Deep in the heart of steamy Stranglethorn Vale, within the golden city of Zul'Gurub, gathers a savage band of Zandalari trolls. Loyal to neither the Horde nor the Alliance, these players embrace a fierce roleplaying ethic that can be both fascinating and intimidating to newcomers. Yet Atal Zanza Aka is esteemed by other guilds on Argent Dawn (RP-EU) and has become a vital (if quantitatively small) ingredient in the roleplaying community.
We visited with guild leader Zazajin to explore this niche of WoW roleplaying and find out how this guild manages to thrive in as antagonistic role that sweeps it away from the well-traveled paths and populated city centers of Azeroth.
WoW Insider: It would appear that making a troll character for Atal Zanza Aka is full-throttle roleplaying not for the faint of heart, would you agree?
Zazajin: Our guild is indeed first and foremost a roleplaying guild. We formed as a breakaway from the Loa Atal Ai (a Darkspear-based trollish guild which serves the Horde but includes different troll tribes) during the occupation of the Echo Isles, and abandoned the Horde to serve the Zandalari and preserve trollish culture, which our characters felt was threatened under the Horde's regime and thus moved to Zul'Gurub to try to preserve that culture. We're made up of various troll tribes, much like the Zandalari themselves. We've members from the Amani (forest trolls), Drakkari (frost trolls), farraki (sand trolls), Gurubashi (jungle trolls), and Zandalari (those trolls that stand up straight, haha).
Main character Zazajin
Guild Atal Zanza Aka
Realm Argent Dawn (RP-EU)
WoW Insider: What's the meaning of the guild name?
Zazajin: Our guild name, the Atal Zanza Aka, means the "Devoted Children of Zanza" in Zandali. It reflects our trolls' beliefs that they all share blood with Zanza, the first troll.
Is the guild exclusively comprised of trolls, then?
Our guild doesn't accept non-troll members due to wanting to keep the trollish theme alive; however, we do indeed take alts who are trolls quite happily as long as they have trollish names.
Do you follow any particular troll traditions?
We take part in various rituals to the Loa, dark sacrifices, dances, feasts and the like. We'll occasionally snatch those foolish enough to enter Zul'Gurub "for shelter," and they often find themselves sacrifices or feasts, or perhaps both! Haha!
How do you handle conflicts of interest interacting with the game's PvE troll content? Is there certain content you avoid doing because it doesn't fit with the lore of the guild?
On an out-of-character basis, we do often farm the trollish content for gear. Trolls like ta look dere best, mon! But on an in-character basis, we tend to avoid such areas unless they're Hakkari, as our trolls oppose Hakkar.
Do you do any roleplaying out of the game -- for instance, on the guild or official forums?
We do indeed! We often RP on our separate Skype channel using text and emotes if World of Warcraft's servers are down or lag.
You've mentioned online the savagery of the RP troll attitude. That's such a hot potato to manage for a RP guild leader. How do you keep this in-character activity from exploding out of character?
Ooh! That's a tough one! But luckily most people who've joined our guild seem to understand that it's all in character and if they don't, my fellow "Antu" (trollish for overseer, or officers/co-GMs by our terms) and myself will happily explain to them!
Since the Zandalari stand apart from Horde trolls, how does this affect your interactions with other RP guilds on your realm?
Well, it affects it in a myriad of interesting ways. Due to our in-character beliefs, it prevents us going to the main hub, Orgrimmar, to recruit for very long. ... Luckily, Zul'Gurub is a bustling hub on Argent Dawn, so it doesn't affect activity -- though if our friends from the Loa Atal Ai show up in Zul'Gurub, we often have heated duels with them and debate over which side is right... Of course, that's for the reader to decide, haha!
ZG, a bustling hub? How's that?
Yes, on AD, ZG is a bustling hub. In non-RP terms, we mean people RP here and use it as a living, breathing city.
Troll RP has waxed and waned over the years, but on AD there's always been a huge interest in it and indeed even the unconventional types of trolls. As trolls have received a lot of lore in Cataclysm and MoP, we've undergone somewhat of a revival, and many new players and even a few older ones have rolled trolls to experience the new lore and roleplay as the story of the Zandalari and Vol'jin continues to unfold. As for the future, who knows?
Let's talk about guild structure.
Our guild is made up of the leaders, the Antu Council (Trollish for "overseer"), who oversee the four aspects of our group; myself, Zaza'jin, as the Hex'Antu who leads the witchdoctors and hexxers, religious ceremonies and the head of the Antu Council; Waa'ki the Thraze'Antu (Trollish for "overseer of the blade"), who leads the stealthy stalkers, hunts and keeps our raptors and various other reptiles in good health; Lilongo the Rokh'Antu (Trollish for "overseer of destruction"), who trains our warriors, leads the trolls into combat and is quite a savage Drakkari, haha; and last but not least, Jat'soo the Sul'Antu (Trollish for "overseer of the lash"), who leads the Shadow Hunters and seems to serve as the eyes, ears and hands of the other Antu, reporting back what he's learnt.
Then we've got the Atal (Trollish for "devoted"), who serve as the Antu's right hand, then the various high ranking roles of troll society such as witchdoctors, headhunters, etc.; after that, kinsmen, who are the villagers and so on, but still full members of the guild; and lastly whelp, which is an introductory rank and have to prove themselves in character to the guild.
One of the measures usually used to gauge a guild's health is its guild level, but Atal Zanza Aka is still working its way through 19. How much of a factor is guild level to you and the group? Is guild level an accurate measure of your activity and success?
In a way it's a good measure of a guild's health; however, I feel it can be somewhat detrimental and daunting to new RP guilds starting up, as people see them as not being as good as 25-level guilds. Inside the guild, we enjoy leveling our guild and unlocking the achievements as a guild, as it helps us bond.
Let's remind readers what roles or classes your group is missing because of its racial exclusivity.
Luckily, trolls are able to be all classes bar paladin, so we're not really lacking in the class department. However, we're finding it hard to find tanks and healers due to most of us being casters or hunters, haha.
So do you offer any raiding (even players who are LFR regulars as a group), PvE, or other organized non-RP game play?
Currently, we're only doing LFR due to needing to get our trolls' tanks/healers up to level for raids, but we're looking into being able to run 10-man raids when we've got everyone geared up/willing! Dem lewts, mon! *points at the armoured skyscreamer* However, we'll be doing this casually and on the sidelines.
Do many or most members have non-RP alts? Or are most players focused on their trolls as their mains?
A few members have non-RP alts or even mains, but the majority of us seem to keep our alts in the guild and trolls, even as non-RP characters.
What activities might be included in a typical week for Atal Zanza Aka?
Usually, we have an event or two, but that could be as varied as raising undead trolls to serve the Loa, hunting, exploring, rallying other troll tribes to serve Zandalari trolls, or purging Hakkari influences. Other than that, it's just casual RP in Zul'Gurub, farming for troll gear and mounts or just generally being silly and having a laugh as friends.
Let's wrap up on a lighter note -- most tired thing you're sick of newbies or others doing in game that's related to the whole troll shtick?
I hate to rant and rave here, but it's people who want us to "tone down" and play friendly, elf-loving trolls and support Vol'jin/the Horde and hang around Zul'Gurub still, or people who seem to not like our choice of location and theme and insult us.
And coolest thing you never get tired of doing in game that's related to the whole troll shtick?
Hmm... That's a tough one! It's got to be scaring "de silleh elfies" away with voodoo ceremonies or being able to joke around one minute, then be a complete savage the next. Also, the accent!
Visit Atal Zanza Aka on the web.
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with Game of Thrones' Hodor (Kristian Nairn) ... a blind ex-serviceman and the guildmates who keep him raiding as a regular ... and a 70-year-old grandma who tops her raid's DPS charts as its legendary-wielding GM. Send your nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org.