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Archive for the ‘RP’ Category

The other day, someone asked me about my gravatar picture, so I thought I should probably give some credit where it’s due and also show off the entire thing.

The picture is of my paladin, Koralie, and it’s drawn by my good friend Sapheire. As I mentioned the other day, my paladin has been involved with an RP storyline that has been going on for about three and a half years. Saph writes the DK in that story, and along with being a great writer, she’s an amazing artist as well. She’s been nice enough to draw Koralie a few times over the years, and this particular drawing is one of my favorites.

Saph totally nailed her looks and personality perfectly in this drawing. I loves it.

I’ve always referred to Koralie as being my punk-rock pally, and there’s a very good reason for that. While I got into this briefly on my characters page, I’m proud of this character and wanted to feature her on her own.

Usually I’m not a fan of paladin type classes in RPGs. I tend to gravitate towards things like rangers and druids and thieves instead. Running around in heavy plate armor and calling down on holy power was absolutely never appealing to me. I had very little interest in playing a pally in WoW because of this. In fact, I think the paladin was the seventh class I tried to play, with only the warrior and DK left untouched behind it. I even tried playing a priest before I tried a paladin.

Wrath was a good time for paladins though, and my guild decided to launch a blood knight storyline that I decided I really wanted to be part of for whatever reason. Maybe because they looked cool on their chargers wearing their tabards. Maybe because I had pretty much failed at roleplaying on my druid. Maybe because I just wanted to have a good excuse to play a blood elf without feeling guilty about wanting to play the “pretty” race. In any case, I rolled up a paladin, named her Koralie after a French artist that I like, and set out into the world trying to figure out who she was.

When I first started playing around with her, I thought she would be a typical paladin. As I did some more research into the blood knights though, I realized I could do something more interesting with her. I started thinking it might be interesting to play a paladin that wasn’t just a typical lawful good personality. I wondered if I could even pull off such a thing in a believable way. And I wondered what it would take to have a character with more neutral tendencies turn into a holy knight (remember I was playing her in Wrath after they stopped doing the whole “suck a naaru dry” thing).

As I often do, I looked to people in my real life for inspiration, this time an old boyfriend of mine from college. He was decidedly a punk. Looked like a punk, acted like a punk, had very punk beliefs and tendencies. And yet, he was in the army. When I first met him, it had a lot of trouble understanding these two sides of him. He seemed like the last person in the world who would want to enlist, considering his general distaste for authority. Eventually one day I asked him about that, and his answer was simple, but made perfect sense.

“I lived about ten blocks from the World Trade Center when the planes hit it,” he said. “I woke up and walked outside and saw the fire and watched them fall. I had to do something.”

So writing a paladin with punk tendencies seemed more that possible. After all, I knew one in real life. When pushed by horrible external events, they can be faced to adapt in spite of their long-held beliefs.

And so that’s what I did with Koralie. She’s a rebellious woman who spent her life on the wrong side of Silvermoon’s law and then lost everything when the Lich King attacked Quel’Thalas and destroyed it and the civilization that the high elves knew. The character that I started playing in Wrath had only just begun to drag herself out of a depression that defined her for several years. When she managed to feel something again, what she felt was anger and an overwhelming need to pay the Lich King back. She was extensively trained by her father during her childhood to become a ranger, and she had absolutely no desire to follow in his footsteps. And so the blood knights were the best way for her to have her revenge.

Over time, Koralie’s character had taken on a life of her own with the help of regular RP from Saph, whose DK is Koralie’s closest friend and an integral part of her story. Having a DK friend might not seem the most appropriate thing for a paladin, but despite being a knight, Koralie retains much of her “eff what authority and society says I should do,” personality. And we’ve written some epic scenes for them, including one telling the story of the final battle against the Lich King at the Frozen Throne. To this day, it’s probably one of my favorite things that I’ve written.

Creating a compelling character made me want to play Koralie as well, and I discovered while playing her that I vastly prefer playing a melee dos class to a caster or ranged. Though my druid is my primary main, Koralie is my favorite toon. I obsess about her DPS and transmog and mounts, and chances are if I’m doing something in-game that isn’t healing a raid or leveling an alt, I’m probably playing Koralie. Though the druid will be leveled first in Mists, Koralie won’t be far behind, and I hope to have her hit 90 before the end of Brewfest.

One day I hope to take Koralie out of WoW and develop a whole new world for her basic character and story and write an actual book. I’ve already probably written a thousand pages about her, and I’d really like to see where her story would go outside of Azeroth. We’ll see! I’m pretty awful at world building, but in this case, it might just be worth a shot.

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It’s Sunday. I just wrote six pages of the current RP story I’m working on and feeling a little brain dead now. I was scrolling through my folder of screen shots, looking for images that I can use on posts that I have planned for this week, and came across an image that I made for an RP event for my guild. I’ve always really liked it. I thought it would be fun to use Sundays to post weird little memories of this game, since I missed blogging about them as they happened. Going into the vault, if you will.

My guild has a long history of RP. It was one of the original RP guilds on Argent Dawn, with a focus on troll RP specifically. Back in those days, I’m told they would do epic troll marches through Orgrimmar, STV, and to the dancing troll village in Darkshore. During BC, my guild expanded into a five guild family, divided by race. The troll tradition stayed strong, and there was an interesting bit of drama between them and the newly joined Blood Elves. During Wrath, the guild changed again, and all five of the guilds were brought under a single guild tag, both systematically and metaphorically as well. This is when I became a member of the guild. Cataclysm brought a change in leadership and a new guild tag, but the foundation of the guild remained the same.

While we’re an RP guild at heart, we do a lot more than that now, and raiding tends to dominate guild activities. But we still care about lore and we still like doing RP events, though we’ve been woefully bad about such things as of late. I’m  hoping that Mists will bring back a return to interest in RP. I know that I personally found Cataclysm’s story difficult to RP around, and the idea of exploring all new worlds is incredibly appealing to me.

Despite the lack of structured RP, we did do an event last year that was definitely a nod back to the foundation of the guild. All of us got onto our troll toons and met in the troll section of Orgrimmar. After a quick scene, we walked through the city and out into Durotar, eventually ending at the Echo Isles. It was my dear friend Bim’s idea to do this event, and we decided to get people interested in doing troll RP (our guild tends to looooove blood elf stuff and not much else) we would make up a neat graphic for it, almost like a movie release. Since I’m the resident graphic designer for my guild, I got to have a lot of fun making up the invite for this one.

I have to admit that when I get to design stuff for WoW, I really enjoy taking a break from the rules that consitute good design. I get to use weird display fonts and all sorts of layers and filters that I wouldn’t touch in for professional work. It’s a bit like blogging in that way that I can kind of just let my mind do whatever and not worry about what I’m supposed to do. This invite was so much fun because I got to do lots of that sort of thing!

It started with the screen shot, which I thought was really beautiful. I usually play with my graphics set to remedial since I have an aging computer that tends to freak out when I ask it to do anything too complicated. So it’s always fun for me too see how beautiful the landscapes in WoW really are. I tend to forget about that with everything set on low all the time.

Pretty as the image was, it just didn’t feel like it was enough, so I added some decay to it, layering over a decomposed graphic that I use for a lot of things, including the background and header for this blog. That still didn’t feel like quite enough though, so I started researching more textures that I could add in. I started looking for artwork that would fit the trolls islander flare, then looked at Mayan and Aztec designs as well. None of that seemed to fit. After a bit more searching, I found some Maori graphics that I thought would suit my purposes perfectly, and layered them onto the landscape. The result is shown above, and to this day it’s something that I still think is pretty cool.

Here’s hoping that Mists will bring new fun opportunities for RP and good excuses for me to make event invites like this again!

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Roleplay versus gameplay

A lot of times when I see people who are new to the idea of RPing in WoW starting to become curious about it, they have some questions about how to handle game play mechanics as opposed to story mechanics. We can assume that gameplay does not exactly equal the world that our characters live in. It’s obviously not possible for our toons to walk around carrying a bunch of bags with several sets of armor, bushels of herbs, raw fish that are months old, and explosives. There are many things that the world game needs to have from a practical view-point that make the game not annoying to play that just don’t work when you try to think of your character as a real person. But how do you decide what is a purely gameplay mechanic and what is something your character could be experiencing in their world? This is something that I encourage roleplayers to think about when they’re writing or RPing on their characters, and it can add to some interest in their stories as well. Some examples of what I mean:

Travel – All things considered, even in game terms, Azeroth is pretty big. It takes awhile to get from place to place even on a flying mount. However, when I handle myRP,I think of the world as being much larger than it could possibly be in game. I treat travel back and forth between Kalimdor and Eastern Kingdoms as a gigantic and expensive pain that takes quite a long time. I imagine zones being far more vast and expansive, and not possible to being walked across in a few minutes (And to make things more difficult, I vary how I handle this from zone to zone. Eversong and Ghostlands I imagine being slightly larger than they are in game, where a place like Mulgore or the Barrens I imagine being much much larger.) For the most part, I ignore the existence of portals, especially the ones that are in cities to help you get around. I don’t even really like including mage portals in my RP, but I will do that occasionally. But I tend to think of it as something that is very expensive and not commonly done.

Why do I make things harder on my character like this? For me, I feel it cheapens the world to be able to get around it so quickly in character. I want the world to feel big, and so when a character of mine has to travel from one continent to another, it feels as though it’s a serious investment of their time to do so. One of the themes I play with a lot in my RP is the idea of being away from loved ones for the sake of duty, and that entire things feels a lot cheaper if you can just instantly walk through portal and be wherever you want.

Reputations - I do a lot of rep grinding on paladin, mostly because she’s my mount collector. For this reason, she’s exalted with many factions that, in character,she just couldn’t care less about. She may be exalted with, for example, Ramkahen, but in character she’s only spent about a week in Uldum, and that was on vacation. She’s exalted with the Darkspear Trolls because I wanted the Crusader title for her, but in character she just really does not like trolls.

Generally what I do for my characters is pick a couple of factions that I do think they would actually care about, and gently work them into my RP. My paladin has done a lot of work with the Argent Crusade. My druid is all about all things…druid. My second pally worked a lot with Wyrmrest Accord when he was in Northrend. I really try to think of what is important to my character’s personality and determine important groups for them from there.

Raiding – When my guild killed LK, the way that I personally handled it in my RP was to write an epic battle scene with the Alliance and Horde vs. the Scourge. The assault on the citadel had gone on for a long time, with constant setbacks to explain why we didn’t just storm in and kill LK in one day. When we finally got to the point where we fought LK, I decided having it climax in an epic battle would be more fun than simply progressing through bosses as we did in the raid. In my version of that final battle, the platform we were all fighting on was a lot bigger, and there was a gigantic Braveheart style battle that broke out, with the two sides charging each other once the attack began. I used certain elements from the actual LK fight in the story, including Tirion’s beginning speech and some of the fight mechanics, but I also drew from other parts of ICC for inspiration as well.

I also tried to use the idea of raid groups in my story. My pally fought with a small unit, including a couple of healers, but once the chaos of battle started, it was easy for things to go wrong. She fought a group of Darkfallen, for instance, when she was seriously injured. And in the end, I used the same climax that we saw in the raid, complete with LK killing everyone and then getting a mass rez, but it wasn’t my character, or even my raid group alone, that killed LK. It was a very large group effort.

Healing and RezzingThe concept of rezzing is one I most often hear asked about by new roleplayers. In the game, it’s such a common mechanic. All of the healers can rez you. DKs and locks can rez you. Strange spirit ladies with wings that like to hang out in graveyards can rez you, but they like to break your armor first. Without rezzing, the game would be no fun at all. That doesn’t mean it makes for a good story mechanic though. I like for my character’s lives to have weight and matter, and if their deaths could be solved with a simple spell, suddenly difficult choices no longer have an important meaning. Death is one of the most imposing aspects of life, and to take that away from your characters really cheapens everything they do.

Generally I don’t even think that rezzing exists in the world of Azeroth, unless you’re talking about extreme cases, like in the fight with LK. I tend to view it as when we see a character “die” in game, they’re just being knocked out or have grievous injuries that will take a long time to heal. I also don’t tend to write about healing being as easy and effective as it is in game. I like the idea that my characters can walk out of a battle banged up with cuts and bruises and scars. Generally, I view healing as something that allows them to keep fighting, but only time and rest can truly heal wounds.

There are plenty other pieces of gameplay mechanics that don’t necessarily fit into good storytelling. As is probably clear, I prefer to cut out a lot of the things that are convenient and would make my character’s lives easier. Just as Lord of the Rings wouldn’t have been as compelling if the fellowship could have ported to Mordor or Order of the Phoenix would have lost its weight if Sirius simply could have accepted a rez, I think in general good story telling comes from difficult situations that need to be overcome. Letting your characters have things to easily makes for a boring story. And boring stories make for boring RP!

What are some gameplay mechanics that you’ve felt have no place in storytelling?

-Faye

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