|Neps confirms the evidence with Kerulak,|
after they execute a pug clear of 40-Man Naxxramas
during The Burning Crusade.
Innocent By AssociationThe first time I repeated one of my mother's jokes in front of my wife, I knew there was a problem. I was raised in a small town named Parksville, along the coast of Vancouver Island, but my mother wasn't from there. She had been born in a town called Hudson Bay, in the northern regions of Saskatchewan. She had a conservative, strict family, and although the Holmes' were hard-working and quiet folk, they had a tendency to cling to some age-old biases. And as my mother learned from her environment, I too, absorbed these tendencies, without even giving them a second thought. So, when I sat down to dinner one evening and jokingly remarked:
"I wonder what the poor people are doing now?"
...my wife gave me a look of horror, her eyes wide with shock and embarrassment.
I knew there was a problem.
Part of this outdated programming led me to judge others too quickly, my first impressions resonating like a bell whenever it came time to make a decision. It happened time and again in my early days of running DoD, having already made up my mind about a player long after my gut continued to tell me otherwise. I'd ignore my gut, stick to my biased way of thinking...and end up making a bad judgement call. Ater was one of the first to show me this was just an illusion -- we think we think we know people in other groups better than we know ourselves.
What added to the complexity of my mother's lessons was a layer of morals, delivered in Aesop's fashion, priming me for a certain way of thinking. These lessons, while noble in intent, often came across as black-and-white, good or evil, no gray area to explore. Among these was the familiar "You Are Who You Hang Around With". Run with a group of criminals, Mom reasoned, and you'll soon find that you've become a criminal as well.
This may explain why I grew to loathe the PvP community.
At face value, there was a lot to detest. PvPers made no secret that they felt they were "better than us". Raiding was for sissies and crybabies -- to them, the real skill came in how well you sized up another human being, how fast you turned their weak spots against them in the ring. Bosses were scripted; conversely, other players followed no such programming. PvPers talked a lot of shit, rarely opting to take the high ground when it came to dealing with other people. And why should they? They had their name, their titles and their gear lit up like the Las Vegas strip proving to us that they were true power in WoW. They played by nobody's rules but their own, they relied on nobody to get where they were. No oppressive guild could force a schedule onto them, tell them how to act or behave.
Every time I tried to push those biases aside and tolerate PvPers despite our differences, I'd always get a slap-in-the-face when I flipped between ElitistJerks.com and ArenaJunkies.com, the two online communities dedicated to the discussion of PvE and PvP, respectively. The former was a tightly run ship where only intelligent, thoughtful contributors were allowed. Moderation was swift and harsh to those who couldn't be bothered forming a coherent sentence. As for the latter, it was a cesspool of trolls, rife with profanity, accusation, and immaturity.
One thing has nothing to do with the other.
|Neps & Mature in The Crimson Hall,|
Trusting the Gut
When I began to contemplate another 2nd-in-command, I never gave any thought to promote Klocker because he'd hung up his healing hat. Klocker was now exclusively Retribution in our 25-Man progression raid. I needed a healer for a very important reason: Val’anyr, Hammer of Ancient Kings. The legendary mace assembled from fragments put the power of the Titans at the fingertips of the healer that wielded it. But Klocker's days of healing were behind him. He would flip from time-to-time as needed, but it was no longer his passion, and the new edict in Descendants of Draenor demanded players choose what they loved to do, not what we needed them to do. So, rather than make a move to convince Klocker to play a role he didn't enjoy, I looked to someone who embraced the role. Someone who lived, breathed and died healing. Someone who had been healing long after I had hung up Kerulak's hooves, and had no intention of switching -- who knew the ins and outs of the job. More importantly, someone who I could trust and whom made decisions that were aligned with my own. Someone fiercely dedicated and loyal to us.
Someone like Neps.
But, it was Neps’ attachment to PvP that gave me my initial hesitation for promotion. Neps regularly ran with a crew of folks that had traditionally proven to be be unreliable in the long term. They were PvPers in my eyes, that "other group" I was perpetually disgusted with. Somehow, I believed I was an expert judge of them, up on my high horse. Neps had never given me a reason to doubt his reliance, yet the PvP thing continued to bother me. What impact would it have on the raiders? Was there a risk of that "nobody's going to tell me what to do" mentality bleeding back down into the roster? We had filled spots throughout Vanilla and TBC with anything we could get our hands on, and while we benefited from having a large number of players across multiple interests to choose from, when we plucked from the PvP pool, it was a often a crap shoot. And I saw promoting Neps as a very real risk to allow more of that style of player to stick their foot in the raid door, only to cause further mayhem down the road.
The brothers Ouleg and Ben were two players in particular whom Neps spent a great deal of time with. Ouleg, when present, would tear into bosses in Serpentshrine Cavern with extreme prejudice, often dealing more damage than that of our regular raiding Warlocks. But, he was quick to come up with excuses to leave the raid if things looked bleak, “Yeah guys, I think my girlfriend's calling me for something” after our fifth wipe on Hydross the Unstable. Ben wasn't too far off from his brother. A fantastic player behind the wheel of a Shadow Priest or Boomkin...if you could get him to show up. If he wasn't completely drunk off his ass. And while neither Ouleg nor Ben themselves were the ones being considered for promotion, I continually dwelt on this association Neps had with them, and whether or not it would become a distraction.
A Second OpinionI took Dalans aside and shared my concerns with him, broaching the possibility of promoting Neps as another 2nd-in-command to share duties. I told him of the plan involving Val'anyr, and how it made the most sense to go with Neps, but that I had lingering doubts. Dalans reminded me that Neps had been playing the role of Priest officer for nearly the entirety of The Burning Crusade, and had never shown me any reason to doubt his loyalty thus far. My gut told me he was the guy to go with, but the PvP "facts" continued to rub me the wrong way. When I brought up the concerns I had about the PvP crowd, Dalans was logical in his response.
"Anni was of the best officers this guild ever had. High Warlord, remember?"
He had a point.
"Wasn't Blain one of the first players on the server with a Vengeful Nether Drake in TBC?"
Two points for Dalans.
"I wouldn't worry too much about who he runs with. Neps is fine. I'd trust him before I would any of the other morons. If he hasn't given you any reason to doubt his dedication, he won't."
The second opinion was delivered, saying exactly what my gut was telling me all along. Go with Neps. Forget about the PvP crowd. Who he hangs with and what he chooses to do for fun has nothing to do with the person he is. And if Mom was right, and you truly become the type of person you hang around with...well, that would mean Neps was exactly that person right now.
...and there wasn't a single thing I could point to that would cause me to distrust him.
That evening, I went over the ground rules for 2nd-in-command, and made it clear he'd be the first in line to receive Val'anyr. He graciously accepted the promotion, and the guild joined in a round of congratulations for their favorite Priest on his continued service to DoD.
I glanced down toward the chat window in the lower-left hand corner of the screen.
Blain has come online
For a guy who retired from World of Warcraft four months earlier, he showed up an awful a lot. I sent him a tell.
“I’ve gone ahead and restored your administrative privileges to the guild. You won’t need to worry about the raid expectations, nothing’s changed there.”
I popped open the guild panel and clicked the promote button several times.
Blain has been promoted to Old God
"Carry on" I said in another whisper.
He replied with a smiley.