Sinners Among Saints

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The Sinners Among Saints (SAS) is a competitive online gaming group of close friends (guild) that was founded in 1996 by Rivan of SAS and Aries of SAS. The group has evolved to have members of all walks of life including climatologists, lawyers, game developers, entrepreneurs and ex-convicts. Members of the guild are all over the world including; North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The guild is known for it's highly competitive play-style, also known as "power-gamers", in several online games. The early years of the guild, 1996 through 2004, they were strongly concentrated in Ultima Online, over the last decade though they have fanned out into communities across many different games.

Sinners Among Saints



Power Gamers


Guild photo in front Rivan's keep circa 2002


The SAS was founded in 1996 by Rivan and Aries during the Closed Beta of the MMORPG Ultima Online on the Pacific shard. The original name of the guild was Sosarian Armed Services and was intended to be a mercenary guild with the name being created from the game story lore of the Ultima Series. The guild would transform over time to become one of the most feared guilds in the history of UO and other games. As the guild expanded into other games, it became necessary to adopt a new name that had a more global application. Circa 2000 the guild was renamed by NeXuS to Sinners Among Saints.

1996 - The Founding

Rivan started the SAS in 1996 after a friend had showed him the beta test of the game. They were both bewildered that this game had the ability to let you play online, not with three or four of your friends, but with 100s of people in real-time. Rivan was immediately struck with this new type of game and started the Sosarian Armed Services to have people to play with. While the beta was out, it was only available to people who had paid EA 5 dollars to have the CD shipped. There would be a public access beta test in a few weeks where anyone could download the client files and play. This gave Rivan time to start recruiting for his new clan, the Sosarian Armed Services, a name drawn from lore within the game.

The following months we're spent putting together an initial version of the website, still accessible on the Wayback machine, and recruiting potential players to dive into the Beta with. The primary recruitment channel was an application called Kali. Kali was a program that allowed gamers to play games that were LAN only over the internet together by tweaking their network settings. For weeks Rivan combed individual channels with a spam message asking people to come play Ultima Online with him. This was how he found the original members of the clan, and also his co-founder Aries of SAS. Over the years Aries would start to help with the general clan management and creating technology to enhance game clients for the SAS members.

1997 - Ultima Online - Beta Pacific

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The initial concept for the Sosarian Armed Services was a role-playing mercenary clan, and it was with this mindset that Rivan and Aries rolled out recruitment for the clan. When Ultima Online finally went into an Open Beta a few weeks later, they had assembled a small clan of power-gamers to play the game with. The release of the open beta was rocky, the client was over 1 GB and everyone was on 28k modems at the time. It took literally days for the downloads to complete, and when it did users were met with long server down times, hour long server saves, and terrible lag. The clan played on the Beta Pacific server.

Ultima Online was one of the first MMORPGs ever created and little was known about how online gaming communities worked at the time. The original creators of Ultima, Richard Garriot, Starr Long, & Raph Koster, had no idea how people would interact with another but theorized that if they created a large open world with little rules, the community would create their own rules and systems. This game design allowed for a number of game dynamics that made Ultima extremely unique when compared to modern day games, one of which was the act of "player killing". The ability to murder another person's online character, and thus stealing all of their belongings. Very quickly after the launch of the game, players started to break down into their own communities, forming intense rivalries. The communities were the start of the guilds and conflicts that would create the overall society of the game and give Ultima it’s rich flavor. Almost immediately, players started killing each other. Some did it because of grudges, some did it because they were protecting friends, others started doing it simply to gain wealth. Very quickly after launch, Aries and Rivan were able to discover that you could amass more wealth and reputation through killing other players instead of the normal gameplay paths. This was a defining moment in the history of SAS because it would dictate the guilds style of play for the next two decades.

Disguising themselves as Fishermen, Aries and Rivan used to hang out on the docks on the south end of Trisnic where they would prey on the frequent ship captains that came into port. On one such occasion, they hijacked a boat and took it the Ice Island where they had their infamous encounter with Lord British, aka Richard Garriot.

1997 Ultima Online - Pacific


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At the time of launch SAS had grown to be around 15 people including; Rivan of SAS, Aries, Rotifer, Gertrude, Skeletor, GrandElf, GodOfFear and more. Within the first week, everyone had received their copies of the game through the mail and started their first characters in Trinsic at the Rusty Anchor Inn.

One of the guild's first enemies was the “Lords of Evil” or LoE. The beginnings of this war occurred when Rivan used a house break in bug to steal a Chaos Shield from their leader, Charger. The house was located on a small island off the coast of the Trinsic and Rivan had used a Gate Travel bug to gain access to the house by gating under the door. At the time, Chaos shields could only be gotten through a bug that involved hours of work killing the guards in Lord Blackthorn's castle. The shields were both very rare and very expensive.

On the Pacific server, the guild made it’s home on the island of Hyloth with a guildhouse on the north side of the island between two mountains. Here they trained blacksmiths and often adventured into the depths of Hyloth.

1997 to 2002 - Ultima Online - Sonoma

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1997 - Sonoma Launch

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The Sonoma Shard launched on December 13th, 1997, only a few months after the game went gold. Having used the Pacific shard to grow in notoriety and learn the ins & the outs of the game, the guild decided to move from the Pacific shard to the Sonoma Shard and essentially start over with everyone else. Armed with the knowledge they had acquired over the last two months on Pacific, they were poised to be an early power on the new Shard.

This is where the real history of the guild begins. The guild moved to Sonoma the day it went live in and was immediately established as a Player Killer guild. A common theme among members was to put "of SAS" at the end of their names, players such as Rivan of SAS and Aries of SAS could be seen running through Sonoma in the very early days creating havoc around them. Since Sonoma was a new shard, and the SAS had already experience working together and combining resources, they quickly became a dominant force on the shard.

The earliest clan war the SAS had was with the Chaotic Horde led by Jeitarium. This was a group of Player Killers that was based in the Southern Trinsic jungles area with a tower near the spawn point. Being that SAS also used the Trinsic area there were many altercations in the first few months of the server. Even though they had an intense rivalry, the clans still had mutual respect, and along with Company of the Damned (CoTD) would shape the early PvP scene on the Shard. Many of their members from both CH and CoTD would join the SAS as time progressed. The SAS had a strange habit of recruiting their members from former rival guilds.

The guild continued to grow in membership by attracting quality players but also consolidating other guilds. By the middle of 1998 membership had blossomed to 40+ with notable clan members including ChaoS, ArKaiNe, MoneyMaker, True Pimp, MasterMind, Psycho the Ripper, Drizzt Do-Urden, DragonMaster Dyn, Rainfall and SHADOW. Along with Rivan and Aries, these characters were making a name for SAS as one of the most dominant PK guilds in the game. Rivan also started climbing the ranks at the Oasis Fight Nights, first as a contender and then as a terrorist which contributed to their notoriety.

During this time the south bank of Trinsic became the home for the Sinners Among Saints. People looking to make contact with the guild would loiter around the bank waiting for members to appear to strike up conversation. One of these players was known as Leo of EW. Leo was a new player that belonged to a guild for new players that Rivan & Aries had decimated in a 10 to 2 fight a few months earlier at their house near Hyloth. Leo was anxious to join the clan but lacked experience playing the game, and hung around Trinsic bank looking for a way to become a member of the clan.

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During this time is when SHAD0W purchased and placed his tower in the South of Trinsic swamp… Deep in the forest there was a single splotch of land just large enough for a tower. The tower was placed during the first 3 months of Sonoma and at first it was Shadow’s residence. In a strange coincidence of circumstances, Rivan met Shadow the day he placed that tower and helped him get the last couple thousand gold to purchase the deed. Rivan then also accompanied him and Blood Dog through the South of Trinsic swamps to place the tower. As time went on though, this tower became the home and guild house of the Sinners Among Saints on the Sonoma shard. The guild had many other structures, including a keep and tower complex to the east of Britain, but the tower was the longest standing structure and the one that was used most often. This tower was a beacon for the guilds presence on Sonoma for years to come.

SAS would also form bonds with other guilds on Sonoma. After the falling of the Chaotic Horde and Company of the Damned the members of these guilds would split up to either join up with the SAS or be the founding members of the Fires of Heaven (FoH).

1998 June - The Reputation Patch

In the spring of 1998 Origin released a publish known as the Reputation System which implemented Stat Loss for “Murderers”. This meant that "red" players, or "player killers" could no longer continue to murder innocent players with their only penalty not being able to return to town. The Dread Lord days had come to an end, and many of the formerly red players were turned back to blue in a one-time amnesty and allowed to return to town. Many Ultima players remember this day, as it was the first time that the players that had been murdering them in the forests were now being seen with blue names at the bank. This was also the first time a number of SAS players were able to enter town on their main characters without being insta-killed by the guards.

Initially emotions ran high. A lot of guilds revolted to this Player Killer “nerf” and left the game. In other cases we saw guilds shattered and new ones form out of the fragments. In SAS’s case it was a time for transformation. The guild had lost some of it's "player killer" members and had to restructure itself and organize better to compete in the new era of Guild wars in town. With the release of the patch, not only were murders nerfed, but now guilds could war each other in town with no penalties. Gone were the days of fighting deep inside the dungeons of Covetus & Deceit and now the battlefield were the more structured and tactical town areas such as Trinsic. It was also during this era that Leo of EW created his new character, MRGrimm of SAS, and followed the guild until he was granted admittance.

And with guild wars… A whole new chapter began. The game became less about who had the highest body count, now we had to become organized and focused on attacking our enemies.

1999 to 2002 - SAS vs. BLD War

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One of the longer standing wars was with the Blood Clan which lasted for several years. The Blood Clan was an anti-pk guild who prided themselves on protecting the players of Sosaria from "power gamers". The Blood Clan previously would organize large groups of players in town, and then gate into areas with player killers in force, using their huge numbers to their advantage. However now with the new Guild War system, the SAS was able to enter town and fight them in their home town of Vesper. The SAS was used to their characters never having a safe zone, however this was a new dynamic for the Blood Clan.

The BLD was not the most skilled group of players on the server, however they had huge numbers and organized well. The SAS were frequently outnumbered in battles simply due to large number of players they had on their stone. These battles became vicious quickly and a huge rivalry emerged between Rivan of SAS, MRGrimm of SAS & the BLD founders Grunk Half Orc and rukNar the Orc. As the war ragged on, it became a server side conflict between the former Player Killers of the server and the Anti-Player Killers from the server. Many guilds combined under the Sonoma Syndicate Guild stone in order to grow numbers and organize better.

The SAS guild continued to grow in order to adapt to the new battle landscape. During this time more notable players joined the clan including Jodocast, PaLoudaq, Blood Crypt, Barbe, Dakkon, NeXuS, of Mutilation, Skid, God II, and Corn Pops.

This war would last for years. As time went on the interest and intensity slowly dwindled as more and more members left each stone. Eventually, the war was brought to a halt. There was no clear winner, just a lot of bloodied and battered participants. What remained on both sides was a totally reformed guild, with a new structure and dozens of new members that would shape the shard for years to come. The Blood Clan was a serious foe that were not to be taken lightly, and although they would remain enemies on the field, many of them were able to form friendships and bonds between the two guilds.

2002 - The End of the Beginning

After the war with BLD the guild began to fan out to other games and other shards, growing their total reach, but also loosing their hold on the Sonoma shard. With the game being more than four years old at this time, people were starting to quit the game and head to greener pastures. The SAS as it was known on Sonoma slowly began to return to it's roots, a smaller tight knit guild of dedicated players. Although the SAS had always prided itself on being among the elite in PvP, as the team got older they started valuing friendship more than winning and new additions to the guild were based more on contribution than skill level.

The first few wars helped create the structure and the principals of the type of guild that the Sinners Among Saints would become. The history continued through new Ultima Online servers, Counterstrike, Asheron's Call, World of Warcraft, Lineage, and many many more.

1999 June - Ultima Online - Siege Perilous Test


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During the first year of the game's release, OSI quickly realized that the Player Killing rule set that made the game fun for a small cohort of users was destroying it for the larger player base. To solve this problem, they introduced the Siege Perilous Test server which they hoped would make all of the power-gamers move to one server and leave the rest of the general population alone. This server was called the Siege Perilous shard. This server was supposed to be a throwback to the “old days”. It was a server without stat loss for murderers, without vendor buy backs, limited skill gains, and only one character per account. This server was intended to be tough and present a challenge to even the most seasoned UO player, hence the name.

When the server was announced, the SAS knew that it would be a good environment for them to hone their PvP skills. The guild recruited many of their members form the Sonoma shard and logged in on the first day of the "Siege Perilous Test" server, which was supposed to turn into the Siege Perilous server. There were dozens of our former rivals on this shard and many potential new ones as well. All of the ingredients were there for another legendary chapter in the history of our guild.

The guild started fast out of the gate, grinding the gold quickly to secure a boat to travel to Deceit, here they were able to farm a large amount of gold and ultimately secure a house and a guild stone. The guild was excited, they were now fighting legendary guilds from all of the Ultima Online Shards, not just Sonoma.

The most extreme battle that was had in the early days of the shard featured a guild called SSJ who had also just started on the server. With the server only being a couple of days old, most of the characters were newbies with no magery and non-master level combat skills. One evening, while hiding near the docks, the SAS managed to gain access to a boat that was owned by the SSJ. They got onto the boat through an unlocked plank and murdered the one character already on board, only to discover that two more were hidden. After a battle of a few minutes, Aries and Rivan were both killed. In an act of defiance though, as ghosts we stood on the open plank making it impossible for the owner of the boat to lock it.

For hours, the rest of the SAS sailed around the globe trying to catch up with the boat that we were on, in hopes that they would be able to jump on the open plank and slay the rest of the SSJ. Finally after a few hours, the SSJ guys docked at Moonglow for a few seconds to get supplies. BC & Kewl Hand Luke quickly arrived to the scene, jumped on the boat and murdered everyone.

Now the tables were turned though... The SAS had control of the boat but the ghosts of the SSJ were now standing on the planks, making it impossible to lock. They quickly returned to Trinsic on the boat to get restocked and then immediately set sail before the SSJ could catch them. They sailed the boat through the night, hoping that if they could stay awake until the servers rebooted for maintenance... They would be able to sail away before the ghosts logged in and he would be booted to shore, allowing them to drydock the vessel. No such luck though, after server down the ghost and the SAS members logged in at the same time. This was looking hectic... They were now moving into day two of the battle for this boat.

In another strange turn of events... The SSJ were allies with a guild called The Fuckheads back on their home server of Atlantic. The Fuckheads had also spent some time on Sonoma battling the SAS and CoTD and the guilds knew each other well. MRGrimm and Rivan also had a vendetta with one of their members named "P*****e". The Fuckheads, getting the call from their SSJ allies, logged onto the server in bulk and jumped on their boat to come after the SAS and to SSJ's rescue.

The next day had already started and many of the SAS were exhausted from a night with no sleep trying to keep the boat under their control, however they knew that this battle couldn't go on much longer. So they hatched a plan - a simple one. All the SAS would get on the boat and hide, with only Rivan standing in a death robe on the boat. He was the bait to the trap.

After an hour of preparation, the team stopped the boat in the middle of the ocean with only Rivan on it and the rest of the team hidden. Within 30 minutes the boat filled with F-Heads and SSJ troops pulled up. They immediately pulled up side to side with our boat and started trying to run aboard. After everyone was on board, Rivan yelled "forward" to the ships captain and boat took off while the rest of the SAS members unhid. A gruesome brawl ensued on the highly lagged oceans. Corpses were appearing everywhere and people seemed unable to heal themselves. Finally as the tide of battle was swinging in their favor, Rivan stopped the boat and they started to clean up the last few SSJ and Fuckheads that were left.

The boat was covered in bodies but there was a clear victor. After resurrecting the dead SAS members, they dropped off the enemy ghosts in Moonglow where they finally disembarked. They then also returned to the original boat the Fuckheads had arrived in. Everyone except for Rivan got off the SAS boat and onto the Fuckheads boat to declare victory. Rivan decided to go and dry dock his boat at this point. After pulling away from the group though, Rivan discovered that there was a hidden person at the helm of the ship! After a few seconds of using detect hidden... a familiar person appeared. "P*****e" was still on the boat, hiding like a coward while his friends were all killed. Rivan pulled out his Halberd and fought him... but it was clear Rivan's character was more advanced and killed him on the ship, laden down with loot, in a 1 on 1 situation. That would be the last time MGRimm or Rivan would ever see or hear of that player again.

Unfortunately for the SAS the server had a name attached to it, Test. It was evident now that Origin had planned to wipe the server the entire time. They were trying to see what methods people would use to advance the fastest. They saw that many guilds were gaining at an accelerated rate, something they had wanted to prevent or at least make difficult on this new server. The server was wiped in the days after the battle, and with it all of the SAS's possessions including, boats, houses, gold, skills, guild stone etc. Although there were many of them that wanted to still play the new “improved” server, many did not. At this point many of the SAS members who played on Siege Perilous Test went back to Sonoma and started fighting in the multi-year long BLD vs SAS war. The players that stayed on Siege Perilous did so under a new guild tag, Disciples of the Moment (DTM), led by Meursalt & the late Orin Warrick (RIP).

A potentially great chapter in the history of the guild was lost with the wipe. The SAS may have had a very different history if that wipe hadn't occurred. It wasn't that the guild wasn't up to the challenge, it was that many members did not have the energy to start over again after so much time had been invested.

2003 to 2004 - In Por Ylem


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The last Ultima resurgence for the SAS was on the free shard In Por Ylem, a non-official shard that used the 1999 UO ruleset run by a volunteer named Azaroth. During the time on this shard, the SAS managed to completely populate "Marble Island" off the coast of Trinsic with homes all owned by the SAS. It was the SAS island.

2005 - UO Redemption


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Text and Graphics coming. Participants - Nexus, Druidkin, Lakkin, Pagan, Ugod, haties, Blood Crypt, Rivan, Aries, Rostrax, Parker, Tyreal, Myst, Cloud, Du Hast, Cleaner, Garby

2009 - UO Hybrid


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Text and Graphics coming. Participants - Nexus, Druidkin, Lakkin, Pagan, Ugod, haties, Blood Crypt, Rivan, Aries, Rostrax, Parker, Tyreal, Myst, Cloud, Du Hast, Cleaner, Garby

Other Information

Trinsic "Trinny"

The City of Trinsic is sacred for SAS. This is the area where many of the guilds long term members were recruited, this is the area they started the game in Beta, and logged out for the final time when they left the game. Many of the guild did their initial player killing in the Trinsic spawn area, specifically the southern peninsula known as "Trinny Pen". SHAD0W's famous tower "The Devil's Own" was placed and kept in the southern Trinsic jungles for the duration of the SAS's history on the shard. This would serve as a base for the guild for years to come and is a major part of their history.

The town of Trinsic itself is where they fought many wars, with guild's using the area to target SAS members. The group that hung out at the Southern Trinsic Bank was known as the "Trinny Crew". Not everyone who was in the "Trinny Crew" was a part of SAS, but they all held ties to the guild in one way or another and helped them by blue healing during guild wars. SAS members & friends who needed help only had to recall to the top of the bank and let the call out and within minutes they had a "Trinny Crew" assembled to confront their enemies.

Trinny was a weapon for the SAS in guild wars. They knew every pathway on the walls, often referred to as the "Trinny Tunnels", and they would use these to their advantage in fights. Many times when outnumbered you, SAS members teleport to a sweet spot up on the wall was unknown to most players, eventually one of the four or five enemies would find it and follow foolishly separating himself from his guildmates. There was a time during guild wars when you couldn't use magic in town. The trick was to get people to follow you along the walls until the "You have left the protection of the guards." message appeared. At that point they’d susceptible to damage from magery. There were a lot of complaints of the guild cheating by using that strategy.

That was one of the best parts about Ultima Online, guilds were able to identify themselves with a territory.

Cultural Significance

The SAS & their play style had an impact in the way Ultima's designers crafted the game post launch and also helped form modern MMORPG game design. The initial idea that Raph Koster, Richard Garriott, and Starr Long was to create a world as open as possible and let the players & community police itself. This idea changed as they moved forward, realizing that the player base was more toxic than they had originally anticipated. In a post-mortem at the GDC called "Postmortem of Ultima Online", Raph & Starr talk at length about this. One particular episode they recant is an adventure of terrorism that Rivan and Aries embarked upon with an alternate character named Tinker Boy.

From Rivan's Blog

So... I just recently saw a speech by Starr Long, Raph Koster, and some of the other developers of UO at the Game Developers Conference and amazingly... they briefly touch on our terrorist character Tinker Boy! You can see the speech here:

Back circa 1999, you used to be able to "chain" together several purple potions. If you put a few on the ground, then you detonated another one nearby, they would all explode at once causing enough damage to kill anyone nearby!

I'd been using wooden boxes full of purple potions to kill people in battles for a while, but hadn't used it for anything "big". Finally we had an event on the Sonoma shard called "Fight Night" which was a weekly event held on Sunday evenings. Hundreds of players would come show up and watch players battle it out inside of some GM made cages in an organized tournament. Given the way the game worked though, hundreds of players would cram up against the sides of the cage on the same tiles. (This also created incredible lag). One Sunday evening though, I hatched my plan and brought my character to the fighting pits. I waited until about halfway through a match when the population was at its highest... dropped a wooden box full of purple potions, used my axe on it to break it, and then detonated the first one in the middle of the biggest congregation of players.

I remember it like yesterday - the countdown on the screen started and people were just annoyed, thinking no one could get killed by a single purple potion. When the thing detonated though... my entire computer locked up for about 15 seconds, and when it finally came back... I was looking at the grey screen of death with hundreds of bodies on the ground and hundreds of ghosts walking around freaking out. To make matters worse - because it was Fight Night everyone was wearing their best gear that took them months to collect.

People who were on the outside of the blast radius came running in to start looting, most of them immediately turning grey. Other opportunists started attacking them, and because there was so much on the screen, everyone was lagged to hell and auto-defending and dieing before they could recover from the lag.

It was... amazing. The next morning, (Monday) OSI immediately patched out a fix that made it so that axes didn't break boxes anymore, thus making this impossible to quickly put 10 potions on the ground at once.

After seeing this speech, I sent Starr Long a message through LinkedIn telling him I was TinkerBoy and got this response. :

Starr Long has sent you a message.
Date: 1/09/2013
Subject: RE: GDC Talk - I was Tinker Boy!
So nice to e-meet you Alexander. Your letter brought a huge smile to my face.