One of the things that you have to take into account if you really want to up the realism in your roleplay is that you start with an incredible amount of combat ability. We’ve talked about this, and the implications for roleplay before.
We haven’t really discussed, however, the matter of levels and how they relate to roleplay. As you play more, your character gets stronger and better – they’re no longer talented amateurs, they’re killing machines. How does this relate to the way you roleplay?
A lot of people ignore the early levels in their roleplay and don’t actually up the intensity until they’re at the level they want to be. That’s fine, but others, like me, prefer to keep up the roleplay from the very beginning. This means that as you play through the game, your character evolves from a relative weakling to a buffed up superhero-esque soldier. How, if at all, does that relate to the way they’re actually played?
Consider a few things, here:
One, after that much fighting and training, you will not be the same. A naive farmgirl will not be the same at level one as at level eighty; by the time she’s trained that much, she has seen a lot of bloodshed, experienced a lot of things, gone to a lot of different places. She will be much more worldly at level eighty than she was at level one – there’s really no way to get around it.
Two, if a part of your concept was poor combat skills, there’s no way you can justify that after a certain number of levels. The fact is that, however skilled you are at the beginning, that by level eighty you haven’t picked a few things up. It’s impossible to ignore, at this point: you have grown, you have learned. You can’t keep being unskilled and naive forever.
“But wait!”, I hear you cry. “I don’t want my character to grow out of being naive and a bit clumsy. How on Azeroth can I justify this while still experiencing all the game content?”
The short answer is simple. You can’t. It’s perfectly natural to want to stick with the character concept you’ve come to love, just as it’s perfectly natural to want to explore as much of the game content as possible. The thing is, though, that without some handwaving (or only exploring the content out of character), you can’t have both. By any measure of realism, someone who can band together with some fellows of equal level and kill one of the Karazhan bosses isn’t just a clumsy, naive everygirl – they have to be much more than that.
I fall into the same trap, myself. By any rights, a level 61 Forsaken should not be surprised by very much – she should be used to killing others for reasons that vary dramatically in morality, if nothing else. And yet, occasionally, I still fall into the trap of treating her like the innocent schoolteacher who grew up in Tyr’s Hand before it became a Crusade town, and not like the skilled killer she has grown into.
It’s difficult to let go of a character concept, even when they have developed to a point where their original concept just doesn’t fit anymore – especially when you haven’t had a chance to actually roleplay a lot of the milestones that you would have faced.
You can always handwave these things and pretend like they’re not really happening – people do it all the time, and if you’re careful, it’s perfectly justifiable. However, I think it makes for better and more well-rounded characters if they are allowed to grow and evolve with time and experiences.
No one stays the same forever, not even fictional characters.