Guild Chat: Planning a long break from your MMORPG guild

Welcome along to Guild Chat, the column through which the Massively Overpowered community can discuss and solve a whole plethora of guild-related issues other readers are facing. In this edition, reader-in-need Gwen is seeking our help with finding sensible ways to take an extended break from the guild she leads. She recently has received the happy news that she is pregnant and wishes to plan ahead for the time leading up to her baby’s arrival and that crucial bonding period thereafter, and she is thinking of taking maternity leave of sorts from her MMO of choice to welcome her new bundle of joy.The trouble is that she does wish to go back to her gaming as soon as she feels ready and doesn’t wish to retire her guild, so Gwen is looking for advice on how to conduct some sort of handover so her guild doesn’t die a slow death in her absence.

Read below for Gwen’s full submission and my response, and don’t forget to leave your helpful advice in the comments too.

Hey, Tina, I’m hoping you can help with this one being a woman. My partner and I have been trying for a baby for a couple years and I have finally become pregnant, but I don’t know what this means for my game time in the future. I am a guild leader and have a thriving roster that I don’t want to bin and I cannot see my life changing so much post-baby that I won’t find time to game. Having said that, I’m realistic about my need to take some sort of leave for several months while I gear up for birth and meet my first child and adjust to the demands of early parenthood. Any advice for being able to take that break without destroying the guild I worked so hard on would be welcomed.

Before I launch into it, many congratulations on your delightful, long-awaited news! I’m not a mother myself, but many of my gamer friends have made the transition into parenthood and I’m sure I’ve got you covered with some advice that will make your “maternity leave” go smoothly.

Ensure you’re confident in your officers

The first question I always ask when a guild leader plans a break from his or her MMO of choice is this: How well do you trust your officers to do your job, warts and all, for the entire duration of your break? I’m hoping that the answer is that you’re confident in at least one officer’s ability to hold down the fort during your absence, but if not then there are still options to help make your break run smoothly. The great thing about knowing in advance that you’ll need time off is that you’ll have time to prepare both your officers and the wider guild community for your absence, not to mention the fact that you’ll be able to stockpile guild provisions and generate a schedule before then.

Think of it as handing over any role in which you have some sort of responsibility: Should you have ever have seen someone prepare their workmates for a long holiday or sabbatical leave, for instance, you’ll know that preparation is critical to a smooth transition. Work out the kinks now: Determine exactly who is in charge of what operations in your absence and ensure those people are confident in carrying out the roles you’ve tasked them with. If you spot any gaps that remain unfilled, now is the time to train up a new officer or two to pick up the slack. Ensure that your guild’s usual calendar of events can run without you, otherwise, you could see a dip in members over your break.

Don’t give up anything you’re not willing to lose

One of the most common mistakes that guild leaders make when taking a break is handing over control of things they do not wish to lose. Remember that once you hand over ranks or mess with your guild permissions that you have to be OK with absolutely the worst scenario predictable: The minute you hand over control of the guild, you need to steel yourself to the fact that you could lose it indefinitely. I’d urge you to hang on to the leader title and modify the permissions of officers where needed so they walk the fine line between allowing them to freely do their jobs and enjoy the guild while also limiting the chance of them grabbing all the guild provisions they can and running.

I’ve seen it happen before where guild leaders have mistakenly promoted someone or doled out permissions to appease certain characters only for it to turn nasty suddenly. In-game support is usually not helpful in cases where a guild leader willingly handed over control by adjusting guild ranks or promoting members to give them further access to the guild, so be aware that losses sustained in this way could very well be permanent. A daily withdrawal limit per officer that falls in line with usual guild requirements is fitting while you’re not around to keep an eye on the guild coffers. If one particular member needs more access to funds than the daily limit because they use guild funds to craft your raid consumables or something, place them in a separate rank that is technically below these officers so they can use a swift demote if liberties are taken to prevent ongoing damage.

Not playing doesn’t mean not checking in

Even stressed-out new parents with serious cases of baby-brain need a break and some adult company, so take this as permission to do just that, mama! As part of your new routine, incorporate “you time” when and where you can fit it in and use a little slice of it each week to check in with your guildmates. They’ll want to know that you’re adapting to parenthood and are well after giving birth, and you’ll want the peace of mind that your guild babies are doing as well as your real baby. You may not be able to actually play, but nothing is stopping you from hitting up the guild VOIP channel or forum to chat with the humans behind the toons.

When hormones are raging and you’re feeling emotionally vulnerable, it’s easy to fret over things that normally wouldn’t bother you, but worrying about your guild while you’re away isn’t good for your post-birth recovery. If you find that not playing is causing you more stress than is being prevented by the break, slot in some erratic fun playtime that is as commitment-free as it can be or double-triple check that guild schedule is working out as it should be if it soothes you. This break is wholly dictated by you and can be as extreme or low-key as you need it to be, so feel free to change the terms if they’re not working for you.

Accept that things won’t be the same when you return

Whenever people take a short break in an MMO, they come back to a slightly different game and a slightly different dynamic: This is the nature of the genre and is what makes it so unique, I suppose, but it can make coming back fairly difficult. As much as your life is changing and how you interact with the game and spend your leisure time is altered, the same will be true for your guildmates. So much can happen in the space of even one month, so expect there to be some unexpected developments when you return to your gaming.

It could very well be the case that slotting you back in at the top of the totem pole is difficult for those who took up the mantle during your break, so be sensitive about this when you come back and ensure that the officers who looked after your in-game home for you while you were away are thanked for everything they’ve done to hold down the fort, even if they didn’t manage things they way you thought they would. In the worst cases, you might notice a decline in members or some shifts in power dynamics that didn’t exist before your break created a temporary power vacuum, but I find that most of these issues will smooth over shortly after the return of the leader.

If recruitment drives were still active when you were away, members might have been recruited that you don’t personally know or approve of, so you’ll need to make it your mission to ensure that any new guildmates are quickly brought up to speed with how the guild operates and what is expected from them. Likewise, some officers might have used your absence as an excuse to make changes they’d always wanted to push: If the larger guild community is happy with these changes you might well need to accept them as part of the organic growth of a united guild vision, even if they’re not to your personal taste.

Over to you!

I wish you all the luck in the world with your pregnancy and the imminent arrival of your first bundle of joy, Gwen, and I hope that your break is restful and as stress-free as possible. Have you any further advice for our reader? Don’t forget to leave your two cents in the comments.

Thanks to Gwen for this edition’s submission. Do you have a guild related issue you’d like to have addressed in a future edition of Guild Chat? Email me your submission for consideration.

MOP’s Tina Lauro is on-hand to deal with all of your guild-related questions, queries, and drama in Guild Chat. Whatever your guild issue, she’s sure to have a witty yet sympathetic response. If there’s a specific topic you’d like to see dissected, drop Tina a comment or send an email to tina@massivelyop.com.
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2 Comments on "Guild Chat: Planning a long break from your MMORPG guild"

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Mr Poolaty

I don’t think most people plan on going on long breaks…

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Robert Mann

Pretty solid, but there is one things that WILL kill her guild under certain circumstances here. That is the ‘don’t hand over what you aren’t willing to lose’ rule. Simply put, most games limit permissions for officers on many things. Those that you can work this in, without giving up authority, great! If, however, you cannot assign some duties/powers to officers you really need to consider giving somebody that you trust who can be around more that highest role for the meantime.

I’ve been the officer who was sitting there, trying to deal with everything… but without the power and permissions to do it. That doesn’t work. People got more and more upset, despite everything I could do being done. The other officers were trying hard as well, but none of us had the power to do what was needed. After a while, people left.

You see, there’s always something that needs to be done. I’m sure as a guild leader you understand that very well. If it can’t be done, then it builds up. In the case of the guild I was in, the conflict between members became something that drove everyone away… and the officers were done. We had talked with our guild leader about their break, had noted our concern, and our guild leader did exactly what Tina suggested. They decided they weren’t going to hand over control because they might lose the guild.

They lost the guild anyway. It dropped below member limits as everyone left. Shortly after one of the malcontents had re-made it, taking the name. Worse, they alienated a bunch of people who were willing to support them, and try hard to make things work under a terrible situation.

In short, be very careful with the idea that not passing leadership will work. In some cases, it will go fine. Especially if your guild has no need of the things you cannot put into permissions for your officers. However, if it goes wrong, you stand to lose more than just your guild… you stand to lose those who you like playing with in game. It really is a choice that you need to consider based on what the game allows, how your guild works, and the people around you.

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