Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Case of the Lost Paladin

Once upon a time there was a paladin who thought he needed a break from raiding. He was geared enough to run Ulduar, and that was one of the reasons why he didn’t feel any motivation to keep running Naxx. He wrote a small note about it to his guild leader, and this letter ended up engaging not only his guild, but thousands of WoW-players all over the world. (Which probably didn’t come as a complete surprise to him – after all he should know that his GL was blogger at heart and this was definitely blogging material.)

There are currently three major posts discussing The Case of the Paladin: World of Matticus, Greedy Goblin and Tobold’s, and each one of them has caused a major debate. Most readers condemn the behaviour of the paladin, considering it egoistic, while a few think that he was in his full right and didn’t have any obligation whatsoever to help out his guild once he had got the gear he needed. (Gevlon has now come up with another post, where he has slightly changed his opinion, but he still think he doesn't own his guild anything.)

Different perspectives
I’ve thought a great deal about the issue, trying to sort out my own thoughts and feelings. However, I’ve found it pretty hard to take a position. I can neither criticise, nor defend him vehemently.

In the end it’s all about different perspectives on raiding, different mindsets. Like Map writes in his comment: “This runs into a central division of types of raiders. You have people like Wayne who raid to get gear. You have others who gear to raid.”

I belong to the later category, but who am I to condemn people with a different approach to the game? They pay subscription fees like me, they invest time, and they’re entitled to decide for themselves how to play it, as long as they don’t lie and take advantage of others.

A question that comes into my head is how this paladin looks upon the purpose of his guild. Is the guild most of all a business operation, something a group of people agrees to run together as a mean to get access to things in the game (gear or achievements)? Or is it a social institution, a bunch of friends or even a family, who enjoy spending time and doing things together (in this case raiding)?

It isn’t necessarily wrong to see raiding and membership in a guild as tools that you use to reach goals for your character progression. It’s fine with me – as long as the player is honest about his intentions right from the beginning. Let the greedy goblins play make guilds of their own. As long as the rules are clear and everyone knows what to expect, it will work. It will be a bit like a PUG, although better organized. It’s a bunch of loosely connected strangers who agree to cooperate to get the job done, without any emotional involvment whatsoever. End of story.

I wouldn’t want to be a part of it though. You see I expect my raiding guild to have a soul, and I know it sounds very vague and irrational to Gevlon, who doesn't believe in spirits whatsoever. But I'm human rather than a machine, and I you want to laugh at me for this childish notion, so be it.
To me raiding is hardly at all about enhancing my character. Of course I rejoice at upgrades as anyone else, but it’s not my motivator, it’s a side effect and most of a way to help to improve the overall raid performance. No, raiding to me is best described as entering a different state of mind. When I raid I lose myself in time and space and I become a part of something bigger – an organism of its own. I raid because I love the activity of raiding in itself, not to get a salary.

If you ask be.imba I don’t need to run Naxx 25 man since I’m geared for more difficult tasks. And yet I wouldn’t dream of “taking a break” from it like the paladin. As a matter of fact I hate the nights when I miss a raid – not because I can’t bid on possible drops – but because I’m cut off from the raiding body where I belong.

Growing together
When we raid we grow together as a group. The glue is trust and the bricks are our common experiences. They’re our glorious first kills, the magic nights when everything worked and everyone played a bit beyond our limits. But they’re those horrid wipe nights when nothing worked and everyone sucked and the RL finally freaked out and yelled at us. They’re our solved conflicts, our mishaps and cryouts, our laughter and our silliness. The soul of the group is built out of everything we encounter in the raid.

This is why I keep listening to TS if the raid is oversubscribed and it’s my turn to sit it out. It’s not only about keeping me updated on our current boss strategies. It’s about being in touch with what’s happening to the guild and staying connected.

If you’re on a longer break it’s inevitable that you’ll be a bit lost if you come back. A guild changes and develops a little with every new raiding experience it gets, with every new members that comes or old member that leaves the raiding team. If you’re not a part of it you’ll come back to a different guild than the one you took a break from. It will take a long time to find your way back into the organism. And if the trust is lost I doubt it's even possible.

So what’s my final judgement about the paladin? Well, most of all I feel sorry for him. I think he misses an important aspect of raiding. It's not about the epic loot, but about the epic experience of being a part of a tightly knit group, step by step exploring Azeroth while growing in skill, maturity and coordination. Perhaps it isn’t his cup of tea. But it definitely is mine.


David said...

Loot is a part (not all, but a significant part) of why most of us play. On my druid, I've gotten almost a complete set of healing gear, and also a pretty decent set of caster dps gear too. I even have about 6 leather melee epics leftover from heroic runs sitting in my bank in case I want to go back to feral. Now I find myself playing my paladin and mage a lot more because my druid doesn't have much farther to go.

I think its important to keep some perspective, that there's a lot we don't know - he probably has some RL obligations, and there are maybe 15 great games that came out over the holidays he wants to try. Or maybe he's tired of playing the same encounters every week.

This is one reason I stopped raiding - the obligation to raid can make you compromise other aspects of your life. That was the case for me, and I wasn't outfitted in top tier gear at the time either. I can imagine how this paladin must feel when he steps into a raid for the Nth time and there's no anticipation of a drop or something new.

The fact that they would be sharding gear if he wasn't there means he wasn't grabbing other people's loot either, so I wouldn't think to call him selfish in this respect too.

I would even go so far as to say his taking a break does a service to the guild - another, less experienced healer can take his place, gear up, and acquire new raiding skills. Instead of one raid spot plateauing, the guild as a whole grows stronger by him sitting out.

In my opinion, if he says he wants to take a break, his raider 'friends' should be saying 'OK, thanks for your contribution, see you in 3.1', not 'Where are you going, I haven't gotten my full T7 yet and I need your healz to get it!'

AllianceGirl said...

That's so wrong.

I can understand if you want to take a break, but conveniently it was after he was totally geared up.

He should've stuck around and helped gear up the other members of the raid group - as people get gear, it makes runs that much easier for everyone and he just took all those epics and quit - which doesn't help anyone at all.

If I were the raid/guild leader, he wouldn't be coming back into my guild. That's almost akin to being a Loot Ninja in my opinion.

krizzlybear said...

One of these days, I ought to put my two cents on the matter myself, as do others. How something as basic as a player deciding not to raid for an indefinite amount of time could resonate with such a large community simply amazes me.

What I love most about the matter is that it forces us to think long and hard about our own issues, and how we may or may not be able to relate to both sides of the situation. Because after all, there is a little paladin in us all, even if we don't want to admit it.

Hagu said...

I guess I see that he had an in-game obligation that was owed in-game. I.e., if he still played but gone to another higher ranked guild, that would seem wrong. But, if he is not having fun playing ( and if he was he still would be playing ) I don't see why he should be expected to keep playing. ( It's not a bad marriage. jk ) Perhaps this is overly colored by how much less I enjoy WotLK than TBC. Stackable clams do not compensate for what they did to warlocks.

BTW, having just went thru a guild split, sigh, I would caution that just because you hope and think your guild has a soul does not mean it does.

wtfspaghetti said...

"I’ve thought a great deal about the issue, trying to sort out my own thoughts and feelings. However, I’ve found it pretty hard to take a position. I can neither criticise, nor defend him vehemently."

Well said Larisa.

Who even knows if this paladin actually told the truth to Matt. Maybe something happen in his life that he needed to take some time off and he didn't want to get into a discussion about his RL.

Either way - After reading the various posts about it, I agree with your above statement.

Gevlon said...

The instance is new once. The second Naxx is just repetition. I did raided Naxx, I killed the bosses.

Why should I go back to do something again and again and again? To gear up for the next raid.

Why should I go back after I'm geared enough?

Some people go back to get minor upgrades? I call it silly.

Than what shall I call those who go back for OTHER people's upgrades?

Larísa said...

@David: I think you should say "thanks for your contribution", but not necessarily "see you in 3.1". The guild needs a paladin now and if he doesn't want the spot they'll have to recruite another one, who definitly doesn't deserve to be thrown out the day he decides to come back. If he's out of the team he's out of the team. He could apply to come back later on, but there's no obligation to bring him in again.

I think you're right that many players are much more loot driven than I am.

@Alliance Girl: no, I don't think he's a ninja. As I said I can't condemn him. But I think it's a sad situation.

@Krizzlybear: yeah, I think you're right - this issue touches something within us and maybe we don't like what we see

@Hagu: reading between the lines I think that you too think that a guild has a soul. Like marriages have too. Sometimes they end up in divorces, which really is a sad thing, but that doesn't take away the fact that it once had a soul.

@Wtf Spaghetti: to be honest I feel a bit like I'm cheating, being a coward, not taking side. But I just can't.

@Gevlon: I thought I had answered that in this post, but maybe I'm to vague. It's kind of heard to write about it, it's a very personal thing how you "feel" and "experience" a raid. But to be honest it isn't so important to me what we raid. OK, seeing "new content" is sort of fun, but how new is it when you think about it. If it's a tank and spank fight it's pretty simular to other tank and spank fights you've seen. So there are other things that matter. To some players it's loot. To me it's the raiding as such. The cooperation in the group. The atmosphere. The spirit. Very sublte. But that can motivate me to run an instance over and over again, even if it's more for the gear benefit of others than for myself.

Carra said...

[quote]You have people who raid to get gear. You have others who gear to raid.[/quote]

That sums it up nicely. For some people, gear is a tool to get bosses down. Sure, it's also fun to get new items but mostly, it makes the raids smoother.

For other people, the raids are a ways to an end. In this case, getting gear.

For people in the second category, there's little to get from continueing to raid once they're geared except to maybe gear an alt or get those last few, small upgrades.

Cassini said...

@ Gevlon: it's one of the few times I find myself disagreeing with your point of view, but when you say:

"Why should I go back to do something again and again and again? To gear up for the next raid."

I would answer "For Fun."

Going to the pub with your friends in RL is only new once. But you go back again and again. And you do so not for gear but for the company of friends and the fun it brings with it.

kyrilean said...

I agree with Gevlon that technically the paladin owes the guild nothing. He provided a service during a specified time and "got lucky" so he feels he no longer needs to provide said service.

Everyone wants to say "/gkick him". I say leave him, but when he comes back don't put him at the frontline if he's been replaced.

The bigger picture is what's good for the guild. If there's no one to replace him, use him. If someone stepped up and is just as good, then the paladin sits out until he earns a spot again.

Jong said...

I like raiding with some of my guildies because I like them as friends. They don’t rock the meter in anyway, but they’re nice and provide comic relief on vent. I enjoy socializing with them.

I like raiding with some of my guildies because they bring lots of utility. I can’t stand them, and I would never befriend them in real life. Yet, they’re extremely talented players who never die on boss fights and absolutely dominate Recount.

Friends can't be replaced, but talented players can be.

I don’t mind him taking a break at all as long as he understands that raid spots aren’t guaranteed and he can be easily replaced.

Anonymous said...

My take on this, and the one that my guild shares is: "You don't raid Naxx by yourself." So yes that Paladin got geared and feels he's 'done'. But he didn't do that work all by himself. He didn't tank all the bosses, he didn't provide all the dps that took that boss down, he didn't provide the leadership(potentially. Matt didn't state either way that the paladin was a raid leader)that read the boss details and came up with a strategy that worked for that guild to down those bosses. 9 other (or 24 other) people helped him to get all those epics. So his gear didn't come from entirely his own efforts, they came from a team effort.

Its strikes me as a matter of personal loyalty levels, but if someone helps me performan important task or achieve a goal, I feel that it is important for meto repay that in kind.

If that paladin doesn't set his own personal 'loyalty meter' the ssame way as I do, all I can say is that he's not someone I'd want around me. He's not someone I'd want in my guild, my circle of friends or my family. I'd guild kick him and say "so long, you disloyal, selfish bastard." But that's because his value set and mine don't align.

We like to surround ourselves with people who have the same wants, values, interests and goals as ourselves, and a guild is just that - a collection of like-minded people. If your value set aligns properly with the groups you place yourself in (work, family, friends, guild) then everyone agrees on what behaviour is acceptable and what is not and there is no drama.

Fish said...

I hate to say that a raiding guild seems like a job, but thats the only similarities I can draw. There are interviews, applications, hirings, firings. The "pay" is loot from the instances. At a job, if you are independantly wealthy and can afford not to work, you don't need to go to work. However, if you quit working and later find you are not as wealthy as you thought, you shouldn't be surprised if they decline to rehire you and you have to take a position at a "lesser" job. I think the analogy holds true.

Bristal said...

Dudes. Such drama. If a guy quits your softball team, and takes with him the cool bat you won for winning the championship last season, get another player and try to get another better bat. If you see that guy playing on another team, send him a signal (hard slide, line drive up the gut) but shake his hand after the game. Life takes you in directions that are not always in your control.

Theawàkening said...

Yea I loaded it again and took another look, and have adjusted the size of them.

Lol thanks for letting me know :)
Some things that once looked good no longer look as tasteful with the new layout.

Yea my blog, I want it to be a mix of blogging and mage info, as you stated. I'm going to rewrite my about me soon, so I can explain the blog and such better.

Again, I really appriciate the feedback. Thank you!

AllianceGirl said...

"@Alliance Girl: no, I don't think he's a ninja. As I said I can't condemn him. But I think it's a sad situation."

Oh no, I wasn't asking if you thought he was a ninja or asking you to agree with me. I was just stating my own opinion about the situation. I didn't read the Matticus post about this, so this was the first I had heard of it.

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Anonymous said...


I hope i'm not misunderstanding your thought process.

If you were in a guild of 25, running Naxx 25.
For whatever reason, 1/25 member just happened to get really lucky on rolls that night and got all the
epic drops he/she needed to progress to Ulduar.

they're geared up enough...so they 'break' until the rest of the guild gears up.

please explain how the rest of 24/25 guildies are supposed to achieve that?

Which probably means, when Ulduar or harder raids are releassed, is that 1 guildie going to solo the raid
by himself/herself?

Lemme guess...your answer will be to /gquit and find a better geared guild so you can immediately start tackling
the new raids...
attitudes like that are exactly why some guild applications are like job interviews.
being not geared enough, doesn't come down to: not enough effort, lack of skill, being a moron or slacker.

there's just so many other random factors out there
like running Kara 48 times, and not having YOUR pieces of T4 drop...against the odds, but in reality happened to a guildie who
got left behind...albeit temporarily.

IMO, they need to change looting to replicate WAR style...i.e. boss dead, each person sees a piece of loot they can turn in for a piece of gear
for their class.
then it just comes down to DKP or raidleader

Esdras said...

I find it a bit selfish personally, i could understand if they had other tanks to gear up and he said take them over me as i dont need nothing.

But the fact is if the guild needed him he should have been there.

Larísa said...

@Carra: I'm glad I belong to the non loot depending category. It makes me less picky about raiding.

@Cassini: Loved the pup analogy! (Not surprising since PPI is a pub...) Well put.

@Kyilean: yeah. Probably that's how I'd handle it as well. No hard feelings, but he can't expect to have a reserved spot when he decides to come back.

@Jong: Oh I agree about that. I'd definitly put friendship over skill. But my impression from reading many blogs and forums is that it definitly isn't obvious for everyone to do so. And I respect that take on the game too. We all have different reasons for playing it.

@Oriniwen: Oh I definitly agree. I think much of the problems you find in guilds, "drama", origins from different views and expectations on what the guild is about. Even if you have what you think is a clear Guild Policy Document, it often can be interprated differently and it will never cover any kind of situation that will come. Developing a guild is like tuning the players together so we play the same piece of music.

@Fish: In some aspects it is job-like or business-like, and I think Gevlon often have intelligent discussions based on that picture. But there are some dimensions that are more similar to having a family or a friend. And you miss them by just comparing it to a job.

*vlad* said...

I raid to play with my friends. The gear enables us to progress to new encounters - that is it.

Would I leave my friends behind once I had all the loot I needed? Never.

Larísa said...

@Bristal: yeah, for some reason guild life tends to stir up a lot of feelings. But after all you spend quite a lot of time together online. No matter if you want it or not you sort of build ties.

@Anonymous: I think dkp in combination with badges smoothes out the bad-luck-factor a bit. But yeah, you're right, the randomness playes some nasty tricks with us sometimes. And at least I wouldn't dream of taking advantage of it, moving on if I had been lucky and others not.

@Vlad: yeah, the friendship factor. I'm all for that. But obviosly all players aren't.

Pangoria Fallstar said...

strange ... people leave my guild to raid, then they come back ....