The Reeve Guildmaster's Art: Making Good Reeve's Tests
by Matthias Fleewinter
"Well Versed in the Rules": Test Comprehensiveness
Good reeve's tests cover what needs to be covered. A test that only tests for knowledge of the basic combat rules, weapon construction, and the rules for reeves will certify reeves who can be trusted to oversee tournaments and ditch battles, but with no guarantee that they can reeve class battles or quests. A reeve's test should cover every aspect of the Rules of Play.
There are sixteen broad categories which should all be addressed to some extent in any good reeve's test:
1) The rules for reeves. Every reeve's test should address the duties and responsibilities of being a reeve. This category must never be neglected.
2) The basic combat rules: what constitutes a hit from a melee weapon, what constitutes a hit from a ranged weapon, how hits on garb are adjudicated, the legal strike areas, deaths and lives, subdual blows, etc.
3) Weapon construction: safety standards for weapons and shields, the various lengths and sizes of weapons and shields, the construction requirements for great weapons, etc.
4) Projectile weapons: maximum poundage and draw length for bows, the standard for longbows, the bow-to-player ratio, the construction requirements of arrows, etc.
5) Armor ratings: which armor types are worth what values, armor gauges, safety requirements for armor construction, armor value modifiers, etc.
6) The rules for earning credits and gaining class levels.
7) Basic class information: garb requirements, allowed equipment, rules for playing the peerage classes, the rules for playing Raider and Peasant, the spellcaster-to-player ratio, etc.
8) Class abilities: the functions of the more common and problematic class abilities such as Berserk, Sanctuary, Steal Life, Fight After Death, the specialty arrows, etc.
9) The magic-points system and buying weapons: how points are gained by levels, how weapons are bought by spellcasters and at what costs, how magic points are redistributed after buying weapons, etc.
10) The basic rules of spellcasting: how spells must be cast, what constitutes an interrupted spell, the physical limitations on being able to start casting magic, the rules for counts and spell ranges, targeting players with magics, the rules for neutrals, etc.
11) The rules for magical balls: the number which may be carried, the charging of magical balls, counting hits with them, "engulfing" versus "non-engulfing", etc.
12) The rules for enchantments: casting them, dispelling them, carrying them, how the immunity enchantments work, how the armor enchantments work, etc.
13) The rules for fixed enchantments: the number that may be in existence per player, the rules for placing them, the rules that cause them to disappear, etc.
14) The specific magics: The incants, effects, and other information concerning the most common magics encountered in class battles and quests. A few fixed enchantments should also be randomly addressed.
15) The monster rules: who can play a monster and how often and at what level, how to become a monster via the Reincarnate and Transform enchantments, the statistics of those monsters which appear in the rulebook for that very purpose, and the monster-to-player ratio.
16) Miscellaneous stuff and anything else that does not fit into one of the above categories such as terrain rules, the different battlegame types, the rules for personas, the garb privileges of knights, etc.
Any reeve's test intended to test a player's knowledge of rules should have at least a handful of questions representative of each of these fields. None should be left unaddressed, although unless you are prepared to write an mind-numbingly comprehensive reeve's test, some areas will be only partially covered.
These ingredients, put together, are what distinguishes a good reeve's test from a bad one. It is incumbent upon every Guildmaster of Reeves or other test writer to make sure his tests are impartial, fair, elegant, and comprehensive.
Finally a few good bits of advice related to reeve's test composition:
* When writing a reeve's test, make sure that no one question could possibly give the answer to another question elsewhere in the test. Of course, this cannot be avoided with matching-type questions, but a well-designed test will minimize the ability of a test-taker to use guesswork to discover the answer to a question he could not have given without taking the test in the first place. If a test-taker knows that the scout sash color is either green or brown but isn't sure which, and there is another question that hints or states that the druid's sash is brown, he will be able to give the right answer for the color of a scout's sash if it should appear elsewhere in the test. It may be impossible to avoid feeding answers to the test-takers, so to speak, but only a comprehensive review of your test (or the admission of a test taker or test reviewer who discovers a "fed answer" and is kind enough to inform you) will let you discover and correct them.
* If you are including bonus questions, make sure that extra credit is also rulebook-related. Don't include questions on the corpora or the Dor Un Avathar. If you include a set of bonus questions, apply the same standards as you would any other question, with the exception that bonus questions are meant to be harder or more obscure than normal questions.
* If your local group or kingdom have made one or more major rules clarifications which the Circle of Monarchs has not yet addressed, you may need to include a separate section of questions covering these clarifications. In theory, the Rules of Play has made local clarifications obsolete, but it should be recognized that local clarifications will always arise, which allows the Rules of Play to be continually improved and perfected.
* If you or your group cannot afford to spend a lot of money on printing supplies or photocopying fees, you may wish to prohibit test-takers from writing their answers on the test sheet itself, but require them to write their answers on a separate sheet of notebook paper. This will let you reuse copies of your test and save money. Just be sure you include the admonition of not writing your answers on the test paper so the test-takers will know not to do so (or will at least have no excuse if they do it anyway).
I hope that this article gives some of you fellow Guildmasters of Reeves some help in writing future reeve's tests. Expressing these ideas on paper (so to speak) has certainly helped me.
--Matthias Fleewinter, Souls' Crossing (Memphis, TN)