We don't have any real idea when Cataclysm is going to be hitting the shelves. That being said, we've already seen the previews for the expansion's class changes, and we talked last week about some of the roleplay impacts of those new mechanics. While we might feel like it's a little early to start getting ramped up for Cataclysm roleplay, I'm betting we see the expansion by the end of this year at the latest. And that's a mere nine months away.
But, really, we're already seeing the storyline effects of Deathwing's revenge starting in game. If you've been watching your screen carefully, the world has already started suffering a series of small earthquakes all over Azeroth. We're even seeing the ground shake up in Dalaran, and our friendly neighborhood blues have had a bit of fun with the notion. We've seen hints of the new race/class combinations, and we obviously know the story is shortly going to move forward with Echo Isles and Gnomeregan. Heck, we're definitely going to be seeing the Ruby Sanctum stuff some time in the summer. So for all that it feels like Cataclysm is an eternity away, chances are that's not too soon to start building the lore into your story lines.
Since roleplayers are by nature creative people, there's going to be as many different takes on how to prepare your Cataclysm roleplay as there are roleplayers. But to me, the hints about the new expansion are all mostly centered around three things: new class combinations, new races and a shaking world.
New class combinations
Gnomes who are priests? Night elves using magic?! Undead hunters!?! The world's gone insane!
You can't roll one of these characters yet, obviously, but you can still start building toward this world-changing lore. I'd be careful how you setup these stories, though, since it could easily go counter to the lore that we'll be seeing when the expansion actually drops. Still, you have options.
I was prancing along on my blood elf recently, when I saw a low-level warrior chilling out by the target dummies. This warrior was an undead, and he was plinking away at the target dummies with his low-level gun. I was obviously curious, since hitting up the target dummy at level 5 is hardly necessary for mechanical gameplay, and even if he was testing his DPS rotation or something, one doesn't tend to see warriors busting out the pea-shooters in raids. So, I skipped my way over to him and asked what was going on.
"I wasn't always a warrior," the undead man told me. "I used to be a hunter. A noble elf. Elune's creatures fought by my side."
Okay, now, the Forsaken are by-and-large the reanimated corpses of humans, but given that Sylvanas herself was once of the pointed-ear variety, I cut roleplayers who opt to be reincarted elves some slack. But I was definitely interested in this once-was-a-hunter angle. I asked him what he was doing -- even if he had been a hunter, he's dead and loving it now.
"I don't care," he responded. "I want it back, and I'll stop at nothing."
While it's possible the lore about undead-becoming-hunters won't let this guy's storyline move forward smoothly, I definitely had to give this guy a tip of the hat. His roleplay was subtle, personal and totally valid. His story line wasn't based on the idea that "I am the unique snowflake." Instead, there was something he wanted (his old class), and he wanted it back. I've checked in on the guy out of character a few times. The warrior is still level 5, and he mostly hangs out at target dummies. "No point in leveling," the player has told me. "I'm waiting for Cataclysm for when he can be a hunter."
It's a beautiful, subtle setup.
Goblins and worgen! Worgen and goblins! Sure, the opening of the Greymane Wall is going to unleash a flood of Jacob Blacks, all angsty with their teenage love and getting their fursplosions all over Azeroth. But, dude, this is going to be awesome.
Getting goblins into roleplay this early might be a tad difficult. While we know a little bit about goblin society, the current depth of lore about the race doesn't really lend itself to getting started. We know that the PC goblins are some kind of indentured servants or slaves, and they are currently living off on some island. Goblins are obviously already a pretty pervasive element in Horde culture, but the segmentation of the society means that it's a little tougher to make guesses about these particular goblins.
Worgen, however, are pretty well rooted in the lore. Both Gilneas and the worgen race have had their presence felt in World of Warcraft as well as the real-time strategy games before this. It's easy to imagine a clever roleplayer investigating a death near Silverpine, only to discover the method of murder was a well-placed claw to the face.
Characters with espionage background could hear faint rumors of unrest behind the Greymane Wall. I'd avoid details so as not to come too near the line of metagaming, but it's not unreasonable for a spy or scout to know something is going on over there.
The world is shaking. It's happening all over the place, and it's relatively inescapable. Even the lowest intelligence warrior or death knight will have felt the ground tremble beneath them. While we can guess this is probably Deathwing getting ready to bust out, our characters shouldn't leap to that reaction.
That unknown makes for great roleplay fodder. Does your character cling to the local church, begging the authorities to shed some Light on this mystery? Is your mage desperately researching these tremors, looking to the Arcane for some kind of answers? Does your Forsaken look at it as a sign of the end times and clap with glee at the thought?
I would embrace these earthquakes as the opportunity for your character to be wrong and get crazy with speculation.
Ultimately, this is now a pretty exciting time to get started with Cataclysm roleplay. This gives us lots of time to savor each aspect of the story and totally be ready to rock out when the expansion drops. What about you guys? What are you doing with your roleplay in preparation for the expansion?
All the World's a Stage is your source for roleplaying ideas, innovations and ironies. You might wonder what it's like to sacrifice spells for the story, or to totally immerse yourself in your roleplaying, or even how to RP on a non-RP server!