Written by | Posted September 8, 2015 – 9:51 pm Descent and Ascent

It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – was Gromnor dead? Was he really in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms, somewhere […]

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Off Limits: Blizzard NPC’s in Roleplay
comment 2 Written by on February 23, 2010 – 6:38 am

Not every roleplay situation or interaction will be entirely player driven.

World events, faction leaders, holidays, and quests are all potential roleplay sparks. But given the “whole world” aspect of such events and characters, there are some things that you’ll want to avoid when you’re picking up that kind of roleplay though, usually where it starts to impact things that are out of your character’s control.

(There’s been a lot said about claiming relationships with NPC’s in your backstory, so I’m going to leave that part alone.)

Say you want to write a story set in Icecrown, about the Argent Crusade. It’s possible that Tirion Fordring might make an appearance in your fic somewhere – after all, he is the leader of the Argent Crusade. If you hang around there long enough, you just might see him! And, since he’s a charismatic leader, it’s not out of the question that your character might drop him a salute and have him smile and salute back, or say something encouraging. Tirion’s a nice guy, you know. Even if he is a badass too.

Where you run into trouble is if your story forces weakness on Tirion Fordring without his or Blizzard’s “consent.” If your character is a disillusioned old soldier and hates Tirion, and they charge into the Argent camp like a madman screaming challenges for a duel – which he accepts and then your character beats him soundly and injures him? That pushes the envelope too far, for a number of reasons. Tirion’s essentially a faction leader. He’s got guards. Someone running in screaming like a madman would be forcibly removed as a threat to his safety not allowed to run loose, let alone allowed to challenge him in a duel. And then to assume that your character is such a badass that they would beat him up and win?

There are a number of problems with this, not just in that you’re kind of pulling a “I beat up a lore character so I’m awesome”.

Those NPCs are there for everyone; Blizzard writes them, and all of our characters interact them. If your story backs one of those NPCs in a corner and forces some form of action/response/whatever on them or their organization, that story is now influencing the RP that everyone else has, and creating a situation that will cause conflict for every new RPer you encounter. If you have to explain to every single character that you run into that “No, Sylvanas really isn’t the leader of the Forsaken anymore. That guy Jimbob over there killed her last year,” you’re probably doing it wrong.

What’s the solution then, if you need a fall guy?

Write your own.

An NPC that you create or make up has no such complications. People write up, characterize, and then kill off/torture/do horrible things to their own personal NPC’s all the time. The difference is that YOU create these characters, and ultimately control them. They have no bearing on other players.

Once you start creating NPCs, it becomes kind of addicting! You’ll want to keep a list of who you’ve created (and who’s been killed off). That’ll help you manage where NPCs are at any given time, and help you remember which is truly a badass NPC and which is just a foil or a fall guy for someone else.

Blizzard creates and controls their own NPCs, and as such, you can’t just up and kill them. Or take their place. Or beat them into a bloody pulp and make them unable to do their jobs. How does this actively affect your RP?

Let’s take an example from my own RP:

Bryan and Elizabeth Cross, the proprietors of The Silver Shield in Old Town.

The Silver Shield – as a shop – exists. Bryan Cross is a Blizzard controlled and written NPC as a sheildmaker and blacksmith. Aely rents an apartment underneath their shop. If something were to happen in that shop, Bryan Cross couldn’t be harmed in a way that would make him unable to do his job… because he’s still there in Stormwind. I couldn’t kill him, or cut off his arm. (And I especially couldn’t get mad when someone else brought up that Bryan Cross was standing in his shop selling shields, because OMG I KILLED HIM NO HE’S NOT.) When I write things about Bryan Cross, he’s doing blacksmithy or shieldmakery things – or he’s being a responsible shopkeeper that’s looking out for his and his family’s interests.

His wife, on the other hand, is entirely fictional. Elizabeth Cross exists only in my RP and in the RP of people that choose to use her in their stories. If something terrible came of Elizabeth Cross, it wouldn’t affect other players at all. Should a story demand it, she is, essentially, disposable – not that I’d ever want to get rid of her. I rather like Bess Cross.

But anyway, I think that illustrates the point pretty well.

It all basically boils down to this: Blizzard NPC’s doing relatively ambiguous things consistent with their roles as NPC’s are fine in roleplay.

Matthias Shaw is a sneaky bastard without a lot of scruples – having him do sneaky scruple-less bastard things in a fic is pretty consistent (though it’d probably make more sense to make up a henchman of his). Varian Wrynn has a temper when it comes to Orcs. Thrall ultimately seeks peace for Azeroth. When you take NPC’s out of those roles and force them into your story (particularly as a way to increase your character’s Absolute Badass Value), you start to get into the realm of lorebreaking.

So use Blizzard’s NPCs wisely. They’re there as “untouchable” leaders for a reason; they’re the consistent thread that holds this world together. Taking them out, putting them down, and reducing their influence isn’t a particularly good way to get your point across, because it forces your story to be accepted (or rejected) by other players.

Write your own NPCs instead! And always be aware of the laws of Absolute Badass Value (if you’ve not read that post, you really should). Your fellow RPers will thank you!


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2 Responses to “Off Limits: Blizzard NPC’s in Roleplay”

  1. I just finished writing a story with Tirion in it. Essentially though he holds his temper, passionate people often have tempers. I struggle to hold mine, and frankly I think I come out looking more like a stubborn child. He just sort of indulges me. I do piss him off though, but as a paladin and since I am no longer a Knight of the Silver Hand even though I am human, it kinda rubs him the wrong way. I don’t think humans really do trust the Hand of Argus Pallies yet. I think that is appropriate. There are several connotations of certain actions, but I don’t really think it places him in any different light than we have already seen.

    I view it as my revenge for jousting, and his part in the story is done. Except for a brief part where he already appears at the end of the Arthas fight. My character’s arc has all built up to killing her mom, now a dk, from a paladin, and if possible Arthas. Blizzard made him killable, and I am writing the story including the actual fight mechanics so I think it is ok. Plus I am on a non roleplay realm and my guildies, while included in my story, don’t roleplay. I just write my character’s because it is more fun for me.

    But I see your point, and frankly though people most related to me, my aunt, my dranei mom, my dead parents, are all made up. However I needed a Paladin leader, and a human, to have as an antagonist in this part. Tirion seemed to fit the job.

  2. This is a good topic and one I think a lot of people might miss because they want their characters to fit into the grand story of Warcraft in as great a way as the major lore figures. Some more than others, I’m sure.

    I, myself, am a bit guilty of messing about with lore figures and locations, but overall I try to use only my own original characters for just the reason you mention…I didn’t write (insert lore character here), I don’t know what Blizzard has planned for them and I don’t have all the details of their personality. That said, Matthias Shaw and Reznik “the Shiv” do show up in A Stab in the Dark (shameless self-promotion, woo!), but only in a supporting role. When writing those sections, I made sure to do my research on all the existing information about them (thank you, D20 WoW books!) to make sure their characters were in line with what was currently known about them. ~I~ think I did a good job of not futzing about too much with them, but I’m biased. 😀

    Really, just as you say, it’s more fun to include your own NPCs, since you can do whatever the hell you want to them.

    Also, on a side note, I think Blizzard has been cribbing from my story notes on the plot of A Stab in the Dark…

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