The Guilds of Neverwinter Nights are what made the game as immersive
as it was, from the first guild to the last. These groups of players all
rallied under private banners, and took the roleplaying of the game to
new heights with mock wars, intrigues, and huge fairs and events.
The guild community developed into a beast all its own, and the game
guides soon found themselves setting up rules and regulations to forming
guilds, and decided upon a recognition system for established guilds.
After a few years, the guild system was fairly set in place, with older
guilds termed "Sanctioned" by Neverwinter, and younger formed guilds termed
"Unsanctioned". The only difference between the two systems were that
sanctioned guilds had public and private message boards hosted by AOL,
and unsanctioned only retained public boards. And of course the status
quo of being sanctioned...
Guilds were not limited to game recognition, and many secret or new guilds
formed inside the game, but did not have the use of a guild message board.
They were also not listed on any official guild bulletins, etc, but they
could form in-game and travel as a group. Many groups did this to bolster
their membership in hopes of becoming unsanctioned, and then sanctioned.
The power and community of these guilds is so strong, that many of them
survive to this day, years after the game has shut down. See the sanctioned
and unsanctioned guild pages for more details.