The Darkmoon Faire might have been a little dull once upon a time, but the location switch has certainly improved its image. Darkmoon Island presents a new area for roleplay that is full to the brim with entertaining games, NPCs and events to spark a roleplayer's imagination. More importantly, it's a neutral zone that both Alliance and Horde can enjoy without having to worry about attracting the attention of local guards. We haven't really had a hub like that in Cataclysm, so it's great to see one finally come into play, even if it is just one week out of the month.
For most roleplayers, when one considers a popular roleplay location, two immediately spring to mind -- Stormwind City for the Alliance, and Silvermoon City for the Horde. For the Alliance, Stormwind is essentially the capital city that everyone flocks to. Even before the Cataclysm, it had plenty of out-of-the way locations, taverns and gathering spots. After, it's only gotten larger. For the Horde, Silvermoon offered an actual city comparable to Stormwind, something the Horde was severely lacking in vanilla WoW.
But hey, who wants to roleplay in just one spot? Why not take the action someplace different?
Darnassus is an out-of-the way location that most people don't consider when they're looking for roleplay locations. But with its breathtaking scenery, size, and sheer number of unused buildings, Darnassus is an amazing location for roleplay. In Cataclysm, Darnassus saw the addition of the Howling Oak for those worgen that had been ousted from Gilneas and were seeking refuge. While night elves and worgen are familiar with Darnassus, many roleplayers from the Eastern Kingdoms may not have encountered the night elf capital and experienced its beauty firsthand.
Darnassus is split into three terraces: the Craftsmen's Terrace, home to trainers galore; the Warrior's Terrace, nestled next to a open green courtyard; and the Tradesmen's Terrace, home to every vendor you could possibly need. In addition, the meandering paths of the Temple Gardens offer plenty of spaces for quiet contemplation. There's even a section above the main gates of the city, perfect for guild meetings or large events with many participants. All of the terraces have stores on the lower levels, but many of the upper levels are empty, suitable for meetings or even just a place for your character to call home.
4. Thunder Bluff
The home to the tauren may be a bit out of place for blood elves or undead, but the peaks of Thunder Bluff provide a homey atmosphere that can't really be found anywhere else. Thunder Bluff didn't really see any major changes in Cataclysm, but the location meant that the city was rarely visited. Thunder Bluff is absolutely gorgeous, and the scenery and experience of being perched high above the rolling plains of Mulgore is a serene and stark contrast to the busy ways of the rest of the world.
Thunder Bluff is divided into three offshoot rises -- Elder Rise, home to the tauren elders, druids and the scrolls that offer a glimpse into tauren history; Hunter Rise, where the hunters, warriors and Sunwalkers reside; and Spirit Rise, where the shaman and healers make their home. All stores and vendors are on the main rise, which can be traversed via the spiral pathway at the city center or by air, if you happen to have a flying mount. While there aren't a lot of places for a character to claim as home, Thunder Bluff has several places excellent for meetings and group roleplay. The main rise has a section of benches great for storytelling or guild meetings, and the lower rise has a pond perfect for fishing events or simply skipping stones while chatting with a friend.
Ironforge held the distinction of being the most populated Alliance city in vanilla WoW, mainly because it was the only Alliance city with an Auction House. The halls used to be brim full of those making trades and selling. But no more. Rather than being an occasion for sadness, this is actually a pretty amazing thing, because it leaves Ironforge open as a hub for roleplay -- and what a hub it is! Nestled deep within the mountainside, the fiery forges and imposing magnitude of the city gives roleplayers endless locations to play in.
Ironforge is split into several unique sections centered around the Great Forge and the city seat, where the Council of Three Hammers rules over the city. The Military Ward is home to all tactical leaders. The Mystic Ward is a calm place of reflection for healers and casters. The Hall of Explorers boasts a massive library where characters can lose themselves for hours buried in the history of the world. Tinker Town is a unique offshoot where the gnomes continue to experiment and engineer new innovations, and the Forlorn Cavern is a shady part of the city with a softly glowing pool. The Commons is where the traders and taverns are nestled.
Sound huge? It is -- and Ironforge is likely nowhere near as jam-packed as it was in vanilla days, making it a great spot for events or even just a place for your character to call home.
In vanilla, Orgrimmar was hardly a suitable spot for roleplay. It lacked any good gathering areas, and it lacked any places suitable for a character to rest. The inns were simple huts and didn't really have any kind of atmosphere that made a character want to stay for very long. In Cataclysm, that all changed. Garrosh Hellscream may be a contentious leader, but he's one heck of an interior designer, and Orgrimmar's facelift opened the way for a bounty of amazing roleplaying locations to be added.
Orgrimmar is split into four different valleys. The Valley of Strength is home to the city seat and where Garrosh rules; the Valley of Spirits is home to the goblins and the trolls; the Valley of Wisdom is a Thunder Bluff away from Thunder Bluff; and the Valley of Honor is almost a second city center, nestled the back of the city. In between them all, the Drag is the home to trainers from all professions, and the Cleft of Shadow is a shady place for those unsavory types looking for a home.
While most players now hang out in Orgrimmar on a regular basis, the sheer size of the city almost guarantees that you can find a location that's a little quieter for roleplay purposes. Most non-roleplayers tend to hang out in the Valley of Strength, but the Valley of Honor offers all city amenities plus a tavern with a suitably homey atmosphere. The Valley of Wisdom has some beautiful falls and a gathering spot with benches for storytelling or other guild events. The Valley of Spirits offers two different kinds of flavor in one location, whether the noxious area the goblins call home or the delicate spires of the Valley of Spirits. If you have not explored the new Orgrimmar to its fullest, make it a point to do so -- the place is brimming with roleplay potential.
Dalaran? Oh heck, yes. While the city may have suffered from lag in the days of Wrath, those days are far behind us, and hardly anyone ventures to the capital of the Kirin Tor these days ... which is an absolute pity, because this gem of a city is one of the most richly developed areas in the game. Perhaps that has to do in part with its size. Dalaran is marvelously compact, making the most out of cramming something useful and interesting into every square inch it has to offer.
Dalaran is split into sides, the Sunreaver's Sanctuary for the Horde and the Silver Enclave for the Alliance. The Magus Commerce Exchange is where the traders peddle their wares, and beneath the city is the Underbelly, a great place for shady deals and brawls. The city center, Runeweaver Square, is a quiet little garden for gatherings. The city has plenty of taverns for gathering spots, whether the earthy feel of the Horde-flavored tavern, The Filthy Animal; the cheerful atmosphere of the Alliance's tavern, A Hero's Welcome (complete with beer garden in the back); the seedy atmosphere of the Cantrips & Crows; or the stately rooms of The Legerdemain Lounge.
A great feature of Dalaran is that it's a neutral city, meaning that both Horde and Alliance can settle here without fear of being attacked by the other side, perfect for those who are doing cross-faction roleplay. But perhaps the best part about Dalaran is the atmosphere. Even while empty of players, the place is populated with NPCs of varying shapes and sizes, all full of their own unique characteristics that make the city spring to life even when nobody is around. Dalaran offers a fantastic, whimsical, breathtaking backdrop for roleplayers, and now that Wrath is over, the masses of non-roleplayers have left this city behind.
And if you're looking for someplace with convenient travel access, Dalaran offers that, too -- with portals to both Orgrimmar and Stormwind, you'll never be far from the capital cities of your faction, ready to re-join the rest of the world at a moment's notice.
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