Despite playing on a roleplay server, I have never really bothered with RP. I picked the server simply because it was recommended by a friend and because “RP” was the farthest thing from PvP that I could imagine.
Generally, though I spend a lot of my free time in the game, I try to keep it “light.” Roleplay can have elements of comedy, certainly, but a good deal of it is either serious or even dramatic. Regardless of what the user behind the avatar chooses to add or discard, characters in WoW have an enormous reservoir of past trauma to draw upon by virtue of the universe in which they exist. The very goals the player character is asked to undertake (defeat death itself, triumph over darkness) lend themselves to Serious Subject Matter.
I play goblins mostly because I like them (they’re spunky but have a hint of the acidic, in the sense that they have a corrosive edge), and because my personality is much like theirs. Forget nobility, forget good deeds – get me the gold and the gear, and get me out of here! It’s somewhat awkward to consider roleplaying when the characters are so much like you there is little to no separation. Also troublesome is how I have no connection beyond milking the situation for all the money it’s worth. You want to save the world? You’re insane, but I got this shiny trinket here that’ll help you – wanna buy?
Or let’s say I roleplayed a Forsaken (my next favorite race). I’d forever be angling for another Wrathgate moment, and never succeeding because I am a mere player character … and that’s depressing. “Do you think we had forgotten …? Do you think we had forgiven? [….] Death to the Scourge, and death to the living!” is quite possibly the best line ever, and it gives me the chills every time I hear it. It’s pretty much how I see the rank and file of the Forsaken. They paint Apothecary Putress as someone crazy, as a force that even Sylvanas couldn’t control – but I think he’s closer to the end result of Forsaken logic than most care to admit. You may “live” as best you can or even attempt to restore something that looks like your past life, but as Forsaken, you will never, ever forget what was done to you (Death to the Scourge!) and that your limited numbers will never, ever be safe as long as the living exist and think you don’t deserve to (Death to the living!).
Then, too, the general format I observe seems somehow stilted to me. Having overheard the many long-winded emotes people type up, I feel it’s somehow odd to have what would be private moments or conversations seen by anyone in the immediate area. Having witnessed and even taken up arms against the many Alliance guilds that attempt to roleplay “taking back Lordaeron” by killing Brill NPCs (or occasionally, attacking Undercity), there’s a sense of ultimate futility to it all that I can’t ignore. Our characters, despite what agency we try to give them, are stuck in the same MMORPG inertia that lead characters are trapped in. (i.e., why Varian Wrynn can’t do anything as productive but boring as stabilizing Westfall, or why the Plaguelands are still plague-y, or hell, why Arthas is chilling up on the Frozen Throne, kicking ass and taking names in era of pandas.)
Lastly, once they figure out that I really am female (and generally this doesn’t take too long, given the way I express myself), sheeyit can get weird. Fast. Did I ever tell you about the “fel-enhanced” warlock who was really interested in my goblins? Yeah, I alternate between laughing my ass off and attempting to purge that memory with fire.
Still, I’ve participated in forum roleplay in the past and like the notion of character crafting, so I’ve never been completely opposed to someday giving it a legit shot. While leveling Daschela, I met another person from my server through LFD and struck up a friendship. There’s nothing quite like torturing a panda with bear puns while in Stratholme to convince you that you’d probably get along! He happened to be an RPer. Asked me if I was interested. Oh, sure, why not, I said.
I picked Daschela for the purpose, specifically because her personality was mostly unformed (and she is not, of course, a goblin). Draenei aren’t real heavy hitters when it comes to lore (Learn all the freaking night elf history? nothx), so it seemed like it would be fairly easy to carry one off convincingly. We’ve done one point five roleplaying sessions at this point to introduce our characters, and my thoughts are:
- We used whispers, but the format still seems weird to me. Perhaps I’m a bit too used to highly planned and organized forum threads. The lack of a moderator or game master and, by connection, some sort of overarching goal or plan leaves me wondering what, exactly, the point is? Where are we going with this? Okay, so our characters know each other. Now what?
- It’s nice to see the character, I suppose. I insisted we go on site so I could take screenshots (this IS me we’re talking about). Yet the fact I can see our “bodies” standing there makes the delay in response (which OF COURSE must occur when the other participant types) seem jarring.
- It’s much more difficult for me to
not sound like an idiotcraft a cohesive manner of speech, habits, etc., since it’s in the here-and-now, not in the save-a-draft-revise-publish world. Though he says I did fine (and he’s the only one who would know, since it was just us), I’m not so sure if I succeeded in making Daschela Daschela and not just a serious version of myself.
- It seems like you have to choose to ignore the daily realities of a character’s MMORPG life in order to get something that makes more sense as a story. Daschela’s been leveling constantly via LFD, for example, but how on earth would you make repeatedly killing Ingvar the Plunderer plausible? (Never mind that whole magic-teleport-to-the-dungeon bit.) I’m essentially discarding what is actually Daschela’s experience in favor of something that makes more lore-sense, but does that make sense?