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RoleplayAug 8, 2015 2:00 pm CT

Role Play: End of expansion roleplay

You don’t necessarily have to utilize current game lore for your roleplay, but many players choose to do so. Whether you consider your character actively involved in current events or not, those events are still going on all around you. But when you reach the end of an expansion, and a new one is looming on the horizon, the situation gets even trickier — particularly if there’s a lot of information to be had.

Do you use the information you’ve learned to tailor your roleplay? Do you ignore announcements and soldier on until the current expansion has reached its end? How and when do you determine that the final boss of an expansion is “dead” in the eyes of your fellow roleplayers? Just how do you handle end of expansion roleplay, and what are you expected to do?


Character knowledge

The first thing you need to remember is that your character is not you. They don’t have access to the same information you do, and while you might know some tantalizing tidbits about what’s just down the road, your character is working in the dark. While it might seem like fun to immediately begin preparing for a new expansion the second you know what it’s going to be, not everyone is on the same page with that. And playing a character that suddenly has visions of the future might be fun for you, but if your friends are avoiding any and all spoiler material, they might not appreciate it as much.

In addition, you could potentially be writing your character into a corner they can’t back out of. When it’s this early, we simply don’t know what’s going to happen, especially if there’s no beta available for play. We have no idea where the quests are going to take us, what decisions we’ll be making along the way, or even if the information we’ve been given now is the same information we’ll have when the expansion is finally released.

Trying to roleplay with that information right now is just asking for trouble, because you’re playing with something that doesn’t actually exist yet. While whatever stories you come up with might sound interesting and engaging enough right now, by the time we get to the expansion’s release, you might find that several plot points in those stories just don’t exist or never occur. And that leaves your character in a space that’s very difficult to feasibly write your way back out of again.

black gate, hellfire citadel

End of expansion

The other thing you want to look at is the end of the current expansion, which should probably take priority over whatever information we’ve heard in regards to what’s on the way. If you have any major plot lines that involve events on Draenor, you may want to look towards slowly starting to wrap those up. This is especially the case if you’re roleplaying with a group — you want everyone in your group on the same page when you start out whatever the next expansion has in store.

In addition, there’s the question of what to do about the current expansion. When do you acknowledge that Archimonde has been defeated? You could certainly do so right now if you wanted to, as guilds have already been killing him all along. But it’s not required — and since his death in a way marks the end of this expansion, maybe you don’t want him dead just yet. Or maybe you want to acknowledge his death, and create a storyline about what happens after — what you and your friends are going to do. Are you headed back to Azeroth? Are you staying on Draenor for a while?

The main thing you want to keep in mind is that whether you’re roleplaying with a partner or roleplaying with a group, you want to have everyone on the same page. So sitting down and having a talk, out-of-character, to figure out just how everyone feels and where they want to go in-character, is a good idea. Communication with your roleplay partners is key in making sure everyone is on the same page, and nobody is being inadvertently left behind.


Burnout and you

The main reason you want to be careful here is that you don’t want to cut off too many avenues of potential plot points before you’ve had the chance to fully explore them. We don’t know just how long we’re going to be waiting for the next expansion to come out, but all that new information gets people excited about what’s to come. And if they’re really excited about what’s around the corner, anything involving current events may look a little dull in comparison.

This is where burnout can settle in. It’s not that there’s anything outwardly wrong with the characters you and your friends have created, or the stories that you’ve put together, it’s that all that information looks so good that you’d rather be there, and instead you’re still stuck with what we’ve currently got. This is a common feeling, so don’t feel badly if you’re suddenly bored by what your character is doing right now.

But since we don’t have a new expansion to play right now, you should focus on what you love about your character, and maybe think a little about how that character is going to change in the future, without losing site of what they’re doing right now. If your storylines seem to be boring, maybe changing them or introducing a new plot thread might be a good idea.


Guide, don’t predict

And you can use all that information we’ve learned about the next expansion in those plot threads — just don’t use them directly. In the case of Mists of Pandaria leading into Warlords, we had a group of Horde players mopping up the wreck that the Siege of Orgrimmar left behind. In the meantime, they were dealing with the idea of a brand new Warchief, and uneasily considering the fact that Garrosh Hellscream not only managed to escape, but nobody found a body.

Even that in and of itself was a potential plot thread. Sure, we the players knew where Garrosh went, but our characters certainly didn’t — and a wild goose chase to find Garrosh Hellscream was something that could certainly provide an entertaining diversion while we waited for the next expansion to come out. Going from Cataclysm to Mists of Pandaria, all we had to go on was the idea of some kind of big factional conflict — so ramping up the confrontations with the Alliance wasn’t a bad place to start.

These are just a couple of examples of guiding your character vs. giving your character a sudden bout of precognition. You can subtly find ways to have your character examine current events and pull connections to things that may or may not happen in the future, without having them discover everything that is just around the corner. By doing so, you’ll guide your character into a space where progression into the next expansion feels natural.


Avoid structure

The best advice I can give any roleplayers working with end of expansion roleplay is to simply let the stories flow. Don’t try to force a story that may or may not happen when the expansion comes out, don’t try to plan or predict how your character’s story is going to go in the next expansion. Just go with what you’ve been doing so far in the current expansion, and look for some elegant ways to tie up any loose threads.

You want to avoid letting that glut of new information tailor your roleplay experience. It might be tempting to bust out all the new ideas popping up in your head right now, but it’s better to shelve those for now and focus on cleaning up what’s going on right now, rather than leaving it all in the dust. Finish up your plotlines with your roleplaying partner or group, have a conversation of where your character is headed, and work towards that. Take your time, and don’t try to plot everything out in advance — just let the story happen.

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