Latest in Gaming

Image credit:

How do you reconcile faction disloyalty in roleplay?

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.

I received an email not too long ago that poses an interesting question. With all of the tumultuous back and forth in the Alliance and Horde, roleplaying a character within a faction is a somewhat difficult task. It's doubly difficult when you're playing a character that is a race that doesn't seem to be largely accepted by its faction leader. In the case of the email, it was a blood elf character who just wasn't feeling all that into Garrosh Hellscream. Garrosh's ideals and idea of what the Horde should be stood in stark contrast to everything the blood elf believed.

This sentiment could hold equally true for a worgen or a draenei, both of which haven't really been what you would call warmly embraced by the Alliance. The draenei in particular don't necessarily share the same ideals as their Alliance brethren. In Mists of Pandaria, we'll be embarking on an adventure to a foreign continent, but we'll be doing so as representatives of our respective factions. Our characters will be sent to this strange new land at the behest of our faction leaders.

So if you're a character that doesn't necessarily believe in or care for your faction leader, how do you reconcile doing what they say into your roleplay? Why would your character be doing something for someone they don't like?

How do you reconcile faction disloyalty in roleplay SAT
Adapting your story

The most reasonable solution would be to simply tweak the events to suit your character's needs. Yes, they may have been sent by Garrosh Hellscream in the end -- but perhaps they weren't just working under Garrosh's orders. Spies and secret agents can be incredibly entertaining to roleplay, and they don't require any adjustments to the real canon of the story itself. Certainly your character may appear to be working for Garrosh, but what if they were sent to see what Garrosh was up to by their faction leader?

Or if you don't want to bring major lore characters into the equation, it's easy enough to simply have your character investigating Garrosh's actions for their own purposes. Perhaps they're trying to pull together enough incriminating information to report to their faction leader or the leader of their organization. This way, the impetus doesn't really come from any major lore figures at all; instead, it comes from the character himself.

Alternatively, perhaps your character just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They certainly didn't mean to be on the way to a foreign land -- they just stumbled into Garrosh's chambers at precisely the wrong moment. This opens up the way for some comedic roleplay in which your baffled and bewildered character is trying to sort out exactly how he got into this mess and how best to get out of it.

How do you reconcile faction disloyalty in roleplay SAT
Adapting frame of mind

We don't quite know how long the jump is between Cataclysm and Mists of Pandaria, but it's been suggested that it's a significant period of time. Think about your character -- would their opinion have changed over the course of a year or two? How would they feel about the conclusion of Cataclysm and Deathwing's defeat? The fall of Deathwing was a concerted effort by the heroes of the world and not necessarily by the Horde or Alliance in particular, so how does your character feel about that?

Opinions change over time, and it's entirely possible that your character's opinion has shifted as well. This all depends, of course, on Garrosh's actions -- and they don't seem to be making a turn for the better, at this point. However, a hero who spent time saving the world may see a far larger purpose in following Garrosh's orders -- not as a loyal supporter of Garrosh Hellscream, but as a loyal member of the Horde.

Garrosh is the warchief of the Horde, but the Horde itself has been around far longer than Hellscream has. Just because your character's ideals don't match with Hellscream doesn't mean that they don't match with the Horde's in general. And your character would be far from alone in that opinion. There are a few NPCs wandering around Pandaria who are very clear on their feelings about Garrosh Hellscream, and they aren't happy thoughts at all.

How do you reconcile faction disloyalty in roleplay SAT
Adapting your character

But the easiest route to follow is the path of least resistance, adapting your character to suit the needs of the story. This doesn't mean that they need to be happy about Garrosh being in control. What this does require is a willingness to adapt your character into a position in which they are OK with following what Garrosh orders them to do. Roleplaying a soldier of the Horde makes this almost a non-issue. Even if your character doesn't care for his commanding officer in the slightest, his commitment to the Horde obligates him to fulfill his duty.

Alternatively, there are overwhelming hints and suggestions that Garrosh is choosing to rule over his people with an iron fist. It's not loyalty that keeps the wheels of the Horde turning -- it's fear. Fear of what will happen if they do not comply. Garrosh has certainly made no bones about the fact that he will quite happily dispatch with any dissenters; this may be something to give your character some pause for concern.

Or your character may be going on these missions in an attempt to showcase the fact that though Hellscream may be an unmitigated jerk, the rest of the Horde does not follow suit. Rather than going to try and avoid Garrosh's wrath, perhaps your character is going out of sheer tenacity and a wish to show the world that the Horde is more than a barbaric, angry, aggressive warchief with a chip on his shoulder. Perhaps he is going because he wants to be the example that he thinks the rest of the Horde should follow. After all, Hellscream's eyes may be upon him, but Hellscream himself is pretty far away from the wilds of Pandaria.

How do you reconcile faction disloyalty in roleplay SAT
The Alliance perspective

Fortunately, the Alliance by and large don't have quite the same problem that the Horde faces. There's a specific reason you're being sent to Pandaria, and it involves Anduin Wrynn. Though Anduin's father Varian is a source of volatile opinions in the Alliance, his son Anduin is by all appearances a really decent kid. He's kind to everyone, regardless of their origin -- draenei and worgen wholeheartedly included.

Because of this, it's easy enough for your character to determine that they are headed to Pandaria for Anduin, and not necessarily for his father. Draenei should have no issues with this, because Anduin has studied quite intensively with the Prophet Velen and is by and large really accepted by draenei society as a result. A child who is notable enough to be taken under the Prophet's wing is a child who should be all means be protected.

The story is a little different for the worgen, but not dramatically so. Anduin didn't understand his father's original concern with the worgen. Varian has allowed the worgen into the Alliance, but the worgen are still based out in Teldrassil, rather than in Stormwind itself. This tends to lend itself to a frame of mind for worgen players that they have something to prove -- and proving themselves by helping the young prince is certainly a good start.

When it comes to roleplay, the name of the game is creativity. Although your character may have one set of opinions and a fairly rigid story, sometimes being too rigid with that story and your character's beliefs can back you into a corner. Giving some thought to the situation can open up some creative solutions to almost any dilemma -- and open up a whole host of potential new roleplaying opportunities to explore as well.

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!

From around the web

ear iconeye icontext filevr