Then, in City of Heroes, I was introduced to a different way of roleplaying in video games. The heroes (and story-based villains) gathered in a small stretch of park next to a danger zone. Hunkered against a lake in Galaxy City, dozens of players would come together to roleplay with whoever happened to be around. That reminded me of my MUD days, of course, and it seemed the best option to get everyone involved. As I cruised different "servers," the roleplayers always seemed to gather in that same, exact area. The reasons were obvious -- it was a safe place for newb toons, and it lent itself naturally to the kind of casual roleplay most folks prefer.
But now that I'm firmly in my World of Warcraft life, natural locations for roleplay seem a little harder to find. Every server seems to have their own preferences. If I'm not forearmed via the official forums, I'm regularly flustered when trying to find the roleplayers gathering anywhere.
However, good locations for roleplay can be difficult to find. Where can you (safely) get newb toons and older toons together? What locations provide the right ambiance for casual, ad-hoc roleplay?
Let's take a look behind the jump where I'll list some of my favorite (or infamous) spots.
When casually referencing Goldshire, a good buddy of mine always quips, "Goldshire? How can the Horde attack Goldshire? That's where the Alliance keeps their very best duellists!"
There's something about Goldshire that seems to attract the free-for-all roleplayer. It's probably because you can easily zip down from the human starting area with your latest creation, without needing to invest much time in levelling up. While the FlagRSP notes can be frightening in this starting area, I've yet to see a server's Goldshire without a handful of people duelling, roleplaying, and otherwise talking to one another.
Goldshire does have the providential staples that help define classic, D&D-like roleplay. There's an inn with its requisite bar, including bedrooms, basement, and fireplaces. Right across from the inn is a blacksmith and stable, and even a market-lite vendor wagon. There's a graveyard right up the road, and even a local house for the "townies." And, literally, Goldshire is at the crossroads from a major city on toward danger.
There's so many classic stories that can converge in a town like Goldshire, no one should be surprised that it captures the imagination. That's both good and bad. On the positive side, anyone with a few fantasy books under their arms can probably start spinning out a character in Goldshire. On the negative side, this makes Goldshire where you're most likely to find Illidan's illegitmate son (by Maiev, of course), who's killed Arthas single-handedly. But you gotta take the good with the bad, and Goldshire is a favorite place of mine to try and meet new people.
Like Goldshire, there's good parts and bad parts of Dalaran. I'm going to start with the two drawbacks of Dalaran, because they're fairly obvious and don't need much discussion. Dalaran is the current, major hub for Wrath of the Lich King. With the Dungeon Finder allowing you to instantly teleport to any instance, most folks don't ever need to leave the floating city. That gives you two problems. First, lag. Oh my god, the lag. I run a fairly meaty, hefty box, and even I see my frame rates drop. Second, since it is a major city that is very well inhabited, you're likely to have your immersion disrupted by spontaneous yells, non-roleplayers, and just general WoW-life.
But Dalaran has some unique, fantastic elements that help support it as a great roleplay spot. Blizzard has done an amazing job creating the city to feel like an urban, living location. The beer garden behind the Alliance in, for example, is just begging to have adventurers hanging out, sharing tales, and starting new stories. The Horde's counterpart -- the Filthy Animal -- feels like a great place for war-hardened Orcs and Tauren to recount their greatest deeds. The dancing Trolls in the Horde Inn make you feel like you're not alone.
Maybe it's just me, but the well-marked vendors and stores in Dalaran are all inviting and exciting. I feel like each place is significant, like there's a story or quest in each one waiting for me to see it. And since Dalaran is a hub for all characters, it's a great place to get a new roleplay group started.
Of all the Horde capital cities, I see the most roleplay action in Silvermoon. Like Goldshire, you're admittedly likely to encounter a few dozen vampires and half-demons among the roleplay populace, but I'm not sure that's actually out of place for the Sindorei.
Somewhat like Dalaran, Silvermoon has a very urban feel. It has dozens of nooks and crannies where you and your roleplay partners can engage in whatever activity you choose. The hookahs and luxurious pillows all feel like viable roleplay props, and there's plenty of inns and rooms where you can gather your troupe.
Silvermoon is somewhat out of the way for most Horde. This also gives you a better-than-fair chance that if you do encounter people just hanging out in Silvermoon, they're much more likely to be there to roleplay.
Lastly, Silvermoon is big. While I can't swear that it's true, Silvermoon feels like it's the largest of all the capital cities. Because of this, it's entirely feasible that dozens of roleplay events could all be happning in Silvermoon at the same exact time. That makes Silvermoon a viable place for a server's Horde to congregate.
The Entrance to Icecrown Citadel
Like I talked about last week, the opportunity to kill Arthas presents most roleplays with some very keen storylines. However, that means that you need a viable location to rock out those stories. While I love Silvermoon, I'm not sure lounging about on a pillow and puffing the magic hookash is the very best place to share my war-torn, tragic tale. I want someplace a little grittier.
Right in front of the instance mouth to Icecrown Citadel, the Ashen Verdict has put together a base camp to start attack the forces of the Scourge. You won't be alone theer. While raid leaders are piecing together their first attempts to down Lord Marrowgar, stragglers and patiently-waiting raiders tend to stand outside in the hallway. That's a great chance for a little casual, light roleplay in which you share your hopes and dreams of bringing the Lich King to an end.
If you're with a small, in-character raid group, I'd actually suggest stepping inside the instance to roleplay. The base camp inside the raid instance is even more impressive. There's also a scripted event, in which the occasional Damned NPC rushes the Ashen Verdict base camp, and the friendly NPCs fight it off.
This kind of war-preparation location is great for your battle=hardened characters. It provides a better context for talk and discussion about the horrors of war than, say, the pub inside Goldshire.
While these are only a few of my favorite places, Azeroth has grown so big in the last five years these are only the tip of the iceberg. There's plenty of towns, cities, and camps where your characters could interact. Shattrath, for example, used to be a favorite of mine before the new expansion rendered it an empty ghost town.
What are some of your favorite places? I thnk everyone must have their favorite, and I'd like to hear about them.