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The fine line of roleplaying a dual-class character

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.

If we as roleplayers take the stance of roleplaying the role written for us by the developers over at Blizzard, our characters are automatically in a pretty heroic role. While some choose to forgo the option and roleplay the more mundane roles in Azeroth life, others happily embrace that role of the hero without question. Within that role is a variety of different areas you can tweak to your heart's content, but you can rest easy knowing that your character is at least in some small way a part of this giant, ever-evolving storyline Blizzard has to tell.

But what if you'd like to step out of that role of the Blizzard hero -- not into the territory of the everyday mundane, but into a space where you amp up your character a notch or two? @kremlincardinal originally asked this question for The Queue, but it's far more complex than a simple Queue answer could really encompass.

From a roleplay standpoint, are hybrid classes possible (within reason)? Like a rogue with minor magical (mage-like) powers?

Is it possible? Yes. Should you do it? Well ... that's entirely open to interpretation, but we've got a few tips if you're thinking of giving it a try.

The fine line of roleplaying a dualclass character SAT


A dual-class character is one who has skills in more than one class set. There are a couple of ways you could take this -- you could roleplay a character such as a druid, and state that your druid has some latent shaman powers as well. Or you could roll two different characters, a druid and a shaman, and label them as the same person. This subject actually came up in a roleplay guild I was involved in, with people specifically looking to take the second option.

While one might shriek at the thought and immediately scream that said roleplayers were looking for a way to make their characters ultra-powerful, this was actually far from the case. The main issue is that we had players who were interested in rolling another class, but didn't want to leave their main character behind in the process. They wanted to continue the storyline they were working on with their main character, but also be able to level an alt and try out a different class.

After much deliberation, the officers decided to allow it. But multi-class characters were subject to a ton of rules and restrictions, guidelines set in place to keep them from straying too far into ultra-powerful territory. We didn't want to limit the creativity of the people in the guild, but we also didn't want to come across as godmodding to anyone not in the guild. Did it work? By and large, yes -- although we still ran into players not in our guild who were iffy with the dual-class status of some of our guildmates.

The fine line of roleplaying a dualclass character SAT

Rules and guidelines

Rule number one -- your character could learn another class, but they couldn't be ultra-proficient in it. So if you had, as you suggested, a rogue character that wanted to learn magic, they could do so -- but they'd never be a powerful mage. On top of that, they wouldn't really be the best rogue in the world, either. Much like the original label druids received in vanilla, dual-class players were jacks-of-all-trades, yet masters-of-none. Because your character would be taking time off from practicing their main class, it made sense that they'd get a little rusty as they learned more about being that secondary class.

In addition, we stated that characters could not learn more than two classes in the game. It makes sense -- there's only so much one person can learn in a lifetime. To be an effective mage, or warlock, or any other class in the game requires learning and study. Learning two classes was about the limit of what we thought a basic character roaming around Azeroth could logically grasp.

We also required players to use names as close to the original iteration of their main character's name as possible. Because of this, it marked the only exception we had to using alt key symbols in character names. By doing this, it made it very clear to everyone in the guild that this was a dual-class character, and that both the example rogue and mage were one and the same person, with the same backstory and experience.

Rule number one and two were set in place to keep a character from becoming too powerful, rule number two was simply to alleviate confusion. Basically, we wanted to make sure that everyone knew that dual-class characters weren't for making your character an ultra-powerful godlike hero above all heroes. They were for a character-building exercise, an experiment in character development, and an opportunity to roleplay the experience of learning something new.

The fine line of roleplaying a dualclass character SAT

The dangers of dual-classes

Although those restrictions may seem a little severe, they were put into place to discourage players from making characters that were far too powerful. If you start haphazardly slapping powers on a character with no limits, you run the risk of godmoding -- creating a character that is literally as powerful as a god. These types of characters really don't go over well with the rest of the roleplaying public.

In addition, you run the risk of your character being labeled a Mary Sue -- a character who is perfect beyond all reason, can do no wrong, and therefore lacks any kind of realism whatsoever. If your character can do anything in the known universe, what is left for them to learn? How do they grow? What changes them as a character? Mary Sue characters tend to be flat, two-dimensional, and ultimately pretty boring to be around.

The reason you want to avoid both of these stereotypes is that the point of roleplay is a group activity. You spend that time interacting with other people. You don't want to create a character that nobody wants to play with, that pretty much defeats the purpose of roleplay in the first place. So while those guidelines listed above may sound harsh, they were put into place not just to restrict what our guildmates could do, but also to help them create reasonable characters that other people still wouldn't have a problem interacting with.

The fine line of roleplaying a dualclass character SAT

Points to consider

Now, while all of this may sound reasonable and make dual-classing roleplay an appealing option for you, there's still some points you really have to consider before you decide to create one. Why, exactly, do you want to make a dual-class character? Do you want your character to experience learning a new class from day one? Do you want to play a different class, but keep that same character you've come to know and love? Or do you just want to make your character some kind of superhero the likes of which Azeroth has never before seen?

As far as character development is concerned, why does your character want to learn another class? Did they recently discover they have some sort of skill they were previously unaware of, and they want to hone it into something they can use? Are they just incredibly curious about some aspect of that second class, curious enough that they really want to give it a go? Did something happen to them that might have been avoided if they'd been that second class, instead of the class they are now?

These kinds of questions aren't just for you to answer. Pretty much anyone in your roleplaying circle of friends are going to be asking you the same questions, for good reason. They want to make sure you've got a reason for what you're doing, and that your character isn't going to turn into the kind of godmoding Mary Sue that most roleplayers have by now learned to loathe. Because of this, you'll want some really good answers in place before they even begin to ask.

The fine line of roleplaying a dualclass character SAT

Meeting opposition

Although the guidelines listed above are pretty good, and ought to help you keep your character from getting too far out of control, there are still going to be those that are wholly opposed to the idea of roleplaying a dual-class character. To be perfectly honest, they have every right to question your choices, because they don't really fit in with what we know in lore.

Dual-class characters have never been written in Warcraft lore with the exception of Med'an, who came into his powers in the Warcraft comics series due to being the son of a Guardian. Med'an's also widely regarded as a particularly unpopular character, mostly because of his weird multi-class superpowers that don't really fit in with the rest of the Warcraft universe.

Like it or not, dual-class roleplay characters are not going to be accepted with open arms. While they offer a really neat opportunity for roleplay, you may be limiting yourself in terms of roleplay opportunity. If this is fine by you, then by all means, play as many classes as you like -- but keep in mind that others may not be so accepting.

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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