Dragon Slaying 102: Unsung Heroes
Players contributed narratives on raids from a broad range of current MMOs. Several players submitted well-written stories about specific raid experiences that truly illustrate the complexity of what goes on during a raid and all the decisions that must be made. These stories show the variety of current raid designs across different MMOs as well as the intensity of these experiences. For an introduction to the complexity of raids, read the companion article - Dragon Slaying 101: Understanding the Complexity of Raids.
We begin with a story from an EverQuest player who routinely leads raids on the Plane of Hate. Her experience and skill as a raid leader shine through in her narrative.
EverQuest: Plane of Hate
When I played EQ (which I did for over 5 years - I have only recently left), my husband and I often led raids to the old Plane of Hate. Before raid groups were introduced into EQ and Hate was revamped to its present state, organizing a raid to Hate was no simple task. The zone itself was a challenge. Raids that contained people that did not follow instructions often spelled disaster in the form of many hours of frustrating character corpse retrieval.
After observing how other leaders went about running raids, I learned a good deal about what worked and what did not. First thing I learned was that it was a nearly impossible task to run alone. Between my husband or my best friend, both of whom played with me, I almost always had someone who was able to help me. As we began running the raids we quickly fell into a pattern. I would announce the raids on the boards, and lay out the rules that always stipulated that while we liked to have fun, we wouldn't put up with any crap. We made groups beforehand, as best we could, from people who had signed up for the raid. It gave us a framework to work with.
We demanded that people arrive early so that we could port into Hate on time. (Timing was an important factor. If you ported up far later than the posted time, you could screw up later raids. The static mobs would spawn roughly every 8 hours, so there were often raids scheduled about 10 hours apart. While some raid leaders didn't care, we did.) I was generally the more vocal one, always in view.
I was the organizer, and sometimes the enforcer. I would announce the preliminary groups, and appoint a leader for each group - often someone who was taken aside and chosen before the groups were formed. We picked people who we knew, who were trustworthy and who could command some amount of respect if things were to go badly. We took folks who didn't get as many opportunities to raid, or who were passed over for being lower level. We took folks who wanted to go but whose guilds often were far beyond the level of the older Plains and were into other things.
Once those groups were formed, we filled in the remaining spots with people who showed up on the fly, starting with guild mates, friends and alliance members. If there were still open spots, we would fill in with other interested people and necessary classes. We learned very quickly that it was detrimental to take more than 7 groups, and that 6 was optimal, due to lag issues and just for the ability to manage people. Once the groups were formed, the rules of the raid were laid out, the main tanks were announced, the chat lines were sorted out.
Once any questions and last minute problems were dealt with, we had the groups buff up, drop a person so that the wizard porting could get them up to the zone and took up two to three groups at a time - depending on how many teleporters were available to us. My husband always went up with the first wave of people, so that he could control what was going on. The first few minutes were crucial because roaming monster aggro could destroy a raid before it began. Once in place, we would continue bringing the rest of the groups up, and I was always in the last group, making sure everyone who was supposed to go had ported up safely.
Groups then reassembled and if the wizards were not staying to play, they left the zone. When all the groups were in place the fun began. The tactical side of the raid became my husband's domain. He would scout, or send folks to scout, figure out the targets and determine what we were doing in what order. He kept track of what loot dropped and who it was distributed to as the raid progressed. I dealt with questions, announcements, problems and the overall order of things. We were among the few raid leaders who would venture to the second floor of Hate, or otherwise leave the port in room, and our raids were almost always a lot of fun.
We never put up with any crap from people. There was at least two occasions where someone in the raid caused excessive problems and we removed them from the raid, with little hesitation. We always made sure that we kept the people who raided with us as safe as we could within our abilities. We gained a reputation for that, and people respected it. Some signs that we were successful raid leaders: People wanted to raid with us just to raid with -us-. These were people that had nothing to gain from the encounters. People who had long finished with the Plane and any possible items from it came back to help us with pullers, porters, ressers, tanks. They came with us because the raids were often filled with laughter and fun. They weren't always productive - sometimes we had been 'sniped' (another group/raid goes up before a scheduled raid to kill the static spawns for the good drops), but we often went up anyway, even at a monetary loss to ourselves (The item that would allow us to port into Hate was originally very expensive and we were always careful to have many extras onhand in case of emergencies).
It didn't matter. It was about having fun, not about loot. We led more than 20 raids - at one point running 2 a month for 4 or 5 months in a row - over the course of a year or so. Compared to a raid guild or raid club, that's not a lot. But I never wanted to be a part of a raid guild, nor did a lot of the people who chose to come with us when we led. We ran raids with almost no gain for ourselves, other than the fun of it all and the desire to help other people enjoy themselves. I learned a lot through all of this. It was an activity done in a virtual world that have had many real world implications for me. It led to a lot of insights about the type of leader I was and that I could be. You have to be firm, and you have to stand your ground over important things, but you have to remember to let the unimportant things slide or you stress uselessly. You have to really -listen- to the people that follow you, especially if someone has a voice of greater experience. It's important to lay out the rules beforehand, and not change things just to benefit yourself, else people become resentful. And most important of all - If you treat people with respect, remember to thank them for their contributions and encourage them, everyone wins. -Niki AKA Lyrissa Stormraven EverQuest - Tunare Server [EQ, F, 30]
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