All the World's a Stage
Roleplaying (RP), or Role Playing, in World of Warcraft means taking on the role of a character and acting it out in-game through emotes, /say, /yell, and sometimes other channels. Players may also participate in roleplay outside the game by posting on blogs, wikis, or forums (official or otherwise). Roleplaying has similarities to improvisational theater, with the participants acting out characters in unscripted situations. The character's personality, goals, morals, and quirks may resemble that of the player or be completely different. Regardless, roleplayers recognize a boundary between what is in character and what is out of character.
RP also refers to RP Realms. There are several RP Servers available to Warcraft roleplayers. RP servers are functionally the same as PvE Servers, with added social rules and stricter naming enforcement.
The same is true for RP-PvP Servers and PvP Servers. Both sets of rules apply. RP-PvP is commonly misunderstood to mean that the roleplaying part is optional. In fact, these servers were started in response to petitioning from roleplayers, who felt that the ability to engage in PvP added realism.
Basic Expectations on RP Servers
In addition to Blizzard's normal in-game Naming Policies (US, EU), players on Roleplaying servers are expected to abide by the rules outlined in the Role Playing Policy (US, EU). In summary, players should:
- Create a name that fits within the World of Warcraft universe. Remember that rules for Roleplaying servers are in addition to the regular Naming Policy (US, EU) . "Iwillcrushyou", "Roguesftw" and "Shammysrule" are examples of names that would be against the Roleplaying Naming Policy.
- Stay in character in /say, /yell, in emotes, or any other channel used for roleplaying. This means no discussion of real life events or people in these areas. Players should also take the time to spell out words and phrases. Refrain from using internet jargon and acronyms such as "lol" or "pwn".
- An example of what is to be expected on a role playing server, using a pirate theme based character:
- -Ahoy mateys! Ya'll never guess what loot was that ol' witch packin' into the treasure chest
- -All beak and no bite as usual Salty, spill the beans or take a walk down the plank!
- Also, an example of what is NOT acceptable in a role playing server:
- -rofl guys i just pwned 5 nubs in stv
- Maintain a positive atmosphere for roleplaying. Harassment of other players is never tolerated.
Under certain circumstances, however, shorthand and acronyms are indeed used. In combat situations or raids, "battle jargon" is generally acceptable, as one would definitely evolve to convey the most strategy in the fewest and shortest words. Directing parties using fully worded "There is a patrol incoming, please move to my location", while atmospheric, would prove less effective than a brief "pat inc, cmere". Abusing "war lingo" outside of combat could be simply considered rude IC.
While it is not mandatory, several players and even entire guilds in role playing servers enjoy the creation of a background for their in-game characters, if you ask around several players will tell you about how their parents were slain by a tribe of trolls or when they applied for the stormwind army but were rejected due to not belonging to a royal family, some guilds even join together under the same cause and recruit people with similar backgrounds to their own in an effort to keep the members feeling related to each other and to make it feel like they're fighting for the same reason.
Please note that rules about the General chat channel state that is required to be on-topic, not in-character. Traditionally, General is used on roleplaying servers in much the same way as it is on any other server type. However, many people on roleplaying servers enjoy maintaining the same character persona across all channels. Roleplaying on the General channel is infrequent but not uncommon.
Supporting Roleplay on RP Servers
Roleplayers are sometimes disappointed at the amount of out-of-character chat, inappropriate character names, or anti-roleplaying behavior seen on the official RP servers. Forum threads lamenting the state of enforcement are frequently seen on the official forums.
...we work reactively in response to players' reports. Thus, if you observe players attempting to disrupt roleplaying events through the use of verbal, physical, or visual harassment, I would encourage you to submit an in-game petition...
...it is contrary to our stance of not "policing" realms in search of policy violations -- which is, again, in line with the reactive nature of our investigation -- and partly because it is simply not logistically feasible to offer such a service, given the resources it would require. We urge you, however, to report any wrongdoing you observe...
Blizzard GMs do not go looking for RP violations. They address these issues entirely in response to player requests which means that going "Out of character" or not participating in role-play cannot be deemed as against any of Blizzard's policies or Term of Service or Uses. It is up to the community on each RP server to establish the degree of policy enforcement they wish to see. Lack of community enforcement is often why more serious players do not play on RP servers. Whereas one server's community may take a very strict approach to naming, another may be relatively lax. Rather than Blizzard GMs deciding how far to take it, it's up to the players themselves to "set the barometer" and determine what is acceptable or not. The GMs can then compare the infraction to the policy as worded, and apply disciplinary measures as required.
Thus, it is up to players on RP servers to proactively support the enforcement of the official RP server policies by reporting infractions to GMs.
- All the World's a Stage - with links to WoW Insider
- Guide to roleplaying
- Roleplaying Forum FAQ
- Roleplaying Forum Writing Guide
- Types of RP Guilds (Under construction)
- How to play
- How to roleplay a blood elf
- How to roleplay a draenei
- How to roleplay a dwarf
- How to roleplay a Forsaken
- How to roleplay a gnome
- How to roleplay a goblin
- How to roleplay a human
- How to roleplay a night elf
- How to roleplay an orc
- How to roleplay a pandaren
- How to roleplay a tauren
- How to roleplay a troll
- How to roleplay a worgen
Info and resources
WoW Role Play Podcasts
Ratchet Radio Join Grumpa Achielles, Rodrik Andrigo and Edrasil Emberdawn in an Argent Dawn - EU role play server podcast. In the show they interview Warcraft Role players on the server and chat about current server affairs.
RETIRED WoW Role Play Podcasts