Welcome along to another issue of Guild Chat, my cozy wee corner of Massively OP in which we get together to help readers in need with their guild issues, questions, or dramas. This time, we’re going to help reader Allen who has reached out for our opinions on RP characters and fitting into established RP guilds. Allen had created his character to fit the central premise of a guild he helped establish with a few other keen RPers, but his guild eventually changed before his eyes and Allen’s character concept was no longer a good fit. Now Allen needs to know what path to take with his character and wants to know what should be done when the infrastructure in which an RP character existed is gone.
Read Allen’s issue in full below, and check out my solution to the severing of ties to his RP guild. Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments too.
So, until recently, I was part of an RP guild. It was originally a small group of seven friends who had previously been an RP group in other MMOs and tabletop venues – all of us made characters to tie into the central premise of the guild, which allowed us to focus on character types and roles that would be uncommon or difficult without the support of a pre-existing group. Over time, this guild attracted a wide variety of new members, all with very diverse characters and goals.
Over the past two years, this guild became something very different than it was at the start. People came and went, and eventually the actual membership of people in it mostly was made up of character concepts that did not fit very well at all into the original concept and scope of the guild. The current leadership worked with this fact and remade the guild into a new concept to better fit the people in it and their RP goals. Unfortunately, this meant that my primary RP character, who had been tailored to the original concept of the guild, was no longer a good fit for it. Out of the original seven members, he was one of three who had not been remade into a new character or dropped due to lack of interest in the game, which also destroyed most of his ties to that initial guild. So I quit, to strike out on my own.
The problem is, my character’s primary role isn’t one that works well alone. I don’t want to get rid of him, but there’s not much I can do without a group with his current premise. Is it best to develop him away from that so he’s more palatable to existing RP groups, or to try and ferret out a place where his niche role would be appreciated? What does one do when one’s RP infrastructure is pulled out from under their feet?
What a fantastic topic, Allen! Firstly, I have to admit that RP guilds are not my personal forte, so I’m going to be heavily relying on my 15 or so years of pen-and-paper roleplaying experience to help me on this occasion. I can totally see why you might be feeling a little bit lost in-game right now: A character is nothing without context, after all, and much of that context in this instance was forged with a now-defunct premise in mind. Your query really boils down to your final question: What does one do when one’s RP infrastructure is pulled out from under their feet?
The way I see it, you have three options: You can use the loss to further develop and shape your character, you can attempt to create your own continuation of the core concept to find like-minded RPers again so that your character can continue on his path, or you can retire your character from the world of adventuring alongside his involvement with the guild. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each to help you decide.
The immediate downside of this option is that your character will almost certainly dramatically change in both playstyle and in terms of his future development, but when a reforge is handled well, it can be a fantastic way to keep a character current within an evolving, living story and better simulate how real people deal with drastic changes in circumstance. I have adapted characters mid-game to better gel with new party members or a DM’s decision to change our setting, and what distinguishes the successful changes I’ve made from the unsuccessful is how well justified any change has been in-character.
Sometimes my characters feel like overloved dolls on shelves, put out of reach from the humdrum below so that they don’t take further damage and become different than how they are in my mind’s eye. It’s then that I need to remember that the best stories stretch, morph, and transform their heroes into more than you would have imagined they could have ever become in the beginning, but for that to happen I can’t leave them out of reach up on the shelf. Along the way, they might get a little broken and ragged, but what a great adventure they were a part of! Give your character that chance and don’t be afraid of unexpected twists that change him.
If you do reforge, make sure that your character goes through some sort of transition and that those changes are manifested in cannon: Upon leaving your guild where your character has a secure sense of community, how did he react? Did he leave the group in-game, or did you handle your departure entire OOC? Perhaps your character feels the need to change so that the same doesn’t happen again, so he goes on a self-reflected quest to build up the skills he feels would better serve him (and a new guild), or maybe he rebels heavily and decides that he can forge on alone without the help of others who could prove to be unreliable down the line. Whatever way you decide to angle it, make the relevant adaptations to your character’s ethos and set him on the path to a new home gently.
You don’t have to bend if you don’t want to
Remember at this point, Allen, that you have built up a wealth of experience of RP guilds and the sorts of things that keep RPers happy in a large collective such as the one you were a part of: Could you use this experience to start a new guild that has a core concept that is more in keeping with your primary character? If you decide to go down that route, remember to be sensitive to the fact that your old guild is still running successfully and be careful not to actively poach players, lest you cause any unnecessary drama for your fledgling guild. People from your old guild may well approach you about it once you start up: As much as you don’t want to actively poach players, it’d be silly to turn them down if they come knocking.
Don’t forget to brush up on my recipe for a successful guild if you decide to take this path, and make the core concept very clear. This way, you can vet potential players and their character concepts to ensure a good fit. I’d most definitely recommend a great website and fantastic chronicling for an RP guild: What’s written down, how often it’s updated, and how it’s presented is up to you, but documenting the collective story is crucial for keeping you all on the right page and helping new players jump in without too much of a splash being made.
Retirement is painful, but it doesn’t have to be forever
I have had to make the decision to retire some of my most-loved characters for a whole host of reasons over the years, and although it’s always disappointing, I always look at it as a chance to start anew with a fresh perspective and a new lens with which to view the world I’m interacting with. When I have to take retirement, I never get rid of my character in any permanent way: I still have the character sheets for my beloved little cleric Keiko and my dragon-loving paladin Liandra, for example, just in case the call to adventure ever takes them again.
In Keiko’s case, she was feisty and reckless in her adventures and I decided to retire her upon her death and subsequent resurrection because I felt that her brush with death would have challenged her ways too much, at least in the short term. Liandra was retired because our DM didn’t really have anywhere else to take her: Our epic-level adventuring had stretched his imagination too far and we’d broken the heights to which he could reach. I think that you’re at a similar point with your character: Perhaps the guild that grew around your character didn’t match your pace or align itself neatly enough with your concept, but that’s not to say that your preferred character won’t be called upon again to take up on another grand adventure.
When we RP, we do expect a continual tie to whatever the current story arc or plot is, but how realistic is that when we think about it? Every hero, no matter how great, will have strengths, weaknesses, and specific motivations, and it is super-challenging to appeal to all of those unique quirks with every turn of a collective narrative. Sometimes it just isn’t our time to shine, and we need to take a backseat and let another group of dazzling heroes take their turn in the spotlight. If you really wish to stay true to your character without having to pick up the pieces, perhaps he could offer up training to others from his unique perspective and lend the strength of his roots to the new conceptual direction of the old guild, at least until you decide on a more long-term plan.
You might even want to make a secondary character that could apprentice to him, and that way you can play a character with the insight of your main but with a concept that is easier to fit into either the old guild or a new one. Whatever you decide, I wish you many more years of happy RPing, Allen!
Over to you!
How would you deal with the loss of your RP infrastructure if you were in Allen’s position? Would you go it alone, fold into a new RP guild, or make your character bend to fit in? Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the comments!
Thanks to Allen for this submission — don’t forget to send me your guild-related issues!