Think about all the accumulated knowledge you have about life currently stored away in your brain cells. Don’t know about you, but it simply boggles my mind, and I certainly don’t consider myself to be a highly intelligent person. But make no mistake, the sheer mass of data each and every one of us have would fill volumes. Everything you have learned from the minute you were born until this very moment is an immense amount, and taken together, has helped you to become the very person you are today.
So, the question is: how do you share what you know now with your character at its ‘birth’? Considering our true selves do not currently live in a tangible world of elves and demons, what do I need to learn as a player about such a world that would greatly enhance my roleplaying a character who does exist in such a world? Read along with me as I share some thoughts and ideas that may help you do just that.
The basis for all of this comes from an incredibly important aspect of RP I learned very early in my Dungeons & Dragons days, and that is knowing the difference between player knowledge and character knowledge. Player knowledge is what you as a player know about WoW, or whatever game you are playing. Things like number crunching spell and weapon damage, where to find true silver ore nodes, the correct order for lighting the candles in the Sunken Temple, etc.. All this and so much more is knowledge that you as a player have garnered through playing WoW, from talking to other players, reading, or any other means.
Character knowledge is what your avatar knows about the world it exists in, and it is one of the major points that define a roleplayer, because RP’ers have a very keen sense towards keeping it far separate from player knowledge. Since characters are not born into the world as infants, it can be reasoned they have had some experiences in their life up to the point where you take over. Your character does not know that a Flash Heal (Rank 1) spell costs 125 mana points and heals 202-247 hit points. Your character may know, however, that that spell does not require as much mana to cast compared to a Flash Heal (Rank 7) spell, but that it also doesn’t heal as much health as the higher level spell. There a many other examples that could be used here, but it all should be common sense that new characters just don’t know all that much about their world. So, just what does your character know when you create it and log in with it for the very first time, and then for each subsequent time thereafter?
In game, character knowledge can best be described as lore, and it is in seeking out the lore of WoW where you as a player will gain the knowledge that your character should be equipped with. From conception and on throughout the virtual life of your character, you should be continually reading the lore of WoW for the purpose of advancing its’ personality (just like we do in our real lives) and enhancing your own RP factor through it. Since your character cannot learn on its’ own, and we players have the advantage of living in the age of the Internet, the following websites are ones I use most often to learn for my characters.
WoWWiki is one of the first places I click to for all WoW things lore-wise. It is a great base of knowledge for many other in game items also, but the already extensive and growing lore being housed here is where the site really shines for RP’ers interested in such. Specifically for new characters, I would point to the links leading to and through the Timeline as a starting place on their path of knowledge. Of course, none of the others should be missed, including Class Lore, Locations, Religions, and on, depending on just how wise and intelligent you want your character to be.
Kudos to Blizzard for making the lore of the WoW universe available in game, through quests and quest givers, in Instances, and in a variety of other ways, including books. I have sat down at a table with a readable book many times to just read and learn, which I know is another mark of RP nerdiness. Hey, I’m guilty. However, one thing missing is an in game library where a character can go to find and read every book in WoW. I think that would be rather enjoyable, especially if Blizzard announced RP-style when new books were made available there. Fear not, players! Until that happens, simply click over to Wowhead, where you can find a fantastic (and complete?) listing of in game books, their contents, and their locations. Of course, Wowhead has much more to offer, like listing for weapons, reagents, Factions, flora and fauna, and many other things that would be sensible starter knowledge for a new and growing character.
Last but not least comes Blizzplanet, a great site not only for the Story Arcs and race lore stored there, but also for their rather large RP community, the Blizzplanet Roleplay Association. Outside of the game, you’d be hard pressed to find a better gathering place of like-minded RP’ers. It is Blizzplanet that sparked the flaming mind storm I had when I created my Troll Priest, Wichdocta, which came after reading The Loa gods Lore page there. It was an excellent page I kept going back to for some few weeks afterward as I developed Wichdocta’s initial personality, and I’m sure it would help you do the same.
Of course, it is entirely conceivable to RP a character who is born into WoW knowing all that there is to know about the universe therein, but I think that would strip away one of the greatest features about RP’ing: the sense of adventure. Finding out what’s over the next hill by going over that hill yourself is one of the top items on the list of things that keep me logging in night after night, and I think that could be said for many other RP’ers I know. Also bear in mind that, while there is a ton of information on these websites, don’t let that overwhelm you by thinking you need to read every page immediately. As your character moves on down their path, keep these sites close by and refer to them when you feel the need.
So, there you have some tips I use for creating and developing character knowledge. Perhaps you have some tricks of your own, some that you have found to be indispensable to your style of RP? Feel free to share!