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Weekend Extras: Writing an RP Description

March 1, 2009
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If you venture onto a role-playing (RP) server, you’ll see characters walking instead of running and talking to each other in /say as if they were having regular conversations. There are a lot of customs role-players follow and some of them can be confusing and intimidating to those just getting started. For the most part, if you follow the Terms of Service for role-playing servers, respect the RP of others, and respect the customs of the server, you will have no trouble.

Sometimes finding role-play can be a little tricky though. Each server is unique and tends to have its own RP hot spots and places to avoid. One of the best ways to facilitate RP is to use a role-playing add-on. There are several of them, but the most common is FlagRSP 2. It allows you to add a brief physical description of your character, a title, prefix, and surname, and connects you with everyone else using the add-on. It also allows you to flag yourself as a role-player and whether or not you are actively looking for RP.

RSP descriptions are as different as the characters. Some are quite long, some are satirical, some give the entire life story of the character, and some are one-liners. There are a few conventions that most RPers tend to follow however. Most RSP descriptions are limited to the physical description of the character. This is information that should be easily obtained by simply looking at the character. Descriptions that reveal the entire life story of a character are typically frowned upon because that is something you would learn by speaking with the character, not by looking at them.

My RSP descriptions tend to be quite brief – a few paragraphs at most. They are limited strictly to a physical description. What do you see, smell, and hear when encountering your character? RSP descriptions should be used as a way to engage another RPer in your character prior to speaking with them. When walking up to someone in real life, you form opinions and expectations by the way they dress and act. This is what your description should be conveying.

For example, let me show you the RSP description of my Forsaken (undead) warlock, Marigan.

Marigan's RSP description

Marigan's RSP description

Marigan might be someone you’d rather not talk to, particularly if your character is concerned with cleanliness. Her description gives the reader a fairly clear impression without revealing anything about her life story. It also provides the reader with a few hooks to use if they decide that their character could tolerate Marigan’s smell. They could approach her with interest about the various types of fungi growing on her, or perhaps suggest that she take a bath or use deodorant.

As I mentioned previously, FlagRSP 2 gives you an option to flag yourself as open to role-playing. The screenshot above is the editing window of the add-on, so you can see the options available for flagging yourself. I consider myself a casual role-player, rarely actively seek RP, but always act towards other RPers in character, so my flags are always adjusted to “In Character” and “Casual Role-player.”

If you click or mouseover my character and you also use a role-playing add-on, this is what will appear:

Description and tooltip

Description and tooltip

FlagRSP modifies the standard Blizzard tooltip to add role-playing information to it. I’ve become so accustomed to the look of a modified tooltip that I find it very difficult to play without the add-on active. Consequently, I’ll have FlagRSP running even when I’m playing on a PvP server, though I probably won’t have a description entered.

This also demonstrates why a short description is better than a long one. It takes up less space on your screen and less time to read!

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Who are All My Mains?

February 28, 2009

You’ll find Armory links to everyone on the About page, but the Armory only gives you a small piece of their stories. I play on a role-playing server after all, and while I don’t RP as much as I used to, I still use an RP add-on and my characters all have personalities and stories behind them. It’s a little ambitious to relate everything in one post however, so I’ll sketch them for now.

Salanthe Oatwind, tauren shaman. The venerable Shaman Salanthe is a cranky, elderly character with a deep devotion to her tribe and Chieftain Bloodhoof. Out of character, she’s the matriarch of my little clan of characters. I raided extensively on her in Burning Crusade, healing everything from Attumen to Kil’jaeden. Largely retired now, she serves as a substitute healer for my guild and friends.

Miothe Sagewind, tauren druid. Chronically curious, the young Mio is devoted to recording the stories of her people, a Lorekeeper. She was also the second character to have the label “main,” back in the days of vanilla WoW.  She did not reach level cap until Burning Crusade though and did not see much raid content. In WotLK, she is my primary raiding character and heals guild runs.

Dolendae Dawnfire, blood elf paladin. Young and spunky, Dolendae is an exuberant paladin anxious to redeem himself to the N’aaru. He is my only male character and perhaps the one I enjoy playing the most. He began as a she back in early Burning Crusade and existed primarily as a role-playing character. When WotLK came out, I used the character recustomization to make him a male and leveled him up to be a tank.

Zgu Thunderaxe, orc warrior. Middle-aged and battle scarred, Zgu is a former pit-fighter with a maternal instinct. She was created as a twink for the 39 bracket, where she enjoyed several profitable months. Then I decided that she was too much fun to stay 39 forever, so I leveled her up to 70. She is my dps character and does not tank. This is very important: Zgu no tank!

Miyasi Ironhide, tauren death knight. Once an elderly and devoted shaman, Miyasi eagerly answered the call of her “ancestors” at her death, only to discover it was the Lich King instead. Now she is an embittered and very anti-shaman bringer of death. She was, of course, created at the release of WotLK because of the shiny newness of death knights. Primarily a farming alt, perhaps one day she will see more action as a tank.

Keiaz, troll mage. Laid-back and carefree are the words that best describe Keiaz. A student of magic who prefers to try things out instead of studying, she tends to be rather reckless. Keiaz was created on a dare; a friend suggested that I should level a pure-dps class instead of playing support roles like healing or tanking. Keiaz is my first honest attempt at a non-hybrid class.

Hravan Sagewind, tauren hunter. Miothe’s older sister and a typical solitary, introverted hunter, Hravan is a mysterious personality. Trained from a young age in the ancient practice of runes, she never took to the responsibility her education demanded of her. She was my very first character in World of Warcraft and has traveled with me from server to server over the course of four years.

Seffia Sommers, undead priest. Of indeterminate age though often acting quite young, Seffia is primarily interested in tinkering with mechanical objects and tends to ignore everything else, unless it explodes. She exists because of my desire to learn how to heal on all four healing classes and has picked up the nickname “Incredible Exploding Priest” because of her engineering profession. She’s quite an entertaining little character!

Marigan Ragno, undead warlock. Marigan possesses a keen and inquisitive mind. Paired with a distressing lack of conscience, she can be downright diabolical in her search for scientific answers. She is my newest character. Her description is pure gold in my mind, so she will withstand the deletion test by virtue of her compelling description. I admit, she was inspired by the Wrathgate cinematic and Apothecary Putress.

I am obviously lacking a rogue. Traditionally I’ve had a very difficult time with any class that lacks healing abilities. Wearing plate helps overcome that, as does having a pet like a hunter or warlock. I do intend on leveling a rogue eventually however, and I’ll definitely write about it here!

Under Construction

February 26, 2009

All My Mains is under construction. Please check back later or watch Totem of Wrath for more information.