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All the World's a Stage: Dear Wrath

David Bowers

The art of roleplaying is like a field of tender soil. You only get something back after you put something in.

World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. But wait... before we get serious about this new expansion of our relationship, Wrath, there's something you should understand about me: I may be a hunter, druid, rogue, warlock, warrior, shaman, and even a mage, but above and beyond all these things I'm also a roleplayer. Yes, I love all those promises you're making me these days about how wonderful our life together is going to be, but something inside tells me that you don't really understand what I really want. You only understand the part of me that likes to shoot, shred, stun, fear, strike, shock and even blast my pixelated enemies into oblivion. But what about my artistic vision?

Oh sure, I see you smirking. What does artistic vision have to do with "Warcraft," "Wrath," and "Lich King?" ... well, you're forgetting the very first thing that anyone ever sees or hears about you: "World." You may have lots of violence, anger, and nasty enemies, but in the end what you really are is a world, a space, and a stage, where my friends and I can get together and have a good time. This is what you don't understand, Wrath: I'm a person, and I like to have things to do and talk about with other people that don't involve damage, threat, or recovering from damage and threat.

Okay okay, you have a point. It's not like you've ignored this aspect of our relationship completely; I'll give you credit for that. In fact, there are some new non-violent things I'm really looking forward to, which I wouldn't be able to do without you.

Yes, of course the most obvious example is the changeable hairstyles. It's really annoyed me for the last 3 or 4 years that I couldn't cut my hair, put it in a pony tail, or even shave my beard, all because your rigid rules wouldn't allow me to. So that's a welcome change. On top of that, recently you've started talking about offering tattoos too, and that's something I like as well. One thing I don't like is your steady refusal to let me change my facial expression! I may have been grimacing when I first entered this world, but that doesn't mean I want to keep grimacing now! Seriously.

And I'll also admit it's nice to have a whole new continent full of places to explore, discover, and hang out in. You've promised me that these places will be just as full of interesting stories as you can possibly fit in there, and I think I'm willing to trust you on that. You've certainly improved a lot over the years that I've known you, so chances are you'll keep on improving.

But now we come to one of the things we've talked about before but you never really seem to understand. You know I like items to do stuff with, and you try to give them to me, but the items you're giving me don't really meet my needs. I don't want a complicated widget that responds to my emotes -- I want simple things I can use in response to other people! Let's move away from gimmicks and toward more communicative things, simple effects that can be used in a variety of ways; less like Brazier of Dancing Flames, and like more Elune Stones.

Also, remove the level requirements on all those fancy clothes you have just lying around in stores -- they don't have any stats on them, and they would be great to deck out my low-level alternate characters with. What's the harm in giving my new mage a snazzy hat or flowing robe if that hat doesn't do anything for him except make him look wise? Not only would that allow more creativity for my bank alt, but it would let me fill out a nice cast of supporting characters for my roleplaying stories without having to spend all that time leveling them up. I might need a wise old gnome to give my friend's character some advice, but it really doesn't work if he looks like just another level 2 noob.

Finally, give me more legal documents and romance novels, but let me edit them too; and don't treat them as trash either! I like that stuff, and I don't want to sell it by accident.

Are you listening? Because that's not all -- my needs aren't simply materialistic cravings for more and more items, or more and more ways to make myself look pretty! I want more ways to communicate and find other roleplayers. Would it be very hard to make some kind of flagging system built into the interface, whereby I could let everyone know what kind of activity I'm looking for at the moment? You could make a setting for me to say "Looking for roleplayers" along with a brief description of my character to get people interested.

But non-roleplayers could enjoy this feature, too! You could have other settings like, "Looking for PvP battleground group" with a description of the type of player you're looking for, or "Looking for someone to level up with" with a description of what places you haven't been to yet. You could even have a setting where people could offer their help to others in one form or another. Wouldn't that be a great tool to help people connect with each other? You could even search for all the people who are using the same flag as you, or maybe even chat with them on a shared worldwide channel! Imagine if two people crossed by each other in the wilderness, and realized they were both looking for the same thing -- without this feature, they might just run on by, never knowing!

Sigh. Yes... I know. Even if you provide me with all these features and more, they still don't actually improve my roleplaying for me. They may make it easier and more lively, but in the end it depends on what my friends and I do with the tools available to us. If our creative durability is nearly broken, there's no magic repairman who can make everything okay again. We always have to put something magical into our experience if we want to get something magical out of it.

Alright, so it goes both ways. I'll admit that. I tell you what: my friends and I promise to do our part -- and if we have any trouble with that, we certainly won't blame you. But you do your part, too, okay? Don't forget. Promise?

All the World's a Stage is eternally grateful to the authors who take over for David when he's out on one of his travels, in one of his moods, or up to his earlobes in other stuff he gots to do. Check out Michael's Delicate Subjects and Added Flesh; Matthew's Non-RP RP, and Alex's RP Descriptions; and finally Zach's PvP RP.

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