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The Basics of Roleplaying

Updated Sat, Feb 23, 2008 by Xerin

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.

Continue to the next page.


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