Role Play: Inter-faction roleplay
World of Warcraft wasn’t exactly created with roleplayers in mind. While there are RP servers to choose from, that’s pretty much the extent of things added specifically for that purpose. Player housing isn’t really something they’re looking to add — although garrisons seemed to work as a quasi-player housing good for guild meetings, at the very least — and tools specifically designed for roleplayers are all player-designed addons you have to download and install, rather than anything built into the interface.
And on top of that, there’s the matter of the faction divide. If you choose to roll an Alliance character, you can only communicate with fellow Alliance players. If, on the other hand, you decided to go ahead and roll a Horde character, you’re only going to be able to speak to other Horde players. This communication divide between factions has been there since the game was originally released, and it’s doubtful we’ll see it go away anytime soon. But just because World of Warcraft comes with a built-in language barrier, it doesn’t mean that inter-faction roleplay is impossible.
Working around the issue
There are a few different ways you can work around the language barrier. The first is to simply take the text portion of your roleplay out of the game entirely — use Discord, Skype, or any other number of out-of-game chat programs to have your back and forth dialogue instead. The only problem with this method is that all that dialogue and action is happening in something other than the game, and if that’s the case…well, why bother being in the game in the first place?
Thankfully, Blizzard has some in-game chat options available too. You can add someone to your friends list with their RealID or BattleTag, and you’ll be able to chat with them across faction lines. The downside to this particular solution is that it only really works in one-on-one roleplay. You can’t invite someone from the opposite faction to a group, so while you might understand what your friend is saying, nobody else is going to. For group situations, inviting everyone into a chat program outside the game is probably a better alternative.
If you happen to have multiple WoW accounts, there’s a third option as well — but your computer has to be able to handle it. Use your second account to roll an alt of the opposing faction. Open up two instances of WoW, one with your main character, and one with the alt. Have the alt invited to the group, and use it to “speak” as your main character. Again, this requires a system capable of running two instances of WoW at the same time, and two WoW accounts, but it’s better than nothing at all. In addition, you can always crank down all graphics settings on your alt’s game, just to save your computer from having to run too hard.
Working with the issue
Alternatively…you can simply embrace the lack of communication and actually make it a part of the roleplay. By this I mean that Blizzard has very blatantly made it clear that players of the opposing faction aren’t intended to understand each other, so you might as well just incorporate that into your roleplay and make it a part of the process. Use getting over the language gap as part of your story, make it something to work with in-character, rather than something to work around out-of-character.
Players can’t really see gestures made by the other faction, but they’ll understand a wave if they see it. They’ll also understand a pointed arm, or physical indicators of “move over here.” You can’t type out a custom emote — the other side will only see that your character has made some strange gestures — but using the in-game emotes to give some frame of communication can work. It’s definitely a complicated solution, and requires a lot more paying attention on the parts of both parties involved, but it’s not impossible.
And if that doesn’t seem to be working for you, have someone act as an interpreter. Have the interpreter add the opposite faction character to their RealID or BattleTag, and let them “translate” for the entire group. The fun part about that is that you don’t know if the interpreter is literally copying and pasting what the other party says, paraphrasing what they said for the sake of politeness, or simply making up some lies about the person they’re interpreting — and that can all be a part of the story, too.
Let’s be honest here: Inter-faction roleplay, no matter which approach you take, isn’t going to be easy. Communication is going to be difficult, and no matter which method you use, there’s going to have to be a little suspension of disbelief from everyone involved. Roleplay events that include both factions are generally going to run a little longer than an event that takes place between members of the same faction. Not only do you have to wait for someone to type out a reply to what you say, you also have to wait for the interpreter to convey that information. Any chat addons that allow for copying and pasting of text can make this a little quicker, but there’s still going to be some delay involved.
In addition to the out-of-character delays, there may also be some in-character opposition. We can’t speak to members of the opposing faction because hey, guess what, we aren’t supposed to want to communicate with each other. The Alliance and Horde have been at each other’s throats since the game’s inception, and while there are a few characters out there that are vocally looking for peace, that opinion isn’t exactly shared by the general public.
What this boils down to is that if you’re speaking with someone of the opposing faction, you may end up with some fellow roleplayers who aren’t as enchanted by the idea of diplomacy as you happen to be. They may try to interfere with your roleplay, or do something to halt any events in progress. If it’s an in-character action, you can respond in-character and try to diffuse the interference — and if it crosses the line, drop the offending player an out-of-character message asking them to stop the disruption. If they continue, report them and place them on ignore. It’s not an ideal solution — but inter-faction roleplay isn’t exactly the most ideal of situations to begin with.
Working with players across faction lines can be fun — and cross-faction roleplay storylines have the potential to be really amazing, if they’re handled in the right way. You can keep the cross-faction meetings a secret if you think your character would rather avoid any conflict with other roleplayers, or you can choose to tout the merits of diplomacy, if that’s the kind of character you’re playing. But don’t expect everyone to be smiles and acceptance — just because you’ve made a new friend across the faction line doesn’t mean that everyone else is going to follow suit.
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