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!
Last Friday I posted a writing prompt to put together a letter from your character either TO someone on the front, or back home to someone that wasn’t there.
Before you read these that I’ve got (which are part of an ongoing letter exchange between Aely and Loreli), you should go read this letter from Ringo Flinthammer to his little boy (and, in a way, to his wife).
Rather than post a new prompt, I thought I’d stick with this one (and let people get a little more time to think about it and write responses). And so – two letters. One from Loreli, who lives pretty much full-time in Stormwind, and a return letter from Aely. These were both written last week, before Aely had a chance to really “get back from” the main push, though now that the Deathbringer has been dealt with and the Verdict is, yet again, pushing onwards and upwards in search of another foothold for an attack, she’s spending less time in camp and more time back in Dalaran again (much to her relief).
The letter is written in a slightly flowing script, it gets sloppy towards the end as if the writer was in a hurry.
I have started this letter five times, at least. It seems no greeting is appropriate for what you all must be enduring up there. While the initial purpose of this letter may seem trifling, if I cannot say ‘thank you’ in person for some time, and it seems I can’t; then perhaps, at least a letter can maybe mean to you, what your kind gesture meant to me. So, thank you.
I can’t help but feel that I should be up there too. Yet, I understand that my part in this war appears to be over and some are required to burn the torch at home. How are you holding up? I’ve spent enough time on the front lines, myself, to know that the rumors we get here in the city are often times an exaggeration of the truth. The problem comes in figuring out which direction they are exaggerated in. I know Arrens knows this, but it seems to help to remind him.
He’s taking your absence as well as could be expected. He misses you, though. He puts a good face on it, but I notice when he thinks no one’s looking.
I shall probably debate over actually sending this for another hour or so, but if you found yourself smiling even once, then it was worth it.
Take care of yourself.
The handwriting in this letter is somewhat archaic, and its writer appears to be having some difficulty with her pen.
There is no one way to fight any war – all of us here wouldn’t and couldn’t be doing what we are without the support of others. And there is no one role that defines fighting – the Lich King would have us fear, and fall into despair. Our ability to overcome that, frequently with the aid of those away from the front, is likely the greatest weapon we can have. Paralyzing fear is an almost certain cause of failure, and there is very little hope to come by.
Little – but there is hope. I have seen acts of bravery, compassion, and of redemption. Saurfang has his son again, and he is no longer held under the sway of the Lich King. And, if we are to believe our own ears, Bolvar Fordragon may yet live – tortured and yet still resisting the depths of death. I dare not think what we may find farther in.
I hope you don’t have too very many exaggerated rumors flying – though I’ll do my best to quell any that you send my way. It’s been some time since I was on the fields as a battle healer, but now it seems I am to do so in two major fronts this year. With any luck, this will go more smoothly than Angra’thar. Still, in this position, I’ve seen or been near to the majority of things that might end up as rumors, and if nothing else, I can ask my fellow officers.
I do miss Arrens quite a lot, and – oddly – don’t find myself shying away from saying it. I had an afternoon’s leave yesterday to Dalaran, and it could not have been more needed. This first push has been brutal, and full of atrocities. Seeing him, speaking with him, knowing that what I have witnessed can stay within these saronite walls does a lot for my resolve, not to mention my ability to press forward. Hope is such a fragile thing, sometimes, but I find it in him.
Letters are always welcome, even if it means struggling with thawing out an inkwell and then accidentally boiling your ink.
Though you may think RP is all about writing, RP is actually a lot more like a performance. (There’s a comparison to improvisational acting in here too, but that’s for another post). It’s actually kinda like a gaggle of street performers at times, and kinda like a crowd of friends at others. Depending on how much is actually going on? It’s easy to get lost, either in the chat window or to just lose track of what’s going on around you.
Let’s start a “choose your own adventure” of sorts.
We’re headed into a bar in a town you’ve never been to before. On arriving, you can interact with any of the following people – possibly even a few of them, but not all of them at the same time:
- A crazy mage, who is somewhat inebriated, waving his arms around and being kind of loud
- A battle-hardened looking warrior, armed, but not in armor
- A woman sitting at the table, reading, with a large dog at her side
- A dangerous looking man with a wolfish smile, telling stories and pouring drinks
- A person sitting off under the stairs by themself, arms crossed, not following the conversation
- A man there with his wife and redheaded child, who are pleasantly speaking with other people
When you read the list, they all sound interesting, right?
But when you walk into the bar, you don’t notice them all as a list, like you can when you read it. In a live situation, you’d be learning all of that in bits, depending on what you notice first. You notice that the mage is flailing and has just hit a waiter, knocking him into another table. You notice that the dangerous looking man has started a new story about a fight he was in as a younger man, and the battle-hardened warrior seems to find this story both interesting and worth commenting on. The child is currently trying to crawl up on top of the dog – and the dog seems to be quite friendly about the intrusion.
In other words? There is a lot going on to catch your attention.
From an RP perspective, I’ve met every single one of those people in game. I might have even met all of them in the Pig and Whistle. When Aely walks in, she’s going to respond to and interact with the most obvious people first. The woman at the table reading? Won’t likely get a second look until the mage gets escorted out and the two men leave. The person under the stairs is giving off a strong “LEAVE ME ALONE” vibe – she’ll respect that. Most likely, if she doesn’t know anyone, she’ll grab an ale and sit listening to stories – maybe even tell a story of her own.
Now there’s a tall redheaded woman sitting at the table with a drink, commenting on the stories. The next person that walks in has to parse Aely along with everything else – and most likely will totally overlook her, in favor of one of the other people (depending on who it is – if it was Arrens who came in next, he’d probably go to speak with Aely, but I’m assuming that these are all unknown people.)
How does this relate to your RP?
When you go into that bar, you join in the performance. You’re now part of the “bar scene” to everyone else that’s there, and they will have to see and figure out your character along with everything else going on there. You’re now part of the performance, part of the show.
Obviously, not everyone can be the star performer every night, and demanding 100% of everyone’s attention all the time isn’t very nice for them or their characters. But realize that if your character is always the one upset in the corner, they won’t get a lot of attention either. Being hidey or off-putting says, very clearly, that you want to be left alone, and in the presence of other people who seem to be more acceptable to interaction, they’ll likely not give you much thought.
Much like in real life, wearing a “leave me alone” face is likely to get you left alone.
As the oft-touted saying goes – RP happens WITH you, not TO you.
If you want interactive RP, you have to step up and interact. Other characters don’t have ESP. They can’t see anything other than what is directly in front of them, and – like real people – are going to interact with those people who interest them most at any given moment.
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