Friday, February 28, 2020

Maybe I'm Overthinking This

 Okay, I KNOW I'm overthinking this....

One of the items that I've puzzled over the years were character backstories. I don't mean the multipage life history that some people write for their D&D characters*, but rather the motivation a character has to go adventuring in an MMO.

Now, LOTRO actually does a good job of this, because the entire intro zone --and the entire starting sequence-- for a player centers around why to go adventuring. The late MMO Wildstar also did a good job of this as well, but unless there's a private server out there Wildstar isn't coming back. But other MMOs kind of just plunk you into the starting zone --maybe with a brief narration, in the case of WoW-- and that's that.

Take the case of the Human starting zone: Northshire Abbey. You've answered the call for assistance as the army is elsewhere, yadda yadda yadda. But where's the motivation? The "why" behind the answering of the call?

For Humans, at least, there's the Three Wars, and for a Human adventurer the Second War is the War your parents would have fought in, and the Third War was only a few short years ago. But the Night Elves have a completely different motivation. I've not seen a Night Elf child throughout my wandering in Classic.** But I have seen Human and Orc children out and about. I suppose that means the focus is on Humans and Orcs, but given that Night Elves were (until the end of the Third War) immortal, if they had children at the rate Humans and Orcs had they'd be dealing with incredibly bad overpopulation problems.

So by extension, any Night Elf adventurer likely has been an adult for a pretty long time, and therefore has a different motivation for going out and adventuring than, say, a Human or Orc.

By contrast, some players such as Gnomes and Darkspear Trolls have built in motivations. Gnomes lost Gnomeregan, and Trolls are dealing with a potential usurper in the Echo Isles. A direct threat has a way of motivating people far more than a vague "come help us protect [insert locality here]". And once the direct threat is over, people who have had a taste of the adventuring life will keep going. Motivation solved.

But for me, the real conundrum is also the class itself. Warlocks are going to want power, Mages could go for power or knowledge, Warriors have that military/guard thing going, and Paladins have the Knights of the Round Table vibe. Druids have nature as their motivation, and Hunters... well... you kind of get the idea there. Priests do have the "tending the flock" prosleytizing motivation too. And Shamans I could see as a rough equivalent to Priests in that regard. But Rogues? They're a puzzle, especially once you try to combine a Rogue and a Night Elf. You'd think that any Night Elf with Rogue tendencies would have ended up in a Darnassian jail cell, and the same goes for a lot of the other races. There are those who go for the secret agent angle, but given that SI:7 is primarily a Human outfit, the non-Human Rogues really don't have an equivalent motivation until the Alliance ones (at least) get a quest to go visit SI:7.

I suppose these speculations are all just that, given that anybody can come up with a motivation and backstory for their character, but it does serve to make me wonder why Az does what she does.

And I can almost hear her say "I do what I do because I'm good at it," intentionally deflecting any attempt at understanding her.

*Not to downplay those, but I've gone back and reread some of my old backstories from my pencil and paper RPG campaigns back in the day, and boy do they make me cringe. I may have thought I was being edgy, but with the years of experience later what I thought was edgy was merely bad writing.

**Same with Dwarves, Gnomes, Tauren, etc....

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