V. Original System
Clans, Societies, Guilds, Companies, Parties, Warbands, and Custom Groups, should all be different ways to organize players, and they should overlap rather than being exclusive.
First I’ll explain what each one is, then I’ll explain why they should exist rather than having all these features grouped into one social organization.
Clans represent a family-like relation. This can be merely a roleplaying element, or it could have mechanics where players of that clan gain certain bonuses which leverage the progress of every member of that clan. Alternatively, it could be used as a way to fill in some low-level class abilities so every new character from that clan will start a little tougher than a default starting character (which would also be a way to have friends get their friends into the game quicker).
Societies should be formations of clans and individuals that represent the social organization of a larger group. The smallest form of this organization would be a tribe, and the largest would be a nation. This unlocks the potential for larger operations, including the ability to potentially establish a settlement and declare sovereignty apart from a scripted world event alert. Leaders of clans and clanless representatives will be charged with the task of maintaining the society, managing the resources and building projects and defensive alerts for the society based on what their subset of society contributes.
Guilds represent a group of adventurers of any kind, with the intent of working together for greater adventures and treasure. Nobody is restricted by their clan or society or other social organizations, so anyone may join a guild regardless of their other relations. Guilds work together to develop their guild hall, filling in statues and trophies from their victories, and guarding it from looters. The guild hall provides extra buffs and bonuses and benefits to players based on the trophies they have collected, so fending off thieves and raiders is rather important.
Companies represent a trade and crafting organization. Sharing research and schematics, sharing workpower during downtime to get things built or researched faster, pooling resources and facilitating equitable trade of rare resources between members, and maintaining a common shop where all the members can sell their goods, with revenue being distributed fairly between all participants. Other social organizations don’t impact someone’s ability to be a member of a company.
Parties are the traditional role from most MMOs. Form up a small group with a few players, and the group dissolves when everyone logs off or leaves the group.
Warbands represent a large raiding force made up of anyone and everyone willing to participate. The goal is to pick a target and attack it until it has been subdued or demolished. Warbands can be a spur-of-the-moment group, and quickly dissolve once the objective has been completed. Warbands get bonuses for the number of members actively fighting in a close area, and players gain individual Warband Membership experience which can be invested in warband proximity auras that they are active whenever they are in any warband. Leadership will always transfer to the member of the warband with the most time spent in the warband without logging off when the leader leaves. Warbands persist after logout, as opposed to a party, so players can log back in and join the warband at the point of attack if it hasn’t dissolved since they last logged on.
Custom Groups share no bonuses, but allow players to create extra groups with exclusive membership protocols. Organization and communication is the primary purpose of these groups.
Why is it important to have more than one form of organization?
The main reason to have different forms of organization is to let players subdivide their various relations and interactions in the game.
Someone may be a member of a clan consisting of their ultra-casual group from a previous game, but have a burning desire to be a hardcore crafter, so they can stay with their clan or society but get their crafting satisfied through the company they join or form (or they can just be a freelance crafter). They may also want to get in a lot of combat, so they have the option of joining a warband and kicking around some monsters with a large crew every now and then, or joining a guild and questing across the realm.
Likewise, someone may not care to be part of a group, they may just want to kill stuff. They might just jump from party to party or warband to warband as they play, getting their combat in where it is hopefully going to be the thickest.