All the World's a Stage: Roleplaying fashion

Anne Stickney
A. Stickney|04.17.11

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All the World's a Stage: Roleplaying fashion
All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players. In World of Warcraft, that player is you! Each week, Anne Stickney brings you All the World's a Stage with helpful hints, tips and tricks on the art of roleplay in WoW. Have questions about roleplaying, or roleplaying issues? Email me -- I'm always open to suggestions!

We've talked about character creation, development, what to do in certain roleplaying situations, naming your character, coming up with roleplaying descriptions ... Pretty much everything under the sun as far as writing your character for roleplaying purposes goes. Today we're going to take a break from all of that and take a look at another aspect of roleplaying: fashion -- specifically, what kind of clothing you choose to put on your character and how to use clothing and accessories to accentuate what kind of person your character is.

It seems like a silly thing to think about, but it's not; what your character wears can say just as much about him as his roleplay description, if not more. And World of Warcraft is chock-full of various bits and pieces of armor, shirts, and accessories that can give your character any look you wish to create. By incorporating fashion into your arsenal of roleplaying tactics, you can give people a visual representation of the character in your head.

Visual interest

You wouldn't think something as simple as armor could have an effect on roleplay, but it does. Think about it; in a game where most characters raid, do PvP, or grind dungeons, every character out there looks pretty much the same. The colors may vary, but most players are toting the same armor sets as any other player. However, a player dressed in armor that isn't the standard armor set is automatically set apart from the crowd.

There's nothing like a well-designed outfit to set yourself apart, and by choosing different outfits, it lets other roleplayers know that you roleplay even if they don't happen to have the latest in RP addons to tell them so. Plus you can use different outfits and accessories to set a basic mood for your character -- a busy, cheerful outfit or a somber, more melancholy number can clue in other roleplayers to what your character is all about before he even opens his mouth.

Types of clothing

There are several different types of clothing out there and numerous ways you can mix and match different pieces. Plate-wearing classes can literally wear any kind of armor out there; for cloth wearers, your choices are a little more limited. But with Cataclysm, even the low-level cloth pieces have received updates, giving you plenty to work with.
  • Armor sets The most basic way to put an outfit together is to grab a set. Armor sets have been around since vanilla, when the Dungeon Set 1 pieces were all the rage for anyone looking to step into Molten Core. But sets aren't limited to blue and purple pieces -- most green items you see out there come in sets as well, and on top of that, there are actually gray-level set pieces out there, too. Grey and green set pieces all have the same name to them, like the Twill set, for example.
  • Shirts There are tons of shirts out there to choose from. Tailors craft most of them, but a few can be found by purchasing from vendors. Shirts have the advantage of being an outfit in and of themselves when paired with a nice pair of pants, and they can be worn under your armor, so all you have to do is take off a few pieces to swap out to "casual" wear. The additional bonus is that since you can wear a shirt under your armor, it won't be taking up additional space in your bags.
  • Accessories Accessories can be anything from a staff or offhand item like flowers or a fish, to glittery rings and even bandages. Want to play a wounded character? Angelique Butler, the First Aid supplier in Dalaran, sells wound dressings that go in your shirt slot. Want to add a little sparkle to your wealthy character? Pick up a Noble's Elementium Signet and watch your hand glimmer when you've got it equipped.
  • Raid and PvP gear Some of the nicest-quality armor models are the ones designed for tier sets, knockoffs of those tier sets, or PvP sets. Luckily, it's a lot easier to get your hands on raid-quality gear nowadays, especially lower-level raid gear. Many people are all for the thrill of completing old-world raid content, and at level 85, the majority of it doesn't really constitute a challenge anymore. In addition, a lot of nice raid-level set pieces and interesting items can be found on badge vendors scattered across Azeroth. For PvP, the process is a little more difficult -- to get that PvP gear, you're going to have to actually PvP. If this is something that doesn't appeal to you, I'd advise choosing a different outfit over trying to do something you won't have fun with. If you like PvP, go nuts, farm that honor, and pick up those pieces!
  • Mixing and matching Of course, you don't have to wear matching sets if you don't want to -- they're simply the easiest option out there. Armor in WoW has a variety of different color schemes, and a lot of those color schemes go together; feel free to mix and match different armor and styles to your heart's content.
Resources to help find the right outfit and keep it

The most difficult part of putting an outfit together is trying to figure out which pieces to use. Supplies of low-level armor on the auction house are notoriously limited by who happens to be leveling alts or low-level characters and which of those characters have put anything up on the AH for sale. There are a couple of resources out there that make it a lot easier to browse, decide, and settle on an outfit.

  • Wowhead Wowhead is a database of pretty much every item in the game. The nice thing about Wowhead is that it has a browse feature that will let you sort by armor type, slot, what level you need it to be, and what quality it should be, from gray items all the way up to purple. If you're looking for an item set but you aren't sure where those other pieces are located, Wowhead can tell you that, too.
  • WoW Model Viewer WoW Model Viewer is the pinnacle in dressing up your character however you want. The program loads and uses model information directly from your game files. All you have to do upon install is pick a model and fiddle with their features until they look just like your character. It's fairly easy to do; the process is similar to Blizzard's own character creation, with buttons to scroll through various skin tones, face types, hair color, hair styles and any piercings or accessories your character may have. From there, you can pick a slot, pick an armor type and simply scroll through the item list to see what looks best on your character. Once you've got the name of the item you like, you can go to Wowhead and look up the item in their database so you can track it down in game for yourself. Some items listed in WoW Model Viewer may not actually be available in game anymore, but you can generally find similar armor models or similarly colored items if need be.
  • Outfitter Outfitter is an addon that will let you swap different armor sets, and you can choose and save your outfits accordingly. As long as you have your set pieces in your bags, you can swap outfits at the click of a button. Blizzard has its own in-game equipment manager as well, but I find Outfitter works extremely well for saving different outfits and being able to swap them out easily.

Using these tools in conjunction with each other makes it much easier to mix and match different pieces of armor for a color-coordinated outfit. Unlike surfing the auction house, where inventory is limited, with WoW Model Viewer, the entire database of armor is available to choose from. Just pick something you like the look of in one slot, then go to the other slots and start scrolling through those to find something that matches.

When designing an outfit for your character, you can wear as little or as much armor as you like. None of the spaulders available appeal to your eye? Don't bother wearing them! Layering different pieces is fun, but keep in mind that these pieces are things that will be taking up space in your bank or your bags. The more items you collect for RP, the less space you'll have for quest items, potions, flasks, profession mats and so on.

What your clothing says about you

When designing an outfit for your character, you want to think about not only what the outfit looks like as a cohesive whole, but also what that outfit says about your character. A sullen, embittered warrior isn't about to go traipsing around in bright, cheery, colorful items, just like a cheerful caster isn't going to dress in dark and somber colors. Characters who see battle often might want to pick up wound dressing for an added touch of battle-hardened realism.

Some clothing is better designed and put together than others. If your character has a keen eye for fashion, choosing bright colors and well-crafted, embroidered pieces will help reflect that. If you're playing a world-weary traveler who's been out in the wild more than in the hustle and bustle of cities, look for armor that has a more rugged, torn, I washed this chest piece in a river with no soap for the last six months appearance.

Gathering outfits and accessories for RP can be a time-consuming process, but it can also be an incredible amount of fun. The end result is a well-dressed character with a look that reflects who he is. Whether a battle-hardened hero, a mysterious and vaguely threatening villain, or a cheerful soul simply out for a drink, picking an appropriate outfit can speak volumes for your character's history and everyday life.

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!
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