Posted by: Sean | December 18, 2008

When being a good role-player does not mean being a good person.

David Bowers is fond of suggesting that a good role-player is a good person first. True, and his points are worthwhile. But is this really true?

Let’s try this scenario: You’re playing an Alliance character, maybe between levels 45-55 or even higher. It’s a PVP/RP server. You’re passing through Hillsbrad (let’s face it, it’s a common place to pass through) and you spot a lower levelled Hordie attacking the Southshore farmers. Now, these aren’t PVP flagged mobs, they’re quest mobs for the Horde.

But damn it, those farmers provide your food. You launch into battle and one-shot that poor sucker.

He dies swiftly, and you go about your way. But then, a few seconds later, he tries again. Rarr! Die puny Horde!

And again. And again.

Sir or madame? You’ve just become a griefer. You’re pointedly screwing with his ability to finish his quests. As did I. Yep, I was that griefer. The person in question was a blood elf rogue, and my gnome rogue proceeded to shish-kebob her a number of times. It was a somewhat troubling experience, enough so that I opened up a ticket with a GM to discuss the issue. Not a bad discussion at all. But effectively, here’s what we worked out.

  1. Doing what I was doing was not a violation of the ToS or any policy. If I’d started killing the quest giving NPCs over and over, that would be different.
  2. I was in no trouble. So legally, go ahead and do it all you want. After all, ganking is not a bannable offense.
  3. But morally, I was on my own. Since it wasn’t against the rules, Blizzard couldn’t tell you if it was ethically or morally wrong. That’s up to you to decide.

So, which was I? A bad person? A bad role-player, or both?

I think the answer is that I was a good role-player but a bad person. I mean, you couldn’t not step in for the farmers and still claim to be a good heroic character. You couldn’t. But I was a bad person, for sure – I got in the way of that other player’s fun.

Would another approach have been better? Perhaps had I sapped the rogue when she was out of combat and then used the /no emote to show that I would protect these farmers… would that have been better? I say no. It still would have done the same thing in the end.

The simple fact is: She wanted to kill those mobs. Going by role-play standards, I was honour bound to stop her.

Sometimes, being a good role-player means being a bad person.


  1. Generally, I think you are right in your assertion of what you were ultimately. Because the simple fact is, if your role-playing a good character and see people in danger (from the opposing faction no less) then you will do what you can. But this is where the game screws things up.

    Had this been in real life, and you killed the attacker of the farm. They be gone forever under most circumstances and then you could move on. But the game allows the attacker to come back as much as they like, so of course the need to continuously defend arises within you. Though you must remember, if it was real then there be no second round unless the person escaped before you killed them or magic got involved. So keeping that in mind, you should just ignore all further attacks as they solely exist because of in-game mechanics. Now if other people continued to defend or attack, then that be fine as it be a new person each time so the event be the first time it happened for each individual probably.

    But once the first time is done, I say move on. Because then all you are is a griefer, if you stay and defend against the same person or people over & over. Of course, the only way out of this rule is if the person you were fighting used magic to come back. As then the person could come back within reason over & over. But even that scenario has its limits of course.

    So simply put, fight until in-game mechanic’s take over completely. Like if the character you fought was resurrected by another player, then fight on still. If they were undead then fight on. Or if anything else made them come back that make sense if it was all real then fight on. But once they come back through sheer in-game mechanic’s only, then act as if they are not there and move on to your next Hordie to smash. 🙂

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