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Saidin

A map of potential roleplay pitfalls in Guild Wars 2

I'm in a GW2 mood today, so today we write about GW2! Sound good? Great!

Seriously though, after researching and reading about the various races of GW2, I see a lot of roleplay (abbreviated to "RP") possibilities, and most of them make me excited to step into the updated world of Tyria. However, I'd be lying if I said didn't see pitfalls in many elements of the established societies and races of this lush world. Today, I'm going to point out these potential pitfalls, so that responsible RPers can avoid them.

First off, to define for yourself what I mean by "responsible RP", you can see my past writings on the subject:

http://omedon666.livejournal.com/70259.html

In short, responsible RP is RP that is inclusive and aware that RP requires an audience of equally invested characters to maintain interest in the conversation or scenario. One of the elements woven between the races of GW2 is conflict, and conflict, if done right, can be fun for RP... but there's a fine line where it becomes overbearing, uncomfortable and the opposite of fun. There are some specific points where this comes up on Tyria, and here are some of the points, in my opinion, to watch for, listed by race.

Charr:

The big one is, of course, the fact that Charr traditionally dislike, even hate humans. Their ancestral warring with humanity exists in their blood, and any human expecting to immediately be buddy-buddy with every Charr they meet for the sake of RP is fooling themselves. That being said, the RPer that has chosen to play a Charr has many options at their disposal to get past this barrier to enjoy the company of players that have chosen to play human, while sticking true to their character. Charr respect strength, and strength comes in all forms, from physical, to magical, to "spiritual". Finding common ground can be as simple as a member of the ash legion appreciating the nimble advantages of even a human thief.

For races interacting *with* the Charr, steering clear of housecat references is a huge help if you want to get past the armour and into their respect, and make no mistake, befriending a Charr is all about respect and honour. As mentioned above, Charr respect strength, so simple things like straight posture, and a strong sense of self can get to that point faster. Of all the races, Charr are the toughest nut to crack, they are the former "Villains" of Tyria, and present a vast array of new horizons and RP challenges both for those who portray them, and those guilded to them, trying to fit in with their ways.

Norn:

From one end of the spectrum to the other, Norn can be the most laid back, easiest to befriend race on Tyria... but don't fool yourself, they can also be your worst enemy if you insult them in the wrong ways. Norn players can capitalize on the loud, brash nature of their culture to bridge the gap with almost any other race's archetypical hangups, but the one thing they should be careful of is that, for reals, no one likes a braggart. Norn are all about glory and their personal saga, but Norn players need to keep in mind that every player is the centre of their own story, and not to drown out their fellow players with their loud Norn personalities. Ham it up, heck, Norn it up, but don't forget that, logistically, while your Norn can solo almost everything, roleplay is hard to do alone.

Sylvari:

As a longtime follower and lover of this new race, you would think I'd skip these guys as "perfect", but no, even my beloved flowers have some things to watch out for to keep from being "that guy/gal" in your local RP circle. Straight up, inquisitiveness can be cute and endearing, these guys have the chance to be the Data/Spock of GW2, in the vastness of their "tablet smarts" coupled with the limited spectrum of their experiences among "human" quirks, but it can be overdone, and it can stifle RP when you're stopping every other sentence to explain things to the Sylvari. The "need to be filled in" can quickly become an "it's all about me" vacuum in any group RP. Mind this line, and your Sylvari will quickly become a boon to perspective instead of someone avoided for dragging out a simple scene. Also, be careful that their innate "empathy" doesn't become "metagaming". I think that's self explanatory. To again draw a parallel from the Star Trek universe, you're Counselor Troi, not a mind reader. Picking up on moods and such can be fun, indeed, those Sylvari interacting with Sylvari might even deign to send them OOC private messages to tip them off such as "you may sense that I'm nervous, but hiding it well".

Human:

Reciprocating the Charr issue, humanity's main hangup is indeed the same ancestral war, and the Charr have been the humans' "monster in the closet" for most of their lives in this timeframe. This could lead to some very interesting, horizon-broadening RP, but it has to be enabled at both ends. Typically, in fantasy MMOs, humans are painted as the diplomats that try to hold things together, and GW2 humans can indeed utilize the same ideal to bridge themselves into respectful discourse with just about anyone, if they set their minds to it. Much like Norn, humans have an easier time relating to other races due to their "middle of the road" stance, and the fact that their Queen is a central figure in establishing amicable relations with the other races of Tyria is a big help!

Asura:

I've saved the best (in the context of this topic) for last. Oh, Asura, with your built-in condescension, and your overdone superiority complex, how on Tyria do you expect us to RP with you without throttling you? Of all the races of Tyria, the Asura worry me the most in the hands of the worst kinds of MMO RP'er. Like WoW gnomes, only without the inherent, functionally installed love for their friends, Asura are almost too much to bear... and the Asura player needs to be conscious of this if they want to play with other people on an RP front. Don't dull your Asura-ness, play the race because you love it, lean into it, and enjoy their special, snarky flavour, but please, please, if you are concerned with the size of your friend list among roleplayers, keep in mind that you're not playing a novel where the writer eventually gets around to showing off your better side, you need to engage your fellow RPers sooner than that. Realize that you have an uphill battle ahead of you in inter-player relations, as it relates to the archetypical hangups of your race: you are supposed to be self-absorbed, snarky little geniuses, tolerating the bumbling, giant bookahs as you invent to the tune of the eternal alchemy, but you're also (if you get where I'm coming from here) a roleplayer interested in the mutual audience that makes RPing fun. My Asura is going to be fascinated by the other races, trying to learn what makes them tick, and I can only recommend that some degree of this exist in the heart of every Asura RP'er. At the very least, it can't hurt to have an adventuring Asura "fake it till you feel it", for the sake of "diplomatic progress". Now, on the other hand, players interacting with Asura need to know what they are getting into, and cut them some slack. You are a denizen of a world that knows of these creatures' legendary intellect... and the ego that comes with it. Working together, the Asura's interaction with other players and races doesn't have to be as complicated as I've made it sound, and it can be a fun time!

"Group because you want to, not because you have to"

I'm going to close this entry out with a disclaimer that perhaps should be at the top. GW2 is unlike most other MMOs out there, in that we don't logistically "need" each other very often, if at all, unless we take a serious interest in explorable dungeons (and even then, if there's a dungeon finder, you can self-motivate that involvement as well). Roleplay has always had a level of co-dependency built in (unless you enjoy talking to yourself), but it's a little different in GW2, in that not only are we free to advance without sucking up to each other, but that also empowers us to be far more choosy as to who we "let in". Maybe you're the world's most "lone wolf" Norn, and you're content to be left alone... until you find that pack that accepts you. Roleplayers are empowered in GW2 to stick right to their guns without fear of it logistically hindering them... but they are simultaneously put in a game that is built around random acts of teamwork. Build your character's world as you will, but bear in mind that, if you are the kind of player that wants to be active with others and roleplay with them, just like in real life, compromises may be required, ideally leading to a character's personal growth. Be ready to accept the consequences of your character style, and to adapt if need be.

Remember, you can't (sanely) roleplay alone. You can solo or self-involve most of GW2's content, but the experience is so much sweeter with the immersion and comraderie that comes from roleplay, if that's your thing.

I'm sure I've missed some points (and I really should go make breakfast), but that's what comments are for! What further RP challenges do you think lie ahead for the people of Tyria?

Thank you for reading. :)
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Comments

Now this was a nice read :D I love the possibilities for RP in GW2!!

(Anonymous)

Great read and good advice for any perspective RPer. I linked you on my blog as well: http://belzan.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/what-is-in-a-character/

-Belzan

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