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Guide to roleplaying

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How to roleplaye
General guide
All the World's a Stage
 Alliance

Draenei
Dwarf
Gnome
Human
Night elf
Worgen

 Horde

Blood elf
Forsaken
Goblin
Orc
Tauren
Troll

 Both

Pandaren

Character typee
Criminal
Evil
Powerful
Villain

This guide serves as a comprehensive guide to roleplaying (RP). RP servers are roleplaying servers, incorporating the best aspects of the game. As such, its nice to have a loose selection of guidelines to go by.

What is Roleplaying?

Remember when you were little and you used to play dress-up or "pretend"? Roleplaying is an advanced version of that game. Roleplaying is a way for people to express themselves and their creativity while having fun at the same time. Roleplaying was popularized with Dungeons and Dragons, a pen-and-paper (PnP) RPG. Since the dawn of the computer age, roleplaying has shifted from board games to video games. Roleplaying in an MMO is vitally different than roleplaying by yourself, as there are as many rules as there are people. However, there is a general consensus of the rules of roleplay, which have been laid out in this guide.

Given the extremely mainstream/"vanilla" nature of World of Warcraft, (at least when compared with earlier games) aside from on the RP servers, genuine roleplaying is not something you will see in this game's Normal servers often. Although the game has an economy, Blizzard's minimisation of the "virtual world" aspects that characterised Ultima Online in particular is probably the single main factor that has enabled WoW to become as mainstream as it has, and roleplaying is part of that.

Roleplaying also has a tendency to be associated with various other non-mainstream subcultural fandoms and groups, such as furry fandom, and Gothdom/vampire fandom. As with the furry fandom, and sexual diversity in various other forms, is not unknown. It is for this reason, that roleplaying should generally be considered an activity for people who don't take part in this kind of roleplay. Generally, the style of roleplay World of Warcraft will usually be set in is kind of Medieval Fantasy-ish.

On RP servers, roleplayers have a marked tendency to be shy and reclusive towards the general server population, with the vast majority of roleplay taking place in guild or party chat. General and Trade channels are usually considered out of character by default, (particularly Trade). Do your best not to type OOC unless you have to.

Different Types of Roleplayers

Anti-Roleplayers

These players will deliberately go out of their way to ruin your immersion and experience, in game and out. They do so by forum trolling signified roleplay posts, spamming /say and emotes (oh god /dance) during a roleplay session or other annoyances that distract from your roleplaying experience (Spamming various spells, and giving no ic responses when eyebrows are raised at their naked dancing). Basically, the AR is the kid knocking over sand castles at the beach; they can't be bothered putting effort into building something up, so they'll feel better if they destroy someone else's work. While the AR seeks to show some kind of superiority to get you to buckle, ignoring their subversion is the best response. Find a really big rock and build your sand castle around it. This behavior on a roleplaying server is considered a form of griefing, and it is a reportable offense.

You could always just treat them like an ooc object, and act like they're not there and their fire spells and raining arrows aren't actually raining down upon you. After all, they're not roleplaying.

See also: Bhiggo's Guide to Proper Reporting

Example: 2 roleplayers and an AR waiting for a zeppelin

     Blue: Vhy we going to stranglethorn again? You know Ih hate ze umidity!
Anti-RPer: omg.LOL

Indifferent to Roleplaying

These players seek neither to create nor destroy other peoples roleplaying experience. Some that fall into this category may want to roleplay, or at least experiment from time to time this guide is mainly for you. Others may be content to stay under the radar at all times, keeping their chat within the rules stated by Blizzard and enjoy the server purely for the PVE and PVP. Then there is a percentage that leans back towards the ARr, not openly sabotaging roleplay but holding disregard for it.

Example: Blue is opening lockboxes in Orgrimmar

           Blue: Ah, yis, lets see what zis lockbox holds for you good troll (opens box)
IndifferentRPer: thanks
IndifferentRPer /goodbye emote

Light Roleplayer

Ah, this is where it starts to get fun! Welcome to the first tier of playing a character. Light roleplaying is when you start to modify your responses to seem more appropriate for your character. Light roleplay usually involves characters that are very similar in personality to you, as to take some of the complexity away from the experience. To some people, this is a good balance between what is enjoyable without being pedantic. The characters motivations are more or less the same as your own, but with a twist. Out of character chat is not uncommon or looked down upon, party/raid chat is best left OOC. At this level, some players may choose to take up an accent appropriate for race. This is especially easy if you are a Troll, Dwarven a little harder, and other races don't have a specific direction for accents. As far as advancement in the game, RP never takes precedent over your enjoyment of the game as a whole, so if you want to go ganking or farm some instances, you do so. However a light RPr will usually have a somewhat believable motivation for doing so. In terms of being in a guild, a Light Roleplayer will probably be in a Non-Roleplaying guild, but being in a General Roleplaying guild is not unheard of and depends on the guild's focus and the player's tastes. Light RPers have little to no issue with heading off to raid and killing a boss for the 18th time, even though there might be little to no IC reasoning behind it. Many light RPers tend to disappear around 1800 to 2100 (6:00 PM to 9:00 PM) server time and a /who might reveal their location to be in a raid instance. They might be a a dedicated raider, or carry a similar attitude to another aspect of the game (arenas or battlegrounds, for example). Chances are, they'll leave their IC at the raid portal, unless the instance is on farm mode and they're with a bunch of other Roleplayers.

Example: A rare sword drops in SM which the player really needs

Troll: Hey, this sword would be great for me mon, make things much easy for me.

Example: Player is questioned why they are grinding the same mobs over and over

Troll: Well, I simply ate dem raptors mon.

Example: Player is asked why they attack Alliance or Horde on sight

Human: I hate the horde, they invaded us in past wars / They harbour the forsaken /
They are scum that deserve to die / They have no honour

Medium-Light Roleplayer

A Medium-Light Roleplayer is, as the name implies, sandwiched somewhere between a Medium Roleplayer and a Light Roleplayer. Generally, they are Light Roleplayers but display characteristics of a Medium one, such as a developed back-story or their character differs somewhat from their own personality. However, unlike medium ones, and like light ones, they have few issues with shattering their own immersion (although they will do their best to avoid shattering the immersion of others) and no issues with OOC communication. They will tend to keep /say and /yell IC, with party/raid chat usually OOC, and OOC text will be denoted in same manner (OOC:<blah> ((<blah))). To these people, roleplaying is high on their list in terms of their enjoyment, but will never come before their primary enjoyment, such as raiding or arenas. This also includes preparation "rituals", such as a string of dailies to ensure money to buy flasks and/or repairs, and logging off to eat (since raiding on an empty stomach sucks). They will probably work these into their character somehow (such as saying "I must go and work on slaying Arthas in Icecrown Citadel. Perhaps we can continue this discussion tomorrow?"), but will tend to ignore game mechanic quirks such as having killed Lord Marrowgar 42 times already (between both 10 and 25 man versions of the instance). In terms of guilds, medium-light roleplayers tend to follow the same rules as light roleplayers: usually found in non-roleplaying guilds, but may be in a general roleplaying depending on the guild's focus.

A common place to see this is on the Moon Guard server. Many people have created alts on that server for the sole purpose of roleplaying, but again, have no issues attempting to quickly wrap something up, or go out of their way to make sure what they'll be doing can be easily wrapped up, and go back to their main to do whatever activities they have planned for the evening. They, like Light Roleplayers, could be a dedicated raider or equivalent and also like light roleplayers, IC is usually left at the raid portal.

Example: Medium-Light Roleplayer is saying farewell to his RP friends and preparing to hit a raid

Indifferent RP: u ready, yet <name>?
      M-L RPer: Farewell, friends! Perhaps I'll live through this and I'll see you again.
    Heavy RPer: Ach, with skills like yers, I'd be more worried 'bout the <insert faction of raid here>!
   Medium RPer: Nevertheless, farewell friend, and take this blessing of Elune before you go! (Drops Power Word: Fortitude on the M-L RPer)
      M-L RPer: Thank you! (Heads into the instance portal)
      M-L RPer: It's time to kick ass and chew bubble gum. And I'm all outta gum. Who brought the damn fish feasts? Is PallyPower set up yet? I need to know which one of you goofs gets what. Did so and so just face pull again? rofl
Indifferent RP: new version of DBM is up
      M-L RPer: Since when?!

Medium Roleplayer

A bit of a step up, here are some of the differences to a light roleplayer. Medium Roleplayers usually have a back-story for their character that explains their past. This past helps to define the character in present and future actions. Medium roleplayers with accent classes will likely adopt it (or a suitable back story to explain otherwise), and speak mannerisms may be developed; Maybe an unusual accent, way of punctuating or getting a message across. Out of character chat is usually indifferent to a MR, but always denoted by ((<text>)) or OOC: <text>. Raid and party chat will be either in character or sparse/to the point as possible as to not break immersion too much. A character may be different, or an aspect of the players personality they wish to explore. Players often choose to ignore names above heads, meaning a proper introduction is required to know who someone is, just like in real life. Medium roleplayers may start to shun areas of the game that do not agree with their character. In terms of being in a guild, a medium roleplayer will usually be found in a general rolepaying guild that has a heavier focus on roleplaying than other things or a themed guild.

Example: Group of 4 is looking for a paladin to tackle SM (Paladin being invited)

   Group leader: Hey there, you want to come to SM?
        Paladin: Sorry, no, my father is a serving member of the crusade, and I won't take arms
                 against him.
      LightRPer: Oh dear I see, take heart paladin, we'll avoid anyone that looks like you.
IndifferentRPer: that's cool man, cya later.
      Anti-RPer: wtf? come 2 SM u dork, dnt u need that shield?

Example: Friend from old realm comes on to try new server with old PVP friend

     Human: Hey Tiberius, good to see you again, can you start me up with some silver?
MediumRPer: Err. How did you know my name, I've never seen you before! You must be a spy, huh?
            Get the hell away from me before I kick your head in!
MediumRPer: (( Hey mate, good to see you J here's 1g, sorry my character is an asshole (?) :P,
            play along and see! ))

Using ((information)) to convey OOC information in IC channels is up to debate; be aware many roleplayers consider it to be highly inappropriate or at least amateurish. Whispers or forming a Party are a much safer way to communicate OOC.

Heavy Roleplayer

This is where roleplaying takes complete precedence over any aspect of the game. A player will not engage in player killing unless there is a motivation to. A player will probably not even run unless in haste. Every word that leaves the character's mouth belongs to that of the character, the player behind is probably a completely different person.

Immersion is paramount to the heavy roleplayer, as their entire enjoyment comes out of this. A heavy roleplayer will not stand for ARs, and even IRs to a degree. A heavy roleplayer is forced, even at the worst of times, to play as their character. Out of character talk is very, very sparse, always at least denoted by ((double brackets)); often whispers or party chat. A heavy roleplayer will not use the general chat channel. It is not uncommon for a HR to not use guild chat or any other long distance forms of communication, as this distracts from their immersion. A heavy roleplayer will always have a backstory, a clear sense of character, and a strong intention on future for a character. A HR character is ever changing, making their mark on the world and letting the world mould their character. In terms of being in a guild, a heavy roleplayer will probably be in a themed guild or a general roleplaying guild that is mostly focused on roleplaying, or they may not be apart of a guild, which has to do with their character (such as being a lone wolf), but chances are they will have connections of some kind to a roleplaying guild (themed or otherwise). If they do anything else outside of Roleplaying (raiding, etc.) it will probably be in character, and they will attempt to find IC reasoning for game mechanic quirks (such as having killed a boss 20 times over).

Example: HR night elf walks by every type of RPer in Stormwind

 HeavyRPer2(night elf): [Darnassian] Ishnu alah
  HeavyRPer(night elf): [Darnassian] (To you too)
     MediumRPer(human): Ah, an Elven in Stormwind? What does this man owe the pleasure?
             HeavyRPer: Hello human brother, I'm meeting kin in the park, good day
      LightRPer(dwarf): Hullo elf!
             HeavyRPer: /em scrunches up her nose at the dwarf
             HeavyRPer: Errm... good day
IndifferentRPer(gnome): Hey, can you open this lock?
            MediumRPer: Hmmm, I am in no great hurry. Why not, let's have a look at it. 
                        (lock pops)
       IndifferentRPer: woot! Its a 12slot thx
            MediumRPer: Huh? You sure speak funny, gnome
       IndifferentRPer: wat?
            MediumRPer: /huff, never mind, good day
             Anti-RPer: its faster to run, press the / key
            MediumRPer: ...
             Anti-RPer: /dance
            MediumRPer: .leave me be
             Anti-RPer: lololo

The MediumRPer files a report.

A Fair Warning

Heavy Roleplayers are often looked up to by less experienced and less "involved" roleplayers as role models on how to roleplay well, examples of quality roleplay and leaders to fall in behind to get a good roleplaying experience or someone to spearhead a good storyline. HOWEVER, a heavy roleplayer's immersion, being central to the player's experience, can sometimes be a turn off to the same people who might look up to him. Being inflexible around people and never breaking IC can, if you're not careful, begin to border on elitism. If someone is asking a question on how to better their roleplaying (or simply asking to open a lockbox), be flexible, go with the flow, and help them out. If someone is godmodding, offer friendly advice. Don't just slap them on your ignore list because your immersion was shattered.

General Information About Ingame Chat and Forums

So, there is a basic guide to the types of roleplaying, and it's easy to see why MR/HR may not get along so well with the antis or indifferents. So, what point do we draw the line for RP servers? What is the acceptable amount of roleplay for someone to undertake?

Verbal/Physical Harassment Targeting Role-Players

This category includes:

  • Players that specifically target role-players for verbal/physical abuse (not limited to offensive language).

If a player is found to be targeting role-players with the specific intent to harass, he/she may:

  • Be temporarily suspended from the game.

Out of Character (OOC) Discussion and Use of General Chat

Detailed below is the language policy enforced on the Role-Play servers. Use of the /ignore command is also highly encouraged.

  • The General Chat Channel should only be used for finding Storylines (SLs), finding Party Groups, and various other discussions pertaining to the Base Storyline (BSL), game-related topics, and continuity.
  • The General Chat Channel should NOT be used for any "Off-topic," Non-Storyline, or non game-related discussions.
  • Absolutely no out of character (OOC) or non-fantasy related dialogue should take place in the /Say, /Yell, or Party chat channels.
  • Guild Chat will not be policed for any fantasy related violations, except by the guild.
  • All normal harassment rules (which can be found here) still apply.

Examples of appropriate conversation in the General Chat Channel:

  • "Would anyone like to join a Rogue Specific SL?"
  • "What happened to the Well of Eternity?"

Examples of inappropriate conversation in the General Chat Channel:

  • "Did you see that new movie?"
  • "My sister just bought a new car."

If a player is found violating any of these rules, he/she may:

  • Be given a warning. (Do not try reporting everyone. Several may respond unpleasantly and there will be lots of them.

From the indications above, the indifferent roleplayers that respect the above rules have right to be here. It is just a subjective point as to when an indifferents action affects the immersion of the more serious roleplayers.

The important thing is to make an effort, no matter how basic it is. The best way to roleplay is to be active! While standing around waiting for a boat, tell your neighbour how much you hate orcs or your IC mother-in-law. While selling items, try using your accent in the trade channel. While questing/instancing, start arguing with your warlock pet! Being proactive is the best way for you to enjoy roleplay! If you are standing in a crowd of 10 people waiting for that boat, there is a very good chance someone will reply. But, while being proactive, make sure to be a good listener too ;) Everyone loves to be paid attention to, pay attention to your fellow roleplayers and they will love you for it!

A good tool for roleplaying is MyRolePlay (MRP). It's in beta but is taking over the RP community by storm. You can set your flag (status) to "Looking for RP" among many other things, such as your title (Zerun the Magnificent), house name (Lethn of the House Darotan), middle- and surnames, weight, height, mood, colors, description (Lacking an eye - not Lacking an eye due to being ravaged by a gnoll in her youth, since how would an outsider know that?). MRP is considered the replacement to the older RP addon FlagRSP.

Want to write a backstory? Good stuff, get an idea together while on the train to work and when you're ready, post it up on the forums! People who wish to roleplay further may reply to your story or look out for you.

Posting roleplaying on the forums

As some of you may have seen, there are some denotations swimming around, here are some,

  • ((OOC)) a roleplayer needing to explain something ooc,
  • ((FFA-IC)) anyone may add to this discussion IN CHARACTER only
  • ((OPEN-RP)) an open invitation to join a crafted series of events or roleplay
  • ((Closed-RP)) a closed peak at other peoples stories, you may not add but you still may enjoy the drama.

Character Creation

In World of Warcraft, character creation is as simple as pointing and clicking. In roleplay, however, its always better to have a detailed history of your character, whether it has been written down or just sits in your head. The creation of your character is an important first step in any role-playing game. There are certain things that are imperative to know when you're creating a character for WoW.

The Basics

Gender

Do you want to role-play a male or female character? There are advantages to either. This is mostly a personal choice. Most people tend to stay with their own gender - at least for their first character (!), although there are many people who cross-gender roleplay.

Name

What's in a name? A lot, actually. Your name, oftentimes, is the first impression another player will have of you. In a roleplaying server, like ED is, a name like Twinkforu or Imapriest are often frowned upon. A good way of deciding if your name is appropriate is to picture your character in a real life scenario. Would a parent name their child Imapriest? Ultimately, the decision is up to the player. Keep in mind where you are playing, however. Under character names, some people find a simple search around a baby names site useful if they're stuck on what to name a character. The following are useful sites:

Fantasy names:

Personality

Having a vague idea of your character's personality is always good. Personality is how your character reacts and responds to certain situations. Is she mean, or is she kind and benevolent? This choice will affect your gameplay, seeing as your evil warlock will not likely give a discount to that cute gnome mage, not matter how much you like the gnome mage out of character. Personalities often conflict, which is normal. Don't expect everyone to get along, just like in real life. However, don't bring your in character (IC) drama out of character (OOC).

Racial Effects

Don't forget to take your character's race into consideration. Race defines how some characters get along, their general personality, and perspectives. For example, a dwarf would view a set of ruins in the middle of the forest as an archeological treasure trove and start uprooting the trees and digging up the soil, while a Night Elf would attempt to preserve the trees, and a Goblin would uproot artifacts and trees to develop the land.

Alignment

Alignment is usually used in Dungeons and Dragons and other related games, so it isn't of much relevance to World of Warcraft. Your character's alignment is a general stereotype of their personality. The usual alignments are lawful good, neutral good, chaotic good, lawful neutral, true neutral, chaotic neutral, lawful evil, neutral evil, and chaotic evil. Wikipedia has a good (as always) description of each.

Roleplaying "Good"

Playing an essentially "Good" character may seem as easy as opening your eyes, but as with other alignment classifications, there are some points that need to be remembered. They can be as difficult to role-play believably as villainous characters. They don't necessarily have to be huggy, kissy, warm-fuzzy type of people. What defines a character as being good is how they work to achieve the goals they have established within their role-play.

Example: There are three essentially good characters interacting in a role-play that revolves around rescuing a kidnapping victim.

The Defender - This character seeks assistance from honorable characters that they have contacted with to deal with the kidnapper. Using all methods within their power that don't cause internal conflict caused by of issues of conscience, they work to affect the return of the kidnap victim and the bringing to justice of their kidnapper.

The Interloper - This character seeks out the kidnapper for negotiation, working toward a settlement that will keep both sides in the dispute content and safe. They may be seen at times as acting in their own best interests during this work, as they go back and forth between the kidnapper and those who seek the victims return appearing to be working toward the goals of each.

The Rash Thinker - This character is prone to rash actions to affect the kidnapping victims return. They may gather a small group from among those they trust to seek the kidnappers hideout and steal the victim away from them. This type of character has a greater chance of seeing violent conflict from their actions, although they are working for the same results as the previous two dreamers.

Roleplaying "Neutral"

Neutrality is the ability to not take sides in an issue or event, regardless of personal feelings. This type of character can be seen as cold and indifferent in their actions and need others to look deeper to really get to know them. They are focused mostly on their own goals that do not impact others, making them appear greedy to some. Some neutral types are very dependent on those around them at the time.

Examples:

  • The Chameleon - this type of character blends into their surroundings. Mostly to observe whats happening around them and generally wishy-washy. They can be an almost constant presence, to the point where most people ignore them.
  • The Recluse - this type of character is often seen as a hermit or anti-social. They keep to themselves as they work toward their goals, often hoarding what they learn instead of sharing it with others. Often, this type of character is where lost knowledge stories originate.
  • The Mediator - this type of character is often called upon to mediate disputes between others after they become known for their neutrality. They can take the information provided them and look at it evenly, as they have no preference of one side over the other.

Neutral characters see all of those around them equally, whether as useful for gathering information from, a source of irritation that keeps them from working on their goals, or a complete nuisance that they would rather be without.

Roleplaying "Evil"

There are just as many adjectives for evil: dishonorable, deceptive, abusive, cruel, immoral, and more. As with any character, an Evil character is not necessarily at his worst, most foul and antagonistic behavior at all times. Being of an Evil disposition only means that the capacity for these things is always there and that they may know no limits to the depth of their depravity. This means that an Evil character can be charming, cooperative, and for all appearances a nice guy. But its a façade that is not likely to last long unless the character is particularly determined and capable of maintaining such a deception.

Some examples of villains:

  • The Conformist - he thrives by taking advantages afforded to him by whatever system is available to do so, almost equating what is legal to what is right and proper even when it is legal to seriously harm another. After all, if it weren't right and proper, the law should be changed, and since it hasn't been changed, it must still be right.
  • The Intellectual - he probably does not consider himself to be evil, but almost certainly considers himself to be intelligent, wise, shrewd, and on the ball rather than foolishly concerning himself with the welfare of others as those idiotic dopes that speak of the common good are concerned. Often, this type of character thinks of themselves as naturally superior to others, their own needs coming first, and the needs of others coming much further down the list.
  • The Overlord - he is concerned only with his own goals and nothing else. Only those things that with strengthen him and push him towards that goal are important and he will pursue that goal with any means possible. He hopes to bring himself to a position of power, glory, and prestige.

Playing a villain will never grant a player license to break Blizzard's rules of conduct. Being "evil" is not a valid excuse for randomly collapsing or harassing others; and one of the most difficult aspects of upholding an "evil" character is ensuring grudges stop at your character. Don't get angry with others for their responses to your character, because they too are taking a logical role.

Tips for the Villains
Before making an evil character you should realize it can be more difficult than others, make sure you have a good idea beforehand of what your characters goals are. You most likely wont get far roleplaying an "evil" character if you cant make any friends. Allies can be beneficial even if the character doesn't use violence or warfare to exact his evilness. Lastly make sure to be convincing, in general not many people are evil. Define your character as being one of those unique few and you'll have a great time. Just remember that the Good Guys usually win.

What makes you a villain? Most characters don't just decided on a whim that they want to be evil. This should stem from your characters history and not the players desire. Be unique. Some-thing that is not often seen, or that people fear or misunderstand is often labeled "evil". Go against the grain. This means speech and mannerisms as well as appearance.

  • "Evil is in the eye of the beholder." So you want to be evil to some - not all. Perhaps even most, but always have a way out. If you don't, you're setting yourself up for the fall.
  • Focus. Know what it is you want to accomplish. Be open to change. Nothing stays static for too long. If it can go wrong, it will. Plan ahead. Might does not equal malevolence. You can have the biggest chakram, an infinite DreamSoul elemen, and a whole slew of offensive arts, and are still just a thug.
  • Violence does not equal villainy. A politician in power can be ten times more corrupt than a convicted killer who acted in self-defense. Destruction isn't always the answer either. Hostages present a much more complicated situation than simply planting a bomb.
  • Crime is not always the best avenue for those of the dark alignment. This is especially true in Underlight. Be creative and find other methods to achieve your goals.
  • Morality is important. Most evil doers have compromised moral values. Either they're working for themselves and don't think the rules apply to them, or they're working for the common good but don't understand whats appropriate and whats not.
  • The end can justify the means. You're playing WoW the way you see fit. If a few souls get lost along the way, what is that to compare to the lives you'll save after the fact? You can either end up the hero or a martyr if you're not careful.
  • Remember that you didn't do anything wrong if you didn't get caught. And the more people that support your side of the story, the less likely you are to be labeled a "threat" to society as a whole.
  • Set standards. Be prejudice. If you think one way, then others are misguided or utterly wrong. They're either agreeing with you, or they disagree with you. Don't be afraid to stand up for what you believe, and teach it to those impressionable Newly Awakened.
  • Honor is for the dead. The difference between a hero and a fool is luck. The difference between a coward and a corpse? Stupidity. Live to fight another day.
  • Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. Never let them see it coming. A good villain always has his/her ace in the hole; and usually the joker as well.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for help in your endeavors. Just be careful what you wish for. Minions are just that. People will work for reward before friendship. Greed can be good motivation. Remember that if they see a way to use you as a stepping stone, they will. Especially if it gives them what you have.
  • Take small steps at first. Test the waters. You cant be bad until you know what good is.
  • Trademarks. If it's been done, it's probably been done better. Find your own path, and let that aspect be yours and yours alone. Make yourself memorable.
  • Achilles' heel. Every bad guy has one. Illness. Disability. Pangs of regret. Love for family. A persistent obsession. Maybe this is what drives your character. (For undead, most people seem to test the "no feelings" aspect.)
  • Turning over a new leaf. Evildoers don't make many friends. When it becomes unbearable, there are always other options. This also makes an incredibly good smoke screen.
  • Don't be invulnerable! Sure, capture the heroes, make them watch you describe your master plan...but if they come up with some ingenious escape method, and disrupt your evil ritual of world domination, take it in your stride...don't just ignore it! It gets very annoying when you shield yourself with magic...again. And again. And again.
  • Don't get silly and lighthearted. Villains are darkhearted and cruel.
  • Well-written and well portrayed villains don't always see themselves and what they're doing as evil, even if it is working on some contraption to brutally slaughter everyone in the world (they might see it as purging the weak and unfit for a shining new world order). A villain who can (almost) convince an indirect third party (such as a reader or outside observer) that they are in the right can go a lot farther than the rampaging "Blargh! I am evil! I am the bad guy! Fear me! Hate me! MWAH-HAH-HAH-HAH!" villain. However, the key is to almost convince the reader/observer: there needs to be something about you or your plans that makes the reader/observer happy when you meet your final end.
  • Anti-heroes are NOT villains, and villains are NOT anti-heroes. Anti-heroes oppose the heroes, but they also oppose the villains, but not necessarily for the same reasons. The anti-hero might have a personal vendetta or something similar against the villain (in which case, they oppose the heroes because they want to take down the villain instead) or they might oppose the villain for the same reasons as the hero, however, a difference of opinion or method makes them anti-heroes, such as the anti-hero willing to do whatever it takes (even if it costs the lives of countless innocents), while the hero would abhor such measures and methods.
  • Don't always lose! Yes, the good guys are supposed to win, but only in the very end! The phrase "To be Continued..." can be a nice change of pace, and good RPers will accept it as long as you don't always win.
  • Never hesitate to use the good guys to further your own agenda, such as taking out a personal enemy or getting a rare ingredient for your master scheme. Remember, the good guys are suckers: they fall for the little old lady needing help every single time it's used. Guaranteed. Or your money back. Both heroic heroes and antiheroes will fall for this. Always remember Article VI of the Villain's Handbook: There is nobody more stupid than the hero of a TV cartoon show MMORPG Roleplaying circle.
  • A villain's overall agenda that results in doing something that is actually a good thing, but still has a pack of heroes on his or her tail because his or her methods are screwy, or the heroes are misinformed is more of an antihero than a villain. The Golden Sun series is a good example of this.

Anti-Heroes

Anti-heroes are characters that can be seen as "good guys" but tend to lack the valor and honor associated with typical good guys (Again, wikipedia helps Antihero). In a large population place like WoW, it's going to be difficult to be the anti-hero hero opposing the villain; chances are, you're going to have a heroic hero to contend with. To start off, the hero is NOT your main enemy (if he's even an enemy at all): the villain is. Never lose sight of this. Your reason for opposing the heroic hero can be many things: you have a vendetta against the villain and you want to bring him down instead of the hero therefore you rush ahead to get your vengeance, the hero is too good for his own good and is unwilling to take drastic measures to ensure the job gets done therefore you strike out on your own (lawful good vs. chaotic good), you just flat out can't stand the hero therefore you leave him to his own devices or perhaps the hero is one of your enemies but taking down the villain is top priority while getting rid of the hero is either A: icing on the cake or B: something to take care of later.

If the hero is your enemy, and you are not a villain, you need to take some care to avoid being seen as a villain by an indirect third party (EG: reader or observer). Use the hero to further your goals, but only if it's convenient as too much scheming and manipulating tends to paint a more villainous character.

The thing to remember when being an antihero is that you and the hero share a common goal. The last thing you want is to have taken the hero out of the picture and then realize that the villain is too strong.

Mary Sues

One main risk in creating a character is creating a Mary Sue. There are many definitions of a Mary Sue (Mary sue definition at Wikipedia might help give you a better idea). A Mary Sue is basically a character made with more idealization than logic, so perfect you want to kill them or try to steal the spotlight with their drama. Mary Sue has what we'd all like in a real person - niceness, a wide range of skills, charm, attractiveness - but not a fictional one.

Mary Sues are usually kind, righteous, have a heart-string-yanking past, more skills than they should and are prone to godmodding. They might be propped up with 'interesting' traits, such as having a 'curse' which only serves to enhance their abilities, a lineage involving a canon character, a hybridism of different species or even going as far as creating their own race or mix up aspects (or indeed use the full aspect) of non-existant ones such as Aliens and Terminators.

Mary Sues or their traits tend to annoy other roleplayers by being cliché (Most people have seen and heard of the sons and daughters of Illidan or half-demon/demon-possessed people), impossible lore-wise (vampires do not exist in Azeroth), attention-grabbing (a character that was beaten up by their whole family that is still happy and cheery, but occasionally cries on the shoulder of a handsome stranger about it) or just plain over-the-top (a character that is part demon, part naaru and part goldfish with laser eyes). These kind of characters are highly disliked, so you should strive to avoid them if you don't want eyes rolled at you.

  • DO NOT make a half-vampire son/daughter of Illidan. It's been done to death, impossible lore-wise, and no one can pull this off without being blacklisted, unless of course your character fries up in the sun and tells no one of their relation. No seriously, it just isn't going to work. Don't have a character with a relation to lore figures, unless of course it is commonplace for their species.
  • Don´t tell everyone you see your 20 pages long background. How you would act in real life? Example:

HOW: "Ah, death knight? I don't know if we should accept you to our group..." "Yes I understand, but the Warchief promised fair treatment to death knights, I see that I was too optimistic..."

Not like this: "Ah, death knight? I don't know if we should accept you to our group..." "You call me death knight? I was valiant knight of Lordaeron and my parents were good people I just got to bad company and cult of the damned were recruiting people..."

  • You can have a character with an angst-filled past, skills and beauty that isn't necessarily a Mary Sue, just cliché. Watch how you roleplay them. Don't dodge everything, don't use your angst past as an excuse for your actions and only tell close friends your secrets.
  • Give your character flaws. No one is perfect. Embarrassing habits, disabilities and the occasional cruelty can make for a much more interesting character.
  • Stick to your character's flaws. Don't suddenly wipe away their arachnophobia when they go to the Ghostlands and get jumped by a crypt fiend, or else your character's flaws won't count.
  • No character in logic would brag about being the secret lovechild of Illidan or some other big villain. It would be like saying "I'm the secret son of Hitler!". No one likes Illidan. Hardly anyone would believe you. Characters would think you were crazy, and you'd have no proof of such relation.
  • Let your character make mistakes. Don't blame all wrong-doings on 'I couldn't control myself' or 'My rainbow dog named Pockleberry died last Tuesday and I've been feeling very upset'. Someone who admits they were wrong and doesn't try to make it look like they were right all along is much more believable and noble.
  • The world does not revolve around your character. No character will ever be the centre of all roleplayer's attention, everyone's friend, the biggest hero of all time and only the enemy of two-dimensional villains. Trying to grab everyone's attention by speaking of your drama will only do the opposite.
  • Even a mean character can be a Mary Sue villain if everything goes their way. Signs of such a Sue are a mass murderer that never got caught, having an angst past or vengeance to try and excuse their actions or being unfairly unbeatable.
  • Avoid having a hybrid character, or at least make them believable avatar-wise.
  • Let your character fail every once in a while. Don't make them invincible. Just because someone types 'Picklejuice swings an iron bar at her' instead of 'Picklejuice smashes the elf's brains with an iron bar' doesn't mean you get to dodge it all the time. Someone trying an attack doesn't necessarily mean it missed.
  • A better way to roleplay is to give attention rather than try to draw it to your character. Instead of trying to draw attention from the crowd with your rainbow eyes or that pet scuttling about your bag, go and strike up a conversation with another character.
  • Watch you don't commit deus ex machina. It can become annoying to other roleplayers if you continue to use magic, some plot you made up on the spot in the situation or otherwise to escape a predicament. If your character beat up someone and now has said-person's big brother coming after them, don't run, face the consequences.
  • If you happen to be a Mary Sue and don't want to change then don't get involved in roleplaying, your character will probably anger them but so they don't break the mood, they'll hide it. If they come after you later with a dagger then that person probably roleplaying a maniac.

Who is Your Character?

Who is your character after all? There are many things to consider while making your character. Before you actually begin to roleplay, you must consider other aspects, such as: Who is this character? What drives him? What makes him respond to different things in different ways? A character background or history can answer most of these questions. The key to a character history is to ensure that your creativity fits within the boundaries of the environment you wish to play in. Remember no Mary Sues.

These are a few general questions to help shape your character:

  • How and where did your character grow up?
  • Does she/he have family? Where are they? What do they do?
  • How old is your character? Who are his/her friends?
  • Has she/he ever been hurt? Has she/he been in love?
  • Is she/he happy? Is she/he sad?
  • What are his/her morals? What are his/her ideas on honor and respect? On stealing and lying?
  • What do they think of the Horde/Alliance? Or Scourge?

Cliché

Cliché is bound to happen. The maniacal, scheming, evil Forsaken warlock with a grudge against the world may seem appealing to some people: It's a start for a villainous character that heroic characters will enjoy pasting. However, like Mary Sues, excessive cliché will tend to illicit groans, eye-rolling and little to no RP from your fellow Roleplayers.

To handle this, one needs to add twists into his or her character: chances are, the evil Forsaken warlock with a grudge against creation will probably be either Chaotic or Neutral Evil. Throw a monkey wrench into this and give yourself a moral code, making yourself Lawful Evil. Hide your grudge and make it difficult for people to figure out your true intentions or keep your ego in check and don't let your grudge get in the way of or drive your agenda.

Using some cliché might be a place to start, but don't run with it for the existence of your character, it will get old fast.

Expressing Yourself to the World

You have this wonderfully rounded out character, you know what he feels, what he likes, where he comes from, and what he looks like. Now to decide how he acts! Within WoW all actions are performed with emotes that allow other characters to see what your character is doing. It would be impossible to display graphically the wide range of movements and actions possible to characters, and emotes try to address this problem. Simply put, emotes are visible actions or physical descriptions. World of Warcraft has a massive amount of predefined emotes, as listed on the Emotes page. Some of these are animated, and some are textual. The real power of emotes comes from custom emotes, as done with the slash commands /em or /me (the latter originating from IRC). Emotes are not for giving information, for showing what someone is thinking, nor for communicating OOC information. Anything you say or any actions your character takes must be within character. A good emote describes a physical event or action while allowing other characters to participate. Other characters cannot usually see "thoughts" or motivations, so emoting these will limit their opportunities to respond. Keep in mind when creating emotes that you need to leave room for a person to respond. If you want to punch someone, you "swing towards them" or "lunge rapidly". This allows the other player to decide whether or not his character gets hit. Do not "god-mode", where you give the other player no room to respond.

Best: "You try to hit the orc with your axe." The orc can respond by dodging, attacking back, or even running away... the possibilities are limitless.

Good: "You swing your axe at the orc." The orc has ample time to respond, by parrying, grabbing the handle of your axe, kicking you off your feet. The possibilities are many.

Bad: "You hack the orc's arm off with your axe." The orc has lost an arm, is suffering massive blood loss and now needs to find a First Aid specialist. The possibilities are few.

Terrible "You kill the Orc, sending his head flying." The Orc is dead and you ruined and dominated the scene. The possibilities are almost nonexistent.

Proper Emotes

There are some ways to emote that just don't fit within WoW's emoting system. All emotes are done by the third person. An example would be:

  • Kailea looks down at her leather boots, disgusted by the dirt and grime that has accumulated.
  • Kailea looks down at her boots. They are intricately carved with runes rumoured to protect against shadow magic.

(Note: Don't have carved cloth. That doesn't even make sense.)

Both of these emotes are similar, yet different. The first emote is an action emote, detailing the action a character is performing. The second emote was a descriptive one, meant to give greater information about an object or character. It's impossible to do "pure" descriptive emotes without addons (no such addons have yet been written), that is, for example: The boots are ragged and are missing scraps of leather from here and there..

One way to use emotes that would not normally fit in the WoW emote system is to put || before typing the emote. For example: "Kailea || The boots are ragged and are missing scraps of leather from here and there."

Improper Emotes

These cover the gambit from OOC, forced actions, to showing thoughts. Don't do them.

  • Thrall thinks Arthas is a moron and pulls his pants down.
  • Bulgok dislikes Sklar.
  • Mimi thinks M&Ms are good. - M&Ms? A new gnomish invention? What does it do?
  • Johnny brandishes some Gnomish Patties.

Various Roleplay Ideas

The following are various ideas that can be played out by the use of extensive emotes.

  • Smith or Craftsmen Something that isn't done to death, a craftsmen or smith builds things for people, housing. A weapon that they need, a shield. A shoe, and usually get paid decently for their crafts.
  • Strangers at a tavern Easy to do and has not been done to death. Everyone in your role playing group goes into a tavern and sits down. Depending on the Character's experences and lore, each player will act differently then the next. The possibilities are limitless.
  • Zoo-master/Petting zoo owner Collect pets and set up a small scale petting zoo for people to enjoy!
  • Poet/Minstrel One of the most fun characters to play, you get to be creative, writing songs and poetry and have people *gasp listen to you! Don't make songs about you killing the Lich King though, you'll get ignored more than admired.
  • City Tours Become a lore expert and take people for guided tours of the city. Leaves a lot of room for creativity!
  • Ghost Tours Similar idea to the previous, except with ghosts! Maybe get your group to party with you, and have a friend go in ghost form for them to be chased by.
  • Hunting Trips Are you a seasoned hunter, or just a fan of the big game? Don't have to be a hunter to enjoy the sport! You don't need to be the next Hemet Nesingwary though!
  • Safari Run a safari service by yourself or a few friends. Take people for tours of the barrens and its inhabitants.
  • Fortune Telling Another really fun one, you get to tell people what is going to happen in their lives ^_^
  • Psychologist/Councillor Listen to peoples problems all day and try to diffuse some of their anxieties (Good for a priest. Tried this. ~~)
  • Odds-n-ends collector / Trader Hey, don't throw away that grey item! One man's trash is another's treasure. Show off your.okay lets face it, trash.
  • Hair stylist Okay, you cant graphically change someones haircut, but half of roleplay is suspending your beliefs and just playing along :P Edit: With the new barber shops with Wrath of the Lich King, this one will be much easier to pull off.
  • Hypnotist Now this would be a fun one. I am dying to try on an alt :P. If someone goes along don't tell them to walk over a cliff.
  • Games master Spend all day coming up with and hosting games between people, maybe try to get an actual chess game going using KnightB2-C5 style? Perhaps your character is a master at something, and has attitude.
  • Saint/Samaritan Perhaps its part of your characters persona to help people in need, maybe under influence of the light? Works well for Paladin/Priest. Not so easy for Warlock/Death Knight.
  • Graveyard Keeper So many graveyards in Azeroth, and who is there to look after them? Sell flowers and keep those shields upright as you keep the places of mourning.
  • Real estate agent Elect yourself master of real estate in Ironforge! Sell (I use that word carefully :P) the houses to couples, take them on inspections and even hold auctions! Proof of ownership may be a problem however.
  • Circus performer A clown, high wire or master of beasts? Show off your freakishness by performing at the Darkmoon Faire perhaps?
  • Comedian This one is tricky, but if you can pull it off, you'll get lots of love! Write up some jokes and draw in a crowd in Orgrimmar or Stormwind. No Tauren burger jokes in Horde cities.
  • Garbage Collector So much litter around the trade regions, sweep around people, avoid the hobos and keep Azeroth clean! (Can run into some interesting encounters with hobos, business owners, estate agents?)
  • Party Liaison People have parties and weddings all the time in Azeroth! Why not be a service to these people by getting in touch with all the entertainers, finest chefs, comedians, fortune tellers and the like to book for peoples events? Great for PR!
  • Mailbox Digests Start your own digest magazine by yourself or with a few friends and get subscribers! Maybe run some riddle competitions, try to make a word find in a letter, or run stories on interest. (There have been some really successful ones at this. ~~)
  • Expressionist artist (in angst!) Drape your character in shades of grey and black, and wander around stormwind pondering modernism, industry and that undead rogue stabbing people behind you.
  • Gypsy Start your own folk collective by yourself or a few friends, engage another culture completely foreign to your native one by becoming nomads of the land, with a fondness for campfires, dancing and singing.
  • Deviant Dealer People from some walks of life need a fix, sometimes in no other form than deviant fish! Treat them as a banned substance, make your shady deals out the back of cut throat alley away from the guards!
  • Speech therapist / accent expert Become a master of the various dialects and speech mannerisms of azeroths inhabitants. From the ey mon, to the RAAAAAAAARG me smash undead! To the muuuuruurururggghhh of a murloc!
  • Dockmaster Become the chief official of the docks of Menethil, or the zeppelins of Orgrimmar, providing regular /yells about departure and arrival times. Name the ships yourself, make your office the unused ship, and keep your cloak smelling of salt and gin! The Salty title would be good here.
  • Holiday Agent Some people want a holiday? You know where to go (and in what season!) provide packages with the safari, hunters clubs, organize a tour, or maybe just a quiet night at a bed and breakfast owner.
  • Bed and Breakfast owner Maybe you own a nice house in the middle of no-where and like to treat your guests with the best hospitality one can provide. Bookings might need to be essential.so you're there.
  • Masseuse Your skills as a master masseuse are needed! Heroes return to battle with knots, aching joints and a high heart rate. Offer them some creature comfort for a few copper coin. (You could offer some... other private services with this as well. Don't know whether it's against the EULA, though. ~~)
  • Animal rights protectionist Everyday a critter is molested somewhere in Azeroth. Start your plight by the protection of chickens and rabbits, maybe even the level 50 owls.. Diseased grizzly bears? DEHTA worker?
  • Private Investigator Investigate strange happenings outside the official channels. Work with SI:7 for assignments, or go renegade. Not always rp, players might need them anyway.
  • Homeless Bum Hey, its no big deal, most of us sleep in inns at night! What of those people who sleep in the middle of Orgrimmar? Perhaps you take it a step further, harassing the deviant dealer and garbage collectors.
  • Astronomer Study the heavens and talk with others, such as the fortune tellers, astrologists, magazine editors and the like about your findings.
  • Town Crier Those overpaid bums walking around the city, spouting news only the council wants you to hear about! Send forth reports of distant war with your fellows, keep up to date on great auctions, even some gossip? Don't yell about nothing though!
  • Peace Activist / Hippy We may be on a PvP server, but why not roleplay a peaceful attitude? Roleplay yourself being strapped to trees in Stonetalon mountains, and try talk that undead rogue out of gutting you.
  • Master chef its one thing to have 300 cooking skill, but something else entirely to create your own wonderful masterpieces! Use the forums, letterbox tabloid to give directions on making dishes such as, Stuffed elven ear, Chicken soup, Boochy steak!
  • Tool TraderPeople always need that extra arclight spanner, a spare hammer or a replacement pickaxe because the old one is broken, so why not sell these things to them, for the right price of course.
  • Policeman give people speeding tickets, arrest people selling illegal herbs such as bloodthistle or get in a mount chase with a player from the opposing faction this is a very fun role and why not start a police force guild.
  • Exterminator why not get hired to take care of some nasty sillthids, ahn'qraj better watch out.
  • Inn Keeper A very nice way to make some gold. Charge people a few copper to stay the night but be a nice, hospitable bartender and the people will love you.
  • Lone Wolf You are cold quiet and calm, preferring to work on your own. Lone wolves, however, always have a dark side, often being cruel and brutal in combat, and only working for others if money is involved(ideal for forsaken,worgen,death knights and warlocks).

The fourth wall/meta-gaming

In the theatre, the fourth wall is an imaginary wall around the stage through which the audience watch the show. The idea is that this wall separates the two worlds. A common example of the fourth wall being broken is when a character directly addresses the audience, such as a character in movie talking directly to the camera.

In roleplaying, the fourth wall is there to separate the characters from the mechanics of the game, but also from information they couldn't possibly have. This is more typically described as meta-gaming. Examples of fourthwall breaking/meta-gaming include:

  • References to character statistics Characters do not know that they have a crit rating of 33%, not do they know that they have 3000 health points. These figures are part of the game mechanics, not the lore.
  • Unusual knowledge of world events It's unlikely that a human born 20 years ago would have an indepth understanding of events that took place 3000 years previously on the other side of the planet. Even in modern times, most people have a very limited knowledge of world events beyond their immediate circle. It's more realistic for your character to know little of most events, or to hold a distorted version of the story. For example, how would your character have precise details of the fight between Arthas and Illidan? It's unlikely that either Arthas or Illidan would be in the habit of telling people what happened and your character wouldn't have witnessed it (note that this could be rather easy for undead or blood elves).
  • Knowledge of the future As expansions are launched, some players make the mistake of endowing their character with knowledge of future events. For example, a character knowing that the dark portal was going to be opened and that they would meet the Naaru, prior to the portal actually opening. Rumours can be an effective approach, but claiming definitive knowledge of the future is bad.

If your character has knowledge of a major world event, ensure that there is a plausible way in which they could have learnt of it. Players often react negatively to characters who just seem to know too much, and they risk being considered a Mary Sue.

Groups/Clubs/Guilds

Many of these ideas could be performed best with group of over three people, whether as a social occasion between friends, open invitations to all to join as a club, or a formal thing as a guild, give some of these ideas a go.

  • Boxing club Start up a (drunken) bare fist fight club. Get all violent and personal with your buddies. (You shouldn't talk about the club. ~~)
  • Church services Conduct a regular sermon and pray amongst peers. Crimson Alliance (some guild?) may do this if.
  • University Elect yourself dean after creating a university! This worked great on my old server, study such things as arcane, botany, biology, human sciences, politics!
  • Acting troupe We all roleplay characters. Ever thought of roleplaying a character in character?! Replay great dramas such as Hamlet, or put a modern twist on them such as LOLio and Juliet. The Capulets and the pwnz0rs. You could re-enact lore scenes.
  • Surf, Turf n beer Crew Conduct a regular excursion to a pub, order some beautiful tender wolf steaks, lobster and stout. Discuss whatever! (And harass waitresses.)
  • Rebels On many PVP-RP (and RP) servers, a small minority of people want to keep the Treaty between Thrall and Jaina Proudmoore intact. Easy to do with two side-by-side computers for 'translating' languages, but fun to do with emotes regardless!
  • Hotel / Concierge Maybe one of the places in Ironforge is transformed into a 5 star inn! Dinner is served, you, your pet and entourage of luggage are looked after, completely at your leisure. May keep close ties with the masseuse, chef and garbage collectors. Oh, don't gasp too hard when the 5 gold (or more) bill comes though!
  • Linguist A group of people might want to create their own language? Or the study of many languages, like mentioned above. Don't make up words like ghklklg though. It won't work
  • Lore Experts Become a master of your race's lore, study with friends and hold conferences. Many players know this stuff anyway so you'd better be good.
  • Botanist So many plants in Azeroth but no classifications! Have excursions into Stranglethorn Vale, study the decay at Felwood. Name the plants after your king!
  • Mountaineering group So, Ironforge has the Explorers' League huh? For some reason the gods look down upon mountaineering, or, finding places no-one has ever seen.Maybe you can get away with it roleplaying, because it is fun ^_^
  • Player run bar A big thing on my old server was the player run inns at the park in Stormwind. Get a regular happening going, people will drop by for a drink and a roleplay!
  • Newspaper editor Using either forums, webspace or IG-letter system, write a weekly report on the happenings of Azeroth. Maybe even get some takings from advertising?
  • Philosophy group Warcraft raises some interesting philosophical issues, you respawn after you die from spirit healers, what does that say about pain, death and ambitions for life?
  • Cat owners club *shrug*, for cat fans. People might like to run their own cat shows with the various types.
  • Bird watchers Ever notice the birds flying overhead? Get a small group to study the various kinds!
  • Roleplaying Lessons Some roleplayers are new and need help. Teach them to act and hold a few events with them.
  • Store Owners Use an empty building, gather some players with professions and open a store. Some ideas include Tailors and Engineers. Department store is kind of tricky though.

Traits

Character traits these ideas are very heavy, but hopefully will inspire to make your character stand out from the crowd, or to play with the concepts.

  • Imaginary friend Self explanatory! Warlocks talk to their pets all the time when they are supposedly phase shifted.
  • Addict Maybe your character has an addiction to something?
  • Clean queen An obsessive compulsive character?
  • Narcissists Your character loves themselves a bit too much?
  • Vertigo Character has vertigo?
  • Can't swim/afraid of water some traumatic memories from the past cause this?
  • Masochist Your character likes to ummm, hurt themselves?
  • Schizophrenic Or other disorders that make your character stand out,
  • Vegetarian Won't eat any meat?
  • Scared of an animal You could be scared of cats but anyone would be scared of Omen.
  • Racist Kind of hard not to overplay but you could be a Night Elf supremacist or a Troll hater.
  • Warmonger When not in battle you're wounded? Always in Warsong Gulch or Arathi Basin?

Trade

Who says you cant roleplay making a buck?

  • Drug Dealer! You've seen the addicts, and bloodthistle's becoming a pretty popular drug, especially in Silvermoon City. (Well, on Moon Guard, at least!) Become an herbalist, run around Eversong and get yourself some bloodthistle to start, and then deal it out for just a little more than vendor price. Profit and good roleplay to boot!
  • Inter-faction trade organization Organize to trade stuffs across the lines with your enemy.
  • Fashion designer Make your goods stand out by vigorous campaigning to have your brand name recognized! May require some propaganda. The Gucci of leathergoods?
  • Farmer Nah, just kidding. Don't roleplay a farmer. (At least not in the gold-for-money farmer sense.)
  • Information Dealer Perhaps the one who knows the enemy tactic in Warsong Gulch.
  • Bounty Hunter Sometimes, people need a little help in killing a monster. This role is very fun. Best place to set up shop is Cut-Throat Alley in Stormwind or an empty house in The Commons in Ironforge for the Alliance or Murder Row in Silvermoon City or Rogues' Quarter in Undercity. Your bounty hunter may have started due to the death of a loved one or like killing, or they're in it for the money. If we've learned anything from "Star Wars: The Clone Wars", bounty hunters aren't just for bounty hunting. They can be used as mercenary fighters. Warriors, Rogues, Hunters, and Death Knights make great bounty hunters.

Character Development

To say that all characters (and for that matter, all people) are good or evil would be an oversimplification. Firstly, evil characters usually do not consider themselves to be "evil", and may actually consider themselves to be "good". These characters may believe something is "right" and defend it in a fanatical way. (See the Scarlet Crusade.) They may appear "evil" to opponents, who she conversely perceives as misguided or "evil." Their actions may be caused by insanity, by their foul temper, or by their belief that the ends justify the means. Alternatively, a character with "evil" or selfish motivations may perform so charismatically that others believe he or she is "good." There are many shades of grey and dark grey in every personality, and it is important to remember that your character's motivations are key to creating a believable persona.

Character Consistency

Character consistency is one of the hallmarks of great role-playing. Here are some tips to consider when playing your character:

  • Stay in character as much as possible. The more you get out of your character, the harder it will be to get the right mood back into the game. Now, this may not seem harmful, but ruining a mood can ruin a roleplay. For more information, see the section on out-of-character traps.
  • Events from the game will influence a characters demeanor, attitude, and in some cases, its personality. Even heroes can be affected by the tragic death of a loved one. Make sure that these influences are reflected in (minor) changes in your character.
  • Once you've made a decision as your character (or about your character!), stick with it, and live with the consequences. As long as you're roleplaying, it could prove for some interesting twists in your character's life. In a roleplaying game, reversing a decision usually harms the game.

Character Separation

One of the greatest challenges for all role-players is maintaining a healthy level of separation from your character. Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You are not your character. If a character attacks or insults your character, don't take it as a personal attack. It's fine if your character reacts, but don't start taking things personal.
  • It is easy to base your first character in a game on your own personality. Most new roleplayers do it, but experienced roleplayers fall into the trap as well. Make sure that, if you do this, its just a small base, because the more of yourself you pour into a character, the easier it is to feel any attack on that character as a personal insult.
  • Remember that its only a game. You can stop playing any time you want, for as long as you want.

OOC Traps

The main key to role-playing is, of course, staying in character. It may be necessary to go Out-of-Character (OOC) briefly when explaining a technical aspect of the game to a new player, or when pinning down a standard time to meet. It is important to remember that every time you go OOC your character credibility and the role-playing atmosphere suffers. Be careful not to fall into some of these OOC traps when playing the game:

  • Do not mention real world events and items. Beepers, Star Wars movies, Oompa Loompas, mace (not the dreamer, the spray), Gumbi, and spell checkers do not belong in Azeroth.
  • Also consider Information Separation:
    • Player A chats with you on ICQ (or for simplicity's sake, whispers you): "Oh man, Sorsha just totally dissed Blenson! She made him cry!" This sounds like an interesting thing for you to see, but wait! How can you? Your character does not know what has transpired. You want to go ask the questions that will get you the answers, but you have no IC reason to do so, even though it would make for interesting role-playing. In game information learned through OOC means is still just that OOC. Separate it. Even though you do want to comfort poor Blenson.
    • Also, your different characters do not implicitly share information. Your NE priest has no way of knowing that the guild leader of your troll mage's guild just resigned.
  • Stick to your character, no matter what...
    • Is your character truly more concerned with turning in his latest quest to his trainer than finding out why his house crumbled? If so, why?
    • Does the game (world) truly seem so uninteresting that the best thing for you to do at all times is sit around and mope? If so, why?
    • Do you make a habit of ignoring people that seem distraught and confused? If so, why?
  • The driving question is always why. Why would my character do this or think this? Why? If you can not answer the why, then it is not an IC action or thought. Why would Sklar flatter her? She is a woman. Why would John be nice to Lady Arlington? He wants her cloak.
  • Don't break the fourth wall. This is a tricky one to explain. Basically, don't use terms like AFK and level in ic since these do not exist to the characters.
  • Don't blurt out your life story to everyone you meet. It's common for new roleplayers to tell their entire life story to everyone they meet, or to tell strangers about their tragic past. When this happens, conversation sounds very unnatural and scripted.

Storylines

Storylines, or SLs for short, are long running events carried about by a group of RPers (of varying size, henceforth referred to as a "circle") that can span days or even months of RL time, involving heroes, villains, characters of questionable alignment, backstabbers, etc. Storylines differ from a "Tavern Brawl" or street-side argument in that they can hopefully go on for awhile, and could easily be made into some manner of fan-fic or something similar.

Beginning a Storyline

It is quite rare that a storyline is going to start spur of the moment when a few random Roleplayers run into each other on the streets of wherever. Usually, a circle needs to make a commitment to start and run a storyline and this is probably going to involve some level OOC communication ("How do you want to do this?", "How do we want to start this?", "Who wants to be what?" etc.). Do not write out the storyline blow for blow, action for action, event for event, however. Plan out the start, and then do what most good RPers know how to do, and improvise.

Running a storyline is kind of like making a movie: the actors (players) need to know what's happening, but the characters don't. Know the line between you and your character when carrying out a storyline. You know that Biff the evil mage is up to no good, but your character, Bucko, the heroic gnome warrior, doesn't know a damn thing, except for maybe a few rumors here or there.

Maintaining a Storyline

Once the Storyline has started, and it seems to be going somewhere, run with it! Carry it on! Live it to the fullest! But don't plan it out blow for blow, action for action, event for event, otherwise, it sort of defeats the purpose. Improvise, and make it up as you go along, but don't hesitate too much to talk to your circle on an OOC level to discuss the path that it's taking, but again, don't plan it out word for word.

Be open to anything that happens. If a player wishes to join up midway through the storyline, let them! On a somewhat related note to letting new players in, keep track of the story's progression in some place that the people in your circle can view, such as your user page here at wowwiki (www.wowwiki.com/User:<user name>/<Page name>). That way, new people can skim over the story so they have an idea on what's happening on an OOC level, and if the storyline is put on hold for some time, the circle can find out where they left off.

If it seems like a fast running, well-enjoyed storyline is heading towards an unwanted, preemptive conclusion (the good guys are closing in to finish off the villain once and for all), throw in a monkey-wrench. Let the bad guy capture the good guys and let the story continue. This might seem somewhat deus ex machina, but only if it's done incorrectly.

Ending a Storyline

Ending a storyline is like ending a TV series or book (series): loose ends need to be tied up, the victors needs to be established, and people need to be happy. Unlike a TV series or book series which may or may not have a continuation with the same characters, a RP storyline might. Therefore, avoid offing characters on a permanent basis, because you might want to have them participate in a future storyline, and drastic character/personality changes (the maniacal evil bastard of the first storyline is now the righteous beacon of good in the second) kinda looks bad, unless he really did repent at the end of the first storyline.

Because WoW is an open world, you might have had outside people observing the storyline from the sidelines. Perhaps getting an idea on how to Roleplay, just observing out of boredom, a hidden tag along who follows in the shadows, or someone who read your storyline summary on your user page on wowwiki.com. In any case, they might incorporate this into their own character somehow, such as having heard rumors of what happened, being the tag along and saw it with their own eyes, they'll have first-hand knowledge, or something similar. Take this into account when handling further developments with the characters involved with the story. Remember, these guys probably didn't see any of your OOC councils.

Guilds

Generally, in terms of roleplaying, guilds fall into three categories: Themed, General Roleplaying, and non.

Themed Guilds

Themed guilds are IC organizations with specific recruiting rules and backgrounds. For example, a guild called "Exiles of Lordaeron" might be open to Humans only and harbor a distinct grudge against Arthas, the Scourge, the Forsaken and the Horde. The guild probably expresses itself that they were all citizens of Lordaeron that were driven out when the Scourge struck. Thus, they constantly fight to regain their lost homeland. Although the players know this will NEVER happen given game mechanics, it nevertheless gives them fuel to develop storylines and other RPing aspects.

Themed guilds will probably have some recruitment restrictions based on their theme. However, they might be open to recruiting a character of outside those restrictions if said character "proves their worth" so to speak. It depends strictly on each individual guild.

Themed guilds tend to attract more involved roleplayers into their ranks, usually Medium and Heavy roleplayers. Light and Medium-Light roleplayers might have connections to themed guilds, but because roleplaying is not nearly as central to their experience, they tend to avoid joining them. A themed guild might see them as a friend to the organization or a mercenary who sells their services to the organization dirt cheap.

In terms of other activities outside roleplaying, themed guilds may or may not focus on them, and if they do, they tend to be more casual than anything, given that roleplaying is much more central to their enjoyment of the game.

General Roleplaying

As opposed to themed guilds, a general roleplaying guild is more along the lines of a roleplaying community (such as the Cortex community for StarCraft II) than an actual IC organization with set rules. Members RP with people both inside and outside the guild. It is possible that one character might be involved within multiple stories across the guild and/or the server. Generally, players will keep their character consistent, but it is not entirely rare to be an evil bastard in one storyline and a righteous badass in another. There will usually be SOME consistency between stories, such as two characters that knew each other in one story will not be complete strangers in another.

Usually, General Roleplaying guilds are not a simple collection of people who want to blaze RP storylines together. They may include raiding or PvP aspects of varying degrees, usually ranging from casual to dedicated, as well.

General Roleplaying guilds' recruitment policies varies from guild to guild. For some guilds, it might be based on what they need for their raiding party, or perhaps some IC restrictions, while others might not have any restrictions period.

General Roleplaying guilds attract roleplayers all across the spectrum. Depending on how central a guild's focus to roleplaying is determines the concentration of each type of roleplayer. If the guild focuses heavily on roleplaying and less on raiding or PvP, than medium and heavy roleplayers tend to dominate. If the guild focuses less on roleplaying and more on raiding or PvP, than indifferent, light and medium-light will dominate.

Non-Roleplaying

Non-roleplaying guilds are your typical guild found on regular PvE and PvP servers. The reasons for one being on an RP server are legion: they like the laid back playerbases common to RP servers, they like the overall maturity of players on RP servers, the server is convenient for them (timezone, server location and traffic are favorable), or perhaps the guild is a bunch of roleplayers who focus on raiding or PvP more than roleplaying and they prefer the convenience of a raiding guild to raid, rather than an RP guild to RP, or any other reason that could exist.

Non-RP guilds' recruitment policies are based strictly on whatever is needed for the individual guild's purposes.

Non-RP guilds tend to attract the lesser end of the spectrum, indifferent, Light and Medium-Light roleplayers tend to dominate. Medium and Heavy roleplayers are quite rare.

On an RP server, Non-RP guilds are usually dedicated or casual in terms of their raiding or PvP, but hardcore guilds are not at all unheard of.

Miscellaneous

A few odds and ends that don't really fit anywhere else.

Finding RP

Disclaimer: The information contained within this section pertains mostly to the North American/US servers. Similar Information on the EU servers would greatly enhance this article.

Generally, the best places to start when wishing to find some RP are the RP servers (naturally). However, most people on most of the RP servers are indifferent to roleplaying, and are on the server primarily because RP servers have a reputation of having a more laid back, easygoing and forgiving player base that won't boot you out of the guild or ream you over vent because you were feared into the whelps. On these servers, RP communities are hidden, and people RP in private (areas off the beaten path) or not in the general view of the public (Party, Guild and raid chat). The exception to this is the Moon Guard server, which is famous for having a large, active and visible RP community on both factions, and people RPing in plain site is not at all uncommon. Thus, with RPing, it's either all or nothing, and many people have alts on Moon Guard which are strictly for RPing purposes while maintaining a character for another end game activity on another server.

Another way to find RP is to get an addon like MyRolePlay or FlagRSP. Other Roleplayers will have one or the other (possible both) and you can quickly identify other Roleplayers this way.

Teaching RP

You've poured over this guide for hours, your Wowwiki user page resembles character pages here on Wowwiki, among your fellow RPers on your server, you are regarded as a very good roleplayer and people line up to roleplay with you. Learning how to Roleplay well is not something learned overnight as you have learned. Thus, when you see a low level character stumbling around trying to learn RP, help them out! Teach them! It'll only make the environment that much better.

Elitism

You're a good Roleplayer, and it shows. You know the lore, you know the ropes. RPing, just like raiding, though, can potentially have its share of hardcore, holier-than-thou, superior players with a stick shoved up their butts. Don't be one of them. If you screw up your roleplay, it's not going to result in you not being number one on the raid progression charts. RPing is just for fun, and people who take it too seriously tend to drive away those who just enjoy it on the side. Just because somebody isn't 100% versed with every tiny detail of Warcraft lore, doesn't mean that they are a newb and should be shunned. If somebody is god-modding, don't just walk away with some snarky/smart-ass OOC comment like /emote ((thinks so-and-so should learn how to Roleplay and not godmod so much)) and then slap them on your ignore list, instead, help them to understand that emoting something that shows that he just killed everybody is bad RP. Just like in raiding, players will avoid you if you're too much of a hard-ass... Also, bad RP will not result in expensive repair bills, wasted Fish Feasts and time wasted on expensive combat flasks.

Know the Line

There is a line between OOC and IC. Know where it lies, and avoid crossing it. Harry Potter hates Draco Malfoy's guts, but Dan Radcliffe and Tom Felton get along quite well. Similar concepts exist in RP. Grudges stop at your character.

At the same time, if you see someone you routinely RP with doing something that might be considered OOC (such as a Warlock character who is sworn to the Burning Legion killing mobs that are, you guessed it, Burning Legion) and when asked what they're doing they respond something like: "((Oh... I'm just leveling up. I guess I forgot to switch my <insert RP mod here> to show that I'm currently OOC.))", take it in stride. At some points in Outland, it's impossible to level up effectively without killing a few Burning Legion mobs.

Don't assume everything being done in the game is done from an IC standpoint. OOC exists, and people might not want to walk slowly through Orgrimmar when all they want to do is drop a few Titanium Bars off on the auction house.

Observation

If someone is simply standing around your secret evil meeting, discussing plans to bring back Archimonde, and when you violently demand ICly that they better answer lest you shred their soul into a thousand tiny pieces they reply along the lines of "Oh, sorry... I was just watching... I heard you guys were some of the better roleplayers on the server and I wanted to learn from the best.", again, TAKE IT IN STRIDE. Ok... Your immersion was just destroyed, your momentum has just come to screaming halt, and this newbie RPer is standing here destroying your atmosphere. But, since he's not really roleplaying, why don't you just ignore him? No need to be an elitist about it. Just shrug your shoulders, take a deep breath, and go back to planning the end of the world like nothing happened.

On the other side, it's always polite to ask if you can quietly observe so as to learn how to be a better roleplayer. You might get a better reception that way, and they might be more incline to answer any questions. It's usually best to ask in whispers, as more often than not, people are more lax about whispers and OOC, especially if the whisper is coming from an outside source, but just to be on the safe side, throwing (()) around your text is a good idea. Also, being polite (please, thank you, etc.) can go a long way, as it shows a certain level of maturity on your part.

Improvisation

Improvisation is a cornerstone to a good RPer. You have to be flexible for any scenario. If the bad guys in your circle have just ambushed you, destroying the plans you and your ally laid out, adapt. Take it in stride and go with the flow. Let them drag you off their hideout of doom. Rethink your plan with your ally. Being fluid can make for a much better storyline and environment than being rigid.

Learn how to improvise. You'll enjoy RPing a lot more that way.

Credits

  • This is a nice understanding of a RP server. Some people off of my old server of Emerald Dream wrote this.
    Thank you all at Emerald Dream for coming up with such a fantastic piece. --ManO-iGO, 18:26, 9 May 2006
  • I took the liberty of editing, proofing and augmenting this article. After all, it's a wiki. --Akx

Credit where Credit is Due

This is nothing more than a slightly-edited cut-and-paste from the Underlight RP FAQ:

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