… or so I thought.
Verant finally decided to put up a “Roleplaying Perferred” server. Its got a few rules over and above the regular server and a semi-complicated alignment system with exp penalties for grouping with the wrong sort of people and of course the infamous “Trivial Loot Code”. Most of these rules are well and good, and I think outline a roleplaying system quite nicely. However…
Arguably, one of the best roleplaying game systems ever created came out of TSR in the form of its many versions of Dungeons and Dragons. Over the years, I’ve played a few of these and one thing remained constant: TSR would put out book after book outlining spells, equipment, lands, history, classes and all the nit-picky goodness, but never in any of its myriad of books does it tell you HOW to roleplay, it leaves that to the player.
The difference between EQ and D&D? Never in D&D would you create a character named “Mystik Al`dude” and sit in one place killing a single monster over and over. Not once while playing D&D did anyone ever say “Explore? Why don’t we just wait for this kobold to respawn and gang rape him? Its easier.”
I logged onto the Firiona Vie server after having let it sit a couple of days live. Partly this was because I didn’t want to run into the first day issues of 300 people trying to kill the same 12 moss snakes. I sat at the character creation screen for a long time (you only get one character on this server) trying to decide who I wanted to play and why. I quickly bypassed all the characters I regularly play on other servers. I wanted this to be new. So finally I ended on a Dark Elf Shadowknight named Dvain.
My first impression? Too many people running. When you go into town in your normal life, or even in a D&D session, you don’t run at top speed. I put on walk and began to stroll. People zinging by me at a full run, flailing weapons about. Don’t these people have any manners? Put the swords away when there is nothing to fight, no danger. After about 5 minutes of horrible talk and worse names, I had to turn off OOC, Shout, and Auction, and PC Names (so they don’t show over people’s heads). Ahhh… much better.
I wandered around and spoke with my guildmasters, they don’t respect me, and I am humbled by their willingness to openly hate me as a tribute to our dark god. They gave me some chores to do, so I spent time cleaning the floors and other such things until they decided I was worthy to begin my path as a shadowknight. I gladly accepted these new duties and headed out into the city proper.
I met quite a number of other adventurers, a few talkative fishermen, but also about ten times as many people zinging by at full speed in a hurry to do something. Finally I made my way out in Nektulos Forest. I stretched for a bit, then drew my sword and began looking for the beasts who held the items I sought.. fire beetles!
I’m as curious as any lad, and after finding a few of my prey, I realized I was further from town that I had ever been. And I liked it. I had heard stories from some others about a human city, I even saw the guards of Neriak killing a few of them. So I decided to seek it out.
After that I had quite a few adventures. I met some other roaming dark elves and some humans, and a few other odd races. I found the city of Freeport where they tolerate my kind, and even a brother guild of shadowknights who were willing to assist me in my dark ways.
Mostly I was disappointed. Not in the game. After two years I still find it fun to play this game in almost any form. I’m disappointed in many of the players. It seems, from my experience so far, that about 90% of dark elves have chosen to roleplay as the brooding silent type who seeks power and wealth. Many of the humans seemed to be that way as well. With so many ways to roleplay a character, its odd that so many choose the exact same way to play.
At the end of the night, after being trained in much of the ways of adventure and entrusted to advance to the 5th level of skill, I returned to Neriak, pulled up a stool in the Blind Fish, popped a few silver on the bar to start a tab, and began to share my tales with the other patrons… no one. Well, not entirely. I had two people come in and ask me what the hell I was doing justing sitting around and not “playing”. They seemed frustrated when I asked them, “Playing what?” And one guy, bless his soul, who actually sat and listened as I told him the story of my adventure to Freeport.
As I told him I was turning in for the night, he jumped out of his seat, looked at me with a gleem in his eye and whispered, “I’ve got to see this Freeport.” He smiled, and walked out of the pub.
There may be hope yet.