United We FightReturn to: Atlantic
ATLANTIC—Though United We Fight (UWF) may currently be the largest guild on the Atlantic shard, this was not always the case. When UWF was founded in October 1999, its entire membership consisted of only two members. Over the past decade, UWF has witnessed many challenges, including changes in leadership, shifts in focus, and even guild splits. However, thanks to the unique culture of personal ownership cultivated by its members, as well as an absence of heavy-handed rules, UWF has grown to become one of the largest guilds in the history of Ultima Online.
Founding and Reorganization
The guild was initially founded by Greendragoon, whose mission was to create a primarily player versus monster (PvM) guild that specialized in training new players. At its founding, the guild’s charter was “Friends First.” Greendragoon led the guild until 2005, when he passed the mantel to UWF’s current guild master, Dragging Canoe (DC). When DC first assumed leadership, the guild was experiencing some instability due to overextension, as UWF attempted to be all things to all people. DC helped returned the guild to its original PvM focus, clarified the guild’s objective, implemented a simpler code of conduct, and reorganized the guild’s structure to place more leadership responsibility in the hands of its members. As a result of these changes, UWF has grown to become a larger and more stable organization.
“I have no idea how big the guild was when I assumed the role of Guild Master three years ago, but I don’t think we were among the largest guilds on the Atlantic shard or in UO,” DC said. “A bitter war had just ended with a guild that had split from UWF. It split when UWF departed from its insistence on being a Tram PVM guild to a guild that had one faction devoted to Fel champs and PVP. I knew I wanted the guild to return to its Tram PVM roots and avoid the negative drama that had become all too commonplace.”
Elements of Success
Following the departure of the player vs. player (PvP) wing, DC redefined the guild’s charter to focus on fun and fellowship. The guild’s current motto is, “Fellowship, PvM, and we still train the best!” Aside from the refocusing of UWF’s mission, other aspects have helped to contribute to the guild’s success.
“Perhaps the most important factor to our success is the culture that has evolved,” DC said. “UWF belongs to the members. We are not a democracy, but are rather organized like a successful company. Members are empowered. They have opportunities to provide feedback and ideas, and to help lead activities and events. We don’t have a long list of heavy handed rules, but just those necessary to avoid drama and chaos, and maintain order. We have a great group of enlightened and dedicated Emissaries, Hunt Leaders, and Honor Guards that lead by example, assist and participate in recruiting, lead guild hunts, and promote our goals on a daily basis. My role as Guild Master is primarily to set the direction and make decisions when consensus can’t be reached.”
“Another important factor is the wide range of activities available thanks to the willingness of members to share their knowledge and expertise,” said DC. UWF offers nightly guild hunts to various locations, including peerless instances; the Ilshenar, Malas, and Tokuno champion spawns; the Doom gauntlet; and hunting hot spots throughout Britannia.
“Another factor has been a great web page,” said DC, “[which] allows us to publicize activities and events to the membership, gather ideas and feedback, and exchange ideas on templates and skills. It also has a Formal Leadership Forum that allows a private exchange of ideas and opinions among the formal leadership.”
The path to UWF’s success has included many obstacles. When UWF was smaller, three guild splits threatened UWF’s stability; as UWF grew larger, it became a prime target for player killers and thieves.
“UWF has strong formal leadership,” said DC. “Occasionally a strong leader will want to go in a different direction and will leave to form a guild based on this direction. This has happened three times over the past three years. At one time, two of the guilds that spun off from UWF were among the ten largest guilds on the Atlantic shard. One of these guilds [i.e., “Knights of Ni”] is still in existence, appears to be prospering and continues as one of the largest guilds on the Atlantic shard. The departure of a popular leader is often accompanied by some disruption. However, such disruption has been short lived and hasn’t altered what has made UWF successful.”
“Large guilds are also targets for an element that seeks to gain admittance simply to profit by preying on other members or to feed their egos. UWF is not immune to the occasional player killer or thief,” DC said. “When members realize that the damage a player killer or thief can actually cause is less than the routine damage they suffer from a challenging ‘Suicide Guild Hunt,’ the drama and disruption caused is nearly eliminated.”
Evolution of Leadership
When UWF was first founded, its formal leadership truly ran the guild. They were responsible for recruiting prospective members, training new players, organizing events, and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the guild. As UWF grew, this job began to overwhelm the formal leadership, leading to an evolution in its structure.
“Leadership has become more shared as members have come to realize that the success of the guild lies with them,” said DC. “The Guild Master doesn’t ‘own’ the guild. It belongs to the members. Also a culture isn’t created overnight. The high level of ‘buy-in’ to the goals of fun and fellowship, and getting along evolved over time. This commitment was necessary to long term continuous growth.”
Mission and Diversity
Due to its focus on PvM events in the Trammel rule set, UWF does not appeal to all players. However, it has managed to create a unique atmosphere. One thing that sets UWF apart from many guilds is the absence of heavy-handed rules. UWF only has three basic rules, which include: 1) do not kill guild mates, 2) do not steal from guild mates, and 3) mind your P’s and Q’s in guild chat. Otherwise, UWF members are free to play as they choose, including becoming members of other guilds who focus on PvP and Felucca-based events, as UWF does not offer these activities.
“We value diversity,” said DC, “so it is easy to join UWF. There is no long waiting list. Everyone is welcome, with the exception of drama kings and queens or those with a chip on their shoulder that can’t get along in a large group. Part of our motto is ‘We Still Train the Best,’ so prospective members do not have to be skilled. They do not have to share a common background. We have members from all over the United States, as well as from 14 or 15 different countries, from all age groups [18 to older than 70], and from all walks of life. Prospective members have to be 18 years of age or older; agree not to be a player killer, or steal or scam; accept the goals of fun, fellowship and getting along; and agree not to swear in guild chat.”
“This diversity has given rise to the standing joke in UWF that we are the largest group of misfits in UO, but we do fine as long as we stay on our ‘meds,’” DC said. “At any rate, UWF consists of a great bunch of diverse people that share the common bond of wanting to have fun and enjoy the game together.”
United We Fight has been an active presence on Atlantic for over a decade. UWF’s current guild master, Dragging Canoe, has been leading the guild since November 2005.
Interview by Fallon Valor
Last modified: October 5, 2011