Some of us don’t like to admit it, but there’s always going to be something that we’re just not entirely okay with roleplaying. I’ve had it put to me that if there’s something that you’re not okay with roleplaying, then you’re not a ‘good’ roleplayer – or even worse, that you are a ‘bad’ roleplayer. I want to shoot that down right away. That’s utter nonsense.
Let me briefly clarify; if the thing you don’t want to roleplay at all is something that your character is built around, I will raise an eyebrow at this, depending on the details. I’ve roleplayed with people who have done this, and it always puzzles me a little bit – but alright. We’ve established that everyone has something they’re not okay with roleplaying, however ‘good’ a roleplayer you are.
It’s true. Even if you’re not easily ‘squicked’ or made uncomfortable, there’ll be at least one thing that you just can’t really get into. I’ve known people who refuse point-blank to roleplay anything sexual, people who don’t want to play the Undead because that gets into icky territory, or people who just can’t quite wrap their head around some gender role, or some societal role. Personally, I have a couple of things that I’m not entirely okay with roleplaying, and I manage to work my way around them.
But say one of them comes up – either it’s something you just can’t wrap your head around, or something that just plain makes you feel uncomfortable. We’ve all been there at least once. How do you approach it? Do you run with it for as long as you can? Tell the other person you don’t want to? Try to cut it off at the pass?
Personally, I’m a big fan of not letting your personal feelings get in the way of something that would normally happen in character… on the condition that allowing it to happen doesn’t make it even harder for you to play your character. For instance, if you just don’t want to roleplay anything sexual and yet a scene is heading that way, and there’s no in-character way to brush it off, I would personally recommend finding some way to let the other party know (and frankly, in World of Warcraft, it’s officially against the rules to play anything like that, so you’re in safe territory), and opt for a fade-to-black on the subject matter. You’re still playing it perfectly in-character – they’re off doing their thing, you just don’t have to be present for it.
This is one of those times, in my opinion, when it’s perfectly OK to say something out-of-character to the other person. When your comfort levels are coming into the equation, there shouldn’t even be a question about whether it’s “okay” to talk to them about it.
If it’s something a bit more long-lasting than that, obviously it’s much more advisable to just cut it off at the pass rather than set your character up for something that you’re never going to be able to play properly, for whatever reason. This can constitute any multitude of things, depending on where your lines are drawn, but this is a point where you should either find a way to get out of the situation in character, if that’s possible, or firmly tell the other party that you just don’t want to go there, period.
I know that it can sometimes be awkward telling someone that you’re not into where the scene is going, but it shouldn’t be somehow wrong to do so. There’s channels through which to communicate with someone in that instance – party chat, whispers, even the dreaded double-brackets if you don’t have any other way. Don’t be afraid to use them.