So, you want to play on an RP server?

Back when I first started playing WoW, I started a character on a server that a group of my friends told me to: Cenarion Circle. They had already been playing the game for a week or two before I got my account, and they wanted me to come play with them (or, rather, I was getting totally ignored because all of them were too busy to play the game).

So, I started playing my druid, and I really liked it. However, there was one drawback, because Cenarion Circle is a Roleplay Server. That means it has different rules than either a PvE or PvP server, and understanding those rules can be an important part of joining the larger server community. Being part of the server community mattered an awful lot back before the days of server transfers. I’ve since transferred off that server and ended up on a PvE server (Elune), however I had a lot of positive (and not so positive) experiences playing on an RP server. So, with a handful of bloggers starting to re-roll characters on Argent Dawn (an RP server), I wanted to pass along some advice and stories about what playing on an RP server was like for me. Also, for new players who are thinking of starting up on an RP server, you should think about whether or not it is the right kind of “fit” for you.

The fun of RP servers:

  • Not everyone on an RP server enjoys roleplaying. However, while I was there, I did participate in some RP events. I have see people in groups & raids that tried to do it all in-character (some with great success that made the run more fun). It was fun to be part of a world that (sometimes) felt more engaging in some ways.
  • Most RP tends to happen outside of instances & raids. We had an event where we were going to rescue a horde player who was trapped inside Gnomer (who was also in love with a gnome). A group of alliance players escorted some horde players (on foot, without communication tools other than emotes) as we went on a long journey to rescue him. While it sounds cheesy, it was really one of the favorite things that I did on the server in the entire time I was there. I didn’t role play on a daily basis, but I liked doing these kinds of events and interacting with people who were really good at role playing.
  • If someone had come and interrupted one of the server’s RP events, it would have made everyone who planned it really sad, and you need to keep in mind that your happiness shouldn’t come at the expense of other people’s happiness.
  • If you want to learn more about how to be good at RP, you should check out the Too Many Anna’s blog. She is usually pretty good at helping people get better at making RP servers a fun place to be part of.

So, below are Blizzard’s rules & guidelines that you should be aware of when playing on an RP server. Not all of them are well enforced, but you should still be aware that these rules CAN be enforced. The naming guideline tends to be the most often enforced RP-server rule. I actually did get mad at people who broke the naming guidelines on my RP server, and I miss not being able to report silly-sounding names on a PvE server.

  • The full list of RP server guidelines can be found in Blizzard’s support page.
  • The biggest difference on RP servers is the naming policy. You should read the RP naming policy before creating a character on an RP server. In addition to the normal naming rules, you also can’t create: “Any Non-Medieval or Non-Fantasy names (i.e. Slipnslide, Robotman, Technotron).” If you need help finding appropriate names for an RP server, you can try a Medieval Naming Guide that is available online.
  • The rules actually outline policies for how you aren’t supposed to say out of character things in /general, /say, /yell (ie. public channels). Now, general chat still tends to be like any PvE server. However, you can get reported based on what you say in public channels, so you should be aware of this rule, even if it isn’t commonly enforced. They don’t police your guild chat at all.
  • ((Out of character speech would be typed inside parentheses when talking to other people who are role playing)) – while not a rule, this is a handy convention to know.
  • They also take harassment of Role players very seriously (regardless of what kind of role play they are doing). So, harassing people who are partaking in RP sessions is against the rules.
  • If someone is partaking in a type of RP that you think breaks the other game rules, the correct solution is to report them using an in-game ticket (or the “report spam” feature if they are spamming a public channel). For example, any type of chat in /say or other general channels that is even a mildly inappropriate reference to “human anatomy or bodily functions” can be reported to a GM. The rest of the normal chat rules can be found here.
  • It’s better to ignore someone who is doing something you don’t like, rather than starting drama with them.
  • One misconception is that everyone there RP’s all the time. This isn’t true. Most of the people on RP servers don’t actually follow the RP rules of the server, and tend to make it difficult for people who DO enjoy the RP aspects of that server. SO, you can surround yourself with non-RP people and be perfectly fine on the server. However, you need to be respectful of the people who are there to be part of the RP environment. There are people who are GOOD at RP, who make those servers more magical, and who made my experiences on Cenarion Circle so much more fun.

Like any server, it’s better to treat all the fellow players with respect, and to /ignore people who you don’t like, and to report inappropriate behavior to a GM if you believe what they are doing is breaking the rules (whether they’re doing it in or out of character).

If you don’t like the RP server rule set, then your best option is to just not play on an RP server. However, it can be fun if you give it a chance. I personally miss playing on an RP server some days, though Elune is a better fit for my current play style, schedule, and group of  real life friends that I met after my move to grad school.

Also, don’t forget to have fun! This is a really great game, and you have lots of opportunities to enjoy playing on an RP server if that is something that feels right to you.

21 Comments

  1. Posted March 18, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely fantastic post! One thing I will add is that generally, most roleplayers are completely tolerant of non-roleplayers as long as they’re not trying to interfere in any RP that’s going on. We’re pretty live-and-let-live about such things. Like you said, we don’t RP all the time, especially in things like raids. A little mutual respect, and everything is fine.

  2. Maura
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    It needs to be said again: absolutely fantastic post!

  3. Verdantazia
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

    Hmmm. Well, I’m on several RP servers, as well as some regular and PvP servers, and I have to say, I see very few people actually RPing. In fact, when I switch between servers, I can’t really tell the difference between them. Channel chat’s the same: same topics, same crass attitude, same 12 year olds saying the same stupid things.
    Occasionally, I see someone trying to roleplay – say a guild meeting with everyone in the same outfit, standing outside, but that’s about it, and it’s much more rare than it was when the game first started.
    Sad, but that’s my experience. Too bad too, because RPing is one of the great potentials of fantasy games . . . .

  4. Tootsie
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    Verdantazia what’s sad is that these people who are trying to escape reality (which is fine) are trying to escape it even further by spending countless hours pretending to be someone that they’re not. It’s one thing to play a dwarf for example, but for the life of me I’ll never understand why someone has to take it one step further and pretend to talk like a Scotsman in order to make their character seem more believable. That to me is what’s sad.

  5. Lissanna
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    RP isn’t bad. It’s basically playing a character. People play characters all the time: actors/actresses on TV or in plays, Live Action role playing games, table top role playing games, reenactment groups of various sorts, etc.

    Little kids play pretend all the time. It’s not really that much different to come into a computer game (where you are given a new name, race, gender, persona) to want to actually play that character in a way that feels more real to you. It’s not really about escaping reality, but about playing dress-up for a while as a fun thing to do.

  6. Posted March 18, 2010 at 6:10 pm | Permalink

    i’m on an RP-pvp server, and i like it. while my guild isn’t big on RP, we do have a few who participate in RP events and such in their spare time.

    one of my favourites was when we organized with the alliance guilds (i’m horde) for a large scale world pvp battle. the horde charged from freewind post, and the ally forces from tanaris and we met on the shimmering flats. there were about 80-100 people per side (i know the horde had 2 full raids and some individuals just along for the fun). the horde ended up winning ^_^

    i’ve also heard of some events being located around the pvp towers in EPL.

    as a side note: i used to have a NE priest on Cenarion Circle a number of years back when 60 was the level cap… good chance we might have ran into one another. name was Alyssania (same as my NE druid on Twisting Nether now).

    – Poras

  7. Lissanna
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    I’ve always been Lissanna. :)

  8. cbgstylee
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 6:27 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been mainly on an RP server my entire wow career (Cenarion Circle nonethless) because when I started playing it was a highly populated realm and my friends already had characters there. While I admit I am no RPer and neither are my friends/guild, I have to say that it is really hardly noticeable that its any different than any normal PvE server. The RPers tend to hold their events in areas away from the masses, places non-RPers may only visit while questing or farming. You see a lot of RP threads on the forums as well but otherwise its not very noticeable to non-RPers. You pretty much have to LOOK for RP. The one place that it does rear its head is in the naming policy, and even then not terribly so. Even if you have a name that is completely outside the RP parameters, if you never cross paths with someone who is a hardcore RPer and actually cares to report it you might never have a problem.

  9. Maor
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    If you want to get down to it, technically playing WoW at all is RP since you are taking on the role of a Dwarf Hunter when you are playing your character.

    The difference between an roleplayer and a normal player is how much they decide to act out that character. A normal player will just play the character and chat like they would in real life. A roleplayer will act out their character like they were in Azeroth and have their reactions and interactions in game be from the perspective of that character (essentially be in character).

    But as Liss said, we roleplayers are not always in character, we joke and talk like other players with each other on a regular basis. But we also like to be in character, develop back stories and act out how our characters interact in game.

  10. Tootsie
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    Lissanna, actors/actresses on TV or in plays get paid to pretend – that’s very different. Little kids roleplay because well…they are little kids. And don’t get me started on LARPers because they are (removed negative phrasing). It’s one thing to pretend you’re someone else from time to time and have fun doing it, but to sit in front of your computer day in and day out putting on a fake Scottish accent on vent or ingame because you’re a dwarf is(removed negative phrasing). Or riverdancing in Ironforge because you consider yourself a “professional” dwarven dancer is (removed negative phrasing). I’m just giving you examples of (removed negative phrasing) I’ve seen on RP servers.

    Let’s face it, we do play games to escape the harsh realities of life or to simply relax, but this level of escapism is (removed negative phrasing).

  11. Lissanna
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    just because people play the game differently than you, it doesn’t make what they are doing retarded. It’s just a different way of playing & expressing yourself. WoW’s RP community has some really great, creative, smart, & relatively “normal” people in it that just enjoy giving their character a history, and making the world feel more realistic and alive. There’s nothing wrong with those people.

    Also, you guys need to done down derogatory comments before I start editing/deleting. The entire POINT of this thread was to ask people to be respectful of RP’ers. If you can’t do that, then please refrain from commenting.

  12. Maor
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    @cbgstylee

    Part of the reason things are held of the beaten path is to avoid having to deal with people who don’t respect that there are some people who like to RP. Now in my experience, most non-roleplayers on RP realms are perfectly fine letting roleplayers do what they do. It’s the minority who tend to be the problem.

  13. Tootsie
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    Lissanna watch the movie Darkon and don’t tell me you don’t feel sorry for those poor unfortunate souls…

    And fyi those “negative phrases” that were removed weren’t curse words at all but I wouldn’t exactly say them to my mother’s face either.

  14. Lissanna
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    Movies exaggerate stereotypes. Most people who like roleplaying things are just normal people. You can find people who perpetuate negative stereotypes in any group of people. I mean, some people think anyone who plays computer/video games are bad – but just because the WOW playerbase has some bad apples, it doesn’t mean that the entire WOW playerbase is full of 30 year old basement dwellers. Instead, there are mostly just normal people who play WOW and other roleplaying/fantasy activities.

    You don’t have to agree. It’s okay to have a different opinion. Just keep it more respectful.

  15. Posted March 18, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Roleplay is the same as writing a story with other people. Sometimes, you write the story yourself. It’s also a way to actually understand real people more; the better you understand how people cope with problems in the real world, the more real and human your character will become, even if their problems are a little more fantastical.

    This is a good guide, Liss, for people who need to know the rules change depending on your server.

  16. Treeboi
    Posted March 18, 2010 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    I still remember my first interaction with a player from an RP server, the first day of cross-realm battlegrounds in Arathi Basin.

    The enemy RP player, while riding towards me on one of the roads, stops, dismounts, bows, and calmly waits for me, in the middle of the road. Like an old fashioned duel. It was so quaint that it put a smile on my face.

    As a PvPer, from a highly competitive PvP server, I obviously just rode him down, mercilessly popping all my cooldowns to blow him up.

    It was the first of many “welcome to PvP” moments I had that day.

  17. Posted March 19, 2010 at 1:49 am | Permalink

    I played for much longer on an RP server before leaving eventually to join a raiding guild. This is a great introduction to anyone who might be considering it. We knew many people on our RP servers who were not RPers, but had chosen to play there because they liked being *around* RPers. I can say without hesitation that the people from the RP server were generally nicer and more welcoming than our current server. Don’t get me wrong, I love my guild and play with some great people – but I do sometimes miss an RP server for the atmosphere and the friendly folks.

  18. Posted March 19, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I don’t really RP, but sometimes I find I really like the RP environment. I have an alt on Wyrmrest Accord and I love it when I pass by RP conversations between other players or see a paladin strutting around in costume gear. It just makes the server feel more alive.

    It’s like those random NPCs that walk around Dalaran, but because there are real people playing them you never know what you’re gonna get.

  19. Posted March 19, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    IMO, being involved in something that has depth is MUCH more interesting that being involved with something that is only superficial, so to say. i, myself, am not an avid RP-er, but if i come across RP-ers while questing or such, i will take a few minutes to greet them and ask directions to the nearest city gates, or trade tales of adventure and mayhem.

    i also collect an array of RP clothes. i believe i have an RP outfit for every season/special event that i usually wear at least once or twice around dalaran during said season/event.

    btw, my paladin is still defense capped with his santa hat on… i might have tanked a 5man or three with it on =)

  20. cbgstylee
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    @Maor

    I certainly agree with your point. I was merely conveying my experience as a non-RPer playing on an RP realm. How I came to play on that server was really a function of joining friends already there rather than a desire to play with or around people who RP. Also to be quite honest it’s probably better that they do most of their RP off the beaten path anyway. There’s less interference from players not engaged in their event and there are a lot of unique places in the game to visit and RP around in.

    My desire was simply to illustrate how a player such as myself hardly even notices much of a difference between an RP-server and a normal PvE server save for a few things (such as the stricter naming policy).

  21. Lissanna
    Posted March 19, 2010 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

    I think that RP servers were probably way more fun when the game first started & there was much more of a community feel on the server (where PUGs were mostly the same group of about 100 people or so in the LFG channel).