With Winter's Veil behind us, it is not too long until Valentine's Day is here. Between these two holidays, I'm frequently left pondering the best gifts available for our loved ones . . . in game. There's a subtle art to simulating gift-giving between characters, since there's obviously a few factors to be considered.
First, it's difficult to be creative. Everyone has the same access to the items and gifts in-game, so you're going to be incredibly challenged to pull off something "no one else has considered." Second, it can be difficult to pick out just the right gift, since it can be a little hard to get excited over a trade window. Still, when it comes time for one character to give something a little special to his or her in-character spouse, it's good to have some ideas ready to go.
Take a look behind the jump and let's talk about 5 of my favorite in-game gifts.
5. Vanity Pets
Beginning with patch 3.0.2, your character no longer has to devote bank space to their vanity pets. This obviously opens up dozens of options for the gift-giver, since you can now start trolling the pet vendors for a mewling, purring gift for your loved one.
Still, I think the work behind a gift is often as meaningful as the gift itself. It's even a little better if there's a bit of story behind the pet. For that reason, I favor the Captured Firefly from Zangarmarsh. In the same patch that effectively turned pets into spells, the Firefly lost a very special quote: "Still flying." That quote is an obvious reference to the end of the first episode of Joss Whedon's Firefly, where the captain says "We're still flying." The ship doctor comments, "That's not much," and the captain replies, "It's enough."
That little story about the Captured Firefly is obviously a little too out-of-game to be roleplayed in game. But the sense of genre and theme surrounding the vanity pet helps color the in-character interaction. After all, we're all in a story about a fateful fight against the Lich King, and our own desperate story of survival isn't too different from Whedon's story about eking out survival. It lines up nicely.
Lastly, the Firefly isn't exactly easy to come by. The pet drops from the Bogflare Needlers in Zangarmarsh at a rate of about 0.1%. That means, on average, you're going to have to kill 1,000 Needlers to get one to drop. (Insert your usual caveat here about statistics being blind, and all that.) There's only about 30 of the Needlers on the map at any given time. You're looking at hundreds of hours of farming, here, to pull off this little gift. And nothing says "I'm thinking of you" like raw, unadulterated effort.
4. A reminder of the homeland
There are usually little reminders of your character's racial starting area. Nothing screams Elwynn Forest to me like a lucky Rabbit Foot. These rabbit feet actually show up in all the starting areas, but I encountered them most often in Elwynn. Maybe it was just luck or karma, or maybe something about how the Human starting experience forced me to mass-kill wolves.
Like my Captured Firefly suggestion for Vanity Pets, I have a favorite little homeland reminder gift. If you've leveled a Draenei through Azuremyst Isle, you may recall the Blood Elf Bandit Mask. This clever little masks were quite the hot item when Burning Crusade came out, and they are the more notable for coming only from Azuremyst.
You'd need to frame the romance pretty carefully, but this is one of those very unique gifts one character can give another. The wrong way to give this gift includes, "Remember when Velen drunk-drove the Exodar into Azeroth? I totally got you a handkerchief from some dead belfs out there." The right way might include, "Your ship was a falling star bringing me my favorite gift. I purchased this from a trader bringing fine silks out of Azuremyst, near where you started your life here."
The previous two gifts are pretty cheap, in terms of cash. You have to exert some effort to get the items to drop, but there's not a lot of cash involved in getting there. The gift of a mechano-hog, however, is on the completely opposite side of that scale. They are expensive. Even without the regular crafting materials (like Titansteel), the vendor materials you must purchase to make the mechano-hog are going to run you well over 10,000 gold.
The gift of a mechano-hog, however, is not something that screams romance to me. Instead, I think of the mechano-hog as being a wonderful gift from a parent to a son or daughter. In the fantasy world of Azeroth, the usual coming-of-age vehicular gift would probably be a mount. But I can see the new generation of Alliance or Horde becoming enamored of the increasingly popular engineer movement. The gift of a mechano-hog wouldn't just be a new mount, but would be an indication of a parent's subtle understanding of their child. Maybe even a little nod of approval.
2. The Rock
You know, I actually hesitated to put The Rock on your gift options for an in-character loved one. The Rock is neat and all, and was probably one of WoW's original cash-sink vanity items. The Rock was an item from way, way back in the time before daily quests (and their lucrative repetition), back when 100 gold was a lot of money.
If you choose to explore The Rock as an in-game gift, invest it with some unique, character based history. If you're a Paladin giving the diamond to a loved one, flesh out the story of how this diamond came from the hilt of your great-grandfather's sword. The diamond was all that's left after an immense dragon burned that sword into a molten puddle . . . and your great-grandfather with it.
Or, if you're an orc, perhaps this diamond was originally from Draenor. You brought this diamond with you while under the influence of demonic taint. As you slowly broke free of the demonic energies, you unclenched your first. With slowly clearing vision, the first thing you became aware of through clear, sober sight was this very diamond. You mounted it on a ring, and have carried it with you ever since. And now, you're bequeathing it your lover.
1. Handpicked Clothing
There are immense options for roleplay clothing in World of Warcraft. Not only are many greens viable for roleplay clothes, but vendors in every city provide even more options for your character to play dress-up. The options are so wide and variable that there are entire blogs devoted to roleplay clothing.
Since your character doesn't have to worry about whether or not clothing gifts are going to fit, the world is your oyster. Check out some favorite digs from the Threads of Fate in Dalaran, and see if there's anything that would look great and fit your partner's personality. I especially like the martial shirt series, finding their tailored design interesting and engaging. They definitely raise the bar for roleplay clothing, even if most WoW players will never purchase one.
These are just five of my favorite possible gifts to give a character in-game. Gift-giving may not be appropriate for all roleplayers, but I think it definitely helps enhance and illuminate the relationship between two characters. There's obviously a lot more available gifts than the five I've listed above -- but then again, if our roleplay stories weren't unique and complex, then we probably wouldn't be interested in the hobby in the first place.
What gifts have you been eyeing over this Winter's Veil season? What ideas are you considering for Valentine's Day?
All the World's a Stage is your source for roleplaying ideas, innovations, and ironies -- and we are super-sorry for having missed the last two weeks! Scheduling and sickness prevented the author from writing, but he hopes to share a few choice articles with you as a peace offering in the hopes that your anger may be mollified: You might wonder what it's like to sacrifice spells for the story, or to totally immerse yourself in your roleplaying, or even how to RP on a non-RP server!