Drama Mamas: The case of the evil guild leader

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Drama Mama Robin
Drama Mama Robin
Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

What do you do when you realize your GM is not a good person?
Dear Drama Mamas,

I promise to keep this as short as possible while still giving you all the needed details. I am, and for all intents and purposes HAVE been, a member of of a guild of which the GM and I have know each other for a long time. We've gamed together across numerous games as well as several MMOs in our day, developing a guild that has followed us in the same manner as I've followed him. I was young when we began our quest of gaming, but now as I grow older, I'm learning that he is an enormously terrible person.
Through a large amount of self-inflection I've come to the realization that the GM keeps people around him (friends, family, etc) based on their strategic value to him. He has used me specifically for his gain more times than I can recollect. Here's where I'll spare you the details, because I could spend hours explaining all the times he's kicked me around. The thing is, when the people start questioning him or going against anything he says or does, he scapegoats them and boots them from the guild. This GM literally gets you to open up to him, takes screenshots of you revealing personal information to him, and then when you turn against him, he'll pull it out of his pocket to show how weak and insufferable you are. He's done this twice I can name.

The bigger problem though, is that he's smart about it. He studies military battles and strategies and is becoming a lawyer (for good reason) because he can read people like a book. Our guild advisers consist of myself and another (we'll call him Bob), and we've honestly gotten to the point where we're scared to say anything against him. Bob and I have had to protect people from him from false accusations and finger pointing for over a year now, and we're worried if he boots us, he'll have free reign. I know it's just the internet and we don't owe these people anything, but we can't stand seeing someone else torn from friends and fun in a guild where the GM is self-proclaimed infallible. Besides, our guildmates are our friends. Sure there's a bad apple in the bunch here and there, but they're all good people and fun to play with. Guildies have come and gone in this "turn and get kicked" fashion, but being the GM's advisers, Bob and I have been here since day one. And because of that, we have quite a large canvas painted for us of how the GM acts and rules.

So, I guess my question is, how do you stand up against someone who is two steps ahead of you and will cast you out as soon as you do? We want to stay and basically be the blockade between him and his false accusations, but we feel he'd be better off if we could convince him to step down. But then, that's mutiny (and yes, he's used that word referring to people questioning him before). What are our options? We can't convince everyone to quit because we'll be kicked before we're able to convince anyone what he's like. We can't screenshot him, because there's nothing to screenshot unless we can use screenshots of him telling someone they're trying to break up the guild when they're not. In which case it's his word against theirs. Do we just call our losses and just Bob and I quit? It seems to Bob and I that we've taken a boat ride up a very brown creek without a paddle.

Concerned Guild Officer

Drama Mama RobinDrama Mama Robin: Your GM AKA The Malevolent Dictator is not going to give up leadership. From what you've described, that's an absolute impossibility. And it doesn't sound like he'd tolerate the suggestion. So your only options are to stay and enable this guy or go, leaving behind good groupies who don't realize what he's like.
If he were reasonable, you could try:
  • A rotating GM status where you each take turns being GM for a month
  • Having all big decisions -- like gkicking -- be decided by a committee of the GM and officers
  • Add a clause to your charter (or creating a charter if you don't have one) which makes it against the charter to do drama-causing things like airing dirty laundry in public
But he's not reasonable from what you have told us.

It sounds like you and Bob have been doing a good job of drama control whenever The Malevolent Dictator makes it possible. But it also sounds like TMD has been a drama monger for quite a long time. Again, he seems to thrive on drama and will be unwilling to give up his position. I think that even if you suggest having more officers (as a bigger buffer between him and the other guildies), he'll balk at the idea. But that is something you could try if you decide to stay.

The real question is, do you spend more time protecting people from TMD or are you and Bob able to spend most of your time having fun with your guildies? If it's the latter, then it may be worth staying around even though you'd be keeping him in charge. But I really think that leaving and creating your own guild is your best bet. Don't bad mouth TMD, but do invite anyone who wants to follow to join you -- even if it's not right away. Unfortunately, this move will be a huge drama bomb, but that's all on The Malevolent Dictator. You can't change his behavior.

Good luck and let us know what happens.

Drama Mama LisaDrama Mama Lisa: If all else fails, there's a third option worth considering: the coup d'etat. Are you willing to wrest control from the beast? Tread carefully here; this is no time for improvisation or flying without your wing man. Make sure you review seasoned strategies on this exact, dire situation from Scott Andrews in Officers' Quarters .

But first, I'd entreat you (as Robin suggested) to contemplate whether or not the guild perks and enjoyment you get from the current guild setup are worth hanging onto for their own sake. It doesn't sound as if they are - and the good news is, the way your guild is structured, making a break may not be as difficult as you think.

With your guild's history of moving from place to place, it may be feasible to shift to another faction or server type in a fairly organic fashion. Look for opportunities there, or if that feels too close for comfort, consider shifting back to another MMO as a temporary transition. If your guild is anything like mine and others I know that move from game to game, saying "Hey guys, I'm a little burned out so I'm going to check out X; anyone want to form a group?" is an easy, natural development. The key is to maintain independent leadership of the new group -- again, not too impossible a hurdle if approached in a relaxed, matter-of-fact, "of course I'll handle all the formalities -- it's just a little X group, anyway" sort of way.

I know I don't have to remind you to keep all conversations public and logged. That's your backup and good will building with other members.

I'll be anxious to hear how things work out for you. Do keep in touch!
Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with a little help and insight from the Drama Mamas. Play nice ... and when in doubt, ask the Drama Mamas at robin@wowinsider.com. Read Robin's section of this post on how to get your letter answered and please remember that we cannot answer privately.
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