Role Play: Creating character memories
When you’re roleplaying a character in World of Warcraft, you generally have a good idea of where you’d like them to go. Maybe they’re on a quest to find their long-lost family. Or they could just be out to make a name for themselves in the world. Or it’s possible they simply find themselves getting swept up into trouble, and they’re just trying to find a good way out of it.
Regardless, it’s easy enough to figure out where your character is going to go. It’s a little more difficult to figure out where they’ve been. However, while your character’s past is in their past, it also has bearing on their future. Memories and important moments from our past tend to shape who we are, after all – and a character is no exception to that.
Age and important events
Memories also serve a different kind of purpose – they help root your character into the established world in game. The best way to accomplish this is to take a look at the scope of history your character has lived through. Once you’ve done that, you can pick and choose which moments had the most importance to your character.
First, you want to establish your character’s age – we’ve already written some basic guidelines on figuring out character ages. Once you’ve sorted out where your character fits in that timeline, you can take a look at everything they’ve lived through. What stuck with them? Were there any events that hit them particularly hard? Are there any lessons they took away from important moments in history?
Did your character live through any wars? If so, were they participants, or was it simply news they received from far away? Did they have parents or family members in Lordaeron when it fell? Were they there when Cairne Bloodhoof established Thunder Bluff? When Orgrimmar was founded? When Theramore was founded? Establishing where your character was helps determine just how important memories of those events are apt to be.
Choosing your moments
You aren’t really looking for a complete analytical history of everything your character has experienced to date. What you’re looking for are those major historical moments that had some kind of deep effect on your character. Were they around for the First, Second, or Third wars? Do they remember the formation of the Alliance? Do they remember when their race joined the Horde? Where was your character when they when they found out Theramore had been destroyed?
What you want to determine here is how your character was fundamentally changed by these periods in history. Did they lose family or loved ones due to a War, or the plague? Were they separated from friends when the Greymane Wall went up? Did they participate in the original War of the Shifting Sands, or the War of the Ancients? What happened when they experienced this?
Not only does this establish what’s important to your character – what they remember – it helps with character interaction as well. Your character wasn’t the only one to experience these historical moments. Events of major historical significance are going to be talking points for a lot of characters. Along these lines, you’re not just linking your character to world history – you’re also linking them to other characters who may have similar experiences.
Ancient and removed characters
Forsaken characters have more to think about with this, because the Forsaken have only really been around for a little over 10 years at this point. Their memories are likely going to be of their lives before they were killed – the same applies to Death Knights. Do they remember how they died? Do they think about their old lives, and what might have been? Are those old memories something they look at with fondness, or is it something they try not to think about at all?
Obviously, older characters are going to have more history to choose from as well. In the case of ancient races like the Draenei, there’s a lot of history that hasn’t necessarily been established. The same goes for secluded races like the Pandaren, Worgen, or Goblins – each were remote and removed from major historical events.
In that case, you can feel free to just craft your character’s memories as you see fit. We have very little record of what life was like behind the Greymane Wall. We have no idea just how many worlds the Draenei visited before settling on Draenor. The Pandaren were secluded on Pandaria or the Wandering Isle for 10,000 years – they likely didn’t hear about any of these major events. And the Goblins of the Bilgewater Cartel might have been informed, but weren’t in the thick of things.
Giving your character these kinds of links to the past helps to ground them in the game world. It places them in Azeroth’s history, even if it’s not a role as a major character. We use our memories in real life as lessons to learn from – they shape and influence the way we see current events. The same should apply to characters – it helps make them feel a little more authentic, a little more “real.”
And looking at the past can help shape your character’s future as well. The events and moments they’ve witnessed and experienced helped shape them into who they are today. Remember, not every memory has to be an unhappy one. Azeroth may be a tumultuous place to live, but for every conflict, there’s also a moment of victory.
What made your character who they are today? What moments defined them, or changed their way of thinking?
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