TheoriA Journal Admin's Guide to Journalling
So, you want to know how to write out a journal and put in for a review? Here’s a straightforward (I hope) guide!

The Journal
Basic Info

Basic info is relatively easy to set out. This is the very simplest of details about your characters. 

Name: Your character’s name, of course.
Date of Birth: The year in which they were born. Not made OOCly, born ICly.
Roleplay Level: Your RPL, easy enough.
Allegiances: Who holds your loyalty? Now, this can be on the micro or the macro level, from cities, guilds, people, even ideologies! The best option here is the City/Faction or Guild you belong to, if any, because that makes it just a little bit easier, but feel free to include the rest as well! For people, we’re talking your closest, closest allies and/or friends, not every person you know!
Magic: What magic do you use?

This is all relatively self explanatory, of course.

Advanced Info

Advanced info is the meat of your journal. This is the stuff that we primarily look at to decide if we’re going to award you a hidden. It's important, however, to keep in mind that there is no wrong way to do a journal so long as this information is present.

Your history is, more or less, your story. This is where you put what your character has been through, in as little detail or as much as you like. Personally, I like to try and separate my entries into arcs. For example, from starting a character to reaching Cadet status in the Second Dawn would be the first entry. From becoming a cadet to becoming a knight might be the second. This way, your individual entries tell small, self contained stories that collectively become the greater story of your character. Milestones are scenes; history is the whole movie.

Milestones are the deep dives into certain parts of the history, the place where you put your dev and your big character moments. I’ll say this now as a journal admin: logs increase your chances of approval. However, unlike the former app system, this doesn’t have to be eight logs of “I go ‘hnnnnnngh’ really hard and then see into time”. Milestones are, in simplest form, the moments that you feel really show your character’s...well, character, moments that have a long lasting effect on them, or moments you just think are neat and want to share. Now, you can separate these out from your history, but personally I like to link to my milestones specifically within my history so that there’s wider context to it. We’ll always prefer character moments to solo logs about making wind bigger, for example. 

However, there is an exception to this general rule. If you’re going for an Exalted Hidden, for example, or one that really does have trial and error/study as a requirement -i.e. Tome apps, Medic, Wayfinding/Riftmancy, etc- it's important to have dev logs for those things included in your milestones.

What are you going to do? What will getting a reward push you forward towards? Personally, I believe it's good to have a mix of long term and short term goals. For example, a short term goal might be to get Holy magic, and a long term might be to learn White Magic, or become the Stellus! Having ambition does weigh into our responses, and someone who wants a hidden without any plans to show what they intend to do with it is not going to be considered as seriously as someone who has big plans.

The Review Thread

Your review thread is a lot simpler than your journal, but still crucial! Without a Journal Review thread, we don’t know you want to have a check done. So how do you make one?

Navigate to the Review subforum in the Journal forum. In case you need a quick navigate to it, its here:

Make a new thread. Name it your character name and that’s all.

Post a link to your journal.

Use the following template to ask for what you want. Its very important you do, as if you just follow steps 1-3 and only have what you want in your journal there’s a good chance we’re going to assume you’re not actually asking for a check and miss it!

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Its as simple as that!
Tiers of ‘Hidden’ Magic

Master magic is magic that demonstrates that a Magi has hit a significant milestone in their strength, enough to be a step beyond most other magi. These are the high-ranked Knights, the Radiants, the Sergeants, etc. If you have a master-level ability, you’ve done well at furthering your own personal plot and the plot of those around you; i.e. in your faction/city/guild.

The Criteria for Master Magic is relatively simple;
  1. Be 180+ RPL and 16+ years old, with 18+ being preferable and more likely to earn you an award.
  2. Your journal shows a completed character arc. This could be from becoming Cadet to becoming a Knight, so long as you were active and engaging in interesting plot during the time; in short, so long as you earned knighthood in an interesting way. Additionally, you should have taken some steps to achieving your listed goals!
  3. You’re active in RP and, more importantly, proactive. While what you’ve done is definitely a consideration, we also want to get an idea of what you’re going to do with a hidden if granted.
Exalted magic is magic that demonstrates that a Magi has increased their strength a step beyond even Mastery. These are the skills that make a character noteworthy not just amongst their peers, but amongst the world game region. If you have an Exalted-level ability, people have heard of you all over the region; you’ve an undisputed impact on the world.

The Criteria for Exalted magic is a little higher than Master magic.
  1. Be 200+ RPL and 18+ years old
  2. Your journal should show a strong larger character arc comprised of a few smaller ones. This could be the first arc being Cadet>Knight, and the second being Knight>Radiant, so long as you were active, proactively engaging in impactful, interesting plot, and became widely recognised. If people in other cities know of/talk about you without having met you, its a good indication that you’ve achieved that level of impact. This is about more than combat prowess; if all you do is fight, don’t expect an Exalted, as you’ve not shown the character development we want to see.
  3. Directed Development. Your logs should show signs of you developing the ability you’re requesting, whether that be studying Wayfinding independently or learning it from a master, or having the tendency to drain mana from people when you injure them, an early indication of Mana Absorb.
  4. You’ve achieved several of your goals and developed more. You’ve a character that is characterised and sticks to that characterisation; i.e. if you’re a Holy Protector type of character, you shouldn’t be cavorting with Occultists, generally. There are times where a good corruption/fall arc can be fantastic, but if this is you, it needs to be quality.

Q: What is a journal?
A: A journal is a living biography of your character, chronicling the important events in their life up to their death. As such, your journal is the resource we use to judge if you’re applicable for a Hidden/Master ability once you request one in your review thread.

Q: What about the ingame Journal?
A: The ingame journal may be used for you however you wish, but it is not the journal we’re talking about here. The journal here is one you post in this subforum. The ingame journal is not your journal.

Q: How often should I update my journal?
A: The short answer is whenever you want. There is no issue with updating your journal every day, or every week, so long as everything you want to display is there when you ask for a review. Personally, I add a new entry everytime I ask for a new skill or item, with the most recent entry considered the relevant post for the request. This, however, is not necessary -whatever works for you! If you’re journal is more freeform and especially long, it's a good idea to mark the logs/milestones most appropriate to your request in some manner to make things a little easier on the journal team.

Q: How soon can I ask for a review again after getting a response?
A: This varies! If you’ve been approved, generally unless you’re asking for something small we’d prefer to see what you can do with what you’ve been given before you ask for something new. If you’re denied, we’d like you to take into account our feedback and try and put it into practice where applicable before making another review request. If you disagree with a response to the degree you wish to appeal it, of course you can let us know that via your review thread immediately.

Q: Is there a different criteria for a second or third hidden as opposed to a first?
A: Absolutely! When it comes to requesting multiple Master or Exalted skill (or a mix of the two of course) we review on a far stricter criteria; if you want two master skills, its expected that you’re taking the criteria for that tier to the extreme. If you want three hiddens, our standards are very, very high. There are some exceptions to this (i.e. asking for Wayfinding’s Combat Buff after getting approved for the Long-range skill, or abilities like Witchcraft that don’t increase your combat ability) but that is the general rule.

Q: Can I trade a hidden for another one?
A: Yes! Indeed, if you have a Master ability and am aiming for an Exalted ability and don’t think you can justify having two hiddens, we may approve you for the Exalted on the condition you trade your Master for it. In your first review, you shouldn’t ask for an Exalted. Instead, think of a stance or master that could serve as a good stepping stone and ask for that first, with the idea of trading later already in your mind!

Q: Am I writing this journal wrong?
A: So long as your journal has the above things, no! The way you format your journal is entirely up to you. If it's readable, it's correct. The archive is a great resource to see how others write their journals, use it! To give you an idea, here are a handful of journals archiving from last era. These are examples but not themselves guides; figure out what style works for you and run with it!
Kiastara Hargrave (Thats me!)
Lumin Montclaire
Revan Task
Elias cos Salis

Q: Do I need logs?
A: In short, logs aren’t mandatory. However, oftentimes if you don’t include some logs in your journal we’re going to have a lot more trouble figuring out whether you merit what you’re asking for. When you’re a well known character it's a little easier, but to put it simply; no, but you’ve a better chance of a positive (and quicker) response if you do! For Exalted hiddens in particular, we expect to see logs, at the least focusing on directed development.

Q: What about items?
A: For items, a lot of people make a reply to their journal with the details following this template and then mention it in their review thread reply. This is perfectly fine! If you’re thinking you want to have your journal archived when you’re done with the character, however, its perfectly fine to post the above-linked template directly in your reviews thread! Items can take quicker or longer than normal reviews, as we have to personally discuss the stats granted with each one, but we also often don’t have to read through a bunch of logs.

Q: I asked for something and got something else, why?
A: In a nutshell, its because either we thought the fluff of something suited you better, i.e. giving someone Spring’s Bloom instead of Cruel Thesis, or we don’t think you’re quite there for what you’re going for, but think you’ve done a good enough job that we don’t want to deny you outright. This is the reasoning behind quite a few people being offered or approved for custom stances in lieu of Master hiddens, for example! We want you to know that even though you don’t quite fit the criteria yet, we think you’re on the right track.

Q: Why is it taking so long to get a review? X got one in two days, but I’ve been waiting for two weeks! When should I bump it?
A: Ultimately, we’re human beings, and we’re not infallible. The difference between review times is often because X in this context wanted something simpler (a tome instead of an exalted, for example), or because we’re discussing something more in depth before making a decision. As you can imagine, there are a lot of factors to consider when approving a journal, as we don’t want to make someone unbeatable, or give them a hidden they’ve not quite fit the criteria for yet. To make sure you get as fair a response as possibly, no one Journal admin can individually approve anything; we come to a consensus out of multiple admins. Finally, sometimes we just miss reviews. If yours goes more than a week without a response, we don’t mind you bumping it. If it's been longer than that, here is permission to DM me, Theori, and ask me to check up on it for you.
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