World of Warcraft is perhaps best described as a “big” game. It’s a massively multiplayer online game, set in a huge world. The settings are characterised by sweeping open spaces for the most part; look at the huge ceilings in Ironforge, the sprawl of Orgrimmar, the towers of Thunder Bluff. The humor is broad, the plots epic.
Nothing is small in World of Warcraft. And neither should be your roleplay.
- Don’t be subtle. Use a sledgehammer. When you think about it, it’s really hard to be subtle in World of Warcraft. Your emotes are big. There’s no small, wiping away a tear from your eyes – Instead, you cry into both hands. Don’t fight this with /e remarks, instead, play it up. One of the biggest mistakes I think I’ve seen Warcraft roleplayers make is to be afraid of the /yell command. I can kind of understand the logic of people saying they don’t want to interrupt everyone else in the zone with their sudden shout of, “You will pay for that, you monstrous cur!” or “Get back here!” or “AHHH! RUN AWAY!” But you know all those people who complain, “Where’s the roleplay?” Well, consider a yelled response a zone wide invitation to roleplay. If you hear one, try and find the yeller and run for them. I mean, when you hear yelling, you go to check it out. Yelling is big, it’s WoW, and it’s a great way to pull people into a roleplay. The other side to this is that it’s hard to pick up on subtle offers and roleplay hooks in WoW than it is in many other games. Warcraft just isn’t geared for them. Instead, drop your plot hooks like anvils; it’s not out of place, and it facilitates good, reciprocal roleplay. Just pick up other people’s anvils, too!
- Don’t be afraid that you’re not funny. You surely can think of a better joke than Haris Pilton or Nutral. The bar for humor in World of Warcraft is not set that high, and that should give you confidence. Pop culture references are utterly fair game, especially in more light hearted scenes. I get chuckles with nothing more than treating a warlock’s imp like a dog, or just screaming the aforementioned, “AHHH! RUN AWAY!” when a fight goes badly. Don’t be afraid to poke fun. It’s one of the many ways World of Warcraft is a lot of fun; it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
- Plot big. The other thing, and I think that this is a big holdover from MU* style play, is that a lot of players are afraid of creating truly epic plots. That somehow, the only plots you’re allowed to run are things where nobody’s really in danger, where tensions are low, and the stakes personal. Hell with that! It’s a big epic world, play to it. Just remember your limits of effect; you can’t really expect random players to suddenly buy into your massive epic plot. This is where a good roleplaying guild can really come to the fore; by creating a small storytelling circle, you can create bigger and bigger plots involving kidnappings, murder, sacrifice and all that other good stuff. When you’re in pickup groups, it’s probably best to think small, yes – But it’s not because that’s the only way WoW can play. The more history you have with other players, the bigger you can go.
- Scream. Kick. Rant. Declare. Terrify. Rejoice. And if you’re going big, make it big. Use those two-dollar words like they’re going out of fashion like vengeance, justice and glory. Have fun with it. Be pulpy, be memorable, and be big.