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All the World's a Stage: The curtain falls

All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one player in his time plays many roles.

It's a strange feeling to look back on four years of roleplaying in WoW, more than two of which were spent writing "All the World's a Stage," and feel as though the curtain is coming down on this part of my life, just as many new things are rising up to take its place. It's a sad thing, and it's a happy thing at the same time.

Part of me doesn't want to change -- it just wants to go on having more of all those experiences I've enjoyed, which have helped me grow and become the person I am today; but the other part of me embraces these changes, and looks forward toward the experiences that will make me into the person I will be tomorrow.

The fact is that I need to put WoW on indefinite hiatus, but before I go, let me share some of the things I have deeply appreciated about playing the game, especially how roleplaying filled an important niche in my life, and actually helped make me a better person.

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Filed under: Virtual selves, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

All the World's a Stage: Anonymosity

All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one player in his time plays many roles.

Roleplaying is a journey of trust you take with strangers. You may now and then start out with a group of people you know in real life, but for the most part, the people you roleplay with have no idea who you really are, or why you are sitting here at the computer. You can tell them if you want to, but most people don't ask. Roleplayers tend to keep personal details private, and don't intrude on one another's space.

Besides, other roleplayers don't necessarily care that much about who you "really are" either. They're there to get to know your character, not you as a person, unless your character first makes a very good impression and they decide that they actually want to be friends as real people. Even though you respect each other as people who share the same interest, there's still a distance between you which either (or both) of you may wish to maintain.

And yet, the relationship you have is one of trust. It's not at all at the same level as a best friend of course, but you still have to trust one another in a very creative sense -- you rely on each other to create interesting things for your characters to share with one another. You're not just buying a shirt from a salesperson or holding the door for a passerby -- you're exchanging behavior and language in an unpredictable and totally interconnected way. Any little surprise a stranger brings to an interaction may completely alter the whole game session and stick in your mind as one of your most memorable gaming experiences. Roleplayers have to trust other roleplayers to help make those experiences positive, even without knowing anything at all about one another. Sometimes two characters can even become very close friends, even though the real people behind them do not.

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Filed under: WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

All the World's a Stage: Player housing, interactivity, and other possible features

All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one player in his time plays many roles.

Playing Warhammer recently has made me think of more features that WoW could add in order to create a better roleplaying experience. Far and away the most important one, to my mind, was the Tome of Knowledge. WoW players really need an in-game resource they can refer to as a standard for information about the Warcraft universe, and having this at hand, roleplayers could do a lot better than they can today.

Knowledge is the most important thing, of course, but there are other features Blizzard could add to the game that would help roleplayers too. I'd like to address a few of these things, and see how much they could really do for us. Player housing is a possible feature that gets talked about a lot, but I have my doubts as to whether or not it would really help roleplayers all that much. Another issue is one that is more important to me personally, and is another feature inspired by my trial with Warhammer Online: looking at interactivity between characters.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

All the World's a Stage: How to bring Warhammer's "Tome of Knowledge" to WoW

All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one player in his time plays many roles.

Some time ago, I had my first look at Warhammer Online, and wondered if that game treated roleplaying any differently from World of Warcraft. I wrote at some length about the significance of a written warning whenever someone signs up for a roleplaying realm for the first time, but I also noticed that Warhammer actually had another very special feature that could be beneficial for WoW roleplayers, namely the "Tome of Knowledge." Playing around with this a little bit made me think about how Blizzard could make something similar, which would go a long way toward enriching the experience of the game, not only for roleplayers, but for all players. Warhammer's Tome of Knowledge is not without it's flaws, of course -- I can surely imagine a better one for WoW to adopt, but at the moment WoW has nothing at all like it, which is unfortunate.

But what is the Tome of Knowledge? Basically, it's is an in-game database full of all kinds of information you might be interested in. This includes gamey things like achievements, titles, and quests, but also contains a lot of info about the story and lore of the game, such as some history for each major region, descriptions of noteworthy persons, and a bestiary of all the enemies in the game. When you visit an important location, encounter an important questgiver, or defeat a new enemy in battle, information about that entity will appear in your Tome of Knowledge. A little popup will even let you click through to it right away.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Lore, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

All the World's a Stage: The voices of every race and class speak in RP

All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one player in his time plays many roles.

All the World's a Stage has been a voice for roleplaying in WoW for over two years now. I didn't quite realize it at the time, but the article entitled "So you want to be a bad guy" was just about at the 2 year mark for this column! To celebrate belatedly, today we'll review some of the other websites about roleplaying in WoW out there. If you like All the World's a Stage, you'll probably enjoy these as well.

In addition, you will find that some of these websites have similar, but unique pages with information about roleplaying the various races and classes of Azeroth. So for those of you who would like to have a reference to all these articles in a single place, I've collected them all together in one list at the end of the article. This list includes my own articles, as well as those of all the other websites I'm about to mention which follow on the same theme.

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Filed under: Horde, Alliance, Lore, Factions, Guides, RP, Classes, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

All the World's a Stage: We don't need no narration

All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one player in his time plays many roles.

Throughout my career as a roleplaying columnist on WoW.com, I've been talking about roleplaying as a way to tell stories, but last week a comment by Zombie, as well as those made by a few others on the same topic, caused me to think about roleplay stories in a new way. Perhaps what we roleplayers do isn't actually storytelling so much as it is character development through interesting and somewhat disjointed anecdotes.

There's really no beginning, middle, or end to a roleplayed character in WoW. Instead, what you get is a mishmash of events and experiences, which you may then string together into a story in your mind if you like. But even if you don't, you can see that most of us don't really expect for a narrative to develop from a clear beginning, through various plot developments, and finally lead into an exciting climax. There is something else roleplayers want to get out of their experience, even if many of us have trouble articulating exactly what it is.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

All the World's a Stage: Attitudes about roleplaying for the first time


All the World's a Stage, and all the orcs and humans merely players. They have their stories and their characters; and one player in his time plays many roles.

We've talked before about getting started in roleplaying, as well as how to find the right group to roleplay with. But there's also another aspect the question of roleplaying for the first time, which is that inner attitude people feel towards it.

I often see people leaving comments on All the World's a Stage, saying that they have some sort of story for their character inside their heads, but they don't let it out, for various reasons. Some don't feel that they have the right social space to let it out, and find it difficult to connect with others in such a way that their internal idea can actually take shape in reality. Others feel as though roleplaying isn't for them, even though they clearly seem to have the gift for it. In both cases, their roleplaying is limited to their own mind, where no one else can hear it or benefit from it at all. For every one who posts something about it on a site like this one, how many more just think about it, and never say anything to anyone?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Virtual selves, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

All the World's a Stage: So you want to raise up the shadows of doom


Today, All the World's a Stage concludes a series on "how to be evil," bringing the bad guy back into your fantasy roleplaying, complete with ideas, methods, warnings, and practical examples. Be sure to check out steps 1-3, steps 4-6, and steps 7 and 8 on the path to evil!

Your friends keep telling you, "you can't play Arthas, man! Nobody's going to believe that your little human death knight is actually the Lich King in disguise. Get real!" But your idea just won't go away. You admit that creating a human death knight named "Ahrrthyss" might not be the best way to go about it, but you're in this guild which is devoted to fighting the Scourge, and you want Arthas to be a part of your story, not just an NPC who shows up in some quests and at the end of a raid.

We've already discussed a number of ways to be a villain in WoW – so you look at them to see if you can get one of them to work for you: The most obvious is to just start a new character and designate it to be one of your guild's antagonists, but the problem here is that making Arthas as an actual player character is way too Mary Sue. Such a tactic usually only works for very subtle villains (more like flawed heroes really), or for short-term possession, and your guild has done 3 "possessed by the Lich King's power" type stories already. You need something new! Another choice is to create a disposable villain, perhaps, some agent of the Lich King, which could be interesting, but still doesn't put you in touch with Arthas himself.

But there is another way, which many people have not thought of: to put the villain entirely in the shadows of the background, let him never actually be seen, but let his effects be felt based on what happens to the heroes. Arthas can indeed play a huge role in your story, without ever having to appear in person. It has been done to great effect before, even in novels. Sauron, anyone?

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Filed under: How-tos, Lore, Bosses, RP, Alts, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

All the World's a Stage: So you want to be a disposable villain

Today, All the World's a Stage continues with steps 7 and 8 of a series on "how to be evil: bringing the bad guy back into your fantasy roleplaying," complete with ideas, methods, warnings, and practical examples. Be sure not to miss steps 1-3 and steps 4-6 on the path to evil!

So, you want to be evil? It's not as easy as it seems. Perhaps you've watched a lot of movies or TV shows in which the bad guy has amazing powers, threatens human civilization, and nearly destroys the universe in his quest for domination. Perhaps you were playing Warcraft and saw characters like Arthas and Archimonde wrecking things up pretty bad and said to yourself, "I wanna be just like them when I grow up!" You open up your copy of World of Warcraft and find that you can't play a Lich King or Eredar Overlord, so you just click on the "forsaken" or "draenei" options as the next best things available. "Yup! I'm all ready to go!" you say to yourself. Everyone is just gonna love my idea about being an immortal demigod out to destroy the universe!

But it turns out no one believes you're actually the Lich Prince instead of just another forsaken dude. And people just roll their eyes whenever you reveal your draenei's secret eredar affiliation. A lot of people want to play a raid boss, but the fact remains, you're just not. You're a generic adventurer like everyone else. That doesn't mean you can't be bad... it just means can't be 20 feet tall and out whole cities with a flick of your hand. Once you start thinking practically, about doing something with what you've actually got, then you can start getting somewhere.

One of the most practical tools you can have for playing a bad guy is the disposable low-level character. Keeping your villain at a low level means you don't need to hesitate when he's been defeated, you can roleplay his glorious death and delete him. Your friends save the day -- you save a lot of leveling time. How is it done? Read on.

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Filed under: Virtual selves, Lore, RP, Alts, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

All the World's a Stage: So you want to be possessed


Today, All the World's a Stage continues a series on "how to be evil," bringing the bad guy back into your fantasy roleplaying, complete with ideas, methods, warnings, and practical examples. Be sure to check out steps 1-3 on the path to evil here.

It's been said that the secret to writing a good story is not having a really interesting hero, but rather an interesting villain. The hero himself is defined by the villain in many ways, just as a sports team becomes famous only once they've defeated the last year's champions, or a runner breaks the world record for speed, a hero needs someone to test himself against, a great obstacle for him to overcome or destroy. If the villain is interesting, then the hero will be interesting too.

It is natural, then, for a roleplayer to want to test his own heroes or those of his friends against some obstacles as well. Many of us sit down with the intention of creating a really interesting challenge for our guildmates to overcome – but in our creative endeavor we must remember that danger lurks behind every corner, and creating a villain in itself is a task with significant obstacles to overcome. In fact, one might say that the greatest enemy of such a roleplayer is none other than his own self, the ghost of cliché lurking just outside his field of creative vision.

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Filed under: How-tos, Virtual selves, Guides, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

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