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Building long-term plans and growth with your character.

Long-term planning and character-building are actually very important in Sundering Shadows for those who wish to achieve position, fame or influence within the realm. Your character is a collective of stories, experiences, friendships and connections spanning throughout their lifetime. Each interaction adds an interesting and new character trait or memory that adds a layer of depth to your character. It is for these reasons that I highly recommend choosing a character and sticking with that character until their story is complete.

It's often tempting to start a character with all manner of pre-packaged experiences or flaws, but the most interesting characters I've seen are those which enter the world as a blank slate and are shaped by the world around them. A character, starting off, should have a flaw and a goal, which should help guide how you play through interactions with others and plots.

For this guide I am going to use an example from my own cast of characters, Drusilla Whisperwind, the Sun Elf mage from Ashta-Ratai. Drusilla is an elf who has just come of age (106) and she has come to the mainland to seek further apprenticeship as a mage in the city of Antioch. She is lawful good, and is drawn to Antioch's patronage of Jarmila and Kreysneothosies. Upon arrival, Drusilla tenders a letter of application to the Arcane Consortium of Antioch, in hopes of gaining an apprenticeship.

Drusilla's goals here are to gain more training as an Abjurer (her chosen school of magic) and to have further access to libraries in the region. She is also, as a young elf, fascinated by the prospect of mingling with other races. She is also drawn to the area because of its historical significance in the rising of Ashra and Edea. She is a theologian and historian at heart and she's incredibly interested to help regain the lost knowledge of times past.

Keep in mind, I had never played an elf before, and this was a learning experience for me. I was actually intimidated a little bit because there are some very serious elf players in the game who know EVERYTHING about them. I decided to make her young and naive, with little knowledge of the older history of elves. However, she is a scholar and through multiple interactions with other, older elves, she was able to piece together some of their history. I highly suggest, for new players, to actually play characters that are young or who don't know a lot about history so that you can grow with the character.

Here is the initial AVATARMAIL that was submitted upon her arrival:

Drusilla submits an official application to the Antioch Arcane Consortium:

To Whom it May Concern, 

This is my formal application to the illustrious Antioch Arcane Consortium. Attached to this application are letters of reference from my previous mentor, Callembrimbor Losshelin, who I have been studying under in Ashta Rathai. 

I apply to you today because I believe Antioch, as a city of Light, to be of utmost importance to the realm as a bastion of good and right. Additionally, it is the chosen city of Jarmila, who I follow and worship the the extent of my being. 

It is my goal and purpose in life to study and learn and become as adept at the intracacies of the weave as possible while also furthering the goals of 
the City of Antioch in whatever way I may serve. I also wish to help those in the world who need it, to the extent that my magical expertise will allow. 

I submit this application in all humility and eagerly anticipate your reply. 

Drusilla Whisperwind, Apprentice Wizard 

The thing to note about this avatarmail is that it really doesn't request or demand anything. It is simply stating that Drusilla is applying to become a member of the Arcane Consortium. It expresses a desire to join them, but it is more painting a picture of what she is planning to do. The biggest thing, however, is that it is being written in the first person, and so, the avatarmail itself is in-character.

The main purpose of Avatarmail is to create a paper trail of things your character is doing and what their goals ultimately are. You are trying to create a history of actions that work towards your ultimate goal. If you want to someday be a Deva, you're going to have to have a long history of service to your deity, taking part in as many situations where you can showcase your devotion as possible.

Later on, while I was RPing as normal, I recieved a letter stating that I had been accepted to the Consortium. Now she was officially an apprentice wizard!

My goals going forward are, simply, to perform whatever tasks that may fall in my lap regarding the Consortium, to write a historical book about the world at large, and to make money by selling scrolls and enchantments.

NOTE: Drusilla went on to write a book, which was quite a project (taking several RL months) and involved a LOT of player interaction. She also has taken part in a number of plots, purely as a supplementary character, assisting with research and the like. These days, I can barely log on before I am bombarded with many tells about research! Make your mage the go to for questions that other characters have! You can read her book, the Prophecy of Night and Light in Shadow's Library!

Another aspect of a successful character is the use of PCnotes. PCnotes are personal notes to yourself, but they're also notes to “whoever is listening”. Here are Drusilla's PCnotes:

1  : Drusilla, Wed Oct  6 16:36:35 2021 - Drusilla Windwhisper
2  : Drusilla, Wed Oct  6 16:37:22 2021 - Seeks to become a member of the Arcane
Consortium of Antioch. Currently is a junior mage and would seek to become an
apprentice to the consortium.
3  : Drusilla, Sat Oct 16 17:08:22 2021 - Was accepted to the Arcane Consortium
and has now moved to Antioch to continue her studies. Drusilla has become more
firm in her dedication to abjuration and hopes to eventually achieve the status
of an Arch Mage.
4  : Drusilla, Wed Oct 20 02:10:57 2021 - Tasked with gathering fire sacks to
support research with Karyn in support of Lord Welkanar. Fire sacks can be found
in the underdark, from creatures made of fire. Amongst the Derro, in secret area
southwest of Drow Caverns.
5  : Drusilla, Wed Oct 20 16:01:22 2021 - It took me a while to get into the
Derro cave. I had done plenty of research and asked around. I finally stumbled
upon a clearing in the mountains and found some money in a crack. When I touched
the money, I was knocked out, waking up in a cave. It seems some dwarves have
robbed me blind, but I've finally made it. Fascinating!
6  : Drusilla, Wed Oct 20 16:02:54 2021 - I spoke to a Fire Giant, who said that
the Derro attacked his tribe and overcame them with sheer numbers. He has
mentioned that he will tell me how to escape, but I must first get a snack for
him from the cook. He likes roasted cow. Now I need to find a cow and bring it
to the cook in order for him to cook it so I can bring it to the giant. THEN he
will tell me how to get out. This is becoming quite the adventure!
7  : Drusilla, Wed Oct 20 17:13:42 2021 - I befriended the fire giants by
killing the Derro savant. The captive gave me a cube to use against the wall to
gain entrance in the future.
8  : Drusilla, Wed Oct 20 18:12:49 2021 - I've descended into the lava chambers
below the caves. So far, I haven't been able to make heads or tails of this
place. The heat is almost unbearable.
9  : Drusilla, Thu Oct 21 01:54:04 2021 - I've found some old chains in a
crevice in the walls of a vertical chute. Who knows if they'll be useful? They
do seem to be magical though...
10 : Drusilla, Thu Oct 21 01:54:50 2021 - I've finally found the Lava Sack, but
I also found a man who needed a Lava Sack. His need seemed great so I gave him
the sack. I'll find another one!
11 : Drusilla, Thu Oct 21 01:56:42 2021 - I've found another lava sack. And even
better, I captured a wind elemental with the chains I found! The chains wrapped
around him and changed into some beautiful robes! Most fascinating! Now, it's
time to return to Antioch.
12 : Drusilla, Tue Nov  2 19:55:37 2021 - After spending time studying and
writing my book for a few weeks, I've just received a new assignment. I must go
to Tonerra and look into some sort of ritual involving necromancy. I don't know
how surprising it is, considering how primitive the natives are. But I'm sure
it'll be great field work!
13 : Drusilla, Sat Nov 20 22:47:31 2021 - Death to the Hounds and Glory to the
Rooks of Shadow and their last Commander Iskall.
14 : Drusilla, Tue Jan 11 00:52:37 2022 - Talisman of Tahesha
16 : Drusilla, Wed May 11 18:17:34 2022 - I have been here, in Shadow for a few
years now, and for most of that time, things were quiet. It seems that lately,
however, there have been great divides among the many churches in regards to
tenets of faith. These arguments have caused majot schisms even among Jarmila's
followers as they struggle to find true meaning behind the god's intent. I would
venture to say that the tenets are unchanging, that we are bid to attempt to
turn as many away from evil as possible, and root out and destroy all evil
influences, wherever they reside. Evil is a choice and that choice must bear
17 : Drusilla, Wed May 11 18:26:30 2022 - The past several years here, spent
among the humans, has taught me a certain amount of patience with them. The
elders warned me that such an assignment would be difficult, but that we, the
young, are best positioned to interact with them on their level. I found the
humans a strange dichotomy of brashness and a sort of fatalistic wisdom. They
live their days with purpose, striving hard towards the next goal. I admire
them, but it is difficult to understand their perspective.

PC notes are fundamentally important when creating a paper trail and history for your character. Not only do they allow you to keep notes for things to remember about your character, but also allow avatars to look at your notes and get a better idea about the past, present and future plans your character has going forward. Maybe there is something about your character that is a perfect hook for an ongoing plot an avatar is running. Or maybe by thinking through your notes, you've become more entwined with your character, creating a history and host of memories.

Either way, you're going to want to know what to do when the time comes that you want to get involved in a plot. Drusilla, as an archmage, sometimes gets approached by another player to help with some research related to a plot. Drusilla has recently been given a book from the island of Serakii and asked to ascertain the nature of the book for a plot. Drusilla considers her plan and methodological approach to the problem and I put it together into an avatarmail as follows:

Drusilla Whisperwind's Analysis Report

Drusilla Whisperwind - Junior Archmage Abjurer, Arcane Consortium of Antioch

Object of Research:
Strange leather bound book

Determine the safety and nature of the book. If determined safe, and properly secured, Drusilla will attempt
to determine the nature of the writing in the book and, if possible, with utmost care, read the present text.

Safety is of utmost importance and so the following safety procedures were followed:
- A laboratory will be requested for use within the Consortium with extra wards against teleportation and scrying.
- The book was carried by secret chest for transport from the field to the laboratory.
- A chalked magical circle was drawn around the experiment site to ward against summoning and conjuration. This is to ward against the possibility that the book is some manner of summoning spell.
- Another chalked magical circle within the above circle to ward against outsiders. Used for a similar function.
- Safety gear was worn, to include apron, gloves, goggles and hood were worn to protect against chemical hazards.
- Mind Blank spell kept up at all times, both to protect against mental influence and against scrying.
- Alter self spell to offer additional scry protection.
- Anti-Magic field placed on the area of the book to suppress any magical traps and to suppress the beacon effect I have been warned of.
- True seeing, to see through any magical veils on the book.
- Tongues spell, if needed, for translation purposes.
- Parchment and pen nearby to copy pages or annotate.

The book will be opened and examined, physically and magically. I am looking for written script, specifically, though I am checking each page for magical traps beforehand. Should I find the magical script, I will copy it on the parchment for future study. I will take notes of anything relevant as I peruse the book.

When the analysis is complete, the book will be placed back into the magic chest to prevent it from being stolen. I will also place my notes there and take those our for future readings.

Academics  - 46
Spellcraft - 46

Mage/ArchMage - Abjuration Specialization

As you may or may not have guessed, I literally stepped 'behind the wheel', so to speak, when writing this avmail. It was an in-character avmail, and I was looking through her eyes when pictured what she would be thinking about and what precautions she might take. I also made sure to ask some other notable mages what they thought about this research and what precautions might be necessary.

One last thing of note, with this guide. I am not an experienced role player (there are players here who are far more so), but every once in a while, I find a character that I'm able to, essentially, become, or step into while playing. Try to take it slow, and begin to see through your character's eyes, and envision the small details in life they might be noticing around them. I started this mud after coming over from a purely hack and slash game, and it definitely took some time to get used to it. If you're new to the game, don't fret! With time and familiarity, you'll be writing your own guide before long!

tlaloc_s_guide_to_building_your_character_s_story.txt · Last modified: 2022/12/08 16:22 by tlaloc