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.
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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