Posted by: Sean | January 28, 2009

Theme Week Virtues: Don’t arrest the PURPs!

The thing which really resonated with me from my time in the Katafray Project was that so often the people who I thought might be role-players weren’t. Their names were good, they spoke well with good grammar and diction, yet they did not in the end have the interest to play. And people I didn’t think would were. It was a real shock to me…

And it made me realise how isolated my characters had become. They’d been trapped by the gilded cage of good, solid, reliable role-play.

Don’t get me wrong – A good role-play guild is a blessing. Regular contacts mean that every trip online is worthwhile.

But lets all hear it for the PURPs: Pick Up Role-Players.

A pick up role-play, much like a pick up group at a dungeon, is all about throwing together some play without any organisation beforehand. Just as you might PUG KZ at the meeting stone, so to do role-players frequently PURP role-play in the city. How and why we do it isn’t what I’m here to talk about.

(Although, hey! Commenters! How do you find PURP in the cities? Do you shout for RP in the general chat? Talk to NPCs and hope others pick up on it? Play with people you know and see if others join in? Brazenly accost people for play? We want to know! Tell us in comments!)

What I want to say is: Cheers to you, PURPs. You guys rock, and you make the role-playing world go ’round. Wanna know why PURPing is such an essential part of a good role-play server?

  • It’s visible! Guild role-play is great, but if you spend all your time in your guild hall role-playing, guess what? You’re invisible to the world at large. When people ask, “Where are all the role-players?” then the answer is, “In guild halls.” By contrast, the PURP is right out there, yelling it out to the world at large – I role-play. Shut up, haters, ’cause we ain’t going nowhere. A healthy population of PURPs ensures that role-playing is a known fact of the realm.
  • It creates networks. This is the big one. My gnome has no role-play outside of her guild at all. My warrior is a little better, but still; he role-plays 90% of the time with Jess. It’s dreadful. I enjoy the play and all, but how am I meant to meet new people, find new scenarios, and blend into other people’s stories? I can’t.
  • It is surprising and refreshing. You know what you’re getting in a guild role-play, or a role-play with an established group. Sooner or later, the tropes are worn out. New characters to interact with not only provides new opportunities, but it also gives your character room to grow and change. Much like a good adulterous affair1 can bring passion back into a marriage, a good PURP session can bring spontaneity back into your usual group.
  • It takes courage. It really does. Especially if you flat out brazen it by engaging people at random, you have to get used to a lot of ‘wat’s and other put-downs. And even the role-players you find may not want to play with you.
  • Because getting PURPed feels good. C’mon. You know it as well as I do. It’s just lovely to have a surprise little packet of role-play thrown your way, especially if the person doing it is good. It’s flattering (“Hey! He wants to play with me!”) and amusing all at once.

Now, this last one is not universally true. Technique does count. (Oddly enough, it does share a fair bit of territory with picking up.) You can’t seem like a creepy guy just trying to role-play with anyone. You need to create an appropriate context, and do it right.

But overall?

Give it up for the PURPs. It’s a hard, but important job. Once upon a time, we all began in PURP, after all. But then we find stable groups, we stick in them because it’s convenient and easy, and reliable.

But those who have those groups yet keep PURPing are indeed the virtuous.

1 Blogatelle in no way recommends adultery. Sean will be beaten for this comment. Probably by Jess.



  1. Interesting article! I think I’m actually stuck on the other side of the fence as you.

    Due to my characters and, of course, my OOC nature, I’m stuck as a PURP. Everyone I role-play with is in separate guilds, which leads to a seasonal game where I’m lonely for some time and then overwhelmed the rest.

    Not only that, but everyone is fair game to me. A friend of mine likes to talk about the time that a storyline brought us to Brill, only to be harrassed by a group of leveling Undead. My engineer blamed herself for her malfunctioning robots and eventually leashed them all. It was fun to wander around UC with a band of emoting non-roleplayers pretending to be bashful robots.

    I wish I could have stable RP and more storylines and such. Maybe that’s the curse of being a PURP. 😦

  2. Storylines are overrated. In the past, my roleplaying has been mostly limited to one-shot stuff, and it’s never done me any harm.

    Maybe World of Warcraft is different. I dunno.

  3. See, I like both storylines and PURP; I think the best balance is to be involved with a guild/other players in an ongoing storyline AND go out for PURP when you can.

    However, a lot of people probably don’t have the time for that.

  4. Not for me. I find it difficult to be interested in role-play for very long when there isn’t any real plot. A lot of other players seem to feel the same as Sagaril, but I find that after a year the whole tavern scenario starts to drag on the fun factor. It’s yet another reason I’m considering re-rolling Alliance, despite how much I don’t want to!

  5. When I was still actively RPing on an RP server (I suppose that was a bit redundant.. anywho), I had guild roleplay as well as storylines that developed with other guilds. The best part was those storylines developed out of PURPs.

    I generally found it in the cities. To “advertise” I was dressed for RP and took note of other’s gear… would toss out emotes or greetings to see how they responded.

    Sometimes I’d hit up the RP channel and see if anyone wanted to meet up for “face to face” RP rather than thru the channel…

    But the most interesting always seemed to be the PURPs that would occur when I was out questing.

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