The following is the yearly State of The Guild Address by Brant Kraczek, better known as Sir William, leader of the online gaming community known as the Purple Dragons. This year is special because it marks the 10th anniversary of the guild, which was founded in 1997.
It is a story about friendship through gaming that endures the test of time.
Ten years ago this month four guys from Palm Beach Gardens, Florida decided to play a much hyped game called “Ultima Online”.
This game was supposed to revolutionize the video gaming world. The original press release and review said that you could “bake bread or be a tailor by day and fight dragons and ogres by night”. It briefly mentioned the dangers of being attacked by other players.
As the first few days of UO settled in we discovered the joys of “PVP” as I saw my first “grey screen” after a plate mail wearing guy on horse back hit me with a lightning bolt. As the days pressed on in Britannia; Tayne, Briar, Matiric and I noticed the small groups of people forming small “groups” or “guilds” to play together. They would find cloth robes to put on their characters and dye them with a dye tub. Then they would start calling themselves names like “red riders”, “men in blue” and “men in red capes”. We decided that we needed a color too but it had to be something different. Everyone was red, blue or the darkest grey available (there was no black yet).
Matiric and I were on the phone with each other (Pre-Teamspeak days) and talking about how we had found the perfect color. As we ran towards each other in game we found we had both picked Royal Purple and decided we should be called the “Purple Dragons”. This was decided mainly because our characters, Sir William, Tayne, Matiric and Briar, were all character names from our latest AD&D campaign run by Cary (Drake). I played a dimwitted but brave Paladin named Sir William that had the limited dialog of a paladin from Warcraft II.
We coulda been the green knights! who knew?
To say we were “newbs” to the gaming world was an understatement but who wasn’t? We did all the newb role playing things. We escorted merchants between towns, we sold our crafts at the fair, we hunted for deer meat in the woods. One day when we were escorting some merchants from Trinsic to Minoc we were beset by the “Army of Darkness”. This AoD hit squad had set up shop at the only bridge between the two cities. Tayne and I traded fireballs with them until they were driven back and the wheels were set in motion that would drive PD for the rest of time. To hell with fighting slimes and orcs in a dungeon, let’s fight other players! We set out to fight the good fight and destroy the evil “Player Killers” of UO. We were hooked on pvp. We would made constant visits to all the local dungeons and find the “PK’s” in the act of killing some helpless adventurer. Time and time again PD would come to the rescue and kill the PK. Quickly we made enemies of the “reds” and became well known on the Atlantic server as anti-PK’s. One group in particular was The Mercs.
In our efforts of killing PK’s we had made quite a good living; earning enough gold to buy what we needed for armor and spell reagents. We figured now was the time to take the fight to the Mercs. We met a guy named Francisco that would join our Purple Dragons and assault the Mercs stronghold. As we gated in PD was introduced, for the first time, to some serious bug exploitation and gold duping. The Mercs had a sprawling city of castles and keeps interlaced with houses and choke points. Earning this type of gold in the game should have taken years not weeks. It didn’t really register with us at the time but looking back it is comical. Needless to say the Mercs were hitting us with energy bolts while we hit them with fireballs…it was a short fight.
Born from that fight was the determination that now lives strong in PD. The Mercs were amazed in one thing about the five of us, we kept coming back. We would lose and then five minutes later we would be back with a loin cloth and a knife. Never give up! It was during one of these excursions that we met with Justice and the Men in Blue. Now known as Zalt and the Eighth Direction, MiB was the premier PK fighting group on the server and took us on as allies to help fight against the PK’s. This was the beginning of a long standing friendship that still remains today.
As Ultima Online changed with the times and grew to a large subscriber base the gaming community noticed. Sony/Verrant was coming out with this new fangled game concept called Everquest. This was a troubling time in the life of your Guildmaster. UO had all but sapped my life. I was working 30hrs a week and playing 80. My relationship with my now ex-girlfriend was toast and her dad was my boss. I was so far gone that I packed up everything I owned and moved to the mountains of Virginia for a woman I thought would save me. It was during this phase of my life that I discovered what being PD truly was. PD is and always will be about friends helping friends no matter what the situation. Here I am in the mountains of Virginia with my computer, my clothes and $500 to my name. The woman I moved to Virginia for turned out to not be the real deal (a different story). I bought a $400 car packed my shit in it and drove back to Florida. I called Matiric on the way and he loaned me money for a front tire. I called Tayne on the way and he said I could crash on his couch and deliver pizzas for him.
I made it back to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida with my computer, my clothes a $400 car that leaked a pint of oil a day and $1 to my name; I still have that dollar. I crashed on the couch and played EQ with Tayne, Matiric, Briar and Francisco when I wasn’t delivering pizzas. We reformed PD in EQ but never really did much as a guild in the PVE world. After some time in EQ we heard of a new game coming…Dark Ages of Camelot.
Things were better for me I was no longer on a couch and I was starting a career in the Home Electronics field (unknown to me at the time). It is ironic how the beginning of new games closely mirrors a significant event in the life of a founder of PD. As we were gearing up for DAOC, Francisco’s daughter Kylie was born but not without major complications. What should have been a happy time turned into yet another time of need for a brother and founder of PD.
As things settled down we started our chapter in Dark Age of Camelot, perhaps our brightest moment. We played on the Merlin server on the Albion faction. We started quickly and were among the first guilds to bear a coat of arms. As the game moved on, we became increasingly discouraged with the lack of leadership and coordination in the realm.
Someone said to me “if you think you could do better, be my guest” and the rest is history.
PD quickly took charge of the realm and rode the wave of success for a full year. It was during this game that we had one of our biggest and best influxes of new members. Not only did we gain some real life friends (Celek, Vignarg, Gardian and others) but we gained an entire new guild whose leader couldn’t handle the job; the Outsyders. The Outsyders was a group that brought us Ariadnye, Arcticfire, Dhuran, Glenfiddich, Kirtar, Voltaire and many many more good members. It was because of this move that we were able to move from our old EZboard system to what you see now. Glenfiddich was the mastermind behind this online community, one of the oldest and most trafficked online gaming sites in the world. After more than a year of dominance we experienced a split in DAOC. Some members longed for the free PVP of Shadowbane and others wanted the more stable run of DAOC.
For a short period I left DAOC to lead the Shadowbane contingent on the Carnage server. PD and 8D flat out dominated the Carnage server. The game was short lived but it’s glory will remain forever. It was during this time that I met my wife, Lynn (Cesara). As things winded down on Shadowbane I returned briefly to DAOC but the damage was done. I longed for more action and DAOC didn’t have it for me. Those of us that had branched off from DAOC looked for a new game for the guild to play together. We tried Lineage 2, City of Heroes, Star Wars Galaxies and any other thing we could get our hands on. Then finally a new game came out that would change us forever…World of Warcraft.
It was during this chapter that we had our most difficult time. This is what I would call the gut check of PD. As we moved to WoW. We found out quickly that we would have to adjust to a more PVE mentality to survive and be relevant in this new world. We had to decide, “did we want to be relevant?” The answer was a resounding yes. We worked hard to achieve the PVE and PVP goals of the game and did it at an alarming pace. We recruited people to help us achieve those goals; some good and some not quite the right fit for PD. As we achieved the goals of the game and progressed further and further into the world we lost more and more core members. People that just didn’t want to play the game anymore or people that got the wanderlust. It was during this time that Cesara gave birth to my son Aidan and I needed to give up on PVE raiding. I stepped aside from leading PD and turned over the reigns to Twerkulator. PD is still going strong in WoW and continues to accomplish great things in the game. While looking for a game to play casually with some friends Bad Habit Rabbit showed us Travian….
Travian showed us the biggest influx of old school PD back together since DAOC. It seems that PD players just needed to be relevant in the destruction of other players…who knew? There are currently over 80 Purple Dragon members playing Travian on server 2. This game is different to PD because it actually has an end to it. In most games we just keep going until something new comes out.
The State of the Guild: 2 October 2007
Currently we are involved in two games as a guild; Travian and World of Warcraft. We will continue to do so until we have the opportunity to pick between Age of Conan, Warhammer or any other game. When one MMO becomes relevant we will shut down the WoW chapter and move all of our resources to the new project.
Those who know me wil have noted the reference to Glenfiddich, my online gaming handle. I manage the daily operations of this online community of about 200 active members.
For reference, the guild’s website and forum registered over 5 million page views since 1999, with 2.4 milion page views and 200,000 visits in the 2006-2007 period alone.