Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Blaugust the 13th: How Do We Define Our Characters?

Time to jump into the wayback machine! This has been sitting in my drafts for a year and a half (hey! that is way back in Internet Time); and, in fact, I am not sure why I never posted it. For context, you might want to read this, and this, and this. Long story short: Allods was introducing paid class switching at the time, and various blogging folk were debating the wisdom of introducing that option in, say, WoW. My feelings on the matter haven't really changed since that debate, and some of my Lore/Roleplaying justifications for the possibility are below.

Perhaps with the news of WoW's upcoming Legion expansion still ringing in our ears, this sort of discussion becomes relevant again. Will the promised new features and features-to-be-retired bring people back who will then stay for longer? Who can say? Insta-90s don't seem to have ruined the game as much as garrisons or grounding the players did. And lots of other games have begun to offer a boost to the old maximum level when a new expansion launches.

As I said on my own related post, when I switched my priest from Shadow to Discipline, the backstory reasoning and process was fairly involved. In game though, I simply went to a trainer, paid some gold, and got my talent points reset. Then came dual specs, which I disapproved of at the time. But other players had clamored for it. After a while, I bought the dual spec, too.

I had a stable of alts, of every class, more than one of each. But I don't think that the way I would approach those characters is the way everyone has to approach their own. From an RP perspective, I could certainly see how being a warrior, for example, might be just a job someone fell into. A reformed warlock who took some time out to study the arcane. A warrior who felt the call of the light—or the shadow—set down the sword and board for vestments and staff. And aren't Death Knights, at least from a lore perspective, converted from many other classes? There are plenty of RP justifications for changing class.
The new DKs aren't really converted from classes; the players were wiped out and remade as DKs.
That the current Death Knights were "forced" into the class is not relevant to why I brought it up. From an RP perspective (which I feel this is) it's as valid a reason for the conversion as the voluntary examples I described above. I am sure none of the Forsaken "chose" be undead. What we choose as players doesn't have to be what the characters would have chosen for themselves.
In WoW lore, classes are not jobs, nor are they skills or anything that you simply acquire and hoard. A Class is a character's path in life (much more permanent and rigid). This can be seen through for instance the fact that every class is tied to an organization in the lore (or if said organization has ceased to exist feels like they are the spiritual successor of it), and you could not simply jump out of those organizations either and in cases when it happened the characters felt so traumatised that they felt the need to get back in it whatever the cost (Tirion Fordring), further signalling that the choice of class is much more defining in WoW's lore than simply that of a job. Examples of organizations include for instance Cenarion Circle, Ravenholdt, Sentinels, Knights of the Silver Hand, Ebon Blade, any of the regular fighting forces for Warriors (Human Warriors end up fraternizing with the City Guard for instance in the old Class quests), SI:7 etc.

Further, characters that have changed class lorewise like Teron Gorefiend, many of the Forsaken and Death Knights, Arthas, Illidan, etc. have only done so under circumstances where they either were resurrected from the dead, became possessed (Arthas) or changed their character so much that it could be classified as the character before the change was very different from the one after (Illidan consuming the skill of Gul'dan would come to mind as his change of character was very visible after him becoming a full demon).
~~Cloak Of Thoughts (edited for typos)
I respect the Lore of WoW more than most, but I also think that applying the traits of iconic figures like Tirion Fordring to entire player classes is a mistake. A class in WoW to me is certainly more just a job, but more like a career than a "path in life." And some characters would be more devoted to their career than others. As I recall, Paladins were Priests and Warriors who decided they could be more effective combining the power of the Light with martial prowess, and formed the Knights of the Silver Hand under the auspices of Archbishop Alonsus Faol. The original Warlocks were corrupted Orc Shaman. And Illidan Stormrage was a Mage before he became a Demon Hunter, who then became an actual demon. Furthermore, characters like Illidan and Arthas demonstrated that their fall was far less drastic than Cloak portrays in the above quote. As early as the Culling of Stratholme, Arthas revealed the personal corruption that led to his downfall. And Illidan made multiple deals with devils before his final transformation.

In the time since I first composed this post, Final Fantasy: A Realm Reborn has become a pretty popular game that has supposedly obviated the need for alts by enabling multi-classing as a matter of course. In fact, you have to level two or more "jobs" up in order to even access some of the more advanced jobs, and crafting professions are jobs just like any combat class. In fact, I think Belalafel has just about every job in the game.

Every change they make to a game that makes it more convenient for the players is both the result of many requests by players, and met with declarations of ruin by some other portion of players. And yet, despite having lost tons of subscribers (including me), WOW is still going stronger than every other MMO in the Western market. If they were to offer the opportunity for players to change the class of a character, I'm sure the move would be met with hostility in some quarters, and rejoicing in others.
If you're interested in joining the madness (Vloggers are welcome, too!), Belghast has a set of rules for qualifying for any prizes at the end. Your second stop should be the Blaugust Nook, where Bel is keeping track of everything and community members are sharing encouragement and ideas.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. If you are reading this post through RSS or Atom feed—especially more than a couple hours after publication—I encourage you to visit the actual page, as I often make refinements after the fact. The mobile version also loses some of the original character of the piece due to simplified formatting.

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