The Pathfinders' Guild
What are we?
The Pathfinders' Guild is an official Shards organization dedicated to improving the quality of Roleplay in the site. Pathfinders are not moderators, monitors, admins or "chat police." Pathfinders have no ability to kick, ban, gag or otherwise restrict other players. The sole charter of the Pathfinders is the mission of improving Shards as a community and as a place to roleplay. This is done in a number of ways, including recruiting new players, connecting existing players, participating in plots and in general setting a good example for RP behavior in the chat.
How do I join?
The short answer is you don't join. New Pathfinders are routinely nominated and elected by the current group of Pathfinders in order to ensure the Pathfinders can function as a team. In fact, I, Starfyre have almost no say in who gets to be a Pathfinder. If you wish to express interest you should contact one of the listed Pathfinders and maybe you will be nominated. Our chief criteria is the amount of time spent in Shards. Simply put, we are looking for active memebers of the community. We will also be looking to see how active you are in roleplay, how much you assist other people and in general how enthusiastic you are about Shards. Bear in mind that we are always watching, so consistency is important. If you ARE selected you will be contacted and given the opportunity; if you feel you cannot meet the obligations you can always turn us down. Remember, above all else Pathfinders do want to be here because they want to improve Shards.
What are the responsabilities?
Pathfinders have several responsabilities. The most important is you must have the time, energy and inclination to participate in activities and help out. In general, if you spend less than an hour a day in the site, you aren't qualified to be a Pathfinder. Obviously if you don't roleplay you cannot be a Pathfinder. Finally, if your efforts exclude other people or do not follow the general spirit of the Roleplay Guide (or of Shards in general) you will not be considered at all.
The second aspect of being a Pathfinder is that you must remain IC while in RP rooms. Taking someone aside in PMs to help them out or connect them with other roleplayers is fine. But when posting publically in RP rooms you should make an effort to remain IC unless the situation absolutely requires an OOC post. Obviously you don't have to be IC when not in RP rooms and some amount of OOC time is going to be necessary to provide OOC directing and help to citizens.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that you will be acting as my agents, and are official representatives of Shards. While I don't hold PR above freedom of expression, I do ask that you maintain a certain level of professionalism in your public demeanor. In particular, avoid any form of slander in your criticisms of roleplay and other hubs. You are expected to retain a certain level of objectivity regarding RP in Shards, and as such you need to be careful about polluting discourse with grudges and other bias.
It is also important to remember that people will often interpret your opinions as official site policy, whether you intend them to or not. I ask that you be exceedingly clear when you're expressing a personal opinion and when you're expressing official policy. Please remember that only I have the authority to set policy. If it isn't in the documentation, it is NOT policy and you need to make this clear. This doesn't mean you can't express your own views, just that you need to be careful to avoid creating the perception of abuse of status.
You are otherwise completely free to do what you want. I only ask that you at least consider the PR ramifications of your statements, and that you clear anything going out as a 'Shards statement' with me before posting.
What are our duties?
The primary duties of the Pathfinders are these: to help integrate new people into Shards, to improve the quality of roleplay in Shards, and to support community efforts to create roleplay.
The first duty is fairly straightforward and can be broken into 2 parts. The first part is simple: instruct people in the physical operation of Shards (commands, navigation, etc) and answer any questions they may have about Shards. Knowledge of site operation is obviously a prerequisite for this duty.
The second part of this duty involves 'plugging in' people to ongoing roleplay in Shards. This can take the form of directing them to likely hubs and introducing them to hub moderators, introducing them to other players, or even actively engaging them IC to introduce them to a setting if necessary. You need to try to minimize personal bias in your recommendations and make the best possible recommendation based on what they tell you of their preferences, etc.
The second duty is harder to define properly. We don't all perfectly agree on what is good roleplay. A few baselines can be made however. Good roleplay should be dynamic, interactive and creative, with minimal OOC disruption to the flow. These are the goals you should strive for. How you chose to pursue this duty is your own decision. I would strongly suggest you take a mixture of approaches, including constructive criticism, example setting and positive reinforcement of desirable roleplay. Recruitment is also an important part of this process, since self sustaining play needs substantial numbers.
You should use the Roleplay Etiquette guide as a starting point for specifics that we are aiming for. In particular, we are looking for freeform roleplay that is open and open ended, with the majority of 'directing' occuring through IC actions. We want roleplay to be self sustaining, with people focusing much of their effort into actual roleplay instead of planning roleplay. Finally, Shards is aiming to be a purist environment - IC/OOC crossover here is not welcome and should never be encouraged; people must be taught the importance of IC 'sanctity.'
The final duty is your chance to exercise your creativity. I would greatly prefer that you dirct your play towards helping other play, rather than trying to start new plots and the like on your own. Playing characters in existing hubs is a good way to do this. Contributing to ongoing story-threads both IC and OOC is another excellent way to fulfill this duty. Again, it is your discretion which approach you take, but you should be making an effort to help other people's efforts succeed.
There are some other lesser duties you may decide to take on as Pathfinder, and fall under your charter to improve Shards.
First, you can help mediate in various OOC disputes that flare up from time to time. Remember, you have zero authority to lay down the law as it were. But you can advise people who are having disagreements, and help negotiate some sort of resolution to their disagreement BEFORE it escalates to a point requiring official intervention.
Secondly, you can act as a liason or gobetween between hubs. By this, I mean you can help facilitate communication between hub moderators and provide assistance in the form of advice and feedback for people looking to create inter-hub roleplays.
Finally, you can, acting as an official representative of Shards, help coordinate OOC activities. These can range from OOC meetings in the chat all the way to even RL Shards events if you are so inclined. I do ask that you kee me aprised of such activities, so I have some idea what the community is doing.
Remember, these duties are all optional, and are merely things you can do ABOVE AND BEYOND the scope of Pathfindership if you so wish.
Note that all of those duties tie in together. While integrating new people you can send them to existing hubs/plots, bolstering other people's efforts. Improving what is already going on in Shards will help improve roleplay. Stronger plots will make it easier to integrate new players. Etc. You cannot perform any duty in isolation - they must be done together and understood as parts of a general strategy to improve Shards.
What are the privileges?
Obviously we're asking quite a bit of you as a Pathfinder. Rest assured that you will be provided with some enhancements over the normal Citizen user to fascilitate your role. Firstly, you have the ability to .narrate and .note in any room. You can use this ability to bring in NPCs and create "wrath of nature" type events. However, you should use this sparingly as we want to focus on inter-character interaction as opposed to GMed style roleplay.
Secondly, you have unlimited rooms, chat sessions and characters. Again, you should use this facility sparingly. Only create extra rooms if you feel it is absolutely necessary; the same goes for extra characters. You should not make a habit of running several chat sessions either. However, if DO you need to be in many places at once, the ability is there.
Finally, as Pathfinder you can lurk ALL your handles, not just your primary. This allows you to sneak characters into different rooms and observe various rooms as necessary.
The Pathfinders program is, I believe, what is going to and what does separate Shards from other roleplay sites. We aren't content to just exist, or to have a lot of players. We want Shards to be good and to be an enjoyable place for people who are passionate about roleplay. As Pathfinders, you are the bulwark against mediocrity. Your goal for Shards should be nothing less than excellence. That is our vision, that is our purpose. There are many ways to make this happen, and you each contribute your individuality to our goal, but ultimately we have one purpose: to make Shards shine. It won't always be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. If you get frustrated, feel free to take some time off. Remember that we will take a lot of flack - by pushing for improvement and change we set ourselves up for criticism. Try to take it in stride, and remember that we are making Good Things happen. We certainly cannot "force" people to play our way, and that's not the purpose. We're not RP Nazis here, merely vocal proponents for excellence: a presence representing what Shards CAN be.