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15 Minutes of Fame: Player RP campaign inspires goblin NPC

From Hollywood celebrities to the guy next door, millions of people have made World of Warcraft a part of their lives. How do you play WoW? We're giving each approach its own 15 Minutes of Fame.

This is a story about a goblin named Mida -- Boss Mida <Her Tallness>, to be precise. Boss Mida is no ordinary NPC. Mida was born from a full-throttle player campaign of epic roleplaying enthusiasm -- a rally to bring a female Trade Princess to the Bilgewater goblins for Cataclysm.

The idea of a female Trade Princess sprang from the imagination of Sarpa of Moon Guard (US) early this year. The concept centered around the idea of a non-elven female leader who was "a wheelin' and dealin' woman who would put the 'B' of 'business' back into Bilgewater and whose character was not a foil to a more famous male character (Jaina and Arthas, Tyrande and Malfurion, Sylvanas and Arthas)," according to fellow Mida campaigner Dziewanna of Wyrmrest Accord (US). "The thread reached 391 pages before the old forums closed, spawned a community of players who come up with ideas like exploding robot squirrels and shredders in tuxedos," she continues, "and Blizzard was awesome enough to put the character our minds came up with in game: Boss Mida, <Her Tallness>. You might have seen her in the goblin slums already."

The Mida for Trade Princess story rolls onward with a brand new roleplaying guild on Wyrmrest Accord dedicated to overthrowing Gallywix and bringing Mida to power. "Explosives and engineers will be involved," warns Dziewanna (now Snuffit the goblin). Sound fun? We thought so, too -- so we got in touch with Sarpa (now Roulette, the goblin warlock), the player who made a forums post that ignited the Trade Princess fire among the many other players who helped build this roleplaying story.

Main character Roulette (formerly Sarpa of Moon Guard)
Guild <For Her Tallest>
Realm Wyrmrest Accord (US-H)

15 Minutes of Fame: Let's start at the beginning, Roulette -- why a campaign for a female trade princess?

Roulette: It really all started with a post where people were musing about who the Trade Prince would be and what he'd be like. MVP Frejya made the teasing remark, "How do you know it's a guy?" or something along those lines. When I read that, I was inspired and really thrilled by the idea. I mean, we've never seen a female faction leader like that in any fantasy game for a playable race. They're always beautiful, ethereal elves or lovely spellweavers like Jaina. Even Sylvanas is an elf. Traditional female fantasy characters tend to have either a fairy princess or wicked witch vibe. You never see rough, tough, playful, grease monkey, Rosie the Riveter types, and goblins are the perfect race to do this with.

I saw it as an amazing opportunity for Blizzard to go in a unique direction and give us girl gamers who don't fit the typical princess mold someone to look up to and root for in the lore -- a leader who's not about the sex appeal but about personality, brains, and getting things done!

It would also be exciting to see an independent female faction leader who stands on her own two feet, is relatively emotionally stable, and doesn't resemble a foil to a male counterpart.

So was this more of a roleplaying campaign, or were you seriously angling to get action from Blizzard?

The initial thread was meant to plant a seed for Blizzard if they didn't already have plans set in stone. At the time, there was no word on the goblin lore for who was running the Bilgewater Cartel. Boss Mida and the roleplaying campaign that followed just kind of evolved from that. It was about the idea of a female goblin taking charge and the kind of leader we were hoping to see as goblin fans. To this day, the majority of us would be just as happy to see Sassy Hardwrench or another Blizz-created character that fits the bill take charge as Boss Mida.

In fact, I was initially wary of the fans giving her a name and getting so attached to a specific idea and concept. I wanted Blizz do their own thing with it, and even more than that, hoped that they were 10 steps ahead of us and already had something in store with Sassy when we heard about her. I saw Mida as a fun, crazy, lighthearted way to keep the idea alive. To see her actually put in game blew my mind!

Gallywix is unpopular amongst players and NPCs alike, and Thrall's decision to leave him in charge has left many of us scratching our heads. Thrall's "for now" gives us hope for a Trade Prince the Cartel can be proud of to take over after Gallywix.

Tell us about Mida herself, as a character, and the whole Trade Princess role.

What you see in game is a good gist of what we came up with. Blizz got the look, the personality, pretty much everything we were hoping for character-wise down!

In the beta, Mida's flavor text even hinted that she had a hand in rebuilding the auction house and bank as well as Orgrimmar itself. We wanted a leader who would be just as interested in the wealth of her Cartel as in filling her own pockets. Of course, good business sense says those two interests go hand in hand. She's certainly not selfless, but unlike Gallywix, she sees the big picture when it comes to making the big bucks.

The general consensus was that she would be named Mida Silvertongue (as in Midas) and nicknamed Her Tallest or Her Tallness, as goblin leaders seem to often be a bit taller than the rest and as a nod to Invader Zim. She's a rogue and an engineer, and she could sell refrigerators to the Tuskarr. We wanted someone clever, shrewd, and comical with a twisted sense of humor who could lead the Bilgewater Cartel to prosperity -- basically, someone who reflects what makes goblins great.

With all the time we had waiting for news of the Cartel and Cata itself, we amused ourselves coming up with all kinds of details of her past, habits, and more eccentric parts of her personality. Really, it was all a big communal exercise in brainstorming. For example, a trap door laser shark tank in her office ... a small legion of mechanical squirrel spies and clockwork shredders in business suits. Raids requiring appointments was a favorite, having to down her loyal pyromaniac mage personal assistant Kazit (who we used to call Bowie as a nod to Labyrinth's Goblin King) before you could even aggro the very busy, distracted Trade Princess. We had a lot of fun!

What kind of support did the campaign receive from other players?

We had a lot of people chiming in with ideas and support in the original thread, as well as a Facebook page, a WoWWiki page, a Wowpedia page, and I believe there's a fan-made Twitter, too. It spread to other forums, is all over Google and just took on a life of its own. It was incredible to watch the movement spread. The whole idea captured a lot of imaginations!

Denebvir and Dziewanna -- now my fellow GMs Brumley and Snuffit, respectively -- have been huge contributors to keeping everyone updated on the movement in the main thread and Facebook pages and now the guild site as well.

There's a lot of support from both male and female players for a female Trade Prince. For a while before any Trade Price was announced, Her Tallest was even used as a placeholder for the goblin leader in some of the Cataclysm threads discussing faction leadership.

What about the artwork and fanfic that came about?

The first thing that came to mind for me was to draw a goblin-based Rosie the Riveter Bilgewater propaganda poster. Then others began posting their own artwork based off the brainstorming in the thread -- what she might look like, different poses and encounters. It was and is still such a treat to see! Most of it is on the Facebook now, but we hope to get those up on the guild's gallery as well. Denebvir has gone wild with the fanfic and been a huge influence on the guild's subject-to-change-depending-on-what-Blizz-does lore.

When did you find out that Blizzard had put Mida into the game as an NPC?

I think it was early in the beta when someone who was testing posted a screenshot to the original thread. I was stunned! I can't even describe what a cool moment that was.

Some in the player community think it was a bad idea for Blizzard to add an NPC based on what ultimately came down to player complaints and a perception that perhaps Blizzard hadn't given this area and lore the attention it deserved. Others think the company's response to player efforts was heartening. What's your reaction to Blizzard's response?

Well, I wouldn't call the thread or idea a complaint exactly. We did a good job, I think, of keeping it positive. The whole female leader thing isn't a Blizzard-specific issue but a common trope in fantasy games across the board. Noble orcs and the Horde perspective is a part of WoW that set it apart from more black-and-white games that had come before it. It's less a complaint and more a hope that Blizz will continue in this vein of stepping outside of the stereotypes most fantasy games have always bowed to. Often, it just doesn't occur to game companies to go there.

Including Boss Mida in game is a lovely nod to that goal. Here's hoping they seize the idea and run with it!

This whole effort has spawned an entire roleplaying guild on Wyrmrest. What's the focus there?

The movement has brought a bunch of goblin fans together, and what better way to continue those relationships and show our love of the Trade Princess idea than to form a guild? We all still want a goblin gal in charge and had planned to rally around Sassy till we found out Boss Mida was added. So we decided to focus the roleplay around a revolutionary group setting out to undermine Gallywix and put Boss Mida in power. We're already planning RP events which range from silly, lighthearted schemes to masked anti-Gallywix rallies.

Beyond that, we're also a laid-back, casual, social guild who understand each other's schedules and respect each other and other players. We just want to relax and have fun enjoying all the goblin-y goodness Cata has brought. We were always going to have fun with the idea, no matter what happened in game. That Blizz enjoyed our thread as much as we did just makes it all the better!

How can players get involved in the guild?

We have a website up and running through which we take applications. We have an FAQ there as well as links to the Facebook. We'll also be doing in-character recruitment, and that too will lead back to the website, keeping us nice and organized.

We're primarily a goblin guild, so if someone wants to join as another race, we require that there's a really good IC reason for that character to join. Non-RPing goblins are quite welcome so long as they're respectful of the rules of the realm and other players.

What about you? What are your plans, as we move into Cataclysm?

I'm going to be enjoying the hell out of my new toons and probably neglecting my old ones horribly. I'm a bit of an altaholic, and I have a feeling my first non-troll main Roulette will be the first of many goblins. Between the goblins, my shiny new troll druid, a beautiful new world to explore, and a guild full of wonderfully creative, friendly people I'm going to have plenty to keep me busy in Cata!

"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with these players, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Aron "Nog" Eisenberg to an Olympic medalist and a quadriplegic raider. Know someone else we should feature? Email lisa@wow.com.

Filed under: Interviews, 15 Minutes of Fame, Cataclysm, Goblin

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