What’s so different about roleplaying in WoW Classic?
If you’re a roleplayer, chances are you’ve been doing so for years. Some of you might even have been roleplaying back in the days of vanilla, before we were inundated with piles of new races, new continents, and new worlds to discover, to explore, and to tell new stories in. The launch of WoW Classic is something a lot of people have been looking forward to – and although there’s only a couple of roleplaying servers available at launch, that doesn’t mean they’re going to be empty.
But things are a little different this time around. We’ve seen this story before – we know where it’s going. We know what’s coming in various phases down the road. Heck, we even know how this story ends, with a return through the Dark Portal to Outland — although we won’t actually get to go there. However, it’s been a long, long time since we’ve seen old-world Azeroth. If you’re a roleplayer looking for a little refresher course in Classic RP, you’ve come to the right place.
Right now, the pickings for RP addons are pretty slim – you can expect them to stay that way. The only two profile-exclusive RP addons currently available are MyRoleplay Classic, and Total RP 3: Classic. Both will get the job done, although Total RP 3 has a few more bells and whistles.
However, keep in mind that this situation may change a little, depending on how Blizzard is handling other addon cases. Currently, adjustments are being made to prevent an LFG-style addon from working in WoW Classic. Potentially, this could also fiddle with roleplaying addons that use channels to communicate profile information.
While Blizzard definitely doesn’t want to prevent roleplay from happening, Classic is a different kind of experience. Addons that give a player too much of an in-game advantage that doesn’t jive with Classic gameplay are an issue. Addons that let you write your own little stories in game are not. But if they’re both using the same system of communication, putting the halt on one may affect the other.
I’m hopeful that this isn’t going to be the issue that people are projecting it to be – but it’s worth keeping an eye on, just in case.
In WoW Classic, Blood Elves and Draenei don’t exist. Worgen are things that haunt Silverpine Forest — and make the lives of leveling players miserable. Goblins are around, but they’re all part of the Steamwheedle Cartel, and none of them are playable. Pandaren? They’re more of a myth. Pandaria is one of those places that’s spoken of more like a fairy tale than anything – a mythical land that maybe existed, once upon a time.
Night Elves wouldn’t even consider being Mages – frankly, the idea of practicing the arcane arts is still something that’s thought of as forbidden. Dwarves like their ale well enough, but none of them would dream of being a Shaman. Working with the Light isn’t something the Tauren ponder, not even remotely – and Trolls have no idea that a life of Druidism is possible in a world of Loa.
All of these things seem like no-brainers, don’t they? But here’s the thing: While you know all of this will happen eventually, your characters have no idea. And you’re going to need to play them that way. As it stands, you could roleplay a Dwarf that idly dreams of being a Shaman – but as far as the game is concerned, it’s never going to happen. The same applies to everything post-Classic.
Plot points to remember
At this point in the game, there’s not a whole heck of a lot going on. We have a long primer for all the lore your character needs to know going in to WoW Classic, but here are the high points.
The Third War is over, the Burning Legion was defeated by a remarkable alliance between Humans, Orcs, and Night Elves. Four years have passed since that day, and tensions are starting to spark up again – even if Warchief Thrall and Lady Jaina Proudmoore would rather see peace on the table.
King Varian Wrynn is missing, and in his place is one very young Anduin Wrynn, who doesn’t exactly have a lot to say right now. At his side is Bolvar Fordragon – Paladin, Regent of Stormwind, and blissfully unaware of what fate has in store for him in the cold north. King Magni Bronzebeard still leads the Dwarves, and would really like his daughter rescued from the clutches of the Dark Iron Dwarves.
Over on Kalimdor, the Horde is still trying to establish itself, all the while working with very little resources. In the four years between the end of the Third War and the beginning of WoW Classic, the Forsaken appeared and joined the Horde, giving the faction a tentative foothold in the northern reaches of the Eastern Kingdoms.
While the Alliance and Horde have their occasional clashes, nothing has really popped off yet. It’s not an idyllic world, but it’s one that is holding its breath, unaware of the years of chaos that lurk just around the corner.
…and plot points to forget
Not only is the world unaware – your character is unaware, too. For all its charm, very little goes down in WoW Classic until the faction-unifying events that precede the opening of Ahn’Qiraj. There’s a lot of stuff crammed into the next eight years or so of WoW, but while we the players know what’s just around the bend, our characters don’t.
We’re in a unique spot with the launch of Classic. Back in vanilla, we roleplayed with little knowledge of what was going to happen next, or how that would affect our characters. The challenge involved handling those curveballs as they were thrown our way, choosing to incorporate them into our character’s story, or ignore them entirely.
This time around, the challenge is different. You’re going to have to play a character that is deliberately blind to the next several chapters of WoW, because the fact of the matter is, they’re never going to get to see them. Much like the Nightborne, characters in Classic are going to be living in a bubble, isolated from the main story of WoW – and nobody’s going to show up to break them out of it.
This isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it means that Classic players will have a chance to experience a world that hasn’t gone mad with Old Gods and Legion and Naaru and a planet that is slowly bleeding to death. It’s a simpler time, fraught with its own conflicts that might seem small-scale in the face of what we’re dealing with now – but those conflicts mean everything to the characters that have to live through them all over again.
Whether you’re roleplaying in WoW Classic for the first time, or you’re a vanilla player from long ago, the biggest thing you need to remember is that in this setting, everything is still so small. Enjoy that smallness – the sense of a tight-knit community, whether new roleplaying servers are introduced or not. Get to know your fellow roleplayers, because everyone’s got a story to tell – and in a world that never really ages, those stories are what’s going to keep the gameplay fresh, thriving, and ultimately fun.
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