Today’s post is brought to you by none other than the Pretentious Bastard, who plays Bricu, one of the Paladins in the Riders and who has been a HUGE help in my development of Aelflaed. He’s a fantastic writer, storyteller, and friend and hopefully will be contributing on occasion here at Too Many Annas! Enjoy!
I asked Anna if I could post a guest spot regarding the recent, All the World’s a Stage post on WoW Insider. While I do blog about nerd things over here, I do think an introduction (and a disclaimer) are in order.
I’ve played WoW since launch (at most, one week after launch) and I have only one main. That character, Bricu, is a paladin. He’s been a ret pally before it was viable. This should be a pretty clear cut indicator as to my style of play: I’m a dirty role-player and I’m proud of it. I don’t know as much about the Horde style of play, but I do know the lore behind the Paladin sects.
Mr. Bower’s post on “How to be a Paladin” is good start on that lore, but it is by no means a definitive guide on how to RP a Paladin. To be fair, I do not believe there is a definitive guide to RP–the idea is at once ludicrous and pretentious–but I do believe that there are pointers for establishing a character that can play well with others and within the context of game lore and mechanics.
This is the issue I have with Mr. Bower’s post. It establishes a great deal of the class history, but that’s it. He does not provide any tips as how to execute that lore, or how that lore influences game mechanics or character development. He does a good job laying things out; however, there are a number of wiki‘s one can reference to get the same information (and more). These sites provide background from game text, previous games, the comics and the RPG products. In this fashion, they are ideal in learning about the lore that you, as a player, should know. When designing your Paladin, Mr. Bower’s article and the lore wikis are a good second step.
The first step, however, is figuring out what you want to play.
A rough idea, or character concept, is what you need to understand to play a paladin. The concept doesn’t have to be elaborate. It can be as simple as: “John Constatine as a Paladin,” “law abiding knight with poor self esteem,” “Classic Warcraft Paladin,” “Hubris,” or as complicated as, “Peacemaker and Conscience in a family with flexible morality.” Simple, in this regard, and maybe a tad relative but the point is easy. Establish a frame of reference for said character. With this frame of reference in mind, now it’s time to tackle the lore.
How does your understanding of lore impact your character concept?
This question should not be answered by the player alone. WoW is an MMO. Sure, you can solo and RP at the same time, but that’s a little bit odd, even for individuals with questionable interpersonal intelligence. Stories and characters grow through interaction, so ask the folks you interact with if your concept and application of lore make sense.
Not every Paladin is going to be Uther’s prodigy. Some are going to be in the mold of Arthas. Others will be like Lancelot, Ned Stark or even Captain America (Captain Lordaeron has a nice ring, doesn’t it?) Not every dwarf Paladin will be so concerned with the Light: As WoW progresses, the idea of Titan-worship grows among the dwarves. Draenei paladins typically belong to the “Hand of Argus;” however, they may have only found their way to the Light in the context of their new human or dwarf allies, especially given the nature of inter dimensional spaceship crashes to induce amnesia.
Not every Blood Elf Paladin needs to be a conniving, Light-stealing bastard.
The lore provides for some “outs” in this regard. While one needs to understand the lore and how it impacts their character concept, one is not necessarily beholden to the lore. WoW’s lore is changing, and not just through retcons. As we push further into Wrath’s content, the lore will continue to develop. So should your character. Azeroth is their world, and as it changes, so will they have to change in reaction to it, even if that change is simply to add a grudge or a point of thought about what’s happening.
After concept and application of lore, we move on to mechanics.
How can you use game mechanics to the advantage of character development?
Given the nature of the Talent system, every paladin has the potential to be unique. While most builds will share some of the same aspects–we are still gamers with a penchant for min/maxing–the differences within each build should be reflected within the character itself. How does this talent build impact your character concept and vice versa. If you really want to RP a battle-weary healer, then the ret tree isn’t for you. If you want to play the Valiant Defender, Prot may be right up your alley. The talent tree needs to be taken into account into your RP style.
Even Respecs can be a part of your character’s development. Say your Battle Weary paladin has had a renewed faith and wants to bring about the Salvation of the Light. This sounds like Retribution to Holy. Maybe your Holy Build Healer realizes that she needs to stand up for those who cannot defend themselves. Holy to Prot anyone? Even builds that dabble in multiple trees can address multiple facets of the character.
Finally, and most importantly, what matters most is having fun with the character you’ve developed.
If mashing the RET DPS cycle isn’t for you, or the Holy Tree seems nerfed, or you just can’t tank, allow for your character to change. Having fun with the game and RPing the character you’ve created is significantly more important than strict interpretations of lore or “the best build EVAR.” If you want to RP a Paladin, you don’t have to follow the Path of Uther, Arthas or Argus. You do have to have a concept and understand how that concept interacts with the lore and your talent build.
Develop your character and play it until it is no longer any fun – and then allow your character to change, or make a new one. After all, that’s what WoW, and RP, is all about. Fun.
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