January 6, 2010 – 7:21 am
After fifteen or so years, Aely was pretty sure she’d be used to running off at the beck and call of whatever campaign was running, regardless of what was going on in the rest of the world. Still, spending the week of Winter’s Veil knee deep in wounded knights in Icecrown wasn’t her idea of a good time, particularly knowing that Arrens was either in Stormwind and potentially in danger, or in Dun Morogh, holed up in his little house, warm against the snow.
The timing of campaigns was inevitably inconvenient though, and armies always disregarded things like holidays and winter and whether or not your wife was pregnant or the crops needed to come out of the field. Such was the life of a soldier, and she knew it well.
None of that stopped her from a celebratory jaunt through the Hero’s Welcome on her way back towards the Kingdoms on New Year’s Eve. The cider there was spiked with a little something more than just the traditional holiday spices, and after a mug or two she was feeling warm from more than just the heat of the pub and the warm drink.
She’d dropped Arrens a letter earlier in the week, letting him know she’d be back that evening, around sunset. He’d asked her to swing by the house in Dun Morogh – a short response, really.
Ten days in the field and two mugs of cider mulled through her head and she frowned. Maybe he was tired of her having to jaunt off at a moment’s notice? Sounds of merriment erupted from the crowd around her – close and almost oppressive now, instead of welcoming.
She paid her tab and headed south.
Aely’s spirits rose considerably on the trip, between the twinkling holiday lights and the realization that she’d be home a good hour before sunset. Even the sharp wind that whipped down Ironforge mountain seemed only to be a reminder that she was not, in fact, in Icecrown – the air was tinged with both wood smoke and the soft scent of evergreen trees. Wood smoke apparently from Arrens’ fireplace – as the house came into view, so did the soft trails above the chimney.
She smiled at the thought of surprising him and nearly fell off her horse as something splattered onto her cloak and hood from behind. Dropping down to crouch around Maera’s neck, she peered into the thick woods behind, only to be pelted from the side by a second lump of snow.
Quickly followed by a third.
And then, over in the trees to her left she caught a glimpse of what appeared to be a large, floating eyeball, framed in green felfire.
A very amused voice rose up from behind a mound of snow – “It’s the Eye of Kilrogg, my love. It is said each warlock can summon the very eye of Kilrogg Deadye himself. Some use it to scout ahead, others use it to survey distant lands. I use it as a security measure….and to see when my love will be coming home to me.” Standing finally, allowing himself to be seen, Arrens grinned broadly. “Happy Winter’s Veil, my dear.” He launched another snowball at her, laughing as his foot slipped upon the snow, tumbling him down to the white powdery substance beneath him.
Aely ducked this one, letting it sail harmlessly past and slid off her charger, scooping up a handful of snow to wing back in his general direction and was rewarded with a satisfying “HEY!” from just within the treeline.
It didn’t take Maera long to figure out that she didn’t really want to be used as a snow-fight bunker, which left Aely relatively exposed to the barrage of well-aimed snowballs coming from behind a little hill just within the trees. Three or four unsuccessful attempts to pinpoint exactly /where/ Arrens was only resulted in laughter and more snow down her cloak, so she opted to do the only logical thing in her position.
She made a few hurried snowballs, and rushed the snowbank.
Arrens was just standing up from picking up another handful when she came scrambling over the pile of snow right at him, a few flecks of white yet clinging to her hair. He was stunned motionless as they both fell careening backwards into the snowy embankment behind them.
The resulting scuffle had no clear winner, really, other than perhaps the deep drifts around them. Both were covered in white fluff by the end, Aely half gasping, half laughing as she scrambled over to prop herself up, pinning Arrens’ shoulders under her hands. He grinned at her, and she expected to get tossed over backwards again, only to find herself pulled into a kiss that lingered far longer than it should have, given the encroaching dusk and both of them approaching being soaked through.
Aely shivered despite the embrace, and he broke the kiss, propping himself up on his elbows. “Let’s go inside, my love. The fire is warm and I’ve some spiced cider as well.” Helping her up from the ground and walking towards the door of his house, his voice trailed back to her, mischief clearly audible.
“I’ve also put up an array of mistletoe. I thought I should give you fair warning.”
He grinned, turned, and was subsequently pelted in the back of the head with another snowball.
January 5, 2010 – 7:23 am
Ok – so I need to preface this question a little bit.
Actually. I don’t. Here goes:
Hi Anna! Can you tell us about the best eRP experience you’ve ever had? Thanks <3
“So there I was, mindlessly questing in Goldshire, when suddenly! I was attacked by a half-demon catgirl vampire sticking mechanical tentacles where tentacles shouldn’t be stuck!”
Ok maybe not.
All joking aside, I think it’s probably timely to address this question again, both in light of the posts about Aely and Arrens, and after a few things mentioned on Twitter recently.
There is a (huge) difference between an in character romance/relationship and so-called “erotic” RP (where people actively seek out explicit, sexual encounters in game, to be played out by their characters.)
Because I feel like I need to mention this here, ERP is, technically, against the ToS you agree to when you sign into WoW and every time you patch the game. It’s frequently not policed, due to Blizzard not always enforcing party chat and guild chat, but should you get reported for it, explicitly sexual RP (or just explicitly sexual conversation) is enough to get a warning or a ban from a GM. This post is not a place to discuss whether or not ERP (or its legality) is good or bad or indifferent, it just /is/, and let’s move on from there, ok?
I don’t participate in ERP – “erotic role play.”
I am an active participant in an in-character romantic relationship.
The difference between the two lies in the realm of Out of Character communication (here I go harping on communication again). For what it’s worth – Arrens’ player and I are both happily married, and not to each other. In fact, we’ve never met in real life.
Whatever Aely and Arrens are doing in their evenings together is their business, and though we joke about it, and occasionally will discuss what leads up to such things, or the aftermath of such things, or even conversations that they’ve had, the actual time they spend in the bedroom is their own.
So how, you ask, do we work around that?
The best way I know of is a technique known as “fade to black”. It happens on TV all the time, and in the movies (or used to, back before they were willing to show characters in the sack with each other left and right) – basically, the scene sets up, and then the camera fades to black. When it fades back in, what’s done is done, and the characters can progress from there. This works in game (you both log out for a bit, go check a banker, take an AFK, or just leave the characters overnight) as well as in fiction writing, where you have the ability to add a line of asterisks and just pick up in the next scene.
But how do you handle this at the beginning?
What happens when you first start seeing signs of a developing relationship between two characters, possibly with someone that you aren’t overly familiar with OOC yet?
Obviously, you can all guess the answer – Communication.
There are four basic answers to finding the right balance in this kind of situation. You can roll with it/let it progress, choose to write it out of game as fiction, leave it up to your collective imagination, or put the brakes on and call it quits.
If either player is uncomfortable even with the idea of any relationship at all, then stop.
RP is not fun when it makes people uncomfortable (and pushing the issue makes you a jerk. Don’t be a jerk.) This includes either player’s real-life partners being uncomfortable as well. RL > WoW.
Talk to the other player and find out what they’re looking for – just a quick fling? Is your character OK with that? Do they want a real, meaningful relationship? Is that ok either? Will the characters be even remotely compatible? Do you care? (Not caring can be fun, and can result in explosively disastrous RP… which can also be fun, as long as the OOC conversation is there to support it!) Talk it out, and if you want to give it a go, discuss some general ideas of where to go from there.
As for the other three, the only way to find out what’s best for any situation is to talk it through with the other player. Obviously this includes knowing your own limits, and what you are or aren’t comfortable with. And it should go without saying that if one person has more conservative limits, those are the ones that should determine what happens (see above: not making people uncomfortable/not being a jerk).
Just like in real life, how fast or slow a relationship progresses will depend on a lot of external factors – and those will be something individual to every single character, so I can’t really generalize about them here.
The best advice I can offer is to keep a good handle on what’s going on from an OOC standpoint – discuss where things are going, and what you want to have happen. Aely and Arrens’ relationship took a pretty dramatic turn when Icecrown opened up, and she was going to face the front lines again. That was a catalyst in their relationship, largely because both characters are pretty shy about actually being in a relationship, let alone one that is remotely physical. Other characters wouldn’t need that kind of an event to push things along. Know your characters, and talk things through both before and (when necessary) during your RP.
Some situations will work better as fiction, simply because you’re not limited to /emote and /say or /party. You can explain, give better emotional detail, and set a scene that might not exist in game (like an apartment). Some conversations are better had in game, because the emotional charge needs to be there, as well as the back-and-forth nature of discussion. And sometimes you’ll want to just say “alright, let’s leave them to go knock boots, I need to head out for the night anyway, early work day tomorrow.”
An example of how this works, because sometimes a picture is worth 1000 words… or in this case, a chat file (This is from when we were working on the Revelations fic, which also happens to include a rather dramatic fade-to-black):
Arrens: While you’re working on the front end and setup, I’m going to tackle the back end of the morning after. Are you comfortable with them being a little nervous/giddy at the start yet? Or would you like to rework it entirely?
Anna: No – the nerves are OK to start, but I think they’d probably settle into something more serious more quickly, given the nature of how that day is likely to go. Having her realize that she’s got to leave isn’t going to be fun
Arrens: Agreed. I’m keeping the pants part in though. I like that. It’s cute.
Anna: I do too. “I… already tried these. They’re yours” is an awesome line
Not a particularly extended conversation, but it gave both of us enough information to proceed with the writing (in this case, with editing stuff that had already been written, after Icecrown hit and things took a dramatically different turn than expected).
Keep in mind that occasionally people have real life experiences that will crop up in relationship to roleplay as well – and that’s OK. Handling those things out of character is the best way to deal with them. They aren’t anyone’s fault, and nobody is expected to be a mind reader. If you’re not OK with a specific facet of a situation – or the situation in general – SAY SOMETHING. You don’t necessarily have to explain why, either, if that’s not something you’re OK with sharing (sometimes traumatic experiences leave scars – those scars are the prerogative of the person carrying them, to be shared or kept secret) – so long as the other person(s) involved know enough to help make things comfortable for everyone.
If you’re not comfortable saying to the other person “Hey, this isn’t really ok?” then you’re probably not going to have a successful IC relationship – regardless of whether that relationship is romantic or platonic or that of enemies.
The moral of the story is… (say it with me kids) communication. Talk things out, know where both players are at any given time, and don’t be afraid to put the brakes on if something doesn’t sit right.
RP relationships can be incredibly rewarding. They can also be unbelievably frustrating.
Knowing in advance where both of you stand is a good start towards more rewards and less frustration.
January 4, 2010 – 10:25 am
To start off the new year around here, I thought I’d go digging in the mail bag for an Ask Anna question (as another reminder, the contact form isn’t working, so please email me – toomanyannas [at] gmail [dot] com if you have a question!). As usual, I was not disappointed, so let’s jump in and tackle this excellent question that was sent to me by Aeone, an officer in another RP/Raid group:
Dear Anna -
I’m currently an officer in a Hordeside heavy RP guild, one whose chief concern, like much of Azeroth, has been the defeat of the Scourge. As the confrontation with Arthas looms closer and closer, members have more or less been on a perpetual loregasm, and we’ve readily encouraged roleplay and writing on the topic.
The catch, though, is that there seems to a lot of uncertainty over what can and can’t be deemed ‘canon’. So far we’ve not run any of the content ICly as a guild, and so there’s really no solid story regarding the guild’s involvement as a whole in Icecrown thus far. Each character has more or less developed their own story , and while things are early enough now that that hasn’t posed a problem, I worry that as events become more concrete and omfglife-changing, these stories simply won’t be able to mesh anymore, undermining any sort of ‘rp continuity’ within the guild. Should we place limits on what players can and cannot deem canon (aside from the obvious no-nos of claiming to have personally killed major lore figures)? Is it possible to maintain one, synergistic story within the guild without stifling each character’s individual experiences?
It is absolutely possible to have a “guild story” that doesn’t clash with or squash individual story lines. The key is to keep the individual players involved without being overly strict about time lines/dates and times.
In general, I’d try to keep your basic guild storyline consistent with your raid’s progression, if you’d like to have IC interactions with the major boss fights (like Saurfang). Whether or not the people in your guild will hold to that storyline needs to be up to them (A dictate that “thou shalt not do anything that the guild raid hasn’t done” is likely to go over poorly, regardless of how it’s worded), but I think that if you are intending to have major IC boss kills, people will generally stick to where your raid progression is.
This isn’t to say that you all have to have been there at the same time, or that everyone has to have been there at all.
But feel free to ignore “world firsts” and such, and work through Icecrown at your pace, considering your pace as a guild to be the pace of the Verdict and Horde forces as they progress through the Citadel. The 5 man content is pretty much “public knowledge” now, so I’d not worry if people are using that content in their personal stories. (The other option is to consider your server as “the world” and go by where your Hordeside server progression is, but that kinda takes away the ability to have IC boss kills)
I don’t think this is something that you’ll need to be overly concerned with, since the major events will likely factor into each story – the opening of the hall, the escape from Arthas (5 man), the death of Saurfang, the eventual death of Arthas (maybe? >.>). Keeping those “major” events within the guild consistent, all the minor story development will line up enough to not cause continuity problems, I should think.
If you want to do a major, extended, written storyline, like the Riders have done with Wrathgate (you can read a good chunk of that over at WTT:RP – look for Wrathgate Wednesday) you’re going to have to allow for more timeline flexibility, since getting everyone writing at the same time takes a lot of time and whip-cracking. I’d highly recommend allowing for a few weeks after each major kill to let people write up what’s happened, and then “officially” move on. Letting people post placeholders is a good idea as well – something that says “JoePally is going to do something here, but I can’t write it until after midterms”, or whatever. That lets people “fill in the blanks” later on, while still keeping the guild’s overall Icecrown story moving forward as each wing is opened up.
I’d love to hear any suggestions that the rest of my readers have for Aeone as well, so go nuts in the comments! I know several of you are in RP/Raid situations (or were the orchestrators of the Great WFR Wrathgate Epic), so I’d like your take on this.
December 31, 2009 – 10:24 am
First – The contact me form is broken. Don’t use it. I’m trying to figure out WHY it’s not working, but right now am unbelievably too busy to do more than a quick post. It’s possible that it has been broken for quite some time, in which case, I’m sorry I’ve not answered your contacts. If you would like to resend them, you can send them to toomanyannas [at] gmail [dot] com.
Second – BUSY! Traveling a lot, plus other assorted craziness!
Love you all, hope you’re having a good week, and that your New Year’s Eve (if, indeed, this is the New Year’s Eve you celebrate) is fun, safe, and happy.
I’ll be back next week sometime!