Cross-Realm zones have given roleplayers the unintentional bonus of a ton of new people to roleplay with. Of course it'll be better when all the bugs are smoothed out of the process, but in the meantime, it's worth it to say hello and get acquainted with the new additions to your server. Roleplay is very much about the social side of the game rather than mechanics -- and the more people you have to roleplay with, the better the experience tends to be.
Of course, this is great if you're good at making friends and chatting with people. But one of the questions I'm most often asked is exactly how you go about making friends in roleplay. How do you find roleplayers to hang out with? How do you get your character in their good graces? And once you've got a good pile of friends, how do you keep them around and interested in roleplaying with you?
It goes without saying, but it's still worth pointing out -- people will treat you exactly how you treat them. If you're being a jerk, you're not likely to make many friends. If you're being friendly and nice, you should get that friendly and nice attitude right back at you. Now there are always exceptions to the rule. Unfortunately, with a game this big, there's always apt to be people that are simply out to be jerks, whether because they think it's funny, or because they've just got a giant chip on their shoulder.
But there's nothing saying you need to roleplay with jerks, or even react to them. In my life, I tend to avoid unnecessary drama by simply staying out of situations and away from people that draw that drama to themselves like a magnet. It works just as well in roleplay -- if someone's got a bad attitude, just avoid them. You may find yourself wanting to retaliate or react to their attitude, and that's a perfectly natural response to a negative situation.
However, the moment you acknowledge the jerks and let them know their behavior bothers you is the moment that those jerks have pulled you out of your game, and into theirs. That's the moment they've won. Don't give them the satisfaction -- you're the person who is paying $15 a month to play a game for fun. Don't waste the $15 arguing and getting into petty bickering with people who are not worth the time or the money. If someone is really going out of their way to bother you, quietly report them without acknowledging they exist to their face.
This does two things -- it lets the offending player know you aren't interested in being a part of their drama. But it also shows other players, good players, that you aren't the type to resort to petty name-calling and drama. And that means you're someone they'd be interested in talking to and getting to know. The simple act of just being nice to people will net you a lot more friends than openly being a jerk, even if you're being a jerk to those that somehow deserve that treatment in your eyes.
But there's more to roleplay than just being nice. It's a social activity that everyone is taking part in. Everyone's got their own characters with their own motivations, and each character is working towards his own personal goal. Each has his own backstory and reason for being in the world, and each has his own reasons and motivations for interacting with others in the world. In other words, the game isn't all about you and your character -- it's a game of everyone working together.
Because of this, being considerate of others is high up on the list of things you want to watch out for. Don't make every roleplay encounter about your character. Everyone naturally wants to be the shining star that takes center stage, but roleplay is about letting everyone take their turn in the spotlight. And who knows, you may find your character embroiled in a plot you'd never considered following before by doing so.
Your character has a natural path that they want to follow, but you shouldn't make every roleplay encounter about your character and his path. If you do this, you're doing two things -- you're limiting your character's story to a predestined path, which can quickly back you into a corner if you're not careful. It's great to have an idea of where your character is going, but not allowing a single moment of deviation from that path locks you out of any potential surprises and fun.
More importantly, you're giving the impression to your fellow roleplayers that you aren't really interested in roleplaying with them so much as you're interested in having an audience for your character's story. If you force every single encounter you have with other roleplayers into something about your character, people will quickly learn that agreeing to roleplay with you means listening to you talk. It means their character gets to do precisely nothing for the few hours that you two are roleplaying. And there aren't a lot of people that are really up for that.
Look for like minds
When you're choosing roleplay partners, it's not all about who you are out of character. There's also your character to consider, and how he works with others. A sullen loner that doesn't speak to anyone isn't apt to make a ton of friends. A mysterious, intimidating, scowling stranger doesn't exactly invite an opportunity for conversation. Most roleplayers won't approach a character they find lurking in the back of a bar or a dark alley. Why would they? Would you go out of your way to approach a complete stranger that by all rights looks as though they'd just as soon spit in your face as speak to you?
This doesn't mean you need to make a character that is sunshine, roses and rainbows. It does mean that you need to look for like minds -- characters that are on the same wavelength as yours. A sullen loner isn't going to approach a cheerful group of giggling characters, but they might talk with another quiet character in the back of a bar. Likewise, a friendly character with a sunny disposition isn't realistically going to chat it up with that seedy individual in the bar.
Of course, this is made slightly more difficult with Cross-Realm zones, largely because roleplay addons simply don't work across zones, so you don't really know what you're looking at. In this case, it's perfectly fine to strike up a conversation with someone out of character via whispers before your characters even speak. Say hello, introduce yourself, and just chat. Talk about the Cross-Realm feature, or about roleplay in general.
A world of potential
But don't forget that just because someone is on a roleplaying server, it doesn't mean that they're a roleplayer. Talking with someone out of character can easily determine whether or not they're actually interested in roleplaying or not. But there's also a variety of non-addon cues you can look for. If someone is simply /walking down the street, that's usually a sign of a roleplayer. If they're chatting with another person in character, that's a pretty good indicator that they're a roleplayer!
Patrol the areas that are usual hotspots for roleplay. Re-visit those old zones that you've crossed off your roleplay list. Shattrath, Darnassus, Dalaran, Silvermoon -- they've all been opened up to Cross-Realm zones. A quick visit to these cities may reveal a ton of new people to roleplay with.
Another place to look for people is roleplaying events. Because we have Cross-Realm zones to work with, it may be worth your while to check out roleplaying events on other servers in areas where your zones are phased together. Sit down and listen to a storytelling circle, or join in on a fishing tournament. As long as you're respectful to your fellow roleplayers, there shouldn't be an issue with joining in.
Cross-Realm zones have opened the floodgates on potential roleplay partners. You aren't limited by server tag anymore, and it's a situation that you should take advantage of if you're interested in getting more roleplay out of your game. It's an uncertain world to be in, but it's one with a lot of potential fun. Just remember to be considerate, be nice, ignore the haters and above all, respect your fellow roleplayers. They're in the game for the same reasons as you!
All the World's a Stage is your source for roleplaying ideas, innovations and ironies. Let us help you imagine what it's like to sacrifice spells for the story, totally immerse yourself in your roleplaying or even RP on a non-RP realm!