Posted by: Jess Riley | February 12, 2009

Theme Week Friends and Family: Have You Met My Cousin?

It’s only natural that when you write up a basic idea of your character’s family tree, and move to mesh it out a little, you’ll realise how fantastic it would be if you rolled up one of the other family members as well. After all, it’ll add more depth to both characters, and your roleplay partners will get access to more total backstory.

Well… there’s an obvious problem with this, which is that they’ll never actually interact. Sure, you can write about them having interacted off-camera, but you’ll never actually play them against each other. Hiring someone else to play a member of your family can also cause a number of problems, as you lose effective control of what they do, from the moment they hit ‘accept’ on the character creation scene. If they don’t play the way you like, it’s tough cookies to you.

Let’s face it: there’s no perfect way to bring in your character’s relatives. And yet we want to – now that we’ve looked at our backstory, planned out how the other character fits in, we want to see how they actually go. So, what are the best ways to actually introduce a new relative of your character?

  • A Close Friend: Someone you know, and who you trust to play the character well could offer to take them up. This is good – you get to role-play with them personally, ad watch the relatives play off each other, you can tag-team other people, and there’s a new spin on it, and potentially, new ideas that you never would have thought of without their input. The cons are that, even if you understand the way they want to play, unless they’re checking all their points against you, something could still come up that you hadn’t planned for and didn’t see in the character’s future. That’s a risk that’s always going to happen – but if you’re on the same page regarding the characterisation, that’s a marginal concern.
  • Your Alt: You can’t interact with them personally, but you’ve got full control over everything they do. This probably comes with more concerns than getting a friend to play them – your character can’t ever interact with them, and there’s no secondary influence of someone else’s creativity, but at least you get to play them and, if you’re having bursts of creativity on the subject, that’s probably what you want anyway.
  • Write, Don’t Play: If you’ve got a guild forum, or an off-game roleplay program for the same characters (something I intend to discuss in a future post), there’s nothing to say you can’t incorporate the new character into that other media (as well as playing them as an alt?). This way your two characters can interact more easily, but you don’t really get the fun of playing it in World of Warcraft itself (and that’s why you’re here, right?). On the other hand, if you’re incorporating two ideas, and playing the two characters separately on game and together on the forum/chat program/etc, you’ve got the best of both worlds – this is your best option.


  1. If you’re one of those crazy folks with so many alts you need more than one account, there’s a fourth option in making them on the other account, if you have room. It’s dual-boxing, roleplayer style!

  2. What about using a non-major NPC as your family member? Fulthruttle has one of the medics in Gnomeregan as her mother, for instance, still down there trying to find the rest of her family.

  3. I hope to [insert deity or belief structure here] that you haven’t met MY cousin… Sometimes I just want to strangle…

    Oh. You meant IC family.


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