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!
February 22, 2010 – 9:27 am
An unseasonably warm day in Hillsbrad provided Aely and Arrens yet another afternoon sitting on the bluffs above the coast. The sun shone brightly, and they’d brought a picnic with them, sitting and talking and enjoying the warm air. As the sun started to set, however, thick grey clouds rolled in and the wind picked up. The air took on a vaguely oppressive feel, and though the sunset colored the clouds with gorgeous streaks of amber and pink, rain was definitely on the way.
Neither Aely nor Arrens moved from their spot on the bluffs. Arrens’ proposal the night before – at that very spot, in fact – kept Aely’s mind busy, and their discussion rarely wandered far from the topic at hand.
“Can I admit t’ ye sommat no’ particularly grown up, nor much like me?”
Arrens raised an eyebrow. “You can tell me anything, my love, you know that. What bothers you?”
She sighed. “‘m worrit wha’ folk will say ’bout all this. ‘s too quick. ‘s too soon after yir injuries. ‘s impulsive an’ no’ thought through.”
Arrens nodded seriously; he paused for a moment in thought before responding. “Perhaps it is. Perhaps we’ll realize at some point that this was all a great big mistake and we were two fools that rushed headlong into something we weren’t ready for.” He paused a moment before continuing. “Or perhaps we’ll one day realize we were two lonely people looking for love and we got lucky…with each other, when we both needed it most.” He brought her hand to his lips and kissed her fingertips gently. “I may not know the outcome, my love, but I do know this: If we /do/ find out we’re wrong, I’m uncertain I’d ever care to be right again.”
Aely listened, thinking. “If… ” She trailed off. After a moment Arrens leaned over, kissing her gently on the cheek. “You’re overthinking it again, my love.”
She nodded. “I… yeh. I am. An’ I shouldn’t. ‘m overthinkin’ th’ best thing’s e’er happened t’ me.”
Canna ye trust ‘im? Canna ye trust yirself?
Aely sighed, leaning against his shoulder. “Love, I dinna ken wha’s like t’ happen. I’ve…” A bright, searing crack of lightning, followed almost immediately by heavy thunder interrupted her. Before either of them could react, the rains came – fat, heavy drops splattering all around them. Arrens laughed, shaking his head as the rain dripped into his eyes. She ducked out of the way of his ponytail, taking the opportunity to grab their makeshift tablecloth and pull it around their shoulders.
“Shall we take this as a sign that the Gods want us to head back?”
“I… no’ jus’ yet. I’ve go’ th’ courage up t’ talk t’ ye now, an’ I dinna wan’ t’ interrupt.”
Ye ken he’ll wait oan ye, as long as ye need.
Aye, an’ I dinna wan’ t’ wait oan it. I’m tired ay lettin’ one fuckin’ idiot ruin my ability t’ be in love an’ make decisions.
He wrapped his arm around her, pulling her tightly in next to him. The rain slowly picked up, punctuated by occasional thunder.
Jus’ tell ‘im. Give ‘im th’ answer ye’ve wanted t’ give since yesterday. Th’ answer e’en Bricu can see ye wan’ t’ give.
With a deep breath, Aely pushed herself back slightly, looking straight at him. “I canna tell th’ future. Canna e’en tell it’s going t’ open up an’ rain.”
Arrens simply looked up towards the heavens and grinned.
“Love, I… when th’ fear ay bein’ wrong is so o’ershadowed by th’ fear ay bein’ wi’out ye? When there’s no’ anythin’ I’d like more than t’ sit in th’ rain outside wi’ ye?” She paused, tears welling up behind fair red eyelashes. “I… yes.”
Arrens blinked. “… yes?!”
Arrens’ eyes went wide and his jaw dropped. The stunned look remained a moment more before his lips parted into the biggest grin Aely had ever seen on him. He stood and shouted, “YES!” hoping his words…her words…would carry far south, all the way to Stormwind, to be shared with their adopted family and friends. Aely laughed at the obvious joy he openly showed, a look much different than a mere two days prior from the hurt man she cared so much for.
Arrens reached down into his bag and pulled out his buzzbox, the soft static indicating it was yet on and operable even in the downpour around them. Pressing the button to transmit on the open communication channel, he shouted once more. “Yes!” Turning the buzzbox off and setting it into his bag, he laughed and danced around as Aely’s warm laughter egged him on.
At last, Arrens sat down behind her, pulling her back against him, kissing her deeply. Raindrops fell against her face, disguising the tears, and she kissed him back, fear and worry melting into warm nothingness. He whispered against her lips, “I love you.”
Another peal of thunder and the rain began in earnest, interrupting the string of kisses. Arrens grinned. “Shall we head back then? I believe I’ve a promise to keep about this evening.”
She laughed. “I’d like tha’. ‘sides, wir both gonna need t’ change clothes anyway.” Water finally soaked through his shirt, and she could see the bandages on his arm. “Ligh’ – yeh, we need t’ get ye inside. Tha’ wound needs t’ stay dry, so it dinna get infected.”
Taking Aely’s hands in his, Arrens pulled her to standing, wrapping his arms around her waist and spinning her around. “I’m sorry, my love.”
Aely laughed. “Why’re ye sorry?”
“For acting a fool in light of what you’ve just told me.”
“Why’d ye be sorry f’r tha’?!”
“Because I love you. Because I don’t want to be without you again. Because you’ve made me the happiest fool in all of Azeroth.” He rattled off a long list of reasons, stopping only occasionally to take a breath.
She interrupted him, kissing him soundly. “Shush. It dinna matter. Any of it. This ‘s all wha’ matters. I love ye.”
February 19, 2010 – 10:01 am
I occasionally indulge in being a ret paladin.
It’s fun, a different sort of game from what I’m used to, and (if I’m honest with myself) a lot less thought. Icecrown is more ranged friendly, and I’m a tank-healer, so I rarely get to do deeps in raids, but it /is/ fun. So I have a decent set of ret gear, and it’s gemmed and (mostly) enchanted. And I’ve got a really substantial weapon out of ICC-10, so I’m pretty happy with my ability to not be a waste of a raid spot if I go DPS.
Of course, occasionally very strange things happen.
Strange things like “All the melee DPS in the raid already have their Shadows’ Edge materials” and “We just killed Festergut, who wants the Acidic Blood?”
Which prompts the following discussion between my husband and I in vent.
“…Whoa. So I think that means one of us is up for these blood drops.”
“Yeah, but it’s a lot less likely that I’ll get to go ret for any of this content. You already get to smack stuff around sometimes.”
At which point a few other people in vent chimed in:
“Yeah it really sucks to tank ICC and get 0 souls over a night because you didn’t actually have the weapon equipped!”
“… you know, it’d be pretty hilarious to see Anna running around looking for more souls.”
Which was, of course followed by the message in my chat log: “You have received [Festergut's Acidic Blood].” And shortly thereafter by: “You have received [Rotface's Acidic Blood].”
So…uhhh… Anyone got any saronite?
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February 18, 2010 – 10:17 am
It’s that time – the last installment of Dark Summonings. If you’ve not been reading thus far, the story progresses as follows (mixed between this blog and Arrens’ blog):
Since Arrens can’t currently access his blog at work, I posted the last one for him. You can find it here (same as the Out of the Nether Again link above). And, since I’ve got the ability to temporarily hijack his blog, I took the opportunity to thank him publicly there – and I’m going to do the same thing here. (Are you suitably embarrassed yet, Arrens?)
This has been an unbelievable thing to write – both from the first nudges of the idea back in November (yes, it really was that long ago), to filling in the holes in the story, to figuring out just how much trouble we could get Arrens into. It’s been fun, but also challenging, and I’m really pretty darn proud of this. Which is funny, since I’ve only done about 30% of the actual writing – most of this is Arrens in all his writerly awesomeness.
So thanks – for the late night conversations, the multiple google documents, the emailing back and forth to sort through plot while one or the other of us couldn’t actually be working on it at the same time. I can’t wait to see where things go from here.
And, just on a hunch? After the last week in game? It’s only going to be awesome.