Jim Moreno's "RoleCraft" MMO ColumnRoleCraft: Armed Forces RoleplayingJim Moreno's "RoleCraft" MMO Column - RSS 2.0
Roleplayers, A-ten-SHUN! All eyes front and center! With this RoleCraft block of instruction, I will attempt to teach your feeble little minds what you can do to create and portray a military-style character within your favorite MMORPG! I will share with you some online and offline resources, along with a few of my very own ideas I've been using since long before many of you could even spell RP! Now, it is not my duty for you to learn - it's yours. However, I can promise you, if you do want to learn, I will teach you how to be a lean mean roleplaying machine! WHO'S WITH ME!
I count roleplaying a uniformed military character as one of those greatly missed opportunities within MMORPGs. I can think of a few reasons why it's so very often overlooked, even in games where a military presence is already included, but I think the most apparent reason may be the difficulty of doing so. I served many years in the real life U.S. Army, and like many fellow roleplayers who have also served, roleplaying a military character comes rather easy. For those roleplayers who have never served in the armed forces, I think I can help, because it's a lot easier that it seems.
I was reading about a brand new RPG released earlier this week called Baptism of Fire World War Two Role Play (http://www.armchairgeneral.com/baptism-of-fire-world-war-two-role-play-rpg-game-review.htm. I have to say it is a refreshing joy to see another tabletop roleplaying game with a military theme present itself in today's gaming market. Back in my teen years, my roleplaying friends and I geared up for many RP missions in Twilight 2000, and to my memory, I've only seen or heard of one other like game since then, until now. These memories helped reissue thoughts of roleplaying another military character, and I'm hoping to spark the same interest for you!
Whichever country you're in, chances are there's a uniformed military force which may be your best source for information and examples for roleplaying your character. So, march yourself on down to the local military recruiters' office, enlist into your favorite branch of service, serve at least a two year tour of duty, and voila! You know have all the skills necessary to roleplay a truly acceptable military MMORPG character. Yes, I'm kidding! Well, mostly.
Here are four simple items to consider and keep in mind when creating a character for military MMORPG service: appearance, rank, mission, and speech. In true military form, these fit into the acronym ARMS:
If you've ever seen someone in person who is currently enlisted in the military, chances are you probably know right away, and may even be able to tell which branch of the military they are in, simply by their uniform. Uniforms (armor, guild tabards, etc..)are the quickest and most obvious way to distinguish military service. The same goes for in game. For example, take a look around Stormwind in World of Warcraft, and you'll quickly notice the 'knights in shining armor' assigned to protect the city and King Varian Wyrnn. Not only are they displayed prominently in public, they also look alike. Uniformity is a key factor identifying those in the military, and goes beyond what uniform is worn.
Have you ever met someone who is in the military when they were out of uniform? Again, chances are you could tell they were military. Appearance extends apart from the uniform to encompass the entire look of a person, including haircut, posture, walk, and demeanor. Attitude plays a great part in a soldier's personality, from laughing in the face of danger, to doing things strictly by the book.
Ranks (and titles) are a second method of identifying military service. Pay attention to what rank system is used in game, and if you want, simply use it for your own purpose. If you're a member of a guild, you may have a rank system incorporated there also. Note that they also do better when they are uniform, as they help cut down on confusion.
Searching online for ranks from current military forces to those used throughout military history may also be a good idea, giving you a much better feel for how you wish to model rank and structure for your character. Here's a link to a Wikipedia entry on rank to get you started: Military rank - Wikipedia.org (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_rank).
A soldier's mission is defined by a couple of things - job and location. In game, job could mean the character's class (role), and / or one or all of the character's skills, professions, and specializations. Weapon and armor selection also come into play here, determining if your character is suited to melee or ranged combat.
Location is more an arbitrary factor in game, since MMORPG weather and landscape don't really have an effect on gameplay. Aside from that, where a soldier is located still helps to establish duties, whether it's manning the castle walls to patrolling the swamps near an enemy encampment.
Those in military service soon learn a unique way to talk, not at all unlike learning a foreign language. Military vernacular is clear, precise, easily identifiable, and only different according to branch of service. Soldiers will have widely varying terms for things compared to sailors, so it's good to build that into your character. As with all in game speech, it's imperative that it remains true to the spirit of the game, in accordance with time, racial, and class considerations.
Another fun thing to play around with is the use of acronyms, something real life military forces have perfected to the hilt. Slang words are yet another highly used military speech component. Slang is not necessarily cuss words, but also mean switching out one word for another, often abbreviated. Check out A Dictionary of Slang (http://www.peevish.co.uk/slang/links.htm#us%20slang) for some choice words and phrases to add to your character's repertoire.
Those are just some quick and simple items to help you get to and continue roleplaying a military character. For a deeper understanding, look to and play games that have portrayed a strong military presence, like the previously mentioned Twilight 2013 and Baptism of Fire, or even World War Two Online: Battleground Europe (http://www.battlegroundeurope.com/). Some other MMORPG examples to investigate are the Argent Dawn (http://www.wowwiki.com/Argent_Dawn) from World of Warcraft, or the Bounders (http://lorebook.lotro.com/wiki/Lore:Bounders) from Lord of the Rings Online. Two more military factions I would highly recommend are The Combine Overwatch (http://half-life.wikia.com/wiki/Overwatch_Soldier9) from Half-Life 2, and The Enclave (http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Enclave) from Fallout 3.
This ends the class, so off your ... On your feet, roleplayer! Time for you to exit my AO and report to your gaming post! Take the knowledge I have so graciously given you out into the world and make it happen! Remember, I've got my eyes on you, so no half-steppin'! Now move out!
As always, you may send me your comments below in the Comments section, directly to my email at Rolecraft at gmail dot com, and via Twitter (http://twitter.com/JimMoreno). Also click over to The RP Archives (http://rolecraft.wordpress.com/), a blog where I gather all the roleplaying knowledge from across the interwebs into one handy reference place. Until next time, role on!