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Breaking Character

A series of articles on MMORPG roleplaying from an avid MUD player.

Author: lsomb

Character Building: Class

Posted by lsomb Tuesday August 7 2012 at 12:46PM
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Now that we've covered name, gender, and race, we'll look at class or profession. Character classes in Achaea and other MMORPGs, known as professions in some games, represent basic archetypes or 'careers' of characters, providing basic direction and limitations.

Choosing a class for your character is probably the most important decision of what we've discussed thus far. Although a profession shouldn't and doesn't need to be the end-all, be-all of your character, it does play a significant role. Depending on the game system in question, it could determine important things such as your alignment that would affect your future roleplay avenues. Class not only reflects on your character's interests and capabilities, but also affect your 'style' in the game. I personally recommend thinking of it this way: choose your class based on what kind of story you want to play. What do you want from this game? What are you expecting? What do you want to roleplay?

If you've already got a basic idea of what kind of character you want to play, look at his or her personality, past, and other aspects. What makes sense most for this character? What kind of background does your character have that make him or her fit for this class's lifestyle, or, conversely, what drove him or her to strive for it despite not having one? Does he or she serve as that class because she enjoys it, or out of necessity?

Remember also that classes, like all other things, come too with their own stereotypes. Is your character a scholarly mage, a charming rogue, or a hardened warrior? Do certain alignments, races, or cities have a particular viewpoint on certain classes? Look into the lore and research what playing certain classes entail. For example, in Achaea, choosing a paladin would mean that you'd have to play on the Good side, while playing an Infernal would mean that you'd likely be an Evil Mhaldorian knight.

Your class can make for interesting motivations throughout your gameplay in your favourite MMORPG. Take these thoughts into consideration, and if you're looking for a new game to explore the intricacies of class roleplay, check out Achaea or one of the other Iron Realms games.

Character Building: Race

Posted by lsomb Tuesday August 7 2012 at 1:49AM
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In my previous post, I covered basic character creation decisions such as name and gender. In this one, we'll be looking at something slightly more complex: race. For those of you who play in fantasy or sci-fi games with multiple options for race such as Achaea, your character's race can play a large part in your his or her upbringing, background, and traits, as well as how others might interact with him or her in the future.

The choice of character race can be foundational to designing a good roleplaying character, whether you want to work within established archetypes or intentionally subvert them. Of course, you may choose to place very little emphasis on your character's race, especially if you play a game in which either your race is the default race, or society is composed of mingled races. However, why give up an opportunity to expand on such a fundamental aspect of your character? Even if you play a popular race such as humans in most MMORPGs, you can still keep racial RP in mind: are humans seen as the superior race? Does your character discriminate against other races? If you live in a melting pot society, what kind of conflicts can arise from the meeting of separate cultures? Alternatively, even if your dwarf lives a life mostly similar to his or her elven kin, are there any family traditions or small things that he or she might have or do from his or her heritage?

Let me use the race Mhun from Achaea as an example. Although Mhun (a race similar to and originally descended from humans, for those who don't play) are quite common and mostly culturally assimilated in with human society, there are still avenues open for racial roleplay. Even though your Mhun family might have been living in the city for several generations, you don't have to disregard their original Moghedan heritage. Much as the descendents from immigrants in the real world still retain their culture, your character, too, could keep some beliefs that his or her family has passed down. Your Mhun could still use expressions about water in his or her everyday speech, or dislike wasting it as a result of the desert environment from which all Mhun originated. As with name and gender selection, researching your game's lore for racial history is important for when you determine character background in the future.

Remember also that character race, like gender, comes with its own set of preconceptions. Dwarves are expected to be comedic, jovial, or blustering, while elves are elegant and mysterious. Playing with and against these stereotypes can be interesting, but also remember that your character is an individual shaped by race, not a caricature.

We'll be covering professions and classes in our next post. Stay tuned, and if you find yourself intrigued by what I've mentioned briefly on Achaea, why not hop by and start a character on one of the Iron Realms games?

Character Building: Basic Decisions

Posted by lsomb Tuesday August 7 2012 at 1:09AM
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The very first thing that you have to do in every game, story, or roleplay session is to create your character, and that's exactly what we'll be starting with today for our very first article. Unfortunately, there's no quick, easy recipe for creating a compelling, interesting character. It's not as simple as that. However, what I can share with you are things that have personally worked for me based on my experience playing Iron Realms MUDs.

When fleshed out properly, the character you play in an MMORPG or MUD such as Achaea can be as complex and intriguing as any well-written book character. However, because of the nature of gaming, there are some differences in the creation process. With games, you have to pick a name, a gender, a race, and maybe a class or profession at the very start, while you might have time to fill in these basic details later for a story after you've already established the personality or background. This means that you might have a lot of preconceived ideas about your new character just from his or her name and physical attributes, which can be both good or bad. Today, we'll take a look at some of these basic starting traits and how each can affect where you can go with your character.

Selecting a name is probably simultaneously the easiest and most difficult of these starter decisions. A name has significantly less influence on a character's future personality and roleplay avenues than other traits, but it's also something that you'll be stuck with for the rest of that character's e-life, so make sure you pick something you like enough to keep as a permanent label. Remember that your character's name doesn't have to reflect the character itself, since 'in game' they likely wouldn't have picked it themselves. This doesn't mean that you can't pick a name because of how cool and fitting it is, but don't be surprised if you get a few eye rolls -- going over the top can take away from your credibility and make it seem like you're trying to be too special. Another important thing is to take into consideration that names come from the culture and background your character was born into. For example, it's unlikely that a poor peasant lad would be named something fancy and lordly. If your game has a history and lore you can look into, it's a good idea to see what names are common for certain demographics. You wouldn't want your dwarf to be named Daniel in a family of Ghuraksons and Narlstroms!

Next up is gender. How much this affects your character depends on several factors, both in-game and as a player. Since we're talking about MMOs here, some games may have problems with discrimination and harassment. Out of character aside, from an in-game perspective, the importance of your gender and/or sex is significantly reliant on how much difference there is between them in the game society. In a more egalitarian society, gender won't affect your character's options as much as opposed to one with strict roles for men and women. Remember also that while men and women share traits and many may have similar personalities, preconceived notions of gender from both players and characters will cause people to see a male and female character that are exactly the same in different lights.

Although name and gender are important parts of your character, you don't always have to ponder over these decisions over a great length of time. It's good to take these things into consideration when character building, but be wary of overthinking and preplanning too much. Sometimes it's fine to just let things go and see where you end up.

In the next installment, we'll delve into the details and considerations of race. Meanwhile, why not check out one of the top MUDs from Iron Realms Entertainment and join me on Achaea?

Introduction

Posted by lsomb Monday August 6 2012 at 1:17PM
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Hello everyone, and welcome to the very first entry of Breaking Character.

Let me start with a few things about myself. I’ve been playing MUDs for the past few years, primarily focusing on Achaea from Iron Realms Entertainment. Although I game casually, I consider myself primarily a writer and a roleplayer; before discovering Achaea, I spent a great deal of time in chat, forum, and Livejournal roleplaying, from which moving to text gaming was a natural progression. It’s from this perspective that I intend to approach this blog.

After playing MUDs for so long, I find that trying to roleplay on a graphic MMORPG just doesn’t compare. The medium of text is inherently more fluid than a graphical one, unrestricted by visuals and limited only by your imagination. Anything describable can happen, allowing for a dynamic, free-flowing world that encourages and nurtures creativity. However, while many of my future posts will be focused on MUD roleplaying, almost all of the advice can be applied to other games too.

Over the course of Breaking Character, I’ll attempt to provide insight into what it is about text gaming and Achaea that has kept me playing for the past few years, as well as advice on character development and general roleplaying guides. I hope that you’ll be able to take something away from my accounts, and find ways to enhance your own MMORPG experience.

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