Roleplaying in WoW begins at the character creation stage, and it is at that early time that a player should begin to envision the RP concept(s) for their characters’ race and class.
I recently enjoyed playing through the open beta phase of the newly launched Lord of the Rings Online (LotRO), and I found it to be a very good game. Now, because of the ages of each game, I don’t think it’s fair or right to compare LotRO with WoW at such an early stage. However, while playing LotRO, I was of course noticing what things were done differently in relation to other MMORPG’s like WoW, Ultima Online, and Anarchy Online, all games I’m currently playing to one degree or another.
One of the many things I really liked while playing LotRO was their character creation process. I thought it did a great job of getting the player into putting a good deal of thought into the possible RP aspects the character being created right from the start. One of the ways this is done is by making available short introduction videos for each race and class. Unlike WoW, where you have to click through the entire character creation process before seeing the intro video for the chosen race (and there is currently not a separate intro video for each class), LotRO makes their intro videos viewable while making your character. Seeing the overall vision of how the game makers feel a race and class fit into the game world provides a solid base upon which an RP’er may then use to build their own vision of how their character will fit into that world.
So, to greater assist my fellow WoW RP’ers with their current and / or next character concept, here are transcripts of each of the race introductory opening cinematic videos you see just after creating a character. There are a myriad of ideas and RP storylines that can be gleaned from these, much of which I feel just may be missed or glossed over in video form. Read them slowly and thoughtfully before rolling your next character, and consider how you may apply the lore and history into developing a better character!
(NOTE: the following descriptions were written by Blizzard; I claim no ownership.)
For nearly seven thousand years, the High Elves cultivated a shining magical kingdom deep within the forests of northern Lordaeron. But five years ago, the undead Scourge invaded Quel’Thalas and drove the Elves to the brink of extinction. Led by the evil Death Knight Arthas, the Scourge destroyed the mystical Sunwell, thereby severing the Elves from the source of their arcane power. Though the scars of that conflict are evident, the remaining Elves have banded together and retaken much of their homeland. Calling themselves “blood elves”, these grim survivors are committed to regaining the vast powers they once commanded. Inspired by the leadership of their beloved prince, Kael’thas Sunstrider, the Blood Elves now seek out new sources of arcane magic and the means of defending their land against the undying horrors of the Scourge.
One month ago, a terrible explosion tore open the skies above northern Kalimdor. At that moment, the great ship Exodar plummeted from the heavens and crashed upon the world of Azeroth. Having fled the ravaged world of Outland, the noble Draenei used the dimension traveling Exodar to reach safe haven. Inspired by tales of the heroic Alliance that stood against the might of the Burning Legion, the Draenei have come to enlist aid in retaking their shattered homeland. Dedicated to preserving life and upholding the tenets of the Holy Light, the Draenei hope to gather a new coalition of warriors to battle the Burning Legion and put a halt to its horrific Burning Crusade. Armed only with courage and their unshakeable faith in the Light, the Draenei look forward to finding the Alliance and ushering them towards the destiny that awaits beyond the skies of Azeroth.
The stoic Dwarves of Ironforge spent countless generations mining treasures from deep within the earth. Hidden within their impregnable stronghold of Ironforge Mountain, they rarely ventured beyond the wintry peaks of Dun Morogh. Recently, however, the Dwarves unearthed a series of ruins that held secrets to their ancient heritage. Driven to discover the truth about his people’s fabled origins, the great King Magni Bronzebeard ordered that the Dwarves shift their industry from mining to archaeology. As part of the Grand Alliance, the stalwart Dwarven armies have been called away to battle the merciless Horde in far away lands. In these perilous times, the defense of the mountain kingdom falls to brave Dwarves like you. The spirits of the ancient kings watch over you and the very mountains are your strength. The future of your people is in your hands.
The eccentric, often brilliant Gnomes are held as one of the most peculiar races of the world. With their obsession for developing radical new technologies and constructing marvels of mind-bending engineering, it’s a wonder that any Gnomes have survived to proliferate. Over the years, the Gnomes have contributed ingenious weapons to aid the Grand Alliance in its fierce battles against the Horde. Thriving within the wondrous techno-city of Gnomeregan, the Gnomes shared the resources of the forests of Dun Morogh peaks with their Dwarven cousins. Yet recently, a barbaric menace rose up from the bowels of the earth and invaded Gnomeregan. Aided by their Dwarven allies, the Gnomes fought a valiant battle to save their beloved city. Nevertheless, Gnomeregan was irrevocably lost. The surviving Gnomes fled to the safety of the Dwarven stronghold of Ironforge. There they remain, devising strategies to retake their city. As a Gnome of proud standing, it falls to you to answer the challenge and lead your curious people to a brighter future.
The noble Humans of Stormwind are a proud, tenacious race. Though the recent invasion of the demonic Burning Legion decimated their sister kingdom of Lordaeron, the defenders of Stormwind stand vigilant against any who would threaten the sanctity of their lands. Nestled in the foothills of Elwynn Forest, Stormwind City is one of the last bastions of Human power in the world. Ruled by the child-king Anduin Wrynn, the people of Stormwind remain steadfast in their commitment to the Grand Alliance. Backed by their stalwart allies, the armies of Stormwind have been called away to fight the savage Horde on distant battlefields. With the armies gone, the defense of Stormwind now falls to its proud citizens. You must defend the kingdom against the foul mongrels that encroach upon it and hunt down the subversive traitors who seek to destroy it from within. Now is the time for heroes; now Humanity’s greatest chapter can be told.
For ten thousand years the immortal Night Elves cultivated a druidic society within the shadowed recesses of Ashenvale Forest. Yet recently the catastrophic invasion of the Burning Legion shattered the tranquility of their ancient civilization. Led by the Arch-Druid Malfurion Stormrage and the Priestess Tyrande Whisperwind, the mighty Night Elves rose to challenge the demonic onslaught. Though victorious, the Night Elves were forced to sacrifice their cherished immortality and watch their beloved forests burn. Seeking to regain their immortality, a number of wayward Druids conspired to plant a special tree that would link their spirits to the eternal world. Despite Malfurion’s warnings that Nature would never bless such a selfish act, the Druids planted the great tree Teldrassil off the stormy coasts of northern Kalimdor. Within the twilight boughs of the colossal tree, the wondrous city of Darnassus took root. However, the great tree was not consecrated with Nature’s blessing and soon fell prey to the corruption of the Burning Legion. Now, the wildlife and even the limbs of the great tree itself are tainted by a growing darkness. As one of the few Night Elves left in the world, it is your sworn duty to defend Darnassus and the wild children of nature against the Legion’s encroaching corruption.
Long ago the Orcish Horde was corrupted by the Burning Legion and lured to the world of Azeroth. For generations the Orcs made war upon the Human kingdoms of Stormwind and Lordaeron. Though the Horde was ultimately defeated, a visionary young warchief named Thrall rose to lead his people in their darkest hour. Under Thrall’s rule, the Orcs freed themselves from the chains of demonic corruption and embraced their Shamanistic heritage. After years of wandering, the Orcs founded their own kingdom in the harsh wastelands of Durotar. Based in the warrior city of Orgrimmar, they stand ready to destroy all who would challenge their supremacy. As a proud defender of Durotar, it is your duty to crush your enemies both seen and unseen, for the nefarious agents of the Burning Legion still wander the land.
Once a nomadic people, the Tauren roamed the endless plains of the Barrens hunting the mighty Kodo. Scattered across the land, the wandering tribes were united only by their common hatred for their sworn enemy, the marauding Centaur. Seeking aid against the Centaur, the great chieftan Cairne Bloodhoof befriended the savage Orcs who had recently journeyed to Kalimdor. With the Orcs’ help, Cairne and his tribe were able to drive back the Centaur and claim the grassliands of Mulgore for their own. Upon the windswept mesa of Thunderbluff, Bloodhoof built a refuge for his people. Over time, the scattered tribes united under a single banner. Though the noble Tauren are peaceful in nature, the rights of the Great Hunt are venerated as the heart of their spiritual culture. As a tribesman of Mulgore, you must test your skills in the wild and prove yourself in the Great Hunt.
The vicious Trolls that populate the numerous jungle isles of the South Seas are renowned for their cruelty and dark mysticism. Barbarous and superstitious, they carry a seething hatred for all other races. Long since exiled from its ancestral homeland in Stranglethorn Vale, the Darkspear Tribe was nearly destroyed by rampaging Murlocs. Rescued by the young Warchief Thrall and his Orcish warriors, the Darkspear Tribe swore allegiance to the Horde. Led by the cunning Shadow Hunter, Vol’jin, the Darkspears now make their home in Durotar along with their Orcish allies. As one of the only surviving Darkspears, it falls to you to regain the glory of your tribe.
Bound to the iron will of the tyrant Lich King, the vast Undead armies of the Scourge seek to eradicate all life on Azeroth. Led by the Banshee Sylvanus Windrunner, a group of renegades broke away from the Scourge and freed themselves of the Lich King’s domination. Known by some as the Forsaken, this group fights a constant battle not only to retain its freedom from the Scourge, but also to slaughter those who would hunt them as monsters. With Sylvanus as their Banshee Queen, the Forsaken have built a dark stronghold beneath the ruins of Lordaeron’s former capital city. This hidden Undercity forms a sprawling labyrinth that stretches beneath the haunted woods of Tirisfal Glades. Though the very land is cursed, the zealous Humans of the Scarlet Crusade still cling to their scattered holdings, obsessed with the eradication of the Undead and retaking their homeland. Convinced that the primitive races of the Horde can help them achieve victory over their enemies, the Forsaken have entered an alliance of convenience. Harboring no true loyalty for their new allies, they go to any lengths to ensure their dark plans come to fruition. As one of the Forsaken, you must massacre any who pose a threat to the new order, Human, Undead, or otherwise.