October 29, 2009

Drama Mamas: Of crime and crossdressing

The writer of our first letter is not looking to send a guild "criminal" on a tortuous journey across the globe to a penal colony, but he is looking to exact a harsher punishment than the one already meted out. Our second petitioner is tortured about being considered weird for playing the opposite gender. We won't torture you with any further delays before letting you at the drama.

Crime and Punishment in Communist Azeroth
Dear Drama Mamas, our guild is fairly relaxed when it comes to loot. It wasn't by design, but many have likened us to a Communist country nature: everyone contributes what greens and enchanting mats from our raids and heroics to the guild bank. In return, all enchants for alts and mains come straight from the guild bank. As a result, I haven't actually paid for any of my own enchants for a long time.

Recently, Flame Leviathan (hard mode) dropped a blacksmithing pattern. Since it was a guild run, it was obvious to go ahead and default that to the blacksmith in the raid. Four days later, one of our death knights decided that the extra gem slots were worth the trouble of having the thing made. He gathered up the mats and as soon as the Blacksmith logged on to Vent asked him to craft the item. His response was "Uuuuagh... fine... I guess.... Let me go get it off the Auction House." At which point everyone in the channel freaked out a bit and told him that was not okay. Any person in the raid could have put it up for money. We defaulted it to him because he was the only one who could actually learn it for guild use.

In the end, the DK did get his belt made and the Blacksmith did learn the recipe, but it has left a lot of guild members feeling sore. This is partly because the blacksmith in question just happens to be the guild leader's older brother, Myself and the other officers are pushing for some sort of punishment for this, while the guild leader has assured us that this won't happen again. Any guild patterns we receive from now on need to be learned on the spot and the blacksmith in question won't receive any patterns we receive in any instances for a while.

Am I looking for too much blood when I say that I think this is too light of a punishment -- especially since he is our only raider with blacksmithing? What's more is with the nature of random loot drops, it's not totally unreasonable for us not to see any blacksmithing patterns for a long time, perhaps until Icecrown. This really doesn't feel like anything more then a slap on the wrist. Any thoughts on a more severe punishment? Maybe losing a few ranks in guild so he has a little less access to guild bank materials? Being forced to come to our raids in nothing but greens? Something in between? Thanks! Concerned Comrade Druid

Drama Mama Robin: Hey, Comrade. I agree that what the Greedy Blacksmith did was wrong, even if he were in a not-so-communal guild. All patterns should obviously be learned by the designated Guild Blacksmith and your new guild rule of instantly learning patterns will prevent this in the future.

I'm not sure what you are trying to accomplish with the extra punishment, however. Certainly you must see that having him raid in all greens will punish the entire raid. And no real harm was done -- though obviously that was due to the timing of the DK wanting the item and not from him reconsidering his decision to sell.

Greedy Blacksmith has been on the receiving end of the wrath of his fellow guildies, the embarrassment of being publicly chastised and is obviously being watched by you and others for future transgressions. He is also on a formal probation from receiving future patterns (though this seems to hurt the guild, too, if he is the only blacksmith). Everyone makes mistakes and you have made no indication that this is part of a pattern of behavior.

In the future, if he seems to be exploiting his relationship to the GL and/or breaking guild rules then he should absolutely be demoted or otherwise suitably punished for his transgressions. But if this is an isolated incident, I don't see the benefit of punishing him further.

That having been said, you and your guildies could have a little fun with him. Perhaps you could make him run naked through an enemy city while low level enemy alts taunt the locals into ganging up on him. Or you could have him spend an evening offering to run noobs through dungeons for free. Keep it good natured -- he'll get the point and your need for justice will hopefully be satisfied.

Drama Mama Lisa: You say you want what's best for the guild, Comrade, but the guild's knee-jerk reaction has spawned conflicting policies that simultaneously help (learning pattern drops on the spot) and hurt (withholding pattern drops from the guild's only blacksmith) the guild as a whole. The first priority for your guild, it seems to me, is another look at that little dichotomy. What's actually helping the guild? What's not?

Beyond that, I have to agree with Robin – why the fixation on punishment?

Fix your policies, not your players. Exacting "punishments" for problem behavior only ensures that you'll keep needing to use them. If guild members act like twits who need constant rules checks and punishments to keep them in line, are they really people you want to be playing with? If you don't trust your GM and his ability to keep nepotism out of the picture, perhaps it's not Mr. Blacksmith the Brother who's the real issue. Our previous advice to The Other Egg (who was upset at sharing guild tags with a player who'd ninja'd) holds: If you trust your GM, then show it. If he says the situation won't happen again, consider the matter handled. Case closed. Quit creating drama by beating this dead horse in public, and move on. If a no-tolerance rule for ninjas is important to enough members, ask the officers to bring it up with the GM. The key: this issue is a SEPARATE ISSUE from Mr. Blacksmith's little situation (because you trusted the GM to resolve that issue, remember?). Contribute constructively, then let the officers and the system work. What's weird?
Hey Drama Mamas: So I'm rerolling a mage Alliance-side. I picked Draenei because they're the only really cool-looking Alliance race, but I think male Draenei look dumb in robes. I don't want to roll a female toon if people think that's weird. Is it wrong for a guy to play a chick toon? Signed, No Pink Dresses for Me

Drama Mama Lisa: I play with a bunch of guys I've gamed with across various games for years and years – and yeah, it strikes me as a little fey when one of them pulls up to an instance in a new female toon. That said, it's the same voice as always that's booming in my headset -- so ultimately, it's less odd to me than, say, recycling a name from a past character on a totally different type of character.

Some players have strong feelings about males playing female characters; I'll let reader comments on the subject speak for themselves. My take on your "weird" criteria:

It is NOT weird if you're roleplaying the character. It is NOT weird if you're already well known to your groupmates and guildmates. It is NOT weird if you're fairly clear about dropping the hint that you're male to those you group with regularly. (Just be honest about who you are. No ulterior motives.) It IS weird if you try to maintain a feminine front or don't dodge assumptions that you're female from a player-behind-the-toon perspective (as opposed to a roleplaying perspective). What is it you're hoping to accomplish by maintaining a false front? We can't think of anything that doesn't smell suspiciously fishy. Drama Mama Robin: Pink, most non-gamers think playing any fantasy character is weird. Don't worry about weird. It's your reasoning behind playing a female that is important. If you have ulterior motives, it's wrong to play a chick toon. But if you just want to look at a more attractive butt, that's between you and your current or potential significant others.

The Spousal Unit has a female blood elf warlock because she has pretty pixels. At first, I had issues: "I'm the girl in this relationship!" But that didn't last very long and now I just don't care. On the other hand, when a friend in EQ switched to female so that he could take advantage of lonely nerds and get free gear, I purposely lost touch with him.

So, check your motives, Pink. If you're not planning to deceive anyone, then feel free to play the fairer gender. And again, who cares if people think you're weird? In all things, be your own Wendy... or Katrina... or Lorelei...

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