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  • Verily I doth admire the players of roles

    2011 - 06.13

    I’m not a role-player. I think I might be RP-curious though1.

    The first time I thought about roleplaying in a Warcraft context was probably when I came across Righteous Orbs, reading Tam’s early stories of the prettiest elf et al and the character of his … er … characters. I know this isn’t roleplaying per se, and I certainly didn’t think of it as such, but it was much more characterisation than I’d previously considered.

    Fast forward a bit. Until I read some of Pilf’s RP stories2 I hadn’t thought of roleplaying as anything other than a suspect extension of childhood make-believe. It’s stupid, I know, but that roleplaying is storytelling mixed with improvisation — two things I particularly enjoy, and skills I wish I had — simply hadn’t occurred to me3.

    When I moved to Darkmoon Faire (a European RP-PVE server) I was intrigued by the idea that RP would be taking place around me, even if I didn’t plan to do any roleplaying myself. Of course, in Europe the *real* roleplaying server is Argent Dawn, and whilst there are role-players on DMF I think there are probably considerably more people here because “RP servers have less obnoxious types”4. Anyway, aside from the occasional IC silliness when bumping into a guildie by the auction house, I’ve remained a largely RP free zone. It probably doesn’t help that my main is largely characterless, and try as I might I can’t seem to retrofit a personality to him. He’s just me, wielding a mightier weapon *eyebrows*.

    To that end, I love to read the blogs of people who I think do RP well or are able to get inside the game world and the minds of it’s denizens, and I was delighted by this particular post from Glorwynn at Heavy Wool Bandage about what it means to be a paladin5. Obviously, I have a bit of a personal interest in followers of light, despite Ano-the-character’s persistent Keanu-level characterisation, but it’s with the backstories and lore summaries that I find myself most taken, and the obvious-now-I’ve-been-told revelation that “paladins are people too”.

    I might not be a role-player but even I’ve heard the term “Mary Sue“. One of the problems I’ve always had when considering the character of MY characters has been finding the balance between interestingness and believability. It’s hard to care about the life and times of Brian Q. Bland. It’s harder still to talk to Jeb “Dagger” McDangers (they say he once killed a bare with his bear hands — perhaps he’s a druid) without sniggering. It seems to me that Glorwynn’s post could go a long way towards helping someone get it right.

    So last thursday I was able to join my first raid since… a long time ago, it feels like. I was healing (!) as we had a slightly odd mix of people available, so as a nice gentle introduction we went to Baradin Hold for the first fight.

    The second fight was Cho’gall. *whimper*6 Does anyone else think this makes our raid leader a meanie?

    After 90 minutes, we seemed to have hit a wall in terms of improvement so toddled over to Blackwing to quickly kill the first couple of bosses; a cheerful end to the evening.

    Next on the to-do list: the troll dungeons — I did most of one of them before I left but haven’t had a chance to go back, and now I’m all nervy about going in clueless. *whine*

    --
    1. to mangle a popular phrase []
    2. I must have followed a recommendation from something; it’s not something I would have sought out. I’m glad I did though. []
    3. handily, I don’t think I’ve ever claimed to be smart on mb.com []
    4. that’s the impression I get at least []
    5. it made me go back and read her blog from the beginning, an activity I’d highly recommend if you find yourself with a little free time []
    6. a disadvantage of my not having played for a while, and not being a main spec healer, was that it was hard to know exactly how badly I was doing during the Cho’gall encounter. Wiping to tank death on pretty much every attempt probably offers a hint or tw, mind. Certainly, the difference in stress level between the Cho’gall fight and the Golem council fight (which is reasonably complex from a moving-and-mechanics point of view) was very noticeable. []

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    6 Responses to “Verily I doth admire the players of roles”

    1. Saga says:

      I find Cho’gall a fairly scary fight healing wise – though I’m sure with gear and experience others (who possess such things) might disagree with me. I’ve only done him once on my Paladin alt, and I was (fortunately!) asked to go dps. Phew!

      We did wipe a couple of times, but at least it wasn’t because of my healing! It was rather that people were bad with interrupting the mind controls, stacking the buff on the boss and the healers then going oom trying to heal through the extra damage.

      In short; I’m glad I didn’t have to heal that fight!

      When it comes to the Zandalari instances, I’ve finally dared to go in there, but not yet with a full random group. I’ve had at least 2 guildies with me each time. My next step will be to dare to venture in alone *scared*

      As for RP, I guess I’m RP curious as well. I used to RP once upon a time – before WoW when I played text-based MUDs *lol* I’ve not really done any RP in WoW, but I sometimes think it sounds really interesting.

      Most of my characters have no story/personality – but my Warlock does. She’s got her own story and everything, even if I don’t RP and it doesn’t show in game. So I guess in effect I’m the only one who knows her story, but at least I know it ;)

      • theanorak says:

        re: RP, even if you don’t actually do it, knowing your character’s personality can inform how you play. For example, I play *my* warlock in a manner highly informed by her grumpy old demonic lady persona — occasional flashes of practiced expertise surrounded by long periods of forgetting what ability I should use, where I put the button for it and what did I come in here for again?

    2. Colt says:

      Firstly, apologies for the waffle!

      I remember a conversation I had a few years ago with 3 guildies in Lotro. The 3 knew each other well in RL, and had roleplayed together for years. When I heard this I asked what roleplaying games they had played before, what games they had started on, and they said Acheron’s Call.
      After some clarification I found to my amazement that the three had never played pen & paper roleplaying games, only online ones. At the time I was playing my first online multiplayer roleplaying game, with folks who did light roleplaying, on a roleplaying server. However the difference between that and what I would term, forgive me, as proper roleplaying was immense.
      Online roleplaying compared to pen & paper roleplaying (for example D&D, AD&D, Call of Chthulhu, Loremaster, Runequest, Tunnels & Trolls, Bunnies & Burrows (I kid thee not) and many, many more) is akin to the difference between multiple choice and writing an essay.
      Unfortunately I haven’t managed to do any “proper” roleplaying for some time, but once you have tried it the difference will be striking. However, online systems are quicker, easier, and you don’t need to get a bunch of people together, in the same place with beer and pizza to make it work.
      I enjoy having the roleplaying happen around me online. I like having the opportunity to drop into a character conversation with a like minded stranger, but I don’t actively seek it out online, and I think the reason is that my goals are different. In the online environment the games funnel you into questing, fighting and beating terrible odds to win gold and gear. When I started playing D&D at age 13, I thought that was what a roleplaying game was all about. These days I know better. A good pen & paper roleplaying evening does not require advancement of numbers, the collecting of equipment, or even the rolling of dice. The best nights are when a group of people create a story by allowing the characterizations that they have created interact in an unusual situation. None of the players know where the story will go, and even the GM sometime’s doesn’t know. The aim is the story and the interaction itself, the goal is secondary.

      • theanorak says:

        Funnily enough I’ve done no PnP roleplaying either. The more I learn about it though, the more your interpretation seems to be optimal — effectively a collaborative storytelling session “chaired” by the DM.

    3. Pilfkin says:

      Oh… *blush*. Thank you. It always chokes me up when people like my RP stuff. Even more so now that I’m wailing and gnashing my teeth as I fail to write nowadays! Gief inspiration, dammit!

      I’m starting to wish (and here’s a sentence you won’t hear all that often) that I’d been into D&D/tabletop in my youth. I think nowadays, with content etc spoonfed to me via pixels, I’d be hopeless…

      • theanorak says:

        Damn. I *did* reply to this, I swear. At least I swear I thought I did.

        Anyway. *grin*. And also yes, I know what you mean. I didn’t do tabletop either, but reading things like DM of the Rings and Darths & Droids makes me think I’d probably like it.

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