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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Roleplayers do it In Character: A Guide to IC Dungeon Crawling
comment 8 Written by on December 22, 2009 – 11:25 am

Roleplay has many venues. You’ve seen me talk about collaborative writing, in game RP, forum RP, even an RP raid group! One of the subjects I’ve not really tackled though, is IC instance running – heading into a 5 man dungeon run with the intent of allowing your character to be “in the moment” as things happen.

Dungeon Header

When I say In Character, that can mean a couple of different things, and the pace of your dungeon run is going to change with each type.

  • 100% in character, time taken during trash, before or after boss pulls to talk if needed, all instructions done in character as much as possible.
  • Mostly in character, time taken for a few minutes after boss pulls, trash may be slowed down but in general the group keeps pace, some OOC chatter when necessary.
  • Mostly out of character, with a few snips of conversation during downtime, AFKs, or while waiting on cutscenes to finish.

The first type takes the longest, obviously. It’s also the one most likely to have lasting character implications, and the one I’m going to address here (though type #2 is also applicable for most of this info).

Not every run needs to be this kind, and most of the dungeons I run with friends end up falling somewhere between the second and third types, with short bits of character interaction while everything else is going on. Let’s say, though, that what you want isn’t just short bits of character interaction, but a full-on in character run. (In an attempt to toot my own horn, we’re going to assume you’ve decided to run the ICC Trio of instances in character, after having read my post on The Horrors of Icecrown.)

How do you set this kind of thing up?

Don’t PUG it. Don’t LFD it either. Choose other roleplayers who are interested in the idea whenever possible.

People in PUGs/LFD want to get in, get badges, get loot, and go home. They want perfunctory, fast, low chatter, high kill speed, because they are busy people and don’t care about your character progression 99% of the time (since they don’t know you. I’m sure if they knew you, you’d have a better chance of their being interested.) They’re probably not roleplayers – though they might be, you never know – and even if they are, not all roleplayers want 100% IC runs all the time. Sometimes we all just want our badges in a hurry.

Instead, you’ll want to find four like-minded (or at the very least, not-antagonistic) players to go with you. Preferably folks who are also interested in experiencing the dungeon in character for themselves, bonus points if those people have story connections to your character as well, so you can have a shared experience that anyone in the group can refer back to.

As with all RP, communication is crucial here, and you’ll get a lot more out of the instance if both you and everyone else knows in advance what to expect. Bringing someone along without letting them know that you’re intending to take the time to RP is likely to result in hurt feelings, frustration, and possibly a ruined experience.

If you are the only person you know, and you have no way to run instances other than pick up groups, you can either jot down notes to write up a story later, or just go with it and see if maybe you get interaction from other players.

Allow lots of extra time – at least double what the normal run will take.

This isn’t going to be a 20 minute run. 20 minute runs are great, but they are not at all conducive to in character interaction. Sure you can toss a oneliner or make a couple of jokes in a smash and grab, but more “role crucial” players (like tanks and healers) won’t get anything out of it, and actually considering the implications and having conversation takes more time, frequently, than the actual mob killing. This is OK, and should be something you discuss with your 4 like-minded friends.

It might not actually TAKE double the amount of time for a normal run?

But extra time is good, and having to run off out of a dungeon halfway through because you need to go to class/take care of your kid/go to work/have a meeting/need to vacuum your cat is only going to make you (and everyone else) frustrated and have to reschedule the whole thing. Plus, feeling rushed can really put a damper on RP.

Consider running the dungeon on normal, rather than heroic.

To facilitate less thought about mechanics and more thought about characters. Doubly applicable for level 80 dungeons and newer dungeons that have harder heroic modes. The point of this type of run is not shiny epix loots. The point of this run is lore/character interaction.

Also don’t forget about all the old-world dungeons. If going back to Sunken Temple has implications for your druid, run it at whatever level you want, and don’t worry about the fact that you outlevel it. You’re not there for loot anyway!

Understand that different roles have different RP capacities in a group.

This has NOTHING to do with their characters, and everything to do with the fact that your healer can not stop healing to make a witty comment, because if the tank dies, you will wipe (even in normal-mode). In that vein, it can be a lot easier to RP as a DPS class, if you’re interested in both speed and RP.

I’d encourage, however, for a seriously IC run, to totally forget about speed, and just let things happen as they happen. Hence finding like-minded individuals to go with you and planning in advance to let things take a little longer if need be.

Decide in advance how much “spoiling” you want.

Some people want to know what happens, so they can have an inkling of what their character will need to be prepared for, others want to walk in blind. Me, I’m difficult, so I try for something in the middle. I want to know the basic jist, since I’m frequently the healer and having to keep the little green bars at least partially in my consciousness and don’t always have time to see all of what happens in a fight. I don’t, however, want to pore over the videos and strategies and learn the dialogue really well in advance, to plan my witty retorts perfectly.

Call it “planned spontaneity” if you will.

Have fun, and forget everything else I said if it’s in your way.

The most important part of RP is having fun. Sometimes having fun awesome RP is sad and tragic (see ICC Trio, CoT:Stratholme, or even normal Stratholme/Scholomance), sometimes it’s more heroic and awesome. Regardless, if you set out to have an in-the-moment, IC dungeon adventure, don’t let the planning get in the way.

I highly recommend giving this a try, as it can be worth every extra minute for your character’s development.

I’d love to hear your stories of IC instance runs, past or present, doubly so if you feel inspired to tackle the Icecrown lore!


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8 Responses to “Roleplayers do it In Character: A Guide to IC Dungeon Crawling”

  1. I’ll definitely agree that you shouldn’t do this in a PUG or LFD group. The majority of the realms in your battlegroup will not be RP realms. Though this hasn’t happened to me personally, my boyfriend had a particularly frustrating group in which a shaman refused to drop fire totems because it “didn’t work with his character.” While I absolutely love RP, it doesn’t work well if not everyone is involved or wants to be involved.

    But this sounds like so much fun, otherwise. 🙂

  2. @Bell – That’s exactly the problem I’d expect. It has nothing to do with RP being better, or smash and grab being better, but simply if you’ve got a group of people with different expectations of the group, SOMEONE is going to get frustrated.

    Which isn’t fun for anyone!

  3. I have never done a full on IC 5-man… IC raids were unheard of on my old server. I think this sounds super fun and totallty want to do it some time.

  4. IC instances are hands-down my favorite way to RP. I actually prefer the harder/heroic instances, because there’s potential for unexpected things to happen, which can lead to learning something new about your character.

    My favorite single IC instance moment was tanking Shattered Halls on Rashona, who’s a very philosophical sort. We were down to one orc left out of a five-pull when he spouted some bit of flavor text about the leetness of the Shadow Council. I spent the next several minutes with Rashona earnestly explaining Tauren cosmology and religion to him, bapping him on the head whenever he got too frisky. Second-favorite was tanking Mana Tombs with four belfs in my group who got off on a Thalassian-only conversation that I suspected (rightly) consisted of steak jokes. Emoted something about “Rashona gets bored and starts chanting the deeds of her ancestors to pass the time until the elves GET A MOVE ON”, and proceeded to do just that. Technically, I was typing the lyrics to “American Pie” with the language set to Taurahe, but hey, it worked…

  5. It sure would be nice if all the RP realms were regrouped together in a single battlegroup, to better facilitate stuff like this.

  6. Arvoss. COT:Stratholme. Nuff said?

    Yes, he’s been in it before, but I would love to do a full IC run sometime. Considering it’s the place he died and the start of his path towards becoming a death knight, the possibilities give me shivers. Only thing is I’d need to think out a lot of it before the run, as I’m still not 100% sure what his reactions would be. >.>

  7. @ Sarai – His pocket druid is totally there for him.
    Also, remember our UB run/SP attempts with Arien and Alanon? WTB more like those 😀
    Heck, I might even post the stuff I had written about UB. (Kind of got stuck on the SP part, need to go finish that. :P)

    And Anna, about scheduling extra time? It’s a great idea, even if the run goes faster than the group expects, because then everyone has time to sit around in the instance and chat/RP/whatever, instead of it being more like “Was fun, gotta go,” as soon as the last boss is dead.

  8. I love IC instance runs. My guild has used them many times for various RP events. However, two of my favorite times doing this were running old (really old) content.

    When my blood knight was still quite low-level, the captain of her company ordered her to go clear out Scarlet Monastery. She ran into an acquaintance, and told him about this mission, and he offered to go with her. (Since he was level 80 at the time, it was extra convenient). So off they went, clearing out the three wings of the instance, and then staying in the graveyard to talk for quite a long time after. It was a great experience from the philosophical point of view, since on one hand, there was my character, a blood elf paladin struggling with dealing with her new found faith, and on the other, a death knight who had decidedly no faith at all.

    My other favorite case of this was with the same two characters, a few months later. Now my character was busy looking for clues into the disappearance of her father, a man whose hatred of trolls had developed into an obsession for learning everything he could about them. So she was off to Zul’Farrak, with her death knight friend with her. Again, it was an intense experience for character development, because I was able to explain much more of my character’s motivations while they fought through the instance together. After things had been cleared out, it was nice to be able to walk through the instance and examine things as they searched for clues together. The fact that Zul’Farrak is “outside” made it that much nicer.

    I’m really looking forward to running the ICC 5-mans in character once everyone calms down about gearing up. I think it’ll be super fun, and it’ll be a great chapter in the development of the two characters I mentioned above.

    By Julie on Dec 23, 2009 | Reply

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