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Posts with tag roleplayer

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: Out of Character


All the World's a Stage. It really is. All the World of Warcraft is a actually a stage -- and all its orcs and humans merely players, each one with a role to play.

When people hear about roleplayers in WoW for the first time, some get the impression that we take our little game of "let's pretend" way too seriously, that everything we do in the game has to be some sort of mind-blowing expression of our innermost true feelings. But the truth of the matter is that only a portion of what we do in the game involves stories and character -- a lot of what we do and say to other players is not "in character" at all. In fact, our out-of-character (OOC) communication is essential in order to properly enjoy the in-character (IC) elements, and good roleplayers do a lot of cool things to help make both sides complement each other.

Much of what roleplayer does is out of character, and rightly so. Even just pushing buttons in order to activate abilities could be considered "OOC" -- in a way, the only character you can ever totally immerse yourself in is... yourself. Any time you play a role that isn't yourself, there's always some part you which is there in the background, knowing that it's all just a show. You can't really ignore your true self -- you have to let it guide and inform every part of the role you play.

The same is true when roleplaying in WoW. Roleplay is strengthened when you open up and accept OOC communication with others, establish real relationships in addition to those your characters create. Actors in a play have to support each other as real people or their play will fail, and in the same way, the honest communication we open up with our roleplaying friends can sometimes be what defines our roleplaying experience and gives it true meaning.

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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)

All the World's a Stage: The surface layer


This installment of All the World's a Stage diverges from the series of roleplaying guides about how to roleplay your race, class, and professions, in order to have a closer look at different layers of social interaction in roleplaying, and see in which ways you can tailor your character for each one.

So there you are -- you've got the coolest, funniest, most heartbreaking character idea on your whole RP server. You login, create your new masterpiece, and start leveling up... But as time goes by, you realize you have a problem. No one seems interested in you! You may be having trouble meeting people who actually roleplay on a roleplaying server, or the roleplayers you run into may not realize how truly awesome your character is. Let's say you even join an RP guild and try to impress your guildmates with your witty "/guild" chatter, only to discover that they're seem mildly interested at best.

What's a roleplaying genius to do? It would be tempting to think that you are not such a great roleplayer as you think, or that your character idea isn't as fantastic as you had hoped, but the truth might lie in something far less depressing: You may have created a character with true depth, yet lacking established friends to explore that depth with, your character has no way of showing it. Making such friends is never easy if you are too deep for them -- they expect some sort of interesting surface-level interaction first. Likewise, if a character is all silly gimmicks designed to entertain strangers, without anything deeper for potential close friends to enjoy, he or she may seem like an attention grabber, entertaining in the short term, but mostly shallow in the end. Choosing the right kind of surface-layer character traits to suit your personality and social needs is essential if you want to have a good experience in roleplaying.

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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 be a Blacksmith


This installment of All the World's a Stage is the thirty-second in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class (or profession!) well, without embarrassing yourself.

Blacksmiths are known for being brawny folk -- hammering pieces of metal together is not easy work after all. But in World of Warcraft, even the smallest gnome or scrawniest elf can be a great blacksmith. Azeroth is a land where even the smallest people can wield the biggest of axes, so it would follow that they could craft them too, as well as any other sort of armor or weapon that they could imagine.

Typically, however, even in Azeroth, blacksmiths are, by and large, members of a class that can use plate mail and heavy weapons, such as a warrior, a death knight, or a paladin, just as tailors are usually spellcasters of some kind. So even if a blacksmith appears scrawny on the outside, he or she is very likely still quite brawny on the inside. Underneath that elf's pretty skin are muscles of steel!

Being a blacksmith implies a state of mind as much as it does a state of body, however. Working with metals is not something for the light hearted. The weight, the heat, and all the soot are not for people who like to keep their clothes clean at all times, for instance. It's also not a very socially-oriented profession, requiring long hours spent hammering away at something until it reaches perfection, often using lots of material in the learning process before you finally get one right. Blacksmiths of lore tend to be patient and hardy people, tempered and perfected by their work, like good, hard steel.

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Filed under: Paladin, Warrior, Blacksmithing, Lore, RP, Death Knight, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

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

This installment of All the World's a Stage is the thirty-first in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class (or profession!) well, without embarrassing yourself.

Enchanting cries out to be roleplayed. It could be a kind of magician's engineering, or a more refined cousin of alchemy. Although you could certainly play an enchanter as another sort of magical mad-scientist, the profession actually lends itself well to a more gentlemanly (and sane) approach, where experiments are not so much about creating some sort of autonomous monster or mind-controling love potion of serene bliss, but rather altering the nature of things to do what they never would have done previously.

Enchantments have a huge role in mythology and literature. Cinderella's fairy godmother turned a pumpkin into a stage-coach with an enchantment, Hogwarts School's "Sorting Hat" famously talks to students who wear it, and the One Ring even contains the soul of Middle Earth's lord of evil personified. All these are enchantments in which ordinary items are magically enhanced so as to reflect some aspect of character development or plot in the story, and a roleplayer at the keys of an enchanter character can work similar magic in telling his own story.

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

All the World's a Stage: The Art of Roleplaying


This week, David returns (again) to All the World's a Stage as a newly married man, feeling particularly happy and joyful, and overflowing with enthusiasm for just about everything he loves in life.

The relationship between rolelplaying and real life is a multifaceted one. If you have read this column before, you've probably seen some mention of roleplaying as a creative art form, but for some readers, it might be a bit difficult to imagine roleplaying as an art. After all, some might say, it's just a bunch of people sitting around, pretending their characters are real people, having real problems and real stories, all in spite of a game environment in which one's character can't actually affect the world in any way that matters. Problems of continuity, such as instanced dungeons in which many people can slay the same monster at the same time over and over again, make some people feel as though there's no story value to the game at all, and that anything roleplayers do is a waste of their time.

The trick for roleplayers is to think of roleplaying as something more like freeform play art, in which the main point of the art isn't so much the end product that results from one's efforts (as it would be in painting, novel-writing, or composing music), but rather the thoughts, feelings, and inspiration that come to mind when we actually engage in the process of the art itself. The closest parallel to another art form might be improv acting games, where the whole point is to make things up for you and the other actors to enjoy, rather than to deliver a performance for a separate audience; but if you've enjoyed something so simple as building a sand castle on the beach, then you probably have a good sense of what it feels like to roleplay. Fingerpainting, mandala-making or even just freeform music and dancing can all give a similar feeling like what you get in roleplaying: the sheer joy of creation.

Some roleplayers need no more justification for their art than that they enjoyed themselves. But others look at their own roleplaying careers and see certain things that they've taken away from their roleplaying experience over time. These things are usually not as solid as an actual painting or recorded song, but they still have a kind of solidity in the roleplayer's mind, as they positively impact his or her real life in several ways.

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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: The Roleplaying Spectrum


Today David returns to All the World's a Stage, still taking a break from his series of roleplaying lore guides for World of Warcraft. Instead, he shares a few thoughts especially for people who may roleplay all the time without realizing it.

There are lots of people playing World of Warcraft out there, and if you gave a survey to each one of them, asking, "are you a roleplayer?" most of them would probably say "no." But if you actually listened to them, or engaged with them in conversation about it, you might learn a lot of things that surveys usually miss. Many people who say they are not roleplayers actually have an imagination of their character's backstory, personality, or even just individual style. They may not know how to act out the character, and they may not have friends they feel they can act out with, yet at the same time, they do have a sense of their character as their own little creative exploration.

The distinction between roleplayers and non-roleplayers is not as clear as people seem to think. In fact, there's a whole spectrum of different kinds of players between those who say they roleplay and those who say they don't -- and most people probably find themselves somewhere in the middle.

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

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

This installment of All the World's a Stage is the sixth in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class well, without embarrassing yourself.

The first cultural influence you'll probably think of when you see the tauren and walk around in their villages is "Native American." That's fine as far as it goes, but you should remember that they're mainly based on the stereotypical image of what Native Americans are rather than their actual reality. I'm hardly an expert on Native Americans, however, so rather than try and speak for these differences, I'm just going to put the whole issue aside and take tauren as tauren rather than parallels to any human culture. Besides, aside from certain aspects of architecture, music, clothing, and mythology, the tauren are really their own species. They are quite general enough to remind us of all kinds of different cultures around the world, many of whom cherish the earth, revere their ancestors, and try to live in harmony with the world.

Some people say that the tauren are the noblest and most peaceful of the races in World of Warcraft, but for most of their history, they have been at war with the vicious centaur -- though not by choice. The centaur have always been very hostile towards tauren, driving them out of their ancestral homelands, slaughtering them and even cannibalizing them whenever possible. In a way, the centaur seem like four-legged versions of the nastier trolls who never joined the Horde. When Thrall came to Kalimdor and encountered the tauren in the midst of their struggle against the centaur, it marked the beginning of one of the greatest changes in tauren history.

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

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

This installment of All the World's a Stage is the fifth in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class well, without embarrassing yourself.

Gnomes are probably the easiest race to roleplay in World of Warcraft. They have a strong (and mostly accurate) stereotype that people just get instantly, and there's a childlike "blank-slate" quality about them that means that they don't have to have complicated backstories.

In fact, you could define the gnomes as a race without a history to speak of. They are so very curious and inquisitive that they ask questions about everything, that they try to unravel any mysteries they encounter, and consider their personal life stories to be of little account. They've written tomes upon tomes on the inner workings of multi-polar data transfer relays and eletro-magnified parallel power circuits, but it never really occurred to them that they should write down the history of their species. They are a people always looking into the future, and whatever passes beyond the infinitely precious present becomes lost to them in the unseen reaches of the past -- out of sight, out of mind.

That's not to say they have no memory -- they make use of their superb memories in carefully constructing their world-renown masterpieces of technological craftsmanship! Rather, it would be better to say that their minds only serve up memories relevant to the inquiry at hand. So if the orcs paved through azeroth a while back and destroyed everything in their path, well that was bad and all but it was a long time ago and who wants to hold a grudge? If the monstrous troggs came from the bowels of the earth and destroyed their cherished technological city of Gnomeregan... well, they'd love to get it back, but it's no reason to be unkind or uncheerful!

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Filed under: Alliance, Gnomes, Engineering, Lore, Guides, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

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

This installment of All the World's a Stage is the third in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class well, without embarrassing yourself.

Trolls are based on the "wild savages" you've seen in the movies or on TV, from King Kong to Discovery channel. If you've seen people hunting with spears, walking around in the forest without many clothes on, or dancing around in costumes and face paint in some kind of ritual you've never heard of, you've seen the apparent inspiration for trolls in World of Warcraft. The culture of Warcraft trolls are a mishmash of all the different myths and rumors that have grown up about some of the earth's indigenous peoples that live outside modern society: Strange voodoo beliefs and rituals? Check. Bloodthirsty headhunters with a taste for cannibalism? Check. Witch doctors, shrunken heads, human sacrifice, and rampant superstition? Check on all counts.

It's important to note here that troll culture is based on the myths about some indigenous people, not on their reality. Cannibalism, for instance, has been rare among human societies, nearly always viewed as anathema, but among the trolls of Azeroth, it appears to be the rule rather than the exception. Unbiased study of the world's primal religions has shown them to be far more sophisticated than early (and prejudiced) Western explorers ever imagined. Don't listen to the Jamaican accent trolls have in the game and assume that trolls are based on real life Jamaicans. There is nowhere near the correlation here that we might find with the dwarves and the Scots, or even the draenei and the eastern Europeans that they sound like. Indeed, one could argue that the choice of a Jamaican accent to represent the trolls and their culture reveals a great deal of ignorance we Americans have regarding Caribbean islanders -- but that's a discussion I'll not go into today.

Suffice it to say that as a member of the Darkspear tribe, the only tribe of trolls to join the Horde, your character living in a time of great change for your people. Your tribe is the first to embrace the more modern values promoted by Thrall, to take up the spiritual practices of shamanism, and to integrate itself with other races. Although the Darkspears have officially given up human sacrifice, cannibalism, and now tell you to "stay away from the voodoo," these practices are all elements of religion and superstition that your character would have grown up with, and may find it hard to let go of completely.

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

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

This installment of All the World's a Stage is the second in a series of roleplaying guides in which we find out all the background information you need to roleplay a particular race or class well, without embarrassing yourself.

If you've seen Lord of the Rings, or read any other fantasy story in which orcs are portrayed, you probably think orcs are hideous humanoid monsters charging mindlessly forward to slaughter helpless innocents. Azerothian orcs are significantly different, however, with a shamanistic culture that prides honor above all other virtues.

But unless you've played World of Warcraft or Warcraft 3, you probably wouldn't know that. The orcs of Warcraft 1 and 2 were pretty squarely in "bad guy" territory, and it is only with the story of Thrall's rise to power and return to shamanism that we find out what the orcs' true history is.

Ironically, the story of the orcs is a bit like that of the horrors of modern Nazis and the lore of the ancient Jews mixed together. Imagine that the vast majority of your species came under the sway of a terrible and evil leader, utterly determined to commit genocide against your peaceful neighbors. After carrying out this deplorable task, your people sought a new enemy, and found a new world to destroy. In the midst of this conquest, however, your people's political leadership failed, the way back home was cut off, and you all ended up as slaves in exile, lethargic and utterly without hope. Suddenly, a hero appeared to unite your people, overcome your former masters, restore your ancient faith, reclaim your dignity, and establish a new homeland.

What follows is a brief account of the events most orcs know about or lived through, and a glimpse of the effects they would have had on your character.

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

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