One of the strangest things I’ve noticed in the World of Warcraft is the phenomenon of role-play guilds who have no story. You know how it goes.
[1. General] [Imagm] New Warriors of the Guild recruiting! We’re a heavy RP guild looking for members in all races and classes.
[1. General] [Katafray] That sounds cool! What’s the story behind your guild?
[1. General] [Imagm] Huh?
[1. General] [Katafray] I mean, what kind of group is your guild?
[1. General] [Imagm] We’re a role-playing guild!
[1. General] [Katafray] Never mind.
Sigh. It’s frustrating, because in a lot of ways these guys are good role-players. They often have a great command of dialogue and the actual mechanics of play. But for some reason they can’t make that connection between the game mechanics and the game story. But a story is important. It governs the notion of how guild members interact, what guild meetings look like, what kind of open-for-all RP events you might throw, and how you handle the in-character chat channel issue. Above all this, the biggest reason is simple: Without a concept, there’s no in-character reason for all of your characters to hang out.
And there are so many good concepts! You can easily think of a bundle without any trouble:
- A Trade Guild: The original notions of guilds were trade associations, so why not make up a guild based around that same notion? This concept works wonders for groups who don’t really have any major goals over thatn roleplaying itself, since while it doesn’t lend itself too strongly to raiding or PVP, it accomodates both in-guild meetings (trade association meetings to discuss pricing issues, supplies and general gossip) and open-RP events (sales days) well, plus, it’s a great opportunity for the crafters to have a chance to shine. In-character chat channel ideas aren’t quite so strong in this concept, but the idea of some engineering based solution makes a degree of sense.
- A School or University: Jess and I have done this one ourselves, and we’re not the only ones. It’s a doozy of a concept, one of the best because it works so well for pretty much everything. Raiding? Excursions. In-guild meetings? Classes or teacher discussions. Open-RP events? Open days! If you’re a magical university (ala Hogwarts, but for adults) then you can have magical devices for in-character chat channels, or maybe even a school only long-distance telepathy spell, which has to be learned. (That way you can have fun with new students trying to get it right.) The only thing it doesn’t quite handle perfectly is PVP – Unless you have a rival school guild in the other faction. Then they’re clearly sporting events. You get extra points if you even have cheerleaders for them, /dancing in the sidelines.
- A mercenary outfit: If you’re a hardcore PVP-RP crew, then a set of mercenaries is one of the best setups that you can develop. There’s a clear sense as to why you exist, you can hire yourself out to other groups for raiding, and you have a built-in-mechanism for PVP of any sort: Just say you’ve been hired. In-guild meetings as easy to imagine, with discussion of current contracts and battle strategies; while open RP events could be either dueling demonstrations to show skill or the like. (A really fun entry requirement to the guild may be to beat one of the current members in a duel to prove your worth at one of these events.) There’s not quite the same justification for an in-character chat channel, though.
- The Renegades: Grr. As a Midnight Reverie, I have to give The Blacktooth Grin their due; they’re a fantastic PVP-RP guild, and they use this device. The notion is that they’re a breakaway political sect, one who doesn’t agree with the Horde/Alliance. They may be allied to the dissenters in Theramore, wanting to take the fight more directly to the orcs, or (like the Blacktooth Grin) focused on smashing the humans again. This has a lot of potential for guild meetings but it lacks somewhat in open-RP events. If you don’t want to host those, though, it’s brilliant for PVP-RP because you have an open mandate to participate in Battlegrounds and world RP.
There’s any number of options, and all of them can be fantastic. The point with all of them, though, is that they provide context. They link the role-play lore with the in-game guild mechanic. As such, they are emphatically better than some amorphous “RP guild”. If you’re playing a role-play guild, then give it a story.