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Baldur

[F24-PP] Duty is heavy as a mountain, death light as a feather

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Macradon would listen, and finally realize that it was his time to interject and say something on the matter. Macradon would reply to Shield on his question with a rather annoyed tone, not annoyed at anyone in particular, just that he has to say this right now before much else is done. Though before he got anything to say, he would have to address @Hestia on her note on the KoB “I haven’t really felt it to be militaristic in any way in my time in the guild, be it when I was just a member, or when I were third in command. I’m not sure where Itzal got his intel from, but he should get better sources” Macradon said, “if you want frontliners that don’t just skimp out on the tiniest bit of damage because they fear for their life so much, they’re not better than meat shields. If you want people to be able to handle chaos on the battlefield, bootcamps are a must.” he would comment, clearing his throat as he would add “For clarification, a bootcamp doesn’t have to be any kind of military thing, it could easily just be to take them on Sub-dungeon runs so they learn how to work as a party against a dangerous foe”.

Even though that was said, Macradon would nod at the mentioning of Mack “Aye, big Mack was a soldier back out there, so he had good discipline and that kinda stuff, but I never felt that the guild was run in any kind of militaristic way, just because Mack was good at planning attacks and keeping track of people in hsi party.”. Turning back towards @Shield, Macradon would finally comment on what he thought was vital for everyone to know “Yeah, I got something to add” he began and raised his hand, then letting it fall to the table as he continued and said “I’m retiring from the frontlines.”.

Edited by Macradon

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Shield folded his hands in front of him and used them to cover his mouth. He processed @Macradon's last words, letting them sink in before responding. "I'm assuming you wouldn't say as much without having thought about it," he said, his eyes fixed on the once proud front liner. "I won't insult your resolve by trying to argue with you, but I will say that you'll be missed. I hope you return someday. In my experience, you're always a player who's just been there and who helped drive the lines forward. Someone is going to have big shoes to fill." He stood part of the way out of his seat, leaning so Macradon was within arm's reach, and clapped him on the shoulder. "Thank you for your contributions. And for taking up such a daunting mantle in the first place." His thoughts were disorganized in the moment, but he quieted that tumult with a breath and added a final note. "I hope that you will be willing to continue to lend your support to the lines, even if it's only to encourage and assist when you can. Hell, even if you're willing to help prepare newcomers, that would be invaluable."

With that, he gave Mac a reassuring nod, letting the now veteran know that he bore him no ill will for his decision. "In the mean time, @Hestia, I would agree with Mac, that it is not as militaristic as the phrase 'boot camp' sounds. Even high school marching bands go to 'camp' for training. The whole point would hopefully be to set a baseline of skills and communication. We don't need to 'break' anyone or 'indoctrinate' anyone like the military would. We just need to make sure people who come in are trained, like any job. Putting anyone on any important task without formal training is risky, and I can't think of a more important task in SAO than fighting on the front lines."

Edited by Shield

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A lot of words were exchanged after Calrex spoke, enough that it almost seemed like they should be writing the information down somewhere. Unfortunately that was not going to be the case, at least from what observed.

Baldur gave a brief summary of what everyone had brought to light, with Shield and Hestia giving their perspectives on what could be done. However, the biggest news was from Macradon, who while supporting the idea of training up and coming frontline participants also announced his retirement from the raids. As much as it was a surprise, it was also understandable in his eyes, "I'm still surprised at times that I've participated as long as I have in these floor raids, although I guess in part that is out of obligation as the bearer of the Achilles skill."

With Shield speaking first to acknowledge the Scarlet Templar's words the bluenette waited while letting his eyes lock on the young man to give an affirming nod, "It's been an honor fighting alongside you in the raids up to this point Mac."

With that he decided to continue the conversation back on topic, "I'm also on board with some type of training to get people prepared. If anything it could help bring all of the participants onto the same page, kind of like what we are doing here today. To extend the analogy, even career gamers are constantly practicing as a team before any tournament, and the constant threat of death aside that is what we basically are at this point. However, I should probably point out something about Achilles. It shines most when absorbing a massive amount of damage at once, not against successive attacks. From what I've discovered of its properties it is an anti-burst damage skill, but its main weakness is debilitating effects like poisons."

Taking a sip of his tea he felt the warmth soothe his virtual throat before continuing, glancing over at Baldur and Macradon, the only two players that were present during the heyday of the Azure Brigade, "I'm not sure if Tristan gave this information when he had the skill, but if we're planning to make the frontlines more cohesive that information will likely be necessary..."

Turning so that he faced everyone again he continue, "It's true that you two have seen me take a lot of damage, but I'm nowhere near invincible. The floor and event bosses are constantly scaling and changing to meet our growing strength, which means there is the likely chance that there will be at least a handful that will be designed to exploit that very weakness. I think that this might be necessary for anyone else that is participating as well. If we are to succeed consistently, then we need to be aware of the weakpoints in everyone's builds, and not leave it chance that they will prepare for it themselves."

Finishing he leaned back slightly with a sigh, "There is also the chance I'm being a bit too cautious. However, there is always the chance that the unique skills can be treated like a reliable crutch. Back when the Azure Brigade were in charge of the floor raids I do recall the unique skill users being heavily relied on, and we should be careful to not repeat that."

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I look to each of the other tanks with a raised eyebrow as they keep talking about the bootcamp ideas which is meant to more so be a teamwork exercise from my understanding which isn't the issue seemingly of what they are trying to solve. Before i can say anything i would look towards macradon as he would mention retiring from the frontlines as a sigh would escape me at that and my shoulders would slump ever so slightly in disappointment at that. 'One more person gone from the frontlines like everyone else. welp. Guess we are going with just two groups than.' I think to myself as i than listen to Calrex and keep that bit of information in the back of my head since it would make lots of sense to now pick up that healing mod and a few others to help him out and subsequently my party group. 'Well guess support is my first build focused thing i am going ot be going for.' I think to myself as i than focus upon the present and what i should say next. After spending a few moment of silent and in thought to collect everything i would want to say i look towards macradon and just nod my head. It was nice fighting with you Macradon don't make yourself a stranger alright? You're always welcomed back and i would love to just talk with you sometime maybe. I say with a small smile as i would than focus on the group more so next. Also, just cause you can have a people who can rely and trust on one another won't solve the reason that the fight on F23 happened in the first place. They were human like creatures that people felt sympathy for, and no amount of training besides repeated killing of NPCs or something like that could possibly kill that in someone. You could kill all the monsters in dungeons that you have, but they won't mean anything unless they are creatures like that council that can make people hesitant to attack them. Taunt them and no their deepest regrets or secrets to mess with them along with that. Unless you can find things to replicate that the root of what caused that fight on F23 won't stop from happening again. That is my take on it at least.

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Macradon would smile at the others as they said their words regarding his retirement, it was nice not being shunned for making a decision this difficult and controversial. “You guys shouldn’t worry, I’ll be back some day, I just have … something to fight before I can return” Macradon said. He had to fight himself somehow, try to get his resolve up to its peak as it has been before, right now his enthusiasm as well as drive was lower than when the game started, he didn’t really want to fight at this point, but he had to to keep his business running.  “I’ll be doing my best to support you guys from my shop as much as I possibly can, but as a Blacksmith, there really isn’t much I actually can do. But I sure am gonna keep on supporting the frontlines from the back, be it backup arms and armor.” he said looking at @Shield with a smile.  Macradon would look at @Hestia “I’m always home or in my shop in the Town of Beginnings, and if not, Kairi’s probably home, she should know where I am if you want to talk” he said and would relax down onto the backrest of his chair again. Looking at @Calrex, Macradon would nod “Aye, it was like that when I were joining the frontlines back on floor 12 or so. Unique skills like Achilles and Shadows Path are great resources for the inhabitants of Aincrad to clear the floors, but as Calrex said, we shouldn’t rely too much on them.” Macradon said, agreeingly.

“It’s true that a bootcamp won’t create trustful bonds unless it's explicitly with the same people all the time, but that’s usually not what bootcamps are for. What usually … usually … crafts trustworthy bonds are being in a guild together, but that’s not always the case. Many can have more trust to others than someone in their own guild. We need to find a strategy that will help newcomers as well as veterans to be able to trust the rest of the party, and the frontlines as a whole, each other’s life.” he said and would pause, as those kinds of things weren’t his forte, he would then continue to say what was on his mind for what a bootcamp could be like. “That said, I still think that we should at least offer bootcamps for newcomers, so they get to see how it is and condition themselves. I don’t think it would be good for it to be mandatory, but for it to be voluntary, but also heavily encouraged to attend. We could even make some kind of guideline for guilds, who wants to condition their members for rough times like the frontlines, on how to make a good bootcamp with training, though I’m not sure of how yet.” Macradon said and would sigh at the last sentence, slumping down onto the backrest.

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Baldur listened as they started to get to the heart of the matter, and Shield and Hestia made some great suggestions about compositions for the teams. There were good dynamics there, though the Hestia and Macradon one was a great stop gap, it still left that pairing as the weakest link. Hestia needed someone who could heal her, not just her healing the raid. But before that discussion could come to fruit, Macradon decided to drop a bomb on the meeting.

He was retiring.

Baldur's normally controlled steel blue eyes went wide, and he suddenly sat up much straighter.

"You're... retiring?" It took Baldur a moment to process, but the more he thought about it, the more it made sense. Mac's sense of... hunger was missing from the him. Not necessarily during the fight, but in the down time in between. The man who had single handedly scouted floors before no longer had the hunger that drove him to do that.

"Wow.." Baldur sat back in his chair as he continued to process that. His thoughts tended to be more of the man, and less of its effect on the frontlines... but those thoughts started to creep in. Mac had been one of the reliable pillars, like Calrex, that they could build around. To lose him now hurt, but nor could he blame the man.

"I am sorry to hear that Mac, but I am glad you came here. I appreciate your leadership and insight, even if you won't be fighting with us."

The others continued to discuss the bootcamp idea, but Baldur wasn't listening as intently as he should have been, since he was so distracted by the news, but he finally brought himself back to it, as they brought up what happened on floor 23.

"I think there are ways to address what happened on floor 23, but it is not productive to dwell on it. We need to focus on what we can control first and foremost, and then we can come up with contingency. I have my ideas on what we can do to help, but for now, let's stick with the current topic. If we have lost Macradon as an option for a tank, then we have 3 supports: Ruby, Zandra, and Hestia, and 3 tanks, Shield, Calrex, and Hestia. But Hestia can't heal herself. So we have 2 options. Find another tank, or find another healer. The option for 2 teams exists, but that's cutting our numbers pretty shallow, and we need to plan for expansion."

Baldur tapped the table idly.

"Who do we have in the Tier 2 range who might be up and coming tanks or healers? I have those floor 23 dungeon map rewards from the previous boss fight, and we have a floor 24 advanced dungeon map. They could be used to potentially powerlevel someone who is on the cusp of Tier 3. And it would lead into the boot camp nicely. I think if we offer the chance to those who want to make the plunge but have not yet done so, or those who, like Macradon has pointed out, desire to see the frontline more disciplined, I believe they will leap on the chance. I believe many who we lost after this last boss fight will return if they see leadership, and an effort to correct deficiencies. However, as Calrex and Macradon can attest, any time we've had a boss fight end with death or betrayal, the following boss fight ends up with a significant decrease in attendance and support. This next fight will be challenging, and we'll likely have to decide on 2 parties."

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"I understand your thoughts on boot camp not solving the issues on that last floor boss raid. It may not have stopped any of those specific things from happening," he said, his dark eyes steady as he addressed Hestia. "However, what happened was the result of an unprepared front line. Players going against the instructions of those who were designated to call shots, and then turning on one another instead of the bosses themselves..." he looked away out the window, trying to find the proper way to sum up his thoughts. "Some kind of training would have helped players to be able to trust that the ones handing down instructions are in that position for a reason, and to put their faith in something other than their own goals in the moment. Team work, especially in a war zone like that, is not intuitive; it's learned. It also would have helped other players to keep a cooler head under fire just from more experience."

He turned in his seat to face Hestia again, resting his forearms on the table and folding his hands. "Would it have stopped that situation altogether? Of course not. Even military boot camps don't stop incidents from occurring. What it does do is give you a bank of knowledge and experience, and it reduces the likelihood of things getting worse once they start to derail."

It was pretty clear that Baldur took Macradon's announcement pretty hard. It was already hard for himself to picture the front lines without Macradon, let alone how difficult it must be for a far more seasoned player like the samurai. "Perhaps, Macradon, you might be able to lend your assistance towards those hitting their third tier, helping them acquire their new gear as they step up to replace those who have needed to retire as well. It wouldn't be the same as having you by our side, but knowing your weapons and armor were still making their ways to the front would be... comforting in a way."

Edited by Shield

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The conversation continued on after the Ultramarine Knight had said his piece, and it did seem to be taken as good advice, "I guess it does reveal the supposed chink in my armor, but better for it to be brought to light this way than suddenly discovered in the middle of a battle. If anything I might need to start looking more into ways to make up for that weakness."

With that Calrex continued listen as the conversation came back around to the discussion of the effectiveness of a "bootcamp." As Hestia had pointed out, the way things turned out in the raid may have not likely been solved with training, with the three others giving their own thoughts on the matter, most being that even if it wouldn't prevent it from happening again, it would at least be some form of failsafe for players to fall back on.

"I should probably point out that while this might not be the first time players have turned on each other mid-fight, Hesita does make a good point that this is actually the first time that we have encountered supposedly sympathetic NPCs, ones that were treated as more than just opponents to strike down. Even if this is the first time, it most certainly won't be the last. It is a given that we probably won't be able to stop everyone from losing that sympathetic emotion for human-like NPCs, as while it could make things easier it also is a risky thing to train people to have. However, I also agree that a bootcamp may be useful to at least maintain some form of communication and chain of command among us. Whenever something has gone wrong in the past, it was more common for communication to break down first and for people to start acting of their own accord, for better or worse overall, which is something that is potentially preventable with some semblance of basic training."

Taking a sip from his tea the bluenette glanced down for a moment as he noticed that he had drank his cup dry before clearing his throat, "As Baldur said, with that's happened in the past few battles will likely result in a drop in morale amongst the returning raid veterans, so it's more than likely we'll have a smaller pool of players to work with in the upcoming fight. That means it is more essential that we are a cohesive raid group, because we'll have even less room for things to go wrong."

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Macradon would listen and nod, but would eventually disagree with some of it “Thing is, it’s not the first time we meet “sentient”-looking enemies. The entire 3rd floor with the elves had quests where you’re assigned the job to get rid of the elves. As well as the spontaneous Escape quest, where the jailers were human as well with their own characteristics. Arabian nights also have humans we fight against, thieves we murder to get the treasure we went, if that’s the way you want to do the quest. Many have even done The Iron Guardian, and you people would probably know how that one ends out.” he said and would clear his throat “This might be the first time the frontliners go up and converse with the boss monsters, but it’s not the first time. The only reason I would be able to accept it as a first time would be that the frontliners were finally interacting with the bosses instead of just fighting them, we have had human bosses before. It’s not an isolated case.” he would say and sigh, slumping down and leaning on the backrest with his arms under his head. “Isolated case or not … I have no idea on how to fix this kind of incompetent behaviour ..." he would comment and await what the other frontliners would say to this, if they even remembered those fights, if they were even present at the frontlines at those fights.

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Shield listened to Macradon's concerns, and to the others, trying to take each piece as it came. "Again, practice and training do not solve human error," he said, sitting a little more upright and setting down his glass. "Nothing ever will, so to hold any proposal to that standard is hardly reasonable. However, it will build a player's trust in whatever chain of command exists. Maybe they won't be able to overcome their empathy towards humanoid mobs, but if they have a superior with whom they've established trust, they might at least listen enough to stand down or leave the fight rather than put themselves or other players in harm's way." His dark eyes were clouded with a deeper darkness. It was concern that he did not know how to hide, and thus did nothing to keep it in.

"We're all worried about Hirru's actions," he said, making a call back to the elephant in the room. "However, if he and Macradon had been given more time. Even if it was just running quests, establishing a stronger rapport, building that much needed trust, he may have been convinced to withdraw and trust in his superior's judgments," Shield postulated, turning to Macradon. "And none of that is meant as any offense to you or the Knights. We've all been running on autopilot for a few floors, getting a little too comfortable, and just trusting that since things had gone smoothly, they would continue to do so. Look at players like Neo, who show up to the fights to sell their wares because they know players forgot to buff before they came. Something like this was bound to happen. I'm just relieved it came without the cost of human life."

Shield pressed his palms on the table and stood, pacing slowly along the window that overlooked the new floor of Aincrad. "We can't stop people from ever making mistakes or questionable judgment calls. All we can do is prepare people to trust whoever is leading and to give them the resources to make decisions that come from experience rather than impulse or temper."

He returned to his seat, resting his elbows on the table and letting his eyes move from player to player. "Speaking of those who show up unbuffed, I have a proposal that I think will help us in that department, and it may relieve some of the pressure on players to prepare consumables and allow them more time to train." He gave a brief nod to Baldur. "We have already given some thought to organizing crafters who wish to help the front lines. What I propose is a system where players contribute dues to the general funds of the Assault Team - let's say once each floor - and in return, when they attend boss raids, they will receive a standard load out for their build. A DPS will get tier appropriate Damage potions and a Protein food item, while tanks would receive Mitigation foods and Over Healths. Supports would receive Antidote Salves for themselves and Mass Heal items to use on their parties, so that they will not have to worry as much about their medics being stunned or incapacitated. Baldur and I would handle the networking, and any excess in dues would go to pay the crafters for their time."

He sat back a little further in his seat, crossing his arms across his chest as he thought aloud. "I have also put thought into how we might expand that operation should it prove successful. Perhaps we could even run quest raids to get valuable drops - Darkness Salves for tanks, Cerberus Souls for DPS - but that's a little ambitious for now."

Edited by Shield

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I look towards Baldur as he mentions the topic of tier two players that could fill in the roles of healers and or tanks as i just shrug my shoulders ever so slightly at that as i know there isn't many healers or any of them really within the tier two range. Tanks on the other hand are a different matter. When it comes to tanks @Baldur you can see a few coming up and taking that spot eventually in the future if Shield or Calrex ever die somehow. We have Cosi, Domarus, Hazado, Black, Kairi. We have quite a few options from pure tanks like Black, Hazado, and Cosi to the half tank types like Macradon over their. With those being people like Domarus, and Kairi from what i understand from last talking and seeing what they are using. Healers though are non-existent if we're being honest the only way we're basically getting healers anytime soon is if somebody comes out of nowhere like i did, or one of the future tanks or tier two players suddenly decide to take up first aid along with whatever build they are doing. I say towards the samurai just speaking honestly towards the man that has earned my trust from him having shown wisdom and at least a understanding to him that has been gained from being around a lot seemingly.

I than glance around as the conversation continues forward past that as i would look towards Shield with a slight amused look as if he mentions that fact as i would shake my head no from one side to the next. I would have my own doubts about people obeying superiors over their own blood and feelings if they would think following their instinct would help, or if they think it would make justice or a balance with what has happened from some x event before that. Like lets say someone stabbing HIrru and others taking into action real quick to try and defend someone or something that they believe is right. I mean i didn't try to defend a boss but i quickly just forgot any plans we had and went and questioned Issaxi for the first half of that battle and not targeting the obvious squishy members or you know. Using energize or healing like a support is meant to do all because i felt like learning about the floor and this being my only chance to do so was more worthwhile than being entirely serious about a floor boss. I say rather plainly as i would look towards Shield and than Macradon just being rather flat honest with the duo as i gaze at them with a passive look. While i can agree that maybe it would help at least keep a semi-amount of control. You won't stop people from just continuing forward and doing what they want at the end of the day. I mean. I ignored everything you kept trying to tell me to do during the labyrinth guardian fight Shield, and Baldur can attest to that since he was their also. I do what i think is right, and while you can have that chain of command somewhere along the line you will get mixed orders and some people might not know who to listen to and just do their own thing. I say just listing off examples of things that could happen and technically did happen during the labyrinth guardian fight from how everything was telling each other possible battle plans and none of them really agreeing on a set list of things to do.

I than turn my attention back towards Baldur and just nod towards him. Also i would think that doing the dungeon maps you got would be helpful to help those that are close. I would recommend people like Neo, Cosi, and Hazado if you can manage to do so while keeping them as safe as possible. I'm afraid that others i wouldn't really know who are tier two, but i do now know a few tier one players who are about. Also, i really don't see an issue with Hirru's behavior. As i said the bosses' were sympathetic his reaction was natural while you might view it as a problem i say that it worked out in the end. We didn't need to kill a child, and he can now live safely back at the main settlement. I don't care if he is data either. Furthermore, while you might think such behavior can carry forward and that Kayaba could use this against us you are right, but you have no proof of that or the framework to try and view this as a isolated event of which there is possibly not even a need to try and correct. It might've simply just been a one time thing we never need to worry about again. I say simply as i look towards the three more experienced players as i just wait to hear what i am preparing myself mentally for as something i can only describe as possibly a argumentative disagreement from all of them. Knowing that it wouldn't be an attack most likely since this is meant to be a discussion and just talks, but in the end knowing that i am one hundred percent out-numbered in my opinion most likely, and definitely not equipped enough to try and counterpoint and get them agree with them or possibly even unequipped to present my point in a convincing manner.

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"What you just described, Hestia, is a direct result of a lack of organization," Shield said, his tone grim and his brow furrowed likewise. "Players running around, barking orders, trying to keep things contained... It's a rough system, and it makes it easy for players to ignore one another. There's no specific leadership, so we devolve to anarchy at times - 'every man a king,' so to speak."

Shield laid his palms flat on the table, leaning forward. "It's bad news, but it's not what gets players killed. What gets players actually killed is ignoring those who are there to help you. Hell, that hooded girl probably still wants to kill Hirru for defying orders. I've been here long enough to watch players who never should have been in a boss fight get shattered on the first hit. Players have tried to warn people in those cases, but they disregarded warnings and soldiered on. And now they're dead. I'm aware that you don't seem to care sometimes for what other players have to say in fights. I'm also aware that when you don't like what people around you are doing or saying, you adopt a smile and an air of condescension." He held her gaze, unblinking. There was no anger in his eyes, but his jaw was set. "I consider myself an accomplished gamer, and I have been in countless raids before setting foot in the Town of Beginnings. Part of what I learned in that time is that I don't have all the answers, and one mind is almost always less effective than multiple minds. Baldur and Beat have both barked instructions at me in the heat of battle that I've needed to take as gospel despite their plans not agreeing with my initial tactics. I have my pride. You clearly have yours too. You have to be able to put it aside. As do I."

He sat back again, his shoulders loosening and his jaw relaxing a little. "Saying 'I think people follow their instincts, therefore training them won't fix things' is like saying 'I think fire wants to burn, therefore trying to extinguish it won't work.' It is precisely because of the one thing that the other is necessary. We need cohesion. We need teamwork." His eyes rested once again squarely on Hestia. "We need trust. People put their trust in us because we are tanks. They have to if we're going to do our jobs. However, trust is a two-way street. To be a tank and not trust the other players around you is nothing short of insult. It tells others - whether you intend it to or not - that you view yourself as superior, as somehow more knowledgeable than those around you."

"I recognize the irony in someone who you see as forceful and bossy telling you to not act aloof," he said, nodding slightly in recognition of the situation. "However, this bossy player, even in that same fight you referenced, took the criticism of his tactics on the chin and shifted accordingly to allow the experience of others to shape a more complete, safer plan."

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As the conversation continued Calrex listened as Macradon chimed in, pointing out that his previous statement was only half-true. There were, in-fact, multiple quests and other events that had happened in the past where the players had to fight humanoid NPCs, although he did point out that the last raid was the first time that the participants had decided to interact with their opponents rather than merely focusing on taking them down, "You're right, thanks for the correction Mac."

With that it returned once again to the idea of a training bootcamp. The bluenette listened to both Hestia and Shield as they continued going back and forth for a brief time. However, he made sure to extrapolate the object things that were being put forth, and when the two finished he gave a small breath before speaking, "There is an old saying, that the definition of insanity is doing the exact same thing over and over and expecting something different to happen. I think that to some level describes what we have been doing for the past few raids. To some level, we have come far from before, but I guess now we're finally seeing how our old mentality is no longer holding up, especially with so much changing of the guard."

Giving a small stretch he continued, "The people here are in some ways the most essential part of any raid battle, so it is important we are all on the same page to some extent, maybe not 100%, but at least 85-90%. To stay on subject, whether or not we all think a raid training retreat or bootcamp is a good, I would guess that we all at least agree that something needs to be done to start some form of change among the frontline players."

With that his gaze shifted from wide view to address the whole group to between Shield and Hestia as if he was talking to them both in a mire direct manner, "I've seen many discussions in the past, so let me chime in a bit that I see we can potentially be going down a rabbit hole. I'm sure there's more than enough time in the day for everyone to give their thoughts on why the current idea is good or bad, effective or ineffective, so let's change perspective."

With that his eyes shifted over towards Hestia, "As it stands Hestia, you do seem to have a lot of reservations on the training retreat idea, at least in terms of it being an effective solution. If that is the case is there potentially something you might have in mind that might help us better adapt or prepare for this potential type of scenario should it happen again? Even if it's a rough idea, better to have all of our thoughts out on the table so that we can better understand where everyone stands before we all come to a decision."

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Macradon would shrug, the things with him and that other player in green and red was weird to begin with. Macradon starting out to be his superior in the guild, and then the raid leader, still his superior, but when that player finally showed up to take on the job that was Vice Commander, Macradon was at the mercy of that player’s understanding of the dynamic of the frontlines, be it that he was the then superior of Mac, or that Mac was the superior no questions asked for the entire raid on that particular floor. More time or not, as that player said, he didn’t even try to be a better guild mate, nor did Macradon. “I understand, no offense taken” Macradon replied back to Shield after the comment towards his guild. Quickly replying to Calrex with the quick remark, Macradon would finally sport a smile on his lips and say "You're welcome.".

“I think the way the many crafters had begun to show in their shops are Raid Packs, so everyone can jump in, grab whatever they want from the shop before a raid, it’s fast and usually on stock in bulk from what I have understood. If they keep this up, getting prepared for the frontlines is going to be easier from now on.” Macradon commented upon the readiness and planning of frontlines. “I agree that trust, friendship and bonds don’t only come from bootcamp and training, social interactions and casual hangouts contribute to that as well, we should offer all these for the frontliners, for the upcoming frontliners, for whomever may want to try out what it is to be with frontliners, in a casual setting or in a more serious setting. Training is indeed not the only way, but I believe it’s at least what we can deliver at this current time.” he would say and then listen to Calrex's proposal to Hestia, it was a good question to know what else we might be able to deliver.

It seemed like this meeting was going to take a while, so he made a hand gesture towards one of the waiters and ordered a glass and a large pitcher of ice water, pouring a glass for himself, Macradon would take a big glug to hydrate himself and his throat, as this would probably drag out for a while, not that he didn’t want to contribute as much as possible, even if it only were by words alone for now. Looking at Shield, Macradon would wave to get the attention and say “I believe Zandra has begun a quest clearing team, consisting of many smaller parties, clearing quests multiple times to get multiple boss drops like Cerberus Souls and alike. It might be far fetched for now, but if this keeps up as well, getting consumables for the frontlines is gonna help us a bunch.”.

Edited by Macradon

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I look towards Shield as i can feel the very quick want to try and give him my response as fast as possible to make sure that what i am trying to say is understood to some sense, or at the very least keep putting forth more information as more counterpoints are met. However,  i take a moment to just take a small step back as Calrex speaks his mind as i listen to him before i would continue saying anything at all towards Shield's words as i would than glance towards Macradon and nods my head as i smile ever so slightly at hearing what Zandra is doing. Rather happy that the girl is at least doing more things to go and be social with people since it means at the very least that whatever was bothering her during the trouble in the mines or whatever ideas she has about herself she is trying to change one step at a time. I could say multiple thing but i will start with this idea of people trusting tanks. They don't have to trust us indefinitely as pillars of leadership or even people to trust at all. All they need to do is expect us to do our jobs like they expect DPS to hit things, and healers to heal. That is as far as their trust in us needs to go really if we're being honest. Implying that we're anything more without personal trust being their is silly to me at the very least. Secondly, as you said Shield every man views himself as a king when someone needs to step themselves up to leadership, that is at least what i got from when you said that phrase, what makes you see yourself as any different in this moment? We're five people seemingly trying to make a decision that could shape the entire frontlines. I get the reason for it and i agree withe logic of having such small numbers but in the end we're a finite number over a much larger whole, and seemingly you're trying to put yourself and other tanks in that leadership position when they might not be fit for it. I say as i list off the things in my head as they would come to mind as i look towards the senior tank of the frontlines as i would stare him down. Also regarding Hidden the cloaked girl. She would be more worried about trying to kill me probably over Hirru if anything sooo. I'd probably disappear before Hirru would. I say in a matter of fact tone as i smile ever so slightly at that fact still rather happy about my decision to start a police force and put up the wanted posters to try and contain things even if slightly.

I look towards Calrex and nod my head at his words. You're not wrong about me viewing a training retreat as a solution. Since while i can admit that i do think something would need to be changed. I don't know if a training retreat would really change anything if at all with people be it old or new players joining the raid. Since all it takes to break someone who might seem calm and collected and entirely willing to follow an order at a snap moment decision like Hirru had seemed from the Bialas fight, half of the dark council fight, and one or two quests i've been on with him. Which really isn't much honestly. He seemed willing to listen and follow the lead of others, but all it took was for him to believe in something that was right and he acted on it someone that you wouldn't expect. Maybe it's just a difference of opinion but i believe more so in the idea that personal beliefs/morals will always triumph over things like a command from some kind of officer or leadership position handing down an order to conflict with that kind of thing. Though i can't say that i don't have a much better solution so i know that falls under me just whining about it. As a saying i heard once or twice goes. If you are going against a plan without providing a better solution yourself you're just whining about it. I would say to still do these dungeon things and do your idea if you want. Just don't be surprised if people still do whatever they feel like over a battle plan from a tank if that plan would contradict with a personal belief/ideal they have. Though if you are thinking about things like trust formation and other such things. Why don't we just go out of our way to host like events and such by using our own money and not just waiting for the game to tell us we can meetup at some social event? I say as i toss out the only thing i could think of really beyond that as i would shrug m shoulders not really knowing what to do here.

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Baldur listened to the conversation go round and round again, in a mostly unproductive manner, but then something did surprise him. Calrex seemed to find the ability to bridge between Hestia and Shield, and get her to take a step back and realize that doing something, was better than admitting defeat without every trying something. It was an impressive turn of events that Baldur would not have predicted, much like how Hestia had shamed Zandra into cooperation in the previous boss meeting, even if that had not translated to execution in the boss fight itself.

"Gentlemen and lady, we have gotten off track. I think the boot camp, and frontline social events bear merit and further investigation and discussion, but we have more immediate and tangible topics we need to discuss first."

"The reason we're here, doing this" Baldur gestured to the table while he looked at @Hestia "Is not because we're leaders, or will always make the best calls, or that people should always look to tanks for leadership, though I do think that is often the case. What we are doing here, as I said in the beginning, is trying to build understanding and consensus. If all of the tanks beat these topics down, and come to a consensus through reasoned debate, then the others will see that. The frontlines doesn't lack discipline because we don't have leaders, it lacks discipline because that leadership is unprepared. Because everyone has always done their own thing. Because every man thinks they know best. But with this core group, if we can get everyone on the same page, and approach the frontlines with a unified, disciplined front, then the others will fall in. If we establish that acting together, through teamwork, is more effective and beneficial to us all, then the others will fall in line. But if we continue to infight, and let our pride get in the way of sense, then we're going to continue to be our own worst enemy. Often times following a bad plan will still be better than following no plan. We stumbled in the boss fight, but having the raid more or less focus target down the Dark Council was a very effective strategy."

Baldur sighed, as he got a little more heated than he had planned. He needed to heed his own words. At the field boss fight, everyone had ignored his carefully laid and optimal plan for strategies of their own. And he had been faced with the choice of either following a bad plan, or perpetuating the same problem the others at the field boss fight were. If he wanted to prove his point, then he needed to live by his words. He couldn't expect people to do something he was unwilling to do, and it was his principle to never ask someone to do something he was unwilling to do himself.

"Our most pressing point is identifying the core players we have in play. We have 2 healers, Zandra and Ruby, and 2 tanks, Calrex and Shield, with Hestia who can fit in either, but has no one to back her up. So we either need to find someone to tank for Hestia to heal, or someone to heal as Hestia tanks. It seemed like, based on Hestia's suggestions." Baldur gestured to her, giving her credit for being the only one to answer his question, "That we're more likely to raise up a tank for Hestia to heal. So who is the best tank, that is close to tier 3, that we can help prepare for the raid?"

Baldur turned to @Shield, "Wasn't Haz the kid from the event boss fight we just fought? I think he was in the group with Sunova that I met very briefly. I think you knew him, right? What do you think about trying to power level him up to tier 3, and getting him to commit to a pure tank role, rather than going hybrid? He'll need focused howl, and probably parry, to help keep him alive. I would be more than willing to donate my dungeon scrolls to try and get him up in level, and give him some experience tanking something scary."

"@Macradon Do you have any spare Tier 3 tank gear in your shop that could go towards outfitting a new Tier 3 tank? @Calrex do we have anything from the old Spectrum Coalition vault that could be useful?"

Then Baldur addressed the council. "We need other options though. If not Haz, who is out number 2 pick? Are there any up and coming healers?"

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The discussion had indeed gone off track, but it was only for the good of the conversation, but it did seem to have been brought to an end, be it by Baldur’s words or the conclusion of the discussion on what they might be able to do to strengthen the frontliners. Though something else was brought up, Macradon would turn his head towards Baldur as a question was headed his way. Macradon would look down onto the table, take a sip, and think thoroughly. “Nothing T3 in stock atm. But if we need some T3 tank gear, I can probably make a lot of stock pieces like 3 slots Mitigation and that kinda stuff.” Macradon would reply, not too sure if there was any T3 in stock at him, there might be, but he wouldn’t know from the top of his head. It wasn’t much he could contribute with to this discussion, so he would keep shut and drink his water, listening slowly to what everyone were discussing, as he really didn’t know any players heading for the frontlines.

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As Baldur continued the conversation to the next topic Calrex gave a small sigh to himself before letting his ears remain open to what was being discussed next. It seemed now the western samurai was thinking of how to prepare the next in line outside of the immediate picks for different teams, players that were up and coming but not at the maximum tier just yet. Unfortunately for the bluenette, he hadn't been keeping touch with the players in the frontlines. Outside of participating in the occasional events or raids, the Ultramarine Knight had basically become a hermit, only leaving the Amethyst Boutique when something important needed to be done.

Upon hearing his name mentioned, his eyes focused on the man as he heard mention of their previous guild, the Spectrum Coalition. From what he could remember, only he and Oikawa had been given possession of what was in the vault in the past, "Too bad Takao isn't active anymore. It does feel kind of bad that he donated so much to the guild, only for the thing the dissolve later on."

"I'm not exactly sure what remains in terms of actual items from the coalitions vault. The only things I know I received off the top of my head are col and materials, but that's about it. So at best we could use some for crafting new items."

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Shield's eyes remained on Hestia as she spoke. Some of the things he had said had sunk in, while others had missed their marks and been taken in unintended ways. Regardless, it seemed as if most were at least on some basic common ground, even if disagreeing with the solution to the observed issues. He let it go. If topics needed to circle back, they would.

Baldur's questions followed, and Shield's brow furrowed a little. "Haz?" Shield said. "I don't know that name. The only lower level tanks that I know of specifically are Black, who I have not seen in action, and Cosi, who has been a sort of accidental apprentice that I ran into some time ago." Leaning forward, Shield signaled the wait staff as well and mimed a refill for his water. "And time will have to tell on whether the latter is suited for the role. He is definitely a level-headed player, and he has a great deal of humility and ability to see his need for growth." He held up his finger to interrupt his own praise with a concern. "However, his build is a little on the experimental side. He's going full bruiser, with a heavy focus on two-handed offense and relying on a combination of familiar-based mitigation and armor-based evasion for defense, but no shield and no heavy armor mods." The waitress swooped in to take his glass, replacing it with a fresh one before disappearing again to attend to other tables.

"I think he'll do in a pinch, but if we ever encounter anything with the kind of accuracy that the holy Artichoke had during parts of the fight, he'll be in a lot of trouble." He leaned back, sighing a little as he rested his temple on his hand. "Not to mention he's only tier one. He has motivation, but he will take time and close observation."

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I look towards Shield and than grins a bit finding a bit of happiness with myself in the fact that i know a bit more about the lower levels than the higher leveled tank as i look towards Baldur with a nod of my head. When it comes to Haz he is a mix of DPS with the use of a two handed assault spear/Tank already from my understanding of doing quests along with him and that he is married to Neo since i went to their wedding. It was nice but i didn't do much talking since i felt a little out of place. I kinda expect Haz to be close to Tier two if not that already from Neo possibly motivating him forward. If we want a tank as soon as we possibly can get i would recommend Haz, and if not him i would want Black but that is just a bias on my part since Black is like my own apprentice really. I say honestly towards the samurai as i look down towards my familiar and gently pet his head and scratch underneath his chin with a happy smile on my face as i can hear the slight sound of something akin to a purring like noise. Also with Black he is a paralyze build tank he kinda took a shine to paralysis after i gave him my tier one gear and the fact when he used it he kept somehow activating paralysis in rapid succession. I explain realizing i didn't do that like i had done for Hazado to make sure there is as much perspective as possible upon the available tanks that the group knows of. Also, Baldur you say that the rest of the frontlines could possibly fall in line to whatever decision we make here. However, there is also the possibility that they would disagree with us on whatever decision we make here and since they would be the majority they could go off doing their own thing still. I know that isn't a high probability i am just stating that if you truly believe that your one idea is a guaranteed that their is at least a different route this could all go and that their is never just one or two solutions but many different ones that could lead to the same goal or a entirely different one based on the same actions. I say towards the man hoping that i at least phrased my words correctly to try and get my point across.

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