Jim Moreno's "RoleCraft" MMO ColumnRoleCraft: Instanced RoleplayingJim Moreno's "RoleCraft" MMO Column - RSS 2.0
Of course, it never hurts to plan beforehand, which will certainly help in creating an even more solid instance RP experience, so be sure to! As I mentioned earlier, it's way too easy to initiate an instance run, and one way is by enlisting help via chat channels, then just meeting at the instance entrance. BOR-ing ! This method ignores a lot of possible RP fun that could be had even before going in, not to mention greatly reduces the same possible RP fun to be had once inside. Rather than trying to coordinate everyone and everything over a chat channel, even if the conversation is IC , why not gather at a pub, guildhall, library, or some darkened room at an inn to discuss the plans and roles for the upcoming adventure? This could be right before going in, or once a day for five days prior to. This time can be used to share any knowledge players and characters may have of the instance, to insure the team knows what equipment is needed, and to gather that equipment. Is the party gathering for the benefit of one or two of its members, or to accomplish a wholly group mission? Does anyone have quests, potions, enchants, and RP ideas to share? What is the plan in case an RL event happens, like someone gets disconnected or called away abruptly? How about planning a specific place or time for a bio break? Honestly, not every instance adventure has to be planned with military precision, but some amount of planning should be done.
Lore plays an important part with instances, much more so than while your character is going about their daily business. Instances are a microcosm, a world within a world, and for this reason it behooves roleplayers to have at least common knowledge about those world. This awareness could lead into you creating RP circumstances for your character, or for helping someone else with theirs. For example, one of my favorite instances in LotRO is The Great Barrow, found deep with the Barrow-Downs of Bree-Land. It's a wretched hive of scum and villainy, to say the least, infested with undead and Barrow crawlers. There is a large section of it which is nothing more than a huge maze, and though I've traversed it more than a few times, it is still able to twist and turn me in every direction but the one I want to go in. For this reason, my hobbit burglar has taken it upon himself to brave the instance and its maze solo, as many times as it takes for him to learn the correct paths through to the caverns beyond, and as a superb test of his burgle skills of stealth and cunning. It's not easy, but it's a whole lotta fun! As I negotiate the instance, I'm learning more and more about the environment, the denizens, the treasures that can be found within. This is making me and my character into a worthwhile guide should I hear someone looking to hire one for their own adventure into the place.
For a completely different example, I point to WoW and my character Arsonite, who's current storyline and goal has him building his mechanostrider mount. Not content with merely purchasing a make and model built by unknown hands, Arson takes pride in his engineering skill, to the point where he shies away from mechanical contraptions not constructed by him. To that end, he's been making forays into the depths of Gnomeregan and out onto the desolate expanse of The Shimmering Flats in order to gather the materials he needs. Now, in the above example, my hobbit started his RP goals after having completed all the game quests he had to accomplish in The Great Barrows. With Arson, I matched more than a few game quests to coincide with and as a reasoning for him visiting those two areas. Because I know the lore of Gnomeregan and the reason there are gnomes out on The Shimmering Flats, I was able to quickly put together an RP sub-segment within his overall storyline that has kept him busy and in RP mode for five levels now.
As you can see, finding or creating RP reasons for going into an instance is very easily done, but what about continuing that ease of RP once inside? Fear not, for it's just as easy, as long as you keep your imagination alive and flowing. You've done all the planning necessary or desired, and your stalwart team of adventurers is standing on the other side of the instance entrance. The primary thought on a roleplayers ' mind should be RP, not whatever loot is going to drop, or do you have enough potions to last the dungeon, or how much longer until your girlfriend gets there. You know you don't have one, so stop kidding yourself, and focus!