Group Organizations: Guilds No More
Table of Contents
II. Group Organization Superstructure
III. Group Organization Features
– 1. Group Organization Headquarters System
– 2. Carrier Network System
– 3. Adventurer’s Guild System
– 4. Group Mentoring System
– 5. Group Workshop System
– 6. Trade Union System
– 7. Warband Formation
– 8. Group Organization Travel Network
IV. Membership Management Considerations
– 1. Membership Restriction
– 2. Membership Recruitment
– 3. Membership Visibility
– 4. The Hard Choice
V. Original System (August 2013)
This concept leverages a previous concept I wrote back in August 2013, on the concept of multiple forms of guilds and organizations for players. That document can be found below the main content of the expanded system.
I’m reworking that concept here, in order to better define the concept and intentions, as well as to redefine the system to be based on the Group Organization superstructure and how they can be designed for modularity and meaningful cross-over between groups. Part of the resistance to the idea of “multiple guilds” is the way it is phrased, and I found that a lot of players conversing on the subject were relying on their experience with all-encompassing guilds in the classic one-guild system instead of being able to see that a completely different paradigm for player groups is possible.
II. Group Organization Superstructure
Every guild, clan, corporation, trade union, outfit, thieves den, or other major group, starts with the formation of a Group Organization (GO). This structure is very limited in what it can be at the start, and different features must be unlocked by various means to become accessible. These groups are more permanent in nature than the temporary Party and Raid Group options, as these groups don’t dissolve when they are down to 1 player or everyone who was a part of it logs off for the day. Dissolution of a GO requires effort, and membership may even be able to veto decisions made by leadership to disband the GO to prevent spiteful officers from ruining the small gaming community created by that GO.
The Group Organization is where meaningful group activities are organized and conducted, as well as being the place where progression for that group is handled. GO progression and advancement is based on the activities and achievements of its members, as well as presence of the physical things needed to access certain features (like having a crafting workshop in order to enable advanced crafting-related features for larger projects) which are up to the players to set up and maintain.
III. Group Organization Features
1. Group Organization Headquarters System
This is the building that will be used by the group, to represent them as well as offering shelter and a long-term base of operations. These will need to be expanded every once in a while to accommodate new features, as well as getting upgrades to defense as fame and notoriety increases. These are also needed for the group to have its own mail service, which is necessary to utilize a variety of GO features.
As the permanent long-term structure for the group, the Headquarters is also the place where group activities can be safely engaged. Threat of attack or other engagement is relatively low, since the GO can restrict access to some or all features to only members. The layout of the facility can be done to promote maximum efficiency and productivity for all tasks. Having a recognized structure also makes it possible to hire NPCs to work there as vendors or maintenance staff or any other task.
The Headquarters also serves as a place for the GO to display all of their achievements, trophies, statues, world event participation rewards, and anything else which they may obtain for proving their worth. Each of these objects for display could potentially grant minor bonuses to all members, or just ones present at the GO building, so expanding the HQ to house everything might not be a bad idea. These objects are not owned by any player, and are only available if the GO has a structure. One other type of achievement is the player-made memorabilia piece, which is a physical object that is assigned to a certain event and placed on display. This could be anything from commemorating a personal victory to honoring an ally who has passed on in all planes of existence.
A GO without a Headquarters is limited to the most basic of features. Chat, membership management, and GO names displaying by the character’s name, are about all they would have access to. Some achievements may still be earned, but without a place to display them, their benefits will be inaccessible.
One other feature of the Headquarters and other permanent establishments is the area of influence. Any feature of the building which is connected to another part of the building by a walkway, stairway, ramp, or hallway, counts as as being interconnected. This is necessary to guarantee that all features will be able to synergize with one another properly. Another method of establishing interconnectivity is a surrounding barrier, such as a moat or wall, which creates a defensible space that covers a section of separate structures. These two systems allow for more of a castle or fortress to be used for everything, or alternatively more of a town or walled urban city with separate buildings.
2. Carrier Network System
One of the main features of a GO HQ is the ability to establish a Carrier Network Station. The Carrier Network is a system where various flying creatures are used to spread news or deliver items between two Carrier Network locations. This is essential to many systems, and provides access to news and clues that wouldn’t otherwise be available unless players set up their own personal Carrier Network Station.
Along with the Stations are Hubs. Carrier Network Hubs are intermediary locations where a Carrier can stop off to deliver information and goods, and even pick up any pending orders that will be going back with the carrier to the return point. Hubs don’t have the infrastructure for housing and handling Carriers, so they may only be used for limited drop-offs and pick-ups.
A Carrier Network Station consists of five parts: housing, contact point, training area, nest area, and package processing. Housing is where the Carriers will stay when they are resting. Contact point is the area where they take off and land, which may need to be able to be sealed off in case of an attack. Training Area is a separated caged-in area where trainers can train young Carriers for future tasks. Nest Area is where new carriers are bred. Package processing is the area where mail can be set to send, or is received and sorted.
Initially this is only done with smaller creatures, but larger carriers can be raised and trained, giving the option for larger packages. This will require expanding the nest to accommodate incubating larger eggs. The housing area will need to have enough space to comfortably accommodate the larger creature. The training area may need to be expanded, or even have a new one built as an auxiliary building to make sure it is large enough to facilitate proper training. The package processing would need to be upgraded to accommodate larger packages, since it wouldn’t be simple mail and smaller goods anymore.
3. Adventurer’s Guild System
The Adventurer’s Guild System is designed to promote the efforts of groups who want their players to be able to set out on epic journeys guided by some clue or task or goal, and to be able to claim special prizes and trophies for the GO through efforts engaged in this way. These prizes and trophies and displayed separately from the general ones, and are shown in the Adventurer’s Guild area rather than the main Headquarters hall (though the two could be seamlessly interconnected).
The smallest structure to count for an Adventurer’s Guild is a Guild Office, and this requires a Carrier Network Hub, as well as at least one Carrier Network Station at one of the GO headquarters. The Guild Office needs to be little more than a desk that can send and receive letters, and keep records on what has gone on. Cash and other rewards are delivered directly to the personal mailboxes of the characters who complete Adventuring Quests. As the Guild Office size increases, and the Carrier Network is improved, quests from further away become available, and the size and variety of quest reward types increases.
Adventuring Quests are special requests to complete tasks. These can be anything from collecting something, slaying something, participating in a certain aspect of a rallying call, following up on a clue on some ancient map, escorting somebody into the murky depths of the wilderness, helping someone break into an ancient vault, or plenty of other things. Not every quest provides a trophy, and the ones which do are generally difficult, but there is no way of knowing which will be the difficult ones by reading the description. The character who accepts the quest is the leader for that quest, and it is up to them to assemble a team and complete the task, or suffer the shame of defeat or quitting the job.
Adventuring Quests are purely optional, and players are absolutely not expected to mindlessly grind quests all day. Some quests may take more than a day, and require some thinking and planning to successfully complete, so simply accepting quests with the intention of easily walking through them is not a realistic thing to expect. There may be prerequisites for the leader, in order to be sure that somebody will have the minimum level of skill needed to complete the task when the team gets to it.
4. Group Mentoring System
One of the major advantages of a GO is that more skilled characters can aid less-trained characters in increasing their understanding of a subject, so the less-skilled character can develop their skills more rapidly when they finally engage in practical application after meeting with a mentor. A Group Study is the place that is used or mentoring, and the quality and variety of media in the study will further aid the process.
When mentoring is being engaged, one specific skill must be selected. The gap between the highers kill and lower skill represents the Theoretical Potential which can be accumulated. Books or learning kits may be used to accelerate the rate of filling in Theoretical Potential, as well as increasing the quality by which it actually takes effect, and the duration by which is will last when mentoring has ended.
Theoretical Potential represents the amount by which the skill will increase at an accelerated rate. This might be as low as 1.1x or possibly even higher than 2x, depending on the quality of the mentoring. Mentoring doesn’t happen in a quick conversation, and the rate of Theoretical Potential filling in will be as low a 1 per 10 minutes and possibly as high a 1 per minute for a character who has a lot of experience at being a mentor. The rate at which Theoretical potential degrades is based on the character’s intelligence score, though degradation is staved off through continuous practical application.
Mentoring isn’t exclusive to GO members, and it would even be possible to provide permissions for an outsider to be a mentor or receive mentoring. This could even be done by contract as a paid service, allowing skilled players to leverage some earning power simply by being more skilled. This works when players are logged off as well, so long as they are both in the study when they do log off.
5. Group Workshop System
The Group Workshop requires any building that counts as a workshop to be owned and maintained by the Group Organization. This can be modularly expandable in order to promote growth and facilitate crafting diversity. A workshop can exist separate from other buildings, though it may not be wise to leave one ill-defended unless it is a temporary structure.
The Group Workshop System is meant to help a larger group of players consolidate their equipment and efforts. Equipment, recipes, expertise, and even workpower itself, can be leveraged by the group to improve the quality, rate, and diversity of items that can be produced. Both mentoring and sharing of workpower is possible by requesting them from online players at the workshop, or offline players who logged out in the workshop and have completed any pending projects.
Centralizing equipment is one way a Workshop can provide advantages and benefits to the members. Instead of each member needing to use public equipment, or own a workshop or home of their own, they can put equipment in the GO workshop and share it with the rest of the group. Likewise, other folks can put equipment relevant to their professions, further extending the overall crafting capabilities possible at the workshop. Over time, an array of equipment of varying qualities and disciplines will populate the workshop, allowing members at all levels of skill to participate in crafting.
Recipes can be shared from any member to the Workshop Manuals. These Manuals are available for any member to use, but recipes may not be copied from the manual without the permission of the officers in charge of the workshop. This guarantees that unique recipes between groups don’t get spread around, so a member of a Workshop Group can’t just rip off recipes and sell them or give them away elsewhere. Officers may also restrict member access to Workshop Manuals based on other criteria (needing the minimum skill to make it, for example) either from crafting it themselves or even from requesting it as a commissioned piece. Workshop Manuals will be exclusive to the Workshop in which they are located, and an officer or designated member must physically run a copy of the manual from one workshop to another (or utilize any fast-travel that may be available, or send it via Carrier Network if the recipient has a Station or Hub) for the receiving workshop to get the recipes.
Mentoring is possible when the watchful eye and patient guidance of a player character is available. When a player goes to craft an item, they may bring in mentors to observe and give them pointers, which improves the success rate along with increasing skill at a slightly faster rate. Mentors can be invited from members who are within the workshop, as well as any who have logged off in the workshop, so long as they are not in the middle of another task.
Utilizing the talents of offline and online players alike is another feature. Players in the proximity of the workshop can lend a hand with crafting, either helping to speed the process up or improve the quality. It is also possible to have another player craft an item that they can make, regardless of the skill level of the person who makes the request and provides the materials.
For the most profit-minded of groups, two sets of fees can optionally be imposed. The first is a property maintenance tax, where every crafting requires players to pitch in a certain value to keep help with upkeep and maintenance of the building. The second is a commission fee, where players are required to pay fellow members a certain value in order to have them assist with crafting or craft an item themselves. This is strictly optional though, it is not required for any group.
6. Trade Union System
Whether or not crafting is a tasks which the GO participates in, trade is always on the table as an option. Once a Carrier Network station has been established for the GO, it is possible to declare Trade Union status, though it will need a separate space like the Adventurer’s Guild before it can actually be implemented. A Trade Union has features for players to place or receive group orders and contracts, set up normalized trade routes with regular deliveries and payments, trade large amounts of material across distant regions, and find GOs who are in need of something which may already be owned in great quantities.
Group contracts allow for two sets of features to be offered. The first set of features is for a group of players to place an order for certain goods or products. This is done through the Carrier Network or through interacting in close proximity at the Trade Union Office. Anyone in the GO can contribute to completing this order, and once it is completed, materials will be distributed to all the parties who placed the order. If the Carrier Station can’t accommodate packages of that size, the contact will only allow for in-person pick-up, though that can be handled at the gates outside the GO HQ if outsiders aren’t to be let in. The other feature of Group Contracts is for players to place an order together, using their pooled resources to get better rates for bulk materials or products.
A GO can set up contracts with individuals or other GOs to have supplies moved at regular intervals along a trade route. NPCs can be hired to make the deliveries, and they should generally be able to do it with safety, though players may take up the task of hauling and protecting the goods themselves if they are willing to handle the risk. These contracts are great to guarantee steady repeat business over a period of time, and to ensure that certain supplies or materials will always be well-stocked.
As the Carrier Station improves, the ability to find materials or needs for materials further away becomes possible. Placing orders for distant materials, or accepting an order to deliver local materials to a far-away place, generally costs more due to the risk involved with transporting materials over a great distance. Completing distant material deliveries can be a very lucrative way to earn money and see the world.
Some GOs may have an abundance of something, or a few units of something exceptional in which they specialize, which they make publicly available. Other Trade Unions may browse the catalogs of any Trade Unions within the Carrier Network radius, and allow for purchases to be made by mail or through in-office pickup.
7. Warband Formation
When a large Warband forms to go on the hunt, the forces of nature and magic become aware of their presence and intent, guiding them towards glorious battle with adversaries in the region. This causes Warbands of all sizes to be able to set out in the world and locate meaningful combat. Powerful creatures, local bandit camps, infested caverns or ruins, swarming armies of the undead, and plenty of other things, can be found by a Warband through the guidance of natural and magical forces alike.
Two things are needed to form a Warband: a decoration and a war room. The war room allows the warband to look at local maps of the region together, and any local reports of odd activity, and decide on one or a few points to explore and investigate. Before setting out, a temporary aesthetic item must be crafted and worn by each member to prove their dedication to the Warband. Should the Warband succeed in a task of great glory, the Warband symbol will be dedicated as a permanent decoration for the GO, as well as permanent high-quality versions of the Warband symbol being dedicated to all the members. If the Warband should fail and be defeated, the symbol will be stolen off of them, and they must fight to reclaim their symbols or form a new Warband with a new symbol the next time.
The world treats a Warband differently than any other group type, acknowledging that the group will stay together until they complete a task of some worth. This may open up access to a quest or objective or clue that leads them to an epic showdown, or even to start in motion an event which will have reverberations throughout the server’s history. Warband that follows through on investigating nearby activity is guaranteed to see combat either way, as the powerful presence will repel weaker creatures while attracting the attention of more powerful monsters or coordinated enemy groups.
The size of the War Room determines the size which the Warband may be. Generally all members must be present at the start of the Warband, and throughout any key battles, to properly participate and receive credit. The War Room may increase in size to accommodate larger groups and more distant maps, but the range of the Carrier Network Station determines how far reports of activity will come in to populate the points of interest in the Map Room.
8. Group Organization Travel Network
Everybody, don’t murder me for maybe suggesting that we might possibly allow player to use a fast travel system. I can understand people not wanting this due to the logistics of players being able to go between multiple points without a great deal of limitation, but the idea has to be written and fleshed out regardless of being generally unpopular. There are four ways which this can work: instant, track, portal realm, or stone of return.
Instant Travel for GOs is just as it sounds. Each GO HQ must have its own Teleport room, though some may only be one-way to save resources. There can be limits applied to use of these, such as only being able to use them when all the inventory bags have been cleared out, a cooldown of a few minutes to a full 72-minute day before they can be used again, a required item that is expended upon teleporter use, or even a temporary debuff representing teleportation sickness that weakens players on the other side.
Track Travel is a system where a path between two GO headquarters is defined, and to set up automated travel mounts. These mounts are trained only to ride the player to the destination, and return hope upon completing this task. The player may dismount and return at any time along the trip. This requires for stables to be set up, which will need to be upgraded and expanded over time to accommodate more mounts. Each mount must be taken along the path manually so that it may learn the path, but this is only needed once per destination per mount.
Portal Realm Travel is use of teleporters, but these teleporters don’t safely and instantly transport the character who uses it. Instead, it works by teleporting them to a compressed dimension which lets them travel at a rate of 100 to 1 compared to traveling through the world itself. However, this dimension itself is a dangerous and ever-changing place. Dangerous hazards await anyone who uses this method. Spending too long in inside, or being overwhelmed by hazards, will return the traveler to the portal they entered from, though with fatigue from the draining effects of being in the portal realm. When entering the portal realm, all the connected realm portals will be visible in the distance, so each player must find their own way through the maze of moving terrain and hazards to get through before they become fatigued and get spit out. This realm could also be used to other quests and content, but that detail would require its own concept document.
Stone of Return is a stone which is cast through the destination portal, and captures the location of that portal. When someone enters another portal in that GO’s network while focusing on a stone they own, the stone is consumed and the player is transported. Any stones held by the character as they use a portal will be unaffected, except any stones prepared to return to the portal they enter will be nullified, so the stones cannot be used to create more stones between one another. One character may charge many stones and bring them for others to use, so a GO can have a stockpile of stones available for their members to use, and the errand of charging more stones and returning with them could be a regular duty for some members.
IV. Membership Management Considerations
1. Membership Restriction
Every Group Organization has a series of options to allow or filter possible applicants from joining them. The most basic of these are Open and Closed, where “Open” allows players who are part of another GO to apply and be a member of both, while “Closed” restricts new members to being only a part of their GO and no others. The third “Limited” option gives choices for a GO who only wants to specialize in a few things to allow fluidity between various groups with their membership.
A. Closed GO functions much like the standard guild in any game made before, making sure there’s no possibility that members can be a part of another group without definitively quitting the group to join the new one.
B. Open GO functions in the opposite way of Closed, where anyone who isn’t restricted by their current GOs can freely apply and become a member if accepted. This works well for groups that have a single purpose (crafters, spelunkers, acting troupe, etc) where members are expected to join other Open GOs to get access to the features their main GO doesn’t provide. This can also be purely social, not using any features or having any development, simply being their for the aesthetic and shared communications.
C. Limited GO allows players to join the GO only if it does not overlap with any of the functions and features of their current GOs (aside from the most basic features, like being able to form a party and share in GO chat channels). This is good for groups who want to have members in common between two groups (maybe one for adventuring and one for crafting), while having unique members who are only a part of the group which applies to them.
2 Membership Recruitment
Recruiting can be done in a variety of ways in order to guarantee the proper type of player is joining a GO. Likewise, a player can understand the terms of that GO before they apply or seek membership through a current member.
A. Public recruitment is for any group that wants as few filters and limitations as possible for members to join and participate. A Public GO is listed among GOs that a player can join freely on the server, and players simply need to go to wherever the Public GO listing is located to find one and become a member. Or more than one, since many will be using open or limited membership systems.
B. Invite Only recruitment is just as it reads: the only way to join the group is to be offered a chance to join by a member who is designated with invite permissions. Any membership restriction method can use this, however I would expect to see it used heavily by Closed or Limited GOs. Invitations don’t consider the character’s current affiliations, so a player can’t use the invitation system to see if another player is a part of a secretive group or not.
C. Application allows players to apply, and have their request and any requested information provided in the application reviewed by a recruiting officer to determine their viability as a member.
3. Membership Visibility
Some groups want to be sure their members take pride in the GO name and make it apparent that they are a member of that GO. Others may want to be extra-private and make sure nobody knows that they are part of a secret society of assassins.
A. Mandatory means that a requirement of being a member of the guild is to have the GO name showing at all times.
B. Optional allows the player to decide whether they want to represent the GO, another GO, or no GO at all.
C. Only to Each Other means the members of the GO don’t reveal their membership to anyone but other members, which is for the most secretive of groups.
4 The Hard Choice
When a GO changes their membership system for exclusivity from another associated GO, it will have sweeping effects that take effect immediately. When a change is made, it will take effect in 24 hours for all existing members, and apply immediately to any new applicants or people who apply during the 24-hour change period. All members will get email notification that their GO has changed its membership rules, which guarantees that no lone officer with management permissions can take down the GO by changing membership without everyone getting notification and ample time to resolve it. When the 24 hours is over, players who didn’t make a decision on which GO they want to stay with of the two or more which may be conflicting, will be forced to make their final decision. Access to features of the restricted GOs will be limited until the member makes a decision of which they want to stay with.