DARC & D&D

So for the summer I am taking a class on Metadata following up my INFO 5200 class. Part of that – other than waking up “early” some days (early being before 6 pm on my screwed up night schedule) – is a project looking at some aspect of metadata in the library world. It was happy coincidence that my chosen assignment is on the content standard used for archives! DARC or Describing Archives: A Content Standard is, as the name implies, the standard used throughout the United States.

What is a content standard you might ask? Well without going into extreme detail it is basically an explanation of what sort of information you need to describe something. They are contrasted with encoding standards which is (typically) how you encode that data to give to other institutions.

An easy way to think of that is encoding standards (like MARC) are buckets to give to somebody else with a specific design while content standards are what you are supposed to put into the buckets.

So seeing the title one might think what does DARC have to do with D&D? Well nothing directly but while doing some “Spring” (AKA Summer) cleaning I came across a binder filled with old D&D/Pathfinder character sheets.

I thought it would be fun to do two things; the first is taking this “archival material” (aka these old character sheets) and describe them using DARC. Then after that go over the sheets I found and describe the adventures they had.

NOTE: If Metadata and archives are not your cup of tea scroll down till you see the section Character Sheet Exploration.

DARC

Without again going into extreme detail a DARC entry will have 9 required elements. There are others but we won’t be exploring those today since this is mostly just for a bit of fun.

2.1 Reference Code

This has three major parts to it: a Local Identifier (a call number or session number for a library for example), a Repository Identifier (unique sequence for where the archive is located) and finally a Country identifier.

Local IdentifierO:D&DA.001
Repository IdentifierOCH
Country IdentifierUS

The first is a silly call number that stands for Owlbrarian : D&D Archive : 001. OCH is simply Owlbrarian’s Current Home the last one is a standard code for the United States. You might wonder why there is a country identifier for a scheme only used in the United States, this is to allow it to “talk” to other standards from other countries (among other reasons).

2.2 Name and Location of Repository

This is pretty standard stuff really. This is where the archival material is located.

Name of RepositoryThe Owlbrarian Center for RPG Studies
Location of Repository123 Any Street, Any Town, USA 12345

Nothing too crazy here. Moving on.

2.3 Title

This requires a bit of explanation. When it comes to titles most items in an archive don’t have pre-existing names. Instead it is up to the archivist to come up with what name they want to call something.

TitleThe Owlbrarian character sheet collection

There is a proper way to render titles so they are DACS compliant. You always start with the name of the “creator” of the documents (or whatever) and then follow with a succinct descriptor.

2.4 Date

Dates for a archival object come in a variety of forms. Going to describe two here:

Date2006-2020, bulk 2006-2016 6/12/2020 date of discovery

The first is the range of when these character sheets have been used. It goes all the way to 2020 because my wife added into this collection her most recent character who just retired. When there is a outlier but the “bulk” of it takes place at a certain range you describe that. I also included the date of discovery though you wouldn’t see that as often.

2.5 Extent

This is a description of what the entry is made up of. Could be slides, books, notepads, sticky notes, or anything else really. DACS can describe pretty much any object you can think of.

ExtentApproximately 100 loose pieces of papers.

Again nothing too crazy here. Just a physical description of the collection. This should generally be described in a “unit of measurement” even if it is something as simple as “loose pieces of paper.”

2.6 Name of Creators

You might think this will be the person who actually created the original documents or what have you (and sometimes you would be right) though other times it deals with the person/family/corporation that assembled the collection of materials.

Name of Creator(s)Owlbrarian, The, 1987-

There are a few ways you can do this you can even describe the relationship between the person named and the materials. I decided to just leave it simple since there is only one name associated with this “collection.”

3.1 Scope & Content

This is often one of the longest sections of a DACS entry though I won’t bore you with a bunch of purple prose here.

Scope & ContentThese papers are a collection of character sheets created mostly by the Owlbrarian and his wife from the described time period. Generally they are printed sheets with handwritten notes.

As I said these tend to be quite long if you want to do the entry justice.

4.1 Conditions Governing Access

This is what you have to do to gain access to the materials.

Conditions Governing AccessAppointment required for in-house access. No other restrictions apply. For further information contact the Archives Officer at the Owlbrarian Center for RPG Studies at 555-123-4567 or archives@theowlbrarian.org.

Anything that would impact if someone could see a object should be listed here. Even if there is no restrictions you have to say that as well.

4.5 Language and Scripts of the Material.

This is the language the collection is in.

Languages and Scripts of the MaterialAll character sheets are in English.

Also pretty standard stuff. Even if there is no language (for photographs for example) you should list “This is a photographic collection with no written words” or something similar.

Putting it together.

So this is what a “full” DARC compliant entry looks like. Note that order isn’t really important to DARC since it wants to be able to work with most encoding standards since they tend to be picky about order.

Element LabelElement
Local IdentifierO:D&DA.001
Repository IdentifierOCH
Country IdentifierUS
Name of RepositoryThe Owlbrarian Center for RPG Studies
Location of Repository123 Any Street Any Town USA 12345
TitleThe Owlbrarian character sheet collection
Date2006-2020, bulk 2006-2016 6/12/2020 date of discovery
ExtentApproximately 100 loose pieces of papers.
Name of Creator(s)Owlbrarian, The, 1987-
Scope & ContentThese papers are a collection of character sheets created mostly by the Owlbrarian and his wife from the described time period. Generally they are printed sheets with handwritten notes.
Conditions Governing AccessAppointment required for in-house access. No other restrictions apply. For further information contact the Archives Officer at the Owlbrarian Center for RPG Studies at 555-123-4567 or archives@theowlbrarian.org.
Languages and Scripts of the MaterialAll character sheets are in English.

For more information about DARC please see this github page: Link.

Character Sheet Exploration

Alright now for the fun part or at least the more interesting part if you aren’t interested in library science.

Oh how I wish I had kept these in a better order. None of them are dated but I sorta remember when these games happened though I don’t remember them all.

Namir Dankil (Shackled City)

This isn’t where I met my wife but where I was reintroduced to her years and years ago. This would have been right after I graduated high school, and was her first character. I have two versions of this character one at level 3 and the other at level 8. This wasn’t my first game (I had been playing since 2000-2001) though this was one of my first long games.

This was during the 3rd edition D&D days. The game involved this evil cult know as the Cagewrights trying to take over the world. Namir was a dwarven paladin who rolled pretty bad stats though she still managed to have a 18 in constitution which was pretty nice.

She managed to get her strength up from a 15 at level 3 to a 20 by level 8. This was through a “Belt of Ogre Strength” which was actually a Belt of Giant’s Strength. I have to wonder if I told her the name was “Ogre Strength.”

It’s funny to see all of the different rules for moving based on how encumbered you were. By level 8 Namir could push or drag 2,000 pounds. Pretty good since that was only 1,000 at level 3.

I am pretty sure that we got past level 8 in that game though to be honest I don’t remember it that well! I know that I have run Shackled City at least 3 times.

Honestly I thought this was going to be sorta short…but I think this might become a series. Not doing DARC entries for it but looking through different characters. I will look at one more that I think comes next.

It will be quite fun to try and place these in order especially since they kinda were already before I messed them up when I was originally going to throw them away.

Aliah bin Nadim bin abdul-Shahid (Forgotten Realms)

I am honestly not sure if this comes “next” though it feels sort of right. Aliah was a cleric of Sune who lived and operated in the nation of Calimshan in Forgotten Realms. Basically it was a fantasy Arabia or perhaps more accruatly a fantasy Cordoba in Al-Andalus in the 1000’s. Like Namir she has two character sheets, but unlike Namir she had insane ability scores. Guess she was lucky when compared to Namir as far as that goes.

She was a cloistered cleric which gave her extra knowledges compared to most clerics. She had Arcana, Religion, History, Nobility, and the Planes.

This game is sorta infamous among some of my friends because they had just come from a adventure and had 10 experience away from the next level. One of my players asked me to roll for a random encounter to get them the last bit of experience.

Well I rolled a 100 on the chart which happened to be a hobgoblin warband that almost TPK’d the party.

Gosh I just noticed there was a Speak Language skill. I forgot that was a thing…and Scry. Aliah wasn’t trained in Scry so she just had a +3 to that check.

I was a cheapskate when it came to the 3.0-3.5 transition. I never bought the 3.5 books and just used the SRD and bits and pieces to keep using my old books. Not that I “really” used them all that much. I will be honest that I sort of winged a lot of stuff back then. I couldn’t bothered to read the rules in a lot of depth.

Which resulted in some terrible games though by the time Aliah was around I had at least started keeping more detailed notes and preplanned things. I would have been like…20 at most when this game was going on.

Conclusion

Well I think I will do some pictures of fun bits of character sheets for the next time I do this, and talk about the game more. I just got sort of drained after working on the DARC part of it. I will start the next entry in this “series” by showing some pictures of the old character sheets. Anything funny or interesting.

That way when we get to sheets that I wrote you can see how terrible my handwriting is and be glad you don’t have to read this blog in it!

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