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Embracing the darkness: Roleplaying the warlock

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.

You want evil? Forget the warriors of the world, scoff at the rogues and give the mages of Azeroth a collective raspberry. Let's face it, nothing is as seductive as embracing the powers of darkness, harnessing fel energies and twisting them at your whim. Nothing is as addictive as the sweet thrill of control, and warlocks are all about control.

You want danger? How about following a path that leads to ultimate corruption for the majority of those that choose to tread it? How about harnessing demonic entities, never knowing whether they will serve you, or turn on you -- crushing your body into a fine mist, your bones to dust? How about having your very soul hang in balance between control and chaos, ready to teeter either way at a moment's notice?

The life of a warlock is incredibly interesting, and far from what any would call remotely sane.

Embracing the darkness Roleplaying the warlock SAT

Who you are

What is a warlock? In most cases, a warlock was someone else, once upon a time -- a student of another area of magic. Yet when presented with the option to follow a darker path, one that delved into the fel, dark magic of shadow, said student took that option willingly, even eagerly. Warlocks first appeared on Azeroth during the First War, when Gul'dan led the Horde through the Dark Portal and invaded Azeroth in the name of the Burning Legion.

Prior to that ... warlocks weren't really on Azeroth at all. Oh, there were tales of wicked mages gone wrong, of necromancy, of darker areas of magical study, but those areas were forbidden. And there may have been a few that dared to open these tomes of dark magic, but they were quickly dealt with. Gul'dan was the first of the orc warlocks, a former shaman who was so obsessed with power that he eagerly took what Kil'jaeden offered without a second thought.

And before Gul'dan, there were the eredar from which the draenei originated. These eredar chose to follow Sargeras willingly, and as a result turned their studies from arcane magics to fel. It seems to be a common running theme for all races of warlock, regardless of the origins of that race. In a way, factional lines almost don't really matter to a warlock -- what matters is power, in any way it can be grasped.

Most warlocks were another class at some point in their lives -- many of them mages at one point in time or another. But when presented with the choice of more power, they chose power, regardless of the risk involved. And for some, it wasn't about the power at all. After the arrival of Gul'dan and his cavalcade of warlocks, the other races of Azeroth slowly began practicing the dark arts. While some may have been attracted to power, others thought the best way to defeat an enemy was to learn how that enemy worked. Thus, to beat the warlock, you must become the warlock.

For someone roleplaying a warlock, the question then becomes who was your character, before he turned to this path of fel magic and shadow? Was he a mage, bored to tears with the intricate studies of the arcane, wishing for something more? Was he a paladin, tempted to darkness and choosing to forgo the Light altogether in a bid for power? Was he a shaman, a druid, who decided to trade up on the scale of manageable power and move on from grasping roots to powerful infernals? Or was he simply a caster who decided to turn to the dark arts as a means of combating them?

What was your character's family like? Were they all relatively nice, normal people? Was there a practitioner of the dark arts somewhere along the family tree? Was there some influential person along the way who bent his ear and told him this was a path of unimaginable power and prestige?

Embracing the darkness Roleplaying the warlock SAT

What defines you, and why you fight

For a warlock, it's mostly all about that power and the prestige that comes along with it. Let's face it -- no sane person would willingly traffic with demons because they thought it would be a particularly fun time. Most sane individuals would quickly back away from something thought of as evil or wrong. Yet warlocks aren't exactly the most sane of individuals. Think of the power-mad mages of the Kirin Tor, and then crank the dial up another couple hundred notches, and you've got yourself a warlock.

This doesn't mean that all warlocks are completely insane. To the contrary, a warlock has to have incredible amounts of self-control in order to keep a demon bound in servitude. A warlock is a master of power -- how to access it, how to wield it, and how to keep it firmly in check. What's more, a warlock is completely aware of how much power he wields. More often than not, he's proud of it, and stands above those with less -- particularly those meddlesome mages who were too cowardly to embrace the power that the dark has to offer.

So what makes a warlock fight? Power. But that's the easy answer, of course -- the truth is, it's up to the individual warlock in question. What makes your character fight for the Alliance or the Horde? What makes him run errands for the NPCs he encounters in game? Is it the promise of more power? Is it the idea that he'll get to demonstrate his power to those around him? Is it the potential of finding more power to learn, master and control, out in the wild?

Is your character egotistical, believing himself to be better than those around him? Or is he constantly watching, observing, taking in the actions of those around him and filing them away for future reference? Is he out in the world to show people how amazing he is, or to learn every dark secret the world has to offer? Or is there some other reason he follows that dark path and fights for others instead of simply gathering all the power he can find for his own purposes?

Embracing the darkness Roleplaying the warlock SAT

Interaction with others

Warlocks are traditionally the "evil" class, but it doesn't mean that your character is automatically everyone's enemy. Does your character interact with plenty of other people? How does he view those people? Are they trusted friends, minions, or puppets waiting to have their strings pulled by his deft hand? Is he open with others about his use of the dark arts, or is it a secret he keeps to himself, wary of the reaction of others?

Does your warlock keep his demons at his side even in the most populated of areas, or does he dismiss them out of courtesy for others? Does he view his demons as friends, or as tools that he wields out of necessity, to get the job done? Does he brag about his exploits to those around him, or does he quietly do his job, not asking for praise or accolades?

While warlocks make for very good villains, they don't necessarily have to be. And while warlocks by and large thirst for power, the reasons behind that thirst may vary. A warlock doesn't necessarily have to be out for himself. He can just as easily be a student, a scholar who wants to learn everything the world has to offer, both light and dark. His mingling with demonic entities could be because of some altruistic intent -- after all, the best way to defeat an enemy is to know it inside and out.

It may seem like a warlock would be your standard evil character, but they have the potential to be far more than that. Far more clever than your average citizen, a warlock walks the line between good and evil, fully aware of the danger that he is in every moment of every day. And although they can be egotistical, maniacal, or otherwise dastardly in intent, it's the that line that they walk that ultimately makes warlocks a satisfying and sometimes devious choice for roleplay.

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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