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. Underlying this social play style is the perspective players have on their characters, as fully fledged fictional beings that are more than just avatars of themselves. The character's personality, goals, morals, and quirks may resemble that of the player or be completely different. Thus, even a player who doesn't appear to be role playing to an outsider may enjoy elements of role playing by appreciating the in-universe context of her gameplay in relation to his character. 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 Policies, players on Roleplaying servers are expected to abide by the rules outlined in the Role Playing Policy. A policy that has changed a lot from it's original layout. 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. "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".
- Maintain a positive atmosphere for roleplaying. Harassment of other players is never tolerated.
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 uncommon but not unheard of.
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.
Blizzard Customer Service Representative Pavonum clarified how Blizzard handles RP server violations:
...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. It is up to the community on each RP server to establish the degree of policy enforcement they wish to see. 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.
Note that this includes erotic role play, which is not tolerated though it still happens. Community efforts to cull Goldshire, for instance, have been largely successful, even if the behavior in question likely moved to other areas.
- Roleplaying Forum FAQ
- Roleplaying Forum Writing Guide
- Guide to roleplaying
- Item collections (Ever expanding list of item collections to give character a specific look)
- Types of RP Guilds (Under construction)
WoW Role Play Podcasts