While my TOR toons are all on The Harbinger (US), I'd gone out of my way to roll up a Smuggler on The Shadowlands (US). I gave my new Smuggler an unusual appearance, too: as a Human, I decided to give him a distinctively older look: gray hair and a beard.* I even gave him a name that is a vague echo of my own.
When nobody was looking, I surreptitiously leveled him out of Ord Mantell and into Coruscant. Deciding to go against my tendencies, I made him a DPS Scoundrel: enough healing to use in a pinch, but preferring to fight close in and use Dirty Kicks and Pistol Whips and Backblasts to keep the enemy busy.
The kids finally took notice of the ol' Greybeard in the Justicar section of Coruscant, but they figured I was merely leveling another alt. They never noticed the server I was on.
I knew my oldest's Sentinel was on Taris, working on the other quests while getting ready to take down Watcher One. That gave me something to shoot for.
On Saturday night I arrived on Taris, cleared the first area, and hooked up with an Ops group to take down the World Boss. Rather than getting in close to assist with DPS, I instead hung back and tossed heals around. Seriously, I needed the practice, as each healer class operates differently.
Then I waited.
Sunday afternoon, my oldest logged into TOR on the laptop upstairs. I took careful note of her toon's name, scampered downstairs, and logged into Ol' Greybeard. A quick check of the social lists, and there she was.
I'd made a point of letting them do their thing without interference for the longest time, so I wasn't sure what her reaction would be. I was betting it'd be something like the traditional teenager rolling of the eyes and "Da-aad", but you never know.
I sent whispered her a hello with her real name in it.
I got distracted by some rakghouls, then decided to go upstairs and knock on the door.
The door opened. "What do you want this ti-- oh, hi Dad."
"I thought it was my brother."
"Oh." I decided not to pursue that issue further. "I sent you a hello. Did you get it?"
"What? What, where?"
My youngest picked up on my question a bit more quickly. "You mean in the game?"
"Really?!" my oldest squeaked and ran back to the laptop.
I went back downstairs and pinged her again. "Hit slash 'r' to reply," I added.
"This was you?" she replied. "I thought you were a stalker!"
"Oh." Gee, thanks. I guess I earned that one without any announcements beforehand.
"Where are you at?"
"I'm in the Endar Spire, bashing pirates. Are you still in the cave?"
"Yes, I haven't left yet."
"Do you need a hand? I know you have Fallen Stars on your list."
I heard the excited babbling among my kids from even where I was. "No, not right now," came the reply. "Gottagonowbye!"
A few moments later what sounded like herd of elephants came down the stairs.
"I thought you were a stalker!" my oldest said as she skidded to a stop, her brother and sister right behind her. "There was another person who was pestering me to do Fall of the Locust until I left the area and went back to Olaris Spaceport."
"Good. But I figured your real name would have tipped you off."
"Yeah, but wouldn't a stalker have figured that out?"
"Good point. But if you've been careful about who you tell your toon's name to, it wouldn't be an issue. After all, the account is registered in my name and e-mail."
"Still, if you want to do Fallen Stars, or if your sister needs help on Coruscant, I can help out."
"Really?!" The shrieks were deafening.
"Yeah, really. I can help out from time to time, but only if you want me to."
I had to close up shop because my ears were ringing too much. Still, I considered the mission a success. I figured that they were ready for dipping their toes into a bit of group content. From there, the next steps were dealing with in-game chat, but I have to teach them those skills first. It's a bit different than dealing with IMs to friends, and as my oldest surmised, there are a lot of unsavory characters out there. Things can also mutate and take on a life of their own, which is more the province of Facebook, but you still have to be on your guard.
A small step into a larger world. Yeah, that's it.
*Okay, fess up. When was the last time you saw a toon deliberately designed to look old, or at least middle aged? I know my answer: almost never.
EtA: Clarified the "*" section after receiving some comments.