The Basics of WOW Roleplaying

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Online roleplaying has gone on ever since the invention of the ability for two people type a message to one another. MUDs, MUCKs, MOOs, and MMOs have all featured some ability for one person go ¡°Forsooth I could go for a tall ale right about now!¡± to another while pretending that they were standing within a bar. It wasn¡¯t until Everquest that online roleplaying hit mainstream and even in modern times World of Warcraft players often enjoy the company of one another in a true fantasy environment.

This guide will assume you¡¯re playing in a roleplaying server for all intents and purposes. It¡¯s well known that that roleplaying on a non RP (roleplay) server is generally done in private due to the laid back nature of the normal servers and the fact that many other people will most than likely not choose to join in (therefore ruining the realism). It¡¯s not uncommon to be made fun of for roleplaying in public on a normal server as well by the less mature, but that¡¯s a discussion for another day.

Roleplaying Server Basics

There are some additional rules that cover playing on a roleplaying server. For instance, you¡¯re expected to be ¡°in character¡± at all times in the majority of channels (/say, /yell, /party, /emote, /whisper to someone you don¡¯t know). This means no talking about your new car or anything that doesn¡¯t involve the Warcraft universe in /say, /yell, /party, or /emote. General Chat (generally /1) is more relaxed but shouldn¡¯t contain any overly OOC (out of character) material.

Things like trade, looking for guild, and private messages are not enforced RP zones and can contain out of character statements. Remember though it¡¯s only a rule violation if someone reports you and Blizzard notices that the breach of in character was done deliberately. If you make a mistake then apologize to whoever was involved. Don¡¯t worry too much about it. If you see someone breaking the rules feel free deliberately feel free to tell them that they¡¯re making a mistake or report them if you feel it severe enough.

Names also have to be medieval/fantasy related. Nothing related to technology (robots, cars, telephones, etc.) or something that you couldn¡¯t easily see wrote in a fantasy novel.

Blizzard doesn¡¯t police the various chat channels. They rely on the community to say when this is too much so you have to report anyone who is breaking the rules enough to deserve Blizzard¡¯s attention. Mostly people who are constantly OOC and refuse to go IC (in character) along with naming violations.

You can read the official policy right here at this link. Be sure to look it over before you embark on a long term stay on a RP or RP-PVP server. You can and will be banned from RP servers (or the entire game) if you don¡¯t watch how you talk (i.e. stay in character) at all times.

Establishing a Roleplay Friendly Character

First things first! You¡¯re going to need a name that fits within the WoW universe. Supapaladin or Iroxursox or Icanhastotems will probably get reported and you¡¯ll instantly upset most any roleplayer you speak with due to the nature that no one would realistically name their child Icanhastotems in the WoW universe. Icanhaswinbutton wouldn¡¯t be valid either (thanks Ralsu!) Think about a good fantasy setting and come up with a name that will preferably flow off of someone¡¯s tongue. Be creative but avoid any naming convention that you wouldn¡¯t see wrote in a fantasy novel.

Afterwards you¡¯re going to want a slight backstory. Now, if you¡¯re starting at level one this isn¡¯t going to as important as when you¡¯re at a higher level. However, some people choose to start working on their backstory and add certain events to it as they progress through the game. A sample backstory would be:

¡°Lathern is a full blooded Human Rogue known by many as a simple bounty hunter for hire. As a child he was one of the refugees left about with one to take care of him. Using his wit and skill he stayed alive as an errand runner which taught him the main skills he¡¯d use as an adult: stealth and subversion. Now he is a well established bounty hunter who will take on any errand¡­ from a simple delivery to returning with someone¡¯s head.¡±

A formal paragraph like that is generally only needed for guilds or in situations where special RP addons can be utilized. You¡¯re probably are not going to need to write several paragraphs giving an in character description. However you¡¯re going to want to have the basics down before you start roleplaying. Here are some helpful things to think about and write down before you attempt to mingle with others in character:

  • Where as your character born
  • What physical/psychological traits does your character possess
    • Speech impediments: Dwarves will often have difficulty pronouncing the letter H so here will become ¡®ere and there will be ¡®ere.
    • Obsessions: Some people like to have their characters obsess over various things. Like some will be obsessed with collecting sea shells while others may have to kill every Murloc they see.
    • Phobias: Fears. For instance, a fear of Murlocs due to a tragic event in the past.
    • Physical Markings: Scars, battle wounds, or other unique markings that can be referred to often.
  • What kind of attitude does your character possess High strung, shy, ¡°holier than thou¡±, mean, nice, quiet, elusive, deep thinker, and the list could keep on.
  • What alignment is your character Evil, Good, and Neutral are generally the three accepted answers to this question. It¡¯s simple, what would your character do in a situation where there was a good and evil choice to take. Remember to take your class into consideration. You¡¯re rarely going to see an evil (Alliance) Paladin. You¡¯re also not likely to see a Good Warlock. It¡¯s just the nature of the classes.
  • What atmosphere was your character raised in For instance, Rogues generally like to say they come from the streets while Hunters from the woods.
  • Family details. Who was in your characters family and where are they now Siblings

You don¡¯t have to do this right away, but it¡¯s very handy and even helpful to know what you want to be when interacting with others while roleplaying. If you don¡¯t plan ahead you could make mistakes that would either make you seem untrustworthy if people assume you do it on purpose (no one is going to mix up their story without a reason) or just ruin the immersion for others if they notice it¡¯s done on purpose.

Being Prepared ¨C Understanding the World

As mentioned previously, roleplaying on a roleplay server is something that will continues 24/7. You¡¯re always going to be ¡°in-character¡± which means all of your actions should be done from your character¡¯s point of view. Now, obviously, going out and questing and raiding are all part of the game and something every character would want to do. What I¡¯m talking about is how you speak and act in front of others.

You¡¯re always supposed to be in-character so you¡¯re going to want to understand the world around you. If you¡¯re going to speak and act like someone who lives in Azeroth then you¡¯re going to need to understand what Azeroth is. It¡¯s not that difficult and you don¡¯t exactly have to go too far out of your way to do it. There is one bit of advice I can give that will help you understand the world and what¡¯s going on.

¡°Read the game text.¡±

Read what NPCs tell you along with the quest text. Take a look at the various books sitting on tables in various inns. Listen to how other players are talking to one another. Simply paying attention to things most powergamers skip will net you most all of the information you need to be able to be in-character as you progress through the game.

You don¡¯t need to know that Prince Kael¡¯thas has gone mad or who Uther is. You just need enough background that when you do speak or talk about things with others you won¡¯t be completely lost. The setting of the world can give you plenty of enough to fuel you imagination and help you be creative and help you fit in.

Interacting with the World

To roleplay you must interact with the world through various forms of communication. Your actions should always reflect the point of view of the character and not the player. That means you¡¯re going to have to change the way you speak with other players. According to the RP rules (assuming you¡¯re on a RP server) everything said in public should always be in-character. This isn¡¯t exactly always the case and there are many situations where you don¡¯t have to be in-character (the RP servers are policed by their community) but that¡¯s something that changes server to server.

Changing the way you talk with others can be slightly challenging. However, the best advice I can give you is just to think about what your character would say to someone and just go with it. Here¡¯s a quick example:

Normally you might say:

You: Where is this turnin for the <name of quest>

If you¡¯re roleplaying (someone who is nice) then you could go with:

You: Excuse me, but does anyone know where <Name of NPC> is at, the captain over yonder asked me to speak with him.

Or, to avoid the length:

You: Do you know where <Name of NPC> is at

In the first example you¡¯ll notice how the language is used is for the most efficient means of communication and is done from the point of view of the gamer. Since this is a game the gamer would simply ask ¡°how do I beat this game¡±. In the other two examples you¡¯ll notice it¡¯s from the point of view of the character. There are no ¡°turnins¡± or any other shortcut chat involved.

It¡¯s harder to remember to act like your character than to say out what your character would say. Just remember who your character is and how your character would act to each situation and you¡¯ll be fine.

As for when it¡¯s appropriate to act in-character always go based on your surroundings. There are times or areas where people go OOC (out of character) and it¡¯d be quite silly to go up to people talking about politics and pronounce your oath to defeat the evil scourge invading the town.

Stay tuned for the next update which will go into /emotion and wrap up the other basics.