At their best, guilds form the heart of a good MMO social experience. Guild mates become friends with common goals, a shared identity, and unifying sense of purpose. At their worst, guilds can produce drama that ruins the game for players. This article will help prepare you for the obstacles and pitfalls you may encounter. In the end, however, guilds are about people—and about getting along. Set expectations for guild member behavior, communicate clearly and openly, and remember you’re all playing a game to have fun!
In general, guilds run best with only the lightest touch from the guild master and officers. Some guilds choose to agree to a charter, which outlines the guild’s objectives, expectations of members, and rewards members can expect. For example, a guild focused on the alliance system might require players to participate in the extractor competition for a certain number of hours each week. Other guilds might expect players to participate in at least one guild dungeon run per week or do a /dance in the middle of Castanica every night.
Whatever the expectations are, state them clearly, and get everyone to agree.
Inevitably, a question or argument will appear that no one accounted for. Have a system to handle this and communicate this system clearly to all guild members before trouble appears. It may be that all the guild officers vote on the question, or perhaps the guild master makes arbitrary rulings—whatever works for your guild is fine, so long as everyone buys into the system.
TERA provides many guild resources (see the TERA guild guide for how to use these resources), but many guilds look to external assets to help organize guild information and present their face to the gaming world.
A guild website can be a real asset when it comes to organization. Members can list the levels of their main characters and alts, what gear they can craft, and their availability for dungeons, BAMs, and nexus raids. Guild officers can post scheduled events so prospective members can see whether a guild’s activities fit with their style and schedule. Guild websites are also good places to prominently display the guild charter or bylaws, as well as any membership requirements and the rules governing disputes.
Because TERA is an action MMO, it can be difficult to type in the midst of a battle. While players can customize the combat exclamations, it might be easier to speak your commands over a voice client, like Ventrilo or TeamSpeak. Both offer channels so the party venturing into the Citadel of Torment doesn’t have to talk over the party of alts vanquishing the Bastion of Lok.
Your guild will need to find the right ratio of officers to members, but picking the right people can make a guild, while choosing the wrong ones can break it.
As for recruiting players into your guild, take some time to discuss (and agree upon) what kind of guild you want to run. Are you casual? Hard-core dungeon runners? Mostly social? Decide what sort of commitments you want from prospective members as well. Do you want everyone standing at the entrance to the dungeon five minutes before the start of a run? Will you require everyone to contribute five Catharnach Awards a week? These decisions not only affect how you run the guild, they will determine the type of players you can and should recruit.
If players want to participate heavily in the alliance system, decide beforehand how you’ll change leadership. Remember—while any alliance member can be eligible for echelon, only guild masters can be exarchs or commanders. Those players also have full run over the guild bank and the money in the guild account. Understand up front just how much trust you’re placing in another player before you hand over the reins of power.
Whatever policies and criteria you want to use for your guild, write them all down and make sure all prospective members read and agree to them. You’ll save yourself a lot of drama down the road.
There’s no one rule for what makes a good guild officer. Some guilds simply choose from their closest friends or fellow founders, others pick players who routinely help guild mates. Larger guilds may run from a small squad of leaders, while smaller guilds may have little to no formal structure. Choose what works best for you. It’s important that the entire officer corps have a common vision for the guild. Otherwise, schisms can develop, and drama in the officer corps is a death knell for a guild.
Guild officers often enjoy guild invite privileges. Some even have an officer in charge of recruitment (particularly in more hardcore guilds that need to grow but also try to be selective about membership). Some guilds even form a council of sorts, voting on changes to guild policy or deciding when troublesome guild members need to be censured (or removed from the guild). Other guilds give separate officers tasks and titles to go with them. In addition to recruitment, you might have a bank officer, raid leaders, dispute officers, and others.
As a guild master, know that the most devoted officers (you included) may end up working more at managing the guild than playing the game. It can become a second job, and often produces as much stress as a full-time job. Watch for officer burnout, and find a way to give your most valuable officers a break so they don’t fall apart on you.
Guild masters wield a remarkable degree of control in a guild. In addition to guild invite privileges, they control who can access the guild bank, and they set the guild messages. They hold the ultimate authority over all members and are the only ones empowered to hold exarch or commander positions in the game. Guild masters are the only characters who can withdraw money from the guild bank, and they select the guild emblem and determine when to level the guild up.
You can change guild masters. However, only the guild master can promote someone else to the rank of guild master, and both the guild master and the character to be promoted must be in game at the same time to make this happen.
The easiest method is to utilize the guild bank. While any member of the guild can deposit to the bank, only those with guild bank privileges can remove items from it, and only the guild master can withdraw funds. However, if your guild isn’t applying for an alliance, there’s not much need to deposit money into the guild bank.
As guilds often form for the purpose of conquering content and acquiring in-game wealth, it’s natural to wonder how treasures will get distributed. To prevent hurt feelings and misunderstandings, we recommend that guilds adopt a system, explain it to everyone, and stick to it. Setting everyone’s expectations early can minimize guild drama.
It also wouldn’t hurt to have a backup plan for when circumstances change.
Remember, however, that no matter which system you pick, equipment in TERA isn’t as vital to player success as player skill. The gear helps, no doubt about it, but your dungeon run won’t fail because Fzwzll didn’t pick up the latest and greatest disc, and Legolas1337 will, in fact, survive if a slayer wins the roll for a particularly awesome chest piece.
Take a deep breath. Relax.
It doesn’t get any easier than this. A piece of shiny gear drops after a fight and everyone rolls on it. Highest roll wins. Simple and straightforward. There are no mechanics to track, and the randomization ensures no one can game the system. Sometimes guilds enforce a “mains before alts” rule (also known as “need before greed”). This rule simply means that the character rolling must be able to benefit from the treasure (equip it immediately). So, if a lancer and two berserkers can all use a new breastplate, the sorcerer can’t roll on it, even if she has a metal-wearing alt. If they don’t need the breastplate, however, then anyone can roll on it and distribute it to an alt—or sell it, enchant it, or whatever else.
The downside to this system is that participation in dungeon runs is the limiting factor. If you’re in a guild of eight, five people run a dungeon while three people get left out. Even if you run it again, two people gain extra chances at treasure. While rolling for treasure is a simple system, the potential inequities often push guilds to other methods.
Sometimes guilds make the decision to gear up certain characters in order of priority. Usually, the guild wants well-equipped tanks and healers (because that makes dungeon runs easier for everyone) and decides to award the best equipment to them first. Then the guild doles out whatever they don’t need to other characters. This can work well for new guilds eager to tackle bigger challenges, or whenever players are changing roles in the guild. It also works when bringing alts into regular guild activity.
The downsides to the system are its arbitrary nature and the potential for characters not in the priority queue to wait a long time between upgrades, potentially weakening the group over the long run (and providing grist for guild drama). For short term usage, however, role priority can work—provided everyone agrees to it.
DKP (or Dragon Kill Points) is a term that harkens back to EverQuest. Players earned DKP by participating in guild attacks on the dragon bosses, Lord Nagafen and Lady Voss, and could spend those points on the terrific gear dropped by the dragons. The system spread as players ventured into new MMORPGs, but the term stayed the same.
In theory, DKP systems are great ways to distribute loot because players who participate more earn more points—thus they should earn better rewards, or so the thinking went. Guild masters could also reward good behavior (such as showing up on time to guild runs, providing materials to the guild bank for crafting high-level gear or consumables such as potions).
One problem is that players eventually earn every piece of gear they could want, but they don’t stop earning points. When the next set of gear becomes available, say through an expansion, regular dungeon runners who were sitting on a huge pool of DKP could spend whatever they desired, even if it was more than an item might actually be worth.
Inflation, in other words.
The other problem is that clear divisions form between players who’ve got the best gear (and the most DKP), and those who don’t. It’s difficult for new guild members to catch up, and they frequently spend all of their DKP on one piece of gear because they’re trying to outbid a veteran member of the guild.
In an effort to counter inflation, other DKP systems emerged that used fixed pricing. Ye Olde Big Stick of Magic would no longer cost whatever someone was willing to pay, but anyone interested would speak up and the guild master/dungeon leader/loot master would check each player’s pool of DKP. Whoever had the highest amount won, the DKP was subtracted from their total (in theory dropping them down the list for the next piece), and life went on.
Perhaps the most important thing to understand about DKP loot distribution is that it requires meticulous record keeping and clear rules for how DKP gets awarded. It becomes work at this point, although there are programs that can help manage it all for you. There are a number of DKP systems and variants. Guilds would do well to research them thoroughly before adopting one.
Suicide Kings is the casual answer to DKP. It’s designed to be fair but not comprehensive. It generally provides no incentive for good behavior, extra effort, timeliness, etc. On the other hand, it doesn’t require an MBA in spreadsheets.
Basically, players are put on a list, ordered by seniority, randomization, or something completely arbitrary. When loot drops, the person who wants it and is closest to the top of the list gets the gear—and then drops to the bottom of the list. Players who participate in dungeon runs move up and down through the list, but players who aren’t present don’t—which means missing a dungeon run isn’t a complete disaster. If Princess.Leia gives birth just before the guild tackles Balder’s Temple, she’ll still be number eight on the loot list when she returns. Number nine will advance directly to slot seven if someone above them both gets a piece of loot, which benefits that player, but doesn’t penalize Leia.
Suicide Kings is a relatively simple and forgiving system that works well for more casual guilds—or hardcore guilds not interested in marrying a spreadsheet. This system does have a downside as well, though, when it comes to new expansions and new uber gear. People left at the top from the previous expansion will get the first shot at the new gear, which may or may not feel fair to everyone else. For example, it’s entirely possible for Leia to sit at number seven for months while she’s out with her new baby. But if she comes back just in time for the next expansion, players below her might get miffed when she gets the very first Uber Scepter of Total Hotness that drops.
If you are running Suicide Kings, you will want to have a plan for what happens to the list when a new expansion comes out, and make sure everyone in the guild knows this plan and buys into it. As with DKP, there are variations to this system, and spending some time researching them will be well worth your time before you decide to use this system.
If you didn’t notice, there is a common thread running through this guide:
Communicating your rules and expectations clearly to all members of your guild (and to prospective recruits) will go a long way toward reducing guild drama so everyone can just sit back and enjoy the game.