Over the years I have written a series of articles concerning life on Role Play servers offering bits of information to help others have a more rewarding RP experience. Here you will find those articles in one convenient place. As more are added they will be included here.
RP 101: Welcome to a Role Play Server!
(Importing my RP 101 articles from my old blog)
(NOTE: Written when I still played on Feathermoon server)
Recently I met a couple really great players in a random from Stormscale Server. They were saying they were disappointed in their current server and were considering transferring to a roleplay server. Well of course myself and Benemus (who was also in the group) were more than happy to extol the virtues of Feathermoon server. And after advising them it might be best to roll a baby here first before transferring level 80 characters to the server we felt like we’d had a good day.
Later I began thinking about some of the things we, having “grown up” on a role play server, might take for granted. How could one explain the minor technical details? The odd server “history”? Where would one begin to help someone coming to the server as a level 80 understand and not feel overwhelmed by the RP atmosphere and feel the need to retreat into non-rp just to survive?
I’m sure others have their own ideas of where they would start so feel free to add your bits and pieces in the comments but here is the information I would give to someone just coming to a role play server.
“WTF is up with the (( )) ?”
Bracketing is a form of indicating one is speaking out of character. It can look many ways. Double parentheses (( )), singles ( ), brackets [ ] or any number of other bracketing form. The most common is the double parentheses.
By indicating that one is speaking out of character, they are saying “You are speaking to the player right now, not the character.” It’s good to know the difference (in case the character is particularly abrasive).
Sometimes a group will indicate that Group chat is automatically OOC while /say is automatically IC. In such a case, when speaking in group, (( )) is not necessary. There is no standard as to what channels are IC and which are OOC. It is entirely subjective depending on who you’re with…. With one exception.
“/say Chuck Norris ROXXORS!”
…. Please don’t. /say should always be assumed to be an IC channel. Though they don’t enforce it, Blizzard has designated it as such on role play servers. If you MUST speak OOC in /say, please bracket. No, not everyone does it. No, not everyone is going to be bothered by it if you talk about Chuck Norris, your latest Facebook picture or how much cheese it takes to make a really good Welsh rarebit… but why start off in bad habits? If you want to play on a role play server then start off in a good way and keep good habits all the way through.
“Dude! Where’s your armor?!”
Likely what you’re seeing is their RP clothes. Don’t worry, that warrior doesn’t really fight in that lavender mageweave shirt. RP clothes are pieces that are kept strictly for appearance. Who wants to sit around in smelly old leather armor all day? Who wants to sit down to have a drink with friends while their unmentionables are being pinched by armor plates?
Most role players have at least one set of rp clothes. Some of us have entire bags of clothing for different occasions. Robes for special occasions, overalls for schlumping around, shorts and vest for swimming. There are some great outifits out there.
For those brand new to the server, talk to the first tailor you make friends with and I’m sure they’d be more than happy to toss together some basic starter RP clothes. There are some really good linen, wool and silk pieces that are tailor crafted.
After you have your RP clothes, try them out. Wear them when you’re not out adventuring. Wear them when you attend get-togethers. Wear them when you’re bored and just wandering around town.
“How do I find the role players?”
This is always the toughest part. It’s easier if you know someone on the server and they can drag you around and introduce you or show you where the events are. Otherwise you have to rely on your own detective ability.
Step one: Read the forum of the realm you have chosen (though hopefully you read them before you joined). Before you jump on there going “HEY! WHERE’S THE RP??” make sure they are not a hive of scum and villainy. Be sure they aren’t a putrid den of RP hatin’.
Step two: Talk to other people. Whether you meet them in a group, on the street, see them fishing in blue overalls, talk to them. Ask questions. Make it a point to reach out to others. Let them know you are new to the server and trying to make contact.
Step three: Total RP, MyRolePlay, FlagRSP2 are addons specifically created for role players. With these addons you can add surnames, descriptions and other information about your character. More importantly for new to the server players, you can SEE the other role players. Check them out and give them a try. They are also a useful tool for interaction because if used properly they tell other players what your character looks like, is wearing and how they present themselves more accurately than the game can portray.
Playing on a role play server can be a fun and rewarding experience. You can meet some incredibly imaginative, creative, and fun players. There also tends to be a higher maturity ratio among role players. The most important thing to keep in mind though is you are coming to a role play server. Don’t come to one with a LAWLRPSUX attitude because you are a guest. The rules of the house were set long before you came along. If you respect those that choose RP servers because they are role players, you will have a much more pleasant experience on our server. If you give it a chance, it is very likely you will find that RP brings an extra element of “adventure” to your game. One much more unpredictable and fun than anything Blizz could program in.
RP 101: Role Play Etiquette
Is there such a thing as Role Play Etiquette? Certainly there is! It may not be so obviously called that but you can usually tell when someone is breaking it. How can you tell? By listening carefully to what others say.
I’m going to try touching on the subject of RP Etiquette. Mind you there are hundreds and hundreds of RP pet peeves that individual RPers might have that I certainly can’t cover, but I will try to cover some of the most common ones. I will also discuss how to know if you’re breaking RP etiquette and possible alternatives or solutions to such behavior. Making role play fun for everyone is the goal. So let’s work towards that goal together.
Interrupting Active RP
Like in conversation, it is considered rude to interrupt a RP conversation that is going on. Though often role players are more open to others joining in, it is usually wise to try to determine if others are welcome before jumping in.
The simplest and usually fastest way to do this is to send an OOC whisper. Something along the lines of “(( I see you are engaged in role play conversation. Is this a private conversation or may others join in? ))” Quite often you’ll find that role players are seeking others to join them. But be prepared for the times when it is a private conversation not open to others.
There is also the technique of simply listening in to see what is going on with the conversation. Don’t worry! Mom won’t scold you for eavesdropping this time. In life, you can catch a few lines of conversation quickly and determine if it is something you can join or if it is a private matter you should step away from. In WoW RP, because typing takes longer to accomplish than speaking, it takes a bit longer to determine this.
This is the term I use though others probably have different ones that mean the same thing. Snowplowing is stepping into someone’s active RP conversation and overwhelming it with YOUR rp. You plow right through with what YOU want to talk about without regard to what is already going on.
Not good. Everyone gets their time in the spotlight. It does not have to be your time every time. If there is already an active conversation going on or someone’s RP plot, don’t snowplow through it with your own plot.
A good example. We were all at RP night in Stormwind one evening enjoying some casual conversation, doing a bit of fishing, a bit of drinking, and sharing some bawdy jokes. Up walks Darkandspooky (I’ve changed his name to protect the guilty). Immediately he begins spamming us with his description (in the form of bad emotes) and starts in with bizarre behaviors that are meant to reinforce the fact that he is “dark and spooky” (which I will discuss in a later article). Now the characters already present either continued with their conversation as if he hadn’t interrupted, or reacted in the way people who had imbibed large amounts of alcohol would. He seemed terribly upset that the other characters didn’t appropriately react to his all-powerful “dark and spooky”, but that was because he was trying to snowplow his way into the existing RP. It simply didn’t fit and forcing it wasn’t going to make it fit.
There are much more subtle ways to introduce your RP thoughts, ideas, plots or conversations. RP conversation, like real life conversation, flows and convolutes and changes. It may start out as a conversation about the fish in the canals and end up discussing whizzing off the docks in Westfall. You never truly know where it is going to end up or what roads it is going to take in between. So if you’ve got something you would like to bring into the conversation, listen to it. Follow the flow. Bring it in carefully where it fits rather than trying to force it on others. Trying to force it where it doesn’t fit has a tendency to go over like a turd in a punch bowl.
Sometimes conversations don’t go down the paths that would best fit what you want to talk about. Sorry sweets, but that happens sometimes. It doesn’t mean you are a bad role player. It doesn’t mean the others are trying to be rude to you. It simply means that the conversation flowed just like in real life. It is unpredictable. That is what makes it fun!
Now there are two different forms of hovering. One is rude and one is not. Telling the difference is subtle so pay attention.
The first form of hovering, the not-rude one, is the person sitting to the side just listening to the conversation. Maybe casually emoting something once in a while. The shy character that just wants to be near people but really doesn’t want to interact. Sometimes the hovering character has a player that is being pulled away from the keyboard frequently so lets the character sit quietly as the conversation scrolls across the screen and catches up on what is going on when they return to the keyboard. I’ve done this a number of times. This form of hovering is okay and is also a great way to learn things. By keeping the ears open and the mouth shut.
The hovering that is irritating and rude is of a completely different variety. The character that walks back and forth past the conversation participants over and over and over and over again…. but never says anything. The character that sits right at the edge of the conversation (usually with their back to the others) clearing their throat, emoting other trivial things such as spilling a mug or tying their shoe or picking at the lacings on their trews…. but never says anything. They make it clear they want to rp too but are not doing anything to reach out the hand to play. As a matter of fact, their behaviors generally are not something others would comment on. If I see someone picking at their fly I’m not going to call attention to it.
The latter form of hovering is a behavior that is guilty of waiting for contact. I discussed the difference between looking for contact and waiting for contact in a previous article. Inclusion isn’t a one-way street. In order for others to include you in conversation, you have to do something that they can react to. Simply wandering back and forth isn’t sufficient. I’ve seen characters just wander back and forth for twenty minutes not saying or doing anything but then getting upset because they weren’t included in the conversation. Role players are not mind readers. In order to be part of the conversation they have to be given something that they can comment on or notice. Don’t be shy. Try speaking out. It can be something simple like asking for directions or commenting on the weather. Be creative.
This is by far the singlemost irritating rp behavior out there. God-moding is when you do something that affects another character without giving them leave to decide their own actions or opinions. An extreme form of god-moding would be emoting that you stab the other character, killing them instantly. It can take other, more subtle, forms though.
If you emote something along the lines of another person’s character noticing that your character has eyes red from crying, that is god-moding. A better choice would be to emote that your character rubs at eyes red from crying and leave it up to the other player as to whether they notice it or not. Sometimes characters have reasons for not noticing things.
Many role players won’t come flat out and tell someone they are god-moding. That is, perhaps, a fault many share. Generally they will ignore the god-moded behavior and continue on with whatever they were doing or simply ignore the character guilty of it. If you find yourself being ignored or legitimately snubbed and you truly do want to improve, don’t get angry, ask the person about it in whispers. Usually others are quite open to helping eager role players improve their rp skill.
Manners, Manners, Manners!
In general, role play behavior should mirror real life behavior. The same rules of manners still apply. Take time to think in these terms and you will find smooth role play laid out in front of you.
Inclusion in role play also takes effort on both parts. Don’t just wander around doing nothing and get upset when you’re not included. You have to try too.
Remember, everyone gets their time in the spotlight. It may not be your time at just that moment but it will be eventually. Patience is the key.
And as with all things involved in role play, be creative! Even if your attempt to reach out and be involved is awkward, it gives a place to start.
Disclaimer: All views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author. She does not claim they are the only way to RP. Hopefully someone will find some merit in the article but as with all RP, it comes down to personal preference.
Part 1 - Introduction & Personality
So you want to create a role play character. You want this character to be interesting, be attractive, be loved by those around, have others to interact with regularly, etc. How do you go about it?
As a writer and role player for 20+ years (yes kids, Merly is old) I’ve learned a few things along the way about character building. I’ve made many of the mistakes that afflict new writers and role players and have seen firsthand the results. It is my hope that some of what I have learned the hard way can make character building less painful for venturing into the role play realm.
Because building a good character is such a far reaching topic, I will break it down into a series of articles to make for easier reading.
Everyone wants their character to be fun to play. If the character isn’t fun then what is the point in logging in and slogging through the levels? I’m sure we’ve all created a number of alts then abandoned them for various reasons simply because they were not fun.
First thing you need to look at is what do you find fun? Do you like being by yourself or being in large groups? Do you like one on one interaction? Do you like funny, light-hearted RP or do you like more serious and dramatic? All of these must be considered when building a character.
Everyone wants to have an interesting character. After all, if the character isn’t interesting then what is the point in having him or her around? There are several factors that play into whether a character is interesting or not; Personality, Appearance, Believability, Weaknesses, and Background. These are just boiled down because sometimes factors overlap but this is a good starting point.
Let’s Talk About Personality
Try to create a personality that not only you can enjoy playing but one that others enjoy interacting with. That is if you want interaction with others. If the character bites, insults, or otherwise abuses others about them for no apparent reason and with great frequency, you’ll soon find yourself without anyone to interact with. This goes for drama llamas too. (See definition below). Now I’m not saying every character has to be Polly Pureheart, but they should have enough redeeming qualities that there is something to bring others back to play.
First generalization you need to consider is do you want to play a good guy or a bad guy? This may seem like a silly thing to consider, but it is the beginning point of your personality. Don’t worry, there are bad guy characters that are cool beyond belief and others certainly do want to interact with them.
Good Guys:First off, not all good guys are of the Polly Pureheart variety. By being a “good” guy, that could be as simple as someone who works hard, helps others, brings food to their sick aunt Patty. Then there are the extreme good guys. The paladins devoted to the Light that sacrifice themselves on a weekly basis to save that kitten trapped in Stratholme. If you’re going to play a good guy, you need to think about the level of the character’s goodness.
Now, as with many things, there are areas of gray. Not everything is black and white. Perhaps the character is mostly good in that they do not try to actively harm innocents. They try to be good but sometimes what may seem good to them, is not so good to others. During the course of play, these types of situations will also help shape the character.
Here is an example from in-game lore. Illidan. Is he good or is he bad? Does he believe what he is doing in right? Does his belief in the rightness of it make it right or is it still wrong? Kael’thas is another example.
Bad Guys:Not all bad guys have to be of the kitten-eating demon variety. Someone who is greedy or a bit of a megalomaniac can be considered a bad guy. Perhaps it is someone who feels they have no choice in what they do. It doesn’t mean they are not a fun character just because they are a bad guy.
Some bad guys are obviously bad, but they are so cool and suave about it we continue to be drawn to them. I use Dr. Doom from Marvel Comics as an example of a cool bad guy. He’s bad, he’s a megalomaniac, and he wants to kill the Fantastic Four… a lot. But he’s cool. If you can create a bad guy with the element that leaves others saying “Wow. That character is bad… but cool!” you’ve created a good bad guy.
Common Personality Traps:When creating your character, there are a few common personality traps that you should try to avoid, otherwise you may have others rolling their eyes at your character or just avoiding it all together.
Mr./Ms. Perfect:The character that is so pure, so heroic, so sweet, so loving and so GORGEOUS that everyone should lust after them and want to be their friend/lover/pet/champion.
Nobody is that perfect. Others like to interact with characters they can in some way identify with. Why do they roll their eyes at Mr. Perfect? Because he is not believable. Disbelief cannot be suspended with this type of character because they do not exist in life.
Superbad:Superbad is a character so evil they eat kittens on their Cheerios, happily slaughter their way through Stormwind on a daily basis and steal Ol’ Emma’s water bucket just for laughs. In general, they treat everyone around them like crap. And they are sooooo bad nobody in the universe could ever hope to quell them!
This one should be self-explanatory. Who wants to interact with someone that treats everyone around them so badly? Where’s the fun in that? If people enjoyed being treated like crap they’d go back to High School! Even bad guys need some redeeming qualities.
Drama Llama:“Oh my life is so tragic! It is more tragic than yours could ever be! There is nothing that could ever be done to make my life less tragic! And nobody else cares!”
/eyeroll Yep. Nobody else cares. You know why? Because the drama llama seeks only for everyone else to fawn over her while she whines and wallows in misery. How is that fun for anyone but the llama? Others expending their energy trying to make someone feel better or help them out and that person continues to wallow. Eventually people run out of energy to expend and go off to do something fun.
The one factor these types have in common is extremes. Anything taken to extremes gets real old, real fast. A good character has a balanced personality. A good character is not only fun for the player, but fun for those around as well.
Next time we’ll talk about Character Backgrounds!
Part 2 - Background
Every character has a history of some sort buried away somewhere. This history filled with experiences shape the character’s personality, reactions, quirks, hobbies, style – everything about them. Sometimes finding that background is the most difficult task in character creation. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there.
Often times you have to play the character before you can fully flesh out the background. Many role players and writers refer to this as “giving the character time to tell you about it” or waiting for the character to start “talking”. No, they aren’t suffering from delusions or multiple personality disorder. This is simply giving their subconcious imagination time to brew up what it needs to fit the character and manifesting it in a way that is easier to translate into written or role played form.
Taking time with the character, seeing how a few things play out, is usually the best way to build a background. If you have it all written out before you ever set foot in the world with the character, can sometimes be very limiting. The last thing you want to do is restrict yourself and the character you play beyond your ability to have fun with them.
That being said, you should have a general idea about where they come from before you let them speak. Here are a few tips to help you get started.
Know The Lore
You don’t have to be an absolute fiend about knowing the lore of the game to create a feasible background, however you should have a general idea of the history of the race you’re going to play and some idea of timeline. If you’re going to have a 3000 year old night elf you should be aware that it is impossible for them to have been raised in Darnassus.
One of the best resources I use for lore is WoW Wiki WoWPedia. There is a HUGE amount of information there and you should be able to find whatever you are looking for lore wise. It is easy to get caught up in trying to read everything on that site. I’ve done it. But you should pace yourself. Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to learn everything in one day!
Know The Land
This may seem like a minor point but it is an issue I have run across. Please do not try to tell me you are a night elf pirate from Coldridge Valley. That particular location is a landlocked valley in southwestern Dun Morogh only accessible by a mountainous tunnel. Know something about the area you plan to use. Know if the area you intend to use is forested, is a jungle, is a desert, is mountainous. Again, you don’t have to bog yourself down with every tiny detail about the area, but some general ideas are helpful.
If you plan to use an area that has large amounts of history, be sure you brush up on the history of that location. Make sure the age and race of the character are appropriate, or at least feasible, for the location you want to use.
However, don’t let yourself be limited by area size as presented in game. The areas in game are considerably condensed to make traveling to and from different spots in them faster and easier to facilitate game play. One could safely assume that Elwynn Forest is considerably larger than what we can run to in a few minutes of in-game travel. Surely, as the last human kingdom, Stormwind has to have access to more than three small farms to provide enough food for the population of the city.
Know The Race
This ties heavily into Know The Lore, and most information can be found the same way, but have some general idea of what the race, primarily their culture, is like. This will help give you some idea of what their upbringing might have been like.
If you’re going to play a Tauren, understand that it wasn’t all that long ago that they were a nomadic culture. They have deeply rooted traditions tied to the Earthmother which would influence their world view, their upbringing, and their reactions to others. This would tie very heavily into their background, which would in turn influence their personality.
Avoid The Eyeroll
There are some common backgrounds that I see from many new role players that leave me rolling my eyes. I’ve heard the same comment from other long time role players as well. While this is RP and you are more than welcome to play what you like, if you want to interact with others and avoid the eyeroll response, try to avoid some of these common background traps.
While you may think its cool and spooky to play a vampire, when you announce to other players that you’re a vampire, you leave many of them rolling their eyes and putting your character name on a mental – if not actual – ignore list. Vampires do not exist in WoW Lore. If you want to play a vampire, check out Vampire: The Gathering and its subsequent additions. It’s a very good table top game for vampires.
The Daughter/Son of (Insert Major Lore Character Here)
Everyone wants their character to feel important in some way. Some who are new to RP try to grab that importance from the beginning by saying they are the daughter/son/mother/brother/lover/former best friend’s cat of a major character from Lore. Build your own importance. Don’t try to force it by falling into this background trap. How many illegtimate sons can Jaina Proudmoore have and not be aware of?
While hybrids are certainly a possibility between some races and are supported by lore, they are a rarity. If you’re going to try to pull off a hybrid, be sure it is feasible and that you can justify it with a good story and some reference material, otherwise you’ll have people rolling their eyes and going “*sigh* Not another half-(insert race).” The first question you really should ask is “Is this combination genetically feasible?” If you are thinking Tauren/Gnome, not likely. Sure you can use the “Well they used magic!” rationale, but truly, that is a cop-out. Belief can only be suspended so far.
The Dragon In Disguise
While in lore there have been instances of dragons in disguise milling among the mortal races, they, too, are a rarity. Dragon in disguise is once again someone reaching for importance or uniqueness in a way that is no longer unique. It is overdone so much that it gets the /eyeroll reaction. Dragons are the realm of Blizzard to decide what they do, when they do it, and why they do it. They are basically demi-gods in their own right. The Aspects were put in place to watch over the worlds and their respective flights are their armies to do the tasks that have been set before them. There are much more creative, and believable backgrounds. Leave the dragons to Blizzard.
Whether it is born to a druid in cat form or the product of a mating between a druid in cat form and a wild tiger, it’s overdone, and simply put – ridiculous. You may think you’re being so creative with your cat-tail hanging down and your furry ears and you’re pointed teeth peeking out of your mouth, but if you go around claiming you’re a catgirl (or boy) don’t be surprised if you’re assumed to be part of the Goldshire crowd.
The Trauma Llama
Everything bad that could ever happen to a character has all happened to this character at least twice. Now while bad things are a part of everyone’s history, nobody enjoys a trauma llama that wallows in it, spouts it to every person they meet on the street, and tries to one-up everyone else’s traumatic events. If the trauma of the character’s life is the be-all, end-all of their background you’re going to have a difficult time getting anyone to take an interest. This is a game meant for fun. Trauma can, and does, help shape a character, but it shouldn’t be the sole focus of their life and history. Where is the fun in that?
Think Creative Without Being Outrageous
Warcraft has given us a fantastic history, amazing locations and a bevy of individual races to play with. It is possible to create a wonderful, interesting, and colorful background for your character without being a victim of the eyeroll. Your character doesn’t have to be the king’s illegitimate half-orc catgirl in disguise to be interesting or fun to interact with. Don’t try to force importance, validity, or take any aspect of the background to extremes. A good background is like a good personality; well-balanced and feasible.
Do not underestimate the power of the ordinary. The Background of your character does not have to be grand or outrageous or even noteworthy. It is merely a tool to help shape the personality of the character, to help guide their actions and reactions when you play them. It’s there to give you something to talk about on occasion.
What’s wrong with being a pumpkin farmer from Elwynn? Or a trapper from a clan of Tauren on the Plains of Mulgore? It isn’t the background that makes the character, it is how you play the character that makes them. It is how that character acts and reacts with others. It is their views, their loves, their dislikes, their mannerisms. Let the character make the character. If you’re creative and confident enough to do that, you’ll do just fine.
Next time I’ll talk about Appearance.
See you then!
Part 3 - Appearance
WoW is a visual game. Truly it is. They have fantastic scenery, lighting effects, spell effects, even clouds that slowly move across the sky! It truly is amazing what the developers have given us visually.
The same applies for character avatars – mostly. The females are buxom, beautiful, and fit; the males are tall, strong, and muscular (though the faces for human males have to be the most awful in game. They all look like Neanderthals with a hare-lip followed in close second by night elf males who look constipated.).
Many people are content to approach their character avatars with a WYSIWYG attitude. Which is just fine. My mage is much like that. Aristocratic face, long black hair, average build. Countless role players though are not content with what is offered on the character generation screen. What if that big beefy male avatar does not suit the character of the slight, quiet rogue you are building?
That’s when you start thinking about what your character really looks like. Sunken cheeks? Slightly plump? Short? These are features that cannot be shown by the in-game models. Other things the models don’t show might include jewelry, feathers in the hair, scars, missing digits; the list could go on for days.
There are ways to communicate appearance for the role player. One can emote favoring a bad leg, or brushing irritating curls out of the character’s face, or any number of other emotes. One could speak about it casually in conversation. Write it out in stories or forum RP. Or use a mod like ImmersionRP or RSP2. (2011 edit- ImmersionRP has been abandoned by the developer since this article was originally written) (Both of these mods allow you to write up physical descriptions of your character in game that other users can read.)
I prefer the last option. Personally I use ImmersionRP. (2011 edit- My preference is MyRolePlay) Other players use other types for reasons of their own. Fortunately most of the addons of this type can talk to each other so you can read a description no matter what addon it was crafted in.
Whether you are writing a forum description or one for an addon, however, there is some skill and forethought involved. You want to have an appearance that fits the character. It might not necessarily fit their role as a hardened warrior or a skulky rogue, but for some reason or another, it fits the character concept, personality, ideal – whatever. In your mind it makes sense, and you can present it in a way that makes sense to others – I hope.
Tips For Writing A Good Description
When writing a description for your character, remember that there are five senses; Sight, Sound, Taste, Touch and Smell. Now it is unlikely you’ll write what your character tastes like. I know I don’t usually walk up to someone I’ve just met and lick them. Touch might be a bit awkward, but there are some situations where this sense should not be written off entirely. Your most commonly used sense in descriptions is going to be sight, however sound and smell have their own validity.
This could cover the sound of their voice, the sound of the bells woven into their hair, the rattle of their armor, the beads on their shirt. There are many things that could be incorporated into the sound of a character. Remember to listen to your character’s appearance when writing about it.
The sense of smell is one of the most powerful we have. It can draw us to someone or repel us. There are many things that could stimulate our sense of smell. Does the character wear any scented oils? Are they consistently sweaty? Do they smell of horse? Herbs? Close your eyes a moment when writing about the character and think about how they would smell. If something stands out, then put it in the description.
This is going to be the sense most characters will touch first. What they see will be a key indicator in other’s first impression. Some of the basic descriptors are hair length, color (if it is different than the avatar), build, height, and weight. Some of the more detailed descriptors are eye shape, color, face shape, jewelry worn, or condition of clothing (neat, ragged, dirty, etc). Then there are outstanding features.
Outstanding features can cover a number of things; missing limbs, eye patches, limps, anything of that sort. Large ornamentation, visible body paint, oddly colored stripes in the hair. Something that would stand out. These outstanding features should most definitely be included in the description. Be creative on these. Don’t go for easy. Take some time and think about the character and what, if anything, might stand out.
And be sure to include at least something on how they dress. Loose fitting, ragged, neat, armored? Think about that as well. And while I realize this is, indeed, a fantasy game, understand before you write “this person wears armor, even while sleeping”, that you understand (from a person that has worn plate armor for several hours on end on numerous occasions) that armor is uncomfortable. It is bulky, difficult to move in, noisy, stiff, and pinches in places that a body was never meant to be pinched!
Blizz does stretch the imagination of fantasy armor with their chain mail panties and plated booby cups, but what it comes down to is that you are wearing plates of metal or leather (which when made for armor is thick and stiff). If you want to enjoy the hawt panty plate, that’s fine! Blizz has made it so moving, running, sitting, etc is not affected by the armor. If you want a bit more realism, though, think about what it really feels like to wear armor for long periods of time.
Mannerisms should be considered when writing a description as well. Does this person flinch when new people approach? Do they have a notebook they carry with them at all times? Is their hand constantly on their weapon? Do they have a teddy bear tucked under their arm? These sorts of observations in the description give a bit of insight into the character’s personality. Something that can be seen to support their actions and reactions when we encounter them in actual contact.
Keep It Simple
Now that I have told you all the wonderful things you should think about when describing your character, I’m going to confuse you by telling you to keep it short and simple. I can hear your cries of “Foul!” from all over, but honestly, especially when it comes to an in-game addon description, few people will read one that is overly long and complicated. We don’t really need great details about how many buttons are on the character's shirt or which direction he laces his boots. Give us the most obvious in the most succinct manner possible. Having a novel for a description will actually hinder people reading it.
When writing a description, god-moding involves describing a trait and how the reader feels about that trait. Avoid writing things such as “Your jaw drops when you see her enormous bosom.” Honestly I couldn’t care less about her bosom. I’m not in the habit of looking at them. I have one of my very own that I have to look at every day.
That is an extreme example but they are out there. However there are others that are more subtle, but just as incorrect. For example if you were to write “He is the most handsome man you have ever seen.” How do you know? Whether a person is handsome or not is a matter of opinion. You should never try to force an opinion on someone else. Let them judge whether they find that character handsome or not. Instead of telling us he’s handsome, tell us about the traits that YOU think makes him handsome. Describe the dark skin, black hair, golden eyes – whatever! But don’t tell us we think he’s handsome.
Description Only Please
When writing a description, especially for in-game addons, do not include information such as the background of the character or what kind of personality traits they have. We can’t see that, hear it, smell it, the first time we encounter that person. A description is just that; a description. Do not include information that is not apparent to the senses of other players. By putting in that information you’re expanding the length of the description unnecessarily and making it less likely anyone will read it. If they want to know that, they’ll find out when talking to the character!
Avoid The /eyeroll
Now I’m not going to try to tell you what your character should look like; only you can decide that. What I am going to offer are some tips on what will elicit the /yawn or /eyeroll response.
Many role players when first starting out want a character that is particularly handsome or beautiful. There are probably a number of psychological reasons behind this and I won’t attempt to delve into them, however I can point out a few of the most common appearance traps.
The human models especially in game have inordinately large breasts. For some this is simply not enough. They must write about their character’s particularly large or perky assets. This is a sure way to elicit the /eyeroll or even a laugh and then have your character relegated to a footnote of unimportance. If they have large assets, fine, but don’t make them the centerpoint of the character’s appearance.
This is a harsh world our characters live in. Some scarring is going to happen. If that is the focus of your character’s description, then it is not a very interesting character. Where extreme scarring is rare IRL and shocking when you see it, it is so common in role play descriptions that it seldom elicits more than /yawn. If your character has scars and there is a reason for them, by all means, write about them, but don’t just use them to make the character “cool”. Chicks don’t dig scars.
The Cyber Bait
“…long silken hair flowing like molten gold down her back. Long eyelashes surrounding innocent blue eyes meet yours and a delicate blush darkens her perfect, ivory cheeks..” I’m sure many of you have read similar descriptions. The descriptions that sound like something out of a .50 cent bodice-ripper. The attention these types of descriptions attract may not be the type you are hoping for and it is entirely possible you’ll be disregarded as part of the Goldshire crowd. Think real. Write real.
There are literally hundreds of ridiculous description traps that I could write about here, but that would make this article far too long. I’ll try to summarize and make this all fit together in a final bit of advice.
• Keep it simple
• Think with your senses
• Avoid description opinions
• If it sounds even slightly ridiculous to you, it probably is.
And one final bit of advice, especially if you are new to role play; if you have a friend who also role plays, get them to read your description and give an honest evaluation. Tell them they MUST be honest. Having others read it and tell you what works and what doesn’t work is a great way to learn.
Next time I’ll talk about Weaknesses.
Part 4 - Weaknesses
Throughout these articles I have discussed the need for balance. One of the features that make a character well balanced is weaknesses. Their weaknesses will contribute to their personality, behaviors, responses to others and different situations. Weaknesses are woven deeply into everything about the character and provide a more well-rounded personality. After all, nobody is perfect. Weaknesses contribute greatly to who a character – or person – is.
Well-crafted weaknesses are just as important and interesting as any other element of your character. It would be impossible to determine a character’s strengths without weaknesses to offset them. Weaknesses can also provide something to work towards. If, for example, the character is scared of dogs, that provides a goal to work toward; overcoming that fear of dogs.
Types of Weaknesses
There are certainly many types of weaknesses, but they can be most easily broken down into two; Psychological and Physical.
Psychological weaknesses are those that spring from the character’s own mind. Whether it is a fear of heights or narcississtic tendencies, they are self-defeating weaknesses. Psychological weaknesses are, in essence, controlled by the character’s own mind, which makes them especially difficult to overcome. They may have been created by some severe trauma in the character’s past or perhaps some other event that brought it on. However it came to be, it is part of the character and may or may not be something that can be overcome.
Physical weaknesses are of the sort that affect the character’s physical appearance or abilities. Physical weaknesses can also cause psychological ones that are closely intertwined. A physical weakness might include a missing limb, sensory loss (blindness, deafness), vertigo, or some sort of disease or condition such as allergies. Physical weaknesses can be caused by injury, disease, birth defect or any number of other factors that can affect physical appearance or ability.
Not all weaknesses are of the debilitating variety. Some are small, just little quirks of a sort. Some are humorous, some are sad, some are so outrageous we find ourselves trying to fix the person we encounter with it simply to have it gone. Sometimes we give our characters weaknesses without even realizing we’ve done so. Is your character bigoted toward another race? Do they drink to excess? Are they lazy, dishonest, scared of the dark? Do they have a teddy bear that must be with them at all times? Are they promiscuous? These are all weaknesses that help to round out the character.
When deciding the severity of your weaknesses, however, be sure that you don’t write yourself into a role play corner and leave yourself with a character that is unplayable. I have a friend that wrote a character that has issues with his foot. Severe enough to keep him from adventuring. He recently realized that this made it very difficult to get anything done with the character and is working on a role play reason to make the character viable again. My friend is an excellent and creative RPer so I have faith he will have no problem coming up with a creative and believable way to make this happen, but it helps to illustrate the point here. All things in moderation. Don’t defeat yourself and your character before you’ve even started playing it.
If you are going to build a weakness into your character, be sure there is a believable reason behind it. Do they dislike elves because an elf stole his ice cream cone as a child? Are they repulsed by the smell of brimstone which makes them unable to work around warlocks? Did they lose their left pinky toe in the fight with Archimonde? Be creative but be believable. The weaknesses must fit the persona, not just be tacked on because you think they are “cool”.
Sometimes weaknesses can come from happenings in current RP. These can either be temporary or permanent, depending on the situation. Whatever the case, again, make sure they are believable. When coming up with other happenings that influence your character, make sure it is not something you’ve already done to death. If your character is possessed by demons every Tuesday, others are not likely to give the reaction you’re looking for. They are more likely to roll their eyes and relegate you to a forgotten corner of obscurity.
Avoid The Most Common Trap
The single most common weakness trap is “Sir Buford is afraid of failure.” Now, if played properly, this can be a valid weakness, however quite often it is seen as a cop-out for someone trying to run Mr. Perfect who never has failures, and has no weakness. Remember, weaknesses can be fun! They don’t have to be huge and traumatic. Be creative and go with what fits the character.
Next time I’ll give a brief summary of these articles and talk a bit about Believability.
See you then!
Part 5 - Believability & Summary
Over the course of these articles I’ve tried to give some basic tips on creating a believable character. Most role players want a character that is fun to play and fun for others to interact with. After all, if we don’t have others to interact with then we have no true role play. It is like writing a story with nobody to read it. Vastly unfulfilling.
One thing holds true for all creative endeavors; if your audience, or in this case those you interact with, do not enjoy your story/character, they will find someone else to play with. You will find your sandbox sadly empty. Believability is an important factor for any character you create and hope to play. If other players do not find the character believable, then this dampens their enjoyment and they will gravitate elsewhere.
What makes a character believable? Many things actually, but most importantly are the traits that we can identify with. It doesn’t matter if you’re playing an undead mage, bi-pedal cow, or cloven-hoofed warrior of the Light. If your character has traits we can identify with, and if they are presented in a reasonable and logical way, the character can be believable… and likeable.
Watch out for extremes. If our character is always emo, flogging themselves about how horrid they are, that gets old real fast. If the character is perfection itself, can do no harm or wrong, that also gets old real fast. You don’t have to push the character over the edge to be interesting.
Don’t spit in the face of Lore. Yes, Blizzard is not perfect with their own rendition of the game lore, but it is still theirs to tinker with and retcon as they need to suit the game you play in. Your 4000 year old elf did not grow up in the Tram. If you splurt out glaring lore inaccuracies such as that, you’ll immediately be relegated to the status of RP n00b.
I can’t say it enough; Do Not Underestimate The Power Of The Ordinary. So many people out there are trying to build RP heroes and gods and whathaveyous. Trying to capture fame by forcing “importance” on their character. Trying to steal respect without earning it. In all things; looks, personality, background; the ordinary can be the most fascinating and extraordinary thing to others. What you may see as ordinary, may be the most incredibly fascinating trait to the next person you interact with. Give it a try.
Sadly, RL has snuck up on me this week so this final article isn’t all I had hoped it would be. Perhaps, if I’m still writing this blog a year from now, I’ll revisit all of these articles. I hope, though, that someone, somewhere, has found some value in them.
Thanks for reading and I’ll see you in Azeroth!
RP 101: Emote Crafting
Emotes are an integral part of role play. Without them our play would be pretty dull and flat. They are used to convey moods, actions, and many other bits of information about our characters. While they may seem simple enough, it is quite surprising how many role players do not quite understand what is a correct emote.
Today we’re going to talk about crafting emotes in WoW. I will keep it as relatively painless as possible.
I am going to talk briefly about the default emotes created in game by the developers. Overall, these emotes are not very good. Sometimes the animations or voice effects that go along with them are, lets face it, particularly lame. If you rely on the existing emotes, you are severely limiting what your character can convey and sometimes the exaggerated animations that go along with them are not at all in keeping with the personality of the character.
There are a few that are not too terrible though. Generally they are the simpler ones such as /wave, /blink, /belch and so forth. A complete list of current WoW emotes (which will have more added when WotLK comes out) can be found on WoWPedia at this link.
While the list may seem big, it doesn’t even come close to covering everything that can be conveyed in an emote. And user beware! Just because it comes from Blizzard, does NOT mean it is a correctly crafted Emote.
What Is A Correctly Crafted Emote?
So now it is time to delve into the meat of the article. How to correctly craft an emote. It doesn’t require lots of skill but it does require some thought. Don’t worry though! After a while, crafting a good emote becomes second nature.
The most important thing to remember about the proper emote is it conveys something that can be observed in some manner. Something we can see or hear, generally. If you are trying to convey something that cannot be observed, you are not correctly crafting the emote and many role players will simply ignore it.
Here are some examples. See if you can spot the incorrect emotes.
1. /me stands up and waves.
2. /me wants a glass of water.
3. /me sits down comfortably.
4. /me spits on the ground.
5. /me thinks %t is a sexy devil.
6. /me reaches out and pokes %t in the arm.
Okay so there’s our list. I’m sure most of the incorrect ones are easy to spot but lets run down the list real quick to be sure you got them all.
Most of them are pretty obvious, but I’m sure some of you are confused as to why I labeled #3 incorrect so I’ll explain. Indeed, #3 conveys action. It conveys the act of sitting. However it also conveys something we can’t see or hear. We are not the butt of the emoter so we have no idea that the way the person is sitting is comfortable or not.
#1, #4, and #6 clearly convey actions we can see and interpret in our own way. #2, #3, and #5 convey elements we cannot observe. And in case you didn’t catch it, #5 is one of the Blizzard crafted emotes.
Proper Addition Of Information In Your Emote
Now you can add additional information into your emote to convey a message without fouling the emote. Through adding sounds, facial expressions or even speech you can convey more than simply sitting down.
A correct variation of #3 could read something like this: /me sits down with a sigh and smile. That more accurately presents elements we can observe as it relates to what the character is feeling. A sigh as used in this context often implies relief and the smile indicates a mood of pleasure.
If you wished to take it a bit further, you could even present it as /me sits down with a sigh and smile. “Wow. It feels good to sit down.”
As with anything, creativity is key. Just remember that what you convey needs to be relayed in such a way as to be something that can be observed.
There are a number of addons out there that will throw out random emotes as your character does various things such as entering combat, mounting up, etc. I don’t use any of them so I can’t offer my opinion of which ones are best. Some are big and clunky and complicated, some are simple but may not offer all the options you’re looking for. The best advice I can give is research them all then talk to others that use them and make your decision based on their honest evaluations and what you want/need.
EDIT MAY 2012
With the change to the new site I have gone back over this article and removed the entire section concerning the addon PetEmote. The addon is no longer supported by the dev and the website where it once was hosted no longer exists. I still have a working copy but I do not know for how much longer. It will be a sad day when Ithrene's bear no longer farts at random. :(
Emotes can be a great tool if used correctly! If your emotes are as carefully crafted as your character, you should do just fine!
Role Play 101: Romance in RP- The Good, The Bad and the Ugly
This is an article I’ve been kicking around for a while and my friends have been nagging me to write something for the blog so I thought I’d drag this topic out and dust it off.
Romance In RP
Now before you start to point and snicker, muttering about “cyborz”, notice the title is ROMANCE, not ERP. That is another topic for another day. Romance can cover a wide range of emotional depth from the friends that exchange flowers on occasion to full fledged lovers or marrieds. Role playing romance DOES NOT mean cyber just like reading a book that has romantic elements does not mean reading porn.
If you choose to involve your character in romantic relationships it can bring in another level of role play that is interesting and a good development tool for the character. It can also bring pleasant interaction and memories for both the character and the player to counteract the war-stricken and depressing world they live in. It’s a way to see that even in such terrible times, life does go on. There is hope and there are things to take joy in. Emotional beings (whether they are human, dwarf, tauren, orc or whatever) need that. If a mind is constantly bombarded with the awful with no respite, eventually it will break down.
Sometimes RP romance can be taken too far; too seriously. Always always always remember IT IS RP. IT IS NOT REAL. I have seen people who’s characters are involved in romantic RP begin to believe that it is an actual relationship and when one of those involved plays another character or spends time with other friends, the other gets jealous or angry. These are pixilated images inside a box of computer parts. They are not real flesh, bone or emotion. They are story characters that we play with and read about but do not really exist. Do not fall into the trap of thinking they do.
I have seen RP romances turn sour and because one party or both have taken it too seriously, when the RP romance fails, it destroys the friendship between the players. I have also seen it go so far as to fracture guilds. Bands of friends choosing sides because one or two people pushed it too far. Truly a sad affair and one that should NEVER be allowed to happen in RP.
Rules For Romance In RP
While this list may not be all inclusive, I will try to provide at least a beginner’s guide for those looking to involve their character in RP romance. Much of this may seem like common sense but perhaps, for some, reading it will drive it home and give pause before the ugly rears its head.
1 – The most important! If you forget everything else, do not forget this! – RP Romance is not real. It is an interactive story development. Nothing more.
2 – The character your character is involved with has a player behind it too. This player usually has other obligations such as real life, other friends, guild members, other characters that they want to play as well. Don’t try to monopolize their time.
3 – Don’t let your time be monopolized either. If you have other things you wish to do, be sure the other player understands this as well.
4 – RP romance is not a stepping stone into exclusive guilds or raids. Don’t expect the other player to be able to shoehorn you into one just because the characters are involved romantically.
5 – “Intimate” role play should be decided on in advance by both parties. Set your boundaries and stick to them, or be respectful of the other person’s boundaries as well. Romantic RP can be just as rewarding without ERP.
6 – Make sure all boundaries and limitations are clear and understood. Do you only have time once a week to dedicate to RP? Do you have another character that you want to spend time on as well? Do you want to be able to spend time leveling as well as role playing? Make sure it is all clear.
7 – If something comes up that is going to keep you away from contact for a while, let the other person know. Heck, let all your friends that you play with know! They’re your friends. If you just disappear without a word they worry about you.
8 – The other player likely has other characters that they want to play too. These other characters may become, or already be involved, romantically with characters that are not yours. This is acceptable. Do not get jealous or snippy because the player wants to spend time with other friends too. This comes back to both #1 and #2.
Making It Work
Now there are many factors that play into whether romance can be feasible. First off, it is not likely the characters are going to be able to spend as much actual time together as a couple might in real life and trying to do that will cause issues of its own. However there are still ways to have the characters “be together” in down times that will fit with the RP and won’t leave anyone feeling pressured.
The Power of Assumption
“It can be assumed…” That statement can lead to any number of useful RP short cuts. In this case it can be used to establish time spent together doing more mundane things. Sharing meals, sleeping together, fishing, etc. If you have characters that are regular lovers, for example, just because the players are not in game at the same time every day or are even out for several days at a time, doesn’t mean the characters are not spending time together. Likely they would find a way to at least spend the night together more than once a week, if that is their inclination. Discuss this with the other player so that it can be established for the characters and help ease the burden of feeling obligated to spend every available moment in game together.
Are you questing in similar areas? Level ranges? Have the same instances you need to hit? So make them into a RP session. Grab a group of like-minded individuals for that instance and RP as you go. Run around the countryside with your RP muffin and complete quests while engaging in conversation and the occasional stolen kiss. Be creative. RP doesn’t always have to be just sitting in a bar in Stormwind. You can RP and accomplish other tasks as well.
Set up a time or day that you and your RP partner are scheduled to hang out together in game. That way neither of you gets lost in the shuffle. Maybe every Wednesday you meet for RP dinner at the Blue Recluse. Perhaps Friday is the night that you both have set aside to kill monsters. Be creative and keep it interesting. Maybe all you want to do is sit in a chair and talk all night. That’s good too. By scheduling a day/time to do it then you avoid the hit or miss of scheduling differences.
A great deal of story can be created and told through written RP. Most guilds associated with RP have a place for storytelling. By creating a written story coinciding with the in-game RP, there is a great deal more information and development of character that can be accomplished. So you’re not the greatest writer in the world. How will you get better if you don’t practice? Use your spellchecker and your grammar checker and then learn as you go. Share the story as it grows and give it the details that we cannot see or experience in game. It’s a great way to tie everything together when actual play time is limited.
As with anything, communication and respect are very important when involving your character in RP Romance. Have fun with it. Be creative. But always remember, it is just RP.
RP 101: How To Shake The RP Blahs
I was talking with a friend who expressed that recently she just hasn’t been happy with the RP of her main characters. Something just wasn’t holding her interest. With this in mind I decided to put my thoughts down. Perhaps it will help her and others overcome, what I refer to as, the RP blahs.
Many hardcore role players say they suffer from what they call “altitis”. A collection of too many characters to play. Personally I do not see this as a malady at all. Yes, all ten of my slots are full and every character has their own personality. It isn’t something you suffer from, it is a subconscious attempt to keep the game fresh.
Think of it this way; when the level cap has been met, when the dungeons have all been raided and the loot all gathered, what is there left? For some, nothing. For others, role play. Many role players burn out on the leveling and raiding and rep grinding very early on. Or at least get tired of it for a while. But if the personality of the character isn’t catching their interest at the moment, what to do?
Well, if you don’t already have another character that interests you more at that moment, you roll a new one. Perhaps a different race or class. Perhaps a different gender. These are the basic items we look at first.
I learned long ago, though, that quite often the relief comes in a completely different personality.
From Flat To Fun
My first character was Merlinne, the aristocratic mage. I have many great RP memories with her. But on occasion her prim demeanor is not what I want to play. The stuffy gets old, the prim gets tiresome. Someone with impeccable manners and practiced tones doesn’t always catch my interest.
When this began happening in earnest the first time, I created Megaly. She was a warrior with a foul mouth, randy nature, and outrageous sense of humor. There was no topic sacred. There was nothing that couldn’t be said. She was wild, out-going and completely the opposite of Merlinne. She gave me back the spark I needed.
Now while I didn’t choose a different race for Meg, I did choose a completely different RP style. For you, it may be the opposite. Perhaps you have a wild and outrageous character and you want someone that is a little calmer on occasion. That’s perfectly fine. Even the fun and the funny can get you tired out.
I tell my friends I can’t play Gentlewind for long stretches of time. It takes so much effort to keep her up and outgoing and running full steam. Rest is needed, even for the most ambitious role player. Role play should be fun, not work.
The Path To Change
After playing a certain type of character for a while, it can be hard to switch to a drastically different personality. Don’t rush it. There is time to get it right. Sometimes it might take a few days to get fully into the personality. Sometimes it is difficult to just get it started. I went through that with Meg, but once it is started, it will often just flow.
If going from a reserved character to a mouthy one, don’t bother asking yourself “Would XX say this?” Just say it! Drop out whatever comes into your head right off the bat. Being bold will often garner greater reaction around you than being timid. Be prepared for the consequences though. As in life, words spoken in RP have them. If your character is a devoted elf-hater, be ready for lots of RP difficulty.
Going from a bold character to a reserved one is exactly the opposite. Take time to think through your words. Don’t worry if it seems to take too long to respond. Many people mull over their thoughts in real life before spouting out the first thing to come in their head.
Different Personality Traits
Now you do not necessarily have to go from prim and proper to a foul-mouthed harlot. Personality traits can be laid out on a wheel much like colors. Every trait has an opposite. Some are funny, some are boring, some are wretched, but they span an incredibly wide range.
Perhaps your character is timid and quiet because of some great trauma in their life. Turn to the other side of the wheel. What kind of character would be created if they had no trauma in their life. If everything went their way. Spoiled? Possibly. Overly optimistic? Also possible. Let your imagination run wild.
The character could also try to be well behaved and a well respected member of a society but some outside force prevents it. For example, a simple dwarven lass that tries to be a good hunter, but has a reputation around the cities because of the excessive gaseous emissions of her bear… who is always quite proud of sharing himself with others. Something out of the character’s control could bring that bit of laughter, interest, spark not only to you, but to others around you. It could lead you to meeting new people to RP with. It could lead to meeting new friends! Now wouldn’t that be a great way to keep the game fresh?
It is all about doing something different. If your characters all have the same type of personality, it isn’t going to be easy to escape the blahs.
Avoid the Trauma Trap
Trauma does not necessarily make a character more interesting. Let’s be honest here; there are so many trauma llamas out there that it is old hat. It is stale in and of itself. You may find some interest at first, but as others around you lose interest in the trauma llama, you’ll find yourself losing interest too. After all, how interesting is it to spend all day RPing with yourself?
Now I am a firm advocate of play what you want. Truly. But the most fun in RP does come from interaction. If you’re going to play an ass, a trauma llama, attention whore, etc, be prepared for the consequences. The same personality traits that drive people away in real life will drive them away in role play too.
If you want to bring interest back, just rolling a new character isn’t enough. The personality has to be different enough that you can switch gears and give yourself a break from what is giving you the blahs. At this point, some others might say “But don’t go overboard!”. I say, “Why not?” If this character is over the top and outrageous, then let them be. Try going overboard. If you don’t like it, or can’t keep it up, you can always throttle back some.
The whole goal is fun. Use your imagination. Let it loose. Don’t create characters like you have always had. Try something new. And if you don’t succeed at first, try again. Altitis is not a malady, but a cure.
Role Play 101: Drama In RP: How Much is Too Much?
Every story must have some conflict or drama to be interesting. When it involves RP, how much is too much?
Every player has their own tolerance threshold for character drama. Some are going to have a fairly high tolerance, some are going to have a fairly low one, and some it will depend on what they have recently been involved in, how believable the drama is, and how original it is. Personally, I only rarely create major dramatic threads for my characters. Why? Because they get real old, real fast. I rarely get involved in other people’s major plot lines. Why? Same reason.
Part of the problem with major RP threads is the time commitment. Most major drama threads require a commitment of time either in game or in written RP that many folks have trouble making. This is a busy world, things happen and the larger the storyline, the more people involved, the greater the chance that someone will have trouble meeting the time obligations due to real life.
There is also the interest factor. I can attest to the fact that after waiting for days on end for the next person to do their part, interest wans. You want to move on, do other things, spend your time on something that is moving rather than wasting it waiting.
RP Is For Fun
The one point I cannot stress enough is that RP is for fun. It is not supposed to feel like work. It is not supposed to create stress. It should leave all participants with the feeling that they enjoyed themselves. It should not leave anyone feeling bruised, angry, or in any other way stressed out.
I realize that many people find the long, drawn out, dramatic role plays fun but I ask you, for how long? For whom? Please stay tuned as I explain.
At one point in the rp community on my (old) server there was a chick, we’ll call her Chiclet to protect her identity, that wasn’t content unless she was surrounded by huge dramatic rp. If there wasn’t huge drama going on that she could somehow switch the spotlight to her, she would create it. She became a bit of a joke among role players with her “weekly demon possession” and people quickly learned to avoid her.
Now there are many reasons why Chiclet became a joke. First off there was the overuse of old plots. She had been possessed by demons no less than four times that I am aware of. One possession well played (which I have never seen done) can be an interesting plot. More than that and people yawn and walk away. It’s too much! It is not believable and if it was poorly done the first time, the second and third won’t be any better.
Chiclet never allowed for down time either. It would be wave upon wave of huge dramatic RP. She was possessed, she was dying, she was pregnant, she was pregnant with a dying possessed catgirl… You get the idea. After a while, others get tired of expending their time and energy.
Finding The Line
There is a definite line in dramatic RP and some people are very good at not crossing it. Others, not so good. The difficult part is finding that line in the first place.
RP is meant to mirror reality in many ways. Even though, for WoW, it is placed in a fantasy setting, the aspects of life, of believability are what draw people back. They want a glimpse of people, situations, places, creatures they will otherwise never see. They want a story to entertain them for a few hours here and there. They want to interact with that story and influence it and have it affect their characters in return.
Because this is a fantasy setting, we’re pushing the line of believability every day. However, you can push the setting believability line a lot further than you can push the character believability line. Characters should mirror life much closer than any other aspect of your story. Their life path and how they deal with it are the elements that will draw others back or repel them.
Life is full of ups and downs. I know for a fact that there are times when it feels like it is nothing but downs, but truly there are ups too. When looking at a character as portrayed in RP there are a few things to consider when planning their plot. First off, if you only give the character down moments, never any up moments, you’re going to turn others off really fast.
The character that is the perpetual downer that ONLY has bad things happen, has them happen three times a day, and is so traumatized by every single one of them that they can never be happy is not very interesting. People reading, or participating in, a story like for things to get better. Like for the character to have ups as well as downs. After all, if nothing ever gets better, what is the point in trying? People don’t like to have hope killed. Hope keeps us, as human beings, plugging along through our lives even when things are bad. If the characters in our entertainment have no hope, it creates a sense of fear that we have none either.
How the character deals with it is another point that can draw people in or repel them. Time to talk honestly here. Overall, tragedy makes people uncomfortable. We feel helpless in our lack of ability to fix it. Sometimes we can do something to help ease it, but overall, we’re not truly comfortable again until it is gone. If we can watch that character actually work towards improving their situation, we can follow the story with pleasure because it builds up that sense of hope. The “mud puddle” character is not going to accomplish that. What is the “mud puddle” character you ask? That is the character that falls into the mud puddle and instead of trying to climb out, just sits there, splashing around in the dirty water, saying, “Oh no! Oh no! I’ve fallen into a mud puddle!”
Because we only see the characters for such a small amount of time, every moment that we do see them that is influenced by the downs is going to be magnified. Because we don’t see the flashes through the day of them just staring at the sun daydreaming, or sleeping peacefully at night. What we do see is intensified by the short amount of time that we see it. Some drama is great for a story. But give your “readers” breathing space or you may find yourself RPing alone.
Now if you are sitting there insisting that your character is defined only by tragedy, then I have nothing further to say to you. You’re stuck in the mud puddle, you don’t want to get out, and nothing anyone says is going to convince you otherwise. However if you’re the one reading this that wants there to be more to your character that a string of cheap misery tricks, read on!
No Firm Numbers
Nobody can give you firm numbers on how long you should wait between dramatic events. RP, like life, should be fluid. It should not be forced. Let it flow and take it’s own path. If it feels too soon for something else to happen, likely it is WAY too soon. The owner of the character is always the last one to recognize this.
While many role players will say their character “talks” to them, we all do have some control over the path they take. And you should exert that control on occasion to make sure the character is not only fun to play but fun to interact with. Role playing alone isn’t nearly so much fun!
If you’ve played out a major dramatic storyline, give your character some time off. Let them run around doing mundane things for a while. Take them fishing, to an evening out in a pub, for an afternoon walk in the park with their pet worg. Let them live a normal life for a while.
If your character has a tendency towards depression, give them a few moments of “uptime” here and there. Let them enjoy themselves while questing with others or find something they do enjoy for a while. If it is something they’ve done alone, let them talk to others about it. Eeyore is cute, but after a while his bummer attitude gets a little old.
As with anything involved in rp, be creative. Down time doesn’t have to mean dull time. With a bit of creativity you could even make sitting on a curb eating cheese interesting. Be imaginative! Is there something simple that you don’t often play out with your character? Well, try it! Something totally off the wall that they’ve never done? Do it! The really fun part is the “why” behind it. Give it a shot! Try walking through a city, but don’t just walk! Interact! Set up a macro that has the character nod at those they pass or bump into them or something else.
Nothing is going to be perfect every time. Nothing is going to be audience captivating every time. But if you keep trying, keep testing new things, keep the audience entertained without forcing depression down their throats, you’ll have more fun than you could imagine. Gloom, despair and agony are not the only path to interesting role play.
I have said it before in other articles; Never underestimate the power of the ordinary. Make it a challenge for yourself to take something ordinary and turn it into something extraordinary. So you’re standing at the mailbox reading a letter. What can you do to make it fun? Interesting? To draw others in? Giggle at the letter? Start talking back to it as if the author could hear you? If walking through town, what can you make happen by tripping over that warpstalker’s tail? Make it a challenge to yourself. Take an ordinary situation and challenge yourself to make it something else. If you like, come back here and tell me about it. I would love to hear your story and I’m sure others would too!
Since transferring to Earthen Ring I have noticed that sometimes some players tend to keep forcing out dramatic events without regard to what else might be going on around them. What this does is cause overlapping threads, confusion, frustration and burnout.
Keep in mind that if players (or even entire guilds) are not allowed some down time on occasion it can lead to tension and a desire to just bail out on all of it, go log in an alt and do nothing but mindlessly grind instances out of frustration.
Downtime does not always mean Dulltime. Downtime is necessary to let the brain rest and refresh. To let creativity bloom again. To keep things fun rather than stressful. When things start getting stressful OOC because the player can’t keep up with all the insanity going on around them, then there is way too much going on. Back up, consult with the people you want involved and actually plan it. Don’t try to force it on them.
Simple consideration goes a long way so let’s keep that in mind and help everyone have a more enjoyable game!
RP 101: The Difference Between "Looking for Contact" and "Waiting for Contact"
The single most common complaint I hear from role players is either “nobody RPs anymore!” or “I can’t find anyone to RP with!” My first instict is to ask, “Does that include you?” You see, there are lots of RSPs running around out there that say “In Character, Looking For Contact” but are you *looking* for contact, or *waiting* for contact. There is a distinct difference.
Looking for contact is the act of putting out effort to find, create, or otherwise engage others in RP. Waiting for contact is sitting on a bridge, saying nothing, waiting for others to engage you. Do you see the difference here?
In a perfect world, we would all have RP dropped into our lap whenever we wanted. This is far from a perfect world, however, and in order to find RP, you also have to be willing to put out some effort. If everyone just sits around waiting for RP, when is it ever going to happen? Someone has to take the initiative.
How can you tell if you are looking or waiting? Through a simple analysis of your own in-game behaviors. Do you approach others with their looking for contact tag up? If someone you don’t know comes up while you are engaged in conversation do you try to include them? Do you walk while in town instead of run? Do you put on RP clothes? If you answered no to these questions, you are waiting.
Looking for contact does involve some effort but is not as difficult or scary as you might believe. I’ll try to provide some tips and hints to set you on the right path to finding the RP you crave.
Clues To Finding The Role Players
Before we get into the actual contact tips, lets go over a few of the simplest clues as to who is going to be a role player and who is likely not. If you don’t use one of the RP mods that lets you see if they are or not, or if they don’t use it, you have to use other clues to pick out who might be open to RP.
The first and easiest is going to be the name. Is the name a role play name (or could it be viewed as one). For example if you see two people, one with the name Lorina and the other with the name Pwntyu, likely Pwntyu is not going to be a role player. Also, is the name one you recognize from the forums or elsewhere as a role player?
Now just a name is not always enough to pick out who role plays and who does not. Watch behaviors too. Walking in town is always a good indicator. Wearing “street clothes” rather than armor is one too. Are they a member of a well known RP guild? If you see them talk in /say, is it IC? There are lots of subtle indicators, and some not-so-subtle, that can lead you closer to someone who would be more receptive to role play.
Making IC Contact
Lots of people have difficulty making first contact IC. Called “first contact fear”, hopefully I will be able to provide some tips here that will help others to overcome this. Don’t worry! You are not alone. Everyone has felt that first contact anxiety at some point. It can be overcome.
The most common question is “Why would my character talk to that person?” Why indeed? This is where you have to be creative! It doesn’t have to be something profound. Find an excuse. If you wanted to strike up a conversation with someone in real life, what would you do? It could be as simple as complimenting their clothing or if they have a pet, comment on that. Comment on the weather or ask for directions. Use your imagination. All it has to be is something to get the conversation started.
Making OOC Contact
When you simply cannot come up with an idea to start a conversation IC, resort to OOC. Send the person a whisper OOC. Something along the lines of /w Person (( Hey! I notice you have your looking for cotact tag up. Would you like to RP? )) If you can’t see a looking for contact tag, but they appear to be looking for role play, tailor your message to indicate what leads you to believe they are looking for RP. Don’t let fear keep you from at least trying. Most people are either going to be receptive or tell you if they are about to log or leave to go to a raid or whatever.
Sometimes you may not get a response at all. Don’t assume this is a snub. The person may be on a stealth afk. Or they may be wrapped up in drama over other channels. Or they may simply miss it in the spam. Because this is a typed medium, be sure you give plenty of time to respond before you move on. But don’t let one failed attempt keep you from trying again. It is only through trying that we ever succeed.
Another way to find RP is to attend events. Small weekly gatherings or larger events thrown open to the public are a great way to make contact with others. Yes, this may mean giving up an evening of daily quests, but if you want to find RP, you have to make the effort.
Check your realm forum for events. Also check any guild forums you frequent or other forums tied to your realm. Ask around among people who are well known on the server. Likely they will know of any upcoming events or where to find information on them.
When you attend events, be sure you don’t just sit on the side and wait for others to talk to you. RP is a two-way street. It takes effort from both sides to make it happen. If you attend a ball, mingle! Talk with others, compliment their clothes, comment on something you hear in passing. Once again, be creative. You are looking, not waiting, remember?
If there are no events coming up, consider organizing one. That isn’t as complicated as it may seem either. See my previous article on Hosting A Role Play Event for ideas and information on this fun and rewarding process.
Don’t Be A Wallflower
Apathy kills RP. I cannot say that enough. If we all sit around and wait for RP to happen then who is going to initiate it? We must all put forth effort to make it happen and keep it alive. Don’t expect others to bring RP to you. Step out of the safety of silence and look for it. Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t work out every time. That’s normal! The more you try, the more success you will have! If you sit around like the wallflower at the prom, don’t be upset if nobody asks you to dance.
The next time you find yourself complaining about there not being any role play, ask yourself what are you doing to get some going. With a little bit of effort, we can make more RP happen for everyone!