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15 Minutes of Fame: Guilds build their own third faction

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

Shane Moore, author of the Abyss Walker series, missed being included in our recent roundup of WoW-playing authors -- but that's not why we're profiling him today. Shane's been rabble-rousing on the battlefield and around town, cooking up a whole different kind of PVP stew on his home realm: a third faction.

If you've ever felt ambivalent about playing sides in the Horde vs. Alliance tug-of-war, you've probably dreamed of what a third faction could be like. Shane and his guildmates are playing around with the idea in game now. At more than 1,000 members and growing strong, The Third Faction claims to draw its powers from the mandate of the masses rather than the tyrannical whims of Azeroth's ruling dictators.

Main character Aclia
Guild The Third Faction
Realm Ysera (US)

15 Minutes of Fame: Shane, let's jump right to the heart of the matter here: Why a third faction? Is the idea more to dodge the existing good-vs.-evil dichotomy of Alliance vs. Horde, or does the third faction follow more specific precepts or work against current politics?

Shane Moore: The idea stems from the broken two-party systems we have here in America. Neither serve the people, and both only serve themselves. Same as Horde and Alliance. Well, we are bringing that to an end. The Third Faction exists to unite its people under their own freedoms and not the whims of expansive dictators.

How did the idea and the first group that's become The Third Faction come about?

It all started when some fans of mine started a guild on Ysera called Dark Angels. It was a direct spin-off of some of my succubus characters that appear in book five (Birth of a Nation) of my Abyss Walker series. The Dark Angels were former angels turned into demons -- not because they fell, but because the god (Rha-Cordan) they followed became corrupted. The angels transformed into succubi and their memories were erased by the goddess of mercy. In the story, many of them escape from the abyss to experience a world that is not shaped on evil; thus, they begin to reject their wickedness -- to a point.

My readers felt that the draenei not only had a similar motivations in regards to pulling away from their people, but that they looked like demons too. So, the fans made the guild and only let female draenei characters in.

In 2008, the guild had grown considerably. I was getting email bombed by readers to convince me to play WoW and join this guild. I was going through a pretty rough divorce, so in August I went out and bought World of Warcraft. I brought it home, installed it, and learned that I needed the expansion to make a draenei. So, I decided to make a dwarf named Amerix on their server (Ysera-PVE). I played in secret to learn the game so when I joined their guild, I wouldn't seem like a noob. ... In fact, I was such a noob, I didn't even know that a noob was called a noob. *lawl*

One day I was minding my own business in STV and I came across a female tauren. She was four levels higher than I was. I was excited as I imagined the loot she must drop -- so I attacked her. She died and dropped no loot. I quickly got over my frustration and went about my business. A few short minutes later, a skull-leveled (70) blood elf player rode up to me. He laughed at me and spit on me. He was a player, so I knew I couldn't attack him -- so I thought. The next thing you know, I was dead. WTF!? How did the player attack me? That's how I discovered PVP. ... Shortly after that moment, I learned what it meant to be camped.

I made contact with the Dark Angels and explained what was going on. The entire guild came to my rescue and sacked a few Horde cities in retribution. The benefit of being in a guild were obvious -- so I asked to join. One of the fans deleted her toon Aclia so I could have the name. Aclia has been my main ever since.

By the time Lich King expansion was winding down, we had become the dominant world PvP guild. The server had gotten used to us defending them. Dark Angels Horde-side was born. We started calling ourselves the third faction. Hell, we were big enough, almost 500 players on each side. We would organize world PVP raids against each faction's military outposts. We created a standing rule: If you wanted to PVP against a Dark Angel, then you can't be in Dark Angel. This rule had to be enforced to maintain unity between the two factions ... and it worked. We started recruiting with "Dark Angels, we are the third faction, join us." We began to post on websites and forums demanding Blizzard recognize our sovereignty. We signed all our GM tickets as Dark Angels, the third faction.

I had a glitch issue after Cata came out. I opened a ticket and signed it "Aclia -- leader of the third faction." When the GM answered my ticket, he asked why we didn't guild name change. I brought it up at the officer's meeting and the name was approved.

Is there an in-character, in-game name for the third faction itself? Or does it refer to itself in Azeroth as The Third Faction?

No, the movement is The Third Faction. We are neither Horde nor Alliance. If we had our way, Blizzard would give us a keep in Wintergrasp and make us hostile to both sides. We reject their rule and look at ourselves as the will of the people, united in democracy.

How large is the movement at this point, in terms of guilds, each faction, and individual members?

Our numbers span four guilds (chats all linked together) and over 2,000 members and nearly 1,000 individual accounts.

Is Blizzard aware of the movement? What's the reaction been from Blizzard?

Yes, we have posted many notices like the one below. Blizzard put us in contact with their development team via email. We have not heard a reply, but I suspect this is due to legal issues and worries of a potential suit. However, their terms of service are pretty solid in outlining that anything you do in game is theirs. However, the game master feedback has been positive and exciting. They all would love to see a third faction or a server named after our original guild, Dark Angels.

Attention Blizzard:

The dawn breaks on a new day in Azeroth. The time of the two party system is at an end. We shall bleed for our tyrannous kings and lords no longer! Put down your blind pride and sharpen your blades of vengeance. Let Orgrimmar and Stormwind burn for their wicked injustices against the very people they govern. We will force them to recognize our sovereignty!

Join the Ysera Dark Angels as we usher in a new age, a new era. The Era of The Third Faction!

And you ask your members to pledge sovereignty to Blizzard itself, is that right?

No, members pledge themselves to the movement. We demand that Blizzard recognize our sovereignty as a third faction. We have proven that we are a legitimate power among the other two. Why not give us a city or some lands and let the players decide?

Tell us a little bit about the philosophical and political alignments of your faction.

The idea is very much a team mentality. Both Horde and Alliance TTF players buy into a little roleplay in regards to the basis of the movement. But as a whole, we are just a collection of dorks that enjoy the game. The guild is the epitome of democracy -- with leaders stepping down. No one will rule forever. I was just fortunate that my rule was the most prosperous thus far.

Mid-July, I had to step down as GM to focus on my heavy tour schedule and contract load. At the time I ended my reign as the third GM, we were first in guild achievement points and had several server firsts, including 1 million HKs.

What are some of things that TTF does in game? Are there specific roleplaying events, or is the movement more a template for individual roleplaying activities?

We have some players that only focus on endgame content. We have players that only like to arena/battleground. The guild created ranks for each.

Then there is the Dark Angel rank, a rank dedicated to world PVP. At one time during Lich King, we coordinated team attacks and killed auctioneers in every city at the same time. Dalaran was the only place you could work auction house. It was difficult but fun.

Does the faction have its own reputations, cities and home base, flight points, quest lines, vendors ...?

We have a guild world PVP mount, an armored snowy griffon. When we do guild events, you must be on that mount. Members in good standing that cannot afford the mount will have it provided for them. We also created guilds for officers to run our guild economy (our farmers sell only to officers at bulk rates, who sell lower than the cheapest AH rate to only guild members). This system made us the wealthiest guild on the server, as well.

How long have you been playing World of Warcraft, Shane? Is this your first MMO?

I've been playing since August 2008. This is my first real MMO experience. I played a little Ultima Online around '95, but it was on a friend's account.

Tell us a little bit about your work as a writer. What are you working on right now?

I am the writer/creator of the Abyss Walker series. It's an epic dark fantasy series where the main character is a prophetic villain.

After retiring as a police detective at age 33 to write full-time, my career has gone through the roof. Several celebs have become friends and then subsequently characters in my novel. Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca from Star Wars) was written in as Petrovisk, and Matt Hill (Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) was written in as Blarik, just to name a couple. Now, I have nine artists doing art for me, including a former Disney animator (Terry Naughton). I have two other writers writing franchise novels in my Abyss Walker world as well as two spin-off series, graphic novels, a music album soundtrack, a dwarves cookbook, and a contract for an iPad tower defense game.

Right now, I'm working on a religion-based zombie novel set in modern times, The Apocalypse of Enoch. This title is set to come out next year.

Does your time in WoW cross-pollinate at all with your work as a writer, one influencing the other to any degree?

No, most of my writing influence comes from my experiences as a police officer. I started writing in 2004 to cope with PTSD that arose from being stabbed in the line of duty. The knife never penetrated my vest, but it penetrated me mentally. I developed hyper-arousal and PTSD. Couldn't sleep because of anxiety to the night terrors I would have.

A friend suggested writing as a coping mechanism. I chose fantasy. You can't get much farther away from the real world than dragons and elves. Oddly enough, the personality of the real-life monsters I had arrested crept into my villains. This truth alone is the catalyst of my success. One thing I learned is that murderers like themselves; they think roses are pretty, and they like chocolate chip cookies. Not exactly the cliché trait of the evil, dark villain that lives in a cave and likes dead things. This truth made my villains real to the readers and thus all the more terrifying. And while WoW has some great content writers, I focus on the gameplay.

And what's ahead for The Third Faction?

Right now, that's all up to the new leader. I'll be back after the first of the year. If he needs me to run it again, I will, time permitting. I'm sure he is going through the lumps of being a new GM and learning how to manage players. But he is a practicing lawyer. I'm sure he will do fine.

So, unless Blizzard rewards our four-year efforts with a server named after us or actually makes us our own faction, there is little more I can do other than to continue to enjoy the top MMO in the world.

"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with these players, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Aron "Nog" Eisenberg to an Olympic medalist and a quadriplegic raider. Know someone else we should feature? Email lisa@wowinsider.com.

Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame

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