March 20, 2010 – 12:07 pm
In which Anna makes an analogy to describe WoW Lore.
There’s a lot of information out there about WoW Lore. There’s lore on the Blizzard pages, lore on wowwiki.com (my favorite place to find lore info, btw), lore in books and in the tabletop RPG, lore in old games and in the current game, lore in quests and character dialogue and cutscenes and… well, it’s a wonder any of us can manage all that lore well enough to write our stories.
At its most rudimentary level, lore is the basic framework upon which we build our characters and communities.
The greater story of Azeroth is what gives Azeroth its shape. It’s what lets us all know Gnomes are short (ish) and Tauren are tall (ish) and Elves are old (ish) and so on. But a framework is just that – a starting place, a building block on which to give our characters shape.
The lore says the past has happened in such and such a way. The Orcs came to Azeroth through the Dark Portal, and Grom Hellscream sacrificed himself to rid them of the bloodlust and demonic dependence. But it doesn’t say how an individual Orc would respond to such an event. There is no official “all elves responded by doing such-and-such” explanation for what happened after the world tree. Simply put, the official story gives us all a place to start, and we build our characters from there.
At which point, the lore is like a rubber band.
Rubber bands are stretchy, they hold things together, and if you pull them too hard… they break *poing* and snap someone in the nose. The greater story into which we fit our own stories is the same way. It’s stretchy, it goes around things and holds them together (rather than comprising them, it simply encircles the outside, with lots of room left in the middle), but if you stretch it too far, it breaks *poing* and snaps someone in the nose.
Only maybe without the nose part.
That stretchiness is really the wonder of an RPG.
There are a great many instances in the lore where there isn’t a defined “right or wrong” answer. Roleplay happens in that enclosed space, the “creative inbetween” of the Lore, since we can’t all be Jaina or Arthas or Sylvanas (and if we were forced to all be the same, it’d be pretty boring). Roleplay builds on what’s already there. Our characters have the opportunity to grow – either in response to or in conflict with what happens.
The lore holds us together; it’s what lets one character walk up to another character and have enough common history to be able to understand each other and maybe even have a conversation. But inside that rubber band, there’s still lots of room for creativity and experimentation.
To use myself as an example (aided, of course, by Krizzlybear), there are Gnomes in Stormwind and harvest golems in Westfall. Would it be too far outside the realm of possibility to think that after the second war, when Gnomes helped with the Alliance for the first time, a Gnome and his wife moved to Westfall to help service and repair those harvest golems? What would happen if they had a daughter? (Meet Annie Mae!)
If there was ever something in the official Azeroth story which said no Gnomes ever lived anywhere outside of Dun Morogh, then my little exercise would be stretching the lore too far – it would, in essence, break the rubber band and ping me in the nose. (And it would probably feel like a ping in the nose to anyone who tried to interact with Annie Mae, if there was such a rule about Gnomes. Instead of interesting, her story would be jarring and make people step back – and possibly not really want to RP with her.)
Fortunately, there is grey area in the lore, and inside that grey area – inside the encircled space held together by the greater rubber band – is where the magic happens.
Azeroth is a world rich in history but sparse in details.
There are so many things we will never really know (or just haven’t been told yet), and that’s alright. When we write stories and characters, interact with other players’ characters, or even just sit in the pub and shoot the breeze about the most recent news out of Icecrown, we interact with that greater story, and help to fill in that grey area.
Sometimes our ideas might conflict with how other people see that grey area, and that’s alright too. When there isn’t a right or wrong answer, each community has to answer for itself. If conflict happens, both communities/individuals work out a common ground.
And maybe later on, some people might have to change how they think about certain things, because a new expansion changed the official story, or expanded on a point that had previously not been dealt with. That’s alright too. Blizzard’s official story has never been static; they change their minds all the time. We must be flexible in response. Official lore changes can provide character growth and interesting interaction (I know that Aely will be very upset by some of the changes coming in Cataclysm, for example).
The lore is there for our use as roleplayers. It’s the building blocks that help us start our stories, and it’s the rubber band that holds them all together.
Just, you know, try not to ping each other in the nose, OK?
March 18, 2010 – 6:45 am
No matter what group you are a part of, how many friends you have, how established you are in the group, and how much everyone loves your character, you will get left out of RP.
Other people will write stories in which you will not participate, and they will be awesome and amazing, and you will want to play too, but you won’t be invited, even if you ask. People will leave RP gatherings to do things “in private” and you will get left behind at the bar with nothing to do.
This sounds doomy and gloomy, but it is not at all either of those things, because it is realistic and true to actual people – a sign of characters who have depth and who are tangible and relatable. It happens to everyone – even the so-called “popular” people, and it bugs everyone sometimes.
Don’t let it get you down. Left-out-ness is normal, and not necessarily bad.
RP groups are like groups of people. They’re like real friendships.
You have a best friend or two who are very close, and possibly a spouse or significant other that’s as close or closer. And then you have an ever widening net of friends and acquaintances and random people you saw at the park one time. Each of these relationships has a defined role with your character – and every other character has those relationships as well.
In real life you’d not become instant best friends with someone after a two minute bar conversation or spill out your most intimate and personal secrets to someone you hardly know, so your character probably doesn’t want to do those things either.
So what do you do when left-out-ness happens? (Because it WILL happen)
Let it help your character.
Does it make them angry or sad or lonely? Are they jealous of the close relationship between two very good friends or within a couple? Do they resent being left at the bar when someone leaves with a close business contact for a delicate conversation? Do they get warm fuzzies from knowing that the cute elf couple who just left are head over heels in love? Do they try to figure out how to get involved anyway, or what they need to do to find that kind of closeness with another character?
I actually regard left-out-ness as being a hidden, silver-lining kind of benefit to RP groups. It does a couple of things, even beyond character development.
Left-out-ness gives you something to talk about.
If your character is involved in everything, he or she never gets to ask someone else what’s going on, and becomes something of a meta-dictionary. Nobody ever knows everything, and your character won’t suffer from having to ask occasionally, “So what’s up with Jimbob?” Occasionally, gossip can be a really fun part of RP.
Left-out-ness helps you control what your character is or isn’t part of.
Nobody can do everything, and your character will eventually break if you throw too much stuff on his or her plate. Too much drama will result in reclusive behavior – which is great, if it’s a character trait, but not so great if it means a mental breakdown. The natural self-selection of relationships keeps things balanced within a group, and keeps any one person from being too involved in too many other stories.
Left-out-ness lets your character connect to other characters.
When two people leave the bar for a private chat, everyone else there is “left out” of their private conversation (as you’d expect, given the “private” part of the description). This is an RP opportunity, NOT an RP snubbing. Have a conversation with someone else there; chances are, they’re feeling a little left out too, and that’s an instant connection.
Being left out is part of RP because being left out is part of life.
Embrace it, use it to your advantage, and keep it all in perspective.
Yes, I know left-out-ness isn’t really a word. I like it anyway. I didn’t want to use “being avoided” or “being excluded” because of the negative connotation, and because I think a lot of this happens in the mind of the left-out person instead of in the mind of the person(s) looking to have a private conversation.
March 16, 2010 – 10:49 pm
I very rarely take on other bloggers** around here, especially with bloggers participating in fun things like a new “bloggy” guild that’s sprung up over on Argent Dawn.
Unfortunately, I came across a post today, and (as I’m sure you’re going to notice) it’s made me rather upset.
Anyway, here is the post from the other blog:
(Apologies for the long quote, but I want this to be in full, so that I’m not accused of “taking it out of context”. The post has since been deleted, but the original post was titled “The Single Abstract Noun Bad RP Challenge”. If necessary, I can provide a google cache link for this, but I don’t think it’s needed. The point stands.)
Fun blogger event!
I’ve been hearing a lot about some… indecent or just plain awful RP that seems to be happening at select locations around Azeroth (such as the infamous Goldshire). Denizens of SAN are both outraged and amused by these incidents.
Step 1 – Mock the RP
Note: DON’T mock poor saps who are minding their own business and really trying to RP legitimately. Use your good judgment on whether the participants should be mocked or left alone.
Go into one of these locations of ill-repute, and, in character, find a way to confuse and annoy the terrible RP-ers. Examples:
- Azeroth Vice, here to break up prostitution.
- The minstrel whom the paramour hired and then did not pay.
- Repo man here for the mount (look, I don’t care what you’re currently doing, buddy, you are late on your frostsaber payment)
- You’re the dude with the 2:00 PM appointment with the lady of ill-repute and you HATE to wait.
Anyway… the list goes on… Be creative! The important thing is to stay in character, and totally throw the RP people a situation they aren’t expecting.
Step 2 – Screenshot & Post on blog
Then we can all mock them together! You might want to redact names or particularly gross bits of text.
And, if you don’t mind, drop me a note or pingback, because I want to see!
I’m going to say this plainly. I’m going to say it in bold text. And then I’m going to explain:
This is griefing.
This is godmodding.*
This is not something that should be going on, ESPECIALLY on an RP server.
I don’t care how bad the RP is. I don’t care if the persons involved are cybering a half-dragon, vampire threesome in front of your eyes. (If they are, ask them to stop OOCly and report them for a TOS violation – cyber in public places is against the TOS). I don’t care if they’re using aol-chatspeak and not using any punctuation. I don’t care if they’re talking about another game and pretending it’s WoW RP.
I don’t even care if they’re godmodding YOUR character and telling you that you now have to deal with it.
This is NOT how you “deal with” so-called “bad” RP.
This is griefing RPers.
It is taking control of other players’ characters and situations without their permission, and it is ruining something that they are enjoying doing for no other reason than that you feel like doing it (because it’s fun and you think they suck).
Ha ha. Isn’t that funny. Let’s mock the RPers.
This is no different than the people that mock/grief “good” RP, because they do the same thing.
It doesn’t matter to me that my friends and I have well developed characters and other people don’t. It doesn’t matter if other people are RPing terrible characters that bend the lore and make me want to smash my face into my keyboard. These are people who are not doing ANYTHING to anyone involved, and they are being targeted simply because they’re bad at something. Something they may very well be new at, have never done before, or are trying out just for grins to see if they like it. They might be very young. Or they might flat out be bad.
None of that matters.
“Using your good judgement” doesn’t enter into it. Those “poor saps” who are just doing their own thing don’t earn the right to be left alone because you think they’re OK, when those OTHER RPers are so bad it’s OK to grief them.
NOBODY gets to be the Good RP Police.
You know something? I started out as a bad RPer. My first RP character was a horrendous, nausea inducing, lore bending Mary Sue of unbelievable proportions.
And do you know why I still RP?
I still RP because nobody pulled this kind of griefing with me. Nobody ruined my play time for laughs because they thought I was bad. Nobody came up and took control of a situation I was RPing by “playing” that they were there to be the RP police and they thought my RP was bad.
This behavior is godmodding, griefing, and a reportable offense.
Just because it is being done in character doesn’t make it any less awful.
You want to reposess someones frostsaber? You whisper them first and get permission to join the RP.
Walking up and taking the situation, dumping it on their heads, and then posting screenshots on the internet for you and your buddies to laugh about? Approaches the point where I want to report you for griefing. And you know what? If someone tried any of those stunts with me? I would be reporting them for griefing, as well as putting them on ignore.
On an RP server like Argent Dawn especially, rules exist to protect people that want to roleplay, and within those rules are provisions that state “if you don’t like it, go away.” Nobody gets to ruin anyone else’s fun just because they don’t like the RP, even if the RP is “bad”.
There is no rule that says you have to be good at RP to enjoy doing it.
The only rule is that other people either ignore RP they don’t like or go somewhere else where it’s not happening.
Step 1 – Mock the RP
Step 2 – Screenshot and post on blog so we can all mock them together
If you want to have a good time and start a bloggy fun project, be my guest. I don’t have any problems with people having fun. (I don’t have any problems with people pointing out that some RPers are just /bad/ either. Because some of them are! I was one once, and I learned and got better!)
Everyone is entitled to the same enjoyment of their $15, as long as they’re not violating the TOS. There is no reason to ruin *someone else’s fun* because you don’t agree with or like it.
*Godmodding is what happens when someone takes control of another player’s (or players’) character(s) for their own gain, without permission – essentially they are “playing God” or “playing as a God.”
**This is an edit. This sentence SHOULD have said “taking on other blog posts” – as it is, it’s a little close to the line of a personal attack, and so I apologize. I’ve refrained from actually changing it, since the original should stand, and I’ll stand by what I said, but know that the intent of it (which doesn’t change what was said at all – and I know that) was “blog posts” and not to attack a person.
(EDIT: It has come to my attention that the blogger who posted the Bad RP Challenge may have done so without actually having any input from the guild Single Abstract Noun. While I don’t intend to change the title of the post on someone else’s blog, I will more than happily remove the links to the guild website if there is a disconnect here that I didn’t know about (not being a member of the guild, I can’t tell if there is anything on the forums). If the SAN leadership wants to get in touch with me, I’m happy to discuss this.)
(EDIT #2, after having spoken with the guild sort-of-leaders from Single Abstract Noun, I’ve done a bit of editing. This post isn’t any attack on SAN or it’s founders or members – many of whom are new and unfamiliar to RP and rolling on an RP-PVE realm for the first time. My issues, as I outline them above, are completely with the ideas presented in this post. As such, I’ve chosen to remove the link to the SAN guild forums – though not to totally remove the name – since there aren’t actually any guild sponsored events and this seems to be a one-off decision by a guild member.
Hopefully nobody takes from this an excuse to be nasty to YOU guys. Because quite honestly, a big part of the point of this post is “Be less nasty to each other”, and going to be trolls in your forum kind of defeats that entire purpose. There will be more in the future on this front, but for now, I think that’s enough clarification.)
March 16, 2010 – 7:00 am
Alright folks – time for another Ask Anna question.
This one comes to us from Fierine of Wyrmrest Accord, and deals with guild websites, RP, and how to deal with the times when you can get to the internet but not to the warcrafts. (An excellent question, btw. For a similar one, check out this post I did for Arrens’ blog, on keeping RP alive when you’re out of game. It’s not the same, but some of that stuff might apply here too!)
I’m a busy co-lead of an RP guild on Wyrmrest Accord. I love my guildies but unfortunately my RL job and life severely limits my in-game RP time. I am, however, able to RP intermittently on the guild forums throughout the day. Unfortunately, I often feel like I’m talking to myself there. How can I encourage guildies to use the forums more as a means of RP? And what’s a good way to explain forums as an in-character tool? Thanks for your advice!
Covenant of Wyrmrest Accord
Thanks for your question Fierine; it’s a good one.
From my perspective, there’s a few things you can do to be encouraging.
First, make sure people know that forum RP doesn’t have to be huge and involved. In fact, you can use it as a slightly elaborated chat room, where people post a sentence or two and work on a conversation slowly as they have time. This can be a good bridge, since not everyone likes extended writing RP ; it takes a level of presence and writing skill that not everyone enjoys. The Wildfire Riders are largely a community of writers, but not everyone enjoys writing long stories or participates in that way very often.
Some people just really like in-game RP better, and using a short-status forum RP thread or two to bridge the gap can get things rolling without forcing or guilting people into doing things they don’t enjoy.
You may also want to do a little publicity in game (like in guild chat, or your OOC chat channel) about the forums. Sometimes people need to be reminded!
Another suggestion is to create a Current Happenings thread – a single, stickied post for people to post a paragraph or two about what their characters are up to at any given time. This, while not actively spawning forum RP, will help the people that aren’t around as often in game to stay on top of the in game action. (These are also a lot of fun to peruse through later on, to remember where your characters were six months or a year ago).
You can also start some OOC conversations about IC topics; build up your characters a little, brainstorm, and take advantage of the other people’s creative ideas. I really enjoy conversations I’ve had with some of my guildies and writing cohorts about Aely. Sometimes an outside perspective goes a long way. This is also a great way for someone who’s playing a trying/difficult/villainous character to do a little explaining and make sure that IC issues don’t end up bleeding into OOC ones.
Leading by example is another good start – which you seem to already be doing, so here’s your cheerleading team for being on top of part of this already! 🙂 Having posts to respond to can be a lot of help. Something you might try is a “question of the week” (or of the day even), where you ask an IC or OOC character development question in a thread and see what kind of answers you get. I give you full permission to steal these questions from my Friday Five posts!
Unfortunately though, not every community is built for forum interaction. I’m a member of several forums, and most of them move slowly (if at all) until there’s something pressing going on. The nature of forums is to move more slowly, since people are usually busy at work and don’t always have time to devote to hitting the refresh button on a conversation. Longer posts take time to write, and time can be the enemy here. You can try to jumpstart people’s interest by initiating a big forum RP storyline, but that is a TON of work and shouldn’t be entered into lightly.
So you might do a lot of bull-horn, yelling, handwaving, and cheerleading only to get a lukewarm response.
And that’s OK – at that point I’d suggest looking for other outlets for RP. Realm forums, open RP forums, fanfiction websites and the WoW official RP forum are all good places to look, but there are other options as well.
Like, maybe, starting a blog? <wink>
If you guys have other suggestions for Fierine, please leave them in the comments!
September 8, 2015 – 9:51 pm
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 – …
August 4, 2015 – 12:22 pm
An old story, reposted here as I’m shaking the mothballs off Ankona and needed an easy way to show people a little bit about the (batshit) things she gets up to. Enjoy, and don’t be too creeped out!
It really …
November 14, 2014 – 7:32 am
So I haven’t finished the intro quests yet (the server queues from the reduced server capacity due to the DDOS attacks meant I only got about an hour to play yesterday), but I’m finding that Draenor is pretty cool so …
November 13, 2014 – 12:30 pm
The morning of the all hands summon to the Blasted Lands, Aely went for a walk. The late fall air was clear and cool, and leaves crunched under their feet in the less-traveled parts of the streets. She and Roger …
November 11, 2014 – 3:09 pm
What a long strange trip it’s been. I’ll be the first to admit that, at the beginning, I wasn’t sure Pandaria was going to be for me. I’ve made clear my dislike of daily quests, and that seemed to be …
October 24, 2014 – 12:01 pm
Squire Benjamin William Sullivan stood in the middle of Light’s Hope Chapel in his underpants.
Actually, it was white linen pants and a shift, but the effect was approximately the same. The little chapel was warm, on the edge of …
June 29, 2014 – 4:39 pm
So I’m not really in a position where I should be creating alts. This, of course, does nothing to deter me from making alts when the inspiration strikes. I’ve been really enjoying my Alliance hunter, and she’s my raiding main …
November 19, 2013 – 4:46 pm
Bad things are happening in Stormwind – and beyond.
The Hand of Lothar, they call themselves.
Yva Darrows was their first target.
Tirith and Aely were their second and third.
They have since… expanded their reach and escalated their methods …