Noble knights in shining armor are a dime (a silver?) a dozen Alliance-side in World of Warcraft. Where you find one or more Alliance roleplayers, you'll find a veritable solar flare of the Light. In most cases, however, the buck (or the Light, as it may) stops right here at the boundary between Azeroth and Earth. But in one longstanding Moon Guard (US) guild, the Light spills forth into all corners of members' lives. The Bearers of Light's noble guild foundation rests on charity, both in game and out. Moving beyond regular newbie zone assistance events, the guild recently embarked upon a real-world community challenge that's racking up life-changing results.
Since its inception in the classic WoW era, this guild force for good seems to be filling an apparently unique niche among Azerothian guilds. Back in 2009, WoW Insider's David Bowers (then author of our roleplaying column) wrote about discovering the guild with his own character: "The guild I eventually chose is called The Bearers of Light on the Moon Guard server, and I chose it because its members pledge to be kind to others. It was the first and only guild I've ever seen in World of Warcraft that is explicitly founded around the spirit of benevolence and charity. I felt that it was a perfect match for me personally -- if you've seen movies like Pay It Forward or read about ideas such as random kindness and senseless acts of beauty, then you will have seen the kind of impact this theme can have on a group of people. Once kindness itself is a goal, it makes life so much more livable."
Looking for inspiration to start your new year off on the right foot? Look no further than The Bearers of Light.
Main character Zelyna, guild master
Guild The Bearers of Light
Realm Moon Guard (US)
WoW Insider: Zelyna, even a cursory glance at your guild website and charter shows that The Bearers of Light are all about service and sharing the Light. The big question, I think, is whether that philosophy simply serves as a roleplaying focus for the guild or if it's a broader mission aimed at the players behind the characters.
Zelyna: It does come into play for the guild roleplay, ensuring the characters are good aligned and would take big risks for each other and to help each other out. However, it is also intended to be a guideline for how the members are expected to conduct themselves within the game itself, whether we are talking about their dealings with other guild members or people they are pugging an instance with, or even just with people who are hanging around Stormwind. Finally, there is the hope that my fellow members will take our guild beliefs and put them to practical use in their daily lives. Not only is it our hope to make Moon Guard a better place, but the real world around us as well.
Has the guild always had such a focus?
I was not the original leader, nor did I play when it was created, which was shortly after Moon Guard went online. My best friend Zal was a member very early on. It was made with the same tenants of benevolence, kindness, and charity, as it is now. I really liked this aspect of the guild, as well as I had gotten to know some of the members vicariously through Zal. When I decided to play, I wanted to join and I filled out an application. Lo and behold, when Zal logged in the next day, the guild was disbanded. I was sorely disappointed, since I was looking so forward to joining it and meeting all these great people I had been hearing about.
Well, to find out, no one else in the guild was happy it was gone either, so we reformed it, with the same tenets and website, and put Zal in charge. ... Eventually he stepped down ... and he passed the lead onto me.
The guild itself has evolved over the years from a heavy RP guild to an all-purpose guild. We try to cover all aspects of the game from RP to raids to PvP. However, one thing has not changed, and it's the tenets of kindness, benevolence, and charity. I do not have many demands on the membership, as WoW ultimately is a game and it should be enjoyable, so I do not believe in making people raid or come to events when they really don't want to, but I do demand all the members at least respect each other and treat each other the way they would be treated themselves. It is also expected each member try to be nice to others outside the guild confines and help if they can and it's needed. They are also expected to pull their own weight (powerleveling is frowned upon) and not demand people drop everything and run them through dungeons or give them lots of gold. It has really worked to keep the drama level down ... and has really made us an extended family of sorts.
... which today includes your Evenings of Giving. What are those all about?
The guild members who want to participate spend time gathering up materials for crafting or getting low-level greens. If the character does not have a crafting profession, then we either give them something to hand out or have them go buy pets. Then we meet in a city and finish crafting using mats from the vault if we have them, or I give out items from the vault to hand out. Then we stick around in the chosen city and see if we can attract adventurers 20th level or under through announcements on general and yell. If things are slow in the city, then we head off to the starting area and try out luck there. Sometimes we even switch cities, if it's that dead.
Usually we hand out most of what we bring with us, so we have had good luck. Everyone who visits gets one item or a small stack of items, like health potions, from each person who is there. All the while we are handing out stuff, we also stay in character and roleplay with them, proving that not all roleplay on Moon Guard is ... well ... you know. Then again, that sort of roleplay is banned from the guild entirely.
As for the items we hand out, it really does depend on who goes and what they can craft. We have handed out everything from potions (which is my specialty), to crafted weapons, to leather patches, rings, pets we get from a different starting area, to cookies. (Even the light side has cookies -- ha!) The most useful item to a new adventurer is bags, though. Usually we ensure someone makes Netherweave Bags to hand out.
It's a great event for even small guilds to do, since you do not need a large amount of people present to do this. A good minimum number is five. If the crowd is too large, it can be a bit intimidating to a person new to the game.
The Bearing Light to the World Month of Service is something I tried this year around Sept. 11. I figured on this day when so many gave their lives in the service of others, maybe it would be nice to give something back to our communities, and by doing this, we could bring our guild goals into the real world. This year it was a week but next year it will be a month, to give people more time. All I asked was for members to do one nice thing in their communities or for a charity of their choice. It could be as simple as donating money to a favorite charity or picking up trash in a nearby park.
Nice! What kind of participation did you get?
One of my guild members donated to NPR and their local EMS squad. On top of that, they donated food to their local food bank and clothing to another local charity, and books to their library. Another member has gone as far as to sign up to go do missionary work in Central and South America, as well as donating blood and also donating books which would be given to people who can't afford them. My charity was Locks for Love. I donated a foot and a half of my hair.
Finally, I asked around what the members do for real life charities. I got more answers than I realized I would, which made me very happy.
We have multiple members who donate blood on a regular basis.
- Bozdin donates through his store to St. Jude's Children's Hospital and the March of Dimes.
- Kyleah donates to Paralyzed Veterans of America and through school, sends aid to Japan, and collected used textbooks to send to schools in third-world nations.
- Gaerm has done mission work in Mexico, plus he supports various charities associated with law enforcement, the military, and the fire department.
- Jericane who took poinsettias and cookies to her [home health] clients over the holidays, especially to people who have no family.
- Sallic supports the Red Cross and, through his church, helps the homeless.
- Antisthenes and his family, instead of buying gifts this Christmas, donated to various charities through his church as well where the money went to places such as the local soup kitchen. (I almost cried when I read this ... Wow.)
- Ashvati donates to his temple and the Himalayan Academy, which helps people who are interested in converting to Hinduism.
- Lightbeacon donated to her store's hosting a Christmas dinner and gifts for a deserving family.
- Zualeane made a large donation to Toys for Tots. She is a survivor of a heart transplant and naturally works to promote organ donation.
- Phazium is in a band and his band regularly does shows for charities such as MDA, Elks Children's fund, and a food pantry his mom is involved in.
- Both Phazium and Zualeane served lunches to the families staying at the local Ronald McDonald House.
- Pinkiepie works with Habitat for Humanity and she knits scarves for her local Kids Without Coats drive.
- Praeus donates to the local EMT/volunteer fire department, NPR and the ASPCA. She and her husband look around to see who might be in need and tries to make a difference; once they bought a dinner and had it delivered to a homeless man sitting outside the restaurant, she frequently works with animal rescue, and she's even tutored the children Vietnamese family who had just immigrated here.
- Baudouin taught English last summer in Turkey.
- Lorinan works in the various ministries at his church.
- Xythyl has worked in Central and South America doing missionary work and is going again next summer.
Personally, I have not seen many guilds out there where this is a focus, and I have not really heard about any who have tried to carry their guild goals to the real world. One of my members said to me once, they had checked out other guilds and never found one which was like ours. That said, I am not saying that they don't exist out there, just that I have never heard of any who do what we do.
With a nice, crisp new year ahead of us, what's in the works for The Bearers of Light?
I would like to see us adopt a charity that the members pick and try to help in a bigger scale than we do with the month of service. Our guild has been growing by leaps and bounds, so the more people we have who can help, the more we might be able to accomplish. I would even like to come up with new ideas for events on Moon Guard which will benefit others outside the guild. I have also been visiting the WoW forums and going onto the Guild and Raid Leader forums and the new player forums (when I have time) and trying to give helpful advice if needed.
I found myself telling the people we gave items to the only thanks we wanted was for them to pay it forward. It is my goal that if even just one person does pay it forward, the server will be a better place.
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with these players, from a player battling Alzheimer's disease to Game of Thrones' Hodor (Kristian Nairn), gaming industry insider Liz Danforth and El of El's Extreme Anglin'. Know someone else we should feature? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.