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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Roleplay Q&A: Life, Death, Dual Specs, and NPCs
comment 8 Written by on April 9, 2009 – 9:05 am

So I’ve been fielding a few RP related questions lately and, after thinking about it, they’d make excellent post fodder here.  So without further ado…

Lassira asks: “I know that being Jaina and Thrall’s lovechild or Uther’s beloved niece is rather taboo in RP, but is it appropriate to have relationships with other, non-central NPCs?  At what point do you cross the line?”

This is a rather delicate sort of question, and I’d generally steer people away from ANY relationship with a major lore character.  Obviously, a Knight of the Silver Hand would probably have met Uther sometime, but claiming a real relationship with these major characters is difficult, since it starts to push the boundaries of the lore.  It’s also pretentious, as though you feel the need to make yourself feel important by being related to a major lore character.  Not necessary at ALL!

That said, having a casual relationship with any of the various NPCs that hang around is less of an issue, especially if it’s a casual one.  If your character is a shaman, it’s absolutely OK to claim that you have a relationship with one of the Shaman Trainers who has been a great mentor to you – that’s what Shaman Trainers do.  Same with a mage that has a little bit of Khadgar-Fanboy going on. These relationships are both realistic, within the span of the game, and non pretentious – the mage isn’t claiming that he’s Khadgar’s personal student, just that he’s trying to follow in the steps of his hero.  Using NPCs CAN add a little extra flavor and motivation to your characters, so long as you’re careful to do so in a way that is neither a ploy for importance or an act of insecurity.

Belladauna, from Fizzcrank, asks: “Are you going to dual spec, and how does that effect the realms of RP.  Also I tried to pick a random RP realm and within 5 mins local chat and trade chat seemed no different to my non RP realm so I gave up.”

Ok – that’s really THREE questions, but here goes!

First, yes, I’m going to dual spec. Annorah will be dual speccing elemental and restoration – because that connects her to BOTH sides of her personality, and is very much in character for her.  She’s extremely spiritual and connected to the elements, and so it makes sense that she’d be using both of those specs.  I’m not sure yet about dual speccing Aelflaed – it would be fun to take her holy/ret, but she’s so strongly plugged in as a holy paladin that I”m not sure about spending the gold.

As for how it affects RP realms, well – I think there are people that will use Dual Specs as a tool for RP, and some people that will just use them like anyone not on an RP realm would use them.  They’re neither an RP focus nor a non-RP focused ability, just one more tool that people can take advantage of.  One thing they CAN help with is people that have raiding obligations but want to keep an RP spec on the side for when they’re farming/goofing around/instancing.  Having a non-optimized spec in a raid is rather irresponsible, especially once you start doing “hard mode” stuff, but using a Dual Spec can let someone do that without sacrificing their raid responsibilities.

Your final question is probably deserving of a post all its own, but I”ll tackle a little bit of it here.

Your experience in RP server starting zones is not at all uncommon.  If you don’t read Blogatelle, their Katafray Project is an attempt to find RP before level 20 on several realms, and they’re ACTIVELY looking for other RPers and still having trouble sometimes.  Why is this?  Well, WoW is an old game, and some servers (like Feathermoon and the other 5 original-release RP servers) are pretty old and established.  Most RPers on these servers are level 70+, and their friends are level 70+.  That, and they’ve had several years to develop into RP circles that they know, like, and are comfortable with.

Is this always the best thing?  No, but it does explain the dearth of RP in low level zones.  Also, keep in mind that many people roll on RP realms as way to get on a “more mature” server and just ignore the RP part – and sometimes people roll on RP realms specifically to be idiots and grief RPers and act in ways that cause drama.  Immature?  Yes, but not unheard of.  The other thing you might consider is time spent there – RP takes *time*, and good RP takes a long time.  You’re not going to get amazing RP at level 5 in Goldshire unless you get pretty lucky – just like you’re not going to get amazing instance groups at level 18 unless you get pretty lucky.  Sure it’s *there*, but if you wanted to find excellent PVP or PVE content, you’d give more time than just a short trip through a starting zone to determine the ability of the realm as a whole.

My best suggestion is to use the realm forums – people use them for more than just raiding posts, and if you post there looking for RP guidance and tips on where to find good pickup RP, you’ll likely get good advice (and maybe a few murlocs, but don’t mind them) and maybe even a few guilds that you might check out.

Engee asks: “Anna, I’ve been wondering whether or not I need to have an RP story to justify a new name on an RP server, and if that will help me integrate into a new server better?”

You absolutely do NOT need a story to justify your name.  Most people don’t have real life stories for their names, beyond “My mom and dad thought it was cool” – or maybe “I’m named after my great grandfather”.  If you have to write a long, developed story as to why your character has a specific name, it’s more likely to be a nickname, and not your characters actual first name.  Www.wowwiki.com is a great resource for character name conventions, as is Dramatis-Personae, if you’re looking for naming advice.  Any online fantasy/medieval name generator is probably going to be alright as well, especially if you don’t mind somewhat cliched names.

Especially dangerous is trying to “justify” a non-RP server appropriate name through a convoluted backstory.  Random people that pass you in town won’t know that backstory (and you probably wouldn’t force it on them anyway, since it’s not really normal to tell your entire life story to everyone you meet), so your name has to pass the RP server standards just on first glance alone.

Llanion asks: “Is there an official policy / community ettiquette on claiming to be a member of, or adherent to, in-game factions? Or former member of/adherent to?”

As far as I know, this one is similar to the NPC question, and is a problem of degree.  If your Druid is claiming to be a key member and leader in the Cenarion Circle?  That’s not going to fly – again with claiming NPCS as a form of self-aggrandizement – and a way to make your character more awesome.  Using the Circle as a part of your Druid’s history is fine though, since most Druids *are* a part of the circle – just like it’s absolutely fine for a human Rogue to say that they spent some time as an agent for SI:7, or a Paladin to work for the Argent Crusade.  These organizations have TONS of members, and player characters are very acceptable as members of those organizations.

Bricu asks: “Dear Anna; How do you RP the death of a character?”

To quote Elmer Fudd, “Vewy Vewy Cawefuwwy”… Joking aside though, this is something you have to undertake with a good deal of forethought and delicacy.  Killing off your character can be a way to obtain release, to let them go, and to finish their ultimate development with a sense of “finality”.  Killing off your characgter only to change your mind in a year with a “Just kidding guys!” is a really good way to annoy your friends.

Death is a part of life, so this is something that you should plan for and work out like all major character developments – but like with all difficult RP, it’s best to let other people in on the plan BEFORE you drop the “No, you can’t resurrect him, this time he’s ALL dead, not just MOSTLY dead” line.  Other characters that interact with yours will need time to adjust to his/her death, especially characters that are close to him/her.  Dumping this kind of thing on your friends very suddenly is likely to get you stunned silence or no reaction at all right away.  Obviously the death can and often will be sudden to the other *characters* – but the players behind them will need time to figure out reactions to something as big as the death of a friend.

Whether you choose to send your character on a trip to the afterlife in an extended storyline fighting big bad monsters or just have them wander off into the unknown to pass on quietly is up to you. Different characters will have different deaths – some sudden, some not so sudden.  And, in fact, it’s not unheard of for someone to just get old and pass away in their sleep.  Like in real life, there are many ways that people die – so don’t assume you MUST do any one thing or another when planning the demise of your character.

However, using character death as a ploy for attention and making YOU feel awesome and important isn’t so awesome.  And it goes without saying “You all just hate me, I’m going to kill my character” is NEVER ok.  Besides, every time I’ve seen someone do that, they’ve killed their character, deleted it… and then shown back up a few weeks later with a restored character and an “oops just kidding”.  So tread carefully, but don’t be afraid of this one if it’s the most realistic way for your character to progress.

If anyone has any other Roleplay related questions or concerns that they’d like to see addressed, I’d love to answer them!  If I get enough questions, perhaps this will become a semi-regular feature here at Too Many Annas.  I’ve enjoyed getting to work on these – hopefully you all get something out of the answers!

If you have questions for me, feel free to leave them in a comment here, use the contact form page, email me at toomanyannas at gmail dot com, or find me on twitter as JustAnna.

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8 Responses to “Roleplay Q&A: Life, Death, Dual Specs, and NPCs”

  1. As an added question that recently occurred to me: how do you choose your character’s RP outfits/gear? Do you have different sets of gear for different in-game activities? If so, how do those sets reflect your character’s personality? Do you keep to class-specific sets (like, a paladin in Lightforge) or do you mix and match for what looks best (a plate-wearer in cloth, for example)?

    Okay, so that’s actually like five questions rather than one…

    Lassirras last blog post..Thank you for being a friend, part 3

  2. As far as being a member or adherent of an in-game faction goes, I think for me a lot of it also depends on getting reputation with a faction. If a faction can repped with, and you’ve managed to get honored or better… Well, you probably still shouldn’t claim to be grand poobah of the entire thing, but calling yourself a relatively important field agent of the faction probably isn’t far off the mark.

    By Jobrill on Apr 9, 2009 | Reply
  3. You’d better not be killing off Bricu. I will smite you.

    I’ve used a few of the Stormwind NPCs for Threnn and Annalea, but they’re mostly for flavor — Elling Trias once plucked a nine-year-old Threnn out of the canals when she was trying to keep up with the bigger kids and got herself in trouble. Officer Pomeroy was an occasional victim of their teenage pranks.

    I would say that you could use a major lore NPC sometimes and only if you do it with the respect for that character’s relationship to your own. I agonized over having Davien dragged before Sylvanas, but it made sense to the story: she’d been doing things that could be construed as treasonous (okay, that were treasonous). When writing it, I kept in mind that while this was a significant moment for Davien, it was probably just another day in the life for the Banshee Queen. Davien was probably forgotten before her boots even left the Royal Chamber, but Davien herself was scared as all hell. She didn’t mouth off, she didn’t have a moment where she looked “cooler” or more badass than Sylvanas. She was, really, just a frightened deader mage in the presence of someone who could squish her like a bug.

    Even still, I sent it around to several friends before I posted it, with the request of “Oh god, please tell me if this is Mary-Sueing.” I think it worked out okay, but it’s definitely something you have to be very, very careful about.

    Great post!

  4. @Lauren:

    I think that’s a really important distinction – the NPCs in question were really important to your characters, but your characters are not really important to them. In fact, that could be the litmus test for any such interaction, since that’s usually where people cross the line into Mary-Sue-Ism

    By Anna on Apr 9, 2009 | Reply
  5. The Prophecy of Light (The Belf Paladin guild) has a rather rockey relationship with Champion Vranesh. Not entirely by design, we’ve managed to mention him in RP stories so much that he has become part of them.

    I never thought this went too mary-sueish because Vranesh isn’t a major NPC and we haven’t exactly made much of his personality than what you see him wandering around the city, being a boor and sneering at the farstriders.

    Itanya Blades last blog post..Whirlwind Tour for mounts

  6. How close to NPCs or factions is too close is something that’s hard to come up with a rule for, I’ve noticed. It’s fair to say that not following the rule above lands you in potentially risky territory, but following the rule above isn’t necessarily a guarantee that you’re out of the woods either. The best advice I would offer to anybody is to take it with a grain of salt and when in doubt show it to a friend or two and see what they think.

    The important, first rule I would pose is whether or not the relationship is logical and would make sense for the character. The second is that it has to be more than simply a ploy to draw attention to yourself; especially disobeying this rule is a surefire way to annoy a lot of people very fast. You would be surprised what you can get away with if it is presented in a very logical fashion and is clearly much more than a way of saying “look at how awesome I am!”

    Take, for instance, a Draenei. For most races, it would be outlandish to suggest that they are familiar with, much less have spoken to a Naaru; with most humans you run the real risk of either creating a Sue or coming up with a story that makes no sense. However, if your character is, say, Exalted with the Sha’tari, it isn’t unreasonable to suggest they have been around the Naaru to some extent or perhaps even spoken to one. This is especially true for Draenei: They were guided by the Naaru for a very long time, and as such especially for an older Draenei it isn’t implausible that they might have spoken with a lesser Naaru, like Ge’ras, Ve’ru or O’ros. Given the nature of the Naaru it isn’t implausible either that they remember said character and perhaps feel some measure of benevolence towards them.

    The same could be said for having a brush with a lore character in a major questline, as long as you don’t hog that story arc to yourself; it’s perfectly fair to say your character was there when Bolvar and his army were betrayed at the Wrath Gate, owing to it being a major questline that nearly everyone participated in. On the same note, however, it’s a grave mistake to say you were the only PC there; half of the adventurers around you probably were there too, have their own horror stories and near-death experiences from the battle, and so on. Another example is the case of Thorim, where in Ulduar he apparently goes so far as to recognize the characters in the raid as among those who helped him out in the mountains. Your character obviously had a role that shouldn’t be discounted completely, although Threnn’s rule should be followed here; the NPC probably remembers and maybe even has a liking for your character, but it is obvious who the dominant personality in the relationship is.

    The same goes for factions naturally. If your character is an Argent Champion it almost wouldn’t make sense to not incorporate that into your character. This does not mean you run anything within the Argent Dawn or Argent Crusade, it only means you are a well-respected member and logically implies your contributions to the Crusade are well-honored by them. You could likely count yourself a member, assuming you’re willing to play out that part to its full and not just when convenient. The simple rule to always keep in mind during moments like this is to a) make sense, and b) don’t be a self-centered, attention seeking jerk about it.

    All of this, naturally, has to be understood in the context of what your character does. The fact is that a max-level character in Northrend fighting to survive against Scourge legions, the Iron Army and the Blue Dragonflight is already facing some fairly extraordinary things. It doesn’t make sense for you to go off and fight Malygos and then try to pass your character off as being completely normal. Your character has seen things that would make the average person spending his life in Stormwind, Westfall or Lakeshire run away in terror. The one qualifier is, everybody else up in Northrend has had to live through terrifying stuff too. You’ve fought alongside dragons in game? On the surface level that sounds incredibly Mary-Sue to someone who is sticking around in the regions about Stormwind all day, but in Northrend that not only happens, it happens often.

    By Rollandren on Apr 10, 2009 | Reply
  7. …This is what happens when I’m sitting at my desk trying to think of anything besides writing the research paper I’m supposed to be doing. *facepalm*

    By Rollandren on Apr 10, 2009 | Reply
  8. Can’t believe I didn’t think to note this earlier, but the other way to dodge Mary-Sueism is to have a relationship with non-named NPCs whom you none the less can encounter. I made one of the medics in Gnomeregan my gnome’s mother, and the two had a very touching reunion when we got into the safe zone. That made sense, it didn’t give too much power to my character, and it provided a nice scene.

    Seans last blog post..Sean’s fiction. Also, contest!

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