Drama Llama-Spotting in World of Warcraft Roleplay

drama llama In World of Warcraft roleplay, there’s a lot of drama.  Tons of drama.  It’s just like any other roleplay medium, whether we roleplayers want to admit it or not (it seems non-WoW roleplayers want to think that this style is worse for drama than any others — wrong!).  It can be hard to separate fact from fiction, especially when friends and people we generally think are a-okay and cool are involved.  Especially when people we’ve never had issues with are involved.  At what point do you begin to accept that maybe, just maybe, that roleplayer that you like, or that has the occasional twinge of Something You Just Can’t Put Your Finger On, really is a Drama Llama?

Complaint Volume as a Measure of Drama

A serial Drama Llama or problem player will usually leave a swath of destruction in their wake.  Chances are, they’ve been involved in issues between themselves and other players, raised a ruckus on other sites, or done something, somewhere, to cause discomfort and terribleness.  The more complaints about a player or group of players that exist, the more likely that this person is a Problem.

However.

You knew there was a “but”.

This is not always reliable.  Some may find that a player’s reputation among one specific social group is actually the fault of that group, and doesn’t reflect the way that player actually is — say, one member of a social group gets a bug up their arse about a person, then suddenly the entire group hates them.  Yes, this happens.  Yes, we all thought we abandoned that line of thinking after leaving school.  No, we didn’t.  It does happen, even and especially in World of Warcraft roleplay, and it’s just as irritating there as it is in the outside world.

If, however, you have multiple complaints from different social groups, people unrelated to these social groups and, hell, maybe even different forums, chat channels, and/or game servers … then you could be dealing with a serial Llama.

Screenshots and Chat Logs

elephant wow add-on

Elephant records your chats for you.

In World of Warcraft, there are add-ons like Elephant that record chat channels and let you save or keep logs of what’s said in various channels.  This sort of add-on is great for keeping track of stuff that happens in roleplay, whispers, and chat channels — though WoW Instant Messenger is probably better for the whispers portion.  Some folks choose to take screenshots of everything, from conversations to Twitter DMs, to LJ PMs, and any form of communication with people that they think they might wind up having issues with.

Images can be tampered and edited, however, spotting such edits is fairly simple.  Does something look wonky and not uniform?  Does it look pixelated in places that it probably shouldn’t?  Is the communication style of any of the involved people different than what you’re familiar with?

Again, if different unrelated people have screenshots and chat logs, it’s safe to bet that they’re not lying.  The more thorough the record of Llama behaviour, the better, and it’s often better to be safe than sorry.

That Feeling in Your Gut

If you’re familiar with Llama behaviour (assuming you aren’t one yourself, oho), then you’re probably familiar with that little feeling that starts to creep in when you find yourself facing the potential of more Drama.  It’s that slight dread, where you think that the behaviour you’re witnessing isn’t entirely good, but you don’t want to say anything or cause any trouble, so you don’t speak up.  It might just be you, right?  You might just be misinterpreting something~!

You might not be misinterpreting, either, and if you aren’t sure — ask.  Ask me, ask someone that you know, ask for clarification on whatever’s happened with your roleplay partner, ask a community like bad_rpers_suck on livejournal.  Get an outside opinion.  Maybe someone else has seen the behaviour and can tell you whether or not it’s time to pack up your toys and go home.

The Llama Revealed!

How do you deal if a player has proven to be a Llama, but hasn’t actually reared their head as such to you — yet?  How do you pry yourself from a Llama’s grasp?

That’s a set of posts for another day.  ;)

Dear Guild Leaders: Don’t Ignore Your Members’ Concerns

A new individual joined a roleplaying guild.  Existing members of said guild, who knew this roleplayer and had a history with them, expressed concern and offered proof of the individual’s ill fit with the guild to the leader.  Instead of taking and considering this information, the guild leader refused it, so the concerned individuals then said, “Alright, but we are not going to RP with this person, we are going to have to ignore them, but we will be polite.”

What did the guild leader do?

a. Change their tune and ask to see the information that made the concerned react this way.
b. Accept this, with the understanding that they would have to quietly deal with whatever fall-out would occur.
c. Chide the concerned individuals for causing drama and give them the boot.

If you answered anything but ‘c’, you are wrong.

This is not nearly the correct way to deal with this situation.

Once the potential problem member is accepted, you have two options:  You can take a look at the evidence, then wait and see what happens and if the person actually does show their ass … or you can take a look at the evidence and if it does worry you, you can tell them they are not a good fit and it’s time to go.  That is what the Harbingers wound up doing with the Ranger who gave a friend and, eventually, myself, some problems last year — the leadership took the evidence of their final blow-up in channel and decided it was time for them to go.  You absolutely do not ignore your members’ concerns because that is a douche move.

When anybody essentially says “I cannot deal with this person and will have to stay away from them”, the correct response is not the one that makes that person into the bad guy.  If one of your members, or several, have to ignore or stay away from another person within the guild, chances are there is an issue that needs to somehow be addressed.

There is no easy way to do this.  If you accept the need to ignore the problem individual and that individual then turns around and throws a fit upon finding out that they are being ignored, you will need to step in.  You will need to be firm.  You will need to express the importance of keeping such personal issues between those involved and keeping the drama away from everyone else, and you will need to state, quite plainly, that they are to leave those people alone.

Or, you can avoid the problem entirely by admitting that a mistake was made in admitting the individual into the guild, that you have found that they are not a good fit, and then send them packing.  Can this create other problems?  Of course.  If the problem player has a reputation in the outside world, however, the chances of this coming back to bite you are extremely low.

Punishing people for trying to protect themselves from shit hitting the fan, however, is not cool.

I definitely will not be involving myself with the guild in question when I am able to get back onto my account because I simply cannot support a leader that can’t see the danger in what they are doing.

World of Warcraft Roleplay Guide: Trolls!

I’ve been roleplaying as a Troll in World of Warcraft for years, and in that time, things have changed a fair bit, both in terms of characterization and the politics surrounding Troll tribes.  This guide is made up of a combination of personal experience and information from sites like WoWpedia.  Not everybody likes the way I play my Trolls, so you’re more than welcome to ignore everything I say here if you choose — this is simply a resource and a way for me to help folks that may be clueless, but want to try playing a Troll anyway.  It’s a very basic jumping-off point.

If you have suggestions on sections to include, information to add, that sort of thing, please comment and let me know.

To navigate this guide and get to the section you want, hit CTRL + F (Command + F on a Mac) and type the name of the section you want to get to — or read the whole thing!

Troll Bouquet Guide to Troll Roleplay

1.  Troll Types and Tribes
2.  Troll Character Classes
3.  Trolls and the Other Races
4.  Trolls in the Horde
5.  Trolls and their Loa
6.  Conclusion

 

Troll Types and Tribes

In World of Warcraft, there are a variety of Troll types that inhabit every conceivable location of Azeroth.  There are jungle trolls, forest trolls, sand trolls, dark trolls, and ice trolls; of these, two jungle troll tribes and one forest troll tribes are part of or allied to the Horde — Darkspear and Shatterspear for jungle trolls, Revantusk for forest trolls.

Jungle troll tribes are the Darkspear, Bloodscalp, Skullsplitter, Gurubashi, and Shatterspear.  Forest troll tribes are Amani, Revantusk, Vilebranch, Mossflayer, Witherbark, and Smolderthorn.  Ice troll tribes are the Drakkari, Frostmane, and Winterax. The Sandfury are the only sand troll tribe, while the ShadowTooth are the only mentioned dark troll tribe.

The Hakkari and Atal’ai are priest sects of worshippers of Hakkar, not separate tribes of Jungle troll.

Troll Character Classes

As of World of Warcraft: Cataclysm, trolls can play any class except for Paladin.  Blizzard is worried that the awesomeness of Troll paladins would cause the game to implode, so they have not been implemented (yet)*.

As warriors, they are protectors and berserkers; vicious, plate-clad defenders of their tribes and/or the Horde, or even their families or whatever other cause they may champion.  As warlocks, they are feared hexxers, demonologists, destructive casters that sow fear and confusion in their foes.  As mages, they are masters of frost, fire, and the arcane — tricksters with their illusions and dangerous with their grasp of devastating magics.  Their shamans bargain with the elements and demonstrate their connections to the spirits of Azeroth with impressive displays of combat prowess: from lightning-throwing Elementalists to chain-clad melee warriors whose fists crackle with electricity, to the smirking, totem-tossing healer whose spells mend wounds with a splash of cool water.  Their priests, too, are masters of the hex and of healing; their rituals are unknown to orcs, tauren, the forsaken, and the elves, and even if they knew, they’d never be allowed to witness, for these are rituals that are ancient and sacred to the trolls.  The druids, fairly new among the trolls of the Horde, but not in practice, lash out with tooth and claw, or with the burning light of the sun and moon; they are friends of the natural world, though their presence in the Cenarion Circle is somewhat contested.  Then, you have troll rogues: sneaky, stabbity, doing the work that nobody else really wants to do.  Trolls have some of the most cunning rogues of the Horde.  Lastly, but certainly not least in my eyes, the Death Knights of troll-kind are looked upon with revulsion by troll and non-troll alike — a combination of hatred of the unnatural nature of the undead, and the lingering fear that even those in the arms of Samedi are not safe from the terror of being wrenched from the grave.

In short:  Trolls have a lot to choose from with regard to their character classes, and a lot of options for concepts based upon those classes.

Trolls and the Other Races

Troll relationships with the other races of Azeroth are fairly complex.  The Trolls’ ability to hate is pretty much legendary, and any wrongs are remembered for generations.

The Darkspear have no love for the other Jungle Troll tribes and can be considered hostile to all other Tribes that are not Horde-loyal, so it can be expected that any non-Darkspear that try to join the Horde will not be treated well by their Darkspear cousins.  Any enemy of their allies is an enemy to themselves, so the vast majority of Trolls will not be fond of any members of the Alliance, and some may still hold the intense hatred from their ancestors’ dealings with the Kaldorei (the Night Elves’ defeat of the Trolls’ Twin Empires caused the splintering of said Empires into the various tribes known today).  Hatred of the other Alliance races can depend upon the individual Troll and his or her run-ins with the enemy.

When it comes to the Darkspear and their interaction with the races of the Horde, things get a bit simpler.  They do not trust the undead, which are abominations in the eyes of their Loa Bwonsamdi (Samedi), and are extremely manipulative; the trolls believe that the undead will cause a hell of a lot of trouble.  They have a fair bit of respect for the Tauren and some may still have respect for the Orcs, but that respect is or has waned due to the treatment of Trolls by Garrosh and his ilk (if you haven’t noticed, the Darkspear are relegated to “slums” and the Echo Isles/Sen’jin).  Their opinions of the Blood Elves are not entirely certain — some like them, some hate them, all for varying reasons that range from their abuse of fel to their general attitudes toward everything (Blood Elves are jerks).  Goblins, too, aren’t entirely clear — but since they’re helping to pollute Orgrimmar and have upped the number of explosions that rock the city on a daily basis, I cannot imagine the Darkspear liking those little buggers very much.

Trolls in the Horde

The only tribes that are officially members of the Horde are the Darkspear, Shatterspear, and Revantusk.  The Shatterspear have been nearly wiped out in their fight against the Night Elves, while the Revantusk hold their Hinterlands home against the Wildhammer and other Forest Trolls of the area.  The Darkspear are in a rather unpleasant place right now among the Horde, since Garrosh is not fond of them or their leader — but they’ve never been stronger.  They have their Echo Isles back, and they’re training their whelps in all forms of combat in preparation for their becoming part of the Horde war machine.

The average non-Troll generally is not able to tell the difference between the Darkspear/Shatterspear and other Jungle Trolls, or the Revantusk and other Forest Trolls. Sand Trolls, Zandalari, Ice Trolls and Dark Trolls stand out for varying reasons including size, skin colour, and differing temperament from the rest of their kind (Ice Trolls are generally more vicious, especially the Drakkari, which is why they live so far from other tribes to begin with).

I know that the question you really want answered is, “Can a non-Darkspear, non-Shatterspear, or non-Revantusk join the Horde?”

The answer that most people will give you is “No”.  Instead, I tend to say, “It depends”.

A non-Usual-Horde-Troll could get away with it if they pretended to be one of their Horde Troll cousins, or if they were in Horde lands as part of a neutral organization.  A Drakkari Troll advertising what he is to the general populace is going to (or should) get killed.  An Amani Troll stating that no, no, he’s definitely Revantusk (even though the idea makes him physically ill) is less likely to be killed on sight (unless some Sin’dorei or another Revantusk calls his bluff).

Goblin cartels use other races as servants, cheap labour, slaves, and for whatever other jobs they don’t want to do themselves.  For a non-Horde Troll to be involved with a Goblin organization or other neutral party is not impossible, especially if they have skills that would be useful to that party and if their beliefs are in line with the beliefs of that group.  When creating a non-Darkspear, non-Shatterspear, or non-Revantusk Troll to be played within the Horde, consider whether or not that particular tribe would stand out from the rest of the Trolls (Zandalari are now considered hostile, Sandfury are hostile, Dark Trolls are considered hostile but have never been seen in WoW, and Ice/Frost Trolls are also hostile — all are relatively obvious in comparison to the others as not Horde).  A Bloodscalp or Skullsplitter is more likely to pass for Darkspear than a Sandfury.

Trolls and Their Loa

Most Trolls practice voodoo and follow the Loa, powerful spirits — not Gods — that are based upon the Loa/Lwa of Haitian Vodoun.  They are not easy to please and demand offerings, sacrifice, and ritual in exchange for their favours.  They often work in rather mysterious ways and occasionally not the way that’s expected.

Known Loa are detailed here on WoWpedia.  The Loa are thought to be jealous, preferring their followers to only stick to one Loa at a time, though this is not always the case and each Troll’s situation may be different.  The closeness of a Troll to their Loa is also something to be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, as not all Trolls will be particularly attached, while some will be viciously so.  This is an area that is flexible: perhaps your Troll feels the Loa are ignoring him because of things that have happened in his life, or perhaps she feels exceptionally blessed and wants to share that with everyone.

Conclusion

Trolls in World of Warcraft are a very detailed, very interesting race, without need of adding extra sparkle to make them “special”.  There are enough ways of roleplaying them that are supported by existing lore that anyone that really wants to play a Troll (and have an interesting character) can do so without having to resort to making them half-Tauren, or without giving them colour-changing eyes and other ridiculous frills.

For more information, check out the entire history of the Trolls on WoWpedia — we are dealing with a race that is tens of thousands of years old, and has had plenty of time to grow and develop.

Hybrids in World of Warcraft: A Roleplay Guide to Half-Somethings

[TW: Veiled reference to sexual assault.]

 

 

This article is a slightly edited version of a previous guide that was located on the old Troll Bouquet server. The general idea is the same, the language may have changed.

Roleplayers in any medium like to be unique. Some take it upon themselves to create a character that is a hybrid of two races in their particular game – a half-elf, for example – and, although this isn’t a bad thing, it is often done so terribly that many roleplayers won’t even give such a character the time of day, let alone screen time. World of Warcraft provides several opportunities to play such a character without actually breaking the game’s lore, while providing interesting story possibilities and without making too much of a “special snowflake”.

I’m going to get one thing out of the way first: Unless the race is mentioned in this article, it either a) cannot happen or b) the two races have not been exposed to each other long enough to produce offspring that would currently be adults. I do not encourage people to play children in WoW (this is another post), and I also think most people would prefer not to play an infant. I mean, to each their own, but that would be really boring.

There may be exceptions that appear unlikely on the surface, but these should not be attempted by somebody that’s new to the game and unfamiliar with the lore. 

What Hybrids are Available in World of Warcraft?

General Racial Information: This post on the Wyrmrest Accord forums has some great information on the (Horde) races of Azeroth. Bookmark it, read it, love it.

Half-Orc Half-Draenei

A half-orc born on Draenor could be the product of a union between an orc and draenei. The likelihood of this being a wanted union would be somewhere between slim and none, so it would be worthwhile to keep this in mind when pondering the character’s backstory. These characters would look more like their Orcish parent, since Orc genetics seem to take over everything, though they would not age nearly as quickly and they could be larger than other Orcs – perhaps not quite as thick.

What to research: The Draenei settlement of Draenor and orcish/draenei relations of the time.

Example: Garona Halforcen is half-Draenei, half-Orc. Raku, my Orc hunter on Thorium Brotherhood, was also half-Draenei. The potential half-Orc half-Draenei could have been born on Draenor as a result of Gul’dan’s projects, artificially aged and brought through the portal – or the result of an Orcish attack on a Draenei settlement. There are several options.

Half-Orc Half-Human

A half-orc born on Azeroth could be the result of relations between an orc and a human. Again, this would be a less-than-ideal partnership as humans and orcs have never not been at war. Your half-orc, in this case, could be from the Hillsbrad camps – before the Forsaken wiped out Hillsbrad’s human population, there would have been around 450 half-orcs living there – or from as far back as the First War, when the Orcs came through the Dark Portal.

What to research: Half-orcs, the First War, the Second War, the internment camps.

Example: Drann from the WoW RPG. There are not a lot of other examples in the WoW universe, unfortunately.

Half-Elf Half-Human

Half-elves are offspring of humans and elves, usually Quel’dorei (High Elves), and live longer than their human parent but not as long as the elven side of the family. Their appearance varies only slightly: they will either appear as humans of slight build or High Elves of thicker build than their fellows. If a half-elf joined Kael’thas and stayed with the elves in Silvermoon after things went to hell there, that half-elf would have green eyes and be Sin’dorei. The vast majority of half-elves are Alliance-aligned, however, so the chance of this is very small and they would have to do their best to hide the fact that they have human blood.

What to research: Half-elves, humans, high elves, blood elves. You really need to understand the difference between a high elf and a blood elf (it’s political, cultural and related to their magical addictions).

Example: Alodi, from the comics, and Arator the Redeemer in Hellfire Peninsula.

Half-Ogre Half Human

Since Ogres crossed over into Azeroth via the Dark Portal over twenty years ago, half-human ogres may actually exist. They would have rounder ears than humans, pinker skin, and their tusks would not be as large as their ogre parent. Their eyes would also be larger than their human parent’s.

A half-ogre would most likely result from the ogres’ attacks on human settlements, as no human would willingly choose to bed one, and the resulting offspring would have to be 24-28 years of age or younger.

What to research: Half-human half-ogre, ogres, humans.

Examples: There are no half-ogre half-human characters in World of Warcraft or the RPG.

Half-Ogre Half-Orc

Ogres and orcs are natives of Draenor – and don’t like each other one bit. As a result, there are many half-ogre half-orcs roaming about, as evidenced by the Mok’Nathal in Outland.

At one time, the orcs purposely bred half-ogres in order to combine the power of an ogre with the intelligence of an orc, unfortunately, half-ogres are far more stubborn than either of their parent races . The half-ogre population dwindled as many orcs lacked any interest in breeding with the ogres, and who could really blame them?

Half-ogres possess features that are a fair mix of their orc and ogre parents; they’re approximately as big as tauren, if not bigger, and are broad-shouldered individuals with thick skulls, big lower jaws (with large tusks), and small black eyes. Half-ogres are often mistaken for smaller ogres.

What to research: Half-ogre half-orcs, ogres, orcs.

Examples: Rexxar, Leoroxx.

Playing a Hybrid: General Information

When playing a hybrid, one has to remember that many hybrid races did not come about because of happy sexy funtimes – they exist because terrible things happened. They’re often made up of races that, with the exception of humans and elves, absolutely hate each other. The only hybrid that has any possible respect? The mok’nathal, or half-ogre half-orc.

Most hybrids will not brag about their background, especially as a half-elf among the Horde or a half-orc half-draenei among … anywhere. They may try to outperform members of their parent races, they may have a stubborn streak a mile wide and they will definitely exhibit aspects of both parent races in personality and in appearance. Some may even make an effort to hide what they are with the clothing that they wear.

Before deciding to create a hybrid, do some research on the parent races and read the articles I’ve linked here. I’ve given a general idea of timelines in many cases, so try to stick to those as best you can and be open to the fact that not everybody will like your character – if your character is open about what they are, expect and embrace the drama that’s bound to develop.

If you have questions, feel free to post them, I’ll answer to the best of my ability!

Troll Bouquet eBooks and Questions to the Audience

A lot of blogs produce eBooks to help bring in some extra money while sharing their knowledge in a highly portable, easily accessible format.

The idea of eBooks is one I find really interesting – I own a Kobo eReader, which I enjoy even though it isn’t fancy, and being able to save space in my tiny house is always a plus.  EBooks allow me to have a nice collection of knowledge and entertainment on a budget (or for free, since there are free eBooks about, and I’m definitely not against anything that saves me money in the long run).

I’ve been slowly working on a Roleplay 101 eBook between classes and school projects, which draws upon the things I’ve learned over twelve years of online roleplay (alas, no real chance to do any LARP or tabletop), personal opinion, and stories I’ve been told.  The guide started as a WoW-based thing, got extremely long (just with the headings!), and then I thought, “why not do a ‘basics’ one, and then a more advanced WoW-based guide?”  That’s the idea I’m going with.  I have no idea if there will be much interest in that sort of thing but I am generally hopeful.

Books! from www.sxc.hu

eBooks: All this knowledge in one tiny pdf file.

I do plan on writing other eBooks as time goes on. I’m a bit wary of putting my original fiction out into the world, but I may eventually do that (Pikestaff has and you should check it out) in the hopes that I can actually deal with the criticism when it inevitably comes about, but for the time being I will stick to instructional stuff. I’ll most likely leave gold guides to more capable individuals like the Gold Queen (if you aren’t following her, you should be), though it may not hurt too much to stick a foot in the ocean, so to speak.

If Engineers keep whining that they can’t make money from their profession, anyway (HAVE YOU SEEN PET PRICES!?).

Do you have eBooks available on your site?  Let me know – I’d be happy to link to your pages from here and spread the love, especially if you have some roleplay guides going.  The WoW blogosphere is blessed with a great variety of roleplayers with varying writing styles and approaches, and I’m all for spreading the love.

So, yes, that’s what I’m working on behind the scenes here, when I’m not drowning in coursework or being mauled by the cat.

My questions to my readers are:

  1. What are things that you would want a new roleplayer to know? General things.
  2. What are things you’d want a new WoW roleplayer to know?
  3. What are your favourite resources for writers?

Why Roleplayers Never Forget

Roleplayers have a very long memory for drama.

We aren’t the only ones; I’m fairly certain everyone remembers events that stand out in their minds, good and bad, and that more people have a memory for drama than would care to admit.  My dramatic memory extends to the beginning of my time on Thorium Brotherhood – I may not be able to remember how our characters met, but I can remember all the ridiculous crap that has happened to me before and since.

Why is this the case?  Why do we so vividly remember this crap that made our blood boil back in the day?  Why is it that we can recall some of the most heinous crimes other roleplayers perpetuated against us, but other events are so damned hard to recall?

It’s because we’re storytellers.

Just like reporters on the local news, we’ve discovered that stories that showcase the worst of roleplay are far more interesting than those that make things out to be completely reasonable and wonderful.  We are, at our core, lovers of the train wreck and for each and every one we stand there in awe of the carnage that’s going on before us.

I know it’s hard to admit.  It’s hard to admit that you feel a slight thrill whenever you see something going on (in someone else’s roleplay or out of character life, that is) that’s so utterly ridiculous that it is almost a dark comedy.  It’s hard to admit that you secretly enjoy the call-outs of the people that think you’re the worst person to ever walk the server because you know they’re wrong and that the problem is them, not you.  It’s hard to admit that you love seeing those posts on dear_gnome that call out bad roleplay, or that talk about the silly things other people have done (raiding drama stories, anyone?) in-game.

We don’t forget these things because they remind us of why we’re careful, or why we don’t do certain plots anymore, or why we don’t roleplay with certain people.  They remind us why certain behaviours are troublesome, and they provide us with tales to regale the younger roleplayers with, or they serve as explainations for those roleplayers who just cannot understand why you’re cringing at the way that other person is behaving toward them.  You can say, come here, dear, and let me tell you of that one time when someone acted the exact same way and what it lead to.

Maybe, just maybe, your drama can save someone else from drama.

The above is why I collect, share, and remember tales of my own drama.  I figure that if I can help prevent just one person from going through the same sorts of drama that I’ve dealt with, then maybe the crap I’ve gone through wasn’t so bad after all.  This isn’t to say that my personal issues are because of internet drama – some of them are, but I know that my stories are far, far more tame than what some have gone through, and other peoples’ stories started like some of mine.  The difference between my tame stories and those of people who wound up with a hell of a lot more baggage?  There isn’t much.  Given an extra few days, I may have wound up in the same boat (or ship).

It isn’t that we’re jerks or that we like to look for reasons to suffer, it’s that we’re storytellers and we collect these tales as little reminders, or as entertainment.  In most cases, those events that were so horribly annoying at the time they played out aren’t quite so bad when we look back.

Events as the Night Elf getting angry at Matojo for declaring his love to her Troll lover over Booty Bay, all in jest, because it took attention away from her for fifteen minutes (that same Troll whose player has caused me many, many late nights because I just don’t want to sign off Skype, not yet, okay), or the stories I’ve already told here. Those stories, which were so bloody irritating when they took place, now sit in my personal history as “oh man do you remember when” moments that I can share with the friends who aren’t completely sick of hearing about them.  Of course, that example was most likely more troublesome for the Troll’s player – I honestly don’t know.  If he told me, I forgot, but asking him again just gives me an excuse to make him talk about something.  >_>

What about you?  Do you have stories, roleplay-related or otherwise, that you fall back on and frequently share because of reasons like the above?  Why are they so memorable for you?

WtmN: Mama Bear and the Kid That Would Not Let Go

Once upon a time, there were two young women who were friends in WoW.  One of the women had a regular roleplay partner who was a younger male and who lived in a town near both of them, which freaked out the other woman a bit, but doesn’t actually factor into this story.  The young man desperately tried to script every roleplay encounter between himself and our heroine, which she refused, and when it became clear that the young man was creepily obsessed with the friend, the heroine was called upon to step in.  She banished the young man to lands unknown and never heard from him again.

This is closer to the reality than every other story.

I met another Canadian roleplayer ages ago, who played a female Troll and who was an absolute sweetheart and a talented artist.  I enjoyed our roleplay, I enjoyed the little plots that were being attempted, and I got absorbed into the goings-on between her character and her mate, who was a massive Troll with a bit of an unusual story and description.

There were several roleplay plots that he wanted to do that she expressed concern over, like one where he wanted to be a Fel Troll, and that I wound up talking him out of.  He got it into his head that he wanted his character to be the son of my main character, Matojo, and that is when things really started to get odd.

He had a very solid idea of how things would go and what would happen, and if things didn’t go that way he was very upset about it.  I had to really stretch things to even fit him into Matojo’s background (the character was twenty-nine years old, so Matojo would have been thirteen, which is fine for trolls but the whole thing was really bizarre), and then he wanted a very specific meeting, a very specific set of interactions – and I just couldn’t do that.

“I can’t script how Matojo’s going to react,” I told him.  “He has his own views, his own ideas, and he might not react the way you want him to because that’s how he is.”

This … didn’t sit well with the other fellow, and resulted in him getting angry that I wasn’t willing to do things his way, that I was impossible to roleplay with.

In between these interactions, he also expressed an infatuation with my friend that made me go to her and say, “What gives?”  She was married, which he knew, and this pissed him off but he still seemed to think he had a chance with her – and she wasn’t sure how to deal with him.  I knew something had to be said when, when asking for clarification on whether he realized his character had the relationship with my friend and not him, he waffled on the answer.

I put on my stompy boots and said, “If you can’t understand the difference between what goes on in-character and what goes on out-of-character, and if you continue to insist that roleplay should be done YOUR way and no other, I really want nothing to do with you.  Leave me alone.”

I had permission to tell him off on behalf of my friend, too, which I did.

I never heard from him again until I rolled on Wyrmrest Accord, when he saw me in Sen’jin village and flipped the hell out.  How dare I roll on “his” server (when I had no idea he was there)!  He was still dealing with the “ghosts” of his past on Thorium Brotherhood, why did I have to come back, too!?

He was in touch with my friend at this time and blamed her for me showing up, which shocked her after the “heartfelt” apologies he had given her when they ran into each other again on that server, and she locked him out of her life again.

The only time an in-character relationship may reflect an out-of-character situation is when a couple or some friends have characters that are involved with each other.  Some couples may choose to have their characters in relationships with each other because they aren’t comfortable roleplaying intimate relationships without their spouse, and that’s fine.

Assuming that your roleplay partner is totally into you because they roleplay your character’s spouse/partner is… not cool, though.  Seriously.

Born on Thorium Brotherhood, Refuse to Die There

I am the Warcaller of the Harbingers of War.

That is to say, Matojo is the Warcaller of the Harbingers of War and I am the person that people look to to make decisions about the guild and its future.

HoW is the thing that brings me back to WoW over and over again. The people in that guild have helped keep me relatively sane over the past five years, and I guess it was inevitable that I’d wind up as the figurehead, so to speak, of the guild – if all those people disappeared entirely from my world I don’t know what I would do, it makes sense that I’m also now in a position where people think I’m in charge.

The guild is a strange beast in that the Warcaller isn’t, on an OOC level, actually the boss. Yeah, they make the final decisions on things and their word is the word of God, so to speak, but the entire guild is the sort of environment where everybody listens to one another and we’re all huge perverts. I’m not treated like a boss, I’m treated like a friend, and that’s pretty cool. It also helps that we haven’t had drama since we had to kick somebody out for being a terrible stalker and not understanding the IC/OOC divide, so none of us have really had to put on our Office Faces.

So, when members speak up on how Thorium Brotherhood no longer feels like a roleplay server, and that being on Wyrmrest Accord has really made them miss their TB characters – I’m listening, because I feel the same way.

Up until last year, I believed that the only reason people couldn’t find roleplay on Thorium Brotherhood and other old roleplay servers was because they weren’t looking hard enough, or they had developed such a horrible reputation that nobody wanted to roleplay with them. In some cases, this is still true – but there are, I realize, situations where the roleplay has gone so far underground that the environment is no longer a good one for public roleplay.

Things on TB were great until Cataclysm burn-out took place, and then a lot of people wandered off – even myself. I’m still toying with some free-to-play games, SW:TOR (though it doesn’t play nice with my system), and poking at WoW when the feeling hits me.

There does come a point in a server’s life where roleplayers are pushed out by those who do not understand the server classification system, by those who grief whatever roleplay they find (thinking it to be a terrible, terrible crime), and similar issues. It starts small, when people give up on reporting anti-RP behaviour because Blizzard’s reliance on communities to police themselves and report until their fingers hurt is not particularly effective. Then, gradually, that behaviour pushes people underground until they’re afraid to roleplay out in the open (because the griefing is that painful) or, in this expansion’s case, the roleplay trails off as people become tired of the game. When people were trying to tell us that the server was dead oh, at the launch of Cataclysm, they were incorrect. If someone told me that roleplay was, for the most part, dead now I would have to agree.

Bringing roleplay out into the open and cultivating an environment that’s friendly to roleplay and supportive of those that choose to engage in it is a lot of work. It requires patience, it requires time, it requires resources – things that most of us, right now, don’t have. If someone took it upon themselves, right now, to say, “I’m going to do my best to help cultivate a positive environment for roleplay on Thorium Brotherhood,” I would support them. I would be more supportive of someone new doing it because, chances are, they would not deny me the chance to offer said support – but if someone current was doing it I’d support them, too, if they’d let me. ;)

Right now, most of us just do not have the time, energy, spoons or fucks to give to do this. I spent several years attempting to contribute, even if I wasn’t in a very good mental place to contribute much, and I am not in a place where I can do it anymore.

I am not going to tell people not to roll on Thorium Brotherhood. There are still some good people there, and the server will gain new people as time goes on that are also decent. If you roll there for roleplay, be prepared to put a lot of work into the community and be prepared to do a lot of reporting and a lot of fighting for your space.

We do not have the energy to do that fighting anymore.

There’s the hope that Mists of Pandaria will bring some life back as roleplayers that left for other games will return to see the new content, but a lot of us aren’t holding our breath. I’m hoping. MoP is going to change a lot of stuff, after all!

It may not be enough.

I am looking for a new home for the Harbingers of War in the hopes that we can continue our stories in a more roleplay-friendly environment. This week, I will start poking at servers that have been recommended to me by dear_gnome on Livejournal, testing the waters and  getting information that I can then pass on to my harbies. I’m also working on amassing a small fortune so that any Harbingers that decide to re-roll instead of transferring will have some gold and bags waiting for them in the freshly-transferred guild.

With any luck, if we decide to move, we’ll be continuing our adventures and going back to doing what we do best – yelling drunkenly at passers-by.

WtmN: Mama Bear Teaches In-Character Consequences

[ This is one post in a series of several where I talk about old and not-so-old drama. Why "Mama Bear"? Apparently I am one. Who knows. This post will be long and contains screenshots. The subject of this post is denoted in various shades of green, and names are blocked out where I deem it appropriate. If you're in this post and you want your name blocked out, please e-mail me and I'll do just that! Some screenshots have been trimmed, others contain bits that are duplicate - sorry!

I do not speak to, engage with or otherwise give the time of day to the bad RPer highlighted here and I do not intend to any time soon. ]

Once upon a time, there was a young Orc Rogue who had a very distinct idea of personal honour and Things One Does Not Do. She decided to attend a tavern one night, and lo!, she discovered activity that she Did Not Like: a Sin’dorei ranger was tossing flares at a Goblin rogue, for reasons she did not see, hear or understand, and she called the man out on his juvenile behaviour.

With a laugh, the man decided to challenge her to combat, and he walked away. The Orc, vexed and insulted, also left – fully intending to come back and answer that challenge when she was strong enough to do so. She put up flyers all over the capital cities and asked around until, one day, she happened upon an old Orc sneak who agreed – after some finagling and word play – to train her. It was tough work! Far tougher than any training she had ever gone through before – but she progressed and became quite good at what she wanted to do, and reached a point where she would be able to safely meet the Elf in a one-on-one fight. Even if she didn’t win, she’d at least feel like she had given it her all – and that was what mattered.

It certainly sounds like an interesting story, doesn’t it? A young woman is shoved into a situation where she must better herself, and she does! The next step in the story should be that the woman faces her “tormentor” and answers the challenge that was given, with a loss resulting in further character development… or a win causing her to walk away, triumphant and content that her hard work was worthwhile.

It is not that simple, though.

First, let’s drop the storytime trappings. Yes, in-character, Thomi the Orc Rogue called out a Blood Elf Hunter on his shenanigans and he challenged her to a fight, then walked away, giving her time to bugger off and do her own thing. Was he serious? She had no idea, but, being an Orc, it did not matter because Orcs take such things very seriously. A challenge to combat is a challenge to her honour, and turning down such a challenge would be very bad for an Orc!

The Hunter himself was known, OOCly, for being the type to pick on low-level characters. He would not accept duels with at-level characters (after all, he would probably lose) and tended to respond to such things with typical Elven snobbery IC. This is all well and good, but leads to the start of the actual Drama Portion of this tale.

Not long after the duel was declared, I decided that I would not be leveling this character from six to 85 – I had an unused level 81 rogue that I could race-change into Thomi the Orc Rogue and be within the Ranger’s range far quicker. I did just that, with the intent of roleplaying the training period as if the character was going from a typical inexperienced whelp to a somewhat decent rogue. It was a tad sneaky of me, I admit, but I felt it fair – it gave me the opportunity for some interesting roleplay and it would make the Ranger have to deal with a character of similar strength to his own.

This, however, was not to be.

When the Ranger realized that Thomi was no longer well below him in levels, I received the following series of whispers as I was leveling on Mount Hyjal:

I was not going to back down out of character, and I was not going to allow him to back down that way, either – I was determined that this would be handled in-character and in no other manner.

Hindsight is 20/20.

As soon as the conversation ended, I added the character to my friends list and found…

… that, as I had thought, he was in the same zone as I was.

The Ranger was known for hunting characters down and forcing in-character interaction. I knew this. I had seen it. So, I high-tailed it to the underwater Hell and continued leveling there. He did not follow me that time and I knew it would not be the last time I’d hear from him.

Some time later, at level 84, I asked in the shared OOC channel if he was planning to attend the tavern that week. The following conversation ensued:

I was vaguely amused, but did not intend to drop it. The following tavern night, I parked my rogue at the tavern well before it opened and logged on again when the crowd had filled in. This was Thomi’s chance to prove herself! Regardless of the outcome, it would prove to be interesting.

She went out and attempted to engage with the Ranger:

Nothing – at least, not directly to Thomi or to myself.

Not even a “fuck you”. Before Thomi left, she declared the Ranger a coward to the crowd at the tavern, and vowed that she would not trust one of his kind ever again – not that she trusted elves beforehand, anyway.

For many months after this, Ranger’s player made a good show of being fairly bitey at me on several public and private occasions. I cannot say it wasn’t deserved – I did, after all, post the original incarnation of this post with the screenshots that I had here, and my characters did not bow down and worship Ranger’s character like they should have! It was a terrible crime.

I went through several personal things during this time that are still ongoing, all relating to my mental health, my family, etc., so I may have been meaner than I needed to be. In general, I reacted to what was said, and my characters continued to be themselves – contrary to the belief of many people in the community.

Hey, just because I’m not fond of someone doesn’t mean my characters are all suddenly going to dislike them – but when that character is repeatedly a dick, they will react accordingly.

Fast-forward a bit. At some point, Thomi referred to the Ranger as a coward at the tavern, and one of his friends approached her. The friend’s conversation with Thomi is logged below:

It seemed that there would be some manner of progress! This was something I did not expect.

A week or two later, Thomi showed up to the tavern to follow up – and, lo and behold, the friend of the Ranger got his attention and the little group walked away from the tavern to do what needed to be done – duel! Below is the lead-up conversation and what happened immediately after:

I decided to thank the participants in the OOC channel after:

Oh. Right, then. Fair enough!

That marked the end of that particular Drama – but not the issues with Ranger’s player.

The lesson I had hoped that they would take away was this: if your character does something, expect the consequences to happen in roleplay, not out of character.

I am a firm believer in the idea of in-character actions leading to in-character consequences. I realize that some OOC communication is required in many aspects of roleplay, however, the majority of the dealing should occur in-character except in circumstances where the in-character situation causes the player(s) involved a great deal of mental and emotional trauma.

I did not see that in this situation. I saw a player throwing a tantrum because they were not getting what they wanted, which was for their character to look like a complete bad-ass. I do not operate that way.

The player still thinks I am the equivalent to the devil, or something, and has their friends convinced that I am the biggest bully ever, but I fully expect that sort of thing. Shit happens and nothing of value was lost – I mean, this is the player that guilt-tripped the hell out of a friend of mine and has pulled a lot of utter crap before, so I was not entirely surprised when this storm blew up.

As far as Thomi is concerned, however, the entire thing is over and she does not have to deal with the Ranger ever again.

~Fin~

I’m Surrounded by Assholes! Or: On Playing Jerks

A common phenomenon among World of Warcraft roleplayers is that several of them do not understand why their character, who happens to be a complete jerk, isn’t liked. It’s not fair! What’s the problem!? When it’s pointed out that their characters is an asshole, the response tends to be, “So?!”

As with everything, there is an inspiration for this post.

Once upon a time, a roleplayer in World of Warcraft expressed frustration that their character was surrounded by characters that were jerks, and yet those characters were generally liked by other people while theirs was not (an exaggeration, I’m sure).

It was pointed out that this person’s character was in a bar full of Worgen and decided to play the “Gilneans are cowards” card, so it was only natural that this person would run into issues. Why would a bunch of Gilneans, all with differing backgrounds, be completely hunky-dory with a son of Lordaeron that was telling them they were cowards when they, too, are shedding blood for the Alliance?

It was a question that demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of the situation the player had put their character in, but aside from that, it also created some discussion fodder.

Why are some assholish characters liked, even adored, while others are not?

It’s all in the level of character development – and the maturity level of the player.

The answer has to do with two things: the character’s depth and the player’s maturity level.

Creating a roleplaying character in World of Warcraft is about the same as creating a character for a story; the character needs to be fleshed out, their background established, their motivations understood by the creator, all that fun stuff. A character with no development is flat and unbelievable – not very fun to play with.

Meanwhile, a player that’s immature and doesn’t understand that the actions of a character are not the actions of the player – also not very fun to play with.

What does a well-rounded jerk look like?

Let’s look at Marvel’s Wolverine. Wolverine is prone to bouts of assholishness, but he’s well-liked by the audience (and his friends) because he displays other personality attributes beyond “jerk”. He’s protective of those he cares about, good to people that deserve it, and he does have a sense of humour. He has motivations beyond “be a jerk to everyone”. He has a well-documented background – even though, in typical Marvel style, it’s rather convoluted and bizarre.

In other words: Wolverine is a well-rounded jerk because he’s not a cardboard cut-out.

Why are some jerks liked while others aren’t?

Whereas some characters that are jerks are completely cardboard, two-dimensional and badly developed, others are just so well-developed that they are meant to be unlikeable.

Honestly, though? Nobody should be asking this question. It doesn’t actually matter.

If one is concerned about how likeable their character is, they are in the wrong hobby.

I know, I know, “That’s awfully mean, Matojo”. Think about it, though.

Generally, if someone is an asshole, people do not like them. Therefore, if one plays a character that is an asshole, it’s common sense to assume that other characters will not like that character. Other players may not like that character.

This is perfectly fine.

It is fine for other players and other characters to not like a character – regardless of that character’s personality.

Roleplay would be awfully boring if everyone adored one another. There would be no conflict, and part of interesting roleplay – and character development – is conflict.

Don’t worry about how likeable your jerk is – it doesn’t matter. Worry about how well-developed they are, or how realistic. Worry about how interesting they are. That’s the part that matters.

The last word: my advice to people that play jerks.

I play several characters that are jerks: Matojo Furiey, Phaedra Osbourne, Krensythe Manashaper, and more. They are more than just that archetype, however, and have lots of development. If you ask me any question about those characters, whether it’s information that I’ve published or not, I should be able to answer you.

Krensythe’s favourite colour is blue, because it doesn’t clash with his skin tone and because he’s a freaking blue dragon, so why are you concerned with his favourite colour, why aren’t you running away, seriously, go.

If you are going to play a jerk, understand that in-character does not equal out of character. The characters that don’t like your character are not out to get you. They may actually be quite fine with you as a person – it is your character that they do not like. If, however, they do not like you because of your character (I know of a few people that hate me because Matojo is a gigantic asshole), that’s their problem, not yours.

You should probably be happy because your character most likely saved you a hell of a lot of headache, since somebody that hates the player because of the character’s attitudes is incapable of separating in-character from out-of-character and is most likely a harbinger of drama. Nobody likes OOC drama. Some of us like watching it, but nobody likes dealing with it.

Next, accept that your character is going to be disliked. Your character is going to have others pick fights with them, or get upset with them, or actively avoid them – it’s fine.

If any of the above is a problem for you, don’t play an asshole. You aren’t ready. That’s fine, not everyone can play an asshole, and by not doing it yourself you save yourself a lot of trouble.

Resources

If you need help developing a realistic character, take a look at this About.com list of questions that relate to character backgrounds.

Do you play a character that’s a jerk? How long have you played that character, and how much development have they had? Do you enjoy that character? What advice do you have for other roleplayers that want to try playing this particular archetype?