Mini-pets can be a terrific tool for role-play, as David Bowers has noted. There’s just something about a pet that role-players really can’t seem to get enough of. They certainly add a touch of cuteness to the game, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But a lot of the pets can also fit even the nastiest, toughest of characters. Plus, pets are a wonderful part of many of the best adventurers. Where would Harry Potter be without Hedwig? Spider Jerusalem without his cat? The Cardboard Tube Samurai without Tonkatsu?
Many of the best hints are already given in that column. However, here are a few other tricks you can use.
- Keep pets for different moods. For those who like having lots of mini-pets, you can start cueing different pets to indicate your mood as a character. Keep a Disgusting Oozeling for when you’re feeling down and dejected, or Mr. Wiggles for when you’ll feeling happy. Pull out Egbert and chase after him for a while to hammer home how frazzled you’re feeling, or (if you’re lucky enough to have one, you jerk) sleep alongside your Panda Cub when you’re tired. While the right choice of pet can make the connection more obvious, the important tip is to consistently apply the same logic, training your regular role-play partners to make the connection without even saying anything. After a while, they’ll hopefully spot that Disgusting Oozeling and be saying, “Oh god, what’s wrong?” immediately.
- Make that one pet an icon for your character. My gnomish rogue always goes around with Speedy the Turtle. Why? Because he’s green. Seriously, that’s the whole logic. Her hair is green, she wears green goggles, she rides a green mechanostrider, and she has a green pet. But I put Speedy in everything. If I’m ever in the city? Speedy is out. At an RP event? Say hello to Speedy. My forum signature pictures? Speedy is right there alongside her. Speedy is everywhere. As such, Speedy is part of my character. People notice if Speedy’s not there. It becomes a quirk, and makes your character more distinct.
- Use them to hint at your character’s story. My undead warrior, a ‘tinkerer’, has a mechanical squirrel that is his most popular pet. When asked, or even unprompted, he will gush over the intricate work he put into it. In one fell swoop, I’ve established he’s an engineer, and that it’s an important part of his character. See? Easy.
- Talk to them. The good thing about a mini-pet, or a hunter’s pet or even a demon, is that you can talk to them to establish character. It’s a great way to deliver an inner monologue without it seeming too odd. Dora, of Questionable Content fame, gives a master class in how to do that here.
- Make your pet into a mirror of you. According to TV Tropes, this is called Empathy Pet and it’s a continuation of classic commedia d’ell arte devices. Whatever, it’s a great way to hammer home personality. Let’s say you’re playing Katafray, a Tauren warrior with a Prairie Dog pet. Whenever you’re delivering a battle plan, have your prairie dog viciously snap his jaws. If you’re hurting, have it limp along after you. (You can do this along the lines David Bowers suggests above, using the /e command with an ” ‘s” after it, as in, “/e ‘s Prairie Dog sneezes at you while his master mocks you.”) Doing this doubles-up your action, emphasising it and making it more powerful.
- Send it on errands. Run, Lassie! Go get help! Deliver a command to your pet to run back to a city and fetch support from your guild. Then, wave /goodbye to it, unsummon it, and whisper your friend to explain that a tiny little dragon whelp has arrived and is tugging on your sleeve.
- It followed me home! I wish it didn’t. You also don’t have to like your pet. Having a mini-pet you hate can be equally amusing, especially if you constantly use emotes to suggest it loves you back and feels sad at your abuse. If you can get your party telling you OOCly in party chat that you’re horrible, you’re doing your job right.
- Just create some stupidly hilarious images. Tiny Walking Bomb. Use Happy Pet Snacks on it. Now have your gnome run across Ironforge screaming the entire time while chased by a love-crazed explosive device.
And, y’know, in Wrath of the Lich King you’ll be able to play with them, groom them and feed them. You could probably make a scene out of any of those, too. Mini-pets are great fun; and you should be using them for role-play.