If the title of this article has drawn you in, then you might be a perfect candidate to give roleplaying a try! Perhaps you are a skilled roleplayer, with years of experience at your back and hordes of characters. Maybe you simply love the Warhammer world and story, and you thought that this game would be a good opportunity to develop one character that could be living, evolving and growing in this exciting setting ... or perhaps you don’t have much experience with it at all, but the concept of ‘roleplay’ intrigues you, and you are reading this searching for some insight on the matter. Whatever the case, there is something you must know about this guide; this is not a general roleplay guide. It is focused and directed to a specific kind of roleplay style, which is, of course, online roleplaying within an MMORPG.
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/ hair, facial features, and details such as jewellery 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 behaviour 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 behaviour, and in your character’s story, and have fun with it. Warhammer is a living world, full of adventure and flavour, and is just waiting for you to dive in.
What are you waiting for?!
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