Posted by: Sean | January 12, 2009

Theme Week ATST: The Clothes Make the Man

One of the common ideas that you’ll find in role-play circles is the RP Set; a set of clothes that are reserved for role-play purposes rather than out and about questing. The name comes from the idea of having different ‘sets’ of armor (and often weapons) for various dungeon scenarios, such as a “Resistance Set”. Since many role-players also like to get out into end-game and go for the best gear, it makes sense that the stuff they’re wearing for the best stat-bonuses may not also be the stuff worn for the best role-play.

But how much is too much? What’s the best approach for this? Below are a few ways people approach the idea of an RP set, and some comments about the strengths and weaknesses of each.

  • Whatya mean? This is my RP Set! Some people just don’t have time for the whole concept at all. As far as they’re concerned, the best gear out of the dungeon is exactly what their character would be wearing. And believe it or not, this really does work for some characters. If your character concept is a professional soldier or a hardened adventurer, then yes, they’re going to be wearing the top-of-the-line, best gear out there. That just makes sense in-character… most of the time. If a scene was about a meeting on the field of battle, it makes perfect sense. In a war council? They might be wearing their armor, I guess. A lazy day in the city? Come on. Even the hardest of soldiers needs a bit of time off, and are they really going to be wearing heavy, constrictive armor on those days? No. You can work around it a bit by taking off the chest piece, turning off helmet graphics and cape graphics, etc. but in the end, it still looks awkward. Pros: Saves on bag space. No effort required. Cons: Can trigger the ‘clown effect’. Limited usability.
  • Three piece suit. Some people like to have two outfits: Their dungeon gear and their single RP Set, with the RP set being pointedly civilian gear. The classics here are, of course, the tuxedo set for men (and some women, a woman can look hot in a tux) or one of the many dresses available.(For women, or some men. Hey, a man can look fabulous in a dress!) But there’s many variants available. The theory here is straightforward – Both are RP sets. Their standard gear becomes an RP set in battle, the other is for civilian life. It’s a workable compromise, but the drawback is also pretty clear: Your battle gear may not be the best suited to your character’s look. If your character is a dashing swordsman, but the best weapon for you right now is a hammer, you need to either modify the character or choose not to use the hammer. Pros: Doesn’t use up much bag space. Allows for some versatility in scene, and gives you the ability to select an outfit for effect. Civilian attire is pretty easy to get. Cons: Still invites the clown effect.
  • Casual wear, dress attire, and business wear. This is probably the most common one I see. (Well, no. The most common is ‘Whatya Mean? This is my RP Set!’, but I mean among those who try for one.) This variant sees people with a civilian wear set, an ‘RP set’ that is comprised of attractive armor and finally their raid gear. The idea here acknowledges that most RP takes place in various locales – Unsurprisingly, World of Warcraft has a lot of war in it. The trick is getting a balance right – In truth, your level means more than your gear for most encounters, so it doesn’t hurt too much to be wearing below-par gear. However, sometimes the exact piece you want can be very hard to find: A fiery halo is a very cool thing to have hovering around your head, but your options for getting it are a very rare drop in Blackrock Depths or beating Ragnaros, and then only if you can wear mail. Still, some people swear by doing this, and they find a lot of fun in hunting down the ‘perfect RP gear’. (I admit, if I ever get my holy priestess up to that sort of level, I’d very strongly consider doing my damndest to get her a fiery halo. I’d totally use the effect on it to show my character in a righteous fury.) Pros: You will look badass in all your planned RP scenes. You will always look appropriate. Flexible enough to encompass most role-play events. Cons: Takes time and bag space. Can be frustrating as you build your perfect set. A pain in the ass if you get jumped on a PVP server while not wearing your best combat gear.
  • I don’t care what my teachers say. I’m gonna be a supermodel. Like the above times three or four. These people want the perfect outfit for every occasion. Multiple RP sets are the order of the day. There is a certain logic to this; who wears the same clothes day in, day out? The problem is that it’s also all the problems of the above rank times three or four as well – As such, it tends to be the purview of those who enjoy putting together a perfect RP set… and then achieve it. Pros: Everything above, times three or four. Cons: You know what I’m going to say.
  • Whatya mean? This is my dungeon gear! The direct inverse of the first set, these people want to look good. They will actually turn down perfectly good gear because it doesn’t match the look they’re after. At the extreme end of this, you have people who find a set of armor that they put together and will never change it ever again. (This lot is mighty rare.) More commonly, you find people who can change some or even most of their armor, but certain rules will prohibit a few upgrades. (By way of a for instance, my undead warrior does indeed have a simple rule: He wears no headgear that is not a crown. And not a silly stupid looking one. Dear Blizzard, please make more nice, understated crowns like the Symbolic Crown.) Pros: Saves on bag space as much as the first one. You always look badass. Cons: You’re not badass, and at its extreme ends, you’re a freaking liability.

For what it’s worth, most people fall into multiple characters. I fall into the second and last, for instance, most of the time. A civilian set, and then everything else is my dungeon gear. At times this gets really ridiculous: I have a character who wears no boots, no chest piece, and will only wear skirts. (He’s male, if that matters.) This is a serious liability, especially since I was stupid enough to make him on a server that wasn’t where my main was – I’m actually pondering a paid transfer for the first time ever because of this. Or at the very least remaking him, he’s not very high level. Think about it, it’s not until level 14 that I can get another upgrade to his leg slot and that piece looks like a skirt for carnies. At level 34 I get a frankly really nice bit of gear, and even then it’s rare as all hell.

But that’s sometimes what an RP set can get you.

You can cripple yourself for an audience.


  1. Blizzard was kind enough to provide death knights with not one, but TWO sets of matching gear.

    One of them consists of really good item-level 70 rares – it’s completely feasible to level through Outland without replacing any of them, if you want.

  2. Come to think of it, you’d probably only use one or the other, and neither would make very good outfits for a death knight who’s trying to remain, er, “low-key,” but it’s nice to have them there.

  3. When it comes to clothing, what you wear can really bring great effect to a scene and your character in general. As such, I think all role-players should at least take the second approach you listed.

    For me, I take the third option at minimum (once its feasible) and with enough time, I go the forth route. Because, having plenty of outfits can be great but probably only be for serious role-players, as I doubt the casual variety go to the trouble of assembling a pirate outfit or something really fancy for like a wedding event or something. Though I hope no one be so hardcore as to have a new outfit a day, because the amount of work to do such be crazy…

    And I definitely like to see what Jess, Pixel and the others feel about this.

  4. This is where it’s handy to play a feral druid. My RP clothes are all quadripedal. And with Wrath gear, the warlock’s sitting pretty. “Oh. Dark clothes. I can sit over here, blend in, and nothing will come eat my soul.” (She’s somewhat reality-challenged…)

    Just don’t ask me about the mage who ran 3/4 of Molten Core in her fishing outfit.

  5. I would love to have more RP clothing for my characters, but they’re all challenged for bag and bank space!

    My shaman and druid carry both DPS and healing sets and that’s one 20 slot bag for each of them. By the time you add in a few potions, some food, crafting junk, quest junk, that thing I promised to give to X and keep forgetting to mail…, I’m lucky to have a slot or two left for a dress or robe for either of them!

    (And if you tend to forget to put your fishing outfit away, be sure you get the fishing pole from the Tuskarr. Better DPS on that thing than on a lot of staves!)

  6. With Walachia and Biancus, a human warlock and a troll priest, I go with “Whatya mean? This is my RP Set!”, because they wear cloth armor, and therefore have no logical reason to change clothes in town. Sometimes- like when Ieason’s pants were a pair of furry briefs, and the best chest armor he had was a vest, not a robe, I gave him “in town” civilian pants. This hasn’t happened with Walachia.

    With my troll warrior, Ieason, I do have a pair of cloth pants that he wears in town, and I remove his chest armor too (he goes shirtless). I usually leave his other gear alone, he’s too low-level to have a helmet, and I want to conserve bag space. Removing chest and leg armor makes it look like he’s taken his armor off, so “Three piece suit.”

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