Why We Fight: Roleplaying the warrior

Anne Stickney
A. Stickney|11.26.11

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Why We Fight: Roleplaying the warrior
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.

When you're roleplaying a particular class, you can either choose to ignore the class aspects of what you play, or you can fully incorporate it into your roleplay. A studious magic user or priest can be just as much fun as a sneaky, devious rogue or a dark and brooding warlock -- and death knights are a little bundle of joy, as we discovered last week.

But what about the warrior class? Strong, steadfast and fiercely devoted to bashing heads in, it's a wonder to anyone what exactly goes through a warrior's head. Some incorrectly view them automatically as less intelligent -- after all, if you deliberately go out to get your head bashed in on a regular basis, what does that really say about your level of smarts? But warriors, as simplistic as they may appear to the outside observer, can be multileveled bundles of fun to roleplay, just as much as any other class out there.

This is not to say you can't play your warrior as a character who is dumb as a brick -- heck, sometimes it's fun to do for comedic relief. But there are other aspects to the class and to the character to bring forward, even if the warrior class is lacking in a particular organization dedicated to their cause.

Who you are

Warriors are a particular breed of person, regardless of race -- people who are interested in the art of combat but not the sneaky ways of the rogue. Warriors prefer to be in your face, but would rather you know that they are in your face, quite possibly before they even get there. They may be expert with weapons or simply have a knack for swinging them around. They may either be exceptionally good at blocking blows or just not particularly care one way or another if they get hurt.

What you should look at when playing a warrior is who he is and where he's come from. Does he come from a long line of warriors? Is he the first in his family to tread this path? Was he swinging a sword from the time he could pick up the thing, or did he have a different background altogether? How was he raised? Does his family approve of what he's doing, or would they rather he just settle down and run the family farm?

When you choose to roleplay a class and wish to incorporate that class into your roleplay, that background is utterly important. It fills out your character's history, and it helps give your character a solid background that defines who he is and why he decided to choose one of the more difficult paths to follow.

Why you fight

But a background isn't the only thing you want to look at with a class like the warrior. Your character is throwing himself into danger on a daily basis, in the most abrupt manner possible. While others choose to fight from afar or slip around in the shadows, a warrior is the front line in most scenarios, the first to rush in and the one to take the blows, the person who keeps the dragon's attention while everyone else works behind the scenes. What drives a character to take that course of action? Why does he fight?

It's probably the most important question you can ask about your character when you're roleplaying a warrior. Sure, something drove him down that path -- but there's something else, something intangible that keeps him there, something that drives him to continue being the first line of defense day after day, year after year. For most, one night in front of a dragon's snoot is more than enough to convince them it was a terrible idea; for warriors, one night is never enough.

So what makes your warrior tick? Does he have a deep-seated need to protect those around him? Does he simply like the adrenaline rush of surging forward into battle? Is it like an unspoken addiction for him? Is he fighting for the sake of revenge against an enemy or group that has somehow done something so wrong that he would do anything to make it right and have his vengeance? Or is he simply resigned to fighting because it's all he thinks he can do, that he has no other skills and therefore no other options?

Was this a career choice for your character, or was this a decision made on an emotional level? You can tie this back into your character's background, or you can take the opposite tack and make it a completely random decision if you wish. But when you're considering what warriors throw themselves into willingly every day, there should be some sort of defining reason behind that -- even if they don't choose to share that choice with others around them.

Interaction with others

Speaking of others, another thing to look at with a warrior character is what exactly he chooses to do with his downtime. After all, he spends every day willingly placing himself in the line of danger -- so what does he do to unwind? Is he a drinker -- does he go cause a ruckus in the local bar? Does he celebrate his victories and look forward to the days to come, or does he quietly drink to ease the emotional and physical stress? Is he loud and boisterous, a party animal, or is he quiet and introspective?

How does your warrior relate with others? A warrior's path is different than any other around him, and the mindset behind the class is one that others may simply not understand. Does he look at the scholars and healers around him and wonder what they are thinking? Does he view them as comrades in arms or as somehow lesser creatures because they aren't brute forces of nature like himself? Does he see them as evidence of what he is there to protect?

Is he brusque with others, or is he friendly and outgoing? Does he want to know more about the people around him? Is he interested in their lives and what makes them tick, or would he rather soldier on in relative ignorance? Can he relate to their troubles and woes, or does he view those troubles as petty in the face of what he has to deal with every day? Does he have a lot of friends, or is he a loner?

Is he a man of few words, saving his voice for shouting at his enemies, or is he talkative, full of colorful stories about prior exploits and scrapes he's gotten into and out of again? Does he happily talk about his past, or does he prefer to turn the focus on others, keeping his thoughts to himself and letting others take the limelight?

Warrior stereotypes

It's easy to fall into a stereotypical warrior personality when roleplaying one -- a brutish man or woman with little flair for social graces and a complete lack of interest in anything involving intelligent thought or discourse, the type of person who is loud, unruly, and rude, in your face and lacking in brains or charm. Most people expect that kind of response from a warrior character, and it can be fun to ham up the big, dumb brute if that's what you're looking for.

But it's also a great deal of fun to take the completely opposite side and run with it, largely because people don't expect it to begin with. A warrior who is devoted to the study of poetry and verse, who meditates when he is not ripping it up on the battlefield. A warrior with a keen interest in science or history, who spends his days off in the library instead of a bar. Or a friendly, chatty individual who is polite, well spoken and mannered, and terribly considerate to those around him, a willing ear to listen to their troubles and woes, no matter what they are.

The reason it's so fun to take the unexpected side is because it's completely unexpected. Roleplayers that are used to interacting with one type of character are thrown for a loop, and it keeps them on their toes. A roleplayer coming into a situation where they are interacting with a warrior may have a preconceived notion of what that character is -- and giving them the exact opposite can create a multitude of opportunities for some really fantastic roleplay.

This goes for not just warriors, but any given class of character out there. When you're dealing with a stereotypical perception of a class, it can be fun to play into that stereotype and ham it up for all its worth. But it's just as much fun, if not more so, to take them down a completely unexpected path and give them unexpected reasons for what they do. Those reasons can draw other roleplayers into roleplay in a way that the expected simply cannot accomplish.

Though a warrior may not have a dedicated organization behind him other than the kingdom's army, they don't really need on in order to be a well-defined character. A warrior may seem simple enough at first glance, but they have the potential for being a particularly deep and multi-leveled character, even without the exotic background of the other classes. It's just a matter of who they are, why they are driven to fight, and why they continue to fight every day.

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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