It’s been a few months since I threw on the silver robes and started livening up the place with storm clouds and moonfire. By and large, I’m loving every second of it. The players of Serenwilde never cease to amaze me with their creativity and their passionate responses to every kind of stimuli. Were they raided to a pulp recently? That’s fine – they know they’ll win next time. Did one of their own forsake the ‘Wilde’s ways in pursuit of another life? They’ll get what’s coming to them. On and on, every seemingly negative situation seems to be met with a positive reaction, and I couldn’t be happier with how amazing this experience has been for me as their active administrator.
Hmmm. Administrator. That’s a hard word to use. “Patron” isn’t exactly the right term, either, because I’m one of five very different deities who share the forest, and “patron” feels too … solitary. However, I suppose it’s safe to assume that, because I’m the most visible Serenwilde Elder for now, my influence is certainly leaving a sizable stamp on the playing styles of everyone who calls Serenwilde their e-home.
My in-role belief systems are not the same as an entire half of the forest’s personalities. And you know what? That’s amazing. It helps to have a few people around who are keeping alive the other gods’ memories, as it just deepens and enriches the experience. In being only visible “patron,” however, I do have the privilege and the burden of being a little choosy with the projects I’ll take on, and here’s why:
The following are scenarios that I think a lot of us up here have experienced as patrons, at least once during our tenure as Lusternian gods:
1) A guild wants to change its roleplay direction, in lore and activity, to better fit a new ideal that may be different from the original blueprint.
This one is tricky. We have a relatively specific idea of what each guild means to the environment in which it exists, and hours and hours of thought went into the design before it was released to the game. An organization begins with an idea and is then fleshed out with skills, historical connections, and a storyline, all in an effort to make it easier for players to pick up the reins and go forward as if the guild has always existed. You, the players, become the drivers of these vehicles for roleplay, and it’s so rewarding to see where you go with them.
At times, for whatever reason, these vehicles might find themselves driving down uncharted territory long enough that it might be time to reflect on whether it has changed fundamentally enough to warrant a review. Does the guild that started out worshipping bats still do that in Draculaville, or has Draculaville become so accustomed to this guild’s new habit of serving blood tea that taking care of the city’s bats are now a secondary function?
This is when being the patron of the Bat-tallion is tricky. If the god receives a petition to change a few skills around and add a tiny area to help push along a new facet of the guild’s roleplay, He or She cannot simply make it happen the following weekend. It goes through a really lengthy review process where other Elders and She Who Makes All Things have an opportunity to voice their opinions. Ultimately, if this change is deemed inappropriate or somehow against the original vision of the guild, then the patron needs to be the one to relay this message. If it works out, then He or She is then expected to spend a lot of time and energy building the new area, brainstorming the new skills, and figuring out an event to implement everything so that ultimately, the players are happy. Either way, it’s a sticky situation to be in, for different reasons. We all want to deliver the good news, of course, because happy players make our jobs way easier, but that means we have a new project to work on, alongside whatever else we have on our plates.
The same is true of any kind of physical expansion. Guildhalls, city/commune projects, and player homesteads all require approval and more work for the volunteer. We’re thrilled to do it, as this is what we signed up for, but try to remember that your timeline is secondary to the administrator’s.
2) A player family wants to become historical.
This one is something we see often enough, too, and it differs from the previous example in that player-run Great Houses have less to do with the mechanics of a guild or a city. This means that an Elder God isn’t really obligated to take on projects for these players, but can certainly choose to do so if the relationship is there. Essentially, this kind of patronship commitment is Extra, and when you’re one of the only gods spreading around your holy influence, it’s tough to say yes to something without a little something in return for your effort. I think this might be where some players are confused about the function of patronship – as volunteers, we’re not really expected to do what you want outside the purview of game mechanics, and this includes committing to major roleplay leg work.
For example, if someone asked Spike, Who patrons Draculaville, to also be the House Patron of the McVillains, He can choose to accept or decline based on what His role would be. If He expects to gain new worshippers or already has a sizable following invested in the McVillains, then it’s going to be an easier sell. If He suspects He’ll end up doing all the grunt work until a more favourable god comes around, like that dastardly Drusilla, then it would be harder for Him to justify adding another project to His plate if He’s just going to be the placeholder. Especially if He’s the only active god in Draculaville, a city with a personality crisis. We’re not paid employees of Lusternia, after all, and we have our limits.
3) A player wants to follow you, but is up front about only wanting the shrine privs.
This tends to leave a bad taste in most divine mouths, for a variety of reasons. Orders are our way to interact directly with the game. When we aren’t visible, which is typically when we’re hanging out with you and cooking up our own special pocket of roleplay, we’re working on promotions, building new areas, writing progs, dealing with the issues queue, working on designs, dreaming up ideas for future plots, helping out with another god’s projects, and so on. Essentially, the time we spend with the order is our time, which is why a lot of you really love interacting directly with your gods – we’re willing to go the extra mile to put on a good show because we enjoy hanging out with you, too! So when an opportunistic player begs to join our orders just to get a leg up in combat, by using our shrines and avatar powers, it can be frustrating to know that they’ll likely skip off to greener pastures when a new god shows up. I can’t speak for everyone, as some gods thrive on building these tenuous relationships with their followers, but if you’re building up a group of people in your image, it’s tough when one or two black sheep would rather flex the toys you’ve given them than participate in the order fun.
We spend a lot of time designing our order structures and creating a world within the First World where like-minded players can collect in one place, outside of their guilds and families, to hang out with their favorite gods. Although my order is perfect in every way (the Lisae are the best, just deal with it), I know of a few other gods who have experienced situations similar to this one where the players believed they were entitled to these additional mechanics because of x, y, z. I’m here to set the record straight – even moreso than our ability to decline your ideas for guilds and families, we’re never obligated to take in strays who only want to use you for your superior PK equipment.
Now, these scenarios are just a few of the ones that stand out in my mind. There are hundreds of ways that the relationship between a god and a mortal can become confused, and the role that patrons play in every organization may be set up a little differently. In the end, it really does come down to what the god in question is comfortable with in terms of work load and time commitment. As volunteers, we know that we’re expected to work on behalf of the guilds and cities that request our patronship, but we’re in no way married to these commitments – and it’s entirely possible for us to set our own terms regarding the ways in which we’ll interact with each organization.
Spike might tell the guildmaster of Bat-tallion that He’ll help them change their ways if they bring Him a Buffy Summers special, for example.
These scenarios are not black and white
Every volunteer is different. Every situation is different. If I’m really into an idea for something neat that you’ve come up with, I can choose to cast aside my other projects in favour of that one. At the same time, if an idea seems like it’ll wear me out and force me to take a breather afterward but is obviously important to the Serenwilde side of the game, I can choose to push forward with it anyway. Even still, projects that I may love but cannot feasibly accomplish will be declined or negotiated so that it enters the realm of possible. I try my hardest to say yes to as much as I can, but I’ve learned from past experiences how important it is to acknowledge when I’m at my limit. That doesn’t necessarily mean something will never happen! It just means that the silver mama needs a chance to take a deep breath now and then.
The takeaway point from this blog should be thus: the definition of what it means to be a “patron” can vary in terms of roleplay and administrative duty, but the volunteer who takes on these organizations certainly has a say in how things are accomplished. If that means you have to compromise a little, then that’s all part of the process!
If you have questions about what we can do for you, as God characters or behind-the-scenes administrators, feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d also be wiling to field questions myself, to the best of my ability, at email@example.com.