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Broadsword Online Games | Official Site
MMORPG | Genre:Fantasy | Status:Final  (rel 09/30/97)  | Pub:Electronic Arts
PVP:Yes | Distribution:Retail | Retail Price:$09.99 | Pay Type:Subscription
System Req: PC | ESRB:TOut of date info? Let us know!

Book Overview: Legend of The Syndicate

Today, Jon Wood takes a quick look at a recently released book detailing the history of The Syndicate, a large guild with a presence in the classic Ultima Online and the juggernaut World of Warcraft.

It isn’t often that we present an article about a book here at MMORPG.com. Frankly, there really haven’t been that many written on the subject of MMORPGs, so you can imagine my reaction when a copy of “Legend of the Syndicate” made its way to my door for review.

Legend of the Syndicate’s sub title is “A History of Online Gaming’s Premier Guild (yes, I know that there would be a number of guilds that would probably dispute that, but it’s the title of the book). The book is written by Sean Stalzer (“Dragons” to anyone who might be familiar with The Syndicate), the guild leader.

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 Large guilds are something that I have always associated with a kind of self-aggrandizing attitude, so when this book arrived on my doorstep, I was ready to read 218 pages of accounts of how they took down this guild or that guild in Ultima Online. Instead, what I got was an honest account of the guild’s activities since they were formed in 1996.

Personally, I’ve never been involved with a large scale guild like The Syndicate, so this book gave me a little bit of perspective on what that experience might be like for the average player, but more importantly, it gave me an idea of what it’s like for the people in charge. In the world of MMORPGs, there are so many different play styles and so many people playing for so many different reasons that I often wonder how any guildmaster gets the job done.

For those of you who may have never heard of The Syndicate, I’ll give you a little bit of background from the book:

  • The Syndicate was formed in 1996, just in time for the beta testing of Ultima Online.
  • Ultima Online became the guild’s first game where it has a presence… even today in a year that marks that game’s 10 year anniversary.
  • In 1999, The Syndicate, as a guild, joined EverQuest. This did not replace their presence in Ultima Online. Instead, the guild operated in both games simultaneously.
  • In 2004, The Syndicate retired from EverQuest in favor of the next big game. Later that year, the guild officially declared World of Warcraft as their next game.

Really, that’s just a quick and dirty overview of the guild’s history which, while interesting, isn’t really the focus of the book (no matter what the sub-title might indicate). Instead, it’s the guild’s philosophies that really grab the reader’s attention.

According to the book, The Syndicate is a guild that is built first and foremost on ideals of teamwork and friendship. Lofty goals when you think about it. After all, at their core, MMORPGs are about social interaction.

I think that’s really what impressed me the most about The Syndicate. After reading Legend of The Syndicate, I have a genuine sense that theirs is a guild that goes well beyond the games that they are in (no more than two at a time, according to the book) and stretches into the real world.

That Part Where he Reviews It!

So, would I recommend this book? If you’re someone like me who’s interested in guilds and how they operate, then yes, I would definitely recommend this book to you. Here’s why:

  • Legend of The Syndicate could be used as a “How-To” book on running a large guild. Throughout the book, Dragons goes into detail about the steps that had to be taken and the decisions that had to be made in order to keep the guild from becoming a flash-in-the-pan and making sure that everyone had a good time. Recruitment practices, logo trademarking, in-game decisions, game choices, philosophies, conventions… It’s all here.
  • Legend of The Syndicate serves as an interesting viewpoint on the games that they have been a part of or even just beta tested (WoW, EQ, UO and others).
  • Legend of The Syndicate provides its readers with an account of the world of online gaming that includes real-life and in-game stories of friendships and frustrations, of successes and servers, trials and tribulations, etc. In short, all of the things that make up the guild experience.

I would be remiss though, if I didn’t point out the only real flaw that I saw with this book. While Stalzer, the author, certainly did his job in bringing The Syndicate to the pages of the book in his first crack at writing a novel, it seemed to me that Avari press, the publishers, didn’t really support him with a good editor. It’s not that the book was full of errors, but every now and then, I noticed something that really should have been caught by an editor and changed so that the flow of my reading wasn’t interrupted.

That just about wraps up this look at Legend of The Syndicate, available from Amazon.com for a current price of $11.16. If you’re interested in The Syndicate or just guilds in general, I would suggest you take a look at a copy.

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