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The trials and tribulations of being a raiding roleplayer

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.

There have always been different designations for different aspects of WoW. If you want to fight other players, it's PvP. If you want to fight designed encounters, that's PvE. And if you want to roleplay with other players, that's RP. Three different realm types, each with their own designations, right? There's one other realm type out there, the RP-PvP server, for those who would like to roleplay and fight other players.

But there seems to be a long-held stigma for raiding players that states raiders are not roleplayers, can never be roleplayers, do not understand roleplayers, and therefore do not belong in a roleplaying community. So if you're a raider and you want to RP, how do you go about setting that stigma aside and enjoying your non-raiding time roleplaying? While I may not be able to give a precise answer to that question, I can certainly share my experiences with it.

Yep, I'm a roleplayer. And a raider.

Making the switch from raiding to roleplay

I used to be in a hardcore raiding guild on a PvE server where roleplay didn't exist. When that guild finally died, I decided to start over and roll a character on an RP server. This was vanilla WoW and server transfers were not available yet, so I had to start at level 1. This actually worked in my favor, as later years would reveal. Here's what I learned, as a total noob wandering into the world of roleplay:
  • Roleplaying servers vary widely in open-world roleplay. I picked a server that sounded good, without doing a lot of research. However, I'd recommend to anyone choosing to go to a roleplaying server that they roll a low-level alt and head to the nearest capital city. Look around and see how much roleplaying you actually see out in public and whether or not that works for you.
  • Starting at level 1 was a blessing in disguise. Why? Because I wasn't running around in full tier gear politely asking for roleplay, I was simply some little schlub level 10 that quite happily matched her gear into eye-pleasing sets rather than going for some optimum set of twink gear. As I discovered in later years, running in with full tier is almost a red flag to other roleplayers that you come from someplace very different in the world and you may not be the roleplayer you profess to be.
  • Addons are amazing tools for picking out available roleplayers. Roleplaying addons like FlagRSP, MyRoleplay, or TotalRP are all there so that you can share your character description with the world. But it also allows you to see the descriptions of other roleplayers -- which makes it super easy to identify roleplayers out and about in the city or in the world.
  • Saying hello is really, really hard to do. The largest obstacle to roleplaying, it turned out, was myself -- my own shyness. I wasn't really certain if just walking up to someone and saying hello would work or not. I spent hours simply sitting someplace just out of the way of a group gathering and watching them roleplay, observing how they interacted. Needless to say, while I got plenty of entertainment (better than TV!), I didn't really get any roleplay at all.
  • One hello is all you need. However, after hours of watching other people roleplay, I started to relax. Obviously, these people expected to be talked to. And my first hello was a random stranger walking down the streets of Stormwind, who made a crack at my character's clothing. I snapped back a well-timed and funny retort, and poof -- just like that, my roleplaying career began.
  • Don't over-prepare that first character. My downfall with that particular character was that I spent an awfully long time building up a backstory and a reason for her being in the world. I had a very specific purpose in mind for her journey -- but I hadn't really spent any time thinking about what would happen after that journey was over. By the time I got to her journey's end, I had nothing to do. I had literally written myself into a corner, because I was so earnestly trying to develop her to her fullest extent. That's where I learned one of the most important parts of roleplay.
  • Go with the flow. It's great to have a character with a cool backstory and a reason for being in the world, but giving that character just one reason for existence will lock you into that one path. If I had simply relaxed and gone with the flow, interacting with other people and letting their stories steer my story, the experience probably would have gone a lot more smoothly.
On the way to level 60, I eventually ended up joining the guild of that first roleplayer I'd run into. Sometime after reaching level 60, I inadvertently let it slip that I used to be a raider. To my delight, I was asked to come along on raiding runs with participants from a few different roleplaying guilds, and my advice was often asked for on strategy for various fights. Eventually, the raiding got in the way of the roleplaying, and I was left with a character that was less of a roleplayer and more of a raider, which led me to ask -- why couldn't I have both?

Combining raiding and roleplay

After roleplaying a new character in The Burning Crusade on a different RP server, I decided to step back into raiding again. The biggest drawback to raiding and roleplaying is that you have a schedule for raiding activity. If a roleplay event occurs during a time that you're supposed to be raiding, you're going to have to decide -- skip the raiding or skip the roleplaying event. In general, roleplaying events don't really depend on your presence to succeed.

Raiding, on the other hand, is a commitment to 24 other people, and you're letting those people down if you skip the raiding in favor of attending a roleplaying event. It's up to you to make that decision. For me, raiding always came first, because I didn't want to let those 24 people down. But I still wanted to roleplay, so I tried to reconcile raiding with roleplaying. I tried a few different ways to do it, each with their own varying measures of success.
  • Schedule roleplay. The easiest method in my eyes was to simply schedule roleplay with other roleplayers in my circle of friends. But it didn't work for my friends, because they had their own roleplay going on while I was off raiding -- and when I was done raiding and ready to roleplay, they were still in the midst of roleplaying with others. I couldn't really fault them for that, nor could I expect them to drop their roleplay and come play with me at my convenience. That's just selfish.
  • Make an alt. This actually turned out to be the most successful out of any tactic I'd tried. I rolled an alt on another server and roleplayed with that alt when I had spare time. I didn't tell people I was a raider, I simply roleplayed at my leisure, logged on when I wanted to roleplay, let my character sit in between when I was attending to real-life activities or raiding on my main server.
  • Roleplay on a raiding main. I've tried, in varying degrees, to roleplay with my raiding main. I like the character, but the amount of roleplay I've found has been minimal at best. While I can run my roleplaying addon and let it be known I'm open to roleplay, very few people will go out of their way to say hello to a raider, regardless of whether or not they have a roleplaying description available.
Can you be a roleplayer and a PvE player? Yes, you absolutely can -- I've gotten plenty of roleplay over the years with various characters here and there. What I've found however, is that I'm a lot more likely to get roleplay if I do so on a character other than the one I'm raiding with. Your experience may vary depending on your server and the people you run into. That jump from PvE to roleplaying may seem scary and intimidating at first, but it's not an impossible leap to make, as long as you remember to keep your eyes open for roleplay and actively seek it out.

And above everything else? Never, ever, ever be afraid to say hello.

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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