RedMorgan has published his new column today about Roleplaying. RedMorgan talks about how Role Playing has changed in the years and how Darkfall Online will bring back those times when we all played D&D.

RedMorgan:
Darkfall has thrown away the useless husk of level grinding and gone back to the very source; the cornerstone of tabletop roleplaying– character development. Without freedom, character development is nearly impossible in a massively multiplayer setting. With the total freedom that Darkfall brings, you will see a player driven storyline that will grow and change every day. Civilizations will rise and fall, forces of good and evil will struggle for dominance, and all the shades of grey in between will find their niche as the world unfolds.

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RedMorgan’s Column: What Darkfall Expects of You
Written by RedMorgan (Darkfall Warcry columnist)

Darkfall is classified as a MMORPG, an acronym that has long lost half of its meaning. Roleplaying itself has become a minority niche in the very games that sport its title. These game are supposedly made with roleplayers in mind, but have only left them with what amounts to a graphical chat room that severely limits what they can and can’t do. There has been a void in this genre for years, and I believe Darkfall has the potential to not only rise to the challenge, but to also provide the purest roleplaying experience to date.

Long before the age of computer gaming, gamers would gather in their basements, garages, and attics with pen, paper and polyhedral dice in hand. Tabletop roleplaying games offered players a chance to collaboratively create stories and characters, all the while facing challenges that require strategy, tact and a bit of luck. Gamemasters would provide plot lines, hooks, traps, allies and foes, which were used to help push the plot along and maintain a level of excitement for the players. To look at the endless grinding and impersonal storytelling of today’s MMORPGs, it’s difficult to see how the genre evolved from tabletop RPGs.

Grinding has its origin in the classic tabletop leveling system. The purpose of leveling is to provide short term goals, but even more importantly, it lends opportunity for character development. Players in a pen and paper game may find themselves cursed, blessed, maimed or haunted by the events that transpired as their characters grew in experience. Maybe they’ll be missing a hand after that confrontation with a hobgoblin, or plagued with nightmares after a battle with a lich. The point is, the role that the player has assumed starts to fill in and become more and more personal. The character slowly becomes an extension of the players persona through the choices made and the results of their actions– Grinding fails at this.

A MMORPG grind can only provide a treadmill that wastes time through repetitive battles. There is no gamemaster to provide the custom tailored and personalized experience that defines your character. The abilities and treasures won are never unique and you can bet everyone else is getting the same thing. There is no gamemaster providing a dynamic storyline that cares about your choices, but just the same drab, linear quests that everyone else endures. Instead of an enriching and immersive experience you are left with nothing more than a veritable Sisyphus’ Boulder you have to push up Mount Grindfest.

Darkfall has thrown away the useless husk of level grinding and gone back to the very source; the cornerstone of tabletop roleplaying– character development. Without freedom, character development is nearly impossible in a massively multiplayer setting. With the total freedom that Darkfall brings, you will see a player driven storyline that will grow and change every day. Civilizations will rise and fall, forces of good and evil will struggle for dominance, and all the shades of grey in between will find their niche as the world unfolds.

Your character will know the agony of defeat and the thrill of victory. No more will you have to rely solely upon your profile to explain the tragic past you have overcome, as you may very well have had a tragic past. Maybe your home city will have been burned to the ground by Alfar raiders or your allies will have been scattered into the four winds. Never again will you have to stand on a motionless prop ship and pretend that you’re a pirate, for you will actually be able to set sails and plunder a port city. In epic battles, warriors will shape the land, merchants will make and break cities, and packs of Mahirim will lurk in the moonlit wilderness…. and you can be any of these things.

Your character’s alignment is actually going to take a meaningful part in the role you play. The question of morality becomes a very real issue, and your actions will have very real consequences. In so many other games you see “holy” Paladins ninja looting and ignoring the needy. You also see “evil” Black Knights doing nothing that resembles a reign of terror and taking the same save-the-damsel-in-distress quest the good guys are doing. In Darkfall, players will truly be able to play the role of an evil fiend by doing evil deeds, while other brave players will band together and defend the weak in the name of all that is good and holy. Thieves will be making a choice whether to take from the rich and give to the poor, or whether they want to give to themselves. The point is, you become what you do, and therefore take the most authentic role possible for your character.

Authenticity is important in any roleplay. In past online games, roleplayers have had that experience ruined by annoying 1337-kids, forcing them to move to RP only servers. Some would say this is the best solution to an online experience, but history has proven otherwise. Often these servers are specifically targeted by griefers or power gamers who like being the big fish in a small pond and the whole thing backfires. The advantage of Darkfall’s unlimited freedom is that if a player named “xXx1337sauce2000xXx” starts to harass you, you can chop his head off and put it on a stick as a warning to others. (Or maybe not, I’m hoping there are heads on sticks come release!) Just make it part of your roleplay.

Nothing may ever come close to the kind of experience you can expect from rolling dice around a table with a few close friends, but Darkfall may come close. The problem of not having a gamemaster to provide plot has been solved by giving every single player a portion of that job and supplementing gameplay with dynamic content. One of the key elements to creating a solid roleplaying experience is maintaining a suspension of disbelief, and there is no other game out there offering Darkfall’s level of immersion through character development.

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