What's in a Guild?

by Zed

Look at any massively multiplayer
online game (MMOG) forum and you will invariably see the section where
guild leaders introduce their guild to the world. Look through that
list of guilds and you will see dozens of different announcements, each
one describing the guild and its play style, and often pointing you to
a guild web site, each one offering a different degree of polish and

The question I've often wondered though is how many of these guilds
really succeed. How many last the duration of the game, or even manage
to start up in the first place?  And even more, the question
lingers in the back of my mind as I glance through various guild
listings: Why should I join Black Drake over the Scarlet Skulls?

What should we be looking for?  What's in a Guild?  What's in
a successful guild?

The Guild's Purpose

In most MMOGs a guild's purpose is simple: provide ready access to a
list of people who hopefully will play the game in the same style as
you, and that you can call upon to form groups and tackle game content.
From that starting point, guilds expand and grow and define their

In games like EverQuest (EQ) you could end up with a raid guild, people
who could dedicate hours and hours of game time in large numbers to
tackle high end content. World of Warcraft (WoW) is similar in its end
game goals--you needed a good guild (or alliance of guilds) to complete
the 40+ person raid encounters. In Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO)
raid content is href="http://ddo.tentonhammer.com/files/gallery/albums/Exclusive_Screenshots/Oro.jpg"> alt=""
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 135px; height: 150px;" align="left"
hspace="4" vspace="2">on a much smaller scale, requiring just 12
people to complete. That's hardly EQ style raiding, and it hardly
requires a guild of 100 members.

The overriding purpose then, especially in DDO, is to provide a place
for like-minded people to gather and form groups, and converse in
private guild chat. And each one of the members joins because of that
initial recruitment post in the forums--they join because of the
guild's style of play and its name.

The Guild's Style

By far the most important aspect of a guild is the style of play it
wants to adopt. Are the Black Drake a roleplaying guild?  Is the
guild called Pussy Cats a guild for cat lovers to play together and
chat about cats? Is The Conglomerate a guild that requires 24/7 players
with the aim of being the first to complete all content?

This information is often posted with the guild announcement. But does
style alone make for a successful guild?  While it's important,
when looking for a guild, to find one that suits the play style you
want to adopt, until you join that guild it will be hard to determine
exactly how that style will be enforced, or if its at the right level
for what you are looking for.

Guilds can vary even within the same style. For instance, a roleplaying
guild might advertise itself as an RP guild, and when you join you may
find that RP expected is to the max--thous, thees, absolutely no
talking out of character, and very strict rules of enforcement. Or the
RP style could simply be one that asks members try to stay in character
and mark any out of character chat accordingly (in brackets or with and
OOC: ), though RP isn't strictly enforced.  Both guilds can claim
to be RP guilds. One might be what you're looking for, and the other go
totally against what your concept of an RP guild should be.

After you've picked a guild that sounds like it has the style you want,
the next two important aspects of a guild are its requirements for
joining, and its rules.

Joining a Guild

Some guilds have a policy of allowing anyone and everyone to join at
the drop of a hat.  Want to join the Slicers? Just contact D'Slica
for an invite to the guild. Other guilds require players to commit to
playing 12 hours a night every night. Still others have a trial process
where people join as trial members, then at a certain point they can be
nominated and voted on for approval to join the full ranks of

Personally I'd question guilds that offer invites out left and right to
all and sundry. How could an RP guild ensure that Bob the warforged was
an RPer and not someone who wanted to get to the top as fast as
possible?  Without any kind of trial or introduction period the
answer is simply...you cant. On the other hand, the harder it is to
join a guild, the less likely it is people will want to join,
especially if it's a new guild just for this particular MMOG and not
one with an established name.

Rules of the Guild

Another important guild consideration is rules. How strict is the
guild?  We mentioned earlier about the RP guild that enforced 100%
RP.  They might have a 1 strike and you're out mentality. Slip up
and boom, you're kicked out of the guild.  I remember the famous
charter of my guild several years back; it was longer than this
article, listing all the rules for the guild.  Numerous people
where put off by the charter. Over the top lists of do's and don'ts can
hurt guild membership or longevity as much as the free recruitment of
members can.  

Rules are important though; without them the guild collapses into a
chaotic amalgamation of people all doing their own thing. For example,
in DDO, an RP guild really does need a set of rules to explain to
members how it expects them to RP.  

Rules also define the rights of the members. The majority of us live in
countries where freedom of speech is a given--we expect to be able to
speak our minds. But this can cause issues within a guild, especially
those which offer forums and places to discuss things. Laying out rules
on what can and cannot be discussed in public or forum chat, and the
sort of language players can use, as href="http://ddo.tentonhammer.com/files/gallery/albums/Exclusive_Screenshots/melee_wide.sized.jpg"> alt=""
style="border: 0px solid ; width: 150px; height: 76px;" align="right"
hspace="4" vspace="2"> well as how members are expected to behave
towards each other, is very important...as is being upfront with
members about expectations.

What about officers; the guild leader?  What are their rights? How
do you become a leader or officer?  Some guilds keep it in
house--the friends of the guild leader are appointed officers and
that's that. It works for some guilds, generally small ones, but guilds
who wish to grow and accomplish much in the game need a better method.
That said, membership voting of officers doesn't always work either.
This writer's experience of that method of appointment has been mixed
over the years.

What's in a (Successful) Guild?

Guilds rise and fall on a number of things: members, rules, play style,
expectations of members, and even the game the guild is trying to
cover. It takes a lot of hard work and effort to build a successful
guild that is more than just a few friends banding together to play a
game. This is even more important if the guild wants to succeed beyond
just a single game.  

The most successful guilds span a number of games and years. But guilds
like that don't simply happen overnight. A lot of effort, time and
dedication are needed by individuals to pull the guild together and
grow beyond a single game. Firm adherence to rules and standards, which
all members are pointed to, is key. Many of these guilds actually work
on a dictatorial basis. 200+ members simply cannot be given full voting
rights to every decision that needs to be made. And often membership is
strictly controlled with trial periods, nominations, sponsors and
voting occurring in order to be accepted into the guild as a full

To be successful a guild should be simple. Members should understand
upfront what's expected of them, both in game and on the guild's
website or forums. This will ensure that all the people joining will be
of a like mind, playing to the same goal, whether it's casual play or
rushing through quests to be the first to hit the level cap or complete
all the content.

Whether you are looking for a guild or planning to set one up, I hope
this article will give you a little insight in what to look for and how
to be successful.

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Last Updated: Mar 29, 2016

About The Author

Karen 1
Karen is H.D.i.C. (Head Druid in Charge) at EQHammer. She likes chocolate chip pancakes, warm hugs, gaming so late that it's early, and rooting things and covering them with bees. Don't read her Ten Ton Hammer column every Tuesday. Or the EQHammer one every Thursday, either.