Finding a roleplaying guild
One of the hardest parts of joining a roleplaying guild is finding a guild in the first place. While out-of-character conversations may pop up here and there, most of the time, you've got no idea if that gnome sitting in the corner is in a guild that houses enough people to keep the roleplay going. The best way to start your search for a roleplaying guild, believe it or not, is usually on the realm forums for whichever roleplaying realm you happen to be on.
Most roleplaying realms have a stickied thread that lists all roleplaying guilds, both Alliance and Horde. Guilds on the list will generally state what type of guild they are -- 24/7 roleplay, light or casual roleplay, or some combination of the two. Most roleplaying guilds also have guild websites set up, and you'll see links to the websites on the roleplaying guild list. Before you even think about joining a guild, check their website to see if they're still active. Sometimes these threads have been around for so long that many of the listed guilds don't exist anymore.
Before you even consider the question of how and why your character would be in a guild, you want to ask yourself what kind of guild you, the player, want to be in. Do you want to be in an easygoing guild that is light on the roleplay but heavy on the fun, or do you want to be in a guild that is all roleplay, all the time? Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Keep in mind that a heavier roleplay guild may require more of a time investment than a light or casual roleplay guild. Why? Because heavy roleplay guilds often have any number of intricate storylines going on at any given time. Missing a week or two of roleplaying means that you've fallen behind in those storylines, and it means that other players in the guild have to figure out what to do with your character while you're absent. You can't expect everyone else in the guild to wait on your return, after all. Casual guilds usually focus more on individual storylines that cross paths here and there, rather than group-focused, heavy storylines.
Finding the right roleplaying guild for you
Once you've found something that seems to be a suitable match, don't leap to join just yet. Roleplaying guilds range anywhere from guilds that invite anyone who asks to guilds that require applications to join. Applications? Yes -- and it's not to judge how good of a player you may be or whether or not you know your character. It's not a negative thing to ask for an application in the case of any guild out there, whether it be raiding, PvP, or roleplay.
All most roleplaying guilds are looking for is a chance to see if your character is a type of character that would fit within their guild. If it's a guild of cheerful and lighthearted fun, having a dark and brooding character suddenly clomping around wouldn't necessarily jibe with what the guild is all about. If it's an all-troll guild, an orc or blood elf really wouldn't fit at all. It's not a matter of deliberately excluding people; it's a matter of keeping to the theme of the guild.
Speaking of which, most roleplaying guilds have some sort of loose theme that keeps them all together. It could be anything from an association of Azeroth's finest fisherfolk to a tribe of trolls out in the wild. You want to make sure you find a guild that fits with who your character is and what they're all about, if you decide to join a guild that is working within a theme.
Finding the right roleplaying guild for your character
Because a lot of guilds work within themes, finding a guild becomes a simple task of matching up your character with the guild theme that suits them best, right? Well ... sort of. The thing is, even if you find a guild that has a theme you like, you don't know if you're going to enjoy roleplaying with the characters in the guild. This is where open world roleplay comes in incredibly handy. If you've found a guild that you think would make a good fit, look up the guild while you're online and see if you can find a member or two who isn't busy.
Politely mention that you're looking for roleplay and that their guild seemed like an interesting concept that would work with your character. Ask them if they'd mind taking a little time to roleplay a scene or two with your character -- maybe stumble across their characters in a bar or out in the wilds of Azeroth. Give your character a reason for being out there, and let the roleplay fly.
Joining a roleplaying guild isn't just about finding a theme that works for you -- it's also about finding people that you're compatible with. Just like raiding and PvP guilds, roleplaying guilds function better if everyone is at about the same level of roleplay or willing to work with each other if they aren't. It isn't just about finding a place your character can fit in; it's about finding people that you enjoy interacting with, too.
Justifying a guild decision in-character
And that's where we come to the tricky task of trying to figure out why your character would want to be in a guild in the first place. If you're playing a character who is a dark and brooding loner, why would they seek a group of people to hang out with? If you're playing a character that has been remarkably self-sufficient so far, why would they be seeking friends? If you're looking to join a guild that is a group or organization, why would your character want to join?
These questions are all intensively subjective and dependent on the type of character you're roleplaying. Perhaps your loner has a dark secret he is hiding, and he wants to make a few friends who will have his back if that secret gets out. Perhaps your character isn't the nicest person in the world and wants to join that seedy organization because they have the same goals in mind. Or perhaps your character is just friendly as all get out and wants to find some people to be friends with because they're a little lonely.
No matter how you write it, there are endless opportunities to explain why your character would want to sign up with a guild of like-minded individuals. And you can easily make that decision to join a part of the roleplaying process. If you're asking guild members for a roleplay opportunity to test out their compatibility with yours, perhaps the subject of their guild can naturally come up in the process of conversation.
Now keep in mind, this is assuming you're looking for a heavy roleplaying guild off the bat. There are also plenty of casual roleplaying guilds out there to choose from -- and some of them may not even be a "guild," officially speaking. I've seen guilds that weren't really a specific guild of any kind at all -- they were just groups of roleplayers who enjoyed roleplaying, and they didn't consider their guild tag to be an in-character thing. None of the assorted characters in the guild were really associated with each other, except for the fact that they'd chat with each other every now and again.
It's that last type of guild that may actually be the best for a new roleplayer who is still learning the ropes. If you haven't quite got the hang of in character and out, or if you have questions about character development, these casual guilds represent a wealth of information just waiting to be found. Beyond that, they offer a good introduction to the roleplaying process that doesn't feel particularly weighted or heavy, which is far less intimidating for a new roleplayer to work with.
Remember, finding a guild isn't always the best option for everyone out there. Sometimes players like being on their own. But roleplaying guilds offer an easy way to get the roleplay that you're looking for, and they offer new roleplayers a way to experience roleplay first hand, without spending hours trying to hunt it down.
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