It happens. You might be trucking along, grinding your own business when BAM! Suddenly your /l chat is gone. What the... ? Yup, your legion just disbanded. Or perhaps the leader just disappears offline for an extended period of time. Could be that the leadership drives members away by its actions (or inaction). So the death knell tolls.

With reasons ranging from real life (work, family) to game mechanics (boredom, frustration) to the most frequent culprit, drama (cyber-relationships gone bad, over-inflated egos, power-hungry control freaks), legions fold. It is a fact of gaming -- though not always a negative one. But in Aion, where reputation, ranking, and Abyss contribution are significant factors to players, the death of a legion can have more consequences than just missing a chat channel. If you are lucky and have forewarning, you can plan ahead to minimize the impact on your gaming experience.

If your legion has folded -- or is about to -- what are your options? Let's drop our wings and dive past the cut to explore some available paths to take when this fact of e-life happens.

Groups (guilds, kinships, corporations, etc.) in other games may be able to withstand a lack of leadership over an extended time without too much difficulty; however, if active leadership is missing in Aion, a significant portion of the game is lost for legion members. Only the Brigade General can assign permissions for the legion, and only Centurions can be granted permissions to invite members, kick members, access the legion warehouse, or activate any captured artifacts during warfare in the Abyss. Only the legion leader collects the kinah and medals from owning a fortress. It is not just a matter of losing heart or direction without a leader; players lose out on earned rewards. In other words, the health of a legion can be an integral part of your gaming experience, and the death of a legion has an impact.

Legions die in many ways, from slow horrible deaths in which the life is sucked right out of them to the sudden and unexpected. Whether you hear piercing shrieks during the throes of death or it just slips quietly in the night depends on the individual circumstances leading up to it. Sometimes, the legions are simply laid to rest. Other times, they are still there in name, but the spirit is already dead as members flock to better environments. Whether their legion is dead or the walking dead, players are faced with the "What next?" question.

Passing the buck

Sometimes, a leader declares his intention to step down and chooses to pass the reins on to another. This can either be a very sad thing (saying goodbye to a good friend) or a very glad thing (when it means the drama will end). For the really lucky, the remaining group gets to decide itself what will be best for the legion moving forward. For the unlucky, the leader just gives command over to whomever he wants out of spite. Either way, this group has the most options available.

Although it always comes down to each individual choosing for himself what is best, this time of transition can be used by the group as a whole to refocus on where to go. In the absence of drama (we will cover that later), the most obvious choice is to continue together in the current legion, thereby retaining Abyss contribution and rank. If you have cultivated a reputation -- be it for PvP, RP, or what have you -- maintaining the legion and legion name may be quite important to you. On the flip side, if there has been drama, or if you have a reputation you do not really want to continue with, you have the chance to rename and start fresh, without sacrificing all of the work people put into the legion. True, people can look up your legion name once it's changed, but for the most part, word associations will fade -- as long as your legion turns over a new leaf and doesn't simply rehash whatever activities gave it that reputation to start with!

Daevas of Our Lives, legion episode

So, maybe the legion environment is fraught with drama and the loss of the leader is a welcome addition to your gaming. But what if the leader refuses to let go of what "he" built and chooses instead to retain leadership when he quits the game? Worse, what if leadership ping-pongs in activity, taunting members with "what might be"? Both of these scenarios prevent others from helping the legion to grow and move forward. If the leader chooses to go MIA from game but refuses to relinquish legion control, the best choices to consider are moving as a group to another legion, leaving and forming your own legion, or scattering to the winds.

If your group truly enjoys gaming together, then obviously the first two choices are ideal. Unfortunately, sometimes finding another legion that both fits your group's ideals and playstyle and can also fit all of your group is difficult. If you can move to an established legion, you have the benefit of a larger pool of people to play with as well as possible Abyss ranking.

However, legions are usually formed around similar ideals; there is a reason your group was together instead of already in another group, after all. If no one can fit your needs gameplay- or size-wise, you may opt simply to reform as a new legion. This will allow you to keep your ideals in place as well as ensure that there is room for everyone. The downside is that you lose all of your legion's Abyss contribution points and rank. You also lose your legion's reputation; however, if drama was involved, that may be a good thing. And if your individual members have good reputations, then those will carry over to the new legion.

The last choice -- scattering -- will undoubtedly be preferred by some individuals or by a group that was not cohesive to begin with. It might also be utilized if no legion can be found to fit your current group and no one is willing and able to step up and take on leadership (trust me, any good leader knows that there is no glory in running a legion -- just work, more work, and less time to ever enjoy the game). In this scenario, each individual moves to whatever legion best fits each personally.

High and dry

If you happened to have the misfortune of logging in and thinking your legion was unusually quiet, only to discover there was no legion (as a group of my friends discovered one fateful day), you have the fewest options; you are pretty much limited to finding a new legion -- as a group or individuals -- or making your own. Again, if you have a group of people wanting to stay together, there is the task of finding a home to accommodate you. Worse, you no longer have a communal chat in which to collaborate with all of your comrades. With any luck, you still have use of a Ventrilo or similar program for your discussion, because juggling whispers with 40+ folks all trying to share ideas and input would drive the sanest person batty. Not to mention, too much information would get lost.

The afterlife

Whether your legion spontaneously combusted or its death was celebrated and mourned, at some point you must pick up and move forward. OK, admittedly there are some folks who choose to stay in a legion of less than five or go legion-less entirely, but this is the minority; gamers tend to be social (why else go into a massively multiplayer game?). Moving on may not always be easy or even particularly pleasant to start with; for me, even in the worst scenario it was still painful to watch a legion take its last breath. Even amid the bad, there were bonds forged with others, friendships created and strengthened, and memories born. However, like I would with any change in life, I will choose to use the experience to grow. That, and just be grateful it's finally over. May it rest in peace.

Soaring through the Aionosphere, MJ Guthrie touches down weekly to bring you Wings Over Atreia. Featuring tips, guides, and general snippets of life in Aion, the column is better than Tutty-on-a-stick, ackackackackackack! Have a suggestion to share? No need to bribe a Shugo -- just send mail to mj@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.
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