- Galactic Fifth Column – Galactic Republic
As we find ourselves three days from the official anniversary of the launch of Star Wars: The Old Republic, we talk to a guild that has been around since pre-launch. The guild the Galactic Fifth Column is in today’s spotlight on Community Checkpoint. Now saying the guild has been around since pre-launch is pretty impressive, but add to that, this is the first guild leadership position the guild leader has ever had. To top it all off, what makes it the most impressive is the fact this guild leader is a teenager. I find this downright amazing. Not for any one of those elements but the combination and the fact most guilds’ lifespan tend to be pretty short lived as a guild or in a specific guild. Without further ado let’s learn more about the role-playing guild the Galactic Fifth Column.
More about the Galactic Fifth Column from their guild leader after the Jump…
For more about the Galactic Fifth Column, GFC, lets talk to their guild leader Johnny Medlar in our Q&A section.
- Guild Q&A
How did the GFC get started?
We were created on day one of the pre-launch guild program that Bioware announced in March 2011. Although our original name was simply <The Fifth Column> and we decided to rename ourselves <Galactic Fifth Column> after the server consolidations to differentiate ourselves from a couple other guilds from other servers with the same name, even though we had the name first by at least a month 😉
But I digress, when Bioware announced the Pre-launch program, I immediately started looking for one to join. I had been an avid role-player in Star Wars Galaxies (shout out to Tarquinas), even though I really had no idea what role-playing was. Being in-character all the time just made sense to me, and that’s the way I played. So as soon as I heard about the Pre-launch guild program, I knew I wanted to find a guild that would fit seamlessly into the game universe from a lore perspective, but I struggled to find one that didn’t focus on a single class. Sure Jedi and Trooper guilds are great, but most of those I looked at had some unoriginal or redundant names like <The Jedi Order> or <Havok Squad> or something like that. Those things already exist elsewhere in the game universe and that kind of redundancy has never felt right to me. After a few hours of searching, I decided I might as well try and start my own guild. I assumed that I wouldn’t get enough people interested to meet the minimum import requirements, and I would end up going back to looking for a guild. I was wrong. Twelve people besides my sister and I had signed up, and five of us pre-ordered the game. I believe the minimum was four pre-orders. So here I was a teenager with no experience as a guild authority figure and I suddenly find myself in the position of a guild leader. Considering the fact that the average guild lifespan is about six months, I’d say we’ve done pretty well for ourselves.
What type of guild and what faction is your guild a part of?
We are a heavy role-play guild in principal, although it would be more accurate to call us a narrative-based guild. We our primary guild is on the Republic side, but we also have an Imperial chapter to house our alts and ICly act as our ring of spies, informants, and sympathizers within the Sith Empire. In the future, we are hoping to grow the Imperial Fifth Column to be just as active as its Republic counterpart instead of being mostly an alt guild.
Being a Role-Play guild, does the guild have a backstory? If so can you share it with us?
We certainly do and I certainly can! I hope you don’t have a character limit, because this might take a while. But I’ll give you the “abridged” version. Hehe 😉
We were founded by a Jedi Knight named Meekiel Dek shortly after the Sacking of Coruscant. Meekiel’s specialty was Jedi lore, and he decided to follow the example of Revan and continue fighting the Republic’s enemies without the approval of the Republic or the Jedi Order. He spent the next ten years forming his own army in secret. Meekiel’s patriotic conspiracy included many of his fellow Jedi, members of the Republic Special Forces or other military backgrounds, and many free-traders, privateers, or anyone else who had an interest in taking action against the Empire without the burden of protocol or red tape.
Rumors of fifth column movement spreading across the galaxy were largely disregarded by official sources within the Republic as a myth dreamt up by conspiracy theorists on the Holonet. The Empire was not so skeptical, and quickly added this alleged “Galactic Fifth Column” to its all-encompassing list of “terrorist threats.” However, Imperial Intelligence was unable to track down the leaders of this conspiracy because their efforts were covertly sabotaged by GFC sympathizers and double-agents. Meekiel and his allies began orchestrating a series of guerrilla strikes against the Sith Empire and those who align themselves with it.
One of those groups was the Aeons of Korriban, a sect of Sith that dwelt in the shadow of the ancient tombs of Korriban long after the world had fallen to the Republic in the aftermath of the Jedi Civil War. For generations, the Aeons greatest rival was the Order of the Crimson Blade, an equally secretive society formed to protect the Jedi Council, unbeknownst to the Council itself. Despite the intervention of the Blades, the Aeons were able to play a critical role in laying the groundwork for the Empire’s return. When the Empire sacked Coruscant, the Aeons were among the Sith who stormed the Jedi Temple. This made the Aeons a prime target for the Galactic Fifth Column.
Unfortunately, Meekiel let his own desire for retribution cloud his judgment. He had witnessed his own master fall in the Temple’s defense as the killer snarled, “Tell your Jedi friends that the Aeons of Korriban sent you!” At first, Meekiel was careful, only targeting low ranking members of the Aeons of Korriban, which had since become known as the Sovereign Aeons. But as time went on, Meekiel grew bolder. Nine years after the Treaty of Coruscant, the Galactic Fifth Column launched a massive strike against the Aeon Temple on Korriban. The attack quickly turned into a rout. The Galactic Fifth Column was only saved because Kreighton Brams, Meekiel’s second in command, stunned his friend and evacuated the remaining Fifth Columnists out of the system.
Kreighton and Meekiel had been close friends back when they were just padawans training to become Jedi Knights, but Kreighton’s eagerness to help fight off the Sith invasion had lead him quit the Order to join the Republic Military. The two didn’t see each-other again until the Sacking of Coruscant, during which Kreighton’s entire unit was wiped out after boarding an Imperial Battlecruiser. Kreighton’s escape pod was found by Meekiel. Officially, they were both declared missing. In reality, they had gone into hiding to begin planning for what would become the GFC.
Nine years later, after the failed attack on Korriban, Kreight took the wounded Meekiel Dek to a safehouse on Ord Mantell, where they were contacted by a slicer known only as CODENAME: NILE. NILE had served as the GFC’s eyes and ears on the holonet for years, despite the fact that no one had ever seen his face unmasked or heard his voice unfiltered. The only clue to his possible identity was the way in which he would speak. While not as common as the Dromund Kaas accent, NILE’s dialect was always distinctly Imperial. ((Nile has a Scottish accent.)) That, combined with his slicing prowess and technological expertise, lead to speculation that Nile could have been an Imperial Fixer Agent gone rogue. Yet to this day he is still considered one of the GFC’s most valued operatives, if not its man-behind-the-curtain. That is why CODENAME: NILE was quick to warn Kreighton and Meekiel that “the reaper has raised the vibroscythe,” meaning that danger was coming fast.
Meekiel refused to run and not be held accountable for those whom he had led to their deaths. He named Kreighton the new leader of the Galactic Fifth Column before being slain by Darth Harbinger of the Sovereign Aeons. Kreighton and Nile escaped Ord Mantell and evaded the Aeon Hunters who continued to track them.
It was after this that Kreighton was contacted by the Order of the Crimson Blade. Their age-old feud with the Aeons had whittled away at the Blade’s numbers, and so they approached Kreighton Brams with the offer of an alliance — an alliance that would eventually result in the Order of the Crimson Blade becoming an autonomous cell within the Galactic Fifth Column.
Fast forward to thirteen years after the Treaty of Coruscant, war has once again broken out between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire. The Republic’s recent victories have seemingly left the Empire in a state of chaos, in no small part due to the rebuilt Galactic Fifth Column. However, the GFC is not letting its guard down. The Sith are beginning to put aside their petty power struggles are turn their attention back to the Republic. There is also little doubt that the Sovereign Aeons will once again be at the tip of the spear, and the Galactic Fifth Column must be ready for them.
The guild organizes itself into cells correct? What are the different cells and how does each of them function?
We didn’t want to be exclusive by focusing on a particular class like a Trooper guild or a Jedi guild, but we also wanted to have the same kind of immersive experience that you get with class-based RP guilds. That’s why we have the cells. Each cell is like a guild within the guild. On the Republic side we have Alpha Cell for Smugglers, Ghost Cell for Troopers and Crystal Cell for Knights and Consulars. On the Imperial side we have Gamma Cell for Agents, Solus Cell for Bounty Hunters (especially Mandalorian RPers), and Heretic Cell for Warriors and Inquisitors. We also have more specialized Cells for some RP niches. Reaper Cell is for very dark side Republic players. Revanite Cell is for more lightside Imperial players. And of course, there is our longtime ally who recently merged with us, the Order of the Crimson Blade. If you love a very cloak and dagger style of RP as you progress and gain access to deeper and deeper levels of secrets and lore, the OCB is the Cell for you.
I could go into MUCH more detail about the lore behind each cell and explain exactly what each one does, but I think I passed the point of “too-long-did-not-read” some time ago 😉 I’ll try to keep it “brief.”
Alpha Cell is our fleet of free-traders and privateers. They harass Imperial supply-lines and provide the bulk of the GFC’s funding through smuggling operations. Ghost Cell is our black ops unit consisting of highly trained professionals from the Republic Special Forces or other military backgrounds. Crystal Cell is our loose network of loyalists within the Jedi Order. Reaper Cell is for those who are too dangerous to deploy in all but the most desperate situations or missions where collateral damage isn’t an issue. And I have already explained the Order of the Crimson Blade, but I should also mention that they now primarily pick recruits from the members of Crystal Cell. Gamma Cell is our network of double-agents in the Empire. Solus Cell is our militia of Mandalorian renegades seeking to free the clans from the Emperor’s control. Heretic Cell is made up of Sith who seek to bring down the Emperor’s regime from within, although many have their own reasons for doing so. And Revanite Cell is our own little secret society within the secret society that is the Order of Revan. I think that about covers it. *British accent* And now for something completely different.
What priorities does the Galactic Fifth Column place on endgame progression, PVP warzones, Open World PVP etc.?
Those things are secondary to RP and narrative, but we like to do it all, especially open world RP-PvP. We’ve gone head to head with the Aeons on every cross-faction accessible planet in the game, and even a few planets that aren’t in the game. We once used Voss to pretend we were fighting on Dantooine, and we used Ilum to simulate Ren Var. Sometimes I wish we were on an RP-PVP server instead of The Ebon Hawk, but that would probably make it harder for us to focus on the RP side of it. Still, for better or for worse, the metagame is an important factor. The Sovereign Aeons (whom I should clarify, are like BFFs to us OOCly) are very well geared and very well organized and we have to keep up with them or else we risk getting hilariously face-rolled. So we run warzones for gear and we run Operations for team building.
How has SWTOR been as a game for those interested in the RP part of gaming? What are some areas the game needs to improve for the role-play community?
Star Wars is a vast universe with near infinite RP possibilities. It’s also such an iconic universe that millions of people would love to be a part of. And SWTOR itself is placed at such a great point in the timeline. You have the Jedi, the Sith, the Republic, and the Empire (albeit not the exact same Empire) all at their peak. You’ve got the Criminals like Black Sun, the Exchange, and the Hutt Cartel. You’ve got the Smugglers, the Mandalorian Bounty Hunters, the Troopers, Imperial Intelligence, and pretty much everything else a fanboy could ask for. All that said, there are always more things that Bioware could do to make RP more accessible. Actually the top things on my wish list are guild calendars and an in-game guild search and application system. Those are of course guild features and not really RP features, but things like that would be a god-send to RP guilds like us, which are a huge part of the RP community. Other convenience things like chat-bubbles, improved cross-faction communication, and chairs you can actually sit in (or at least some variety of sitting animations to choose from) would go a long way as well. Personally, I’d like to see some more planets, especially iconic planets from KOTOR or the movies. I’m looking forward to Makeb, but I’d probably be more excited about something like Kashyyyk, Dantooine, Onderon, Manaan, or Telos to name a few. I’d love to see some more large scale NPC battles on cross-faction worlds instead of the occasional two or three NPCs shooting at each-other to no avail. I think ramping up the feeling of conflict would really add to the immersion. After all, this is supposed to be the Star Wars equivalent of world war 3 complete with doomsday weapons and the threat of galactic annihilation (play the Jedi Knight story-line if you don’t get that reference). In case I’m starting to sound like a whiner, let me be clear that I’m confident Bioware is going to address these and other issues. We aren’t going to get them anywhere near fast enough for us to be satisfied *cough*groupfinder*cough*, but we will get them…so patience younglings. There is no lack-of-things-to-do-at-lvl-50, there is the role-play. That’s what GFC has been doing since launch and we have never run out of things to do.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get involved with Galactic Fifth Column and SWTOR?
I’ve been a Star Wars fan since my mom showed me “The Making of Star Wars” when I was nine. That’s also what got me into movie-making as well. I have a YouTube channel, and I occasionally make videos for MachinimaRealm. Right now I’m looking to create a Machinima series based on GFC’s backstory. I’ve got the hardware and software I need. I’ve even been producing a soundtrack. What we lack is man-power. Some of our recent events have been peaking at around eight to twelve people on each side. That’s fine for some RP and a brawl, but some of the battles I want to recreate require a lot of extras, but it’s going to happen.
When I’m not playing SWTOR or making videos, I’m a class aide in my high school’s TV Production class where I show student how to… make videos. I’m also looking for a college with a good communications program where I hope to get a degree in well, making videos. It’s kinda my thing. As for how I got into SWTOR, it all started back when I got my first X-Box. Of course, I needed a game to play, so I was browsing the store shelves when I spotted the Star Wars logo and that was all I needed to make my choice. It turns out, that game was Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic. KOTOR is still my single favorite single-player RPG of all time with Mass Effect 3 coming in a close second. Sure the ME3 ending should have been better but I’M CONTENT ENOUGH TO ENJOY IT!
So anyway, when I heard about SWTOR, I could hardly have been more stoked. Then the Pre-launch guild program was announced and you know the rest. Now my dream is to turn this fan-fiction into a real part of the expanded universe. My elder sister, who is a writer, is actually working on a novel about the GFC. She loves SWTOR as much as I do and we have always made an incredible team. I mentioned the Machinima series I’m working on, but it would be a dream-come-true if I could someday make a full-length movie out of this. (Get it? Disney = dreams-come-true? I know you’re reading this, Mickey!)
Is the Galactic Fifth Column currently recruiting? What steps does a potential recruit need to do in order to apply?
OH HELLZ YA!!! *clears throat* I mean, yes. The Galactic Fifth Column is recruiting. And I’ll openly admit that we are desperate for recruits. Not because we’re afraid of becoming a dead guild — we weathered the Shien population crisis and the server transfers — but my guildies have been coming up with all these epic ideas that I am completely stoked about but we just don’t have enough active people to achieve the “epicness” we’re aiming for.
Anyone who is interested in helping us achieve said “epicness” should submit an application at our website.
RP experience is always appreciated but we will gladly take anyone who is willing to give 100% (real life permitting). We’ve had MMO n00bs come in with ZERO RP experience who would eventually become officers in the guild because their effort, enthusiasm, and willingness to learn over time resulted in them turning into some of our best players.
Regarding RP, what importance is it for guild members to be into role-play? What are some ways people can improve their RP skills?
RP is very important to us because that is how we keep the narrative going. If you want to get better at role-play, read a book about someone archetypical similar to your character so you’ll get a sense about what their kind of behavior and dialogue reads like in text form. For example, I highly recommend the Republic Commando books because you really get a ton of insight into the trooper mentality along with an excellent dose of Mandalorian culture for all you bounty hunters out there. I also like Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan. It’s not the best writing I’ve ever seen, and my fellow fanboys might notice some lore hiccups, but it really helps to bridge the gap between KOTOR and SWTOR and you’ll discover a lot about the Imperial social structure.
If you are unfamiliar with terms like godmodding, godemoting, and metagaming, then I highly recommend reading the WOWwiki article article about role-play. Sure, it’s not written for SWTOR, but almost all the same RP concepts apply.
Other than that, don’t feel like your character needs to be super-original with a complex backstory and full personality right from the start. Sure it’s good to start thinking about all that while you are still discovering yourself. But I find it’s often best fill in the gaps as you RP. Even then, you can always retcon if you REALLY need to. Just look at Tolkien, after he wrote Lord of the Rings he went back and rewrote the Hobbit. (I am totally going to watch the movie, by the way).
How can recruits or those wanting to join your for a RP event best make contact with the guild?
You don’t need to be part of the guild to use our website or come to our events. In fact, we highly encourage non-GFC members to participate. Signing up on the website doesn’t require an application. If you’ve already got an enjin account, just click “join site.” If you don’t have an enjin account, making one just requires an email address and you’re good to go. Those who aid or collaborate with the Galactic Fifth Column without fully joining are referred to as sympathizers in our lore. The more people get involved, the better the narrative gets. And in a game that is all about story, we in the Galactic Fifth Column pride ourselves on being a guild all about story. It’s a whole ton of fun, but don’t take my word for it. Come on down!
I want to thank all the members of the Galactic Fifth Column for letting us learn more about their guild. Also want to thank their guild leader Johnny Meldar for all his time an effort to let us know more about the Galactic Fifth Column. If you are looking for a role-play guild on the Ebon Hawk server I would suggest you talk to the members of GFC and also go check out their website. Join in on their events and RP narrative for some good times.
That’s it for this week’s Community Checkpoint. Just a note there will not be a Community Checkpoint next week, with it being Christmas Eve, but if you would like to have your guild, event or server group highlighted on Corellian Run Radio…remember all you need to do is submit your guild’s website and some basic information in an email to us at, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You could be who we highlight next here at Corellian Run Radio.