A Short Guide to Roleplaying
Read on to learn about how you can delve into the exciting world of roleplaying!
We first need to point out that there are several differences between online roleplaying and classic roleplaying around a table. In the usual roleplaying sessions, the players can see each other. You have the aid of your voice, your gestures, your physical movement and your interpretative skills to enhance and represent the details of the character that you represent. All this disappears when you roleplay online; this is perceived often as an inconvenience, but it can also be used to your advantage, let me explain:
Sometimes when a character is created, players find some restrictions that can be very hard to surpass for them. Perhaps you have trouble portraying a character of the opposite gender; perhaps you are simply shy and the idea of classic, social roleplay seems like a mighty task for you. All of this does not matter when you are online; your physical representation is a 3D model that we call an ‘avatar’. Avatars have no restrictions except those of the game that you are playing in. Hence, you can be whatever character you want, and others won’t be distracted by your real appearance. For the same reason, you lose all the benefits that the real, physical presence could provide you when it is time to become your in-game persona. So without further ado, here are some quick steps to get started with online roleplaying, and not get lost in the process.
Creating your character
This part, even if it might sound obvious, it is the part where you should invest most time. You have the character generator for the physical design of your avatar. Here, you will choose between the different options that the game provides, such as pigmentation of the skin, eyes and hair; facial features and details such as jewelry and scars. Don't hold back in using your imagination to give a unique twist to your appearance!
Taking time to think about the background of your character will help you get to know your character and learn how you should react to different situations as that character. The Warhammer world is rich and full, and you can find so much inspiration just by looking for links with the story and background of Warhammer Online on our main site and beyond. The game has an incredibly rich background story that allows your imagination to fly. Just think about it; what is in your character's past? Who were his ancestors, his relatives? Are they alive, or dead? It is preferable if you keep your character’s background realistic. When all the players decide to be High Elven Princes of Caledor, the sons/daughters of the Great Theogonyst, or to be related to very high public figures, it quickly becomes the norm, and who wants to be normal? Not to mention creating characters with names of the prominent figures of the Warhammer lore, such as Queen Morathi, Gotrek and Felix or Archaon is prohibited. It is better if you take the time to develop a story of your own, using the Warhammer world as reference and support for your tale. WAR lore and characters are for everyone, and the public figures should remain public.
Now that you know more about your character’s past, it is time to think about the present. Think about the circumstances that took your character to where he/ she is now. What does he do? What are his motivations? What does he prefer and what does he dislike? What friends does he/she have? If you want to join a roleplaying guild, this might be even better because it would give you actual in-game connections and ties to bind your character to the world around you.
What You Cannot See
After you have decided on the background and behavior of your character, it is time to think about the little details that will bring him to life. Examples include very personal features (like scars that are not visible), a certain expression of his eyes, a deep, rich voice, or extremely fluid movements... just take as much time as you need to imagine all these personal details that would make your character unique. It may help to make notes to keep by your computer so that you remember all of these little details and really help to bring your character to life. When you roleplay your characters, you can add these things in to make sure that those around you discover all these small things through your descriptions.
The Art of Description
So, the hard part is over! Now we have a brand new, original character with plenty of things to tell, and even more to experience. Now comes the part that is easy to explain but might take years to master: how you interact with your environment.
Your character has a 3D physical presence of his or her own, and you have a list of emotes, or special movements that animate your character (you can see the complete emote list typing /emotelist in your chat window). Sometimes though, these emotes are limited and you may feel that your character is restricted in expression because of this. Here, chat becomes your greatest ally; it is all about the power of words, and the description. Try to not only talk as your character would do, but to add some general descriptions of *how* is it done. This provides a deeper perception for others.
The /em channel is your friend here. Everything that you write with the /em command will appear in a bright orange color by default, and you should write in the third person here, because your name will be before it, like this:
Thargann frowns and nods reluctantly
A Quick Example
Brianna the Shadow Warrior is exploring a cave that her group is going to enter. She reaches the entrance and takes a quick glance inside. There seems to be nothing within the depths, but it’s pretty dark. She comes back and reports to her group.
*The player comes back moving her avatar and her character talks in the general chat*
/S: Nothing inside. But it is dark.
*The player makes her character leap from behind some bushes, and writes a short description using the /em (emote) channel*
/em comes back, with a calm look in her eyes, but you notice that her weapons are already out and she keeps an eye on the entry of the cave.
/s: There seems to be nothing inside the cave... but we must be careful, the caverns are dark, and I do not trust the underground... *she frowns, giving a quick glare at the group’s Engineer.*
In the second example, you can see how the character is giving much more information to the group and helping to enhance the roleplaying ambience just with a bit of description. With her leap, everyone can see her moving, and notice how graceful and silent she is. Then, the short description of her movements and mood can pull some feeling of alert and alarm to the players. Third, she gives us a hint of her thoughts when she looks at the Engineer, and without words, she says that underground is just for Dwarfs.
You might try to practice a bit, but I can assure you this is not hard to do. You also have to consider that the game has to be kept agile and fast to be entertaining; if you stop constantly to write extremely long description of each of your movements, or every little thing, it can quickly become tedious. The hardest part of it is to keep it simple, but intense; direct, but evocative. Try to involve as many sensorial aspects as you can; do not only say what you or the others see, but also explain a little of how it sounds, smells, what it feels like, or how even how it tastes. The more senses you use in your description, the more intense and ‘real’ your roleplaying experience will become.
So, let’s keep with these two concepts: Character creation, action description. With this, and with a bit of practice, you can really start to bring your character to life. You will soon begin to see different and interesting the game can become if you start to see it through your character’s eyes, rather than your own. Read the quest descriptions carefully, too. They will provide you perfect examples of the races and characters within WAR behave, think and talk. Integrate the whole mood and environment in your behavior, and in your character’s story, and have fun with it. Warhammer is a living world, full of adventure and flavor, and is just waiting for you to dive in.
What are you waiting for?!
GOA: What’s your main character’s background?
Derellas: The short version: Derellas used to be an officer in the Empire’s army. A regiment which he volunteered to lead got sent out to the Northern wastes, where he and his men got ambushed by a warband of Northern Brutes and left for dead. Limping back to the war camp, or at least trying, the Chaos gods deceived him and lured him farther into the Northern wastes. It was there where he was converted into a Chaos Undivided leader and gave him command to form a war host to burn down Altdorf!
GOA: Could you share any memorable moments in the life of your character so far?
Derellas: A couple of months ago, the rather inexperienced Derellas (He was around rank 19 or so) encountered an Order war band that was attacking Mandred's Hold. There was only one other defender, so the odds were pretty grim. However, Derellas started to bark orders and shouted for more reinforcements, which worked and more and more Destruction warriors showed up. For a long while both war bands were equal but at some point the Destruction forces managed to beat the forces of Order. People started cheering for Derellas and he managed to boost morale of his warriors so badly that not an hour or two later all keeps in Tier 2 were under Destruction control. All the while, Derellas kept a tight grip on his group and there were very little casualties with each siege. Also, most everyone stayed in character. It has been his best campaign to date.
GOA: Would you consider yourself a Role-player that plays WAR, or a WAR player that Role-plays? Why?
Derellas: I am a role-player that plays WAR. WAR is not my first MMORPG, I played several before and even led a very successful role-play guild in one of them!
GOA: In a perfect world, which additional features would WAR have for role-players?
Derellas: In a perfect world, we could make our characters walk, as running really brings the role-play down. We would also be able to sit down in all chairs/benches or use /sit to sit on the ground. More animations that go with the current /emotes would also be a good thing, but a large chunk of the role-play community really misses the ability to walk or sit. I know I do.
GOA: You have helped organize the Role-playing community on Burlok. Could you tell us something about this process – why did you do it and what challenges did you have to overcome?
Derellas: The Burlok Community helping and interacting with each other is important. Helpful threads such as “Welcome to Burlok” or “RPing Guilds” list make newcomers feel more welcome and provide the information they need to decide whether they want to play on Burlok or not.
The process isn’t that difficult, it’s all about figuring out what would be good for the community. Now I’m trying to get a list of Burlok's Player Helpers going that will show a list of established Burlok players that will help people new to either the game or just our server.
GOA: Is there a specific Role-play event you’ve organized or took part in which you are extra proud of?
Derellas: Firstborn’s role-play event (Furious Wrath) where we duked it out in every Empire vs Chaos tier for an hour or so was awesome. The system they set up for winning or losing along with role-play info really made you want to kick the heck out of Order to win. I organized a role-play event for my own guild not too long ago and we ended up having a full war band (Open for outsiders as well) doing Hard PQ’s in T3 Elf lands where we were all in-character. That was also a lot of fun.
GOA: How do you create a good role-play environment for your fellow players? Do you have any personal tricks or tools?
Derellas: I like to create stories and interesting developments in the story. I work with so-called “Role-play Missions” or “Campaigns”. I think up a general story and write a prologue. After that I let the events (Missions) we do define the course of the story. Each event I let the participants take charge and giving gentle nudges (I am the story teller after all) and after each event has been concluded (the requirements are met, or failed) I write a follow-up story of the event, taking into account the actions of the participants.
The best thing about these Missions is that you are not required to participate in every event to keep track of the story. You can participate in one Mission and skip the next. I consider myself a casual player and don't like to force people to come to every event I organize. It should remain fun and interesting, not a chore and a weekly task.
I developed this way of role-play progression in my previous guild, where it worked extremely well. We had a very interesting story and we kept it up for a long while.
GOA: Recently, the Role-play community was involved in an interesting discussion on the differences between Role-players and more hard core RvR players. What is your opinion on the matter?
Derellas: Yes, I followed that discussion as well. It is a difficult topic to say the least. From what I experienced on Burlok, there isn't such a big difference between a Role-player and a hard core RvRer because usually their goals are the same. They might have different ways to achieve the goal and different motivations but other then that the differences are negligible.
GOA: Is there anything you would like to say to players who might want to try Role-playing?
Derellas: Have fun! That's what it is all about. If you enjoy playing a battle-hardened soldier that’s not afraid of anything or a mad dwarf with a strange fetish to hug his axes before every battle then do it. It’s your character and you can play him/her any way you wish. Start up spontaneous role-play, you never know what kind of friends or enemies you shall make.
As a final tip: I recommend making those little gobbo's believe that Gork (or Mork?) will change them into a Snotling if you whack them. *Winks*