Posted by: Sean | November 11, 2008

Play the Board

OK, a while back I posted a frankly ranty post on role-playing in various channels, and declared that only say, yell and emotes were fair venues for role-playing. For this, I was roundly criticised, and since I hate being left out, today I’m going to criticise myself for it too. Oh, not in the way you think. I’m still deadset against party for role-play mostly, and whisper I think is only suitable when you’re actually whispering to someone. And even then you should emote to let people know you are whispering to someone, even if you don’t reveal what it is you’re whispering.

But what about the channels? That is, General, Trade, Local Defence or Looking for Group?

Anyone who’s played on a role-playing server knows that even there, the global channels are pretty much out of character turf. I see this as one of the many proofs that even role-playing servers are really first and foremost general servers; there just aren’t enough role-players out there to sustain as many servers as we have, so that’s understandable. And hey, a global channel is global. These channels have other purposes, especially trade, so it’s hard to role-play as others try to aggressively use the channel out of character.

So clearly, you shouldn’t do it, right?


There’s nothing wrong with role-playing here, except the old bugbears; there’s no immediate rationale for play, how are you hearing each other, etc. But hell, we’ve dealt with worse. A couple of special rules do apply to role-playing there if you do, however.

  • Don’t get in the way of the monkeys. (Monkey, n. A non-role playing gamer who none-the-less plays on a role-play server, derived from the abbreviation for out of character; ie. OOC, or ‘ook’. May be used affectionately or dismissvely.) Look, we all know the monkeys are out there, and this is sort of their turf in many ways. Yes, you will get, “lol rp” posts. So be it. Yes, it’s annoying that this happens even on alleged role-play servers. Just ignore it, politely point out it’s a role-play server if you must. This is one of the few times the dreaded double parenthesis are allowed.
  • Be clearly in-character. Because it’s traditionally an out of character zone, you need to be very clearly in character here to signal to everyone what’s going on. A good troll or dwarvish accent helps. A good orcish expression or night elf oath would work, too.

And… that’s it. I didn’t say there were many rules.

So how could you handle the different channels? A few loose ideas.

  1. [General] [Sean]: In some ways, this is the hardest one to work with. Any global chatting at this level could in theory be working face-to-face in say. The best bet might be a Town Square style of play, where you take on the roles of pundits arguing a point. This could also be hard to develop. In general (HA! I PUN!) I’d say avoid role-play here, but you can give it your best shot.
  2. [Trade] [Sean]: There is nothing quite so wonderful as a good in-character sales pitch. Stay in character, and start hawking! Point out the selling features on your brand new sword! Fine cutting edge, and just look at these blade grooves; so good you’ll barely need to clean the blood off! Makes an attractive decoration in your home. Machine washable, darling, that’s a new feature. (Sword washing machines may be bought in Tinker Town at 50s each.) You get the idea. Basically, be creative and fun. Imagine you’re in a marketplace, yelling over all the other sellers.
  3. [Local Defence] [Sean]: To arms! Hut hut hut! This channel is great when played with a military style and I think may just be the most likely to be actually role-played within. People seem to fall into their role-play patterns here a lot more swiftly. None the less, scouting reports, “Two horde reported at The Great Lift, heading north! They look like trouble. Request advisement.” and battle cries, “To arms, my brothers! Destroy the Alliance scum killing our lift operators! Lok-tar ogar!” are both really at home here.
  4. [Looking for Group] [Sean]: I admit, I’ve never seen any role-play here. But none the less, you could use an approach from either 2. or 3. here with ease. “Sword for hire; 14 seasons, has own sword, will travel. Cutting up corrupt night elves a speciality! Interested in spelunking,” or, “The world shakes! Stormwind has need of you! Join me and help clear out these prison trash!”. Both are workable.

There is, finally, one more question. Is this really in character, or psuedo-in character? It could be either. While you could definitely rule these exchanges in character, there is a time honoured tradition of playing your characters in “non-canon” conversations, just having fun with staying in character with often ridiculous situations. These channels are a fine place to do this. On the other hand, it doesn’t have to be. If you want these to be true, you definitely can make it that way.

Just, y’know, work out how everyone’s speakin’ in there first.


  1. In-character LFG advertisements used to be my specialty. Although I rarely PUG (or RP) these days, on the occasions when I do I find that, if I’m having trouble filling a spot, the more creative I get about my advertisement the more likely I am to get someone to fill the opening. What’s more, it’s usually filled with someone with a brain… or at least a good sense of humor. 🙂

    I also did some hawking of wares on Trade In Character back in my RP days.

    I tell you, ever since I added Blogatelle to my feed reader I’ve gotten awfully nostalgic…

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