“Come, sit by my fire, stranger. I’ve not much to offer but if you’re of a mind to share a meal and a fire with an old, weary traveler, you’re more than welcome,” said the man seated at a small campfire on the outskirts of Northshire. I was curious why this man had chosen this spot so near Northshire Abbey to sit alone and strike camp, especially given the notorious generosity of the Priests who worked there. “Come, sit down and let me tell you how I became a vampire”.
Welcome to my guide! I hope you enjoyed the little story, it’s a true one. Though written with some embellishment of my own but the two quotes are more or less identical to those first words I had read in /say on The Sha’tar all those years ago.
Ironically, after that first meeting i became quite friendly with the ‘vampire’ in question and together we explored some of the furthest reaches of Warcraft Lore together, it’s safe to say we both became better Roleplayers for it too.
It was with that experience in mind that I originally began this guide some months ago, to possibly offer a condensed guide to those new or old to Roleplay and with a mind to creating a character. So, where to begin? There are so many factors to consider when creating a character.
The single most important aspect of any character you will ever roleplay, is the character of the person, their attitude, and bearing, their mentality, and affiliations. It’s at this point you’re going to have to make your first decision. Do you :
A) Chose a character and make the race/class combination fit the character?
Chose those attributes that make up the base of your characters personality, such as their attitude towards others, their alliances, their alignment on the scales of good or evil, their profession or trade, their social status, and fit it all into a class.
For Example : If your character is a low ranking noble of some sort, trained in swords by your parent’s bodyguards while they attended balls and now finally free at your maturing age of their restrictive grasp, about to be set loose upon Azeroth, then you’re not going to want to choose a Priest or a Warlock as your class. And less likely to want to choose a Night Elf as your race. You’d be better suited with a Rogue, or a Warrior and the Humans would be your ideal choice of race.
B) Chose a race/class combination and make the character fit?
Choose a class that you feel comfortable playing, a class you enjoy the abilities of or enjoy a specific aspect of the class, whether that is damage dealing, healing, PvE solo, PvE group play or even PvP and try to get the Character to fit around your race/class choice.
For Example : Let’s say your character is a ferocious defender of their heritage, of their birth-lands and all that they hold dear, nursing wounds from lost family or friends to the ever-raging war between their own race, and their race’s sworn enemies (whether that be horde or otherwise), self-taught in the arts of combat with the weapon of their choice. If that’s the case, then you have a wide choice of class and an equally wide choice of race. Dwarves are stoic defenders of their snowy lands from the encroachment of the troggs, Night Elves again similar and almost every Horde race would feel some of the above.
Whichever way you decide to create your character, your next decision is going to be their Race and Class. Here we’re limited by the options Blizzard have given us, though this will change dramatically with the coming expansion as Blizzard are giving us whole new race/class combinations (for more information on the new combinations, look here Cataclysm Changes).
However, for those of you making the decision pre-Cataclysm, here’s some advice on getting the most out of your race/class combination.
For those of you that chose A) Choose a character and make the race/class combination fit the character.
So, We’ve got our character in place. We know how they will think or react, what it is that makes them tick, their ambitions, their fears, what will eventually drive them to the greatness we’re going to achieve with them. Or, whatever it is you chose for your character. The first thing to look at here is what sort of character you’ve chosen, are they a caster type? Or a fighter type? Are they aiming to save the world, one person at a time or save the world, one defeated tyrant at a time? Once you’ve got that, be more specific! If they’re a caster class, what sort of studies would have interested them? Fire Magic? Frost? Shadow? Holy? As you follow this line of thought, you will eventually reach a class that you think would best suit your character. Once you’ve got that, you can begin to work on the race. Given the restrictions on race/class combinations within Warcraft, you may swap and change this around until the right balance is found but don’t just settle for anything, keep in mind both the aspects of Roleplay and PvE/PvP while deciding. Unless you intend to Roleplay exclusively and not quest, or compete in battlegrounds, your racials are going to have some affect still. For a list of Racials and some background history of the Races, click here: Races (also see Classes for more information pertaining to classes).
For those of you that chose B) Choose a race/class combination and make the character fit.
Ok, so you’ve chosen your Race and Class already, you know that you want to be a Gnome Mage or an Orc Warlock, the next step is to fit that character into the shape of the class, as explained above. However, yours now is the perilous path, because you need to pay special heed to the Lore of your race to balance with the character you’re playing. That is to say, that if you have indeed chosen an Orc Warlock, keep in mind the years of oppression the Orcs suffered under the Burning Legion, and the hatred still deep in Orc culture towards Warlocks. Expect to be hated and shunned for consorting with Demons. The flip side of this would be to create a character who’s the opposite of the race/class combinations stereotypes. However, this can be quite difficult to maintain.
The last step in character creation is the Naming and Gender selection. This, especially on Roleplay servers, can be very important. Due to the sometimes heavy restrictions placed on the naming of characters, it’s best to get it right the first time as it will either get changed by force of complaint (in the rare case that someone takes offense to your name) or by cost if you decide later that it doesn’t suit. For more information about Blizzard’s naming policy specific to Roleplay servers, see here: Naming 101.
When naming a character, common sense should be your guide, don’t choose a silly name for the sake of speed, take the time to consider the name of your character – after all, a good name is a good first impression and in Roleplay, it is how you will become known. Things like ‘ihazbigsword’ do not tend to go well in Roleplay, (especially when a name like that is used for a mage!). Nicknames are fine, provided they make sense to your character, calling an elf ‘Shortie’ or a draenei ‘Pinkskin’ won’t win you any friends either! And if you’re really serious about your Roleplay, there are several addons out there that allow you to add additional names and information (only viewable by others who use the addon but most of the servers Roleplayers use them, such as MyRoleplay2, TotalRP and others.)
While less important, the gender of your character is going to have an effect on the way they’re viewed in the world. Warcraft doesn’t have the views our real world shares on equal rights and neither does it discriminate, so do not expect either to really effect your character. It is also worth noting that race will play some part in the character you play. For example, night elves have a different gender structure to other races, with their women typically forming the backbone of their military, while the men typically studied as druids.
Once you’re done with this, you should have all of the basics of your character in place, you should know who they are and how they should react to most encounters, most other races, or how they would react in most situations. For most people that’s enough to begin their adventures. For others yet more work is required! if you fall into the latter category, stay seated and I shall share more of my tips with you!
This last section will be one of the more important and time consuming bits of research you’ll ever apply to your character. For some, this will be the most rewarding time spent of all: adding background to your newly formed character, to give motivation to the actions and emotions we’ve given them.
Remember that you’re playing the character from level 1, so humble beginnings are what make every story worth reading. If your character comes into the game at level 1 on wings of fire, having fallen from heaven… Well, there really isn’t much reason to go about life on Azeroth, is there? You’re pretty much already done! If you start your life in Elwynn with a crown upon your head, again, you’re not leaving much room for growth. A king can only rise to being a better king. A scullion, on the other hand, has a far longer ladder and more room for growth.
Try to also remember the time-line we’re taking part in and age your character accordingly. There are some race/class specifics that make this more difficult but most are straight-forward. For example, the night elves were immortal until recently in the history of Warcraft. So while your character is ageing and dying now, that does not mean he or she hasn’t seen millennia of Kaldorei society before, even back to the high elf times, perhaps? Whereas the Draenei, whose lifespan isn’t clearly outlined anywhere, have examples of life lasting well into 250,000 years, if not more, (Velen was 250,000 years old when he broke the Draenei from the Eredar, meaning he would have had to spend some years rising to the rank of ‘Elder’). Try and make sure these times match! If your draenei is 250+ years old, they would have to have knowledge of Argus, the Draenei home-world. Make sure all of these things are set in your mind before you dive into something or you could be left on the backfoot.
Most important of all is to remember that your past is just that. You’ve got a lot of levels and adventures ahead of you, so leave room in your story for your future! Your future is just as important as your past and in many, undefinable ways, will go further to moulding your character into the hero (or villain) they surely one day will become!