Just when I think I might have trouble getting hold of a guild to interview, one always seems to catch my eye. Although finding the guild, came about through a vodcast (video podcast), called INSIDE SWTOR. After investigating I found out all the discussion panel members belong to the guild Pillars of Ashla. Besides using the vodcast to be active in the SWTOR community, their guild has a premise based around the idea of “focused fun.” The guild that has definite goals, but are not so focused on them that they forget to enjoy the game. Syndramise, their guild leader, was gracious enough to take time to tell us more about their guild and even more about her personal gaming background.
More about Pillars of Ashla with Syndramise after the Jump…
- Guild Q&A
How did Pillars of Ashla get its start? How long has it been a guild and what other games if any is the guild playing?
Hehe; that’s more of a complicated question than it seems like it would be. Under the Pillars of Ashla name, the guild has been around since August of 2011. However, some of us have been gaming together for as long as 21 years. The guild and its core members have moved together through a variety of games and guild names. Some folks still play WoW, and some of us are also playing Diablo 3. There’s interest in Guild Wars 2.
What type and name of server does the guild call home in SWTOR?
We’re on the Juyo server, which is North American PVE.
What faction is the guild? Does the Pillars of Ashla plan on making an opposing faction guild to go after Legacy benefits or even just for the fun of it?
The Pillars of Ashla guild is Republic, but we’ve had an Empire presence since shortly after launch. That guild is named Ashes of Ashla, and it’s also on the Juyo server. Our members have fun slaughtering each other in PVP, and there’s growing interest in building up our capability for ops on the Empire side.
The one consistent thing I found throughout your forums and guild information is the effort to keep the guild casual, but knowing when to be focused to take on harder content – Operations, Flashpoints etc. How does the guild maintain this “casual” atmosphere and still pull off endgame content?
Pillars of Ashla is more than a group of people playing games together; it’s a community that lives a set of shared values and builds lasting bonds and friendships outside of those games. Simply put, we maintain the atmosphere that we do because we intentionally create that atmosphere, and we’ve built it on a solid foundation. We share the common interest of having games, be games instead of second–or first, or even fourth–jobs. We recognize that real life comes first and that games are something we do to have fun. Playing our classes well and succeeding in defeating content is fun, but we achieve that success by traveling a less common route. Players aren’t just statistics to us; they’re flesh-and-blood people controlling avatars. Instead of competing against each other to generate the most damage or healing or to amass the most hit points, we support and encourage each other. We’re inherently driven toward excellence: we strive to be our best, not just for the satisfaction of doing so, but also for the purpose of supporting our community. For us, being our best doesn’t just mean being skilled and knowledgeable players; it also means being good people.
I mentioned that your guild is into Operations, even if there is a laid-back vibe. What has been the guild’s biggest success in endgame content to date? Does a more “casual” approach help the guild manage the ever present threat of “guild drama” and ultimately help with in-game like with Operations, as far as loot etc.?
Of course, we’ve cleared Story, Hard, and Nightmare modes of Eternity Vault and Karagga’s Palace. We’ve cleared Story mode Explosive Conflict and are playing around in Hardmode at the moment. We also enjoy reminding the world “bosses” who the real bosses are.
The “casual ambitious” atmosphere definitely helps create a more positive environment. Because our folks put a higher priority on community than on self-gain, we benefit from exceptional teamwork. Our folks give up spots for one another when someone can use the content more or when someone else would better round out the group. They take alts instead of mains and respec to help create strong and viable groups. They pass on loot for one another, and more geared raiders run lower-level content to help get newer raiders geared up. We have a range of folks from long-time MMO veterans to brand-new gamers, and we all work together to help guide each other to higher excellence. That kind of cooperation and group focus do wonders to minimize guild drama. We detest drama and do our best to eradicate it as soon as it pops up.
While we emphasize focus during Operations, Flashpoints, PvP, etc., we also emphasize fun. As long as we’re having fun, the endeavor is successful. Focusing on fun first keeps morale high and creates desire to push forward on content that might otherwise be frustrating. It’s one of the secrets of our success, not just progression-wise but also as a thriving guild.
Can you tell our readers what INSIDE SWTOR is? How did it get started, who is a part of this project and what is its relationship with the guild?
Inside SWTOR is our weekly vodcast, produced in cooperation with fragworld.org. In Inside SWTOR, some of our members chat about SWTOR-related topics. Sometimes we discuss substance-rich topics, and sometimes we simply banter. We’ve put together a great mix of personalities and perspectives, and we strive more for entertainment than for being a source of news–though we do that as well.
Our regular panelists are Sandie “Syndramise” Smith (Guild Leader and a Community Manager with fragworld.org), Arcell “Fastcart” Frazier (Bank officer), Joshua “Joshrooms” Smith (Records officer and contributor to swtor-life.com), and Brad “MacArthurian” Behrends (a Veteran Member). Post and editing are done by Wes “Den” Leavell (also a Veteran Member and a member of the Fragworld staff). The concept of the show started as a “wouldn’t it be fun if…” discussion. As the guild conversation moved more toward, “we can do this…let’s do this!” Fragworld admins expressed interest in featuring a SWTOR vodcast. That serendipitous series of events blossomed into reality with some dedication and good chemistry. While the show is currently created by guild members, it’s not about the guild or its members. The individual contributors certainly bring our own perspectives and personalities to the table, but the show itself is much more focused on discussion of the game. Guild membership isn’t a requirement for participation in the show, and we’d love to welcome some guest panelists.
Another area the Pillars of Ashla seem to have a lot going is with your guild events. Why is this an important part of your guild? What type of events has your guild done or is planning?
Guild-wide events are crucial to allow members of different levels to bond by enjoying quality time and participating in fun activities together. Operations and PVP are fantastic group activities, but not everyone has interest in those particular areas, and folks who are newer to the game or who have been simultaneously leveling five toons often can’t participate. Creating a chance for people, who would otherwise be separated by character level to spend time with one another builds community and helps prevent cliques.
Guild events also provide a less intense group activity than Operations or PVP; they’re a good chance for everyone to let their hair down and just have fun.
Pillars of Ashla video of them taking down some World Bosses.
We’ve done world boss kill marathons, trivia night, Datacron hunts–they are so much easier with a group!–and 2v2 PVP tournaments. We’re planning scavenger hunts, hide-and-seek/Sardines, a few different types of races, and a variety of other game-type events. We’ve discussed events like dance parties, but I think we’d need a lot of Rhythm Droids to keep our attention on that for more than a few minutes. We’ve also discussed fashion shows and parades. Really, anything is fair game as long as it fits within our values.
To help coordinate your events, is there an officer that does this or is it just suggestions from members? Along those lines, what other officers does the guild have and how do they help you keep the guild running smooth?
Event coordination is primarily in the hands of guild leadership and the veteran members, but anyone in the guild is welcome to suggest and coordinate a guild event; the more the merrier!
Our Council Members include a PVP officer, a Bank officer, a Raid officer, a Records officer, who relays relevant news to guild members and keeps pertinent records, and a…well, I guess you’d call her a Human Relations officer. We’re planning to add a Recruitment officer, but I’ve been reluctant (to put it mildly) to let that baby go. The other council members had to work hard enough to get me to let go of raiding…and the raid officer would likely debate whether or not I actually have. We’re also planning to add an officer specifically to coordinate guild events and one to facilitate mentoring of folks who are new to the guild, to the game, or to MMOs in general.
Our Council Members and Veteran Members play crucial roles in helping conduct the day-to-day business of the guild. The guild is a complex and living community with an array of facets; keeping all of those facets well-tended takes an active and dedicated team.
How did you get your start gaming? What got you into MMO games? What had you wanting to play SWTOR was it wanting to play a new MMO or your enjoyment of the Star Wars franchise?
I started gaming in the early 80’s with some of the true classics, everything from Pong to Pac-Man to text-based adventure games. Of course, we can’t forget “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” and other educational games. I moved on to MUDs, played a ton of single-player RPGs, RTS games, action games, adventure games, strategy games, action-adventure games, and a bit of FPSes. What can I say? I like games.
I started in MMOs with Ultima Online. I played Earth & Beyond, City of Heroes/City of Villains, Aion, LotRO, RIFT, Champions Online, and of course, World of Warcraft. I played some I’m forgetting and some I won’t admit to. I played EverQuest for about twenty minutes, decided I hated the interface, and never tried it again.
Is Pillars of Ashla recruiting currently? If so what classes/advance classes is the guild needing?
We’re always open to new applicants. We recruit the player, not the class; we seek people who mesh well with us, our focus, and our values. One of our primary tenets is that our members should play what they want to play. That focus can complicate the logistics of putting together viable Operations groups while giving everyone who wants to raid the opportunity to do so, but teamwork is the key to our success.
Of course, as with any guild, there are shortages in some areas. Currently, we’re a bit healer-shy. New healers would be appreciated, but class and game role will neither get an application approved nor denied; we recruit people based on who they are and on how good of a fit they are with the group.
If someone is interested in applying to the Pillars of Ashla, where do they need to go and who should they contact?
The first step is to go to our website and to register on the site. From there, go to the forum thread about how to apply to Pillars of Ashla. In that post is all the information a person needs to apply. The best person to contact is Syndramise. Contact via the website works great, or my toons in-game are Syndra and Rhyssa. I can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
That’s it for this week’s Guild Checkpoint. I want to thank all the members of Pillars of Ashla for letting us learn more about their guild. I want to give a huge shout out to Syndramise for her time and the correspondence to get this article all together.
Does your guild have fun creating guild events, or does your guild like conquering the various challenges in the game or maybe your guild enjoys another aspect of the SWTOR? Why not share it with the rest of the game community? All you need to do is submit your guild’s website and some basic information in an email to me at, email@example.com. Your guild could be who we highlight next here at Corellian Run Radio. Thanks and see you next week!