Today I had a chance to sit down and talk with Benjamin Foley, who is more commonly known as Foghladha in WAR. He invited me earlier this month to check out his Order guild on Phoenix Throne. I was very impressed at their level of organization, both in-game and out, which Foghladha described in the interview.
You can visit their Web site at www.gaisciochnaanu.com. (Pronounced Gosh-kia)
What is the name of your guild, and what is its background?
Well, first we do not consider ourselves a “Guild.” We are the Gaiscioch Family, a group of casual, family based players who hold community above all else. Guilds tend to be more about skill, rank, and a chain of command, while families are more free and organic. We have no requirements, no commitments, and nobody to tell you how or when to play. We take you as you are, when you are, how you are.
Now the word Gaiscioch comes from a very old book, Lebor Gabala Erenn, or in plain English, the Book of Invasions. The word literally translates to “Warrior,” however in the context they were 300 warriors chosen by the Celtic gods “Tuatha de Danann” to defend them against 300 of the Firbolg’s finest.
Each was hand selected by the gods, and thus Gaiscioch became more than just a warrior, it was a divine warrior.
In this battle the Gaiscioch realized they were far more technologically and skillfully ahead of the Firbolg, so they chose to teach the Firbolg their technologies and how to use them to make the battle fair. The day before the battle they all sat and drank together, then the 600 soldiers fought and the Gaiscioch were victorious. The Firbolg were then welcomed into the Tuatha’s civilization and from then on were united.
So in a nutshell, that’s where the name comes from.
Is there a reason why you chose Celtic mythology over any others?
Well, I grew up with two Irish grandparents, one from Cork, and one from Belfast. As I was a child they used to tell me stories of the Tuatha de Danann and the Irish mythical adventures.
I fell in love with them and as I grew older fell in love with the Celtic way of life. The things they were persecuted for are common things in modern society: treating everyone as equals, men, women, children, black, white, brown, no matter who you are you were part of the tribe
They followed 1 rule, “blades out, not in,” which means you never turn on your tribe. Attacks were grounds for banishment.
We use this rule in our Gaiscioch Family today and hold all members to it. So far this has eliminated drama from our family and has made us strong as a community.
When Dark Age of Camelot came out I couldn’t help but bring what I knew of Celtic folklore to the game. So I subscribed and, with the help of Bondon, Caelliu, Breel, and a few others who left immediately after helping me form it, the Gaiscioch na Anu (our first version) was born.
Anu being the southern Irish version of Danann. Of course we were Hibernian ;)
By looking at your Web site, I can tell that your family is very widespread. How is your family, and extended family, organized?
Well, one of the challenges we faced very early was that Warhammer Online limits guilds to 500 characters. At about the time we hit 400 we spawned off the Gaiscioch na Anu from the Gaiscioch, filling it with half of our characters. Between the 2 rooms in our house we have 625 characters, 192 registered members.
The Gaiscioch Family also leads the Treubh Alliance, Treubh meaning “Family,” and also the Tuatha Extended Alliance, Tuatha meaning “Tribe.”
Our alliance contains 10 of the families, we also have two additional alliances which are entirely part of our alliance: The WAR Alliance, and the Tuatha de Treubh.
The WAR Alliance is entirely made up of role-players, while the Tuatha de Treubh is a lot like the Treubh Alliance. We use it as a fallover for all the Families that don’t fit into the Treubh Alliance.
Now to tie the families together I have built an internal use only mod that gives us the ability to chat across multiple alliances, thus allowing our alliance to grow past the 10 Guild limit.
Currently there are 27 participating guilds, families, and clans in our Tuatha, with more joining every week. We work diligently to unite the people on the server who are casual, family based, or role-players so that they aren’t outcast and left out of the fun.
Unlike most guilds, which progress is dictated by a Guild Leader or Officers, the Gaiscioch Family is entirely based off participation. The more Family Honor Points a player earns the higher their rank becomes, until they mature to the rank of Gaisgeach (singular for Warrior).
Once they hit that rank they are capped out of promotions until they start leading events. They originally master the Wolf Pack which is what we call our 6 man group, then the Hound which is our full war band. Once they have mastered the Hound they advance to the Trinity, which controls multiple war bands.
Through their leadership, players ranked below them can give them a Token of Valor. By collecting 10 Tokens of Valor a member can become a Ardtiarna or High Lord.
This in a sense flips the traditional guild hierarchy on its head. Leadership of the family is dictated by people of lower rank than yourself nominating you as one.
Thus being said the Guild Leader has no say in whether a person becomes a Ardtiarna or not. It is entirely up to that player’s leadership skills that earns them the rank.
The same is true with the Maithean or Noblemen, Teagasgar or Mentor, and Draoi or Druid. The Druids are actually the true power of the family and govern the Ceannard or Chieftain. They are the ones who pass or fail any major family decision.
I believe how we are structured is one of the more unique features of our family. It holds true to leadership is earned by leading your peers not given by dictatorship. This has really kept the people who should lead in leadership positions over the years and the people who demand to lead out of leadership positions.
Are there any other mods you’ve built for your Family?
Currently no, the Tuatha Mod is the only one I have built. However, I did make the Foghladha skin for Pure, which is officially distributed.
With such a large family and alliance, do you have a system in place for helping to gear out and level members?
We have a unique system that rewards participation with the family. By participating on our forums, adding discoveries to our site for fellow Tuatha to find, or by participating in taking objectives with 4 or more family members you earn Family Honor Points. These points go toward your promotions and towards earning Family Vault Credits or FVC. You can also earn FVC by donating to the Family Vault.
For every 100 Family Honor Points you earn, you gain 1 Family Vault Credit. For every 50 Donation points you earn, you earn 1 Family Vault Credit.
Items in the Family Vault are broken into levels: Majestic being Supreme Warded Equipment, Fabled being Excelsior Warded Equipment, Legendary being Superior Warded Equipment and Flawless Talismans, Epic being Greater Warded Equipment or +22-23 talismans, Elite being lesser warded, and Pristine being non-warded gold equipment.
Now any time we have a surplus of 3 or more of an item the price gets slashed in half, so most of the time you can snag warlord boots for 1 FVC. Essentially by attending one of our raid nights you usually can earn 1 FVC.
This system makes Vault Raiders a non-threat as they are rampant on Phoenix Throne.
Vault Raiders being people on a server who guild hop looking for exposed vaults to clean out and then leave the guild.
There are a couple pretty well known Vault Raiders on our server who only want to join your guild to steal your vault. They sometimes stick around until they get promoted high enough, but then wham, you go to claim a keep and see insufficient funds.
With our system, if you don’t take the time and initiative to register and claim what you’ve participated in, you will never earn anything out of the vault.
How do you keep track of who has earned what?
That is all tracked on the Web site. As we take objectives, the leaders of the parties or war bands log their objectives in our leadership console, then the participants mark what they participated in.
One of the other benefits is you get to see what objectives you have taken and earn marks of valor for taking them. Every member has a profile page to list their achievements and awards.
This system is open to all Tuatha members not just the Gaiscioch Family, so our entire vault is shared across all 27 families. When a person buys something off our site using their FVC, I simply mail it to them.
Believe it or not I have both guild vaults, Gaiscioch na Anu using 2 pages of the vault, Gaiscioch using 2 pages of the vault, and then 6 Character vaults full of gear. I just started using my 7th alt.
Gear donations are never a problem, and players never seem to run out of FVC. This system allows us to get the active participants the best gear possible without having to look on the AH.
Well, on the topic of gear, the Gaiscioch family regularly runs events called Trinity Raids and Open PuG Nights. Could you explain what these are and how they operate?
Well both of these raids are weekly events we hold on our server. The Trinity refers to a formation our family developed which pre-defines 3 raid leaders and sometimes 3 backups to form up 3 different war bands.
Even if these war bands are just 2 groups in each, we use the little green dots on the map to be able to take multiple objectives at the same time. One of the weaknesses we realized early on is that if we were to control a single war band and had 2 supporting war bands, the war band leaders often times would not play along or leave us hanging when we needed them the most.
We developed the Trinity to retain control over all 3 of our war bands so that it can be unified as a force without the risk of counteraction.
In its prime, pre-Aion days, we sometimes would even break off a 4th war band and be able to do some pretty fun ambushing and flanking tactics using nothing more than your local PuG or Public Group.
The Open PuG Nights, came into play recently. With the Mac launch I wanted to give the new members a proper introduction to Phoenix Throne.
When Aion was released we lost all of our day-to-day raid leaders on Order. I am not on nearly enough to keep action going in all tiers every day. Restricted to 3 hours a day 3 times a week, my schedule is pretty tight.
With this loss, a lot of players left our server for Iron Rock, or Gorfang. I was not ready to let this server die, so I started letting Destruction know when and where I would attack once per week.
These became the Open PuG Night, a night that public war bands can shine and have fun. While most of the rest of the week is controlled by Alliance-only war bands and professional gamer groups, we try to give the regular everyday militia some good times at least 3 times a week.
We currently run 1 Open PuG Night a week, which starting in December is every Tuesday night at 6 p.m. PST, rotating between Tier 2 and 3.
Our Trinity nights rotate on a schedule as well, however we do not let the forces of Destruction know when and where on those days.
One other fun fact to realize is that on any given night in Tier 2 and 3 there are a maximum of 15 players. However on Trinity raid nights we sometimes see in excess of 70 to 80.
On our public raid nights where we invite Destruction to join us both sides come alive and an epic battle commences. This weekly activity has become a Phoenix Throne community event.
We also have received a lot of praise on both sides of the ball regarding both the Trinity Raids and the Open PuG Nights. We often times start with a couple groups and by the end of the night have the better part of 3 war bands. It’s one of the reasons why we claim the first keep we take. A lot players see the claim and come to play.
Are the Gaiscioch active in any way outside of WAR?
Well, we also have a bunch of us playing Aion Online, Allods Online, and Free Realms. We are also looking to reform our Flag Football team in Eugene, Oregon, to try to win back our title. We should be playing again in the summer.
We also use Ventrilo throughout the day, even while some of us are at work. It’s our general socializing source.
We’re also planning a cruise for our 10 year anniversary.
Yup. Gonna plan a 3 day cruise for 2011, probably Mexico.
If there was one thing you could tell players considering Phoenix Throne, what would it be?
I would like to tell them that, like any server, we have our share of people who do more harm than good, but if you know where to look there are a lot of people who really do care. The majority of us are like a big family, not only just Order with Order, but also Order with Destruction.
Many of the players on the opposite side love seeing you out there fighting the good fight and the overall community on Phoenix Throne is unmatched. Both sides care about each other and try their best to involve everyone.
I’d also like to mention that just because we are a role-play server doesn’t mean we’re just a bunch of LARP gone digital. While I’d say about 1/3 of the player population actively role-plays, at least a third more will role-play if someone starts it.
The role-play server generally attracts an older, more mature crowd. We actually have 7 members in our family that are over 50. A lot of us play with our children, some even with our grand children. We are not the typical “if you’re not pro go home” type of server. We welcome everyone from computer novice to professional gamer.
And also if they ever need any help with something, please don’t hesitate to ask. If I don’t know how to answer your questions, I’ll know someone who can. I also am very good and helping people find a Guild or Family that’s a good fit for their play-style.
I believe having the right family is the most important thing to keeping players on our server. A pro-gamer won’t be happy with a casual family, thus we point them to the pro-gamer guilds.
Everyone from mom and dad to world champion Quake players have a home here somewhere. We like to help them find it.