Time for yet another MMO-RP post! This time I give you my thoughts on cross-guild conflict RP. It may be for example two criminal guilds turning into rivals, it may be criminal guild vs law enforcement, it may be military guilds, it may be… anything. I hope it makes as much sense to you as it does to me!
Guild conflicts are an odd thing. On the one hand roleplayers absolutely thrive on IC conflicts between groups and guilds, it’s stuff that pushes plot lines forward, drives character development, and just generally gives a heightened level of excitement and possibly danger to the roleplay experience. IC conflict, I said. Too bad OOC conflict between guilds so easily comes as a result.
Without having any proof to back my claims up, I would still say that most OOC conflicts between guilds are probably due to one of two things:
A) There is a misunderstanding somewhere at the core of the issue and a lack of honest communication,
B) The two guilds are used to different standards and what is completely normal for one side is seen as wrong and bad by the other.
(And then of course there is C), conflicts due to people behaving like complete jackasses, but… let’s for a moment assume that people aren’t generally that bad, alright?)
As a result, some guilds completely avoid getting into more serious conflicts with other groups, even if it’s all IC. But that’s also too bad, because it really can bring the most marvellous and exciting RP. So what I’d instead say, is just be careful and take steps to prepare.
This is where the guild leader comes in. You as the guild leader need to keep up to date on what possible IC conflicts are brewing, and when you see your guild headed towards a probably conflict with others, you contact the leader of the other guild. Yes, I know that some are violently opposed to giving away any kinds of spoilers, but this is important. If an IC conflict turns into an OOC one it can sour the experience for everyone, so consider that while the average guild member probably shouldn’t be told everything, guild leaders at least should know what’s going on, and have a direct line of communication between one another.
If you already know the other guild leader well, you already know each other’s RP style and you already know that you are on the same page regarding this, feel free to go just progress without worrying about it. But if there are any uncertainties, this is what I strongly suggest you do.
Contact the other guild leader, right away:
So it seems our two guilds may be heading towards an IC conflict, and so I would like to ask a few things.
1) Do your need to know in advance what is going to happen or are you ok with surprises?
– If the other guild leader says they want surprises, go through the rest with as few spoilers as possible. Just talk hypothetical situations.
2) Does your guild work with plots where the ending is predetermined or are you open for anything happening?
– If one guild wants predetermined endings and the other is completely against such, you probably are best off avoiding IC conflicts altogether.
3) If a conflict was to turn violent, what are the limits your guild abides by? Is heavy violence alright for example? In our guild we really do not want cross this particular line (insert details), which is good for you to know.
– These are limits that must be respected even when the two sides generally go by different standards. Realize that there may be differences within a guild too. It may even come down to having a little list of characters who one should be extra careful with due to players being uncomfortable with certain themes. Every single player doesn’t need to know everything but you as the guild leader should keep track of this to avoid problems. Again, if the two guilds are too different, it may be worth trying to avoid the conflict altogether.
4) If it comes to a fight, how are you used to doing it in your guild? Do you go for free emoting, dice rolls, or what?
– There is no right or wrong here. Just decide on a method before you wind up in a stressful situation.
5) Are characters in your guild generally killable?
– Do yourself a favour. Don’t set up killable characters to get in serious violent conflict against unkillable characters unless you both have already agreed on a pre-determined ending. Know beforehand if some characters in the opposing guild are “off limits”. If you can’t accept the premises, try to avoid the conflict.
6) Do you have any questions for me in return?
– Remember that keeping in touch OOC and communicating doesn’t have to mean sharing IC information and forewarning the other of what’s happening. If both sides want to keep things spoiler free that is very possible, but the two parties still need to be on the same page OOCly speaking.
If any issues turn up, let me know!
Now, if issues during this little conversation with the other guild leader leads you to the conclusion that an IC conflict is best avoided, because the two guilds operate on too different levels and have varying standards… How do you get out of an IC conflict? Isn’t it metagaming, influencing the IC events by OOC means, if you start avoiding something that otherwise should happen if going by pure IC logic?
Yes, it is metagaming. The unavoidable sort, I’m afraid. But few things kills the joy of RP more than OOC conflicts, and if you are avoiding another because you know you simply will not be able to work it out, that it will cause too much problems, it is worth that bit of innocent meta. (Note that this isn’t a free pass to avoid conflicts whenever you think your characters will lose, while you publically claim to be open for anything, that would be more abusive metagaming to gain an advantage.)
So, all is alright, you and the other guild leader see that your guilds are just too different for an IC conflict to play out well, how do you avoid it? Again, be open.
So, considering our differences I think we’ll need to avoid this blossoming into a full conflict somehow. How do we do that?
Don’t be afraid to say that! Together you and the other guild leader can work out a solution to the situation and it’ll spare you a ton of problems. Don’t turn it into accusations, just lay out the cards as they are. And then move on without letting it sour things, just accept that while friendly and regular RP may be fine with your two guilds, you should try to avoid conflict.
It may come down to deciding to play through a conflict after all, but with a pre-determined ending in order to avoid issues with different expectations. Or it may be a case of IC misinformation or misdirection. Or setting them up to make peace IC. Or, worst case scenario if nothing really works, retcon that little detail of what happened at the point of no return.
If things DO seem to work out however, and you seem to be on the same page, go ahead! Have fun! Just keep that line of communication open. You don’t need to tell your own members all that is happening (spoilers are often not appreciated after all and can ruin things!), but as the leader you really should be aware. If any of your members screw up, deal with it. Realize that your guild probably is not infallible, everyone can make mistakes. Don’t let them grow into serious issues if they happen, just deal with it right away and move on.
And that, dear friends, would be my guide to cross-guild conflict RP.