ATLANTIC—Despite being one of Atlantic’s largest guilds, The Wheel of Time guild (TWT) has developed one of the shard’s closest-knit communities of players. Known for their cordiality on the battle field and their occasional shard-wide holiday events, TWT has worked carefully to protect their good reputation, while also maintaining a fairly large membership of players. Much of TWT’s success can be attributed to its Guild Master, Draken-Korin, who has strived to promote a culture of honesty and community involvement. Due to their stable membership and positive public image, TWT has become an important fixture among Atlantic’s vast assortment of guilds.
The founding of TWT dates back to 2000, though its organization and focus have since evolved. Said Draken, “[TWT] did not reach its current form until a book was passed back and forth at the Moonglow bank, between Tabitha and Draken-Korin, with the purpose of outlining the structure of the guild. TWT was built with the intent of creating a strong foundation of members, dedicated not only to their own craft, but more importantly to their brother and sister members.”
When asked what sets TWT apart from other Atlantic-based guilds, Draken responded that he would leave this assessment to the citizens of Atlantic. His hope, he explained, is that TWT stands out as a community-oriented guild, whose members experience the same companionship that guilds shared during the early years of Ultima Online (UO). “When TWT was founded, it was done so with the intent to create a bond much like those I saw from guilds long ago, that I had dealings with but was never truly a part of. Guilds such as the Amazons and the Reapers of Yew, Clan Moor, ACID, and the Yew Militia,” Draken said. “There were many other guilds I would watch, learning from and taking a piece of this or that, setting it aside for future reference. As I would wander the land in solitude, I recall each town having its own groups closely associated with its borders, and wondered what it would be like to be part of creating such a tight-knit community.”
All large guilds face two important challenges with regards to their membership: turnover and occasional “bad eggs.” Draken attributes TWT’s success and development to the guild’s ability to preempt and respond to these challenges, most notably through its astringent screening process and strict rules against causing grief to other players. “One of the factors of TWT’s success is that we understand that honesty and the desire to be a part of a community are hard to come by, even more so when players are allowed the luxury of not having to answer for their actions, for the most part, in this virtual world,” Draken said. “As a guild, we promote and encourage all styles of play, although griefing of any kind is strictly prohibited and in all likelihood will result in removal from TWT.
It is important that all members represent the guild in a positive light.” TWT also enforces a strict membership cap of 50 real players. When members know one another personally, they are more likely to remain in the guild community and take personal responsibility for their actions.
“I would like to think the most important aspect of our growth would be, once a member joins TWT, it is rare that you see them leave. In the few cases it has happened, more often than not they have returned,” Draken said. “With a low turnover rate and new members becoming veteran members of TWT as the years pass quickly, it lends to our success as a guild.”
TWT is currently one of the largest guilds on Atlantic, but this was not always the case. Three years after its founding, certain challenges threatened the very existence of the guild. As Draken recalled the events of 2003-2004, it was clear that this was a painful time for TWT.
Said Draken, “The most important challenge over the years I recall vividly, as it was my one major failing regarding TWT – one that ripped at the core of much of UO, itself, while in the process tearing TWT apart. I will not say specifically what it was, but leave it to the fact that it all started midway through 2003, seeing many of TWT slowly leaving the lands of Sosaria.”
As guild membership dwindled to 10 members, of an original 50, Draken moved TWT to Siege Perilous in 2004 in hopes of salvaging the guild. “That lasted for about a year and a half as we inhabited an island there,” Draken said, “but again, the damage had been done, TWT was all but dead.
As our membership on Siege dwindled, our island town crumbled. I left once again for distant lands. This time fleeing to where I was nothing by a shade, attempting to re-live the feelings and adventures I once shared with so many others – both during and surrounding the years of TWT. On occasion, I would return to my former self, an apparition refusing to believe he was truly no longer welcome.”
In the midst of this dire moment, Draken never forgot the mission and vision of TWT. As he wandered the various shards of Sosaria, he continued to long for the sense of community that he had once experienced in TWT. This is when he stumbled across a piece of fiction that would call him back to Atlantic and eventually revitalize TWT. “After spending a few years away from Atlantic, I came across the first tale of Morgana LeFay and her guild Protectors of Virtue (PoV),” said Draken. “[W]ith her vivid memories of a land that once was, I was drawn to return to its shores one last time.”
Although TWT’s values have remained the same since its founding, the guild’s focus has evolved over the past decade. TWT has also instituted a variety of events to keep members involved in the everyday operation of the guild. “TWT started out as a primarily Fel based guild. The majority of our time was spent at a town that housed many of TWT’s members, growing from two houses owned by Tabitha and myself, to around 15 buildings, “Draken said. “Located beside the Brit swamps the town was ideal with a large centralized yard for dueling, field PvP and many events that took place in the days when sleep-deprived Sosarians were the norm.
“TWT today is Trammel based, with the majority of our hunts/events focused in non-pvp lands. This is not to say we do not venture into Fel on occasion, but unlike the early years, we are surely not a fixture there. “TWT has a variety of personalities, which lends to its evolvement. We encourage people to express their ‘avatar’ and creativeness. One new program that has been a huge success is our ‘Hunt Leader Night.’ A random member is chosen to set up and execute the hunt of their choice from beginning to finish. The various scenarios – ranging from a guild PvP contest, Labyrinth and other peerless spawn, and shard-wide events using real life holidays as the backdrop. “Much of what TWT was founded on remains intact, its foundation and basic principles have stood now for almost ten years and – Ultima Online allowing – will stand for ten more.” Draken added that “community” has remained, and will remain, the primary focus of the guild. “Within TWT, we have created a family-like community. People share, the good as well as the bad, whether it is the outcome of their real life experience or their Ultima Online adventures. And as in any family, we may not always agree, but all know they have the support of their guild mates.”
Despite the many challenges that TWT has faced over the past 10 years, the guild has responded with strength and resolve. Through its member-oriented structure and positive community involvement, TWT has established itself as a stable and reputable member of the Atlantic community. TWT’s Guild Master, Draken-Korin has, been playing Ultima Online for more than a decade.
He would like to end this interview with the following:
“To all the members of TWT past and present, I hope you carry your memories for what you have had such a large part in creating far beyond Sosaria. And finally, a thank-you to Robert Jordan (R.I.P.) for creating the world, The Wheel of Time, in his novels for which TWT is loosely based on: ‘The Wheel of Time turns, and ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend.’ – Robert Jordan.”
Interview by Fallon Valor
The Wheel of Time Guild House (Malas)
Guild Master: Draken-Korin
Co-ordinates: 83o 30’N 44o 43’E
Visited By: Fallon Valor
Visited On: April 3, 2010
Map to Location: