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Amongst the World of Warcraft roleplayers, there is a bit of a revolution currently happening. My apologies to fellow roleplayers in other MMORPGs, this edition of RoleCraft will focus on this instance, but I'm sure aspects of this event can be easily worked into your favorite roleplaying world. This revolution is a broad and public proclamation towards a paradigm shift of sorts that I have been an advocate of for many years, more recently and especially in this column, but have never given a name to. Thankfully, someone has, along with a detailed explanation and reasonings why. It's called Full Immersion Roleplaying, or FIRP, and it's a very good thing.
Over the last few months, there has been an increasingly intensifying rallying cry from WoW roleplayers on the official forums for us to pull together and engage in a greater collaborative effort in fostering RP. Blizzard still largely ignores or does very little to curb the immense number of anti-RP players and griefers on RP realms, so the only choice is for legitimate roleplayers to do what they can to insure their play sessions are fit according to their own whims and worthy of the monthly fee paid.
This two-fold conundrum has set roleplayers on a path towards two conclusions, led by the FIRP concept. One way is by joining with other FIRP-minded roleplayers under the principles it is setting forth. I have provided links at the end of the article for your own deep investigation if you wish, but the basic idea supporting FIRP is to raise one's involvement in RP to where it can absolutely no longer be raised due to game mechanics. While a good many of them can be adapted for and overcome through inventive RP, some cannot, and should never halt a roleplayer's fun.
FIRP is guided by four rules, and while I hesitate to calling them rules, they are nonetheless providing a fresh insight into RP, which I credit as the main reason this concept is seeing the success it is experiencing. The four rules are Rule of Story, Rule of Proximity, Rule of Guilding, and Rule of Truth. I'll just give brief explanations here, as you can visit the actual forum post linked to below for full details.
According to the Rule of Story, "As long as the decisions are governed by your story, your actions are never wrong." This rule sets a special importance on not only having and knowing your character's story, but in adamantly following it to the best of your ability. To this, I would add the game's overall story and lore should also be given like dedication. Each encounter your character, uhh, encounters, should be readily explained if asked, according to the story and personality of your character.
The Rule of Proximity looks to replace in game chat channels with a more literal purpose and usage. "Whispering, for instance, should only be engaged if you or someone suggests moving away from the general conversation and actually speaking in whispers - not from across vast differences." This means a whisper in game should be exactly that - a whisper, chat spoken softly between characters standing in close proximity to each other. It also includes a disregard to more public channels, like Trade and Party, in lieu of incorporating such communication where it is most proper, in RP form.
The Rule of Guilding, is perhaps the most difficult to administer and adhere to. I have not yet been a guildmaster in any MMORPG I play or have played, but when looking at it from an old Dungeon Master's point of view, I see it to certainly be the most challenging FIRP notion. Rule #3 states that " the chief concept to remember here is that guilds are assembled so that the members found within are able to contribute equally to the guild's objectives." This might be a little unclear for some, but I think I can clear it up a bit.
Historically, guilds were a gathering of people with a specific talent, such as weaving, or pottery. Members of a guild had a purpose: to perform their profession on a daily and as-needed basis. Roleplaying guilds, especially FIRP guilds, should also be brought to awareness of following in the same steps. If you are going to call your guild a roleplaying guild, and if you are a member of a roleplaying guild, then roleplaying should be what you are doing with your character on a daily and as-needed basis, first and foremost. The guild's storyline should be just as well known, endorsed, and interacted with as your character's story, perhaps even more so.
The final rule, the Rule of Truth, encompasses the fact of commitment needed to engage in FIRP, and hearken roleplayers to realizing they are not alone. As long as roleplayers remain true to themselves and others, "the results of it can be more rewarding and fulfilling than anything you've ever done before."
When the FIRP concept was first publicized, I caught notice of it as it rippled across the WoW forums. Since then, it has grown into a small wave, and has given cause for a growing number of roleplayers to ride the wave to the realm of its birthplace, Moon Guard. As far back as I am aware, which would be early last year, Moon Guard has had the reputation of always having quality roleplayers and RP in general. FIRP is at least helping, if not the current reason for, an increasing number of roleplayers to migrate from other RP realms to Moon Guard. The Order of Sterling, my WoW RP guild led by 'Commander Marshal' Bjorke Aurelius, has only recently followed suit and relocated to Moon Guard from Blackwater Raiders, where the RP griefing has become completely abhorrent in the face of Blizzards so-called 'RP Policy'.
Lord of the Rings Online doesn't have near as many players, or near as many realms. It doesn't even have a realm listed officially as or for roleplaying. What it does have is Landroval, known unofficially as 'the RP realm', where the majority of roleplayers reside and recommend to others so interested in RP. Now, for my fellow WoW roleplayers, this next statement may be a complete shock, so take a seat. In all my time in LotRO on Landroval, I have not yet had the displeasure to meet another player publicly or privately making fun of roleplaying. I have had no trouble at all logging in to LotRO and finding or coming upon roleplayers roleplaying, any time of the day and night. Extra special kudos to my kinship there, Brethil Company, led by Rillas of Mirkwood, for doing their part in deftly portraying RP in the lands of Middle-earth.
So, think on this: what would it mean to us roleplayers if Moon Guard were the only RP realm in WoW? Is it too much wishful thinking to have a Blizzard-named RP server where we can actually and always encounter RP? And what if every roleplayer, or at least enough of us, followed the tenets of FIRP, not only in WoW, but in other MMORPGs? I think it is certainly something worth pondering, as the true conclusions have yet to be drawn. Why are these things happening? Personally, I'd like to think columns like RoleCraft and WoW Insider's All the World's a Stage, along with the Mischief and Mayhem netcast, all of which only went live inside the last year, have done much to expose the fun of RP to a wider audience. I don't have any facts and figures to make such a claim, so I'll refrain from doing so.
Whatever the reason, it is happening, and it is quickly catching the eye of other WoW roleplayers with the hope of increasing our quality RP game time. I will be examining FIRP more closely now that I am on Moon Guard on a regular basis, and will surely have more to say on the topic later. As always, please feel free to send me your own experiences with FIRP and RP to rolecraft AT gmail DOT com. Until next time, role on!