Posted by: Sean | September 18, 2008

More on role-play guilds: What do they do?

I’m beginning to think I may regret writing this much on this topic, since surely the role-play guild is a fine theme week for us to pursue at a later date. However, since it’s not me who picks topics but Blogatelle (who is not me), then I guess I should just go ahead and keep writing about it until he calls it as the theme.

Besides which, my post this morning was clearly pretty rushed, which I apologise for. Much as I did earlier in the week (Hi Sam!) I got distracted on the bus and found myself unable to write. But since I always take pride in updating at least something on this blog at 8am Australian Eastern-Standard time, I crammed a whole bundle of words into the last fifteen minutes before work. So let’s crack this subject open: Why run, or join, a role-play guild? Simple: To gain support with role-playing. The problem is, and I think is what causes the storyless role-play guilds that I discussed this morning as problematic, is that so many players see as purely about finding more people to role-play with.

Now, this is certainly a nice feature of a good role-playing guild; certainly you’ll be spending more time amongst others who enjoy role-play as well. But it’s a limited definition of the support that a role-play guild can offer. A good role-play guild should offer at least three services to its members, in my opinion:

  1. A stable platform for creating plots. One of the common arguments against role-playing in World of Warcraft by role-players from other media is that in a static MMORPG world there’s no point to constructing stories. Everyone always ends up the same, after all! What these people don’t understand is that stories can be constructed inside the shared game world that are agreed upon many of the participants. This is the first and foremost thing that a good role-play guild should be; a shared understanding of what plots are going on.

    Good guilds foster this with guild forums that allow players to further plots offline as well as on, by creating in-guild events that further guild-wide plots, and (on PVP-RP realms) liasing with opposite faction guilds to create RP-PVP events that play into those plots.

  2. A team for creating wider-world open role-play events. Good role-play guilds should be aware that an MMORPG can easily start to become schismed into tiny guilds, and in many cases this results in a less connected, environment. The key to reaching out beyond this is a good open role-play event. These events are usually created by one guild but are open to all, and there’s lots of good reasons to run them. First off, they’re excellent recruiting mechanisms to pick up unguilded role-players. (This is the primary reason Jess and I made open role-play events the mainstay of our own guild while it waa active.) But the more valuable reason is that it builds up alleigances between role-play guilds and ultimately leads to more role-play being available for everyone in the long run. It’s the slut effect, if you sleep around a lot, in the end the whole community comes together for the good of all.

    What? It’s an awesome metaphor.

  3. A support mechanism for helping role-players create their own role-play. Basically, helping people achieve the in-game goals they need to achieve to keep their own role-playing happening. At a very simple level, this can be helping out other guild members with getting all the pieces of their role-playing gear. At a higher level, it can be about setting up dungeon runs that tie into a plot, or encouraging individual guild members to create subplots that should (ideally) tie into the guild’s main plot.

These are challenging goals. And to accomplish all of them, you need two really good things in place.

First, you need a good concept for your guild. How are you meant to create a good platform for plot development if nobody even knows why the hell you’re all hanging around each other? What kind of form can your open-events take if your guild has no identity? (OK, so it’s less important for point #3, but still.)

The second, though, is it needs a really good, dedicated guild master. Perhaps even moreso than a raiding or PVP guild, a role-play guild lives and dies on its guild master and officers. They need to be creative, doing a lot of writing (or making machinima or audio plays!) to further the guild’s plots, while listening to everyone within their guild and ensuring they don’t tread on anybody’s toes. Players need to be reached out to and encouraged to develop their own plots and instructed on how to broadcast them so that others can participate. Funds and systems need to be put in place to assist guild-members with putting together their own role-play while not being open to abuse. And they need to liase with other guilds as well to organise cross-guild events, either intra or inter-factional.

It’s a huge role, and above all it requires dedication and fortitude. To anyone running a successful role-play guild, I salute you.

(My one hint? Don’t run a role-play guild when you don’t live in the same time-zone as most of your guild-mates.)

(Please, for the love of the light, Blizzard, give us an Oceanic RP realm.)


  1. “(Please, for the love of the light, Blizzard, give us an Oceanic RP realm.)”

    Seriously, please do. I’d be there on opening day.

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