So you want to join a kin? Over the past several weeks, our friend Skyrgrim has posted several articles about leading a kin. His articles are thoughtful, provocative and have elicited a variety of responses, some positive and some negative.
They have also been aimed at providing insight into what makes an effective leader of a kinship. I am not cut out to be a leader, although I don’t mind taking a leadership role in some cases. In this article, I’d like to offer some thoughts on picking the kinship that is right for you, and I’ll talk a little bit about what it takes to be a good kinmate. As always, your own comments are welcome.
Why do you want to join?
That’s always the first question you should ask yourself if the offer to join a kinship is presented to you.
To give you a little background on myself, I have toons in four kinships. There are some people who have all of their toons in a single kin, some people who bounce around from kin to kin, and others like me who are spread out across several groups. To me, the purpose of joining a kinship (or guild) is to group up with gamers who share similar interests and have common goals. Based on my admittedly-limited experiences playing MMOs, I think kinships (or guilds) fall under the following basic categories:
I have a kinship. I think there are 10 characters in the kin, and they are controlled by 3 players. Eight of the toons are either mine, or from F2P accounts I created just to fill out the roster. So why keep a kin? Well, back before shared vault storage, housing was the only other way to be able to share inventory. A personal house could get you two chests (60 slots), but a kinship house has three chests (90 storage slots). So for a bunch of in-game money, you can have an additional 150 slots of shared storage. The only downside is that you actually have to map to the house to access your storage. Since they introduced the shared vault storage, maintaining a kinship for storage purposes seems kind of superfluous, but some people still do.
Another reason to have a personal kin is because you want to decorate a house with all of the trophies that you’ve collected over the years and the house with the most decoration hooks is the kinship house. Kinship houses aren’t cheap, but if you play LOTRO long enough, it is actually very easy to accumulate a lot of virtual wealth very quickly1.
My other reason for keeping a personal kinship is rather sophomoric: I wanted to have a funny kinship name. So I chartered a kin and named it “Sauron Owes Me Money” and it appears under each of its members’ names.
Friends & Family Kinships
The most common reason people in MMOs band together is because they like being around people who game the way they do. I think most kinships fall into the small and medium sizes and are generally made up of people who hang out together, either in real life or in the virtual world. As I’ve mentioned before, I started playing LOTRO after some real-life friends of mine talked me into signing up for the 10 day free trial, and I stuck around. They have a kinship and my original toon joined up with them. We used to get together on a semi-regular basis (at least until they stopped playing). I think there are about 40 characters in this kin and probably 12 or 14 players2.
For this group, the intent is not endgame raiding or RP events, it’s to get together and hang out with people you know. I think some small/medium kins aspire to become large kins, but for the most part, I think these kinships are comfortable with a clique of people whom they are familiar with3.
Casual Gaming Kinships
I think these are the most common types of kinships and they can range from small to very large. In my experience, they are geared towards players who want to be able to group up for instances and raids, but also stick together for crafting, quests and just chatting it up. Some of these require registration at a website, others require a prospective recruit to be recommended by a current member, and some simply advertise in the Regional or OOC channels.
A lot of us who play LOTRO have lives outside of the virtual world: work, school, kids, etc. Depending on your availability, you might be able to squeeze in anywhere from 7-10 hours a week to 25+ hours. That means that a causal playing kinship is probably for you. That’s not to say that casual players don’t like to raid or get together for in-game events, but for the most part, they’re a collection of people who just like to hang out together. They may have a member who pays for a Vent/Teamspeak/Mumble channel and they probably have a house.
I have several toons in a casual kin on the Elendilmir server, The Osgiliath Guard. They are, almost without exception, some of the nicest and most helpful people I’ve ever met in a virtual sense. Most of the players get in a few hours of playtime here and there, and if someone posts something in the kinchat channel requesting help with something or needing crafting mats, they’re probably going to get it very quickly. They also care less about your general proficiency as a player and more about enjoying each other’s company4.
For many of the hardcore players, raiding is where the fun is. In my experience, these are the players who have several months of /played time and live for Ost Dunholth, Draigoch and Barad Guldur. While they also enjoy alts and crafting, many hardcore raiders see these as means to an end. These are the players whose minstrels have 1500 will and 6200 morale, and whose LIs are the biggest, baddest and have all tier 6 legacies on them with relics that cost a fortune in shards to refine.
That’s not to say that raiding kinships don’t have casual players, but for the most part, they have a set time to go raiding, they often determine loot by DKP or some other score-keeping method, and their singular purpose is to get the best gear and LIs in the game.
When a kinship I was in dissolved, several of my kinmates joined The Lost Legion of Dunharrow on Elendilmir and I put a toon in the kin with them. Like just about everyone else I’ve met through LOTRO, the LLOD (not to be confused with the Hot Clicks Lovely Lady of the Day) is full of nice and helpful people. But when you join up, know that they muster at 7:30 every night and if you’re late, they’ll give away your spot for DN to someone else who’s on.
Raiders are a different breed of MMO players, with a special brand of camaraderie that is built only by hours upon hours of grouping together, and getting to the point where they may not even talk to each other during boss fights because everyone knows exactly what everyone else is about to do.
Role-Playing and Event Kinships
I am not into the role-playing side of LOTRO and Elendilmir is not designated as a RP or RP-encouraged server. However, that’s a side of LOTRO that many people enjoy and some folks will often join a kinship for purposes of role-playing or getting together for other events, such as festivals and the like. I know of a couple of kins who get together on a regular basis and put on concerts in Bree and the Shire. Others hold crafting events for players with low-level toons and will give away crit items to people who are just getting started.
From what I have noticed, many of these members may have a toon or two in the RP kin, but keep the rest of their toons in a kin with their other friends. If anyone has any insights into RP kins, please leave a comment below.
Then there are the kinships who form purely for novelty. For a while, I used to see people in a kin called “The Undying” and the only requisite for membership was that you had to have “The Undying Title”5. I’ve also seen kins that are all dwarves or elves. When I first started playing, one of my friends pointed me to a video on YouTube or Hulu that was a kin of all hobbit wardens who were running Sammanth Gul; they showed it in real time and it was one of the fastest SG runs I’ve ever seen, if not one of the loudest SG runs I’ve ever seen6.
How do you pick a kin?
The most obvious answer is that you find people whom you like. There’s no point hanging out with people whom you dislike. If you find a kin to be filled with drama llamas or bitter, angry attention-seekers, ditch them. If you meet some folks with whom you get along, ask if you can join up with them.
How kinships recruit varies. Some don’t recruit at all. Others will take anyone who shows interest. Most are somewhere in between.
As a prospective member, I like to get to know the leader and some of the officers before I just join up. I was referred to The Osgiliath Guard by a friend who I had met while adventuring. They require you to register on a website before they’ll accept you into the kin. I joined the Lost Legion of Dunharrow because some other friends were already in it and I liked running around with them. With regular frequency, I’ll see someone post a message in Bree or Erid Luin that is something to the effect of: “The [insert name] is a rank 10 kinship looking for new members. We have a house, kin auctions and crafting mats out the wazoo. We like long walks on the beach, puppies and mowing down orcs by the dozen. PST for more info.”
Is that the kind of kin you want to join right off? Maybe, maybe not.
I’ll leave it to our friend Skyrgrim to speak more to the mentality of kin recruiting, but as a member, what it all boils down to is this: Is this kinship going to make my LOTRO play time more enjoyable?
If the answer is “no”, you need to find another kinship. Before you join, I’d make it a point to ask the recruiting officer several questions7. What resources does the kin have to help me as a player? How can I contribute to the kin’s activities? How does the kin resolve disputes between members? What is expected of me and what should I expect from the officers?
The questions you ask will probably vary, but I would not simply join up with some random group of people just for the heck of it8.
Uh-oh. This is not the kin for me!
When you put two or more people together for any length of time, there is bound to be some conflict. When you put a bunch of people together, you’re going to get drama. Just accept it. Move on.
I think we’ve all see that one toon who seems to change kins every week9. Or you’re just watching the OOC or GLFF channel and see a discussion about how such-and-such-kin just imploded. Kinships split up for a bunch of reasons, most of which involve drama of some kind10.
Other times, you get into a kin, and you realise that it’s not for you. Maybe you were hoping to get into a larger kin or raid a lot and the one you’re in only has 10 different players and they never seem to be on at the same time. My hunter is in one such kin and I only keep her there out of loyalty to my real-life friends. Or maybe you find out that the kinchat channel is overrun with fifteen year-olds who respond to everything with “Your mom!”. Whatever the reason, you may find yourself leaving a kinship one day.
Before you do, you might want to check with the leader or an officer just to let them know what’s going on. I’m not saying you should instigate drama, but if there is one member who is always flaming other members in kinchat or voice chat and none of the officers put a stop to it, or maybe you have that one guy who’s always begging for gold and you’re tired of it, the leader might appreciate a heads up. Who knows? You might find yourself staying.
How can I be a good to my kin?
Whatever your reason for joining a kinship, it is also your responsibility to be a good member. What does that mean? It depends on the kinship you join. A couple of paragraphs back, I said that you should have a list of questions for the recruiting officer, and chief among these is “What is expected of me?”
There are some kinships that will purge characters who are inactive for more than a certain number of days. Some of this is simply due to size (the maximum number of members a rank 10 kinship can have is 1,500), and there may be a backlog of characters wanting to join11. Other times, the leader or officers will tell you when you join, “If you’re not around for 25% of the raids in a month, we’ll boot you.”
One thing I try to do is give away stuff to kinmates, especially those whom I know are new or to players who don’t get to play as often as others. TOG and LLOD are very good about this, especially in giving away excess crafting materials and recipes. When I started playing, several of my friends (both real life and virtual), gave me a ton of stuff (money, weapons, armour, jewelry, pots, etc.) so that I wasn’t wandering around Eriador nekkid. In the spirit of paying it forward, if I have some extra items lying around that someone else may find useful, but is just vendor trash to me, why not give it away to a kinmate? When I was leveling my jeweler, I gave away a gazillion tokens to kinmates, even knowing that I could have sold them at auction for a small fortune12.
What else can you do? Say “hi” to people when they log on. Answer questions. It’s easy to forget just how much you didn’t know when you started playing LOTRO. So when you see someone whose name you don’t recognise ask in kinchat, “Where is the closest superior workbench from Esteldin?”, hold back on the snark and just answer the question. That was probably you about a year ago. New players may feel intimidated about asking questions of older members13, but I think it is the responsibility of the membership to encourage newer members to participate, not just the officers.
Another thing you can do is to take a leadership role. You don’t have to be an officer to put together a GS, Turtle or Gatecrasher run. If you know the instance or the fight, form a group. Many of the kin officers in TOG are more than willing to go along to Fil Gashan or Forgotten Treasury if someone else leads and directs the fight. This is not slight on their leadership, but rather a compliment to the prowess of the membership and a willingness to step forward in an active role by persons other than the officers.
Your kinmates should be that group of people who stand up for one another in-game. You probably have never met more than a handful in the flesh, although you may talk all the time, you come from all over the world (or in the case of the Aussies and Kiwis, you live in “the future”), yet when you log on you’re best friends. I think joining a kinship is the most important social aspect of an MMO, and the LOTRO community is truly what sets this game apart from others. Your reasons for joining will vary, and you might even find yourself leaving. But if you don’t want to partake (at least a little bit) of the social and multi-player aspect of the game, you may as well stick to single player games (I hear Mass Effect, Dragon Age and Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim are very nice).
So take care of yourself. And each other.
As a bonus, here are my five favourite kinship names that I’ve seen:
5. Show Us Your Noobs
4. That’s What She Said
3. Half-Pint Heroes
2. My WoW Account Got Hacked
1. We Met On eHarmony
- And I don’t mean by buying gold from gold farmers. ↩
- This is a group of players who know each other in real life, and because a couple of the players are teenage children, the kin leader asked me not to identify it by name. ↩
- And I’m not using “clique” in a negative way here. ↩
- That’s not to say that they’ll take just any schlep who wants to go along for the Rift, but I’ve never seen anyone in The Osgiliath Guard get booted out of a group because their DPS rotation isn’t the most efficient one possible (but I have seen people get booted out of a group for rolling on loot that isn’t for their class). ↩
- Didn’t see that one coming, did you? ↩
- I have tried to find this video again, but to no avail. Maybe it was taken down. If anyone knows what I’m talking about please post a link. ↩
- They will probably have several for you, too. ↩
- Unless they had a really cool name. ↩
- If you don’t know that guy, it may be you. ↩
- I was an officer in one kin (which shall go un-named, so don’t ask), when the leader sent out an email that said something like, “ I think I want the kin to go in a different direction and I’m going to boot everyone out tomorrow at noon. Sorry.” and then the fifty or so other core members were scrambling to find a new “home” without any other advance warning. ↩
- TOG periodically culls members who have not logged on in 180 days. A character can get an immediate re-invite if they come back, but for the most part, these are F2P accounts whose players have left for other games. These kins may also have a satellite or subordinate kin for people to keep their crafting alts and lesser-played toons around, so not to hold a billet in the “main” kinship. ↩
- Not to sound too much like the Middle-Earth 1%, but there is a point at which you’re going to empty your bags of vendor trash and get about 1.4 gold. When you get there, in-game money is not an issue for you. ↩
- “Old” by /played time, not real-life birthdays. ↩