There are two features of primary importance to the way Mastery requests are graded, which are taken into consideration before the actual review of the writing and reasoning supplied by the player. The first is the number of Masteries that a character already possesses; the adage "an old dog can't learn new tricks" doesn't exist for no reason, and there are factors at play behind the decision of most university students to not pursue multiple undergraduate degrees. It becomes progressively more difficult to accomplish the same level of success and understanding within different fields within a given amount of time, though it's neither impossible in the real world nor in the world of fiction. All the same, the number of Masteries possessed by a character plays into the strictness with which that character will be required to adhere to the criteria of grading.
The second (and more obvious) of the two considerations made prior to the review of the request's material is the rank of Mastery being applied for. The rank of Mastery represents a holistic understanding of a Skill; a Master in any given Skill has progressed to a point of growth where they intimately understand all that can be taught about their Skill by others. The rank of Master in any given Skill represents the apex of learning that can be accomplished with the guidance of others.
Where the rank of Master in a Skill represents completing the full set of curricula that exist for maturation within existing bounds, the rank of Grandmaster represents the taking of the step beyond those bounds. The rank of Grandmaster demands of those who request it the exploration of possibilities left to them by the knowledge they obtained as a Master. A Grandmaster in any given Skill would never learn something novel about their Skill from reading a book on it, unless they were reading of the exploits of another Grandmaster (or perhaps a Paragon, though the latter is much
The rank of Paragon is not simply uncommon for the difficulty represented by sheer amount of time and effort required to develop the Skill, but also because the degree of ingenuity required to accomplish it. Where a Grandmaster might author a new chapter to a book used by a Master to teach students of a Skill, a Paragon's work, whether they mean for it to or not, rewrites the foundational principles upon which the very grasp of what the Skill is
at its core. Only occasionally are those of the rank of Paragon recognized accurately for the measure of their Skill or their contributions to its teachings, as the alterations that they make to the definition of the Skill are often incomprehensible to those that are not their peers (of which, again, there are few).
Again, in terms of real-world academic knowledge, a Specialist in a Major Skill or an Expert in a Minor Skill might be students in a field that have completed four-year degree programs, but a Master is the professor that has completed their thesis. The Master might now expected to contribute to the development of the field as a whole, especially by a Grandmaster, who is a successful figure within that field and has already made significant changes to what is included in the classes taught by the Master themselves. A Paragon, as rare in real-world academia as here, is a figure whose accomplishments are practically legend within the discipline, and upon whom the direction of the students of the Master and Grandmaster ranks are predicated. The levels of expectation for comprehension at each rank roughly follow that guideline. In general, one could expect to present four to five topics, of which it would be favorable to have at least one non-spar or practice topic. Higher grades of Mastery might also include collaborating with or fighting against those who also have Masteries in a similar or the same Skill.
Number of Masteries
There is a cap of Masteries that one may achieve. In any combination of Master, Grand Master, or Paragon, you may only have six levels of Mastery. For example, you may be a Paragon of Taijutsu, a Grand Master of Fuuinjutsu, and a Master of Ninjutsu, but may not advance any further Masteries. Alternatively, you could be a Paragon of both Bukijutsu and Kenjutsu, but may not advance any further Masteries. This goes for any combination of Mastery levels.
hopefully the least surprising of the four criteria, as Mastery involves developing a level understanding with regard to a Skill, a character needs to demonstrate their knowledge and development in it. There are no Masters who do not intimately understand their Skill. The demonstration of a character's knowledge need neither be complete nor technical in nature (especially in the case of a request for the rank of Master, which concerns itself primarily with fundamentals no matter the circumstance), but should clearly change from some lesser degree to some greater degree over time, and should illustrate a few concepts that the character identifies as core facets of their Skill. Requirements for comprehension at the rank of Grandmaster and Paragon are, of course, steps beyond that.
hopefully also somewhat obvious, those characters that wish to achieve Mastery in a Skill had best be prepared to use it. This is the expectation of the actual implementation of all of a character's theoretical understanding. Whether the instance of use a character's learning is itself a high-stakes moment or not, the focus of some part of the moment ought to be on the manner of the technique, and neither simply that character's thoughts about it nor the story behind the moment in which it is being used. It is with this criteria that the technical aspects of a Skill's use come under most consideration.
all characters have to start somewhere, even those destined to become Masters, and it's the growth from that point to the Mastery that matters when this criterion is considered. Early on, this is simple; all that a player need show of their character is some small alteration in thought or behavior from topic to topic. As a character gains more Masteries, this becomes one of the most important criteria, as the more Masteries a character has, the greater the justification they must present to pass beyond their limitations. Early on though, it is fine if the development of a character is a side-effect of the narration of that character's acquisition of Masteries, rather than the other way around.
how much does the Skill matter
to the identity of the character? Another criteria that progressively becomes more important at higher ranks of Mastery and alongside a character's number of Masteries, a player should be able to justify the role of a Skill in a character's story not simply as a tool, but in terms of how their character's relationship with that tool and their development in it has shaped their personality and story. While this might manifest in some characters as an understanding of a Skill to such a degree that the Skill itself acts as a place or position of comfort for that character (as something reflexive that the character uses as a primary means of protecting themselves, or as a primary part of their identity as a warrior), as a character nears the higher ranks of Mastery or a higher number of total Masteries, this representation of identity necessarily becomes more of a conscious feature of their growth.
The pair of reviewers for any given Mastery request will post their evaluation of the request with the following format.
[name of the character] - [Skill] - [rank being requested]
Frequently Asked Questions
The reviewer will examine the character's described level of comprehension with the Skill for which a Mastery is being requested, as well as their development to it. Should they feel it pertinent, they will comment on it here. A 3/5 represents an acceptable level of understanding with the Skill to warrant their requested Mastery, and additional points beyond that represent an exceptionally well-detailed view into the character's understanding of the principles of their Skill (or in the case of the ranks of Grandmaster and Paragon, the principles of their contribution to the Skill).
The reviewer will examine the character's described application of the Skill for which a Mastery is being requested, as well as the development that they accomplish with it. Should they feel it pertinent, they will comment on it here. A 3/5 represents an acceptable level of use and development with the Skill to warrant their requested Mastery, and additional points beyond that represent an exceptionally well-detailed view into the implementation of the underlying principles of their Skill (or in the case of the ranks of Grandmaster and Paragon, the implementation of their contribution to the Skill).
The reviewer will examine the narrative elements contributing to the character's development with the Skill for which a Mastery is being requested. Should they feel it pertinent, they will comment on it here. A 3/5 represents an acceptable level of weight, time, and investment into the growth of the Skill to warrant their requested Mastery, and additional points beyond that represent an exceptionally well-detailed and meaningful narrative modus behind the Mastery. Exceptionally-evocative development (i.e. development not done exclusively through the use of one-on-one training in a single training grounds or something of the like) may also contribute to additional points here.
The reviewer will examine the character's described level of integration with the Skill for which a Mastery is being requested. Should they feel it pertinent, they will comment on it here. A 3/5 represents an acceptable level of integration between the Skill and the character to warrant their requested Mastery, and additional points beyond that represent an exceptionally well-detailed view into the role the Skill plays in the character's identity and personality. Note here that several factors, like narrative elements or significant moments of achievement might impact the nature of the integration between a character and their Skill, but that the criteria will always be graded separately.
X/20 = QQ%; note that characters will typically be required to score 60% (which is 12/20) to pass.
Pass or Fail
Initially, this list will be small. As people ask more questions, it will grow, so always be certain to ask a question if you have it; others may very well harbor the same uncertainties that you do.
"If I request more than one Mastery at once, what happens?"
The reviewers of a request considers your Masteries in the order presented in your request. Be aware that this includes applications for multiple ranks of Mastery in a single Skill, so the reviewers of the request will expect to be presented with a period of development between the time of the events you identify as key moments in your growth to the rank of Master and the events you identify as key moments in your growth to the rank of Grandmaster (or between Grandmaster and Paragon, or between all three if you happen to be so bold as to apply for all three at once). Assuming that the reviewer of your request considers your growth qualifying of one of your Masteries, your total number of Masteries increases, and the bar of the requirements for your subsequent Masteries increases.