Several months ago, our GM, Baklor, announced that his wife was pregnant with their second child. Along with this announcement, he informed us that, in 5 months, he would be stepping down as GM. Well, that 5 months ended a while ago. Although he is still playing when he can, he is no longer running the guild or actively raiding. This post is my Salute to him and to show appreciation for all that he has done for Rogue Angels and for me.
My husband and I met Baklor in early 2000 in Asheron's Call. At one time, he was even my Vassal for a while, Asheron's Call (AC) is based on a Feudal system, and rather than referring to my Vassals as vassals or subjects, I called them my babies and took a 'motherly' role in taking care of them.
So, Baklor was one of my babies and he was always extremely independent, quiet, always ready to help others, and hardly ever asked for anything...in fact, I'd have to beg him to tell me if he needed gear or items. Really, the only thing Baklor ever asked for was help with corpse recoveries. In AC, when you died, you lost your highest valued items, which could include gear; 1 item per 10 levels...and you could level all the way up to 126! (It's higher now.) Typically, we'd carry around 'death items' which were items we didn't use that cost more than your important gear and weapons. However, if you died while trying to loot your corpse, you would start losing important pieces that would prevent you from successfully retrieving your stuff.
My husband was the Monarch (GM) of our AC guild and whenever our guildies needed help with corpse recoveries, we were the ones they called. Most often, about 95% of the time, when we were called for help with a corpse recovery, it was hardly needed at all. The person's corpse would be out of agro range or have one, maybe two, mobs within range and we had become to hate the 'corpse recovery' call. Except from Baklor...
Baklor had the amazing ability to die in the most challenging of places! Which is saying a lot because my husband and I were max level and had max gear and the game had become rather unchallenging for us. However, Baklor would manage to die in the most mob congested areas that it would boggle our minds of how he actually made it that far in before dying. We'd have to fight to get to his bodies, then fight to clear his bodies, then fight the respawns to keep it clear! And yes, I said bodies. Remember I said he was independent? Baklor would always try to recover his corpse...numerous times...and only call us in as a last resort. He never knew it, but my husband and I would be laughing at all the little Baklor bodies everywhere.
When Rogue Angels decided to play WoW when it first came out, we actually played under a different guild tag, Uninspired, which I hated, and as Horde, which I hated as well (can you say UGLY?). I played WoW for about a year or so before quitting for several reasons; the two main ones were I hated playing on a PvP server and I hated my Druid. After about a year and a half break, I started playing again with a Night Elf Priest on a PvE server with my husband who had a Warlock and I was having fun again. However, as the expansion release drew nearer, my husband told me he wanted to play on his main (rogue) with the Rogue Angels guild again and he wanted me to come with him.
He assured me that it would be more fun than before; first off, when they switched servers they reformed under the tag Rogue Angels. Secondly, I could spec Feral and he and I could be all sneaky and avoid much of the PvP issues. And, thirdly, Baklor, one of my babies from AC, was the GM.
I have to admit, I had my reservations as I imagined him leading us into all kinds of trouble from which there would be no return just like he would run heedlessly into hordes of mobs in AC! However, I was soon proved wrong as, even though he was always eager to jump in over our heads, he was also an excellent leader in his organization, knowledge of classes, research into bosses and instances, and 'out of the box' thinking to make our raid composition work when most would say we were doomed.
The Tank Bond
When our guild began venturing into Karazhan, Baklor was our main tank and I was the off tank...well, actually, I was pretty much the only other tank in the guild. But, Baklor had confidence enough for the both of us and I tagged along beside/behind him learning the way of raid tanking. (I had never raided before!) Some would say that learning from Baklor should have doomed my tanking career, but he was an excellent and patient teacher.
So, it was Baklor and me holding back the forces of evil and protecting the rest of the raid! We functioned well together and had a trust in each other's knowledge and ability. We also had confidence in each other when things went awry and because of this assuredness in each other our raid overcame many potential wipes. People often joke around about how dumb tanks are and that they only have half a brain...well, if this is true, then it seemed that he and I shared the same brain. ;p Baklor will always be my favorite tanking partner and these beginning moments of exploring and first kills in Karazhan are, so far, my fondest memories of my second WoW experience.
Leading anything is the hardest job. No matter how good of a leader you are there will always be people who think you suck. I know Baklor had to contend with a few people that thought he lacked in leadership qualities, however, they couldn't have been more wrong.
Baklor was an enthusiastic leader. He was always excited about new or harder content and pushing to get us to get there. If we needed recruiting or guild funds/items, etc., he was the first to jump out there and get it done. He did a fantastic job of leading by example as he never sat back to wait for others to do what needed to be done. Even though this type of leader can tend to try to 'do it all' himself, Baklor also possessed the skill of delegation which is a rare combination. He didn't hesitate to assign Class Officers, etc. and ensure that they were doing their duties.
Baklor was extremely patient. No matter what happened or how bad things got, he was alway calm, cool, and collected. Now, he would have times where he'd be very quiet on vent when things went badly and I'm sure he was probably cussing and banging on the keyboard. However, when he came back on vent, he exuded calmness and assuredness. He also had a very soothing, matter of fact voice and he could disagree with your or lay down the law in the nicest, yet firmest way I have ever heard! Not to mention he endured my endless tanking questions and would always have pets out because he knew I liked that. :D
Baklor was also a strong leader. Once he made a decision, he stuck by it...which can be extremely difficult when leading friends you know in real life and friends you've played games with for many years. He also had the rare ability to pull back and look at 'the bigger picture' in relation with the Guild's goals. Our guild's goals were to see end game content and he steadfastly moved and made decisions in that direction, even when it meant not capitulating to individuals desires. Some people may feel that this is harsh. However, it's just good management for growth. Once you get caught up in the cycle of trying to please each and every single person (everyone wants something different!), things quickly fall apart. Guilds (businesses, families, etc.) have to have a common goal and everyone has to work towards achieving it...Baklor never lost sight of this.
My favorite leadership quality that Baklor had was his zero tolerance for drama! This impressed me so much I'm putting it under it's own heading!
All too often you hear about guild drama and the extremes with which it possesses...so much so that it can totally boggle the mind. We were lucky to have had a leader that did not put up with drama of any kind. Period.
He was extremely quick to deal with issues that had the potential for drama and to make unbiased decisions by choosing in favor of what was best for the guild as a whole rather than what was best for him or anyone else. Typically, reasonable people will see that a leader is making decisions based on the whole rather than on the individual and understand. However, those who are prone to drama do not...this is usually where they would reveal themselves and if they proceeded with the typical drama tactics to force 'their way', they were promptly /gkicked. There was no ifs/ands/or buts to it. No repeatedly trying to fix it/them. No repeatedly talking to them, etc....because we all know people who love drama will constantly create it and keep it going no matter what you do or say. It is their life blood.
One of the comments I've heard most from people that have joined our guild is how nice it is to be in a guild with no drama! What they don't realize is that it doesn't come naturally. You have to have leaders that can recognized drama and who aren't afraid to stop it or remove those people that are chronic 'dramatist' from the guild. (Yes, I am planning a future post on drama, how to recognize it, and how to eradicate it.)
Baklor was the best I have ever seen at this invaluable skill. Honestly, I learned a lot from him in regards to this and have employed zero tolerance for drama philosophy in dealing with my own family. I love Baklor for his example of how to put a stop to drama. The year or so proceeding my return to WoW was an extremely catastrophic one for my family. We had several heart-wrenching and traumatic events happen and I had extreme amounts of drama coming at me from all directions and from all my loved ones. So much stuff that if I told you all of it you'd think I was making 80% of it up. Baklor gave me the one place in the whole world that was free of that. For that, he will always be my favorite GM and a Hero to me when I needed one the most!
Even though we're losing one of the best GMs ever, it's for a good reason. He is taking time off to spend it with his wife and kids and to help with the newest addition. I know we'll still see him online, however he won't be leading us all to doom....errrr...glory. ;) In his place, he elected Gankszor, my husband, to lead us and Souldrain as the Assistant GM. So, he's left us in good and capable hands.