wariness towards outsiders. Those who would serve were welcomed with open arms, and all others given time only to choose: swear fealty to the cause, or leave the grounds.
Much changes with the passing seasons however, and the Collective's governing body is reminded of one of its founding tenets: to provide a safe space for all who would protect and cultivate the dark secrets of the world, no matter how damning or heretical. Though the treasures of the Black Vault proper remain under powerful wards, the Collective has volunteered a space within the manse in the hopes of creating a nexus for those who fear reprisal in similar venues of 'polite society'.
The Gargoyle's Perch is thus a watering hole and information brokerage. It is a den of debauchery and delight. It is a place to meet new allies, and to make new enemies. Nothing is forbidden here, save any acts of violence or questionable legality, for while many would demonize the pursuits of the Perch's patrons, the Collective is not eager to provide validity to the witch hunts.
Servants Beyond Service
Though sponsored by the Eldritch Collective, the Gargoyle's Perch is a wholly distinct entity administered by its own staff. To that end, the Perch provides an opportunity for employment within the Black Vault that lies outside of the traditional requirements and restrictions of the Collective, although proximity may result in some of the Collective's agents serving a dual role at the bar or on-stage.
Those wishing to work at the Perch either part- or full-time may reach out to any existing staff member, or agent of the Collective. Be prepared to undergo a rigorous audition process; management at the Perch accepts nothing short of perfection.
The Mysterious Madame Bouvier
Appointed by the Collective's Archmagister to oversee operations of the Gargoyle's Perch, the lady known only by her formal title of 'Madame' is shrewd and difficult to please. Her background as a matron in Thanalan's brothels has followed her even here, where she holds entertainment and enterprise in equal regard. Nearing her fiftieth summer, the Madame cares little for the opinions of others but is quick to insert her own, and those who seek employment at the Perch will quickly learn that what Madame says goes.
Precisely how she and the Archmagister crossed paths, or why he selected her of all people, is an unsolved mystery that neither seem particularly open to sharing. One thing however is clear: there is more to Madame Bouvier than meets the eye.
The Gargoyle's Perch is a publicly available bar and lounge space located within the Collective's mansion, the Black Vault. While we wish to offer the Balmung roleplaying community's more nefarious characters a place to drink and socialize on a regular basis, our first priority remains maintaining the integrity of our company's roleplaying atmosphere and create opportunities for players of like minds to form new and lasting connections.
To that end, we ask that patrons of the Perch observe and honor the following house rules:
1. The Perch is a lore-strict, "no bullshit" environment.
Characters who wish to mingle at the Perch must be proper denizens of Eorzea, naturally born and bred on this realm in this timeline. That means no transplanted night elves, jedi, hyruleans et al, but also no voidsent, Allagan clones, or anything other than the standard playable fare. We like to summarize this as the "no bullshit" rule, however it should be noted that this rule extends beyond what your character is and also encompasses what your character does / can do. Leave the magical girl transformations and Hiroshima-level powersets at home.
2. Combat is strictly forbidden.
The Collective celebrates the free exchange of ideas. Disagreements should be settled civilly, or away from the Black Vault.
3. All activities must remain legal.
While the Collective does not hide its interests in arts and knowledge of a more heretical leaning, and the Perch is specifically devised for the like-minded to congregate, there is zero tolerance for those who would recklessly act upon such things.
4. ERP is not welcome in public space.
While we encourage patrons of the Perch to drink, smoke, and flirt themselves into oblivion, the Collective maintains a strict 'dont ask, dont tell' policy with regards to ERP. This extends to the Perch as well, and we ask that any explicitly sexual interactions be kept off of the Black Vault property.
5. Within the Black Vault, the Collective is law.
As hosts of the Gargoyle's Perch, highest authority over any matters of dispute at the lounge is awarded to any proper member of the Eldritch Collective free company, who themselves are beholden to the company's internal hierarchy. Failure to respect the wishes of your hosts will result in punishment.
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