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Role PlayFeb 6, 2016 2:00 pm CT

Role Play: Choosing a faction — Alliance

We’ve had several columns now where we’ve talked about developing and creating a character — the basics of story creation, setting up character profiles, and even some of the basics of beginner roleplay. But those columns all kind of stem from the presumption that you’ve already chosen what you want that character to be. What if you haven’t even decided what kind of character to make just yet?

You could just go through and pick whatever race happens to be aesthetically pleasing to you, or you could go take a quick glance at racial history and see which race grabs your eye. But in World of Warcraft, it’s not just a matter of which race you choose — faction and the faction divide are also heavily part of Warcraft‘s story. That faction tells you who you’ll be able to roleplay with, and who you won’t. There are some creative workarounds for inter-faction roleplay, but before we jump into that, let’s look at the basics of each faction first. This week, we’ll take a look at the Alliance.

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The Alliance

Right off the bat: In terms of good guys vs. bad guys, the Alliance are often touted as the “good guys” on Azeroth. They fight for what’s right, struggling against all odds to create a world of peace — and more importantly, defending it from whatever bad things happen to come their way. The Alliance has changed drastically over the years, however.

Originally the Alliance was simply the Alliance of Lordaeron back in the Second War, created by the unification of seven Human kingdoms, the Dwarves, the Gnomes, and the High Elves of Quel’thalas. After the Second War, the High Elves left the picture, and after the Third War, the Night Elves joined. Since then, the Alliance has been steadily picking up allies — the Draenei, the Worgen, and the Pandaren have all joined over the course of the last several years.

Here’s the thing, though — as “good guys,” the Alliance are always fighting and defending against evil. In order for that to happen, that means that the Alliance are almost constantly being battered from all sides. They may want to live in peace, but as part of an ongoing story, they can’t ever get that peace. It means that you’re constantly going to be thrown into situations while questing in which you lose, the better to give you motivation to fight harder the next time around.

Which is pretty good for roleplay, in a way, because you’re never going to be wanting for conflict. The strength of the Alliance isn’t in simply wishing the world could be better, it’s in that innate tenacity that keeps them fighting to make the world better, time and time again. Sure, they get beaten down — they get beaten down a lot — but they always get back up again. That’s the kind of struggle that being a hero is all about — so hey, if you’re looking to play the golden boy, the Alliance is probably where you’d like to be.

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Alliance races

The Alliance has seven races to choose from:

  • Human: Humanity is viewed as the “leaders” of the Alliance, with King Varian Wrynn at the helm of it all. This isn’t necessarily because the Humans are the strongest: it likely has to do with the fact that the Humans were the ones who formed that original Alliance of Lordaeron in the first place. Humanity has faced the Burning Legion once before — the Third War sent the Scourge (originally part of the Burning Legion) through Alliance lands, and the Third War had a Human contingent in its ranks. However, they’ve never fought the Legion at full strength, so it’ll be interesting to see how they fare in the upcoming expansion.
  • Dwarves: The Dwarves are still in an interesting space in lore. The Council of Three Hammers rules over the Dwarves, and little has been heard of the tensions that once existed during Cataclysm. Dwarves weren’t really a part of the Third War at all. But Dwarves are explorers, interested in the history of the world, and there is plenty of Titan information waiting to be ferreted out in the next expansion, which should give those explorers something to go after.
  • Gnomes: Gnomes are in an odd place in the Alliance. They came into it pretty much because the Dwarves decided to join the Alliance of Lordaeron, and the Dwarves were their friends. But Gnomes haven’t actually faced the Burning Legion before — they were absent during the Third War, dealing with their own internal issues. Gnomes that went to Draenor likely got their first look at just what kind of chaos the Legion can bring to the world, and it’s likely they immediately started working on technology that could counter it.

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  • Night Elves: The upcoming expansion leans heavily on Night Elf lore. Back in the beginnings of Warcraft‘s history, the Night Elves engaged in full out civil war. One magic-obsessed side of Night Elf civilization wanted to bring the Burning Legion to Azeroth, foolishly thinking they would have absolute power in reward for doing so. The other opposed that plan. Where we are exploring in Legion is basically where that original war all went down — the ancient ruins of a civilization long lost to time. Basically, Night Elves are going to have a lot of story to work with this expansion.
  • Draenei: The Draenei are likely also heavily concerned with the invasion of the Burning Legion, because they’ve already witnessed what the Legion can do to a world — they became the Draenei after fleeing their homeworld of Argus. Of all the Alliance races, they understand the most about what the Legion is capable of, and have a strong desire to prevent it. After going through everything we went through in Warlords of Draenor, seeing their old home whole and not splintered across the Twisting Nether, fighting the Legion this time around is probably going to have a heavier impact on Draenei characters than ever before.
  • Worgen: The Worgen of Gilneas were once part of that original Alliance of Lordaeron, back in the day. Gilneas withdrew from the Alliance after the Second War, and were recently brought back into the fray due to Forsaken attacks. No longer the proud kingdom they once were, the Worgen are the cursed refugees of a kingdom they simply could not save. The Worgen also have some pretty heavy storylines in the upcoming expansion, so Worgen players should have some good plot to work with moving forward.
  • Pandaren: Pandaren are in an interesting space right now. They joined both Alliance and Horde because they wanted to learn more about the cultures of each respective faction. Pandaria originally separated from the continent of Kalimdor and was cloaked away in mists because of the impending arrival of the Burning Legion back during the War of the Ancients — so the Broken Isles and the Legion are both threats they can understand.

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Moving forward

Nothing the Alliance does is ever easy. But that’s part of what makes a hero heroic — the constant and persistent desire to put right what went wrong. If nothing ever went wrong, there wouldn’t be any need for heroism. Although both Alliance and Horde will be engaging with and actively fighting the Burning Legion in the upcoming expansion, that won’t exactly stop them from fighting each other along the way, too.

But just because the Alliance is often viewed as being heroic, or being the “good guys” when you simplify the faction conflict down to the basics, doesn’t mean that every character you choose to play on the Alliance has to be a hero, either. Sure, the Alliance is often seen as being a bunch of good guys, but the danger of being a hero or being “good” is that you’re constantly fighting corruption — and it’s all too easy to fall to that corruption.

That struggle between taking the hard road and fighting for what’s right, or succumbing to the far easier road of just hopping right in and playing along with the other side can be a pretty compelling story to play. It’s also a good way to pull a villain out of an Alliance character, if you want to go that route. After all, roleplay is a creative process — and sometimes it’s just as fun to play someone that has fallen from grace.

Next week, we’ll discuss the Horde — often tagged as the “bad guys” in the Alliance/Horde faction conflict. But hey, nothing’s ever quite so black and white in World of Warcraft, and Azeroth’s outcasts have some pretty compelling stories of their own.

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