CHAPTER ONE: KNOW THYSELF
One of the most entertaining things I’ve experienced as a gamer is Role-Playing, mostly in games like Guild Wars 2 or World of Warcraft. It’s not for everyone, and lots of people like to make fun of role-players for using their imagination, being creative, and generally having a different kind of fun than the main-streamers might think is “cool.”
Originally, I drafted this as an instructional guide for new role-players, people who wanted to get into the correct type of role-playing without falling into Mary Sue-style characters, special-snowflake acting, and generally making the experience unpleasant for others.
No characters, reputations, or images will be harmed in the construction of this work.
For just a moment, close your eyes and imagine that you are not yourself. No, I don’t mean imagine that you’re a barn yard animal in Nebraska. For a moment, picture yourself with blue-skin, pointy ears, fang-like teeth, and you’re clothed in leather armor.
The hit was easy. One clean swipe and crimson flooded from a thin slice in your mark’s throat.
…sounds a little serial-killerish, doesn’t it? Or perhaps vampiric? No no, in this case, you’re a Night Elf rogue, and you’re mean as hell.
Now, back to reality. You’re at a desk, likely. Sweatpants, a T-shirt that says “Roll the dice to see if I’m getting drunk!” Probably sipping on a Red Bull since you just woke up, a bag of leftover Cheetos from last night. As you nom on a stick of powdered cheese, you ponder a question:
What is RP?
That, my friend, I will tell you.
Case in point: World of Warcraft. In the over-ten-year love-hate relationship I’ve somehow managed to have with the game, I’ve seen some amazing things. Friendships born, alliances forged and broken, marriages end, countless other realities. It’s a wild place, and the role-play isn’t without its squirrels, either.
Let’s say you just made your character, a paladin. Some people just type in a name, click “Create” and they’re on their way. But not you, you want to create something awesome here. So, let’s try a few questions, and see where your imagination runs off to. Keep your answers in context of the story in which your character belongs. In the case of WoW, your character is not from the court of King Onomatopoeia whom rules over the land of Hibernia on a planet known as The Realm.
- What made her become a paladin?
- Was she born nobility? Was she a peasant that came to the city and applied to serve?
- Does she strictly worship the gods appointed over her? Is she rebellious, serving only when necessary?
- Is she a zealot? Does she condemn others for their life choices?
- Does she have a flaw according to social acceptability? Does she worship an evil god instead of the Light? Does she abuse her standing as a paladin to influence others?
Any role-player worth their salt knows their backtstory. They have to in order to have any hope of a good continuity in their story. When an RP’er knows who they are playing in the game, they can have meaningful dialogue that nearly mirrors a real life. The only exception is, that at the end of the day, you walk away knowing that you built upon your story and real life awaits.
Don’t mock me, hardcore players. You just spent eight hours raiding, now real life awaits you. You’re no different.
It’s a good feeling to that get badass new piece of gear. For RP’ers, is a good feeling to create a living, complex character that they can get lost in and exercise their imagination.
Shifting gears a bit. MMO’s have this nasty habit of giving us absolutely incredible character models, with perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect bodies, perfect blah blah blah. Occasionally, some of the newer games will allow you to have the “cool” scar across an eye, or maybe down the cheek. But these are aesthetics. If every character had the scar on their eye, it wouldn’t really be awesome anymore, would it?
Just because they are perfect on the screen doesn’t mean they have to be perfect in your story. Their armor might hide a horrific deformity, or perhaps a bunch of painful scars. Maybe they have a bad eye, or are missing a finger…or three. Something can be wrong with your character’s appearance. In my time as an RP’er, I’ve seen characters covered in scars, missing an eye, or both, you name it. It’s entirely up to you.
Perhaps your character likes to stand on their head, belch the ABC’s, fart at the moon and then dance naked in the blood of murlocs until just before dawn.
But only on Mondays, and he or she starts at exactly 6:47 and 33 seconds.
The possibilities are endless.
Your character is a treasure trove of your imaginative prowess and ideas. Fill them to the brim with quirks, surprises and other little fun things for your guild mates to discover as they RP. It will make it that much more fun.