Role Play: Roleplaying on non-RP servers
When I first began playing World of Warcraft back in 2004, I didn’t have a clear idea of exactly how to play the game. I’d done a little beta, but mostly focused on myself, my character, exploring, and what I could do. I certainly didn’t spend a lot of time talking to other people, nor did I think about things like server choice, RP servers vs. non-RP servers — or roleplaying backgrounds, for that matter.
And when I rolled my first character ever — a Night Elf Druid — I did so on a PVE server, without really knowing much about what that meant. It was where my friends were at, nothing more. But I’ve always been someone that writes stories, so it was only natural that I made a small one for the Druid, who was a generally happy-go-lucky, if somewhat ditzy character who never had anything but the best intentions for everyone, whether Alliance or Horde.
So, I hear you thinking, how’d that one turn out?
Pick your friends
Surprisingly, not that bad at all — but a large part of that was due to the friends I was playing with. We were writers and artists and creative types who had decided to come play the game, and it was only natural that creative types like us indulged in casual roleplay. By that I mean that dungeons were generally done with just a little in-character back and forth, and we all had little stories for our characters, and had even done art of them at one point in time or another. Being in a guild full of creative people meant that there wasn’t a lot of judgment involved if you chose to be creative — and being on a PVE server meant that there wasn’t a lot of judgment if you weren’t particularly creative, either. We were all just there to play and have fun.
This isn’t typically the case for PVE servers. Most of the time, PVE guilds on PVE servers are pretty fixated on one thing — playing the game. Whether it’s dungeons, raiding, or yes, even battlegrounds and organized PVP, the last thing on most people’s minds is thinking about what’s going on in that little pixelated avatar’s head. But it’s not impossible to find RP on PVE realms, it’s just a little more difficult than rolling a character on an RP realm and talking to people. Finding a group with common interests tends to make things a little easier.
How do you ferret them out? That’s the tricky part. Picking up an RP profile addon wouldn’t have helped back then because they didn’t actually exist — but nowadays, it’s pretty common for roleplayers to have them. It might help in the search — because people that have those addons typically pick them up for the purpose of finding roleplay. If you see someone with a roleplaying addon on a non-RP realm, it’s not necessarily an open invitation to just walk up to them and start talking in character. But reading through their profile and taking a second to send them a whisper and let them know you liked it isn’t out of place at all — and it serves as a good way to introduce yourself to a potential new friend.
Pick your place
While some people are fine with the idea of roleplay happening around them, there are others who aren’t quite so kind. If you’re on any of the non-RP servers, you’re apt to find far more of the latter, and not so many of the former. And while it might seem rude to you, these people do have a point — there are realms out there that are specifically designated for roleplay, realms that are far more welcoming and have a lot more roleplayers. You’re invading their territory here, not the other way around.
So you want to be careful about where you choose to roleplay, just as much as who you decide to start roleplaying with. In my first guild, we had designated guild events where people could go crazy and roleplay as much as they wanted without fear of repercussion — but we usually deliberately chose to hold those events in out of the way areas. Roleplaying in major cities wasn’t something that happened very often, and if it did, it was usually in party chat or in whispers between two characters.
It wasn’t because we were embarrassed about our roleplaying, or because we felt we were doing something wrong. It was because we didn’t want to disrupt anyone else’s gameplay any more than we wanted anyone else disrupting ours. So choosing when and where we roleplayed, and keeping it fairly low key meant that we could do what we wanted without being bothered…and without bothering anyone else in the process.
Why roleplay on non-RP servers
Why, you ask, with the overwhelming number and variety of RP servers out there to choose from, would any roleplayer deliberately choose to roleplay on non-RP servers instead? In our case it was very simple: In 2004 there weren’t exactly a lot of RP realms available to choose from. Server transfers didn’t exist back then, which meant that once more RP realms began to open up, we would have had to re-roll our characters and start over from scratch at level one if we wanted to relocate. Since the guild had several hundred members at the outset, this really didn’t seem like a viable idea.
These days, it’s easy enough to swap races, genders or servers without losing a bit of your in-game character progress. But there are other reasons why people wouldn’t necessarily want to park on an RP realm. Roleplay, typically at the end of an expansion, is very difficult to find. Once there’s very little story left to roleplay about, people look elsewhere for things to do. And you’re far more likely to find a progressive raiding guild or competitive PVP on realms that aren’t dedicated to roleplay.
And while your focus might not be on roleplay at that point and time, it’s still nice to find little pieces of roleplay here and there, especially if you find someone who thinks the same way. You might be wrapped up in Mythic raiding, but if a couple of members of that raid team spend their spare time writing stories about their characters, then you might just find some roleplay in the last place you thought you’d ever see it.
Roleplay is a social activity — part of the process of roleplay is talking with other people’s characters and seeing what happens from there. If you don’t have people around you to roleplay with, it’s nowhere near as much fun — and you might as well just call it writing stories at that point. There’s nothing wrong with writing stories, but the fun of roleplay comes from interacting with other people. Non-RP servers might not have a lot to offer on the roleplay front, but there are people out there, looking for others to write their stories with.
While you can obviously roleplay wherever you’d like, I really recommend that people who are looking specifically for roleplay and nothing else stick to RP servers. It’s a lot easier to find roleplay on a server that’s specifically designated for that purpose, without worrying about any backlash from the players around you.
But if you’re already on a non-RP server and looking to try a little roleplay, it may be worth it to install an RP addon and look around on your home server. You never know, there could be a pile of creative types lurking just around the corner, quietly going about their usual PVE business with a little more creativity than you’d expect at first glance, and happy to invite another friend along on the fun.
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