This post was written by the player of Gremkarc/Chingo in response to hearing that a number of his friends were getting bored with the dead-end characters that they were playing. The below text aims to both highlight the problem, and provide remedies to fix it.
Lately, I've been seeing a lot of people become dissatisfied with their characters, to such lengths where they don't even enjoy roleplaying as them anymore. Sometimes, it's a case of their current situation being incompatible to their personalities, sometimes it's because the people they normally roleplay with have moved on to various other climates, sometimes it's because they've never really been able to get a hook on the character, and sometimes, it's because they've roleplayed as them so much, that they desperately need something different.
Some characters are more suiting to being roleplayed as others. Unlike a book, where you control a myriad of characters all blending into the overall narrative, in roleplay you are confined to single personalities. You can suggest that warlock/hunter pets, mounts, and vanity pets operate as other characters too, but the way chat works in WOW means that trying it this way can get rather tedious, as, essentially, you have to bend the basics of /s and /e.
Whilst sticking with only one character at a time affords you a lot of intimacy with them, which results in a lot of care and affection between you and your avatar, it also means that there is no escape, should you stop enjoying playing as them. You can't just shift scene, and focus on someone else. All the emotional and historical baggage that the character has been through (and we've all been through roleplay which, on hindsight, we wish weren't part of our characters' stories, and can make us less enthusiastic and comfortable playing them) has to be carried along with them. Starting a new character too, is rather hard, because it means you have to spend months levelling them, if you want them to be able to access all areas, and wear the best kind of kit. It can amount in feeling imprisoned by the character you play.
If the character that you play is cool as a concept, but not as entertaining to roleplay as, then you might have a problem. People don't seem to see the orc grunts, as example, as being as robust with their personalities as human soldiers. You will see a much greater variety in the latter than the former, and I think that has something to do with being able to relate to humans much more. They're the traditional fantasy race which reflect on their real-world counterparts. Blood-elves too, are like this. They are mostly used as blank slates, whereas orcs seem to come with a pre-defined personality which is relatively humourless and driven by honour. I think it also has something to do with the range of backgrounds that humans can have. They could have come from all over the Eastern Kingdoms, whereas all orcs on Azeroth share a similar history. It's the same with the Tauren, too.
It's also a case of verbosity. Those character who say few words might seem daunting from an outside perspective, but inside, you're not really doing much. You're not expressing your creativity as much, and because of that, I'd wager you're not having fun as much. When the words you do say tend to be fairly wooden (the way the Tauren speak, for example, leaves little room for humour, or chat about everyday things. Jokes and conversations about the price of bread today are perfectly legitimate, but spoken about in such a way can seem forced. "Ah yes, I have noticed the weather has been good lately...) that can get pretty boring to play, as well.
Issues like this tend to be ironed out, on the road to 80, when you're going through different experiences with your character, when it's both fresh and difficult to carve out a solid personality, and you're spending most of your time travelling to new places in the game world, and getting to new (maybe you've seen it all before, but you're not repeating it day in and day out) places and quests. I think a lot of people don't appreciate how crucial these parts of the game are for developing your character - even if you don't take your levelling ICly. When you get to 80, and you're MR or MRS POWER, it's often hard to explain how you got there. But if you were on that journey, with your character, then you know. You've bitten the head off a furbolg in order to avoid its poisoned spear. You've spenta lot of time serving in Tanaris, for the goblins. You've eaten a wide variety of meals in Booty Bay, and regurgitated almost all of them. Not just that though, but it's on these characters who you spend the most productive time on. You don't quickly run out of dailies when you're level 56, and steamrolling your way into Outland. You don't have to log over to them, when fun stuff is to happen, because you're already on them. You go to the guild meeting, and then afterwards you go back into battle.
From this, it sounds like I'm saying "make alts." But no. This post is about sticking with your mains, because your mains are your most cherished character, by dent of you spending the most amount of time on them. Don't abandon them just yet. Try and salvage them, try and give them some fresh air.
To do this, you don't need to rewrite their story - I'd say you should be doing the exact opposite. By turning over a completely new leaf, you risk further alienating yourself - you just spent 4 months levelling to 80, and now you're proposing settling into a new character you're going to spend each day on, with nothing really in-game to do? Sure, that gives you a lot of time to think about things, but I think there's a case to be made about enjoying the gaming aspect of the game, and enjoying the creative aspect of the game going hand-in-hand. If grinding Shadow Vault quests bore you, then you're not gonna be in the most inspired of moods when it comes to RPing.
Expand on the story, and really think deeply about it. And when you consider the people you RP with, think of ways that it could be interesting for them, too. Because when two people are just as enthusiastic to RP with one another, then sparks, great sparks, are gonna fly. What really motivates your character? Why is s/he in Icecrown, or the Storm Peaks, or Alterac Valley, or Ashenvale? If they're fanatically devoted to the Horde, then WHY are they fanatically devoted to the Horde? What are the alternatives for them? What would they do if they were exiled? What would they do if Thrall was assassinated? What would they do if pointed at a town of no real strategic importance, and told to "send a message to the humans"? These things might never happen, but by answering them to yourself, you are giving a greater indication of the thoughts behind your character. You can apply these questions to any character really. What would push your character?
If the answer is "Not much," or "They've got minds like machines -devoted to one goal, such ideas wouldn't run through their heads," (and the latter of these answers is aimed at someone who will know it, actually. *coughs*), then perhaps it's time to rethink? As said earlier, the kinds of characters who don't think much, the ones which don't have many inner-conflicts or emotions bubbling around (they don't have to show them, they just have to be bubbling around) are ones which are nice to RP with, but not to RP as. This doesn't demand a rewrite either. Certain things can happen to change a character, whilst remaining the same thing (and character progression is what you should be aiming for always, to keep things interesting and fresh). The death of a family member. A battle which goes so gloriously that it encourages them to fight more. An unexpected assailant ambushing them. The revelation that half the world hates them. If Scrooge can change, then your character can.
Grunts (for example) can still be grunts, with hooks. How about a grunt who is very much into cooking? Or a grunt who sings songs of war, whilst battling? A grunt who was burnt badly as a pup, and now makes people uncomfortable with his visage, but desperately wants to be just another soldier? A grunt who aspires to be a Stone Guard, but is too incompetent to ever make it? A grunt who carries around the old piercings of allies already perished, to continue their legacy?
I'll end this post on a question. We're 7 months into the expansion pack. 3.2 looks set to be good, but not totally change our landscape. We'll still be doing dailies in Icecrown, and we'll still be mostly battling the Scourge. The world isn't going to change much. Do people feel confident that they still have enough interest in their mains to continue playing, and roleplaying, as them? Or do they, like so many I know, feel RP slipping away from them? I'd be interested to hear. CONVERSE