*Note: I myself have not done any of the new raid content. All members in my guild, myself included, are still primarily focusing on attaining gear and getting drops from the group zones. We also have 2 raid forces, one is a casual raid that anyone in the guild is welcome to sign up for, the other is a progressive raid force, that does the tougher content on their own, thus gearing up to later on help everyone else get into and do that same content*
Is it a common thing for guilds to help new players in the easier raids? From my understanding the dungeon running method requires hundreds of shard collections over a period of months.
Yes. As long as you are in a large enough guild (or just one that has a good base of players to form groups with), the community in general is always willing to help someone out. My guild still does some of the Sentinels Fate content, mainly because many are trying to gear up for Velious zones, so at the moment we would be little more than an annoyance to the new raid content.
The raid dungeons do pretty much require you to have higher end gear from the group zones, public quests, or from gathering shards in the group zones to buy higher end gear, or have it crafted. However the group zones in the new content are doable buy a full group with a mix of quested and public raid gear. So dont fret it unless you are a tank. (Tanks will want to have very high Crit Mit before attempting most Group zones, and definitely before attempting to tank in any new raids).
Could you estimate the likelyhood of being geared over some given period of time, considering some standard properties you might have observed through personal experience?
The best way, is to find a dedicated group of friends (usually guild mates, or other players that you've grouped with and know how to balance each other). First and foremost I would highly suggest that if you are 86 or higher, run as many of the Public Quests as you possibly can! The armor from there is basically raid starting gear, and will immensely help you out while starting to do group zones, and possibly the raid ones as well.
Also, could you comment on the difficulty of dungeons, whether or not they are commonly done, and the likelyhood of joining a guild that would assist with gearing?
Ive only done a few new dungeons, Tower of Frozen Shadow, Umbral Halls, something else, and Kael Drakkel. The first few weeks these were a bit tougher...because not everyone in my usual group was as geared as they are now. Shortly after their release though, SoE did nerf most of the dungeons making them noticeably easier. For example: We just ran Kael the other day..with the same group that had done it prior to the zone nerfs...and we were blasting through all the trash like it was nothing...and we even managed to get down many of the names that we previously had not been able to handle.
As for joining a guild that will assist you with gearing: Any guild worthwhile should be doing this. Not everyone follows this mantra but, helping others helps yourself! If you group with the same Tank/Healer on a regular basis..gearing them up will benefit everyone else in that group as well.
The main drawback is if you join a guild that only lets certain players do that content (usually the elite few). That comes with the territory and can only be discovered through trial and error though.