Jim Moreno's "RoleCraft" MMO Column

RoleCraft: The Adventure


“Adventure. Heh. Excitement. Heh. A Jedi craves not these things.” – Jedi Master Yoda

However, roleplayers do! In fact, one of the major draws from MMORPGs is this pull of promise, of experiencing new lands and new civilizations, and boldly going where I can never go in real life. It’s a top reason I have played so many MMORPGs, and even so many games overall. Never a boring moment have I had, due to the fact that these games are designed with adventure in mind, and that I make my own adventures.

Just how do I do it? How can I log in to the same game everyday and encounter something exciting and new with each play session? How can I dare say that constant quest repetition, ‘fed ex’ missions, and playing fetch never gets dull? For one, I consider every adventure exactly that – an adventure – and I take cues straight from books, movies, and other games in relation to that. I also follow a simple standard operating procedure in accordance with each character’s personality, making each adventure unique to them.

I have often referenced other entertainment media in this column, and I will point to them again in this issue. Think about adventures you have encountered in and through them. The genre doesn’t matter, whether it’s sci fi or fantasy, horror or comedy, adventures can happen in any realm. The size and scope of the adventure doesn’t matter, either. From stumbling around a dark cave and finding a ring to being led on board an alien spacecraft near Devil’s Tower, Wyoming, they can and do come in all shapes and sizes. For the most part, this same mentality has been instilled directly into MMORPGs by the developers, so it only makes sense that we as players, and especially roleplayers, approach the games with a like mindset. I go about doing this by remembering the acronym RPG, which in this case stands for Research, Plan, and Go!

Pop quiz, hotshot! How many times have you been on a quest or in an instance, and have not known what to do, which way to go, or what you’re even there for? Has something terrible ever gone wrong for you or the entire party? I submit that all these errors and more can be eliminated with an ample amount of planning prior to the adventure.

I know it happens in every MMORPG I have played: characters running around everywhere, in a hurry for who-knows-what. These are the types of players that may charge into action and get wiped, or worse, give their whole party a free corpse run and hefty repair bill. From a roleplayers’ point of view, this is nothing short of reckless. Yet, even roleplayers can get caught up in just wanting to get another tedious quest finished. I have some suggestions that may help you in this area.

Research is a great way to add a new element to your adventures. Two ways to do this: in game, and out. In game, make an extra effort to really pay attention to what history and lore is available, and where. Seek out that ancient tome that tells the history of where you want to go, and turn the finding and retrieving of said book into an adventure itself. Ask around the towns and inns for a person who’s been there, a guide, or a loremaster who knows the place. You could roleplay being that person, that guide, or that loremaster.

Have you found such a book while out and about? Then put the RP spin on your finding it, like coming back to town and showing it off and seeing if anyone knows about it, or can point you to someone who might. Perhaps you know the book has some hidden value, in which case you may want to make a big hullabaloo about auctioning it off. Then again, you could always just keep it and explore for yourself the secrets of whatever place is written about within.

Out of game, research can come by way of finding websites where other players have written about their experiences in and around where you wish to go. Digging and asking in forums is usually a great place to do this, and also condones the effort respectively towards roleplaying. Taking the book example again, you could write a quick post about finding a book and giving a brief description of it, or going all out and writing a lengthy story in detail about your researching and / or finding the book, then shifting your story into in game RP. Just let your imagination flow!

‘Failing to plan is planning to fail’, as I’ve often been instructed. Planning is what you do after you’ve researched the best you can or want, and is a much needed, and many times required, aspect of gameplay, yet it is so very often missed, or simply ignored.

Say you’re heading up an expedition into some evil-infested dungeon or keep. It should not matter how many times you or others have been in it, if you make RP the main focus of the adventure, then the last thing it will be is boring, if at all. Heck, even the planning can become an adventure, if only a small one.

I remember one particular D&D session I was in, way back in the day when the joke was making sure an adventurer’s standard equipment list included the 10′ pole. It was always a matter of fun picking out who was going to carry the thing. My party was in the process of purchasing our equipment when the 10′ pole option came up. As we were arguing over the pros and cons of it while going from shop to shop looking for one, we realised the DM was playing a trick on us and had made up something about there being a severe shortage of 10′ poles in the city. Well, that decided it for us as a group: we were not going into any place without our bemoaned and yet beloved 10′ pole. So, the adventure became finding one! Improvisation like that and in such examples is what helps keep gameplay inviting.

Assigning roles, like healer and treasurer, can become fun. Perhaps you could only get to the place by a certain path, or kill the boss demon with a specific item. Plan how to find that path, what encounters may be expected along it. Select one person to carry that mission critical item, and implore everyone else to keep that person alive the entire time. What dreadful monsters inhabit this place, and what special equipment or power will be needed to counter them? There really is a hard-to-reach limit on what questions could be asked and planned for, all in the name of keeping your gameplay exciting and new.

Go! Enjoy! Don’t just have fun with it, make it fun! Whatever you do, don’t just fall into the trap of routine same old same old. For example, your group has slain the big bad evil, and in the process of dividing up the loot, someone remembers they think they saw an interesting book some rooms back. Play along with it. Maybe the mage is having difficulty with the porting spell, or there’s some aura in the place that is negating the use of magical recalling. Simply vanishing from the party is a rather boring way to go, I think, so inject some RP and liven it up.

Most importantly, savor the experience. I see way too many characters running heedlessly around everywhere they go, trying to get this or that done in a hurry. I believe many of these players are the very ones who complain of being bored. Take your time, and take the time needed to smell the flowers. Just watch out for the ones that spit poison. Role on!

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