Welcome to Shards! If this is your first time using Shards, you may be a bit intimadated by all the available options. This handbook is an attempt to explain the usage of Shards and what all these things are. I hope this will answer any questions you may have, but if it doesn't feel free to send me a Private Message.
First, an explanation of some common abreviations is in order...
PM - Private Message
RP - Roleplaying
IC - In Character
OOC - Out Of Character
Characer - the role someone has taken while roleplaying
Player - the actual person sitting in front of the computer playing their character(s).
Post - the messages being written and sent. To post a message is to send it for diplay in the chat.
What's with the funky punctuation? People writing things like *G* or *L*? Funky punctuation is usually used to denote some sort of action (most frequently an emotive action). People are often very terse with this. *G* would be a grin, *L* a laugh *LOL* laughing out loud, *S* a smile and so forth. There are dozens of FAQs on this subject available online, so I won't elaborate further. Go look it up if you're curious.
Shards is what is known as a Submit-Refresh style of chat. Unlike other chat's, Shards does NOT update the scroll of messages in real time. Instead, you have to send a blank message to receive updates. Don't worry, the system is smart enough to know if you're sending a blank message you have nothing to say. :)
When HTML 4.0/CSS output is activated (in user prefs), several shortcut keys are activated. These shortcuts will ONLY work in an HTML 4.0 compliant browser. All these keys require you to press and hold the ALT key along with the shortcut (in windows - you have to use the CMD (??) key under Macintosh). In most areas, "S" is the shortcut for the "Send" button or equivalant. Within the chat, there are a few extra shortcusts. "M" brings focus to the message box. "P" brings focus to the PM box. "L" brings focus to the room link (if present). "W" brings focus to the Who's Here link. Finally, "B" brings focus to the Build link. Note that it's not a good idea to lean on the Alt-S combo as this will flood your connection and likely make Shards unusable. If it's bad enough that it actually prevents other people from using Shards, I won't be too please. Just don't hold that key combo down, please. ;)
Shards is much more "world" oriented than many chats you have been in. Unlike other chat systems, all the rooms in Shards are interconnected. This means you can only login a name ONCE. Loging the same name in again will logout the other window (if you try to use the other window you'll get a "Session Error" message). You navigate between rooms much as you would in the real world, by "walking" out of the old room and into the new room. This is accomplished either by using the drop down room list or by using the .go command (explained later).
There are different classifications of rooms. Immediately obvious should by something saying either "Roleplay zone" or "Freeplay zone" on your screen. Shards is generally divided up into three zones. The Freeplay zone is an anything goes type of place. Rooms marked Freeplay are intended for general purpose use and OOC ("regular") chatting. If you have no interest in RP, you should stay in the Freeplay zone.
The Roleplay zone is intended for RPing only. Just about without exception, everyone in the Roleplay zone will be IC. If you want to Roleplay, go to a room in the Roleplay zone.
The Para-Roleplay zone is a step up from even "normal" roleplay. The "Para" in Para-Roleplay is short for paragraph. Briefly, posts in these rooms should be paragraph-length at minimum; one-liners will be frowned upon by the players and moderators in these rooms. Additionally, the owners in these rooms set stricter rules and generally expect a higher degree of verisimilitude ("realism" for mere mortals) than owners of standard Roleplay rooms. You are well advised to watch the RP in these rooms, and introduce yourself to the other players in an OOC area, before jumping in. Most players will gladly help you integrate into play provided you approach respectfully, and have taken the time to familiarize yourself with the setting and rules first.
Rooms are additionally subdivided into 5 different types. To see what type of room you are in, use the .roominfo command (also explained later). The five different types are as follows:
Public Room - Public rooms are accesible to everyone and visible to everyone. In a public room, everyone will be able to see where you are.
Private Room - Private rooms are the exact opposite of public rooms. Only those on a special user list will be allowed into private rooms. Additionally, while in a private room you cannot be located except by those in the same room as you.
Invisible Room - Invisible rooms, like private rooms, protect you from being located except by those in the room with you. However, like public rooms, invisible rooms are accesible to anyone (so long as they know where the room is).
Invitation Room - Like public rooms, invitation rooms can be seen by everyone. However, like private rooms, only those on the user list will be allowed in. Think of this room as an exclusive night club. Everyone know's where it is, but not everyone can get in.
Arena Room - This is a special type of room. It is just like a public room in that it is completely visible and everyone can get in. The Arena room's special attribute is that NOT EVERYONE can post publically. Only those on the user list will be allowed to make public posts. Everyone else will be limited to PMs ONLY.
Room Movement Restrictions
Room entry and exit is controlled in Shards. This is primarily a RP feature, allowing people to create structured "Shards" or mini-worlds (thus the name of the chat). Again, use the .roominfo command to get information about the exits and entrances to a room.
If the default exit permission of a room is set to deny, then you will only be allowed to exit to rooms on the room list. However, room owners have the option of HIDING rooms on the list, so there may be a SECRET exit or two. ;)
Naturally, if the default exit permission is set to allow, you can exit to any room you please (well, so long as you are allowed to enter the room from where you are, which is the next section). Note that you can ALWAYS exit to The Void and Limbo if you get stuck.
Room entry permission works almost exactly like room exit permission. If set to deny, you will only be allowed to enter the room from rooms on its entrance list. (use .roominfo room to have a peek at this list). Again, room owners have the option of HIDING rooms on the list, thus creating SECRET entrances. Again, if the room entry permission is allow, the people can get in from anywhere (so long as they are allowed to exit to the room). The Void and Limbo will ALWAYS be set to allow entrances. Room owners can ALWAYS get into their room(s), regardless of the type of room and the permission settings. However, be sure you're in your master handle to take advantage of this. All roleplay character aliases have to obey the movement restrictions (this is to try to force you to stay IC when in an RP handle). Finally, you can always login to a room, regardless of its entrance permission.
Shards features Private Messages. Private Messages will ONLY go to their intended recipiant(s) and no one else. To send a private message, just enter the name of the recipiant in the private to field. If you want to send a PM to more than one person, separate the names with commas. You can send PMs to people who aren't currently online, as long as they are registered at Shards. They will receive the PM next time they sign in. If you start your message with a ':', it'll be forced public even if you have names in the private to box. (Extra special note for the paranoid - YES, if you delete a character, any PMs waiting for that character will also be deleted).
Once you are finished chatting, you should log out. There are two ways to do this. You can either click on the exit link, or you can use the .exit command. Note that if you forget to logout, you session will automatically be logged out after about 30 minutes of inactivity. It is important to logout when finished so A) people don't erroneusly think you're online when you aren't, and B) so you can easily log back in. Shards only allows you to have 2 chat windows open at once, so if you forget to logout you may have trouble getting in with a different name. If you login with the same name, your old session will immediately be dropped.
Shards features a special invisibility mode (more commonly known as lurk). While invisible, you will not be visible on the who's here system and people won't be able to locate you. Normal users are only allowed to lurk their main handle (the handle you registered under).
Accounts come in different classes with differing levels of access. At this time, there is only one user class and two management classes. An upgraded user class may be made available in the future, but at the present there are no plans to sell or otherwise offer upgrades. (we are a nonprofit entity after all and we realize most of you are poor students ;)
Citizen - this is your average user and class everyone first enters under. As a citizen, you have the ability to build up to 10 rooms in any combination of roleplay, para-roleplay, and freeplay you wish. You also have the ability to create up to 10 other aliases (plus your master handle makes up to 11 total handles). These aliases are special character handles that have extra features not present in the master handle. Finally, as a citizen you can only lurk your master handle and you can only have 4 chat windows open at any time.
Emperor - This is me, the head honcho, the guy responsable for keeping it all running. As was once said, the buck stops here. I have the power to completely block accounts from logging into Shards if they become a serious problem. Additionally, Lapis Kelinia is my wife, and
foolishly kindly volunteered to serve as liason and all around den mother to the teeming masses of Shards. Your best bet for contacting us is to send an email to email@example.com
Shards features special command messages you may post. All command messages are prefixed with either a '.' character or a '!' character. It doesn't matter which you use, they mean the same thing. Use which ever one you are comfortable (note that some browsers don't seem to want to post messages with a leading '.' so you may HAVE to use the '!' syntax).
Key:  = optional argument
The List - General Commands
ar [on | off] - (synonym: autorefresh) Activate or deactive autorefresh mode in Shards. When autorefresh is activated, the chat will be split into two frames - a non-refreshing input frame, and the main message frame which will refresh every 30 seconds. The interval increases gradually with inactivity.
go room_name - (synonym: room room_name) Use this command to go to rooms that aren't on the drop down list. Note that you must have permission to exit to the room and must have permission to enter from the room you're coming from.
look [user_name] - (synonym: none) Use this command to see the room descriptions. If called with a user name as the argument, you will see the character profile of the user, instead.
rules - (synonym: aup) Use this command to see the room rules for the room you are currently in.
roominfo [room_name] - (synonym: info) Use this command to see various sundry information about the room you're in. If called with an argument, you will see the information for the room named instead.
locate user_name[, user_name2, etc...] - (synonym: find) Use this command to locate one or more users. When searching for mulitple users, separate each name with a comma. Lurking users and users in private/invisible rooms won't be displayed even if online.
who - (synonyms: whoshere, whoson) Use this command to display the who's here list. Useful if you're using a text-only browser and can't open who's here in a new window.
lurk [on | off] - (synonyms: none) Lurk without an argument will activate invisibility mode. Otherwise, it'll either turn invisibility on or off, depending on which argument you use.
nolurk - (synonym: unlurk) Same effect as lurk off.
graphics off | icons | all - (synonym: images) Graphics will (duh) adjust your graphics preference, either turning graphics off, activating just icons or turning everything on.
ignore user_name[, user_name2, etc...] - (synonym: none) Add one or more users to your ignore list.
unignore user_name[, user_name2, etc...] - (synonym: none) Remove one or more users from your ignore list. Note: "unignore *" will clear the entire list.
exit - (synonyms: bye, lo, logout, quit) logout this chat session.
The List - Room Owners' commands
reset - (synonyms: bounce, clear) Reset the posts in the room you're currently in.
adduser user_name [, user_name2, etc...] - (synonym: none)Adds one or more users to the user list of the room you're currently in. This command is also available to room monitors (see building rooms).
dropuser user_name [, user_name2, etc...] - (synonym: none) Drops one or more users from the user list of the room you're currently in. dropuser * will clear the list. This is also available to room monitors.
narrate text - (synonym: none) Posts special room narrative text. This is a post that appears without an icon and without the name of the sender.
Shards also features special actions. All actions are prefixed with a '/' character. There aren't currently many actions, but I'll be writing a guide on how you can create your own actions and submit them for inclusion in the chat later.
me [text] - just calling me alone will post you character's /me text (if available). Otherwise, it'll act like in IRC, posting your name followed by the text you entered. So for instance, if I type "/me sprays everyone with a firehose!" it'll post "Starfyre sprays everyone with a firehose!"
enter - this just posts the standard entrance messages.
Shards features a special "pseudo-code" markup language similar to HTML. Instead of using <> characters around pseudo-code, you use .
[XdY] - this will will insert X rolls on a Y sided die into your post. X is any whole number from 1 to 20. Y is any whole number from 2 to 1000. So for instance [3d8] would insert the text [3d8: 6, 5, 8] into my post.
[shout]text[/shout] - this will enlarge the text between the [shout] and [/shout], giving the impression of shouting.
[whisper]text[/whisper] - this will shrink the text between the [whisper] and [/whisper] giving the impression of whispering.
[green]text[/green] - color your text red, blue, or green respectively.
The Ignore List
As you saw from the command list earlier, Shards does feature an ignore list. The ignore list is globally active. What this means is that if you add someone to the ignore list, they will be ignored by ALL handles under your account. This means you only have to set it once and can forget it. The ignore list does not completely suppress the messages coming from people you've ignored. Instead, it let's you know they're saying things, but replaces their message text with a simple "[message ignored]."
Once a handle has been placed on the ignore list, ALL other characters belong to that account will be ignored. Note that if you ignore a character, and that character is later deleted, the entry on your ignore list will be automatically dropped next time you update it, and the ignore will cease to have any effect. Master accounts cannot be deleted, so placing a citizen handle on your ignore list is guaranteed to work. If you need assistance ignoring someone who keeps switching characters, contact a Pathfinder.
No doubt you have notieced the user preferences link on the front page. This will take you to the prefs editor, allowing you to edit several global options as well as your master account. The Global prefs page allows you to configure the HTML output, display of in chat images, and so forth. The options should be fairly self explanatory. Note that you cannot login multiple handles unless you select "open chat session in new windows." Logging in again will reset your session and disable any open chat windows. Don't use HTML 4.0/CSS output unless you're using IE4/5+ or Mozilla or Netscape 6 (even if you're running Mozilla, you may want to avoid this mode as Mozilla currently has some table rendering bugs that will screw up to post formatting). The output will be glitchy in any older versions of netscape (including the latest 4.x releases). HTML 3.2+ output should work in all versions of IE and Netscape, and should work in other browsers. However, it uses a few IE/Netscape proprietary extensions to HTML 3.2 and so may not work well in altervative browsers. The maximum compatability option is guaranteed to work in anything that can render HTML 3.2. This is the simplest mode, eschewing nice formatting with tables and such and uses only the most basic HTML formatting elements. If you are using Lynx or some other text-only browser, this is probably the best mode to use. Also, if you're using an older, slower computer this mode may be a bit faster than the others. Backgrounds in Shards are guaranteed to be no more than 35KB or so. However, they still may cause problems with slow computers or slow connections, so you might want to shut them off. The icons shouldn't cause a major problem, but if you're using Lynx or some other text only browser, you should probably turn them off too. The small message box is best if you're either running a text only browser or are at 640x480 screen resolution. Medium is the same size as the TG message box and should work fine at 800x600. Large is suitible for 1024x768. Very Large is good if you like making long posts and/or are running at very high screen resolutions (1280x1024 and above). Note that under global prefs you can also edit your ignore list. If you've made changes using .ignore and .unignore in the chat, you should refresh the list (just reload the page) to make sure it's current, or else all the changes you made in the chat will be lost.
Warp login settings allow you to adjust the handle and icon you get and what room you enter when you use the special warp login. You MUST set these settings for this login to become active. The settings should again be self explantory. Just select the icon and name you want and type in a room. Next time you login, if you press the warp button you'll be taken straight to that room with the name and icon you chose.
Master account settings allow you to change some options for your master handle. You can change your gender and activate or deactive invisibility. You can also enter something in the personal blurb/description box. This text will be show when someone .looks you. You can put anything you like here...a link to your HP, a description (even age/location if you want), anything. There's no limit on the length (well, within reason...there is a high limit in place that will prevent crashing of my server). Remember, you have to -send- this information before its saved.
Set password does exactly that. It allows you to change your password to something different. Shards does not allow you to use passwords shorter than 5 characters for security reasons. Just type the same password in both boxes and hit send and it will save it for you. You have to enter it twice to make sure you get the password you expected. The new password will NOT be echoed back so make sure you remember what you set it to.
The Room Editor is similar to the character editor. Just enter the name of the room you wish to create. If this room already exists, you'll receive an error message. Displayed here is the total number of rooms you've built plus the number of RP rooms you've built. If you hit the RP room limit, you won't be able to make anymore unless you either reclassify one of your rooms to be in the Freeplay zone or delete an RP room. If your total number of rooms reaches the limit, you won't be able to build anymore untill you delete a room.
Once you enter the room builder, you'll be given a list of options. Note that at this stage, the room builder is in WYSIWYG mode - What You See Is What You Get. You can chose a background from the drop down list or use none. The text, link, alink and vlink fields correspond to the text, link, alink and vlink attributes of the <body> element. The link url is an optional address to a page you want linked from your room. The link text is the text that will make up the link.
Roleplay/Freeplay classification is an imporant attribute to set. If you want your room to be in the RP Zone, you need make sure you've selected Roleplay here. Being in the RP Zone has several benefits. First, anyone who's been barred from the RP Zone won't be allowed into your room. Also, all the automagically generated system posts are turned off in the RP Zone. This means you won't see any "user left for/user arrived from" messages, nor will you see entrance posts when people login or exit posts when they logoff. Finally, you can enter extra genre information that'll give users a quick idea of what your room's "feel" is supposed to be.
HTML posting and image posting should be fairly self explanatory. Turning off or limiting HTML posting can be beneficial because it'll make it nearly impossible for someone to fake output from the dice codes.
Another important attribute to set is the room type. If you want everyone to get in, that'll limit you to public, invisible and arena type rooms. To recap, public rooms let everyone in and are fully visible on who's here. Private rooms only allow people on the user list in and aren't visible on who's here (unless you're in the room). Invsible rooms let everyone in, but aren't visible on who's here. Invitation rooms are visible on who's here, but only people on the user list can get in. Finally, Arena rooms let everyone in and are visible on who's here, but only users on the list can post publically.
Room entry permission should be easy to figure out. Set this to allow if you want people to be able to get in from any room, and to deny if you only want them to be able to get in from rooms you put on the entry list. Ditto for Exit permission, but this applies to whether people can leave to a room or not.
The Room Entry and Exit lists both work the same way. Rooms just put on the list will be allowed Entry and Exit (depending on which list, of course). Prefixing a room with a '*' (ie *The Battlements) will allow ingress from or egress to the room, but will hide the room from appearing on the list in the .info command and in the case of the exit list, the drop down list in your room. Prefixing a room with a '!' (ie !Limbo) will always deny entrance from or exit to that room, regardless of how you've set the room entry/exit permissions.
How the user list works is specific to the room type. Putting names on the user list of a public or invisible room will ban those people from the room. On the other hand, you MUST put names on the user list of private or invitation rooms to allow people in, otherwise they won't be let in. Putting names on the user list of the arena room will allow them to post publically. Additionally, prefixing a name with a '!' (ie !Lamer) will always ban them from the room, regardless of what type of room it is. Prefixing the name with a '*' (ie *My Best Friend) will turn them into a room monitor. As such, they will always have access to the room and will be able to use .adduser and .dropuser commands in the room to add people to and drop people from the user list. Note that they will NOT be able to create further room monitors, nor will they be able to drop room monitors or clear the user list. Note also that you DO NOT need to put YOURSELF on the user list since as room owner, you always are allowed into you room.
Intro blurb is the text that appears when someone first enters your room. It is limited to the length of a post. Room description is longer description text that will appear when someone .looks in your room. This text is of virtually unlimited length so you can put things here that you couldn't put in the intro. Room rules is a space to allow you to specify your own set of rules for the room. Again, this is of virtually unlimited length, and will appear when someone uses the .rules command in your room. You are requested to post rules in your room if you have any expectation for how the room is to be used. If you fail to post room rules, nothing bad will happen, but people will probably get irked if they're banned from your room.
Like the character editor, your room won't be created untill you've hit "save". If you make a typo or don't like your room, you can always delete it later. Note that you will not be able to "save" your room if your trying to change it from a Freeplay room to a Roleplay room and you've hit your quota of RP rooms.
This concludes the Shards Handbook. I hope you've found it useful. Shards is a feature rich site with features not avaible in most other sites. As such, it can be confusing to use. I'm working hard to make sure Shards is the best site it can be. If you have questions, concerns, compliments or whatever, feel free to drop me a PM. I promise that I'll respond as quickly as possible. :)
Copyright Starfyre (Chris Wyman), all rights reserved.