Q&A: Ephemeralhood

What does Eph training usually entail? 

Becoming a divine is the primary goal of training so everything is geared toward making sure our Ephemerals are ready for what’s ahead. Sometimes trainees (or even established admin) realise that a behind-the-scenes role suits them more and they become Architects instead but we primarily seek to recruit and train future divine. 

Our curriculum is presently split into two paths – builders and coders – and is fully realised as an Ephemeral Guild that relies on the same task system that players use. All tasks are split into building, admin, event, and coding tasks. Almost half of the coder path shares tasks with the builder path, especially if the Ephemeral wishes to become a divine at the end of it. The very beginning involves introductory tasks that teach building, progging, and possessing mobs. Early on there is also a lot of reading and learning about the Havens. 

After the intro, Ephemerals on either path start work on their first building project (rooms, denizens, prog, all of which result in a new quest) usually referred to as an Errand. This is split into multiple steps, all outlined as tasks, so you always know what you should be working on next. The second project is a bigger building project for builders (referred to as a Pocket), while coders delve into code and start with bugs, then small features, and finally focus on a bigger project. We no longer require Ephemerals to build an area as part of the curriculum due to the immense size and complexity of such projects.

Throughout their training, Ephemerals will also tackle tasks which help prepare them for the release of their projects and adminhood in general. There is a number of denizen possession and event tasks in the mix, and even a lore boot camp. Starting soon after introductory tasks, Ephemerals also have access to optional tasks to get training for various departments (with exception of the Issues Department). The more involved and challenging departments are further up the ladder so they start with things like Dreams and Emotes.

Somewhere midway through their second big project Ephemerals are promoted to ArchEphemerals and their training expands to include tasks that prepare them for their new, more visible role in one of the organisations. The organisation is chosen for the Ephemeral and we take into consideration a number of factors while deciding on the right one. Them getting a good education trumps most other concerns. As ArchEphemerals, they prepare their personas, study their new organisation’s lore, and work on their release event with that org’s patron team. While there, they learn how to interact with players, how to work on admin requests, how to possess denizens with years of history, and so on.  

Finally, ArchEphemerals who have completed all of their main tasks start work on their future god persona. They first prepare an overview of roles they are interested in and eventually arrive at one. They then focus on preparing an exhaustive profile of the role – all their existing history, all events they participated in, relationships with other gods, rundown of everything the role owns (priests, items, godrealm), an overview of the Order, etc. – and expand it to include their vision of the role and what if any changes they wish to make. After that, all’s that left is a release event and joining the big leagues.

We have a dedicated Ephemeral Department which oversees all of this training, but all of Havens is involved most of the time. Ephemeral Team folks review the tasks and provide most of the training but Ephemerals also branch out to assist in whatever is going on at the time and learn from everyone around them.

What are the different niches Ephs can fulfil behind the scenes? 

Ephemeral curriculum takes trainees on a grand tour of almost everything that Havens has to offer so it is hard to speak of niches. We want our volunteers to be well-rounded so if one wishes to graduate to a god role, all the boxes have to be ticked. That said, many find something they really love during training and get invested in work in that department even before graduating. Or they find side projects that they are passionate about, unrelated to the curriculum, and work on those. We encourage that but we also try to nudge them back towards their main tasks first and foremost. If their goal is a divine role, then the rest can happen afterwards and is usually easier to accomplish after they graduate too.

As Ephemerals move toward preparation for their next step, how much input do they have on which visible ephemeral entity or god they could become?

As mentioned above, ArchEphemerals are assigned to an organisation based on what will be best for their education. They can make requests but a well-rounded education means they often go places they don’t know much about, places they never played in. And most importantly of all, they need to go somewhere where there are people who can teach them what they need to learn. That means you will rarely see an ArchEphemeral assigned to an organisation with no senior admin actively available there to supervise them. If it happens, we have specific reasons for doing so.

The perception has usually been that ArchEphemerals are sent somewhere to help out, or should be sent somewhere to help out, but that is rarely the case. They cannot learn if there is no one there to teach them, and they cannot help out if they first don’t learn how to help out. We must send them to places that help their education the most.

As for god roles, the matter is even more complex. We will never force someone into a role or into an organisation that does not spark joy. That is a surefire way to have them burn out within the year. Likewise, we have no rules that bar people from becoming divine in the organisation/s where they spent the majority of their playtime. That does not mean though that everyone can get their dream role.

While applying for Ephemeral, players don’t know what plans are already in motion behind the scenes. Where someone ends up is never a last-minute decision. We often know early on what their hopes and dreams are, even if some morph over time. We cannot conjure divine-role-ready Ephemerals out of thin air to fill much-needed roles in organisations with less divine presence, but we always have long-term plans. So if you apply hoping to become a certain Divine, there is always the possibility that someone has already filled that role and is just waiting to release.

Another consideration is the Ephemeral’s ability to fit the organisation and the role. The first can be learnt and but the second is harder. Not everyone is suited to every role, and hoping to be a certain role is no substitute for having the skills to do it justice. For example, someone wishing to play a Fourth Circle role needs to be able to roleplay a creative type convincingly. Ephemerals often play the “What role do you think I could be?” game and are often surprised by the replies. We get to know each other well in the Havens and we make sure that where and who our Ephemerals end up becoming is something they are overjoyed about. Anything less is not worth doing.

How do Ephemerals deal with training not going as fast as their time allows or not having the time to do everything they want? Or not having permissions to work on something?

Once introductory tasks, which are pretty hands-on, are over, Ephemerals start work on their actual projects. Once the project is approved, they never lack work or direction. What rooms, denizens, items, etc. need building is all pre-approved so they keep chipping at the block: researching, fiddling, describing things to their satisfaction. They can submit all those things and get started on the next thing. The same is true of progging and coding. For those needing a break from their own projects, there is a help wanted board that has admin listing what they need done, and there’s any number of other projects they could chip something towards, or leave comments or ideas on.

If an Ephemeral lacks time to do all the shiny things they would want to do, that is fine too. Those tasks are always there, clearly outlined for them to jump back into whenever they can steal away some time. Focusing on the curriculum first and foremost is key so you can get to where you hope to get. We all love Lusternia, but we’re also not all Lusternia all the time. We respect each other’s lives outside of the game and treat each other’s contributions and opinions as equally valuable.

There is invariably a ceiling that Ephemerals can reach where they have done everything and they are now just waiting for someone to review their work and approve it so they can get to testing, but we have people in all time zones and things move a lot faster than they ever did back when I was an Ephemeral over a decade ago. Even while they’re waiting, there are other things to do.

As for not having permissions to work on something, generally, Ephemerals will not be working on things they do not have permission to touch in the first place, or permissions will be carved out for the specific things they are looking to accomplish. Dealing with those limits is part of Haven life because there are still things which you need someone to sign off on or things only some people deal with regardless of admin rank. There is a lot that our admin do independently, only briefly checking in on the direction they’re going with, but also a lot of things we work on together. So how to deal with it? Discord. Everyone is within hand’s reach, collectively or individually, even if they cannot be online in-game at the time.

What would auto disqualify someone from being considered for an Ephemeral?

Very little. Sometimes the people we least expected to make it have wowed us the most. There is a lot that we can teach if the Ephemeral is willing to learn, so having knowledge or skill gaps is not an issue. One of the most important things that we look for is suitability for the work and the team. We need to be sure that you are trustworthy and will follow the NDA, and that you are someone that can work within the Havens structure and with the team. There is no running off to do whatever you please here, and there is no room for butting heads with the rest of the team. You will hear feedback that you may not like, you may have to scrap what you wanted to work on for any number of reasons, and people will have different opinions on shared projects. You need to be able to manoeuvre that maturely and be able to work with everyone because we are too small a team for lingering tensions.