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The Great V4 Read-A-Thon!
Sounds great, if everyone's up for it. I'm cool with running this again. I can just remove handlers who vanished from the assignment list, maybe, or something. Whatever everyone thinks is best.

Paris Ardennes

Scott Blum
Hi, Hornet! Sorry this took a bit!

Anyways, Scott's looking pretty good, but he is DENIED pending a bit of revision.

First off, I'd like to see another couple hobbies and interests added. That section gives us a good overview of what a character likes to do in their free time, and most people have more than a couple things they enjoy. It just helps round the character out a bit.

I'd also like a bit more description of Scott. Is there anything notable about his features besides his youthful appearance? What style is his hair in? Does he have good hygiene?

Your formatting appears a bit off here: "and he never actually /won/ a single race." For board code, if you want italics, you should use
[i]text here[/i]

There should be a space here: "location.Eventually", like so "location. Eventually".

In the US, criminal records for children under 18 are usually not available to the public, so I'm not really sure how his shoplifting ticket would prevent Scott from getting a job. I'm a little bit uncertain about Scott's degree of infamy from a single, fairly minor instance. Tons of kids get busted shoplifting every week; why would one stand out so much?

I'd also like to know a bit more about Scott's thought process/rationale for stealing. Taking groceries to help his family makes sense, especially since shoplifting is pretty easy to rationalize as close to a victim-less crime, but taking wallets crosses into much more direct thievery. Similarly, I'd like to know a whole lot more about Scott's foray into carjacking. Where did he get the knowledge to hotwire a car?

Really, I think I'd like Scott's criminal history explained a good deal more and toned down a bit. Right now he seems a bit too infamous. There's a difference between being known around school for taking stuff and being one of the Seattle PD's usual suspects. I'm fine with the former, but when it gets to the point where police are tailing him around, stuff needs to be dialed down a few notches.

I also want to know a whole lot more about Scott aside from his criminal undertakings. Right now, I've got a great idea of his various escapades, but know little else about him. The other stuff, though, is more of what I'm interested in. How does Scott feel about his father abandoning him? Have they had any contact? How do he and his mother get along these days? How does Scott do in school? What classes does he do well in? Where does he struggle?

Basically, I'd like at least as much info on Scott's "normal" life as on the other stuff. This would also be a good place to work in further hobbies.

Next, Scott's advantages and disadvantages need some adjustment. 20/5 vision has apparently never been recorded in a human, and even 20/10 is really rare.

Next off, I'd like to see a bit more in there to balance out his advantages (great eyesight [including at night], being in pretty good shape, skill with throwing stuff). While having trouble transitioning is great for tempering the advantage of his eyesight somewhat, I think it's currently a bit excessive (I've known people who have trouble with brightness, and none of them is in the range of being blinded for minutes while adjusting to brighter or darker areas). I'd basically like to see maybe one more disadvantage, plus Scott's nice nature brought up somewhere in his profile.

Post when you've got Scott edited, and we'll give him another look. Thanks!

Thomas Spradlin
Hi, BlueCanary!

Before we give Thomas a full critique, can you fix his profile up so it perfectly matches the template? Specifically, while the "Hobbies and Interests" header should be bolded, the actual list of hobbies should not.

Post when you've got that taken care of, and we'll give you a full critique. Thanks!

The General SOTF Discussion Thread
I think it's also really interesting looking at how fight scenes have changed over the versions. Now, I wasn't around in V1-3, so this is based purely on speculation, but from what I've seen, it looks like this was another area in which site culture changed a lot during/after V3. Veterans, feel free to correct me if I'm way off base here.

It seems, looking over the posts and threads, that fights used to be more competitive on an OOC level. Handlers would do the sort of contingency post D/N mentioned specifically because the goal was to work other handlers into as much of a corner as possible without GMing, so as to get the upper hand in the fight. These fights often ended with a death, because, at the time, killing a character unrolled wasn't a huge deal, if it wasn't your flag/someone you were attached to. This was because you could always submit a new one. Fights like that were actually considered, by at least some handlers, as part of the fun of the game, as it allowed handlers to test their ingenuity and writing skills.

Now, things changed about 2/3 of the way into V3, when the character cap was put in place. Similar stuff had happened in V1 and V2 after their caps. Basically, once everyone's playing for keeps, they start guarding their characters a lot more closely, because they then become resources to give a shot at winning/keep a favored character alive longer. V3's cap just fell while there were more characters left alive than usual.

V4, of course, never allowed replacements, so that sort of fight basically got killed off. A lot of people still wrote that way, though, either out of habit or because they'd learned from observation of old versions that that was how to fight while avoiding GMing.

Of course, there are other issues that raises. I'm really, really not a fan of starting a version playing to win, honestly. I actually feel like, far too often, the focus is on the end rather than the process, which can be a much more interesting prospect. To me, at least, whether a character is interesting or well developed matters a lot more than whether they survive or last a long time or do something important with regards to the plot or whatever. I really do think that quality writing will be remembered on its own merits.

Pregame Activity/Inactivity
I can even set up a profile field with a multiple choice setting if people/the staff likes it, meaning we could keep it purely informative, unlike the Flagship box (not that I have anything against the fun stuff I see there, just this feels like it'd be more useful, less humorous).

Pregame Activity/Inactivity
Well, I've joked about this with 'foxd before, but one idea is to have handlers self-rate their speeds, like so:

My posting speed is: FAST. Expect a post from me within 1-2 days of it becoming my turn.
My posting speed is: MEDIUM. Expect a post from me within 3-5 days of it becoming my turn.
My posting speed is: SLOW. Expect a post from me within 6-10 days of it becoming my turn.
My posting speed is: ERRATIC/VERY SLOW. Expect a post from me when I have free time, potentially within 11-14 or more days of it becoming my turn.

This would allow handlers to find and work with those who are pretty close to them in terms of speed, without running into endless threads. It's not perfect, of course, because stuff comes up a lot, and people get slowed down for whatever reason. Still, I think knowing that you're entering a thread full of speedy people might be a good thing.

Another thing: I wish more handlers who lose interest would take responsibility and just move their characters out of threads. One-line it if required.

This may not help motivate anyone. I don't know if anyone cares about these things. That said, activity is absolutely one of the things the staff looks at when hiring new staffers. People who barely manage their own posts/characters tend to get dropped from consideration in a real hurry, because no matter how good a handler is at writing/handling critiques, it doesn't matter if they never actually do anything.

A final, rather crazy idea (that I'm NOT proposing at this time, just musing about): What if we did add inactivity to pregame? It'd be a lot tamer, though. Basically, every time a character would be inactive killed in real game, Help just contrives a reason for the slow character to leave the thread?

What I like about this is that it would end the holdups and would help handlers get used to how activity is enforced.

What I really, really do not like is it means a boatload more work for the staff, and it means screwing with handlers' characters that they are still planning to play in game at some point. That means there's a lot of potential for grouchiness, derailment, and other horrible things of that sort. I think it would end with adversarial relations between staff and handlers, as well as more handlers running down the clock.

So, uh, I actually don't like that at all. I don't know. This is a tough issue.

Your Top Ten
Whoa, could've sworn I replied to this. ><

Yep, there's an epilogue! It's coming together (kinda slowly), but will hopefully be done before long at all here.

Introduction Thread
Hi, BlueCanary! Welcome to SOTF!

Be sure to check out the chat (which is half-busted tonight), the Mini, and the New Handler's Guide. If you have any questions, feel free to PM me or any other staffer (we have colored names). We hope you enjoy it here!

v5 Student Newspaper & Yearbook Committee
I actually really like "Daily", especially since a school newspaper almost certainly, well, isn't. I just somewhat enjoy the ironic title potential.

The General SOTF Discussion Thread
Oh man, so much to say:

Family: Yeah, family is important. So is keeping notes. I think I changed the name of one of my character's family members (no, I'm not gonna say who because I haven't gone through the fifty-odd thousand words to actually fix it yet). Family relationships are super important, and I, personally, tend to kinda neglect them. I've done much more on Mini, but even there they've been something of an afterthought.

I think what matters is, like Blast said, the interaction, and also, like Kami said, the relationships. There's a lot you can play off of, especially if your characters comes from an unusual family situation (adopted, raised by a single parent, lots of siblings, etc.). That can work well if cut to on the island, and it can also work well if established in pregame and then just sort of left lingering.

That said, there's a huge risk when writing your character's family. Quite often, I see handlers make the exact same mistake that is so very common when writing two students in the same scene: they use the spares to unrealistically set up/comment on their primary character. Basically, when someone has full control over a scene or an interaction, they can make sure all their character's lines go off without a hitch, that things end up exactly where they're supposed to, that certain traits (like jerkishness or being a really nice guy or whatever) get shown in exactly the right way. The problem is, usually what one person sees as right reads, to me at least, as fake. It comes off like what you'd watch on a TV show, not what you'd see in real life.

I may be the only one bugged by that. I dunno. I like characters who are very rounded and display a lot of variation and adaptability to situations. And, if done right, family interactions, as Blast said, give a prefect opportunity to make that happen. I've seen a lot of good ones. I've just also seen some bad ones.

Oh! Also, I don't like it when a family is only around when it's convenient and is otherwise brushed to the side. I want to see family be a pain some time, like if, say, two students come back after school to hook up 'cause the family's supposed to be out, only it turns out the event got cancelled so everyone's there and the plans are thwarted. That kind of stuff happens, so sometimes it's fun to see in RP.

As to fights, there I think my perspective maybe differs some? I wing a lot of things, and I've winged a lot of fights, too. Some have been lethal, some haven't. One thing is I tend to write unskilled wimps so usually my characters end up taking a lot of hits even if the other guy isn't. What I've found is, often doing damage mitigation is better than making something miss. Maybe your character tries to dodge and instead just gets far enough out of the way that a deep wound turns into a glancing one.

Basically, I like when a character gets hurt but not messed up permanently. I mean, that's another thing I like seeing: characters who experience pain. SOTF is decent about this, but characters often seem to forget their injuries (as well as their emotional pain) in an awful hurry. I like seeing characters deal with scrapes and bruises and I like seeing them grieve over lost loved ones. It makes them so, so much more believable and relatable.

Actually, that leads me to another point: how does everyone feel about serious injuries? Like, would you be willing to get a character messed up in a major way before they're slated to die?

I find that handlers often really don't like seeing characters messed up too badly before they're supposed to die, and that bugs me a lot. People survive all kinds of crazy stuff, and it's way more interesting seeing someone who's been through a lot.

V1 had a whole lot more of that, actually. I mean, yeah, it led to some kinda infamous incidents, but it also gave some great realism. Dodd, for example, took a glancing blow from an axe on like day four, and it gave him grief for the entire rest of his stay in the game.

Of course, given my writing and what's happened to some of my characters, this stance is probably not the most surprising.

Finally, to Laure:

I love pregame. In many ways I prefer it to the island. I treat it with the same effort I give the game. My goal is always to develop my characters into interesting people I care about, and to get a fix on their mannerisms and voices.

I have very, very few specific goals in pregame. Mostly I do what sounds amusing at the time. I do try to hit up a bunch of different threads to see my character in different situations. I also try to interact with a bunch of handlers, because that lets me get to know people and figure out whose writing I click with and whose I don't. It also helps me establish actual, detailed relationships, which are super important on-island (Everyone remember Bryan and Tori? That started in pregame/url]).

I definitely don't have goals for before the game. I definitely do feel like I haven't done enough. I'd've loved to work some more in for all my V4 kids. Some left threads incomplete, some left things hanging, some I just didn't have a good feel for.

As to threads I focus on? Anything except classroom threads. I hate classroom threads, because unless the situation is set up just right, there's not actually any real chance to interact naturally with most other characters. Also, teacher interactions are very vulnerable to the same stuff I've talked about in family, that being the issues with making things work too perfectly or play to one of your character's traits too well.

Let's Kill Private Threads!
I actually totally agree with Dan. Like I said in my first post, private threads have a time and place. They're really convenient and they avoid that sort of nonsense.

A big part of this is an experiment. I know I'm not gonna get most of the site on board, and I know I'm opening myself up to that sort of thing. It's a risk I'm totally willing to take. And, hey, if it explodes on me, that's cool too.

I guess I'd just like to make sure to clarify that the sensationalism is just for my (and now a few other people's) experiment. Mostly I just wanna raise awareness about how overused private threads can get. I think there was a pretty huge (and, honestly, probably fully-justified) backlash against V3's issues, and it resulted in almost every kill/death thread in V4 being private. I'm just hoping, as a site, we've matured enough that it won't be such an issue in V5.

Introduction Thread
Haha, same on my end. Hiya, Neo! Here's an official welcome to SOTF! (Also, give the Mini a look. It's pretty cool too!)

It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo!
Cooper had a test with Mrs. Havok, which meant he was pretty much doomed. Adam had never experienced her particular brand of torment, though the stories he'd heard from buddies were enough that her name still made him tense up a tad. Adam had actually managed to dodge the twin bullets of math and science for his senior year, instead getting to sit back and enjoy classes that actually had some practical application and were enjoyable, like psychology. Cooper hadn't fared quite so well. Granted, he'd probably actually know what he was doing come college, if he was even planning on going. Adam didn't actually know Cooper's plans for the future.

That wasn't worth thinking about. Cooper did Adam a big favor by coaxing New Girl's name out of her. She was Lahela. Adam would've probably stumbled over that had she not been prepared and sounded it out for them. He wondered if his name was tricky for people from other cultures. It seemed rather unlikely, being only two syllables and all. As it was, Adam mouthed her name silently. He was pretty sure he could get it right, so he gave it a shot.

"Hey, Lahela," he said. "It's good to meet you too."

Then there was another shout. Adam kept his face fairly neutral, in part just to keep up his practice, but he was grinning on the inside. Paulo and Cooper, randomly stumbling across him? A cool girl with an instrument? It was like fate itself had determined that this was going to be a rocking lunch period. With this sort of company, even gloomy weather didn't stand a chance of dulling Adam's spirits.

"Hey, Paulo," Adam called. "I'm having lunch. 'sup with you? By the way, this is Lahela."

He hoped he'd pronounced it close to right. It had sounded right.

Let's Kill Private Threads!
Personally, I'm not a fan of "PM Private" threads. They feel, to me, kinda like a handler either trying to avoid looking like they're having a private thread, or that they're trying to control which other handlers their thread is public to. Neither option is really my thing. I've also never known anyone to actually PM for admittance to one.

Let's Kill Private Threads!
Hey, everyone! This is not exactly one of my occasional Roleplaying Discussion rants. This time, I've got a bit of a rant and a solution.

One of the biggest problems to me, in V4, was that private threads ended up everywhere. There was some pretty serious bloat, as some characters hopped from private thread to private thread, never really interacting with the island on the whole. This bugged a bunch of handlers, and I can honestly say I see why. SOTF is a collaborative roleplaying/writing site, and it's fun to work with everyone. When you see awesome characters, it's cool to be able to interact with them.

Now, I just want to be clear: I'm not demonizing private threads, despite this post's title. I completely understand that there are often scenes we want to go down in specific ways. I understand that private threads are a great way to accomplish that. That said, I think private threads were massively overused in V4. I've heard some folks talking about V5, and already planning extensively, and honestly, from all I've heard, it sounds like at best it's gonna be holding to the same pattern. That makes me kinda sad. An overabundance of private threads hurts the game's dynamic nature. It removes spontaneity and chance from the equation. It robs characters of the chance to get some amazing moments.

In V4, some handler from way back (I can't recall who) heard me say roughly this and suggested that maybe crashing some private threads could be in order, since, technically, they are suggestions, not rules. Technically, you can waltz into private threads. It's just really rude.

I don't like that solution. I think those of us who want to change stuff can do it really easily and politely, with action only from our end. I hope I can prove that private threads are fine, when used in moderation, but aren't at all necessary to the game or a good character. V1 had almost no private threads. Some of the most famous scenes in SOTF history came about through random chance, in open threads.

Let's recreate that!

To prove my point, I'm going to take an extreme position. I'm saying, right now, in public, where I will be held to it, that I will not start a single private thread in V5 proper. Yes, that includes death threads. The only exception is if I have to act in a staff capacity, like, say, writing terrorists where it is required for some reason.

More than that, if anyone thinks this is an interesting prospect, I'd love to have you onboard too. I'm putting this in my sig. You're welcome to as well.

Let's show that private threads aren't necessary! I pledge not to start any private threads on island in V5. If I started a thread, you are welcome to join it.

I'm not saying I won't join private threads, as that would mean limiting my writing options and partners, which is exactly the opposite of what I want to see happen. I'm not saying I won't do one-shots, which aren't the same as private threads. I'm not asking anyone else to, either. This applies only to V5 proper, as well; pregame, being backstory and setup for the game, has a lot more room for private threads. But, yeah, every thread I start is gonna be public, and it'd be cool to get some other folks doing the same, just to show that you can have awesome characters and stories without falling back on private threads.

Just to be clear once more: I'm not taking a shot at private threads. In moderation, they're great tools. I'm not expecting much in the way of other folks joining on here, 'cause, honestly, it is quite a big commitment to make and will be limiting in some ways.

I just hate seeing private threads, like any tool, overused. I'd like to show that other options exist, because honestly I think some handlers are afraid that they'll have problems or their characters will be worse somehow without private threads. I want to disprove that. :)

Janie Sinneave
Hey, Casey! Just noticed this, but you've got a spare line break between Biography and Advantages, and to be fair I've got to grumble about it. Could you take care of that and then post when you've got it handled for a full critique? Thanks!

Debora 'Debbie' Jones
This character biography has had no alterations for more than two weeks and has been put in the abandoned characters forum. This profile is eligible for resubmission by the handler upon alterations requested from the staff.

Ethan Johnson
Hi, Hunt!

Ethan's looking way better. Just a few more things need fixing up!

First off, I just noticed his hobbies and interests list is capitalized really oddly. It'd work better like so: "Football, working out, construction work, and military history"

Also, there should be a period in here, between "waist" and "The": "...he often has a jacket tied around his waist The only personal item he wears..."

"At first Ethan found it difficult to be away from his parents for such a large portion of the day he would often be a complete brat, much to the chagrin of the Robertsons and their son Jack, however as time wore on, Ethan adapted to staying with the Robertsons to the point that Ethan started to view them as his second family." is an overly long sentence. It'd work better like so: "At first, Ethan found it difficult to be away from his parents for such a large portion of the day. He would often be a complete brat, much to the chagrin of the Robertsons and their son Jack. However, as time wore on, Ethan adapted to staying with the Robertsons to the point that Ethan started to view them as his second family."

"threw his teachings" should be "through his teachings"

I'd like to know a bit about how the difference between Ethan's spiritual beliefs and those of his parents affected their relationships. Have they ever argued? How does Ethan feel about his parents' beliefs?

Like I mentioned last time, this bit: "The Robertsons’ son, Jack became Ethan’s closest friend, as while they were almost complete opposites of each other. Jack was loud and confident, which contrasted to Ethan’s more quite and withdrawn personality. Still they came to view each other as brothers." would work better as so: "The Robertsons' son, Jack, became Ethan’s closest friend, even though they were almost complete opposites of each other. Jack was loud and confident, which contrasted with Ethan’s more quite and withdrawn personality. Still, they came to view each other as brothers." The punctuation and phrasing differences are actually pretty key in making things readable.

There's another unfinished sentence here: "Thanks to the rise of the internet Ethan and Jack remained in contact with each other but" I'd like you to finish it and fill in the rest of the info on their relationship, please. :)

"Scared of being forced of the team" should be "Scared of being forced off the team"

Post when you've got Ethan edited, and we'll give him another look. Thanks!

Georgia "Geo" Watson
Hi again, Delroy!

Geo's looking way better! I've just got a few more things I'd like adjusted.

"First Person Shooters" should be "first-person shooters"

"despite latter events." should be "despite later events."

Why did Geo stop acting, if giving it up made her unhappy?

"Stay with her mother and siblings in England, or go to America with her father, who actually paid attention to her." should be "She could stay with her mother and siblings in England, or go to America with her father, who actually paid attention to her."

"Thomas is well aware that his daughter would much rather spend her time slaying dragon's than study algebra," should be "Thomas is well aware that his daughter would much rather spend her time slaying dragons than studying algebra,"

As far as friends: I think I was a little bit unclear the first time through. Apologies about that! I don't need specific names or anything, just the social circles/cliques she's in. Basically, I don't care who her friends are, but I'd like to know what sort of people they are, if that makes any sense (and if it's still unclear, feel free to drop me a PM :) ). I'm also curious about how Geo's relationship with Claire is nowadays.

I'd also like to know a bit more about what Geo does on her free time, since I get the impression that she doesn't game all the time. You mentioned her enjoyment of Dubstep. Maybe just add her musical interests to her Hobbies list and give a tiny bit more info on them in her bio? (Does she go to concerts? Does she like any other genres much?)

While I can get theater skills helping Geo in game, I'm a bit confused as to how online roleplaying skills would assist her. Is she doing in-person games as well? Is it just that she's good at making up stories? I'd just like a little more clarity in how her theater and roleplaying will help her out.

Finally, how much does Geo smoke? Very casual and occasional social smoking, while really terrible for you in the long run, isn't likely to screw up your endurance too badly. I'd like to know the degree to which Geo smokes in her bio, as well as whether her father knows, and, if so, how he feels about it.

Post when you've got Geo edited, and we'll give her another look. Thanks!