Why Role-play?

So many are so focused on “the end game”… on being the best of the best of the best. Which, at least by their definition, means being in the “best” 8-man. Having the highest IRS score. Having the most kills. Being the top of the RP stats list.

So why would someone choose role-play? Traditionally, role-players are not considered the “best of the best”. I’ve heard some say that role-players are what they are because they aren’t good enough to be something else, either through lack of skill, or lack of hardware.

I don’t know that I can answer for every role-player out there, but I can answer for myself. I play to escape. And yes, there is a joy in a good 8-man that is hard to express. That wonderful moment when you win a fight against impossible odds. When you take on 2+ groups at one time and win. Or realize that you’ve run all night without dying.

But… along with the joy, comes a lot of pain:

* Defining the rules that the group will abide by… and enforcing them.
* Trying to keep 8 people playing at the same time.
* Trying to keep 8 people on characters that add to the group without a PL every other week.
* Trying to keep 8 people interested in the same realm at the same time.
* Trying to find people to kill.
* Keeping templates top-of-the-line while patch after patch comes out.
* Keeping up the group’s “image”: from dye & emblem to reputation & respect

And the more “elite” you get, the harder it becomes to have those joyful moments. Sure, there are the exceptions: those who found their 8 early & have stayed together no matter what. I’m sure you could name them for your cluster… the ones that everyone else tries to emulate. The ones that you’d kill just for a chance to audition for their group. But you’ll never get the chance because their group has been formed since before DAoC started. And even for them — you know they get bored. You see them take breaks… switch realms & games & hope to find something entertaining.

So that brings us back to role-playing. Yes, it is a different take on the game. Yes, role-players can be a little strange, heh.

But consider the escapism offered in actually becoming someone else for a while. In using language that you’d never use in your day-to-day existence. In setting aside yourself for the greater good.

Ok, yeah, not all role-players have that experience, but I recently joined a RP guild on Bossiney-Midgard: Shadowklan. (Yes, the same Shadowclan from Mordred & other servers, as well as other games.)

The theory behind Shadowklan is that it’s fun to be a part of something larger than yourself. And it’s fun to put on a persona that you’d literally never have the chance to be anywhere else (unless you have some REALLY understanding friends).

So we set aside our personal likes & dislikes & agree to play by the rules of the guild. And there are rules:

We all wear brown.
We are all kobolds.
We agree to speak kobo & stay in character in main chat channels.
We agree to do what’s best for the klan, even if it’s not best for us personally.
We watch out for other klannurs & make sure their doing well.
We follow the rules for leveling & testing.
We allow the klan to care for us… and we care for the klan in return.

What’s that? You don’t like rules? You don’t think someone else has the right to tell you what to do or say or how to dress? That’s fine, you certainly don’t have to be a member of the klan. But that doesn’t mean that the klan isn’t having fun.

While there was joy for me in the 8-man game, there’s great fun, excitement, hilarity, and escapism in being a kobo:

* Watching a horde of little brown creatures swarm over a target.
* Giggling over misunderstandings in /say or /b because of the kobo language. (Which most learn within a day or two, it’s really not that complicated.)
* Cheering on a klanmate while they attain a goal or pass a test.
* Drinking sydur together & being silly. (sydur = ale)
* Taking on impossible mobs with an under-qualified horde & winning… not sure how, but it happens.
* Helping others do things — recapturing some of the first time we leveled.
* Taking tests & feeling a sense of accomplishment unlike anything else in the game.
* Being a part of a family & working to make it stronger.

So why am I currently a role-player instead of an 8-manner? Because it was time for me to quit worrying about my group’s IRS & to just relax & have fun. Do I still love RvR? Of course! Do I get a kick out of winning as a kobo with our little horde of brown ones? Oh yeah! And yeah, I’m sure at some point the longing for 8-man will overcome the fun of the horde & I’ll try to find at least a part-time 8-man. But until that day comes, Hoowah Shadowklan!!

(For more on Shadowclan / Shadowklan, please visit The Clan.)
Janita may be reached at Janita AT MikeyCunningham DOT com.

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