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Q&A with your roleplaying questions

Anne Stickney

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.

Roleplaying is the very definition of a social activity -- it pretty much requires more than one participant if you ever expect to have any fun with it. But if it's something you've never done before, trying to get into roleplaying can be a daunting prospect, especially if you've got a bunch of questions and no idea how to get the answers. So this week, I decided to turn the tables around and answer a few questions from the roleplaying community over on Twitter.

While I got some roleplaying questions, I also got some lore questions as well. Honestly, that's only to be expected, because roleplay and lore work hand-in-hand.

@Sin_Aliaga asked:

Blood Elf Druids.... can they co-exist in Warcraft lore? And if so, why haven't they tried yet?

This is a question that's been asked before, and it's been asked about both blood elves and the pandaren race that we're going to be playing in Mists. However, the answer is the same for both, honestly -- according to lore as we know it at this moment, no. You're not going to see blood elves become druids. The blood elves were formerly high elves, and those high elves were formerly the night elves. During the War of the Ancients, there was a huge schism between two different branches of the night elf race -- the Highborne, those who were favored by Azshara and practiced arcane magic, and those who did not.

After the war was over, those Highborne were forbidden from practicing arcane magic. This didn't go over so well, so they protested by summoning a massive arcane storm. This really didn't go over well with Malfurion Stormrage, and he banished them from Kalimdor as a result. Once the Highborne traveled across the ocean to the Eastern Kingdoms, they lost all benefits from Nordrassil, including their immortality and any link they had to the Emerald Dream. But see, this didn't really matter to the high elves.

High elves were obsessed with arcane magic, not with nature magic or anything even resembling the druidic arts. If any of those highborne had shown druidic tendencies, they never would have been banished from Kalimdor, and they would simply be night elves. It was the process of being banished away from Nordrassil that physically changed those highborne into the high elves we know today. Because they were so far from Nordrassil, there was no way for them to have any contact with the Emerald Dream, Cenarius, Malfurion, or anyone that could teach them how to be druids.

Given that shaky history with the night elves, it is highly unlikely that any night elf druid of any kind would teach a blood elf how to be a druid. And given the blood elves' affinity for arcane magic, it's also highly unlikely that any of them would have any interest in druidic magic. Is it impossible? As it stands right now in lore, yes -- but that doesn't mean that Blizzard can't change the lore as it pleases.

Similarly, the pandaren race withdrew from associating with night elves before the War of the Ancients, back when they detected that some night elves were far too interested in the arcane and using the Well of Eternity for not-so-good things. Because the pandaren withdrew to Pandaria well before Cenarius began teaching Malfurion how to be a druid, the pandaren simply had no opportunity to learn how to be druids themselves. It's less a matter of whether they wanted to be druids and more a matter of whether they were in a position where they could have learned to be druids. Neither the pandaren nor the blood elves were, so they can't.

@MattDoncel asked:

How exactly should I roleplay my trolls speech? How much is too much? D'ya know what I be sayin' mon!

Matt, the second sentence there gives you all the answer you need for your question! The problem with accents is that while they are delightful to roleplay with, if they are too thick or too mangled, people aren't going to understand what you're saying at all. And if people can't understand you, well ... it's going to be awfully hard to roleplay with you, isn't it?

This isn't to say you shouldn't use an accent at all, however. I had a troll huntress back in The Burning Crusade who had the worst accent imaginable. It was barely coherent to most other roleplayers. But that was part of her character, and part of her charm was that she had to sit and think and find a way to describe what the heck she was talking about well enough for other people to understand. It was a comedic way to play it, and over time, she gradually lost the accent -- not because I didn't enjoy writing it out but because it made sense that the more time she spent in the company of those speaking Orcish, the more her accent would eventually weed out a bit.

Luckily, I was roleplaying with a group of friends who had a ton of patience with that character -- but if I had just started roleplaying with a group of strangers, I may have put them off. If people can't understand what your character is saying, then they aren't going to understand who your character is. And without that, there's not much to keep other roleplayers interested. So put your accent in there as much as you'd like -- but keep other players in mind when you're doing it!

@Andaelas asked:

What is your feelings on RP guilds integrating themselves into the lore, Scarlets or like the Caelestis Templares on Silverhand?

The nice thing about roleplay is that it's a creative exercise. It's a license to use your creativity in any way you want. The downside to that is that roleplay is very much a social activity, so you're going to be interacting with other people. When you choose to integrate yourself with the lore, whether it's as a group or an individual, there is the possibility that you are going to rub some people the wrong way -- and that means fewer people are going to want to roleplay with you.

When you're integrating yourself into the lore, you're essentially trying to write the lore yourself and place yourself into it, whether it's a major starring role or a side character. Either way, what you're essentially trying to do is write Blizzard's story for them -- and a lot of people are going to frown on that. If you're OK with that, then by all means, go nuts!

But there's another, bigger thing you have to watch out for. The thing is, Blizzard has the final say as far as what's in lore and what isn't -- and it can change that lore at the drop of a hat. So when you integrate yourself into the lore, you're running the risk that your character or group could be invalidated by the lore at a moment's notice. Take a group of roleplayers that chooses to make itself part of the Scarlet Crusade. It's an awesome concept, and the Scarlet Crusade has a lot of history behind it, so it's bound to be fun, right?

Except that in Cataclysm, most of the Scarlet Crusade has been completely obliterated, either killed or (worse yet) killed and resurrected as the Risen out in the Eastern Plaguelands. So what do you do with your organization when that organization has pretty much been wiped out? There are ways around the problem, of course, and clever roleplayers can find a way to work with the lore and adapt -- but at the same time, this sort of scenario almost creates more problems than it's worth.

@musicchan asked:

Question for RP: What's the best way to retcon your player's history if you're embarrassed about how badly it was done?

That is a wonderful question, and I've actually written an article that addresses it! If you're wanting to just retcon your character's history, all you should need to do is change it and then inform those people you roleplay with that it has changed and how. You may even want to fill them in on why! It might sound a little embarrassing to do, but at the same time, pointing out the flaws in your original story, why they aren't working, and what you're doing to fix them might motivate people to look at their own character histories and make adjustments as well.

If people are having a hard time adjusting to the fact that your character's history has changed, you may want to simply reboot the character altogether. Change their features via a quick trip to the barber shop, or if you're wanting really drastic, pay for a name change or a character recustomization, while you're at it. It's sometimes hard to admit to friends that you were doing something incorrectly, but honestly, most players should appreciate the fact that you're making a concerted effort to fix your character.

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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