Monday, 15 March 2010

An introduction to roleplaying: part 4 - meeting others

This is part 4 of a series of posts designed to introduce fellow MMO players to roleplaying. Part 1 covered the basics of what roleplaying is, part 2 described how you can decide what your character is like as a person and part 3 discussed how you can portray that to others. This post addresses how you can meet up with like minded people and actually start roleplaying.

Getting started on a new RP server can be a tricky business, rather like moving to a new city where you don't know anybody. Fortunately you're not alone - everybody had to make a start there sometime.

RP servers tend to have a very strong sense of community, so it helps to get a feeling for that before you get started. A good place to start can be the official Blizzard forum for that server - it will often contain a stickied list of current guilds (which is common to most servers), plus additional information aimed at roleplayers. For example, Argent Dawn (EU), which is where Single Abstract Noun are based, has a roleplayer's guide to the server, which contains a host of useful information for a newcomer.

Many servers also have their own unofficial website dedicated to roleplayers. In the case of AD (EU), that can be found at the Argent Archives. This is a wonderful example of how good a player-created site can be, with news, information and announcements about forthcoming events. It also offers players the chance to introduce their new characters to the world and find out about the various RP guilds there. Be warned, though, you could lose hours just browsing the full majesty of the place.

Some of the better RP guilds will have websites of their own that can be a fantastic resource in their own right.

You can also get a good feeling for the atmosphere by simply wandering around some of the cities of an evening. Most of the cities in WOW have natural gathering points, where you'll often find roleplayers congregating. For example, Stormwind has an "empty" bar with no NPCs in it, near the fountain in the park. On an RP server, such places are often taken over by players who will serve you drinks while you mingle. By wandering about a bit, you can start to get a feeling of where those places are on your server.

Joining in
So how do you get started? Well, that all depends on how brave you're feeling.

If you're confident as a roleplayer, read up on the guilds on your server and try to find one that your new character would fit in to. Once you've found one, get in touch with one of the guild officers (IC, of course) and let them know that you're interested in joining. Be prepared for a very different kind of guild interview than you may be used to from raiding guilds. You probably won't hear a single mention of gear score, bosses or achievements; instead you'll probably have an in character conversation with one or more guild officers, who will be interested in how you interact with others.

Different guilds may have completely different rules and agendas. One of my favourite guilds from the past (sadly now deceased) was based around the idea of a travelling circus troupe. The guild interview was, of course, entirely in character and consisted of the player having to perform some entertaining tricks that might bring the punters in. Our star performers were a dancing bear (who definitely wasn't a druid, oh no!) and his keeper, who collected money for each trick his beast performed. Now that sort of guild is great for a very flamboyant character, but perhaps wouldn't suit a trained assassin who wished to remain anonymous, although you could possibly make that work if our killer were of the school that believes that the best place to hide is in plain view.

If you just want to dip your toes into RP to find out if you like it, a good place to start is one of the RP events advertised on your server website. Look for events such as tournaments, where you can choose to be a spectator or a participant. That way you can blend in with the crowd if you're feeling nervous or meet lots of new people if you're feeling comfortable. Alternatively, you could just visit one of the player-run bars and start off by talking to the bartender - there may well be plenty of other interesting conversations going on in the background you can tune into. If you have any friends who are experienced roleplayers, you may wish to visit these events with them - that way you can ask for advice if you're feeling unsure.

If you do decide to join in, please show a little respect for the wishes of the other players around you - is the conversation you're thinking of joining one that you'd feel welcome to in real life, or does it look like a private gathering?

Don't feel afraid to leave if you aren't having fun in any given situation - just invent an excuse and leave, just as you might if cornered by a talkative drunk in a real bar, e.g. "Oh, is that the time? I really must be going. I need to feed my kodo."

So now I'm a roleplayer?
Congratulations! I hope you enjoyed your first experiences. Please remember that being a roleplayer doesn't mean that you have to give up on the other parts of the game you enjoy. One of the best roleplayers I ever met was also a PvP god, who could destroy armies of Alliance invaders with his fel magic. So keep on raiding, AH-manipulating or whatever takes your fancy. RP is an addition to the game - it doesn't have to stop you doing anything else.

We're almost at the end of this series now. Hopefully you've got a good feeling for what RP is and how you can get started if you want. Having put all this effort into persuading you to play, this is probably a dumb idea, but the final part will cover some of the problems you might encounter as a roleplayer and how to deal with them. Don't worry - most RPers are lovely, but as in every walk of life, there are a few you could do without.

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