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Posts with tag roleplay

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)

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


Today, All the World's a Stage begins a series on "how to be evil," bringing back the bad guy in your fantasy roleplaying -- complete with ideas, methods, warnings, and practical examples.

Up to now, we've mostly talked about roleplaying as a way that you and your friends can get together and enjoy developing your characters' relationships with one another. You don't normally tell stories about epic struggle against evil incarnate as a roleplayer in WoW, mostly because you have very limited control over the enemies you can struggle against in the game -- they tend to respawn every few minutes. It's hard to say, "We have just defeated Arthas and rid the world of the threat of the Scourge!" when your guild is scheduled to do the same thing again next week. There are ways around the continuity problem when you're raiding, but generally the best roleplayers tend to stay away from big lore characters and earth-shattering consequences, to focus on the more personal, down to earth things our heroes experience as they go through their daily lives.

It's kind of like if you had a TV series about all the things that happened in the general background of Lord of the Rings that didn't make it into the movies or novels – Frodo, Aragorn and Legolas would not be in it, but there would be other characters who could interact in the same world, and flesh out many of the details that wouldn't fit in the epic trilogy. (Incidentally, I have not had a chance to play Lord of the Rings Online, but I would hope that one of the goals of that game would be to do just this for the world of Middle Earth, the same way WoW roleplayers can sort of do for Azeroth.)

Now, even though you typically don't roleplay yourself beating up the biggest bad guys in the game, that doesn't mean you can't have any antagonists in your RP stories -- just that your own personal villains have to be somewhat low-key, and that you and your friends have to play them yourselves. There are a lot of limitations and pitfalls with that sort of endeavor, of course, but with a bit of subtlety and imagination, it can most certainly be done.

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

All the World's a Stage: The art of the alt

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.

With all the talk lately about starting new characters once the Cataclysm arrives, it struck me that most roleplayers already have more than one, including myself. Like most players, I started with one, a night elf druid, and focused on playing that exclusively for quite some time. It didn't really occur to me that I would even want to play more than one.

Then, I began to notice that other people played more than one character, even within the same small group of friends. I had one friend in particular who had mastered the art of roleplaying multiple characters. She never said anything out of character to anyone in our group, and it took me ages to even realize that her characters were ally played by the same person in the first place. Each one had its own personality, and each had a different relationship with all our mutual friends.

Knowing her made something click inside my mind, and I began to see other possibilities for myself too, other sorts of characters I could play with different weaknesses, strengths, and entirely different stories to tell. As my roleplaying experience grew, I began to feel as though one character couldn't contain all the ideas I had jumbling about in my head, so... I started another one, then another, and ... another. Little did I know all the pitfalls I could run into with so many characters, nor the quirky little tricks that could become possible with multiple characters, a small group of friends, and a bit of creativity.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, How-tos, Guilds, RP, Classes, Alts, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

All the World's a Stage: Cataclysm's new race/class combinations


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.

As you know, the new race and class combinations coming up in the Cataclysm will open a whole new set of doors to people who want an alternative character choice that goes against the grain of their typical racial customs, to one degree or another. With the exception of a couple combinations that feel as though they should have been there from the beginning (such as blood elf warriors, which need no discussion here), each new possibility presents roleplayers with an opportunity to play an outcast of sorts, a character who has made a significant break from the traditions his or her race usually represent.

The lore behind each combination is not yet fully clear. We know tauren paladins will probably worship the sun and call themselves "Sunwalkers" for instance, but not much more than that. Some things are clear, though, and there's a lot to get the imagination going for those roleplayers who yearn to play something a little different.

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Filed under: Night Elves, Dwarves, Gnomes, Tauren, Undead, Trolls, Druid, Hunter, Paladin, Priest, Analysis / Opinion, RP, Classes, Alts, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying), Cataclysm

All the World's a Stage: The new character experience in Cataclysm


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.

As you know, the Cataclysm is going to bring major changes to the whole world of Azeroth. There will only be 5 new zones for leveling above 80 and one new zone for each new race -- the rest of the work they're doing involves changing the old zones, bringing them up to the standards of zones in The Burning Crusade and Wrath of the Lich King, adding new quests that are more appropriate to the current timeline, and completely rebuilding the areas that just didn't work so well.

You are also probably aware that this is a much-needed improvement. The 1 - 60 leveling process (except for the draenei or blood elf starting areas) has long been fraught with serious flaws. Going through it the first time wasn't so bad, since exploring everything felt so new, but doing it the third and fourth times meant sheer boredom. I remember many times going to a zone, completing many or all of the quests there, and leaving without ever feeling as though I had really "been" there. Except for a few real gems, quests mostly involved spending a lot of time running long distances in order to kill more nameless bad guys -- they felt more like pest control than adventure. Just being there seemed to remove me from the story of Azeroth, and dump me in some other world where there was nothing important happening. Vast stretches of land on the Azeroth map meant absolutely nothing to me as a roleplayer: no character, no story, no meaning.

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Filed under: Quests, Expansions, The Burning Crusade, Leveling, RP, Alts, Wrath of the Lich King, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying), Cataclysm

All the World's a Stage: More possibilities for goblins and worgen in Cataclysm

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.

So the Cataclysm expansion has officially been announced at BlizzCon 2009 and while there are many things we knew before (such as the addition of Goblins and Worgen), there are many things we just learned (such as the beginnings of their proper lore), and many things we still don't know as well -- some things even Blizzard still seems undecided about.

But there are some indications of things to come which will surely affect roleplayers. The most obvious change involves the changes the whole world will be going through. Each of our existing characters' will have their own reaction to the cataclysm, of course, as well as the opportunity to go through the game from 1 to 60 with a new character, and maybe not be quite as bored as you were the last 6 times you did it. Your new tauren paladin's leveling experience will be very different from your tauren shaman's, and each one will have different things to talk about once they reach the level cap.

Another obvious addition is that you can start another character with whichever new race you like most. Many players have been wanting to play goblins and worgen for a long time, and appreciate the new parity that the two races bring to the two factions -- the Horde now has a diminutive race that is likely the closest the Horde could ever come to "cute," and the Alliance finally gets a race that is actually monstrous. This opens the doors for people to try out the opposite faction even more than before. We've already talked about these two races in a previous article, but now that the expansion's new races are confirmed with additional lore and information, there's quite a bit more to say.

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Filed under: Druid, Hunter, Analysis / Opinion, Expansions, Lore, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying), Cataclysm, Worgen, Goblin

All the World's a Stage: Reflections on the passing of a roleplayer's mom

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

Long time readers of "All the World's a Stage" may remember that I wrote an earlier series of three articles, called "WoW is a Work of Art," which I viewed as a kind of launch pad for this column about roleplaying. The first article talked about how when my mom came down with a very serious form of brain cancer, I had to put other things in my life on hold in order to come back to the US and take care of her. I was happy to do this, of course -- it was an honor to be able to be there for my mother when she needed me, but I won't pretend it was very much fun. Cancer is a terrible disease that wreaks havoc on one's body and emotions all in one big punch. Roleplaying in WoW was one of the social activities I could do for fun at that time, a little world I could enjoy without actually having to leave my home and the loved one that I was caring for.

Last weekend, the life of my mother was very visibly coming to a close. As the deadline for this column approached, I asked for leave (incidentally the first weekend since almost two years ago with no article in this column), and spent every moment with her I could. She died on Monday afternoon, leaving me an inheritance of countless feelings and thoughts which I shall undoubtedly explore for the rest of my life.

Among many other realizations and ideas that have come to mind, I realized that my roleplaying career had come full circle. My decision to play WoW and eventually write about it had begun with my mother's cancer, and now that this cancer had finally taken her life, I wondered, how has this roleplaying contributed to my real life? Has it made me a better person? When I eventually lie on my deathbed as my mother did, will I feel thankful to have roleplayed in WoW the same way my mother felt thankful for all of her experiences in life?

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

All the World's a Stage: How WoW and Warhammer treat RP servers differently


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

Mythic Entertainment released a beta version of Warhammer Online for the Mac this week, along with a free 10-day trial, so I decided to give it a try. I noticed, quite happily, that there was an option to choose a roleplaying server, and as soon as I selected it, I was surprised to see an introduction pop up, about what sorts of names characters were expected to have there, as well as a bit about what roleplaying is, too.

Why doesn't Blizzard have a proper introduction to RP servers special rules in WoW, you ask? Maybe they felt that most players would know what "RP server" was supposed to mean and respect it better, or perhaps they felt explaining RP a bit on their website would be enough. As time went on, however, RP servers have filled up with people who have no interest in roleplaying and Blizzard seems unsure what, if anything, they should do about it. Perhaps Warhammer's RP introduction built into the game is just the solution that WoW needs too.

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

All the World's a Stage: Guild themes


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

Every guild tries to make itself unique in one way or another, and yet much of the time it's hard to tell many guilds apart. Most guilds say something like "we are a group of friends" who "focus on casual play" or "on raiding progression" or something which can make clear its priorities in the game, whether in PvP, PvE, or RP.

Roleplaying guilds have a special opportunity to distinguish themselves with all these elements and then some. In addition to raiding schedules, loot distribution rules, and whatnot, they also have a story -- some idea of where the people in this guild come from, and what binds them together. The story theme that binds them may be something as simple as striving to fight against all evil threats to their homeland, or it could be as involved as running a weekly faire, full of trading, performance, and all manner of festivities.

Most roleplayers seem to just drift into an RP guild based on who they happen to meet in the course of their travels and what sorts of friendships they are able to develop. I worked this way for a long time, sometimes successfully, sometimes not, and in the end I gave up, feeling increasingly frustrated that I wasn't drifting into guilds that could really meet my needs. Finally I decided to steer my own ship and I realized that the theme of any particular guild could make a big difference as to whether or not I enjoyed being in it.

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

All the World's a Stage: The guild hall


All the World's a Stage brings you the latest ideas and suggestions about roleplaying in the World of Warcraft.

One of the greatest problems people have with roleplaying in WoW is that the game has a tendency to spread people out all over Azeroth working towards disparate goals, and that makes it hard to sustain a roleplaying environment. Roleplayers can gather together in a meeting place of some sort in order to roleplay, but doing this every time isn't feasible -- inevitably, we want to go questing, get loot, and actually play the game too, all in different places.

So the majority of roleplayers join roleplaying guilds of one sort or another, and use the regular guild chat channel as their default in-character roleplaying channel which people can participate in no matter what they're doing in the rest of the world. Most guilds tend to imagine that their hearthstones (or some imaginary gnomish device) can act as walkie-talkies of sorts and allow everyone to communicate over great distances, no matter where they are.

Today, however, I will share with you some of the ways this solution falls short, and take a look at a better way to make roleplaying work in a guild, no matter what level you are or what you want to do with your game time. This idea can seem strange at first, but in the end it can provide many roleplaying opportunities -- allowing you to alternately build your RP stories, build up your character's levels, gold, or gear, or do all of these at the same time.

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

All the World's a Stage: The core layer


This week's edition of All the World's a Stage concludes a three-part series on the layers of social interaction in roleplaying. Next week we will continue looking at how to roleplay one's professions.

Good friends are stars in the sky of life, and especially as roleplayers, friends are absolutely essential to our hobby – our whole reason for playing WoW involves creative social interactions. Even if you never really know who a roleplaying partner is in real life, just roleplaying with him or her for a few minutes can create a memorable experience.

Previously, we discussed how to roleplay when you first meet someone, as well as what to do once you've gotten to know them a bit more. The key in each case is remembering that roleplaying is a social experience first, and a creative one second – your character must conform to the rules of good socialization before he or she can succeed creatively. Even though at first this seems more limiting, in the end it will be more liberating, because through sociable characters, you can collaboratively create stories and experiences in a way that no other form of storytelling can.

In fact, the closer you become to your group of friends, the more the possibilities bloom. The core concept characterizations you used to use to entertain strangers are still useful, but here they can take on a deeper meaning. You still listen to your friends and adapt your own character to theirs, but now they will listen to you, and adapt their characters to yours. The closer your friendships are, the more your exploration and creativity are truly mutual and cooperative, and the more you can try out new things that you've never done before.

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

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