ST 233: Character Approvals

Introduction:

What do STs look for in approvals? How are they supposed to give feedback, when do they approve and when do they deny items. This lesson gives insight into how an ST goes about the approval process.

  1. What is an approval?
  2. What items require approval?
  3. Where can I check current items up for approval?
  4. When and how is feedback given?
  5. What questions does the member need to answer, when making an approval?
  6. When to approve, when to deny?

What is an approval?

In the Mind’s Eye Society, characters can come in all shapes and sizes.  The degree of customization available from the core books alone is astounding.  Even with the variety, each genre has some common thread to keep it together.  The approval system exists to allow for some flexibility without breaking the thread entirely.  Note that all approvals Mid or higher must go through the approvals database.

The general goals of the approval system are to ensure the following:

  1. Approving the item makes for a good story.
  2. Items which are considered “rare” in the venue do not become commonplace.
  3. Items which are considered “hard to get” in the venue are justified by RP.
  4. The player understands the mechanics and RP aspects of the item.
  5. The character’s possession of the item can be a positive addition to the game.
  6. The player has good ideas for how to bring about this positive impact through her character.
  7. The player understands what could go wrong with the item—what could cause it have a negative impact on the game.
  8. The player has good ideas for how to avoid this negative impact through her character and through OOC interactions.

What items require approval?

STs should also check the approval item to ensure that the approval level noted by the player matches the approval level required by the addenda.  To check the addenda from the MES home page click Information > Addenda.  The Universal Addendum and Armory Reforged contain all CoD approval items which are not genre specific.  Individual addenda for other venues, including WoD venues, are covered in their own documents.

Where can I check current items up for approval?

STs and players can monitor pending and approved approvals using the following steps.

  1. From the mind’s eye society web page, click Membership Portal.
  2. From here, click My Account > Login.
  3. Log in to the MES portal with your email and account password.
  4. You should now have access to the Legacy Tools tab.
  5. Advance to Legacy Tools > Approvals.
  6. This will open the approvals database.  From here, ST can view existing approval applications which require their approval.

STs should check once a week for new items.  When new items are found, try to respond to each within one week of it being added.  An ST does not have to approve or deny the item within a week, but they should review it and either approve, deny, or add questions directed towards the player requesting approval for further clarification.

When and how is feedback given?

While checking on an pending approval, questions and comments can be made and STs are encouraged to do so. If an ST denies an item, it must be done with feedback.

Types of feedback:

  • Clarification: STs should not be afraid to ask questions in order to get more information or clarification on a statement if they feel it is needed.

  • Item background: Details connected to the background role playing to support an item, the player’s beliefs about how the item can and should come into play.

  • How to integrate the item: Work with the player to build a narrative around the item, how it will affect the story

  • Reason for denial: Let the player know why it was denied, and what they should do in order to build a case for approval in the future.

  • Note for approval to next level: Should a member require Top Approval for an item, that approval stands a better chance of acceptance if the NST sees good, specific comments from the RST, DST and VST in support.

What questions does the member need to answer, when asking for an approval?

When requesting an approval item, a player will answer the following set of questions:

  1. Describe the item which requires approval. Include any page number citations from sanctioned source material where this item is described or from the addendum where its approval level is set.
  2. If your character can use/teach this item, how will they do so?
  3. If they cannot do either, how will it come up / how will it affect them?
  4. How is your character acquiring/developing this item?
  5. How does your character know about this item?
  6. Why are they doing so?
  7. What does it mean to them?
  8. What kind of story or thematic conflict are you telling with this PC, and how will this item further that story or theme?
  9. Why are you seeking this approval out for your PC?
  10. How will this make your OOC play experience, and the experiences of the players with whom you interact, more enjoyable?
  11. In what way(s) do you see this item “going awry” and ceasing to contribute to the chronicle in a positive manner?
  12. How will you minimize the chance of that happening?

These questions are designed to address the goals of the approval system.  If these questions are incompletely answered, your first comment should be a request for revision of these answers.  Once complete, review the responses.  These questions, supplemented by ST questions, are what build the case for the item to be approved or denied.

When to approve an item, when to deny?

One of the worst things that can happen to a game is a mismatch of player expectations and storyteller expectations. If the ST expects the players want plot, but the players as a whole want to simply socialize, this mismatch can lead to both unfulfilled players and Storyteller. The ST has a large responsibility to understand the players, manage player expectation, and be able to manage the stories on a weekly and monthly basis.

Part of that management is adjudication of items and powers that are considered “rare” or “restricted.” There are many reasons an item may be restricted: the item doesn’t fit the theme of the venue, the item is exceedingly rare for the venue, the item is considered “overpowered.” Though players like to believe they understand the game they play and how their personal story and the special items affect the game as a whole, often times there are unseen consequences that are only available to the storyteller and assistant storytellers. For this reason, players need to not only trust the storytellers to guide characters and stories, but be able to say ‘no’ when something will not work.

It often is helpful to discuss an approval that has been denied with the player to work with them on their story. Players don’t like to hear “no.” For more information about how to “say no,” check out the ST 273 document “How to Say No.”