So you want to write some Community Lore, do you? Well excellent! It's a great way to get involved in A'therys, and it can be a lot of fun too. But before you get started, there's a couple things to go over. We'll start at the beginning - what is it? How do you do it? Why should you? After having cleared that, we'll talk about what constitutes a good piece, the process for actually getting it posted, and of course the actual rules and regulations surrounding the whole thing. Yes, there are rules; of course you can't just go and write about absolutely anything you want. This is A'therys, after all, a living world which already has a framework. We'll talk about how you can best take advantage of that framework, where the wiggle room is, and even how to deal with the works of others when writing your own. A lot to take in, but hey, that's what these guides are for! Anyway, I think that's enough foreground bluster, let's get going.
Community Lore is a feature I've long wanted to include for our players, and now it's here. It provides a smooth, categorized location for you as a community member to post your own stories, articles, entries, or any other such appropriate material (more on that in a bit). Your posting is then reviewed by a member of the Scribes, a player organization dedicated to roleplaying on the server and forums. This isn't really the place to talk about them specifically, but I will discuss what you should expect from them with regards to lore approval towards the end of this guide. Ignoring that for a moment, once your piece has been approved, it is posted for all to read and enjoy! Now, this process does not "canonize" your lore, in either the fictional nor the saintly sense. Canon lore, meaning official lore, is posted in its own section as written by me. But that lore mostly discusses things that have happened in the past, or provides information about the present. In short, it does not necessarily affect the day-to-day play of you all in the server. It instead provides a framework for you to write with and play inside. Without it, there would be no server, but that does not mean that canon lore is all there is. With Community Lore, you have the opportunity to tell your own tales, to discuss the current happenings on the server as they are molded and shaped by you.
Well, you're going to want to start by playing the game of course! Make something happen, or be someone cool! Tell your story, or the story of something you caused, or something you were intimately involved in. Have a neat history for yourself? Or maybe you've got a town with a storied past? Are you the historian for a fun organization? Maybe there was an event that you were a key figure in. Odds are, if it happened in server roleplay, it has a place in Community Lore. But just playing in the server may not be enough for a really solid piece. I strongly recommend you dig through the Official Lore section of the site to see what structure you may want to reference or abide by. It is your best resource for keeping lore friendly, besides of course sending @OccidentalAnvil (that's me!) a PM here on the forums. But I try to cut down on my mail, so while I'm happy to answer questions I'd prefer it if you'd seek the answers where I traditionally post them. Once you've got the subject you want to write about and an understanding of the world in which it exists, you're ready to write!
Naturally there's some rules you need to be aware of when writing, so let's get those out of the way. They're fairly straightforward, and hopefully designed to be as unobtrusive as possible. But they have to be in place, lest we start losing track of what this place is (a forum for discussing and building upon the world of A'therys) and people start to get confused. Without further ado, the rules, which I reserve the right to amend at any time.
- Vulgarities are explicitly disallowed. I absolutely understand that even fictional adults are liable to say adult things, and that may seem to add realism, but keep in mind that we do entertain all ages here in A'therys. Also remember that we are a global community, and the words you may consider relatively harmless in your country could carry very different meanings elsewhere. So use your best judgement, and you feel that swearing is absolutely necessary in your piece, use that excuse to be creative in your alternative!
- The subject matter must be strictly A'therian! Your work must take place in A'therys from start to finish, and probably should not reference any other planes but it. If you can skillfully use the other planes known to exist, you are welcome to, but do remember (and this is a good general rule) that the more extreme references you pull together the more likely you are to stumble somewhere. There is nothing wrong with that, per these rules, but tying too many leads together can simply trip you up in the details and make the piece weaker overall.
- Your primary characters can only be human. A'therys is a world of humans, and the server is only able to display a human form. It is true that there are other sentient humanoids in the official lore, but in the server you do not have the option to play as one of them so neither are you able to claim their heritage in your Community Lore. You may involve them if you do so carefully, just as you may involve a god or dragon known to still be a part of the mortal plane. But you may not write yourself as anything except human. By this same line of reasoning, apotheosis is disallowed. Of course, the addendum to all this is that you may be stark raving mad: it is acceptable to discuss anything from the above that you wish so long as you make it clear that your character is deluded in some way. Get creative!
- Do not reference other player lore in your piece without explicit permission from those people. Of course this rule does not include works written by me, @OccidentalAnvil, no matter where you found it. If I wrote it, you're good! But when you mention someone else's work, you need to have talked to them first and gotten clearance to do so. Because this will be checked: as part of the Scribes' review process, they will reach out via PM to the author of the piece you reference, regardless of how you've referenced their work. They will respond "yes" or "no" when asked if you cleared it with them, and only then will the Scribes continue reviewing the piece for display. Note that a lack of timely response (defined at their discretion) to the PM will also constitute a "no," so have them be on the lookout to help you!
- You may not explicitly disagree with posted canon lore. There is some inherent leeway, wherein you can fudge certain things simply due to the lack of information on many topics. But if the Official Lore repository states one thing, and you state another, that conflicts with this rule. The one caveat here is in retroactively illegitimized writings: if you write a piece that conflicts with no lore, but then I write an official piece that happens to undermine its integrity, the piece will not be taken down. I reserve the right to modify the lore as I see fit for the health and effect of the story, and while I do so with increasing infrequency it does still happen on rare occasions. Do not expect this to occur, but be aware that it can.
- You may not create any new gods or nations while claiming them to be real. This is explicitly my domain for a good many reasons, but for this rule it will simply be disallowed to keep it easy. The bolded emphasis in the rule is to allow for the tail end of Rule #3 to apply: if you're crazy, you're in the clear. Want to worship a weird imaginary god, or claim to come from a far off silly land? You're welcome to do so, but please remember to make it extremely apparent in some way that the character referencing these things in each work is not of sound mind.
So that's it, the six rules to remember. Pretty easy and straightforward, if I do say so myself. Like I said, trying not to be overly constrictive with them, but there are a few things I need to keep out of community domain for continuity and coherence reasons. I hope you can understand this. But hey, now that you're through with the boring rules, you can write!
This section is really just my personal suggestions for writing something that will turn out nice. It's not rules, it's barely even guidelines. But I want to make sure you're aware of the wonderful resource we have for getting better right here on the forums: your peers! Particularly, the Community Lore Discussion subforum linked there. It's possible that you may have even come to find this guide from the pinned link there. Regardless, that is your workshop; as you craft your piece for final review, I highly encourage you to work on it in the forums there and invite others to discuss it with you. They may offer insight you hadn't thought of, or even just help you learn to write better. It is an invaluable wringer to run your content through before submitting it to the Scribes in the database, so give it a shot. The results may surprise you.
And now, the moment you've been waiting for. You've crafted a beautiful piece of Community Lore that abides by all the rules, and now it's time to submit it! The actual submitting of the work is not difficult: simply go to the correct section of the Community Lore database and use the normal editor to post it. Once it's been submitted, you just have to be patient. What happens after that is that the Scribes will assign one of their members to your work, and it is they who will review it. I will leave it to their management to describe how that all works in another place and time, but the gist is fairly straightforward. They will check your work for basic spelling and grammar, editing only these things and very lightly if at all, and run it through the rules listed above. If you catch a strike on any of them, expect them to contact you via forum PM to begin the steps to resolving the issue. Finally, they will check and make sure it has been posted to the most reasonable database location, and move it if not. After that, they'll push the lore piece live! Then everyone will be able to see it and comment on it. The five-star ratings system is currently disabled for the Community Lore database (it is the same system you can see here in the Guides database), but may be turned on at a later time if it seems desirable. For now though, write without fear of demonstrable judgement from your readers.
Congratulations, you've got one of your pieces approved to Community Lore! That wasn't so hard, was it? So at this point perhaps you're wondering... now what? Well, unless you do something about it, frankly nothing. You're in, welcome to the club, hurray and all that. But, you might, say, write another piece. And another. Once you're comfortable with the system, all paths are open to you (within the confines of the rules of course), provided you just get up and walk them. Remember, there is no limit to the number of frequency of submissions you make, so get writing. I'll be watching.