Jim Moreno's "RoleCraft" MMO ColumnRolecraft: Professional RPJim Moreno's "RoleCraft" MMO Column - RSS 2.0
Starting with the most popular, WoW is really the game I think in drastic need of such a character. Probably more due to the sheer number of players, WoW is where I hear the outcry of "I'm bored!" more so than in any other MMORPG. That's not to say that the entire game wouldn't benefit if Blizzard made their next new character class, oh, let's name it the Artisan, a class focused on creating many types of unique items, or taking items already in game and upgrading them to be more powerful, or more useful. For instance, I'm hoping that player housing does indeed find its way into WoW. If and when this happens, the Artisan class is one I can see being of great use in creating furniture, artwork, tapestry, yard ornaments, anything that players may want to stock and decorate their houses with. The class would not be forced into venturing out into the wild in order to obtain their materials and tools of their trade, "forced" being the key word there.
WoW is currently the most difficult MMORPG I'm aware of in which to RP a profession-based character, simply because the game does indeed force players into adventuring. Difficult, yes, but still not impossible to do so. There are 13 professions and secondary skills available, outnumbering the nine classes, and that fact mixed with some imagination makes for ample opportunity. Playing a non-adventure WoW character means that you must find other ways of retrieving the materials needed for your profession. The first place to look is, of course, the Auction House. If you're like me, and you know the AH to be nothing short of the legalized extortion that it is, you too probably stay far away from it. Excepting cases of extreme roleplaying need or desire, I stay out of the place, preferring to do business with other roleplayers or NPC shopkeepers.
That being said, the AH might just be a fine place for a profession-based character. Thinking of it as a secure warehouse, where the character keeps the most difficult to find and most valuable items that they don't wish to keep in their personal vaults, is quite alright. Just be prepared monetarily for the price and costs of the items within.
The best way to overcome the material-gathering conundrum is to build or find a social network of fellow roleplayers in game. You might know that such cooperative entities are called guilds in WoW. In real-life historical times, guilds were not built around people who only wanted to PvP, or raid, or whose membership was restricted to gnomes. They were focused on professions, like artists, musicians, alchemists, blacksmiths and the like. In the years I've been playing WoW, I've yet to see a guild built upon the profession premise. Would such a guild work and thrive in game? I think so, yes, but I have not seen it nor tried it to say with positive certainty. Yet.
So, say you want a character for the sole purpose of roleplaying as a leatherworker. There are two ways you could go: Start off at level one and simply ignore the class moniker that follows you around in plain view of other players, or play an adventurer who has hit level "X" and retires from that life to become one. Whether you are in a guild or not, it would behoove you to either become an apprentice to a leatherworker of higher skill, or hire yourself an apprentice or two. This opens up a fantastic RP opportunity! As an apprentice, set yourself up to being the one who gathers only the best/softest/cleanest coyote hides. Hire an apprentice who lives in or knows Nagrand, and who is able to collect premium talbuk hides. Many of the other items that drop from such felled creatures can be sold to a character roleplaying a cook or an enchanter. The chances for an incredibly deeper RP fellowship abound when with profession-based characters, and can be just as fun as with a group of adventurers.
Speaking of fellowships, Lord of the Rings Online has a much better crafting system than WoW, with the added bonus of being able to earn titles, which greatly increases the RP fun factor. In WoW, you need an RP add-on like FlagRSP2 in order for your character to be publicly seen as a profession-based character. LotRO has these automatically, so when you advance to Journeyman and Expert Farmer, you can choose that title to be shown in public.