Posted by: Sean | May 15, 2009

God and Mammon: The problem with hybrid role-play guilds.

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. – Matthew 6:24

This post is inspired by Anna’s and Falconess‘s guild, the Wildfire Raiders, winning WoW Insider’s Guild of the Month for April. The Wildfire Raiders are, no question, a staggeringly good guild – They do lots of role-play, they kick the heck out of end-game with Totally Raids, Inc. and they organise live meets.

In short, they are, like most role-play guilds, a hybrid – They do role-play but also enjoy raiding. And why not? The game has a lot to offer, and you’d be a fool not to make the most of it…

But then there are the niggling issues of hybrid guilds.

This is, once again, pulling from my experience with my own guild – Who I hasten to add are a great bunch of people. The below examples aren’t based on problems we’ve been having (at least, not all of them) and we get by the problems. But I don’t think anyone would deny the problem exists. Much as the quote above suggests, hybrid guilds attempt to serve two (or more!) masters, and this choice works its way into every little part of guild operation.

For example: Recruitment.

Let’s say that you’re an RP/raiding guild. When you’re recruiting, which skill do you put higher? Great role-players do not always make great raiders, and vice versa. Indeed, there’s some reasons to believe it’s often an inverse relationship. (“For Elune’s sake, you little twit, wear some better gear!” “Go to hell! My warrior is a master of the art of farqyhoo and this is the best armour his religious beliefs allow him to wear!” “BUT IT’S CLOTH!”) Some people really are great raiders and role-players, but often it’s a case of excelling in one and being OK in another.

Now, there’s a number of approaches to this. You could say, flat out, “We’re a role-playing guild first and foremost; if you don’t role-play, you don’t come in.” Which is fine, but I hope you enjoy frustration in raiding – Even if you do have a core group of great raiders, you will quickly find that core more and more wants to play with each other and ‘leave the deadwood’ behind.

You could divide it up. Raiders over here, role-players over there, and there will be some crossover. Will there? Like it or not, one group or the other will tend to predominate. People have friends. The role-players try to pull in more role-players, swinging the focus to their end. The raiders do the same. OK, you say, fine. To balance it up, we’ll close off recruitment to one or the other for a while. Great: If you can tell from an application if someone’s really intending to raid or role-play more. (Hint: You can’t.)

And in the end, this kind of approach can end up not with one guild, but two under a single banner. It’s a difficult problem to resolve.

Or how about scheduling?

We all know it: There are prime times in Warcraft. (Roughly, I’d say, about 8:30-9:30pm EST on weekdays, and weekends.) These are the times when most people in America (for American realms) are home from work, yet not yet asleep. It’s when the most number of people can, and will be on.

So which gets scheduled, Binky? Do you put your RP-focused guild meeting on at that time, thus ensuring that the majority of the guild can attend it and the most role-play can be generated? Or is that when you make your raid attempt, so that you can get twenty-five people ready to hit Ulduar?

Now, the obvious answer is: RP raids. Yes, but even there, you begin to have to make choices. Do you choose optimal strategy, or story? Do you take time for story, or try to finish the raid as fast as possible so you can make another run, and get the better gear?

In the end, there’s no good answer to problems like these. You can only manage. And it’s worth noting, most guilds do!

If I had to offer some advice, I’d say this:

  1. Prioritise, don’t divide. Don’t be an RP/raiding guild. Be a raiding guild who role-plays. Or a role-play guild who also does some raiding. Make it clear from the outset which focus your guild has, and if you (as an officer) begin to sense it shifting, bring it up when you sense the shift. Organise a discussion about that shift.
  2. If you shift, redefine. Let’s say you do sense a shift from raiding to role-play. The storylines are kicking up, less and less people are logging on to raid and more and more want more scenes for role-play. Or vice versa. If you’ve agreed the shift has occurred, consider formalising it. Rename your guild, redesign your web page. If it’s a major shift, don’t pretend to be who you’ve always been. Let players who aren’t interested in role-playing bail with an excuse.
  3. Create officers for each branch, but make sure they’re interested in both branches. You don’t want to create camps. But you do want different groups to feel represented. So make a raiding officer (who is a role-player) and a role-play officer (who digs raiding) to not only voice the concerns of those who feel left out, but to help explain to those people the motivations of the other side.

Running any guild is hard. Running an RP guild is arguably tougher, since very few are ‘pure’. But if can be done.

And congratulations to the Wildfire Raiders for doing it.


  1. I think they mischaracterized us to some extent.

    The Wildfire Riders is not an RP/Raiding guild.

    We are an RP guild that has some members that also Raid with a non-guild affiliated, in-character raid group called Totally Raids, Incorporated. There is no requirement for WFR people to be part of TRI. And there’s no requirement for ANYONE in TRI to be a part of any guild at all.

    Both the Riders and TRI are run by Tarquin, but they are separate entities, managed separately, and with no overlap between them.

    WFR does not EVER consider raiding expertise as part of our recruiting. (Well, we don’t recruit either, but such is how it goes) TRI, however, has some members that do not roleplay. That’s fine, at its core TRI is a raiding group that also RP’s and we don’t force anyone to write stories or have in-character interactions, only to have a good time with those of us that do.

    If the WFR get together to do a “guild-ish” RP run (we do a lot of our RP with non guildmates), that’s very different than a progression oriented TRI run – different leadership, different style, etc. 🙂

    So, in essence, you’re absolutely right! Doing both is really really hard.

    But WFR is truly a hardcore, RP only guild, and the raiding we do is nearly always separate. We have guildmates that have never gotten past level 60 (ok… I think she’s 63 now?)!

  2. Also – Wow Insider typo’d our guild name.

    It’s “Wildfire Riders” not “Wildfire Raiders”


  3. The problem with a pure RP guild is that you invaribly lose members to raiding guilds. I’ve watched it happen time and time again. Thus, we make due with hybrids.

    Or people do what I do, and have some toons in raiding guilds and alts in RP guilds (on a different server, in my case).

    • Ambrosyne, that. Full stop. I can’t tell you have many overly promising roleplayers I’ve lost to raiding. ><

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