Rolling a character is one of the best parts of playing an MMORPG, bringing to mind the excitement of taking on a new role, the anticipation of adventuring with this character, and the simple yet elegant fun of roleplaying with a new personality. Perhaps all these thoughts flooding the brain have been too daunting for some, especially us roleplayers, who often take our character creation to heart. I have been asked many times the question of how to best roll a character for RP purposes. I have also heard enough roleplayers tell me how they roll their characters to know there is no one single best way to take on the task.
I too have created my share of MMORPG characters over many MMO’s to discover this fact, while at the same time developing my own way to accomplish this vital feat. During my Army career, I was introduced to the widely known K.I.S.S. principle, and it is a superb one to follow when rolling a character. Now, I also create the history for my characters at the time of creation, rather than trying to specifically think and write it afterwards. To that end, I have added yet another common element to the K.I.S.S. principle, that being the Five W’s: who, what, where, when, and why. Can’t get much easier than that! Combining these two allow me to create a character with a solid foundation from the very start, which I believe is something every roleplayer would benefit from.
So, here’s my simple and effective formula for rolling characters and telling their story. I hope you may also find some use from it!
WHO is this character?
Name your character! Sometimes I do this first, sometimes I make it the final step. Depends on how deeply I have their personality set in my mind. Make use of the random name generator, it can be a great tool. You certainly don’t have to use the name given, but maybe it can flash into your head a name you like and that fits.
WHAT is my motivation?
This actors mantra is also an important item for roleplayers to consider. It is the one thing that sets us apart from all those other players who are simply stumbling around the realms falsely believing they can ‘beat’ the game by collecting gold and every uber-item there is. Give your character goals and dreams, a reason to exist, and be as detailed as you can be. Like in our real life, doing so will help give each time you log in a sense of adventure, and that is one thing that makes living worth it.
WHERE am I?
Wherever you go, there you are. This is meant to be considered in the physical aspect. Take a good look at the body of your character’s race and place your mind into that body. Now think: in what ways does one race act and move differently from another? For instance, a Gnome moves quite unlike a Troll, but why? Size, height, posture, attitude, tusks, and so on. Get into the head of that race and dwell on how it would feel to move around. Also, pay close attention to your surroundings. Does your race come from and prefer desert regions over snow-covered mountains? From the world of general fantasy, it’s commonly known that Dwarves are well adapted to mountainous terrain, so play those elements up in your roleplay.
WHEN is now!
Dig into the known history and lore of the race. Not only is this an integral part of both character and player knowledge, it is often quite entertaining. Also, don’t forget to brush up on current events, to know what’s going on around the realm during your character’s generation. Taken together, they may assist greatly with giving your character life in the here and now, and in forming a future to set your character towards.
This consideration is aimed more towards the player than the character. Ask yourself two questions: Can I effectively and believably RP this character? Why do I want to? Tough questions to be sure. However, it doesn’t matter how much work you put into creating a character; if you don’t believe in it, no one else will either. If after all that work, you get the character in play and find that you just aren’t feeling it, don’t hesitate for a second to trash it and start all over. I’ve done it many times.
So, there you have my way of rolling characters and their background stories at once. Keeping it short and simple with the Five W’s has always worked for me. As I said, there is no single set method for character creation, and my way may not work for you. By the way, as a testament to my method, read below to see the latest character I recently rolled on the Blackwater Raiders realm in WoW. Role on!
Salutations! My name is Arsonite Tinkerboom, but I’m more commonly known as Arson, for reasons which will become blazingly clear.
I was but a very young and minuscule child, not yet graced with the ability of personal locomotion, when we were forced to flee from Gnomeregan during the invasion. My father, an engineering magician, and my mother, an alchemist magician, had volunteered to help escort a group of refugees to Kharanos. They were always ready and willing to lend their assistance to aid our people, and their help was always readily received. My parents were very skilled in their professions, which brought them much respect and admiration, and they were known all through Gnomeregan. They had an incredible knack for blending their magical, alchemical, and engineering arts into the most fantastic contraptions.
One of those grand inventions was called the Baby Gnomester 120, a small enclosed metal basket designed to keep gnome babies toasty warm during long ventures around Dun Morogh. Into this I was placed for safety and warmth as we made the first part of the trek to the safety of Brewnall Village.
All was well until we neared the perimeter of Iceflow Lake and the village. A roaming band of Trolls spotted us, and wasted no time in launching an attack on our meager party. During the confrontation, my mother, carrying me, was hit by a blast of magic, which separated me from her and sent us both sliding out onto the surface of the frozen lake. A couple of Trolls, perhaps thinking the Baby Gnomester 120 to be filled with shiny treasure trinkets, bounded onto the lake towards me, scuffling with one another on who would be the first to claim me as a prize. As they were almost on me, they each one jumped clumsily to reach my basket first, and when they landed, broke through the ice. Sadly, I followed them.
Alas, the Baby Gnomester wasn’t designed as a floatation device, nor was it meant for underwater submersion, especially in water as cold as that of Iceflow Lake. It did have a magically controlled thermostat, however, but the sudden shock of the sub-zero water surrounding it was too much too quickly. The magic was short-circuited and over-compensated, causing wave after wave of arcane energy and fire magic to flood through me unchecked. I was only submerged for half a minute before being drawn out by a priest in the group, but it was those thirty seconds that transformed me completely.
We made it to Brewnall, and eventually Kharanos and Ironforge, where my race and my parents would steel themselves into dealing with life as we Gnomes know it now. However, it soon became fiery evident to the entire population of Ironforge that something had happened to me during the flight from Gnomeregan. I had developed an innate communion with the element of fire, which more often than not would take occasion to manifest itself in the most inappropriate times and ways. Some of those ways were rather trifling, like always having an aura of noticeable heat surrounding me. Not uncomfortable, that, but as I grew, I noticed it would at times get rather intense the more excitable I became. As a babe, feeding time was a constant eyebrow-singing affair for my mother. Not to mention when it came time to change my small-clothes. Even unto today, sometimes flammable things nearby will up and strike flame, often without my knowledge. Until I smell the smoke, that is. King Magni’s beard has a very peculiar scent when on fire, in case you ever wondered.
It was that last event that caused the Dwarvish Council to demand that the Gnomish Council send me away from Ironforge before I ‘accidentally’ burned the entire mountain down. I was shipped off to be with the Night Elves, to contemplate and eschew the mystery of magic that fills me. For 15 seasons, the druids of Teldrassil spent long days and used hundreds of bottles of burn salve in a valiant effort to help me study my mind and physical presence to understand and perhaps control the arcane fires that continually flow from me. Though they did their best, I intrinsically knew deep down that I’d have to find those answers myself, especially after the fourth time of setting a portion of their lovely ‘indestructible’ home aflame.
So, here I am now, out on my own with my own skills, seeking to constantly experiment for the way to correct what I am, to fix this seemingly irrevocable conundrum that I have become. My hope is that I will overcome the matter before I just suddenly explode. Hmm, is it getting warm in here?