Topic RP Guild Creation
Edited by Imperon on 7/7/12 3:50 AM (PDT)
Legaleeze Warning: Please do not repost this guide anywhere else. Feel free to link to it if you like it, but I don't want to find copies of my little essay on other forums or guild websites.
As a sequel of sorts to my essay "The Importance of Role Playing Guilds" (found at http://us.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/2325094651 ) I thought I'd construct a guide to lead prospective guild masters through the intricacies of creating and maintaining a role playing guild in its early days. This is less of a "do what I did because I'm great" guide and more of a "avoid the errors I made" guide. Each idea or lesson I present here is likely grounded in something I did wrong at some point in time.
I should probably establish my credentials before this goes much further. I started my first MMO guild in early 1998 when I was sixteen years old. As of this writing I've just recently turned thirty. Most of the years between that day and this have been spent leading a guild in one MMO or the other. The first time I lead a guild, I was awful. The guild I'm currently leading is over seven years old now.
Now you are considering embarking on the same amazing journey that I started half a lifetime ago. You have my congratulations, and my condolences. Being a guild master is one of the most rewarding experiences available to an MMO player. It's also one of the most taxing, exhausting, frustrating and sleep depriving experiences available to most anyone.
It should be stated that as soon as you start a guild, your guild master character will become your main if it wasn't before. To properly run a guild, you must devote a lot of time to it, especially in the beginning. This will become very clear to you as you read through this guide.
As a note, any time I refer to "the guild" I will almost always mean your guild. The context should be obvious. Any time I refer to "a guild" or "guilds" or "other guilds" unless otherwise noted I mean role playing guilds. This essay has rather little bearing on PvP, raiding or other such guilds.
Now let's get right down to business.
There are two three things you need to get a role playing guild started. They are A) a name, B) a workable concept or theme and C) other people. I know that these three things seem so obvious that it may look like it's a waste of space to even mention them. However, item C gets forgotten with almost painful regularity as beginning guild masters often find themselves having thought up a rough concept for a guild, chosen a name, bought a charter...and only then realized that they need other people to get their project off the ground.
The order I listed the three needed items is not actually the order you should go about when creating your guild. Items B and C are interchangeable really, but item A should only come after you have the other two. Let's look at them individually.
Other people are crucial to the creation and existence of a role playing guild. In a very few exceptional cases, a single person can use a guild name as a personal title of sorts and work that into role playing. However, that's a vanity title, not a real role playing guild. For the most part, a guild master is just someone with delusions of grandeur until he or she finds other people who share their vision and are willing to support it. Consider the intrinsic difference between two characters who both claim to be the general in charge of an army. Character A arrives at an RP event alone. Character B arrives with ten armored soldiers, each of whom refers to him as "general" instead of by his name. Character A is that annoying newbie you all know; or possibly a griefer. Character B might actually command some respect.
It is always ideal to find people to support your guild before you actually try to create your guild. Trying to recruit people for a guild of one takes frustrating to an entirely new level of wailing and gnashing of teeth. Already having a few people on the roster when you first step outside your comfort zone and put a recruitment add in the general channel gives you a much better chance of success.
How do you get these other people then? Ideally you have friends who want to create a guild with you. When creating my first guild, I had the guy who introduced me to MMOs and a few other people we'd met in game. When creating my current guild I had my brother, his room mate at college, the room mate's older brother (who was a friend of mine) and nearly a dozen other friends who all wanted to play the MMO that was coming out in six months called World of Warcraft. Chances are you don't have that many people to help or that much time to plan.
(Continued, multiple times)
Concept and Theme
Most situations aren't ideal. You probably don't already have people wanting to create a guild before you've even thought of a name. Which is why a concept or theme that works is so important. We have to break this down a little bit more.
A concept is the broadest idea about a guild. You should be able to sum up your concept in no more than six words. Most concepts don't take that many. Holy order. Mercenary company. Merchant house. Roadside Bandits. Militia. King's private guards. Thieves guild. Society of Assassins.
Each of these encompasses a massively broad set of possibilities for a guild, but at the same time, you've just limited yourself in such a way that you can easily start looking for other people interested in the same general idea. As a note: Concepts make horrible guild names. The broader an idea, the worse it serves as an identifier for reasons I will illustrate shortly.
Your guild's theme is a more specific version of the concept that will serve as the basis for recruitment as well as for the role playing that takes place within the guild. It enables guild members to present themselves to your role playing community at large in a coherent fashion that answers the basic question "what's your guild about?"
Themes may be as short as a few sentences or as long as a few pages. A band of dwarven thieves whose primary interest lays in stealing gold and ale would be an example of a shorter theme. Just as the back of a soft cover book establishes the premises of the story, so does a guild's theme establish the premises and flexible limitations of a guild. Your theme will change over time as the guild grows and matures.
Now you have a very basic idea of what your guild is about and you have (hopefully) a few other people who like the idea and will join up right away. Now the name. There's a key part of a name that gets overlooked all too often by people creating guilds: Names are only useful if they are specific. Single word guild names almost never work. I can think of one exception off the top of my head (a guild on my server called Conclave) and it's really the exception that proves the rule. For the most part role playing guilds are organizations and your name should make this clear. Cult of the Rising Sun, while a bit on the melodramatic side, suggests a group. Specifically a cult. Rising Sun, on the other hand, contains no particular reference or context and is the sort of name to be avoided.
Not all guilds are organizations in the cult, tribe, army etc sense. Some guilds may be the staff of a tavern, in which case a guild name like The White Dove Inn would work perfectly fine. Still, a name like The White Dove Inn is very specific. A name like Tavern Staff may look cool under your character's head but it begs the simple question "which tavern?" You do not want your guild name to be one that feels incomplete, or feel as though it's a specific reference to something the reader doesn't know about. This sort of name falls under the classification of an inside joke. This only inspires the rolling of eyes and if there's one thing no role playing guild wants, it's people rolling their eyes at your chosen name.
There are a few other rules to keep in mind. For instance, don't name yourself exactly after any group of npcs. If there's a bunch of npcs called "The 7th Cavalry" in your game world, and you want to use the concept and theme of that bunch, consider being the 11th Cavalry instead.
There are words to avoid in your guild name. Blood, Dark, Death, Crimson...basically all those words you thought were amazingly cool when you were thirteen. Just as you are no longer thirteen, those words will no longer sound amazingly cool to other players.
You can use foreign languages in your guild name, but be careful: Some foreign words should be avoided at all cost. Templar, for instance. It's Latin, roughly it means "of the temple". Which is to say that the Knights Templar were the Knights of the Temple. Today, however, Templar means "this is all I know about European history as it relates to war".
Foreign languages are problematic because they can be very recognizable. Latin, Japanese (even if most of your friends couldn't tell it apart from Chinese if you gave them two guesses) and German are the most recognizable and most commonly used.
This doesn't mean you can't name your guild in those languages, but try to find a local (i.e. in your game world) analog, or make sure the game itself makes some use of your chosen language internally.
How do you do this? Any game that tries to represent a Christianity-like religion that isn't Christianity is probably employing Latin on some level. Anywhere dwarves are represented as Scottish likely gives you access to any language of a Celtic and possibly Norse base.
Edited by Imperon on 7/6/12 5:13 PM (PDT)
Japanese (or most any Asian language) can be harder because it's had less impact on English and so tends to be more distinguishable as something foreign to the game world itself (so long as you're dealing with "Western" MMOs). As a role playing guild, you want to be an organization from within the game world, usually.
Guilds that come from outside the game world are possible. My own in WOW is an example. However, such guilds are few and far between and I still used a language (Welsh) related to the language assigned to the dwarves within the MMO world.
When employing any foreign language in the creation of a guild name, it is suggested to use that language as your inspiration instead of worrying about the particulars of grammar and spelling in those languages. This is also one reason that very common foreign words (like the templar example above) are best avoided. You do not want a name that is Latin, you want one that sounds Latin. It is exceedingly unlikely that you will use Latin/Japanese/German/etc for more than the guild name and perhaps a guild motto.
On a personal level, I am not above changing the spelling of words, using only rough translations and altering word order (i.e. using foreign words in English word order) to achieve the result I desire.
It's Alive! Alive!
Your guild now exists. You've got a few people on the roster, you have a name and a halfway complete idea what the guild's going to be like. Everything but the name will change over time. Before continuing, here's some very basic warnings about leading a role playing guild.
1. Recruitment is difficult. Most people do not want to help recruit because posting ads in public channels and dealing with potential recruits is going well beyond most peoples' comfort zones. A recruitment officer who is both willing to look for recruits and capable of actually adding people to the roster is invaluable.
2. People complain. While you may have officers who are the first to mention an issue because they are already working to tackle it, for the most part the guild member who complains the most about the guild not doing anything is the one who never makes time to be online when the guild has an event. Listen to each complaint, but realize that most complaints are not cause for great worry. No matter what you are doing, there will be people who complain.
3. Drama happens. Never advertise your guild as being a "no drama" or "low drama" guild. You're lying to your audience and maybe to yourself as well. Anytime you get more than one person in the same location, there will eventually be an argument. Find an effective method of solving the issues that reliably result in drama and you'll come closer to being a no drama guild than any guild that advertises itself as no drama has ever come.
4. You will not be appreciated. Except in very rare cases, you won't hear from your guild members how much they appreciate the effort you've put into making and running the guild. This doesn't mean they aren't happy to be a part of the guild but very few people other than guild leaders and higher ranked officers truly understand the effort and frustration involved.
There are lots of hosting services out there that will offer you a free website. Most of them are more trouble than they're worth. Try to find one where your website can be something like guildname.hostingservice.com as opposed to hostingservice.com/mmoname/guildsinyourfaction/eightysevendigitlongguildID.
Better yet, get a forum. I recommend forumer.com. It's easy to set up, you can make yourself half a dozen sub forums easily and it's a pretty easy system to learn for the administrator. A set of forums lets you do every important thing a website does, but without the need to worry about a web master who understands html or the like.
You can set up one forum for your rules, your recruitment process (which is very unlikely to be complicated at this point, we'll cover it later), a guild back story and the like. Another forum can be for applications (probably not necessary when you just start) and a third for basic chatter. As you find a need for more forums on your list, add them.
The Website: Voice Chat
Ventrilo's not really needed when you just start, but some people seem more inclined to join a guild that has it (Mumble, or whatever voice chat program you prefer will work just fine). I never mention a Ventrilo server to recruits and unless you really feel like shelling out the money to maintain a server before you have a stable guild, it's probably best to find out if any other RP guilds are willing to let you use their server for a while.
Edited by Imperon on 7/6/12 5:21 PM (PDT)
The Website: Rules
When you first create your guild, your rule set should be short and basic. Whatever rules you develop for in character actions, your OOC rules should amount to little more than "don't be a *@@!". In fact, don't be a *@@! is rule number one for any guild I've run.
As your guild matures you'll encounter situations that require the creation of a new rule. Make a rule then, not before you need it. Your guild may end up needing a "no religion talk" or "no politics in the OOC channel" rule. But then again, maybe your guild won't. The rules of your guild have to be a balance between the rules you want, the rules the guild wants, and the rules the guild needs. If you pay too much attention to one item without balancing your rules against the others then trouble is the likely result.
A guild does not grow unless it tries to grow. You may know a few guilds on your server that seem able to absorb new recruits almost by osmosis. They rarely or never openly recruit and yet they always have a line of people hoping to join their ranks. Such guilds are rare and they have something you don't.
Reputation. Those guilds you envy have built very strong reputations for being top notch associations of role players. You just made your guild, you have no reputation. Be careful, you're building one even now. Whining about how hard it is to recruit people (as can be seen on game forums all too often), belittling other guilds in your ads (or in casual conversation) or poaching from other guilds will build you a reputation quickly. It will not be a reputation you want.
Everyone has trouble recruiting. What separates a successful guild master from the many, many people who have tried and failed is the effort they put into recruitment. It's not fun to recruit, for most people. A few nut cases enjoy it, but they're also the sort of people who hug strangers. If you're lucky enough to have one of them in your guild already, encourage them to devote their effort to guild recruitment.
You will need an ad that can be safely posted in public channels. This ad must include your guild name (skip including the <> signs around it, you're only wasting two characters) and what amounts to a restatement of your theme or concept.
If your guild is a trading consortium of merchants and craftsmen called Elite Enterprises then a bare bones ad might go something like this: Elite Enterprises, a consortium of skilled merchants, tradesman and crafters is seeking ambitious individuals who'd like to turn a handsome profit. Contact me for details. ((RP guild. No blind invites.))
This ad is extremely formulaic and once you get a bit more comfortable writing ads, you won't need to worry about this so much. But here's the break down of how this ad goes: Guild name, brief mention of theme and/or concept, mention of sort of player desired, possible/likely goal for someone joining your guild, contact info and finally the OOC mention that you're an RP guild. The last sentence "no blind invites" may not apply to your guild. If it doesn't, don't include it in the ad. We'll discuss it shortly.
There are some do's and some don'ts when it comes to recruiting for your guild. Some are more important than others but they're all worth paying attention to.
Recruitment: The do's and don'ts.
1) Do make a macro for your guild ad. You'll be putting it up a lot and retyping it guarantees you'll have typos at times. Spell check this ad thoroughly.
2) Do target lowbie zones for recruitment. Once you've established your guild you may decide to slap a minimum level on recruits. If you do so, there's no law against telling someone that you'd like to have them in your guild, but you'd really like it if they'd hit level 10 first. The lower level a character is, the greater a chance exists that they'll be abandoned by their player.
That said, lots of players want to find a guild for their lowbie character and if you stick with it, recruiting a number of lowbies will not only help your roster but will make sure you have a group of guild members in the same level range. When members of a guild are in the same level range, they're more likely to team up for quests, dungeons or whatever else they're doing. This will foster a feeling of camaraderie and belonging that will help to keep these players in your guild.
3) Do post your ad in every zone you enter. It doesn't matter if there are four people, or forty. Let people know your guild exists. Even if they aren't on a character that might join your guild, they may have an alt.
4) Do follow your instinct. If the person who contacts you has a name that bothers you, whose typing isn't up to the standard you want for use of capitalization and punctuation, asks questions that put you on edge ("do I get guild bank access?" is a big alarm) or just rubs you the wrong way, don't recruit them. It's your guild, not theirs.
5) Don't let the trolls get to you. People will mock your guild name, your character name, the fact that you're a role playing guild, your choice of theme and anything else you happen to include in the ad.
6) Don't post your ad less than fifteen seconds after someone else has posted their ad. The exception is if they're spamming their ad and the only way to get your posted is to interrupt the spam.
7) Don't post your ad more than once every ten minutes in the same zone. If you are recruiting in a zone where there are multiple channels where guild ads are considered acceptable then space your postings in each separate channel so that someone else in all the channels still doesn't see your ad more than once every few minutes.
Recruitment: Blind Invites
A blind invite simply refers to the practice of inviting people with no real process. Any guild that advertises "PST for invite" is doing blind invites. Someone interested in the guild says "invite me" and they get an invitation.
Established role playing guilds usually have developed a list of characteristics they want in each member. Whether it involves the background of a character, their moral outlook on life, or the caracters race and/or class, they know what they want. Many RP guilds want to make sure that regardless of the character, the player behind them will mesh well with the current guild roster.
These guilds do not do blind invites. They require in character or out of character interview or they expect recruits to go to an RP event with current members. Whatever the requirement, they have a process through which a recruit must go that will last anywhere from the length of a question and answer session to several weeks before issuing an invitation.
Whether you are willing to engage in blind invites is up to you. Whichever way you go new guild should not have an overly complex or lengthy recruitment process simply because you do not have the reputation to defend making new recruits jump through any hoops. Limit yourself, at least at first, to the recruiter having a personal chat with an interested player in which they lay out what the guild is about in more detail than provided by a guild ad and perhaps ask the interested player a few key questions about themselves or their character before inviting.
Recruitment: Guild Poaching
Guild poaching is possibly the biggest do not there is. It's hard to overemphasize how important it is that - especially as the leader of a role playing guild - you do not prey on the rosters of other role playing guilds.
At first glance, guild poaching may seem like an ideal way to recruit. You know you're targeting role players, you may even know if the theme of the guild they're currently in is similar to your own. If you've already role played with them then you may have an idea of how to convince them to abandon their current guild and join yours.
Here's the problem: role playing guilds, like role players, rely on each other to survive. It does not matter how big your guild is, if every other guild out there is dead set against role playing with you, then you won't survive. Raid guilds and pvp guilds may consider guild poaching acceptable, but they are all in direct competition with one another for the best players in whatever activity they are pursuing. As a role playing guild, you are part of a community of guilds that function best when each of you can OOCly trust the others. That won't happen if you're always eying the other guilds' people.
On a more basic level, guild leaders (the successful ones at least) are jealous of their territory. By now you've discovered that recruitment isn't easy. It was no easier for those other guild masters than it was for you and they are going to become upset if you fore go the harder public recruitment and instead target people within other guilds.
On the flip side of this, if you can play nicely with other guild masters, then you may find them sending potential recruits your way when said recruit may not be a good fit for their guild. There are several guilds that can rely on me to point people their way if I think their guild is the best place for that particular player. Remember, role playing guilds thrive as a community, not as individuals. The stronger we can make other role playing guilds, the stronger our own guilds become.
Edited by Imperon on 7/6/12 5:22 PM (PDT)
Recruitment: Achieving Critical Mass
Critical Mass is a term you probably last heard in science class. When talking about a guild's critical mass the term refers to however many people you need on your roster so that people who log in do not feel alone. The exact number is different for different people, but if I notice my guild reliably having fewer than half a dozen members online at once then I start thinking we need to recruit more people. I'm much more comfortable when we have at least a dozen people online. These numbers won't be the same for your guild. Critical mass is something you'll recognize once you get it, it's not set in stone.
It is important to achieve critical mass because your guild is a community. You want guildies able to quest together, run dungeons together and role play together. If it's rare to have more than three people online at once, this won't happen.
Don't start biting your nails when your guild grows slowly. Ask any experienced guild master, meteoric rises for guilds are usually followed by equally meteoric falls. If and when you get lucky as a guild master and have a rush of excellent recruits...great! But the vast majority of the time recruits won't be falling into your lap.
You may post your ad twenty times in a day and not get a single bite. You may get six interested people with a single post. It varies greatly. The size of your server population, which zones you're advertising in, what part of the expansion cycle you're in and many other factors can conspire to either deny you any recruits, or have you turning them away.
At first, you're going to be spending a lot of time telling your current guild members to be patient. They'll want guild events. They'll want guild groups. They'll want lots of stuff. Until you get critical mass and your guild is partially able to sustain itself without your constant intervention...well, you'll be a very busy guild leader. Good officers are key for keeping your guild going, even at this early stage of development. More on officers later.
Successful recruitment, by which I mean not only recruiting people, but keeping them in the guild long term, is the only way you'll achieve whatever numbers are necessary for your guild to become self sustaining. Which brings us to the next topic.
Whatever sort of guild you want to look at, all guilds require a sense of belonging and satisfaction to retain players. As a role playing guild, you get a lot of help with this from your role playing community.
Maybe guild masters will try to keep a full docket of guild events going. They want to keep guildies occupied. While guild events are certainly beneficial to any guild, they'll last longer (and provide more of that belonging and satisfaction) if they occur naturally instead of because the guild leader arbitrarily decides something is going to happen.
This is where that role playing community, and those other role playing guilds, will help you out a lot. You don't need to invent a list of guild events. Many role playing guilds run public events. You just need to show up. Other guild masters will appreciate your support for their events, your people will enjoy role playing with people outside the guild, and it's one less thing you have to organize and plan yourself.
As a role playing guild, being an active player in the role playing community is a good way to attract new members as well as allowing your current members to role play within your theme while interacting with others. There's no real way to lose when you encourage your members to attend RP events together.
There is, however, a caveat. As a new RP guild, you very well may end up with people in your ranks who are new to role playing. However earnest a new role player may be, most of us started out role playing by sucking at it.
Whether you have such a player in your guild or not, maintaining a guild group or raid while at RP events and using that channel for OOC communication can help prevent problems from cropping up as frequently as they might otherwise do. You can head off potential problems if all your guildies know they can ask in raid chat for help if they're feeling confused or overwhelmed. Raid chat also lets you coordinate your guild's actions at an event. It provides a unique color of text for guildies to recognize as containing instructions or explanations they don't want to miss. As your guild grows, it also lets you make it clear that you're speaking to guild members at the current RP event, as opposed to those that aren't attending.
Player Retention: Guild Events
Attending other guilds' events doesn't actually excuse you from creating your own. But have no fear! A guild event doesn't need to be a big deal. It doesn't need to happen every day, every week, or even every month.
Your guild is still new. You don't need or want an elaborate event. What you want is very basic. You want your guildies to put down whatever they're doing out in the world, meet up at a convenient tavern, and knock back a few drinks while you get to know each other. It's an ice breaker, to get guildies used to each other.
Your first guild event will benefit strongly because it doesn't have a fixed format. The first time one of your guildies asks "when are we getting together again" be happy. They're starting to like each other. The first time one suggests that you all go do something out in the world instead of just sitting in a tavern, they're beginning to trust each other.
As your guild grows, this initial event can easily turn into something bigger that happens on a regular basis. Let it change as time passes, you'll have plenty of opportunities to create more rigid, structured events.
Player Retention: Guild Chat and OOC Channels
Many role playing guilds use guild chat in much the same way a raiding or pvp guild does. It's where you chat with your guildies, duh. More enterprising and creative guild masters use guild chat for role playing. Establish a location (such as your guild's HQ), or claim there's an enchantment that lets guildies talk to each other from across the world...whatever setting you choose, using guild chat as a role playing tool will help keep people interested in the guild.
It won't be easy at first, many role players are amazingly reticent to role play in what amounts to a chat room where they have no avatar and must describe their characters actions without the use of /lick or /fart emotes.
There are two basic chat styles that may be employed in guild chat RP. I call them Literary and Internet styles. Neither style is inherently superior, it's a matter of preference and many guilds have an in character guild chat where both styles may be used at the same time, though likely by different people.
Literary style is employed by those who think in terms of paragraphs and books. Spoken words are in quotations, they refer to their character in 3rd person for actions and when they post you have a sentence or a paragraph that could come from a (sometimes poorly written) book.
Internet style more directly mimics what you see in face to face role playing within the game. Spoken words have no quotes, but actions may be demoted with ** or <> or other visible markers.
It has been my experience that the role players with considerably more role playing to their credit, as well as those who write stories outside of the game are more likely to use literary style while those newer to role playing tend to adopt internet style. This is not a hard and fast rule, but I have found it to be a reliable generalization. Whichever style people use in your guild chat, the sort of emotes that come out like :) :( or other faces should be discouraged in guild chat RP.
With an in character guild chat, you have a problem. Where do your players talk to each other OOCly? Do you let OOC comments show up in guild chat with those convenient ((double parentheses)) around them? I don't recommend it.
What I do recommend is the creation of a semi-private OOC channel for guild members, alt characters of guild members, and possibly a few "friends of the guild" that you like to keep around. The name for this channel should be based off the guild name to make it easier to remember. Most guilds append "OOC" to the channel title. Looking back at our guild ad example, you might decide to make your channel GoldOOC. This name is both easy to remember and unlikely to be chosen to another guild.
Now your guild members can always role play with one another, no matter what they're doing in game, and they can hang out OOCly even if they're on alts that aren't in your guild. Such a system has the added advantage of encouraging guildies to add their alts to the guild. Even if they don't, your guildies will feel more connected to their guild since they will be with guildies even if not all those guildies are on characters in the same guild. The value of these connections cannot be overstated.
Edited by Imperon on 7/6/12 5:22 PM (PDT)
Player Retention: Vanished or Dead
Sometimes it happens. You recruit someone...and they never log on again. Or one day, they simply leave the guild. This happens for many, many reasons and is most likely (especially never logging on again) to happen with people you recruit at low levels.
If it becomes a real issue, establish a minimum level for recruitment. Ask former members why they left as soon after they leave as possible. Do not be confrontational, consider it an exit interview. You want to find out why they left, if there's anything you can do to change their minds, and (even if they won't return) if they have any suggestions for fixing whatever issue made them leave. Some players won't be helpful. Some will be downright rude. But some may return to your guild and provide you with insight on how to solve whatever issue prompted them to leave in the first place.
People leaving your guild will happen, no matter how successful you are. You're going to have to get used to it. While the steps I've mentioned should help you retain a great portion of the players you recruit, there will always be those for whom your guild simply doesn't pan out. It's not something any guild master has ever found a way to stop entirely.
If it wasn't clear, this section is about you, the guild master. Whatever your role ICly, OOCly you are the ultimate authority in your guild. This does not mean you need to be a dictator or a tyrant (although both are quite fun at times) but it does mean that you have to be firm with guild members who violate guild rules, be enthusiastic about guild members who achieve something (whether it's important to you or not) and sympathize with those who are feeling down.
As a guild master you are part father, part mother and part counselor for your guildies. At times you may also feel like an uncle whose nieces and nephews are always asking "what'd ya bring me?"
The Boss: Father Figure
As amazing as it sounds, you may encounter people in your guild who aren't used to having an authority figure around. Whatever your age, and regardless of whether a guildie is older or younger than you, at some point, you will end up being a disciplinarian when one of your people steps out of line. You may have to "spank" a guild member with demotion, suspension from the guild or even outright dismissal. Those tools, however, are something of a last resort.
You can only be an effective father figure if your guild members respect you. Earning that respect will take time but it's something you'll need to do. Every organization needs someone in charge and in a guild, that's the guild master. You took the job and this is part of it.
With the respect of your guild, your word is law and you must be careful to not abuse that power. Without the respect of your guild, you will shortly not have the stresses of being a guild master to worry about.
The Boss: Compassionate Mother
Arguably it's less fun to be the mother to a guild than it is to be the father. At least as the father you get to yell and tell people to snap out of it (I'm only sort of kidding). As the mother, you're concerned with lifting the spirits of disappointed guildies.
All sorts of things can put a guild member in a funk that - if not dealt with - can spread to the rest of the guild. Losing a loot roll, getting in an argument with another player or being mauled in pvp are some of the most common ailments. But real life can get to your guildies too. Family issues, problems with the boyfriend/girlfriend and many other things will afflict your people.
I know you're thinking it: I don't know how to deal with someone else's family issues! Don't worry, when people are feeling bummed about something, they usually aren't looking for anything more complicated than a little empathy and maybe a hug. If you're religious and a guildie is having trouble in real life (even, or especially if they don't want to go into details) offer to pray about it. I know from personal experience how much of a difference it can make to know that your guild master is praying for you.
Edited by Imperon on 7/6/12 5:23 PM (PDT)
The Boss: The Counselor
Do not give advice on issues you don't know jack about. Stick to empathizing with the problem without trying to diagnose it.
Even in your role as the counselor, it's much more important that your guild members know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's safe for them to tell you what's on their mind and what's got them worried today. You can never solve a problem in your guild that you don't know about and if your guildies don't feel safe coming to you with problems, there will be plenty of problems you never hear about.
As a the counselor you're not diagnosing clinical depression or admitting anyone to an asylum. What you're doing is combining the role of father and mother in such a way that your people know you'll fix their problem if you can, and at least be there for them if you can't.
How do you accomplish that? By fixing their problems if you can and being there for them even if you can't. I hope no one told you that being a guild master is easy, because no matter how successful your guild becomes, you aren't likely to escape this role.
This all sounds pretty complicated, doesn't it? Not to mention downright hard. It is and you can't do it alone. You need officers. Choosing officers isn't easy, usually. Sometimes someone joins the guild and it's quickly apparent that they are excellent officer material. Other times, you just have a job you need done and someone proves capable of doing it.
Then there's that reason for choosing an officer that guild masters don't tend to mention: Revenge. It sounds odd. But once you recruit someone who's certain they know the solution to every problem, never quit giving you advice on how to run the guild and are certain they could lead better than you, you'll understand.
There's nothing quite as satisfying as promoting this sort of blow hard to the lowest rank of officer and giving them a set of duties. Make them a recruitment officer. It's a job that never ends and is the sharpest needle to deflate such a person with.
As much fun as that is, for the most part you'll choose officers based on a set of qualities that doesn't add up to arrogant jackass. Those arrogant jackasses never get beyond the bottom rung of the officer ladder anyhow.
What qualities? In the order that I'll discuss them: loyalty, respect, trust, reliability, honesty, bravery and perseverance. What you might notice is that these are the qualities a guild master needs. That's no accident. Your officers are going to take on duties that you would otherwise have to perform yourself. They must possess many of the characteristics you need in order to succeed.
The perfect officer will have all of these qualities in abundance. But most officers - who are still worthy to hold rank - will show most of them, and you can build on the deficits.
If for any reason you don't think an officer candidate is loyal to the guild and to you, don't promote them. A disloyal officer is a dagger aimed at your back. An officer has power and authority over most of your guild (as your officer corps will never be nearly as large as the rank and file of your guild). If they aren't loyal, that's power and authority that will one day be turned against you.
Knowing for sure if an officer is loyal can be hard. It's often a good idea to make your lowest rank of officer little more than a glorified member of the rank and file. In the Lluchduu Ocheliad, this rank is "sergeant" and it's just a player note, not even an actual rank. It helps create a middle ground between base rank guild member and the actual officer ranks where a prospective officer can be tested.
There are a few things to look out for when considering promoting someone even to that lowest rank. If the guild member in question has a habit of going behind your back, they are not loyal. When the guild master makes a final decision (always be open to input, remember that, but at some point you must make a decision and see it through) a loyal guild member drops the subject and accepts their leader's ruling, whether or not they agree with it. A disloyal member starts a whisper campaign amongst the guild to try to get the decision changed.
A member who doesn't show up for guild events, but is still online and just "busy" is not putting the guild first. This sort of behavior, while annoying for a non-officer member, is horrible for an officer. Officers set examples and this sort of petty disloyalty can't be allowed.
Edited by Imperon on 7/6/12 5:23 PM (PDT)
Respect is a two way street. You can't promote someone you don't respect or it will become obvious to the rest of the guild as you will simply not support the decisions of a person you don't respect in the same way you support those of someone you do.
The flip side of this is that if an officer candidate doesn't respect you, there's no way you'll get the support from them that you need. Guild members will not retain loyalty to someone they don't respect. People who respect you as a guild leader respect the decisions you make. Look at someone's history before considering them for promotion.
You'll be handing a new officer keys to places they couldn't go before. Even if it's just officer chat, you're trusting them to hear things most of your guild doesn't. Make sure you trust someone before promoting them. If someone doesn't trust you, or the other officers, don't promote them. The members of the officer corps have to work closely together and this simply cannot happen if there isn't mutual trust.
Trust your own instincts, as well. If someone is the sort who never donates to the guild vault, but is the first to snatch a good item or stack of crafting materials, their behavior won't change once they're an officer. Everything they did before will be magnified once they have more authority. If you felt they were untrustworthy in little ways as a base rank guild member, they will simply be untrustworthy in bigger ways as an officer. If you aren't sure, ask other officers. A few other opinions may help weigh things one way or the other.
This one should be obvious. It comes naturally after trust. If someone can't be relied on to do what they say they'll do, and to carry out their duties as an officer, then they'll be a stumbling block in the way of anything you want done. Trust will be broken and respect will be lost.
A guild hopper is not reliable. Someone who never makes time for guild meetings (but doesn't ever miss their raid nights) is not reliable. Someone who takes long, unexplained afk's in the middle of dungeon runs is not reliable. These people may be great guild members. You may like them, a lot. But they are not demonstrating the qualities desired in an officer.
An officer's word cannot be false. They will be judges in disputes, the enforcers of your law and the standard by which the rank and file will behave. A dishonest officer is as bad for a guild as a dishonest cop is for his department. This is also integral to the function of bravery.
This circles back to loyalty, as well. An officer who organizes a whisper campaign against a decision you make (whisper campaigns are the favorite tools of people who can't be trusted with authority. Rumor mongering is all this behavior really is.) is not being honest with you. Anyone going behind your back is not being honest with you.
One of the scariest things for a guild officer to have to do is stand up to their guild master. But that's a quality you want in your officers. There have been several times when it was my officers who let me know that I was behaving poorly, or who called my judgment into question.
Your officers are the closest thing you have to a check on your own power. They have to know that you won't demote them, or bite their heads off when they stand up to you. Even if they do it in public, so long as they remain respectful, your officers must always be able to approach and council you safely.
Do keep in mind things like respect and honesty when looking for bravery. Was the person in question challenging you in a respectful manner? Were they being honest with you about your need to reevaluate something you've said or done, or were they simply parroting a popular opinion in order to aggrandize his or herself?
Remember how hard recruiting is for you? Your officers won't likely find it easier. You cannot have officers who give up on recruitment, a guild event you asked them to run, or anything else they're assigned to do.
A player who habitually fails to follow through is unlikely to suddenly shape up upon being promoted. Look for someone with more drive and desire to succeed. Look for the player that reliable meets the goals they set for themselves.
As an example, I recently put out the call for members of my guild to contribute Cataclysm level herbs and Volatile Life to my alchemist so I could make a push towards getting us an alchemical guild achievement. I got donations form a few guild members who sent me the herbs they could. Then there was one particular druid who sent me twenty-four hundred (yes that's 2,400) volatile life. That's someone with perseverance who also demonstrated a lot of loyalty to our guild. She's already on the track to becoming an officer and this behavior simply cements my desire to have her in my officer corps soon.
This is not really in the same category of desirable officer traits as the rest of the items in the list. But it's still something to look for. An officer in an online guild, unlike an officer in any real military or a manager in a civilian firm, is not being paid for their time. They are giving their time to the guild in a way that base rank members aren't.
Officers don't just attend guild events, they may be running them or helping to keep people moving the right direction. Officers don't just talk in guild chat, they police it. Officers don't get to stay quiet during an argument, they may be called on to be the 'bad guy' in telling the arguers to can it. They don't just occupy a slot on the guild roster, they help you run the guild.
Someone who is generous with their time, with their money and/or with their property (as is my druid guildie in the perseverance example) is someone who's going to be generous with their efforts as an officer. Generosity, however, can be harder to nail down than many of the other qualities. For that reason alone, I do not suggest leaning too heavily on generosity. It can be seen throughout the other qualities decently enough in most cases.
Loyal supporters, an engaging theme, a dedicated guild master, all of these things are necessary for a guild to flourish. Vast numbers, a guild name that strikes fear into the hearts of teenagers and your own Ventrilo server are not. The longer you run your guild, the more things you'll find that benefit your guild, and the more things you'll find that don't.
Do not be afraid to let your guild change and grow (within limits). The most successful guilds know which aspects of themselves are necessary to keep, and which can be safely modified. These aren't lessons I can teach you here. Each guild is unique.
I am not the only, or even the most experienced guild master you'll ever hear from. I'm quite experienced, yes. I consider myself a very successful guild master. But it certainly wasn't because I'm something special. I've been blessed with amazing officers, wonderful guildies and a role playing community that never ceases to amaze and impress me.
My fellow guild masters have been a source of much wisdom over the years. Listen to the guild masters in your role playing community, they have many lessons to pass on to you and much learning gained through painful mistakes that you would do well to avoid.
Don't be shy about asking a guild master you respect for advice when you encounter a problem you cannot solve on your own. Most of us are quite happy to lend an ear and our advice. We were all new to this guild master job at one point and we all know how easy it is to feel overwhelmed.
(The End, Finally)
Edited by Gentyl on 7/6/12 11:50 PM (PDT)
I highly recommend people read this. Even guild masters of established guilds can use this as a guideline. With your permission, I'd like to post this on the Pia forums, full credit of course to you.
When I joined Vinceremo on EQ, we started out with ten people who just enjoyed playing together. I'd log in and invariably someone would say, "Hey, J..., we're going to go run ABC, want to come with us?" Most of them were dark elves and I was a high elf which made for a lot of fun antagonism. Regardless of the cultural differences, we formed a very close bond.
We remained just the ten amigos for a long time and then other people started seeing how much fun we were having and wanted to join us. Vinceremo eventually grew to the largest raiding guild on the server. We fielded 70 man raids regularly and the gm often did 70 mans where we invited people from smaller guilds to come along so they could see end game stuff they wouldn't see otherwise.
The key to our success was fun. I and a bunch of others were always doing something fun in public even though it wasn't a rp server. Our GM used to always refer to his harem, so I came up with the brainstorm of creating a harem for him...of very ugly orgre ladies. We roamed around the most populated area of the server with names that included his name and asked anyone if they had seen our master.
Of course, our GM was less than enthused with the multitude of screenshots of his harem that popped up on the forums, but it was stuff like that which demonstrated we might be a top notch raiding guild, but more than anything, we had fun together.
When I created Pia, I had no intentions of having any members. It was supposed to be a one man guild. Fortunately, some very good and fun people found me and Pia grew. Most people who have been on CC for very long knew many of our older members or some of their alts, Tery, Dhaymon, Bebus, Twobits, Josepher, Greeggor, Mika, Origen, Xaxon etc. They were all loyal as the day is long and they knew how to have fun.
Pia was pretty much reborn last year and I've been really blessed to attract the same caliber of great people. If there's one bit of advice I can give anyone forming a new guild it's "have fun." It doesn't matter if you have 200 members if you aren't having fun. If you have ten fun people, like the original Vince did, that's much more valuable than having 60 people who are making you miserable.
Form bonds with other rp guilds. There are a lot of smaller guilds like Ettinjandy's Assassin's League, Ragefang's Ebon Sanction, Orwyn's SWCW, AAMS, etc I am more than happy to refer people to because the guild leaders are great people. I know if I refer someone to them they will be treated right. In other words, I trust them.
Pay attention to this essay. It's good advice. My last bit of advice...be patient. It takes time to build a successful guild. You may have to be content to be the ten man Vinceremo for a long time, but eventually, if you keep at it, you'll break the barrier. No one paid an extra $59 to get the successful guild addon. We all started at the same place. If you survive long enough, you'll have drama. You'll have people leave. You'll have people love you and you'll have people hate you. You'll have guild splits. But, you'll also have fun. It's worth the journey.
I'm tired, and I have a knack for saying the exact wrong thing at the exact wrong time, but hopefully you will catch my drift and I haven't stuck my foot in my mouth too badly.
Cowmoo, it really depends on your server and what connections you have to the RP community. If you know of a forum or chat channel where a lot of role players can be found, ask around before starting the guild. You can risk general chat in major cities and even trade if you're really brave.
Find out if there's anyone else who likes the concept and theme for the guild you're interested in starting. It's not as ideal as having the back up of your younger brother and a crowd of friends in real life, but even finding three or four other parties who'll sign your charter and help get things going (this sort has a higher chance of being decent officer material, especially for a new guild) then you're still infinitely better off than trying to get everything done on your own.
Our realm should be proud to have someone with as much dedication as Imperon; this is a tremendously well-written guide that's extraordinarily useful; I've been playing World of Warcraft since September of 2005, have led several guilds in that time (as guildmaster, office-who-was-the-power-behind-the-throne, interim GM while actual GM was taking a WoW break, etc.), and all of this information is 100% spot-on. It's worth the time to read, and there were some excellent points I hadn't thought of as I'm in the middle of building Ebon Blade RP for our realm (no one else has! I'm surprised!) and working to make my guild the "official" Alliance-side Ebon Blade representative. The recruitment info is of particular use and benefit to me personally.
I, likewise, shall be requesting this for sticky.