Thursday, June 25, 2015

4.40. Last of the Brohicans

Omaric's final post to the Descendants of Draenor
guild forums.

The Softening

Herp Derp was gone. I'd had high hopes that they'd change their tune, that at least one of them would show a shred of decency by standing in defiance of their team's decision to split from DoD. Loot is what matters most, more than any sort of human decency one might be compelled to demonstrate during a guild division on moral grounds. After all, why does it matter how we treat each other in a virtual gaming world, if we'll never end up having to account for our behavior? If this was really about raid size preference, they could've walked away the day Azeroth cracked open.

The wound closed up. Those who remained could focus undeterred on the road ahead, hoping to get significant work done in 25-Man heroics...preferably, before the release of Firelands. I wasn't pleased with the outcome of the Herp Derp ordeal, but was relieved that it was over.

Of course, it wasn't.


Omaric was an old-schooler. He didn't have the tenure of folks like Klocker and Neps and Blain, but coming in at the tail end of The Burning Crusade still granted him the gift of sight, to see WoW as it had once been, in its raw, most unforgiving form. When raiding in WoW was an exclusive experience, where any instance you stepped into demanded discipline, patience, coordination, and skill. When you relied on your guild for progression, and there was no contingency plan for gearing. Omaric never got the opportunity to drag his bloodied knuckles with us through magma-drenched depths, insect infested catacombs, or a floating necropolis whose arachnid trash squashed you like a bug. But he still got a small taste of what it was like. Enough of a taste enough to grant him perspective. Or so I thought.

Omaric had no problem gaining ground in Descendants of Draenor. He planted his foot firmly into Wrath's progression and kept it there, dividing his time between the 25-Man and his 10-Man membership in Eh Team. And when Cheeseus' curtain call came at the end of Ulduar, Omaric teamed with Bretthew to lead the 25-Man progression team through both Tournament of Champions and Icecrown Citadel. No easy task, especially considering the opinionated crew we brought to the plate. Omaric came away from that experience with a new respect for players like Cheeseus and Blain, Leading players is hard.

Leading people is hard.

When the Eh Team bomb dropped, Omaric was in the middle of blast. Having been a raid leader, I assumed he'd take ownership, make a call, shut it down, loop me in...something. Every single player in that group lost credibility with me in an instant. I vowed never to put them in charge of anything ever again. Recent events, however, caused me to reconsider the loot collusion story, as well as the major players involved.

Pawns on the Board

Omaric was one of the deniers, thrown under the proverbial bus during Bheer's grand confession. I'd known Bheer longer than Omaric, and simply defaulted to trusting him. This was a mistake. Over the last few months, I gained a profoundly new perspective of Bheer. For someone perceptibly distraught at playing a part in sweeping collusion under the rug, Bheer demonstrated little remorse in pilfering the guild vault or indulging in self-righteous statements like demanding I be the one to apologize. He was also quick to finger Crasian as the core conspirator, even though I knew the truth (and got a confession of my own). A moral compass spinning out of control, coupled with an apparent vendetta for Crasian, made little sense -- unless, of course, one might consider an alternative motive: revenge.

Bheer had a problem fitting in. He demonstrated it in the awkwardness of his constant gem cutting between pulls, long after raiders like Kelden had blown their stack in annoyance. But Bheer's struggle to find a place among the group went much deeper than Ekasa's lisp or Sentra's douchebaggery or Divinepants' all talk/no play attitude -- his vulnerability stemmed from a deep-seated lack of self-esteem, a reason many of us turn to video games in the first place, free from judging eyes and cruel words at the sight of us.

When I met Bheer face-to-face, witnessing his girth with my own eyes, my suspicions were confirmed. People were cruel. I didn't have to ask if he'd been bullied as a kid. It's common sense. What isn't necessarily common sense is how the effects of bullying manifest in you as an adult. A lack of trust in others. The inability to open up about problems, out of fear of ridicule. Doing whatever you can to ensure you are included in the group, desperately avoiding being cast out, being alone. No wonder Bheer approved of my "guaranteed raid spots for Elites" rule in Wrath, then masked his disgust for the change in that same rule under the pretenses of "loyalty". No wonder he went with Drecca in Herp Derp, where his spot was guaranteed and safe. To Bheer, I was just another bully, just another person in his life telling him his place in DoD was in jeopardy. His spot was never in jeopardy, but the horse blinders of his bullying years narrowed his focus to the most important issue: removing threats to exclusion.

The dysfunctional relationship between Crasian and Bheer made more sense every moment I reconsidered the story. I knew they didn't get along. But Crasian was popular, well-liked, and one of the best-geared, best-played DKs on Deathwing-US during Wrath. And, being roommates with Bretthew strengthened that popularity within DoD's circles. What kinds of conversations did Crasian and Bretthew have about Bheer behind his back? A kind of paranoid insecurity must have set in. As Crasian's popularity increased, Bheer's place in Eh Team grew more tenuous. The constant clash for melee dps loot added to the strain. Then, Crasian threatened to re-assemble Eh Team, sans Bheer. This devastated him, causing Bheer to grow so averse to the thought of Crasian, he couldn't even bring himself to read a private message from the guy.

He'd be willing to be do anything to be rid of Crasian. Perhaps, even, to embellish the collusion story and pin it on Crasian.

When viewed through this new lens, the yarn of Eh Team's collusion seemed far less hyperbolic. Did it happen? Yes. Was it wrong? Absolutely. Was it borne of malice intent on wreaking havoc within the very fabric of the guild, the goal of which was to pull DoD apart, strand by strand?

Probably not.

But blowing it out of proportion seemed the most logical way to inspire me into kicking Crasian out the door. In this new light, Bheer seemed no better than Crasian. In the end, they were both loot whores. The difference was that Bheer was smart enough to get to me first, "helping" me remove the necessary pawns from the board.

Helping Friends

Eh Team's habits were nothing more than typical gamer malfeasance. But of course, all of this perception came long after Omaric's promotion to ranged DPS officer. That happened at the start of Cataclysm, while the blood of Eh Team's betrayal was still fresh on Omaric's hands. I had no choice. Better to have a proven raid leader in charge of the masses, than to have an amateur lead them over a cliff. Omaric's position was structured so he couldn't take advantage of the guild, even if he wanted to. Now, after seeing Bheer's story from a different angle, I had renewed faith that Omaric wanted the best for DoD.

Until I found out about his alt.

By day, Omaric played the elemental shaman Zuzax, but by night, he was moonlighting as a death knight named Raradina, helping a group of friends with various 10-Man raid achievements, acting as a filler when needed.

You get one guess as to which 10-Man guild he just happened to choose to help.

It wasn't enough that Omaric was helping them on the side, he had to physically move his alt from DoD into their guild in order to ensure they had enough players present to qualify for guild raiding achievements. I'll admit I wasn't pleased with his choices, but just as it was with Riskers, I had no business telling him who he could or couldn't play with.

I could, however, remind him of the dual-guilding policy, in place well before he ever set foot in DoD.

"Other players are dual-guilding, so this is really kind of a double-standard, Hanzo," Omaric's voice was thick with disgust.

"If they are, I don't know about it. As soon as I do, I remove them."

"Well, you know about Insayno's two characters in Quit Your Job. Why aren't you kicking him out?"

"We're not in competition with them. We're not a PvP guild. This is something I've stated since the very beginning. The hard feelings come about when people put alts in guilds that compete with us. Lots of people have come to me over the years to ask if they can have an alt in a friend's guild. I'm not heartless. I take these situations on a case-by-case basis. But the general rule of thumb is, you don't do it if they are the competition."

"So I'm being punished for choosing to play with my friends..."

They're not our friends. They're the competition. Get some ethics.

Before I could respond, Ventrilo exploded with the sound of Blain's voice.

"Just MAKE a DECISION. SERIOUSLY. Ok? This has gone on long enough. We were finally able to put Herp Derp behind us, and now you are just DRAGGING IT BACK IN."

Wide eyed, I shut my mouth, just to see how far he'd take it. God knows how long this had been pent up.

"I don't really care what you want to do, Omaric. Play with Drecca, stay in whatever you want. But MAKE a DECISION. Sick and tired of all these distractions. It accomplishes NOTHING. If you don't like Hanzo's rules, leave. But don't waste our time with this."

The rest of the officers and I sat quiet a moment while the dust settled from Blain's mini-explosion.

"Alright, well. I guess that settles that. Thanks...for everything...I guess!" Omaric tried to stay chipper after the Blainslamming.

Pfft. He got off easy.


Omaric didn't quit the guild right away. He lingered in the roster well into the evening, struggling with the decision. Perhaps he was trying to convince ex-Eh Team members to go with him; perhaps they were trying to convince him to change his mind. Whatever the case, my pitch was done: Stay with DoD and be a part of one of the last few guilds on the server focusing on 25-Man content, or take the easy way out, with a handful of players that epitomized everything wrong with the gamer stereotype.

He was gone by the morning, marking the end of the third exodus of DoD.


Anonymous said...

I wonder what these people's perspectives on things are like now, after they have in theory grown up a little.

Anonymous said...

Online gamers just don't like to be told what to do. Ultimately they'll go where they are having more fun, whatever defines that for them.

Shawn Holmes said...

@Anonymous (1),

Some perspectives have changed, while others remain defiant. A good number of folks involved in these stories have contributed commentary along the way. I'll be sure to include a "Where are they now?" post at the end of the story for as many folks as I kept up with.

Shawn Holmes said...

@Anonymous (2),

Forcing someone to follow a rule they don't understand happens every day; kids rejecting the authority of their parents, for example. But in the way that kids don't understand *why* they're being forced to do something by their parents, lots of people don't understand why rules are in place. They just want what they want. And rather than stop to figure out why, they go to where they are "understood and accepted", even if that involves being a member of a gang involved in criminal activity, or a religious cult aiming to change the world.

It is more important to them that they are included, rather than the ethical implications membership may carry, and is something that affects a far larger group than just gamers.

Anonymous said...

I've understood your reaction to many situations over the life of this blog, but this is the one I'm struggling to understand. If the player is available for all your raids when you need them, and they aren't raiding in a 25 man that would have been competition to a server first, I don't see any harm. If the 10 man was competition, you're smiting that 10 and 25 are equal, and your whole point is that 25 is superior. I'm guessing the end result was that trying to grip on to the past pardigm so tight is what is going to kill the raiding team. If you embrace the new dynamic and allow a little flexibility, you'd have happier, more satisfied raiders.

Shawn Holmes said...


It didn't matter if my opinion was 10s and 25s weren't equal...they were equal in the eyes of Blizzard, based on the loot and achievements. I was forced to treat them as equal, which meant a 10-Man guild was our competition in Cataclysm. I contend they posed a greater threat than 25-Man guilds did in previous expansion, as it was so much easier to walk away from a 25 and join a 10.

For a look back on "what was the harm", review posts 2.29/2.30.

Aedilhild said...

If the player is available for all your raids when you need them

Attendance isn't loyalty, though. When you have someone splitting time between guilds it's a matter of convenience and placation — the aim being to fade away from the place that is least valuable at the moment. "Leaving the door open" just means easy access, however brief, based on the market forces of caprice. I've tried to be charitable over the years, hoping for the best, but it just doesn't happen any other way.

Silvia Lambru said...


To my utter dread, I have reached the last post you made. Reading the last pages, I had the same feeling I always get when I read an exceptionally captivating book - being torn between the desire to finish it, to move past the climax and the pain of losing that which has kept you on your toes for the past hours/days/months (depends on the size of the book :D). I have never been more captivated by a blog and I doubt any other could rise to the occasion in the future.

I have started playing WoW during Mists of Pandaria, and I have grown to love it / hate it, but I didn't really understand its transformation until I read your blog. The fascination for new content, the descriptions you made for raids and everyday tasks was fantastic. Though I only experienced Ulduar after even the scariest boss couldn't make a dent in my carefully threaded cloth robes, your description of it matched perfectly the astonishment, delight and wide-eyed expression I had on my face when I first entered the place. And that is but a tiny example of how much your posts moved me.

I would like to thank you for your honesty in sharing details of your struggles and joys in running the guild and balancing it against your family and job. You go through your life with dedication, regarding of which aspect requires your involvement and you are a true example for all those that seek this harmony between the game and real life. You demonstrate an acute ability of self-assessment and I have grown to appreciate how you accept your mistakes and made the effort of learning from them in the future. That, my darling author, takes guts...

Unfortunately, I am stranded on some European server, for if I were an USA resident, I would surely apply for a social spot in your guild. Imagine the delight of any reader if they were to be able to get to know the characters in their favorite book! I think Blain deserves some more fans... Alas, I will have to make do with the bits of information you send our way via this blog.

Thank you for the wonderful journal, for your integrity, for your passion, for the wonderful read. You have become a master of cliffhangers, your technique has been greatly refined throughout the years. This has been suggested before, but please write a book. Better yet, write many books... Become a Terry Pratchett of another Discworld, one in which Azeroth and Denver blend like colors on a painter's easel.

Also, I know garrison missions take a huge chunk of our game time, but you can place them after you post on the blog :P Write faster!

PS: I deleted the previous post to correct some tiny grammar errors. English is not my mother tongue :D


Shawn Holmes said...


Thank you very much for your kind words of support. I continue to be humbled by the readership this little blog has built up over the last couple of years. Please share it with any and all that you feel may benefit from whatever bizarre lessons it brings to the table, and I'll continue to pursue the book stage, once the story comes to a finish.

Fred said...

Oh God Shawn.....

If this goes to book, can I write the Forward?

Goldenrod said...

@ Fred: No, I already called dibs. <3

Blain said...

I agree. I need more fans!

Littlebear said...

I had forgotten all about this.

The safety is on Omaric.... I promise.


Anonymous said...

Has this blog gone bi-weekly now?

Shawn Holmes said...


I will always shoot for 'weekly'. The last couple of months have been crazy, and I apologize for the wait.

Alex said...

Sorry Shawn, but today i can understand how come Blain is not the hero of this story. The idea of the risa of a underdog rogue, beating the crap of people, is simple too good.

Andrei said...

Hi Shawn,

there's one thing I don't understand after reading everything up until now. It looks to me that Drecca was at one moment in the same direction as you (there is a post where Blain even noticed that he admires you maybe too much), until he changed his attitude. Have you spent any amount of time to find out what actually happened that he changed so much? There's always personal issues which makes someone behave strange and enter a spiral of untrust and paranoia.

PS. Can we see a picture of Blain?

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your posts for a while now and this is the first time I think that you mishandled a situation. If you were both competing for server firsts or something, then yes, its a competition and you can't have that crossover. But you're not. So how is is a direct competition that has any effect on your progression? So you were telling Omaric he can only play with half his friends while his other friends didn't seem to care if he played in both. I understand why he made the decision he did.

Again, this is a blog post several years after the fact, so there I'm sure there are subtleties that are missing.

Very much enjoying the series. Getting me even more excited to start raiding again in Legion.(been on hiatus since April after clearing heroic HFC a few too many times.)

Max0r847 said...

@Final Anonymous, think of it like this. The Herp Derp team didn't give a fuck about having too few DoD guildies in their 10 man raid to get guild achievements, but then Omaric put his alt into their guild, to help THEM get guild achievements. I mean, up until that point, I could understand, but that to me indicates what side of the fence he was on. That's how I see it, anyway.