20/07/2009 07:28:46 AM

All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one man in his time plays many roles.

Every guild tries to make itself unique in one way or another, and yet much of the time it's hard to tell many guilds apart. Most guilds say something like "we are a group of friends" who "focus on casual play" or "on raiding progression" or something which can make clear its priorities in the game, whether in PvP, PvE, or RP.

Roleplaying guilds have a special opportunity to distinguish themselves with all these elements and then some. In addition to raiding schedules, loot distribution rules, and whatnot, they also have a story -- some idea of where the people in this guild come from, and what binds them together. The story theme that binds them may be something as simple as striving to fight against all evil threats to their homeland, or it could be as involved as running a weekly faire, full of trading, performance, and all manner of festivities.

Most roleplayers seem to just drift into an RP guild based on who they happen to meet in the course of their travels and what sorts of friendships they are able to develop. I worked this way for a long time, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, and in the end I gave up, feeling increasingly frustrated that I wasn't drifting into guilds that could really meet my needs. Finally I decided to steer my own ship and I realized that the theme of any particular guild could make a big difference as to whether or not I enjoyed being in it.

The guild theme of my dreams

The guild I eventually chose is called "The Bearers of Light" on the Moon Guard server, and I chose it because its members pledge to be kind to others. It was the first and only guild I've ever seen in World of Warcraft that is explicitly founded around the spirit of benevolence and charity. I felt that it was a perfect match for me personally -- if you've seen movies like Pay It Forward, or read about ideas such as "random kindness and senseless acts of beauty," then you will have seen the kind of impact this theme can have on a group of people: once kindness itself is a goal, it makes life so much more livable.

This was not only important for me, but also for my main character, a religious draenei, who yearns to heal the world to the utmost of her ability, and strives to be positive in the face of adversity. There are many types of characters who might not fit as well into such a guild, but for me this confluence of what both my character and I want has been a real blessing.

Other players and other characters might desire something else from their guild. For example, there are many big achievers out there, who always want to "get things done" whenever they log into the game -- these would also say that kindness is good, of course, but they want to focus on making the most of their limited time online, rather than just chatting or doing nice things. Others would feel that a sense of adventure is the most important thing, and would want to join a guild based on clandestine intrigue. Another guild could focus on running their own special event -- anything from a restaurant to a player-run city, complete with organizing all the people to work there at specified times, creating an environment where other roleplayers can get together too.

Some common themes

By far the most popular guild theme is that of a traveling band of mercenaries or an elite group of soldiers in either the Alliance or the Horde, who make their living by going around and fighting the various evils that threaten Azeroth. Many good guilds grow so large that they find it difficult to encompass all their members various interests unless they stick to a generalized theme like this. Other guilds, however, especially smaller ones, find that they enjoy more focused themes.

A quick look at one Moon Guard guild listing shows a number of other roleplaying themes guilds may organize themselves around:

  • "Allied Brewers" is, as you might guess, a guild based on promoting different kinds of beer. This is a classic example of a guild where players come together and share things that they like in real life, but they do it in a roleplaying fashion. Such a guild needn't be very large, very accomplished in PvE or PVP, nor even last for a very long time. As long as its members come together for a while, and have a good time before they move on to other things, in my book that guild is a success.
  • "Tinker Town Special Ops" is a guild that recruits mostly gnomes, focuses on protecting the gnomish settlements, and of course, seeks to retake Gnomeregan. Gnomes have a very strong theme already built into their race, so some people finds it works well to form a whole guild around those issues. This guild in particular also has a spy theme, which is also successful -- many guilds enjoy thinking of themselves as a secret branch of elite secret soldiers in their respective factions.
  • "The Stormwind Guard," as you might imagine, guards Stormwind. They don't seem all that different from the typical "protect the Alliance and defeat the bad guys" type of guild, but their "official" sets of Stormwind-themed RP armor can go a long way to creating a real sense that they really are guards in Stormwind, with a real sense of belonging to that specific place in the game.
  • On the Horde side, "Dark Market" is one of a very few "evil" guilds, which "spread both doom and fear." They are based in Silvermoon City and seem to be something like an elven mafia. "Evil" guilds like this can appeal to people who want to play the bad guy now and then, as well as those who would like to offer other "good guy" guilds some sort of adversary to work against for roleplaying sake.
  • "Emeraldwing Academy" is a school, with classes, professors and everything. Granted, it obviously can't be as involved as a real life school would be, but it provides a university-like atmosphere for your characters to roleplay in.
  • "House Silvacce" is an example of a popular trend around the time that Burning Crusade came out, where blood elves in Silvermoon City split themselves up into various "noble houses" and then started all manner of intrigue and scheming with one another. This was not only a theme of one guild, but of many, and it worked well when a number of guilds played along.
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