When a positive and inclusive environment thrives, we at Visionary Realms know that it can only mean great things for our amazing supporters. Our highlighted community member this month, Therek, spends a vast amount of time welcoming and interacting with both veteran and new discoverers of Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen. Under his watch, PantheonPlus has become one of the largest unofficial communities for the game, and with it excitement and knowledge thrives. PantheonPlus welcomes all feedback, and does so in a way that respects the individuals that make up the community. As if that work was not enough, Therek has also become one of the foremost community experts on the deep lore of Terminus. As he weaves a story about the community he loves, he also untangles the mysteries within the world we all can’t wait to inhabit. Let’s learn a bit more about this Elven Ranger Loremaster.
Hi Therek, why don’t you go ahead and tell us a bit about yourself?
One might think after age 40, I would have some interesting way of describing myself, have fantastic tales of adventure to share, or even a funny story or two. As it turns out, that’s not the case. I’m kind of just a regular guy. But life has been good to me and I’ve managed to find a group that includes a wife and two teenage sons. When I’m not playing dad taxi, doggy daycare provider, or killer of household spiders, I still manage to get some gaming in now and then. It all started in the early 90s with the classic Sierra and Lucasarts games, which will always hold a special place in my heart. Since that time it’s been all about MMOs, sprawling RPGs, and the occasional turn-based strategy game. When you consider how games have evolved since that time, I’m always grateful that I can still find the magic in games after all these years.
How did you first hear about Pantheon?
I’ll have you know I did a deep dive into my Twitter feed history to answer this question! So in January 2014, I shared the Kickstarter on Twitter, so it was around that time I must have heard about it from some gaming news outlet. I was jazzed that Brad McQuaid was getting back into game development, and based on that, supporting the project was definitely one of those easy decisions to make. Staying on the mailing list kept me aware that the project was still going over the next few years before I dove back in headfirst in 2018 and started to follow much more closely.
What got you into the fansite PantheonPlus?
Two things really. Firstly, having watched MMOs rise and fall over the years (or not even get to the rising stage), I knew a strong fan base was going to be essential for a game like Pantheon to succeed. I wanted Pantheon to exist and felt like I had the time and energy to do whatever I could to help make that a reality. Secondly, a problem we see often in fan communities is communication breakdown. I saw that PantheonPlus was doing a radio-style call-in show called PantheonPlus You, and I thought it was a perfect solution to both of these issues. So, I sent an email offering my writing skills to the fansite and became a regular caller to the show. Next thing you know, I’m making lore videos, co-hosting the show, starting a podcast, and working with the team to develop PantheonPlus as a fansite. It’s been amazing, and one of the best experiences of my life.
Given that you deal with a lot of community members, how important is it to keep a positive environment?
It’s very important. I’m struck by how many folks I come across in the Pantheon community are incredibly fatigued by the negative voices that seem so amplified, not only in the gaming sphere but in our daily lives. Tons of people are just looking for a place where it’s just easy-going, rational people who want to share and enjoy something they are excited about. We all have our critiques and annoyances, but it’s too easy to fall into the spiral of pessimism and frustration without positivity baked into the foundation of a community. So that is one of the meanings of the “Plus” in PantheonPlus – a belief that with positivity in our core values, we can navigate the ups and downs of this journey.
What challenges do you typically face with running a fansite like PantheonPlus?
The biggest challenge I’ve found is just time management. Fortunately, PantheonPlus is a team effort. With Draq, Desryn, Sparoh, and Bountycode, not to mention all the other folks in the community, we have a lot of creative and hard-working people who share the vision for what PantheonPlus is all about. Also, the challenge to keep making interesting and fun content is something I’m always mindful of. I never want to be just wasting people’s time when they consume our content. But when I’m feeling at a loss for ideas, that’s where our team steps up, and vice versa. Draq dreams up a new community event, Desryn starts a new discussion or Sparoh and Bountycode take on a new MMO to stream. And I would be remiss to not mention a certain Rogue who started all this but has since moved on to other creative Realms. It was his passion and attitude that inspired me!
Being so active in the Pantheon community can take its toll, how do you manage your expectations and remain positive?
It certainly can! Staying creative is probably the best strategy I know. Writing, making videos, and having interesting discussions make the time go by much faster. That is why I think lore is the one area that I’ve gravitated towards. It offers glimpses into the world, but also leaves room for wonder and speculation (of which I have done more than my fair share!). I have to give a ton of credit to VR on this one as I feel like the company has its finger on the pulse when it comes to managing expectations. It feels like the community is along for the ride, and VR has embraced that approach.
Are you in a guild or do you run with friends and family?
I’m in the Plus Guild and I could not ask for a better bunch of folks! We even have a Guild mascot; A Bear. This replaces a “No Bears” policy that was previously in place by a former Guild council member who shall remain nameless. We now embrace all bears!
Is there a specific feature or mechanic in Pantheon that stands out to you?
Perception, perception, perception. The way it has been detailed, it marries all the things I enjoy about games. Non-linear storytelling, detail-oriented lore discovery, and the social aspect of being a historian/lore keeper. And with the recent updates that it is getting more integrated into the adventuring side of things, I feel like it now has that social value that makes MMOs unique. Just give me that Keeper’s Tome now and I’ll be on my way kind sir.
Speaking on Perception, your “specialty” in the community is your attention to the lore. Can you tell us what about the lore grabs your attention and how you piece it together in your lore videos?
Like a really good piece of music, well written lore evokes an emotional response. I remember reading Pantheon’s lore the first time and having this powerful feeling of exhilaration. Each race’s backstory evoked different emotions as well. From the powerful ogre legions that lived in balance on Ghorrok, but were now broken and divided on Terminus, to the once cursed Halflings of Hiryth that were this mix of mirth and vengeance now; they all really made me feel something. And that is what I latched on to when trying to explore the lore in video form – trying to convey those feelings to other Pantheon fans. As for how I piece it all together, I would describe it as being one third memory, one third document searches, and one third “interpretation.” And as more and more lore is published, the memory part is becoming less and the searching is becoming more as my organic hard drive fills up. But it’s the “interpretation” part that is really where the fun of it lies. Good lore, in my humble opinion, leaves space for questions, mysteries, and the idea that there may be a bigger unseen picture. JN Gerhart does a wonderful job with this, and has been a really good sport when my lore explorations have gone pretty far afield. But who knows, maybe I’ve been right about some things too? I cannot wait to get into Terminus and prove all my theories!
What will be your go-to main class and race in Pantheon?
I’m certainly going to play an Ember Elf Ranger. Ember Elves seem to be this new and interesting aspect of the Elven society that embraces a more proactive approach to the world at large, which resonates with me. And I feel like Pantheon is the MMO that will finally make Rangers the OP class they have long been denied. And if not, well it will at least be a familiar class.
Finally, is there anything you would like to say to your fellow community members?
Seize the day! Pantheon is why we’re all here. For all those past MMOs you’ve played where you felt like you didn’t accomplish something you set out to do or didn’t connect with others in ways you wish you had or gave up on too quickly… your chance will come again. And when it does, in the words of a famous captain, engage! Let’s make this world a vibrant home for everyone. Cheers!
We would like to thank Therek for taking some time out of his busy schedule to talk about his amazing work with the PantheonPlus community. From lore to engagement, we can’t thank him enough for his support and fostering a welcoming environment for all fans of Pantheon: Rise of the Fallen.
We are thankful for the amazing stories our community has shared thus far with us. Do you have a story about how MMORPGs have made a difference in your life? Has it driven your creative urges? Has it made you a better leader? Has it helped you overcome difficulties in your life? We’d love to hear your tale, and show why community truly matters. Drop us a line in the forums.