The "Feature Characters" on our MUSH are book features — characters who appear in the novels. Feature Characters are essentially property of the game, and are an integral part maintaining the 'feel' of Zelazny's Amber, as well as the propelling the stories of the game. However, we are not a Feature-centric game; Features are not significantly more powerful than regular characters, and we are not dependent upon them to drive play.
Here are our expectations for players of features:
1. Be active. Log on regularly, read and reply to your +mail, go out and roleplay. The activity level we expect depends on the character. The more dependent people are upon a prompt response, the more time you will need to have — color characters don't need much, but characters who run significant props do need a significant time investment. (If you are going to be unavailable for an extended period of time, see our Feature/Propco Absences policy.)
2. Be proactive. We expect you to generate your own play, and be proactive in starting scenes. Because your core role is being a thematic anchor, we expect you to bring a book flavor to your play.
3. Be an example. Features need to be polite, good sports, recognize that an important part of their role is helping to make the game fun for other people, and remember that they are key part of preserving a sense of the genre.
4. Keep track of what you're doing. If you give up playing a feature, we'd like you to provide the staff with a brief summary of what you've done, so the next player gets a proper history.
5. Follow our kidbit policy, and stay involved (IC if possible, OOC if not) with your descendants.
While only the first two Amber novels are considered canon on the game, we expect that features who appear in the first series will still feel "book-like". In general, you are not bound to the events presented in the later books, but we do want the essential feel of the character to remain the same — book features anchor the feel of the setting, and therefore need to continue to feel recognizable.
We do plan to recycle names from the second series, and use them to represent characters that are likely to be substantially different from those presented in the second series. (At present, the only character we have done this with is Dalt, who shares little in common with his second-series namesake.)
On many games, Feature characters are overwhelmingly more powerful than ordinary characters. That is not the case here. Features have about five more points than the typical character with maximum advancement (i.e., someone who has been playing since the start of the game), and tend to have gifts that are custom to them and thus grant them unique abilities, but there's not a big gap between them and regular characters.
In particular, Features are no more or less likely to win or lose a +compare than any other character. Their schticks are protected by gifts that simply require the color of a scene to respect whatever it is that makes them special. Gerard, for instance, has a gift that states that he is always the strongest — but in a +compare that decides a fight, he's a mighty fighter but not especially more so than any regular character who has invested in fight-related abilities, and thus has just as much of a chance of taking a consequence, but the scene still has to respect that Gerard is strongest. Similarly, Benedict is the best swordsman, but he can lose a +compare and take a dramatic consequence just like anyone else can (best illustrated by the way Corwin tricks Benedict into some entangling vines in the books).
This means that when you envision what a Feature character can do, you should think epic (as fits the game in general), but don't make DRPG-style assumptions; look at the book canon and stick with that as a scope. (Specifically, what the books actually say, versus how they are interpreted by outside material like the DRPG.) And any plans you make, or mechanical support that you feel you need, should definitely not be substantially beyond the power level of regular PCs. (Note that we interpret this in a dramatic sense, i.e., you should not expect to win more +compare contests than regular PCs, nor are your abilities going to significantly overshadow what regular PCs can do; different is generally more common than superior.)
We expect the following out of an application:
- A succinct summary of your concept for the character. Note that the less well-defined the character is in the books, the more we want you to make a case for why your concept is compelling as the interpretation, i.e., why it needs to be this particular Feature and not just some other PC.
- A summary of what the character's short-term and long-term goals are.
- An explanation of what you expect to do with the character — where he or she fits into the game, and the type of roleplay that the character will facilitate. We don't need specific plot ideas (although we don't mind seeing them); we're interested in understanding what you envision doing on a day to day basis.
- A brief summary of scenes that you envision doing as this character: the first three scenes you would expect to play, a scene you would anticipate doing after a month of play, and a scene that you would hope to do after six months of play. (These can be one-sentence scene ideas.)
- A short roleplay log featuring you as the character. You can use a Stage off the OOC Room, and the +tempname code to make this easy. Ask anyone to help you (as either their own character or as fill-in for an unplayed feature). Please do identify all characters who played roles in the scene. Do not "fake" this scene; this must be you and another player, not something you're simply writing up. The log should be illustrative of the character; we're looking not only for the ability to portray the character in a convincingly book-like way, but also at a glimpse for the way you think about the character, their motivations, and how that comes out in play.
Please do not write long applications. Three paragraphs will suffice. Applications can be longer if need be, but don't feel like you need to write an epic. In general, if we like the core of your concept but feel we need more detail, we'll ask for it.
If you need to discuss a matter related to an app with the staff, please do so as a Guest. We do this in order to preserve the anonymity of applicants. Please do not tell the staff who you are when you are contemplating or in the midst of applying for a Feature.
Tips on application writing
- Have an elevator pitch. You should be able to summarize the core idea of your concept for this feature, and why it would be great for the game, in a sentence or two. Strongly consider making this the first thing in your app.
- Be enthusiastic. We want to know what you're really looking forward to doing with this character. This is what you're really trying to sell us on — the ideas that you love, and the staff and other players should love them too.
- Have a concrete sense of what you plan to do with the character, and be explicit about what this is. It should be clear that your ideas are self-starting and you can sustain self-motivated play.
- Imply (or explicitly state) how you are going to seek challenges and conflict for your character, and create them for others. You should be implicitly demonstrating your openness to conflict and enjoyment of participating in spontaneous trouble, and we strongly encourage you to choose a demonstration scene that contains genuine conflict elements.
- Be sure your interpretation is grounded in canon, not in the Diceless RPG or past MUSH tropes. The book "feel" is important, as it applies to dialogue, gesture, setting, etc. If you haven't read the first series recently, it would be worthwhile to re-read those sections where the feature you're applying for appears.
- Don't write from an IC perspective. It's okay to give us a flavor of the way the character sees themselves or the way they think, but we need to have a very clear idea of how you, the player, sees the character and how they relate to the game, and that means being crystal-clear in your app's distinctions between IC thinking and OOC approach.
When you're ready to apply
Please read the directions for feature apps. We use a combination of MUSH-based commands and a Web-based interface.
Another reminder: All applications must be anonymous. If you have any problems with the system, please log on a Guest and contact Helix.
Here's a list of the NPCs, and other characters not available for application:
Other Oberon-children not available for application: Finndo and Osric (both dead), Mirelle (dead), Delwin and Sand (missing), Coral (not known), Dalt (may be available by negotiation, as he has been previously played).
Oberon (NPC). Missing for almost a decade.
Dworkin (NPC). Whereabouts unknown. (Dworkin's fate is known IC by some characters, but is not widespread OOC knowledge.)
Dara (NPC). Whereabouts unknown. (Currently played, by application.)
Ganelon (NPC). His story relevance is at its end, and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
But I really want…
If you really, really want to play someone not available for application?
By and large, the answer to this is "No". If we were taking applications for these characters, they would be marked as open for application. We are not completely unwilling to consider the possibility, but our current thinking is that we don't want these characters played at this stage of the game, if ever.
We are, however, willing to consider backgrounds for these characters and other tie-ins, including relatives and children of these characters. It is possible that some of these characters may become props — their histories or effects given to players to control, even if the characters themselves are off-screen or dead.
If you still really, really want to try to apply for one of these characters, be prepared to answer the following questions:
1. Why does this character need to be a feature? (Neither "This concept requires more points than a PC receives at character generation time" nor "This concept requires being a child of Oberon" is a good answer.)
2. Why does your concept need to be this named character? (The background history of the character needs to be richly developed and tied into his heritage. If this is not an inherent, vital part of your concept, then it's not the right fit for this named character.)
3. What role on the MUSH will this character fill that is not filled by an existing feature? What unique types of play will this character enable, that would not otherwise exist?
4. What will he be doing? What plots will he create? What types of characters will he interact with? Why would these things be impossible (or extraordinarily difficult) if this character was not a feature and/or was not attached to this book name? What significant, vital element does it add to the game?
5. What does his sheet look like? (Our features are essentially equivalent to PCs with some advancement, and are not super-powerful. Your proposal shouldn't be, either.)