Five Misconceptions About Healers

Five Misconceptions About Healers

Sometimes there is nothing more frustrating in a raid than watching your raid wipe. I feel that the only thing more frustrating than the wipe itself, is watching the healers get blamed right away. As a raid officer and healing lead seldom do I let things really truly get under my skin. But when I see a wipe and I hear the question in vent

“healers, what happened there?”

It raises my ire. I understand that healing is something that quickly comes under the analytical scope when an encounter fails. But when you have someone assigned to lead the healers it’s their job to find out what happened, and on the off chance they do find something wrong it is their job to address and resolve the issue. When a tank or dps starts berating healers about what happened it gets on everyone’s nerves. We’re going to use the term Healer Rage here. Healer rage can take many forms, quiet determination, outright aggression, passive aggressive behavior (such as “missing” a heal on a target) all the way up to outright quitting. You might remember my first post here on World of Matticus where I talked about the 5 Archetypes of the Healer. I broke down what makes a person choose to be a healer in a game like World of Warcraft. Each of those healers are still around and kicking and always will be.

Today I’m going to talk about some general misconceptions about healers, as well as what triggers Healer Rage and how different healers deal with it.

5. All healers are created equal

There are a lot of people who seem to think you can equally exchange Healer A for Healer B and see no difference in the performance of the raid as a whole. I’m not talking classes here, purely about the player. This might seem like it doesn’t happen but it does, and quite frequently.

“Why not bring Dude B, he’s just as good as Dude A?”

Now I’m not trying to be elitist and talk about difference in skill, but the truth is we all have our strengths. Some healers are better at tank healing, they understand it better. Others are better topping off a raid. Some know the intricacies of a short burst fight and intensive healing, while others still are built for longevity fights. We all have our specialties our niche. The idea that you can take any healer and slap them anywhere and get the same performance is not a good one to have.

Why this causes Healer Rage

Dude B is a tank healer, he revels in it. It is his specialty without question. Dude A is a raid healer, he knows the in and out of everything there is to know about keeping the raid at peak health. Raid officer decides to switch their assignments. Dude A is now on tanks and Dude B is healing the raid. When you take a healer out of a comfort zone it is akin to dumping a bucket of cold water on a sleeping person. While some people can handle a shifting role like that, we all tend to have our preferences. Moving  us from those preferences tends to make us just a tad bit grumpy.

4. All healing capable classes are built equal

Some people think that all classes are equitable. What I mean is that a Resto Shaman is the same as a Holy Paladin as a Resto Druid as a Priest. Lets be honest, while this has become closer to the truth over the many years that we’ve been playing this game, it is still a ways off. Sure my Shaman is capable of healing a single target quite well, But an equally geared Discipline Priest or a Holy Pally will beat me every time and vice-versa for raid healing. Sure you can stick them in that roll, but results might not be optimal. This is considering the merits of the classes and talents without accounting for player skill.

Why this causes Healer Rage

Just like above, when you take someone out of their safe spot people’s nerves are on edge and performance can often times suffer. Over the years I’ve come to realize as healers, we tend to like our niche. When Shaman were usurped as the kings of raid healing, there was quite a loud outcry on the forums and through the WoW universe. This is very much the same as the reasoning behind the rage of number 5. I’ve also noticed in both 5, and 4 here that healers thrust out of their comfort zone tend to be quieter and deal with their rage about it more internally.

3. Healing is Easy!

There are some people out there who feel that healing is the easiest job in the game. I’ll be honest, there was a point where I felt that way. That was when I was playing a hunter in 40 man raids and before I had ever touched the healing side of a Shaman. Nothing could be further from the truth. Healing is one of the most stressful aspects of the game. You are responsible to heal any damage taken in a raid, people look at you to stave off that wipe or to keep them up no matter what, because they think all you do is sit there and spam a few buttons.

Why this causes Healer Rage

Healing can be one of the most challenging roles in the game! Not only do we have to effectively manage our own resources such as mana our own health and consumables, but we also have the privilege of playing broker with yo ur health totals! What people often don’t realize is that as a healer we often have to play triage. Prioritizing heals is more than just making sure the tank is topped off and then spilling over into your group or raid. We have to decide sometimes who lives and who dies! That is a heavy burden and one that we often times have to make as snap decisions. When a healer gets criticized for this, it’s not exactly fair, and can cause not only rage but an added level of stress. This is normally when you’ll find healers raging openly either through comments or possibly even over voice.

2. A healer has to carry those who are under-geared / unprepared

While a healer is capable of carrying an under geared tank or healing through a certain amount of damage from players not moving fast enough out of area damage, it should not be expected of us. There seems to be a large amount of players that believe a healer is obligated to heal the tank that isn’t even trying to mitigate their damage or are woefully under geared for the content. Some people think it is OK for them to stand in the middle of a raging fire on the floor because the healer will heal them through it. You may think I’m making this up, but I’ve seen enough dps actually do this and then when asked about why they would say “because the healer has to heal me!”. This also holds true for people who don’t know the mechanics of a fight, yet insist to pull and bring much unnecessary damage on themselves.

Why this causes Healer Rage

Much for the same reason as number 3. Healing is already challenging enough in some cases. Doing things that while funny, are disruptive and unnecessary can really alienate you from your healer. Tanks don’t randomly go into your dps spec and pull the groups in HoR, it just isn’t happening. If you’re a dps and you’re purposely standing in Rotfaces’s slime quadrant just to get your extra couple hits in, that’s completely unnecessary and honestly it’s rude. It is every raid members job to mitigate as much damage as they can, you can’t rely solely on the healers. Eventually you’ll get healers that will respond to this but ceasing to heal you, or openly being aggressive about your actions.

1. Whenever there is a wipe, blame healers first

There is this mentality that every time there is a wipe, you need to yell at or blame the healers first. After all it’s their job to heal you through anything right? (see number 2.) There are few things more frustrating than seeing the group wipe and to hear someone immediately ask “so what happened there healers?”. What boggles my mind is when this happens despite things like mortuary, big brother, raid buff system or several other mods that people may use that announce who dies and to what. We’ll use one of the new ICC trash mobs for an example, Stinky. Stinky and it’s twin Precious are the pets of Festergut and Rotface. They are also mini bosses very much like the trash pulls leading up to the Twin Emps were back in AQ40. Each has an unique ability, but in Stinky’s case I’ve seen this mini boss / trash pull wipe more groups than some of the bosses! Stinky has three abilities

Decimate: aoe that knocks everyone to 15% health
Mortal Wound: 10% reduced healing done to you stacks up to 100%, placed on tanks
Plague Stench: raid wide aoe that ticks for about 3k every 2-3 seconds

He’s pretty much setup to really mess with healers. If you get an ill timed Decimate followed by a quick Plague Stench it is possible to have multiple people in the raid die in one stroke. Every time I’ve seen a group wipe on it, the first thing I hear asked is why the healers didn’t heal through it. Sometimes I’ve seen it expected of healers to time their group heals perfectly to go off when decimate does! I’m not saying healers shouldn’t be prepared for it, but latency spikes and lag can cause heals to not exactly be spot on, and that should be kept in mind.

Why this causes healer rage

When a boss goes down smoothly you almost never hear anyone say; “That was awesome! Great job healers! That was all you!”, but when a wipe happens you will hear the phrase “what happened healers?” way too often. Not everything is within a healers control. Sometimes things happen that stretch our abilities so thin there is no recovery. Random mob abilities chaining together can cause a group to wipe before a healer even has a chance to react. When someone places this burden on the healers, it’s a short trip to off the rage deep end. Healers are already shouldering enough weight in a run, keeping a group topped off, playing healer triage and managing our resources to keep the group going. Looking at the healers after every wipe can cause healers to snap. I’ve seen healers rage quit raids, I’ve seen them rage quit guilds, I’ve seen them completely stop healing on the next pull just to watch the person who blamed the wipe on them die. I’ve heard stories of even worse events that have gone as far as an entire healing team leaving a guild in one swoop, leaving a raiding guild effectively healer-less.

Healers carry large burdens in a raid or group. Sure sometimes we might make comments about something being so easy because a tank out-gears an instance, but those are welcome breaks. We are not omniscient,we are not gods, we are not capable of predicting what is going to happen and when. We are just playing our role in a group, doing what we can to make things go smoothly. Remember, our job is a stressful one and one vital to the raid. Trust in your healing leads if you have one to make sure healers are doing what they need to be, and trust your healers a bit. Basically cut us a little slack, it’s often times a thankless job.

That’s it for today, until next time folks Happy Healing

 

Images courtesy of Icanhazcheesburger.com and staples

Healer DPS: The Good, The Bad, The Unfair

Healer DPS: The Good, The Bad, The Unfair

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The boss looms before you.  Psh!  Boss?  More like pansy!  You’ve worked on this guy for a whileand are just not yet on farm status.  You look at your raid frames and see that everyone seems to be taking minimal damage.  The tank is taking slight damage, but it’s nothing like the early days of learning Patchwerk.  Your mana bar is moderately full, everyone seems to have everything under control.  Your finger hovers over Smite/Lightning Bolt/Wrath/Holy Shock.

You start pressing.

In a very broad sense, this makes my skin crawl.  The hairs stand up on the back of my neck.  My ears start to bleed and my eyes start to fog over.  Okay, maybe it’s not that dramatic, but it certainly ignites a chain reaction.  Basically, a little bit of my soul dies.

The Good

There’s always a reason to need some extra DPS from the healers.  I usually only do this at the request of the raid leader.  He/She (He, in my case) is running the show.  I try to keep cycling Shadow Word: Pain on the boss when I can.  As Holy, I can use my Surge of Light proc to throw a quick Smite here or there. 

When working on Heartbreaker, I usually expect to stop healing, pop cooldowns, and Smite until that heart is dead.  Unless the raid is overgeared for the encounter, this is usually how I’ve seen it done.

Any fight that has a small “add” (Loatheb Spore, for example), it’s not detrimental to help the dps down it quick.  It usually requires minimal mana, and can help get the benefit to the raid quicker. 

If you’re running up against any kind of enrage timer, there may be a point when a little nudge from you could make the difference. 

Notice that I said, “a little nudge”.  The emphasis is on the word “nudge”.

 

The Bad

There’s a point when it becomes excessive.  If you find yourself DPSing to a point where you’re making a significant effort to damage the boss, then that’swhere I start to have issue with it.  I’ve seen it happen a number of times.  Thankfully, I’ve only seen this happen in PUGs.  I would really have a tough time in a guild where I continually heal alongside that kind of “healer”.

If you’re paired with someone else to heal a target or many targets, your shift into DPS mode then places responsibility of your original healing job solely on the other healer.  I have little faith that most “DPS Healers” will keep an eye on their original assignment if they choose to DPS instead.  Imagine carrying a TV up a flight of stairs with someone else.  Maybe they could feasibly handle it alone, but it makes it easier if you’re there to help out.

If you’re expending all that mana to do maybe a third of what the other DPS classes are doing, what are you going to do if something unforeseen happens and you have to go into overdrive healing mode?  Someone accidentally gets caught in a cleave, or another healer gets bombarded by too many of the wrong orb on Twins.  We all know accidents happen.  A raid’s strength is measured by it’s adaptability.  If you’re not capable of helping out when it’s needed most, then you’re not doing your job.

In my eyes, you’re running the risk of being disrespectful to the other healers in your raid.

The Unfair

Let’s say that you get through the encounter okay. Let’s say everyone’s alive at the end.  A key healing piece drops that everyone has been vying for.  You roll/bid on it?  In my opinion: No.  You just spent a majority of the fight DPSing the boss while the other healers did the healing work, right?  Why should we reward a player who didn’t do what they were supposed to do?  It’s like giving a raise to the guy in the office who sits on his computer checking Facebook all day. 

If you find yourself in raids consistently where your healing is not needed, then let a DPS class go in and take your place.  You’re essentially taking the raid spot of a player who can do what you want to do, but he/she can do it better.  If you’re determined to keep along your path, then re-spec/re-gear/re-gem into a DPS spec.  Healing has times of being slow.  It’s the nature of the beast.  If you’d much rather snipe some damage instead of heal, then guess what?  You’re not a healer.  You’re a DPS.  And as a DPS, you’re not specced or geared right.

Some fights may require more healers than others.  Dual spec is a fantastic thing.  Make your off-spec a solid DPS spec, complete with proper gear.  When you know a fight’s coming up where your heals aren’t needed, recommend to the raid leader that you switch into your DPS gear.  If you find yourself in your DPS spec more than your healing spec, it’s time to consider changing your “main spec”.  I would be significantly upset if someone was getting healing gear over me, although they DPS’d more than they healed.  Would you give awesome tanking gear (an upgrade for the main tank) to the 2nd off-tank who only tanks for 1-2 fights each night?

Is “Healer DPS” taboo?  Yes.  Why?  Because in the eyes of this Discipline Priest, you shouldn’t do it unless the raid leader calls for it.  Remember, raiding is a team sport.  Maybe you need to take a step back and figure out which part of the team you really want to be on.

ThespiusSig

Email: Elder.Thespius@gmail.com | Twitter: @Thespius

 

A Prescription for Raid Morale

A Prescription for Raid Morale

medicine

Raiding can always be stressful.  Although the content has been called “too easy”, some of us still struggle with certain encounters.  We’ve cut our teeth on Normal Modes, and make the step up to the Heroic.  Haunting are the nights of banging our heads against Icehowl cause one raid member is just a little slow on getting out of the way.  We shake our heads in disgrace because a DPS class is too used to “being carried” when we try Yogg+Anything.  Raid nights get called early, curses ensue, and it’s just not a pretty sight.

Whether it’s in raid or out of raid, I firmly believe it’s essential to insert breaks and morale boosters.  And by breaks, I don’t mean “Take 5 for bio and beer.”  I mean something active.  A couple examples:

In-Raid

Trivia Games

Kalheim, a feisty paladin in my guild, holds trivia games during downtimes in the raid.  While waiting for invites to go out or waiting for that last member to come back from an AFK or bio break, he puts up topic-centered questions for us to compete for the fastest answer.  These quizzes will encompass a variety of topics, usually gaming-based.  He pulls out Classic WoW Lore, the names of BC Boss spells, Super Mario trivia, and even gaming company trivia.

You can reward your raiders with anything you want.  A gem, some gold, free flask/food, whatever you want.  The key is simply to make the questions challenging but not impossible.  A topic or genre you and your guild talk about often; you can include everyone.

The Whipping Boy

First off, this is pretty much a voluntary position.  In no way do you want to ostracize one of your raiders who cannot take the brunt of it.  In our guild, this whipping post has a name, and that name is Zabos.  He’s an incredibly likeable guy, but he’s really easy to tease.  He can take it, because as a player, he’s really good at what he does.  He’s one of our officers, and talks a lot of smack, so the guild will lay it on pretty thick.  The guild has built up a tradition (before my arrival) of /gkick’ing Zabos out of the guild when a new boss goes down.  It adds an extra level of fun to progression and cohesiveness of a guild.  The phrase “Shut up Zabos!” gets passed around a lot.  It just makes me laugh.

Random, Off-the-wall “Attempt

This should explain itself.  After a long night of progression, you need a break.  Something to make you laugh or wake you up.  We specifically have a Morale Officer in our guild, Shenweh, who is responsible for making sure everyone is in good spirits.  When things are getting tense or tired, it’s her job to create little fun events like this:

Out of Raid

Actual Alt Dungeons

I have several alts at a variety of levels, and I have some real life friends that all stick together.  They play super casually–usually only once each week, if at all.  Although I have two 80s, their level 45 character is their highest.  The other night, we managed to get all five of us on together to do a run of Uldaman.  There was no run-through, there was no level 80 to accompany us.  Because the healer and our hunter were lower than the rest of us, we really had a chance to take advantage of crowd control and focus-firing.  Since they’re all new to the game, it was a great chance for me to be able to show them a fragment of what makes this game so great for me.  I hope that at some point they may be able to step into a weekend/off-night raid with me.  Here, I lay the groundwork. =)

If you have friends that are trying to learn the game, take the time to actually play it with them.  I know how much that means to both people.  It also gives you a little break, and a little time to relax.

Arenas/Battlegrounds

In my opinion, always have at least one person you know well to go on this adventure with.  Arenas can sometimes be a great way to get out some frustration (if they go well).  If you turn off the Battleground Chat in a Warsong Gulch or Arathi Basin, they can actually be pretty fun with a group of your friends.

Achievements/Holidays

Blizzard has given us this interesting little outlet to occupy our time when we’re not raiding.  Even little mindless ones involving pets or an Azeroth raid can be entertaining enough to ease your mind.  See if any of your guildmates have never seen AQ40 (I just had my first encounter before writing this).  If there’s a slew that have never been inside, show them around!  Especially if you’re in a leadership position, this shows your raiders that you’re invested in how much everyone’s enjoying the game.  Gotten all the achievements you want/need? Then just tag along for your friends’ benefit.  Share funny stories.  Reminisce about things that happened in those old raids.

———-

You can decide to do these on raid nights or outside of your standard schedule.  Think of it this way.  Although this game as fun, you want to avoid having progression start to kill your soul after a while.

What sort of things do you do in order to keep your raid’s morale high?  What do you do, as a player, to detox in-game?

ThespiusSig

Trophy vs Token

Trophy vs Token

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When Burning Crusade touched down we received a token system. The system tied multiple classes to a single drop from a boss. This allowed for less loot being sharded or discarded and allowed for quicker gearing as a guild. The tokens could then be turned in for your tier set pieces. A lot of people were afraid of this method, but it worked out really really well. Guilds were able to gear out their raiders quickly and efficiently and very little loot was left to rot. We began to see the starting of this in Vanilla WoW in Naxxramas and the tier 3 raid sets and AQ40 with the 2.5 pieces. “Token” bosses dropped two tokens a piece and everyone was generally happy.

When Wrath of the Lich King came out, it was more of the same. Naxxramas and Ulduar continued the token system along, but added with it two levels. A 10 man level and a 25 man level that we affectionately refer to as tier x and tier x.5. The system continued to work well. Bosses that were token droppers continued to drop two of them and it was even made so that we could purchase tokens with badges for two of the slots. Gearing was a bit faster now thanks to the addition of two purchasable tokens and content flew by for a lot of people.

Then patch 3.2 hit, and brought with it Tier 9 content. Trial of the Crusader distributed loot in a very, very strange manner. First of all the Tier 9 gear was split into three item levels of quality. We’ve been referring to them as Tier 9, Tier 9.25 and Tier 9.5. Tier 9 can be bough fairly cheaply with Badges of Triumph, the next level up 9.25 requires an amount of badges and a Trophy of the Crusade which can only be obtained in the 25 man version. The tier costs can better be broken down by this:

Tier 9 = ilvl 232 Tier 9.25 = ilvl 245  Tier 9.5 = ilvl 258

Head: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector(item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Hands: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Chest: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Legs: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Shoulders: 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258) or 45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Confused yet? Most people are. The stat difference between ilvl 226 gear (25 man uld) and ilvl 232 gear is not that big of a jump. going from 226 up to 245 is a big jump for most people. Enough of a gap that most pieces are clear upgrades. So why is this a problem? Trophies only drop from 25 man ToC. You get 1 per boss and a variable amount per tribute chest based on how many wipes you have. There are only five bosses in the instance. (Beasts, Jaraxxus, Champs, Twins and Anub). We’ll go with the model of running 25 man raids. You have 25 people, who all want that trophy. Being only 5 in total that means only roughly 20% of your raid a week can get them and upgrade. Lets look at Ulduar Five bosses drop token pieces, and two tokens per boss which is a theoretical 40% upgrade rate for your raid. The trophy system slowed gearing up way down because most people, especially those progression minded will be focusing on upgrades that can be obtained with Regalia (and it’s like tokens) from Trial of the Grand Crusader or Trophies and badges from Trial of the Crusader.

You can argue that with the drop increases from the tribute chest that better raids are rewarded based on performance, and that is true, but it does not really have any room for guilds that are done with Ulduar but not quite at Trial of the Grand Crusader (example would be guilds that just got a series of new recruits that need to be geared up before ToGC). This however can be chalked up to time spent in a normal version to gear people up, and get them used to the fights before heading into ToGC.

My main problem is the level of competition this generates in a raid. Right now in Ulduar if Gloves the the Wayware Protector drops, you know it’s going to a Warrior,  a Hunter or a Shaman. When a Trophy of the Crusade drops, everyone in the raid is sending tells. Everyone wants them over just regular tier 9 badge gear. I’ve seen this cause resentment and bitterness already in a couple people, and it can lead to bigger problems down the line. How do you distribute loot fairly? What is considered fair?

It’s for this reason I’m not a fan of the trophy system. I’m ok with working on harder content for a bigger reward. That is fine and dandy, but when I see an entire raid of people sitting, waiting, wondering if they’ll get the item it becomes a problem. I never saw this problem with a token system. Players might be mad at the game for dropping Vanquisher over Protector but it was RNG and nothing could be done about it. It’s a different story when you’re eligible for the item and watch other people get it over you. It’s a lot easier to accept something out of immediate control like RNG.

It’s not a bad idea in theory. It allows you to select the item you’re upgrading, it allows you to make sure anyone and everyone can use the items instead of seeing them rot due to RNG but I personally feel the token system is the way to go. While loot distribution is always an issue for any guild, I think the trophy system has too much potential to cause harm and additional stress that is unneeded in a raid / guild environment. I asked a question on Twitter about what people thought about the Trophy system. I got a surprising number of replies with people who just won’t run the content or have all together stopped raiding as  a result. I’ve also heard reports of guilds having to re work their entire loot system and policy because of this tier content, and that’s not good.

What do you think? Do you like the trophy / badge / three levels to the tier set? Do you hate it? Have you had any interesting stories revolving around loot distribution in tier 9 content?

Well, that’s my two cents on the subject until next time Happy Healing

Sig

Head 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector(item level 258) or

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Hands 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Chest 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Legs 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

75 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 50 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Shoulders 1 x Regalia of the Grand Protector (item level 258)

45 x Emblem of Triumph + 1Trophy of the Crusade (ilvl 245) or 30 x Emblem of Triumph (ilvl 232)

Officers: Who Watches the Watchmen?

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“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

I realize not many readers understand Latin. It basically translates to “Who guards the guards themselves?”.

During one of my earlier years in university, we studied up a bit on Plato’s The Republic (ethics and government stuff). Who protects the people against the protectors? Plato responds by saying they have to guard themselves against themselves. Ideally your officers are going to be just individuals who won’t become greedy or evil.

Your officers

In a majority of cases, your officers are simply normal people who have invested their time (and perhaps money) to handle guild tech or infrastructure. They’re busy tackling things that no one wants to deal with like personnel, scheduling, and what raid operations to carry out. Policy has to be continually updated. Loot has to be awarded and DKP systems have to be managed.

To be frank, the officers are the overseers of the guild and possess the power along with the responsibility.

The level headed ones have no desire to go all political. They’re leaders of a loose organization of gamers, not the mafia. There’s no backroom deals going on. With luck, there is no maneuvering or behind-the-scenes backstabbing.

Red alert!

Now something has happened. Maybe one of your leaders committed some kind of grievous offense. You, Joe raider, happen to take exception. You don’t agree with whatever they did. Maybe they completely screwed over a pug in loot. Or they might have completely dished it out to a raider one day who was undeserving. The reasons could number beyond infinity.

In any case, whatever the reason, you’re upset enough to the point where you want to do something about it.

Your options

Now here’s a list of things you can do and what might possibly happen if you go down these roads.

  • Do nothing. It’s the easiest choice. Keep it to yourself. Don’t say anything. You don’t want to rock the boat. This is something I’ve observed most players doing because they perceive there is too much at risk by doing anything else.
  • Speak to your GM. Have a chat with the boss and see what she says. Perhaps they don’t realize it’s an issue and maybe they can talk to the officer and try to resolve what happened.
  • Speak to the officer in question. Directly confront the officer in question and let them know what they did wasn’t cool. I don’t advise doing this publically. Do it privately in whispers. When I was just a grunt, I preferred taking the direct route and telling officers personally that I thought they did something wrong. It has a stronger effect then you might think.
  • Change your reaction. This option isn’t quite the same as the first. This involves a complete philosophy change on your end. Is their offense that serious? Does it really matter that much? What if you changed your reaction to the point where you could tolerate it and ignore it? The guild my alt is in has a raid leader who randomly calls people morons. I get called it myself once in a while because I can be a touch slow getting out of fires periodically. I don’t take it personally because I simply don’t care enough (It’s my alt’s guild for one).
  • Leave the guild. It’s fairly self explanatory. Be prepared to leave the guild. If you cannot accept what the guild is doing or if speaking to the GM and the officer prove to be futile, then the last option you have is to change your environment entirely. Not every guild is suited for every personality.
Archetypes of a Guild: The Guild Egoist

Archetypes of a Guild: The Guild Egoist

veruca-salt

Some of you may remember my article about the 5 Archetypes of Healers back when I was still a guest poster here.

I was watching a conversation on twitter between a few of my friends and it got me thinking. Like every social clique a Guild has certain roles or social archetypes that people can be categorized as. This post series will explore some of the more common ones you may encounter in your travels through MMOs, as well as offer suggestions on how to deal with some of the less savory. These posts come from a request made by Valkrierisen and Firewillow. I’ll add a disclaimer here, this is based on my observations over many years of multiple MMOs and pen and paper tabletop groups.

Today I’d like to talk about one of the bad personalities that people sometimes adopt, the Guild Princess. A Guild Princess is for all intents and purposes a  Prima Donna. This role is not gender specific in the sense of the player(both men and women can and do fit this role), but it’s almost always a in game female toon being played. The princess can be a destructive force in a guild, they can undermine authority and leadership, hold raids from starting on time, and can cause guild drama that can become something akin to Jerry Springer.Keep in mind this is an extreme, but it is something I’ve seen many times.

Now there are a few different varieties of a Guild Princess, lets take a look at them shall we?

The Prima Donna

This guild Egoist will usually attach themselves to the vulnerable player base of the guild, usually honing in on the more socially awkward ones first. They can often be found grinding or questing with this person and talking to them late night either in chat messages or even ventrillo/teamspeak. Prime targets are officers or people with power within the structure.  Once the person is enthralled enough, they move onto the next person. Sometimes they will find the other females in the guild and begin to cultivate friendships. They will often hide behind “solidarity” and try to build a  bond between the players, often times using a sob story or tear jerker to cement it. As with the first point, females in power or who are married to/dating someone in power in the structure is primary target.

This leads to two paths. First the person can and will usually try to use these relationships to get themselves elevated to a position of power, maybe a class lead or lower officer. If they can’t obtain the rank, they will settle for using the friendships they’ve had to get what they want, be it a raid spot, loot or the shunning of a guildie. If someone disagrees with them or doesn’t give up a raid spot or loot the princess wants, they will often times complain or cry to friends about how unfair they were and thus begin a social shunning of the “offender”. This same person will flirt with multiple males in the guild and sometimes throw them at each other when one has outlived their usefulness. They also have a tendency to think of their raid performance as above reproach and when presented with numbers indicating the level of improvement needed or that they are causing wipes, will often have a million excuses that are not their fault. They will often have long periods of being absent, especially during new encounters, but will still expect full loot rights.  Watch for canned responses, vague answers or sometimes even re use of an excuse.

How to Deal With the Prima Donna

This brand of Egoist is in the game for power. They want it, they want to be the center of it. There are a few ways to deal with it. If you notice the behavior above, tell your GM or a trustworthy officer right away your concern. The biggest thing for this one is to be proactive. Point out their behavior early so it gets noticed is key, this puts people on guard and allows officers to intervene if needed. This also helps to guard the rest of the guild from this behavior. Warn your close friends too, point out their interactions with other people as examples. Don’t get sucked into the sob stories that they lay out.  The worst thing you can do with this one is to do nothing at all.

The Vapid Vixen

This one is used to getting their way because they are a “female” in game. They use their sexuality to get what they want, be it loot, raid spots or whatever. When they don’t get what they want they are prone to pouting or tantrums. They are pretty much the spoiled brat of the guild. During raids they will often talk over encounter instructions, they often die to void zones, possibly even wipe raids all the while chatting away. They are used to being the center of attention and do everything they can to keep it, be it causing drama, holding up raids, talking with anyone that listens or even spouting random snippets or comments in chat or on vent. Anytime the lime light shifts away from them they try to do something to get it back, negative or positive it doesn’t matter as long as all eyes are on them. They are a disruptive force but often times it’s not intentional, they are just used to everyone dropping everything for them and expect it to continue on no matter where they are.

How to Deal With the Vapid Virago

If this behavior is proving disruptive quite simply, ignore them. They make an offhand comment not pertaining to the conversation? ignore it and continue on. They make a comment in vent or talk over instructions? stop talking. When they ask what’s wrong say nothing and continue on with the instructions. They throw a tantrum? After a short while they tend to learn that acting out gets them no where and they settle down. If they don’t settle down they tend to leave to find another stage to perform on.

The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

First of all I’d like to say that I respect any man capable of role playing a female accurately. I myself play a female toon, but I’m not certain I could ever accurately portray that in an RP environment.

With that said, this category is for the guys who play females toons and pretend to be female to get what they want. Their main motivation is usually one of the two aforementioned items (see Prima Donna and Virago above). Either they want power, or they want attention and they are using the pretext of a female toon and supposed female player to get them. Pretending to be female lets them prey on the socially awkward of the guild and fill the role of a Devious Diva or Vapid Vixen. They tend to be very open about sex and sexual conversations and will launch into graphic detail if prompted. They tend to be a bit more flirty, refuse to talk on vent (usually with an excuse of shyness or no mic), and tend to be promiscuous in the guild.

Dealing With the Wolf

The same rules for the Virago and the Prima Donna apply here with an added items. If they are being disruptive and causing issues and you want to get rid of them, catch them in the lie. Get them to talk on vent or make a comment that outs them. Usually they disappear shortly after they are found out to start over again somewhere else. It’s not easy but once it’s done they are 99.99999% likely to leave and be gone for good.

The guild princess can be a very disruptive force in your guild. Identifying them early can save your guild a ton of drama and keep things together. Letting them run rampant can splinter the guild and potentially the friendships that you’ve built up. I’ve seen it happen, and it’s not pretty. Find your guilds “Bad egg shute” and help direct them towards it.

Have you had to deal with a Prima Donna in guild? Have any interesting stories or experiences to share about a Guild Egoist?

Until next time,

Sig

Image of Veruca Salt from Willy Wonka courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Friends and Raiders: Raider Accountability

Friends and Raiders: Raider Accountability

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So, it’s a topic that is always present but not a lot of people seem to want to touch on is disciplining raiders. It’s a topic most people hope to never deal with, but inevitably it comes up, how do you discipline your raiders? My guild has several ranks, the hierarchy goes like this.

GM

Officer

Class Lead

Raider

Veteran

Applicant

The raider rank offers free consumables for raids and a guaranteed raid spot on our 25 man raid nights. Pretty sweet deal right? The officers thought so too, but we felt it had to come with some requirements. Last year at Blizzcon 08 my guild was lucky enough that almost all the officers were able to attend. We hit up a pub, ordered a few pints and decided to hash out ground rules. We understand everyone has off days, so with that in mind how do we evaluate our raiders? We have three categories which we judge our raiders. Performance, Attendance and Attitude.

Performance

This is judged by varying degrees depending on class and role. We divided out the basic archetypes into 4 groups and an officer looks over each group one for melee, one for hunters, one for casters and one for healers (guess which one I take care of). We don’t set hard numbers but we look for a couple things. Is the player performing well based on assignment and others of their class? Is the player prepared with proper gems, enchants, talent spec and consumables (and using the provided consumables)? Does the player have their resistance gear(if applicable)? Is the player following assignments (healers on their target, interrupts doing what they need to do, the right sheeps going out)? Is the player consistently dying to void zones for no good reason? Is the person looting / herbing / mining etc instead of doing what they are supposed to be doing (ex: picking flowers instead of healing the tank)

That’s a rough sketch but you get the idea.
Attendance

This one is a hard number. We require that those of the raider rank attend 75% of the main raids (we only count our 25 man raids since for us that’s the focus) if you are not going to be able to make an official raid we expect you to give us notice so we can prepare. We understand that life happens and well, real life is more important then the game. We just ask that our raiders give us notification so we can bring in a replacement and keep the raid going for those that are on.

We also require that raiders be at the instance at the time of raid invites. This is not too much to ask, log out at the instance the night before if you have to. We don’t want to keep an entire raid waiting because one or two people are horsing around in Dalaran, or are always waiting for a Warlock to summon them.

Attitude

This one’s a bit of a wild card for some people, but the basics of the concept is as follows. Is the player badgering other players? (this includes harassing classes on the same token if they are going to drop or pass the token to the player) Is the person constantly in a sour mood and taking it out on the raid? Is the person ignoring assignments? Is the person acting like they just don’t want to be there? This also includes personal grievances between players. If one player has a problem with another we investigate it.

For this one it’s more the temper tantrum rule. If you’re being pissy, expect to be called on it.

Punitive Measures

So, now that we’ve metered out the 3 categories to go by how does one go about reprimanding offenders? For attendance issues we review the monthly numbers and people below the 75% mark are brought to the attention of the raid officers. If we see that there is sufficient reason for a demotion (ie skipped two weeks of raids for beer blasts) we will demote the person from raider status. We understand that real life happens and of course won’t hold unavoidable events against our raiders.

For performance and attitude we follow the Three Strike Rule. Each time a raider breaks one of the rules they receive a strike. Along with the strike comes a warning, usually handled in whispers during a break in the raid or if its severe enough during the encounter. We try to avoid public defamation on vent (but that doesn’t keep us from screaming to get out of the damned void zones when needed). Attitude problems are dealt with swiftly and on the spot. Informing the raider that they can and will be removed if the behavior continues (and following through with it). There is an officer in every class channel and usually one per group in 25 mans, so we have a good idea when someone is acting up. When a raider reaches three strikes they will receive two treatments. First is a docking of DKP. My guild still uses the DKP system so this is a major check point for most of our raiders. The degree of the docking depends on the severity of the strikes to be decided by the raid officers. Along with that comes the evaluation of the person’s raider status.  The raid officers decide if the person should be demoted.

Personal grievances are set for investigation. Officers will step in and separate the people in question, find out whats happening and determine what needs to be done, if anything.

To be honest we’ve never gotten to the third strike for anyone. DKP docking and removal of rank act as great deterrents and our raiders are generally pretty adult about most things, our officers are pretty proactive as well. We hold clinics and workshops as necessary if a player decides they need help. An officer is almost always on in game and class leaders are always afoot. We are very active as a guild and work together to bring everyone up, as well as weed out anything that might threaten the stability of our raid and guild.

You’ll find most raiding guilds have something like this set up. Ours is probably more lenient then some, but it works for us. We have a pretty long app process so people who make it through generally are good seeds and mesh well with the way we do things, so disciplining raiders doesn’t come up very often.

So how about you? How does your guild handle your raider? Do you Handle them at all? How do you handle personal grievances among guildies/raiders?

Until next time, Happy Healing

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Image courtesy of Guardian.co.uk

Raid Flexibility: Preparing for the Inevitable.

Raid Flexibility: Preparing for the Inevitable.

 

“A pint of sweat, saves a gallon of blood. ”
George S. Patton

Matt had a great post about Raid Flexibility: A Healthy Obsession . If you haven’t had a chance to read it, please do so you’ll enjoy it. Matt broke down the pieces of a raid that need to be kept in working order.

I’d like to talk today about what goes into making that work when the unexpected comes up.

There are several events that may come up that can throw a monkey wrench into your raiding schedule. It is the job of guild leadership to make sure this does not happen. Lets look at some of the things that can become a speed bump.

1. Vacations and Real Life Events

Lets face it, real life happens. People need time to go and do things like visit family, and just get away from it all. My guild has a saying, “Real Life always comes before game”. No player should feel like they can’t take time off and enjoy having a life outside the game. If you find yourself in a position of wondering if you can skip the raid to go see johnny graduate, there may be a problem.

2. Burnout

Every guild I know has felt the burn of this one at one point or another. We play this game like a part time job sometimes. Spending hours grinding, running raids and heroics and prepping for the raids. It is fun and social but sometimes you hit a point where it just weighs on you. You see this when content becomes stale too, players get tired of seeing the same thing over and over again with little variety. I’ve been hearing tales about this from friends of mine along multiple servers with current content. When players hit the point of burnout they begin to resent the raid and the game and sometimes decide to take a step back and wait for themselves to become revitalized.

3. Acts of god

Things happen sometimes that are out of your control. Hurricanes, Fires, power outages, storms and what we affectionately refer to in guild as “shiv to the forehead” moments. Sometimes you lose people when natural disasters hit, people lose power in the middle of a raid. These things are out of a persons normal control and can never fully be prepared for, but you will have to be dealt with when they happen. My guild has many members who live in areas where they suffer from hurricanes, earthquakes and flooding, we know this and we have to be ready for it. Funny story for you guys on this one too. Shiv to the forehead is what my guild refers to people who go on extended AFK’s  “where’s johnny” “dunno I think he answered his door and got shived in the forehead”. We were in The Eye getting ready to bash up Loot Reaver when I got a knock on the door. I called out in vent “hey guys be right back, someone’s at my door”. I go to answer and  find one of my batty neighbors. I step outside to see what they want and I hear the door shut and click behind me. I immediately hang my head as I realize I’ve locked myself out of my apartment. After a good twenty minutes or so I manage to get back in the apartment and call the raid officer at the time to let him know what happened. Yeah, teasing ensued for a long time as everyone thought I went to the door and got “shived in the forehead”.

4. Drama

This is a big one. You’re spending a lot of time with a lot of different people. You cultivate different relationships with people over the course of your time together. Warcraft is very much a melting pot, you will have people from all walks of life around you. While you have a common goal, conflicting ideologies and life events can grate on people causing stress to a point of breaking. You’ve all hear the stories, maybe you’ve experienced it. Friends stop being friends in game over something and one stops coming to raids, two players who were in a relationship break up and try to put the guild at odds over it by choosing sides (this also covers two people pursuing the same love interest in game and coming to odds over that). Sometimes people “Ragequit”, often times over loot. This is where they abruptly /gquit and then log off. That seems silly but it does happen. Back in the days of Black Wing Lair my guild had a warrior who ragequit. A set of tank gloves dropped, and he put in for them. Problem was he was fury so tanking was considered offspec for him. A primary prot warrior put in for them, and even though he had less dkp then the fury warrior was given the items as it was prot priority. The fury warrior immediately flipped out and /gquit on the spot, taking his girlfriend (one of our healers) with him. The twist was that we continued to raid by pulling in a couple more raiders and the same set of gloves dropped off the next boss (gotta love shared loot tables). Go ahead laugh, it’s a funny story.

These things happen. It’s the leadership of the guilds job to be prepared for these things. So what can they do to make sure these things don’t keep the guild from moving forward and raids from happening? Well there are several things they can do.

Being Prepared!

1. Recruitment

This is pretty big solution to a lot of the problems. With raid size having been changed from 40 man to 25 man its a lot easier to keep a flexible roster of active raiders available. The leadership of the guild has to sit down and decide how many actives they need to keep around. Too many and you have too many people sitting out, too few and you run the risk of a large vacation or disaster of some nature taking too many out of the game to compensate for. For my guild the sweet spot is around 30 members at the rank of raider. In addition to raiders, we have a non raider rank of veteran. This consists of people that cannot meet the raid requirement but are still around and active, and friends and family. Friends and family are literally that, people who wanted to be in guild to play with close friends and family members, but never apped to be raiders. With veterans we tend to have alt runs to keep their gear level up, and this way we have a further pool of people to pull from if the number of raiders goes too far south.

2. Redundancy

Matt touched on this one a bit in his post. Redundancy saves the raid. My guild has two people ready to lead the raid at the drop of a hat. We’ve gone to lengths to make sure the raid can prevail under some odd circumstances. Let me give you an example. My guild leader normally runs the raids, and I take care of healers, we converse in officer to talk about strategies as needed and it works well. This also gives us two people to yell at folks to get out of the fire / void zones, and a check and balance in case we miss something. The other night we were running Heroic Naxx, and the guild leader DC’d due to some random Internet screw up. I made a phone call to find out what was going on, and then when he said he would probably be a while, got everyone moving to keep going till he could get back. I also sent out a couple tells to make sure we had a replacement ready in case he couldn’t get back on. Redundancy helps deal with burnout and real life events quite a bit. It allows players the safety of being able to go and take a vacation or enjoy real life without worrying about having to be there or else let the raid down. It also means people who are burning out can take their hiatus and get back to their normal frame of mind. I’m currently working on bringing up to speed a healer to take over healing assignments on the off chance I take a vacation or need to miss a raid.

3. Communication / Structure

This is another big fix. Making sure your guild can communicate with one another openly is a great (and important) thing. I have a very open door policy as an officer, something I have done throughout all my years of management as well. If someone has a problem, questions or concerns they can contact me. I’ve posted my email / aim / phone number on the guild forums multiple times, as have many of the other officers. This helps keep drama low as when someone has a gripe or complaint, they feel they can bring it to us openly and it doesn’t have to sit and fester. We also have a solid structure in the guild so there’s always someone they can go talk to:

Guild leader > Officers > Class leaders > Raiders > Veterans

We post any changes or pertinent information on the guild forums as well. Making sure information is flowing keeps a lot of things in check. It’s also important to have a set of rules in place to deal with complications. This helps cut down on drama and personal issues.

The officers do a lot on the back-end to make sure things go smoothly. Unpossible has been around for a very long time and is one of the longest lived guilds on Zul’jin, we’ve adapted to survive pretty much everything that can be thrown at us. We are able to do this because we have systems in place to deal with the obstacles you can’t control. Like Matt, my guild operates under the assumption that everyone is expendable. To quote Matt

The expendability thought is that no one person should be so important or required that the entire raid has to stop its operations in case a certain player is absent.

Thats it for todays post,

Until next time, Happy Healing!

As always feel free to follow me (@LodurZJ) on twitter And don’t be afraid to ask questions using direct message there or the contact form here on the site!

5 Phases in the Cycle of Drama

5 Phases in the Cycle of Drama

on-a-boat

I am not happy.

To be frank, I’m really annoyed.

There’s a player I know who is distraught with another player. They’re both able to work together, but that’s not the issue at hand. The behavior of one player irritates the other.

There are two problems. Those of you who are or who have been in guilds will recognize it. I’ll give you a quick excerpt of the conversation in a second. For the first time, I face palmed.

“What were the problems?” I asked.

“I can’t tell you.” He responded.

“How am I supposed to fix the problems if I don’t know what they are?” I questioned.

“I don’t know, man.” He squawked.

“Can you at least tell me who they are so I can try to talk to them and get to the bottom of it?” I urged.

“No because I don’t want to rat them out or they’ll be mad at me.” He wailed.

“So let me get this straight. There’s people in our guild who are slightly disgruntled. You can’t tell me why or who because you don’t want to rat them out.” I observed.

“Yes.” He croaked.

Note: I was reading a PDF with over 300 ways to say “said” and decided to try some to break into the habit.

Can you see how toxic this type of behavior can be?

I don’t even know who the other dissatisfied players are because he doesn’t want to tattle. This isn’t grade school. We’re supposed to be civilized and mature people with the ability to talk to each other.

If they can’t trust their GM, then maybe they should shop around until they find a guild and a GM that can be trusted.

Now I know everyone has a tolerance meter. Some players are able to put up with and deal with a lot more crap than other people. It’s not something that can be taught. As a side note, GMs must have an amazingly high tolerance meter.

Here’s a look at what I deem the cycle of drama:

cycle2.001

Join a new guild. This is the stage where low drama player has just entered a new guild after being promised an environment where they can flourish and share goals with their new found guild mates. Things are generally good as a new guild functions like a breath of fresh of air.

Experience discomfort. Now that the new player has grown familiar with the players and atmosphere, they start noticing some aspects of the guild that they don’t like. Perhaps they find a certain player coming on too strong. Perhaps the style of looting isn’t done how they prefer. Maybe the leadership isn’t all that great. Whatever it is, the problem is significant enough to disturb them.

Code of silence. The new player vows to not let themselves be the cause of any dramatic events. They will try their best to deal with it and move on. Meanwhile, the rest of the leadership proceeds onward with the belief that everything is okay. This is the really critical stage and it could span days, weeks or even months.

Climatic triggering event. Enough is enough. It has gone too far. The guild member has reached breaking point. After a long period of time trying to keep it in, the guild member discovers he has reached the limit of his tolerance. An even triggers and months of frustration pour out possibly causing serious damage to the integrity of the guild.

Guild quitting. Once step 4 happens, step 5 happens pretty soon thereafter. The player has made a mess of themselves and an embarrassment. They’re so unhappy that leaving and starting fresh somewhere is the only logical course of action remaining.

And then the cycle starts a new.

It’s time to break the cycle. Veer away from step 3 and talk to someone. Otherwise you know what will happen next.

Next, there are two statements here that irritate me to no end.

“I don’t want to rock the boat.”

Before I became a GM, I agreed with this sentiment. I didn’t want to cause any problems. I didn’t want to force anyone’s hand. Confrontation is something I didn’t want to deal with. I’ll just grit my teeth and deal with it as best as I can. The GM’s already got a ton of Talbuk dung to deal with. No sense in giving him any more.

And I’m sure most of you would agree. Your GM’s are harried as they struggle to go from raid to raid trying to make sure everything’s running as smooth as possible.

Until one day, you (the exasperated player) decided that you have had enough. You are done putting up with the kind of crap that you have had to endure. You set your alarm for 2 AM before going to bed. Hours later, you wake up to the sound of Wham’s Wake Me Up Before You Go Go, log into WoW, and quietly leave the guild while everyone is asleep.

“I’m not the only one who feels this way.”

That just expands the problem even more. Now it’s a trust issue. Loyalties here are torn between the players who said something in confidence versus the GM trying to salvage and remedy the situation.

Everyone wants to be a rebel. No one seems to like or respect authority. At the end of the day, the GM’s just a regular player as well. It’s a shame. It really is. It’s a thankless job that’s hard enough already without having players that conspire by passively resisting. It’s making management difficult.

I wish people weren’t as shy. I wish they’d be willing to stand up and grow a spine. Normal and sane GM’s aren’t going to kick you out or feed you to the sharks if you rock the boat. The ones that do aren’t the ones you want to play with anyway.

Snap out of it!

I am begging you. If you have a problem with someone or something, talk to your GM. They are the last line of defense. If there’s nothing you can do, then you are free to go. But until you as a respectable person can take that step to explore every possible option to resolve your differences, then you’re going to continue to be handcuffed. The cycle will repeat itself. Contrary to popular belief, we don’t have the capabilities of the NSA or the FBI. We can’t wire tap your computer. We’re not psychics.

If your GM doesn’t know what the problem is, he can’t solve it. By with holding it now, it’s going to be made even more catastrophic later. If you respect your GM that much, then you should go have a talk with them in private. If a resolution can’t be reached, at least you tried.

But the fact remains, it begins with the guild members. Once the guild member speaks up, the ball can get rolling. Someone has to open a dialog. Too often, silence is interpreted as nothing wrong. But it could also mean nothing is right.

Whatever happens, happens. It’s the actions and choices that people make which matter. Sometimes there really is nothing that can be done. I accept and I understand that. What kills me is when no one ever tries to cooperate.

It’s disappointing.

Story of a Textbook Gquit

Story of a Textbook Gquit

goodbye

I had an opportunity today to work through my RSS reader and I spotted this post from Herding Cats. It was about how to quit your guild. The first part of this post contains a story. The second part contains a breakdown of what happened during the departure process that I liked.

I’d like to share an example of a gquit. There was a Warlock in my guild who is a top quality player in my books. We rewarded him well and he repaid us in kind by performing well. He was instrumental throughout many of our raiding first kills.

It was a quiet Sunday night. I was at my desk curled up with my copy of Watchmen. My character was logged in flying from one side of the world to the other. It was an estimated time of seven minutes.  My speakers were piping in random music from iTunes. I think it was Jessie’s Girl by Rick Springfield. I heard a distinctive beep. I glanced up and realized I had an ingame instant message from one of my Warlocks.

“Hey, can we talk?”

My hands turned cold. And it had nothing to do with the fact that I live in Canada. Something I learned very quickly on the job here as a GM is that whenever someone asks for your permission to talk to you, it’s generally bad news.

The song ended and another one started.

*Tiffany – Think We’re Alone Now starts playing*

I sat up and placed a bookmark. Laurie just called up Dan for dinner with the permission of Dr. Manhattan. I took off my glasses and sat up straight and reached for the keyboard.

“Yeah, what’s up?”

“I’m leaving the guild.”

Seeing those words no longer phase me anymore. I used to feel a twinge of sadness. I’ve grown accustomed to seeing people come and go. Yeah they’re people. Yeah I’ve played with them. But I never really knew them. I never took the time to appreciate what their other interests were. What kind of drink do they prefer? How do they like their coffee? Is their toilet paper dispensed over or under the roll? It’s as if I’ve set up up a subconscious defensive mechanism where I keep everyone at arms length to reduce any pain that might happen. The less I know and the less close I get, the easier I can shrug it off and move on.

Ex girlfriends are a good lesson.

“Okay. It’s going to suck without you. Good luck. Anything I can do to change your mind?”

“No. The raiding schedule just doesn’t fit anymore. I know you plan on ramping the raid days to four. I can no longer commit to that and I’d rather take the time now to look around to find myself a guild that I can.”

*The Rolling Stones – Paint it Black starts playing*

“I understand. Thank you for taking the time to do this. I know you have a few alts. You’re more than welcome to keep a couple around to hang out with us from time to time.”

“Thanks. I’ll take you up on that.”

Exit strategy. Two words that came to mind. I watched Ocean’s 13 earlier that day. With every heist, there is an exit strategy. How do you plan to leave? It can be done via stealth. Slip away when no one’s looking around. Alternatively, you could hide in broad day light and in plain sight when everyone is present. It’s one thing to break into the vault. It’s a whole new ball game entirely when trying to break out.

“I’d like you to at least leave a message. The others will want to know about your departure. How and when you want to leave is entirely up to you.”

“I should leave now. I don’t want to cause a big commotion. I’ll put up a forum post.”

And with that, he is Conquest no longer. The first thing that comes to mind is that I’m going to have to go look for another Warlock. It seems cold, doesn’t it? It’s like misplacing your favourite pen and looking for another one right away without giving any thought or care to what happened to your favourite pen.

*Young MC – Bust a Move*

Minimizing drama requires the understanding of both parties. This is a textbook example of a player leaving and a GM not escalating. Here’s why:

An acceptable reason was provided. It doesn’t matter if a player is getting married or if he’s going on vacation to Cancun (which I hear is nice this time of year). The fact that he provided an answer to the “Why?” question is always a plus. I know most GMs can accept and move on if a player leaves suddenly out of the blue. But deep inside, we all want to know why. We want to know what went wrong and if it was preventable. The first thing that comes to mind is that it was our fault.

He came to me at a non-peak hour. No raids were scheduled that night. I wasn’t doing much of anything else. I was idle. As opposed to talking to me during a raid or during an important event like a team huddle with my healers, he came to me at an acceptable time when I wasn’t otherwise engaged with anything else.

He left quietly and decisively. There was no hesitation or second thoughts or doubts. The quiet part doesn’t bother me as much. I don’t mind it so much if someone leaves during the middle of the day when there’s a lot of players on. I personally don’t think that’s dramatic. I know some GMs prefer otherwise. It really depends on the player in question and how they conduct themselves when they leave.

No hard feelings. Strictly business. It was nothing personal. Events become dramatic only if a party escalates it to such a level. You keep dramatic events to a minimum by keeping a cool head and staying calm. Drama only happens if players let it happen. Even then, some people would still consider this a dramatic event. That’s just a difference of opinion.

The door was not completely closed. He was a valued member of the team. I allowed his alts to remain if he so wished so he could still hang out with some of the friends during his off time. If his situation changes, he’s welcome to apply again.

Image courtesy of Spiralz