((The RP XP with MJ #15))
Veetha stood as she was commanded, in the rain and darkness of Dromund Kaas while her master went inside to report to a representative of the Dark Council.
The platform on which she waited was a circular speeder taxi pad a few hundred feet in the air above the rain washed streets of the Imperial Capitol. There were no guard rails, only the speeder taxi she and Lord Tagious brought here. Veetha stood soaked, in the middle of the pad, her shoulders hunched and her fists clenched. A squat maintenance droid and its human handler stood nearby, the droid buzzing and squawking as it worked over some inane droid task. The human leaned against a short stack of crates he had yet to move inside where it was dry. He stared at her from under the dripping bill of his cap.
Veetha felt his eyes upon her, felt his hatred of her alien presence, but also felt his lust at her female form made prominent by the rain pressing her robe down against her body. She didn’t look in his direction, didn’t acknowledge him. She only waited, still, her eyes locked on the distant door.
“Whatsa matter, Rattataki?” The human shouted to her through the downpour. Distant thunder echoed his question. “Afraid of a little rain?”
She fought against the shiver that rippled through her pale frame and tried calling upon the Force to build her rage against this bully, to still her quaking limbs and give her the strength to obey her master’s wishes.
The human stood and ran an oily rag over the hydrospanner he was holding. “Huh? What, you can’t address a superior species when I’m talking to you? You afraid the rain is going to wash out even more pigment from that dead leather you call flesh?”
His laugh rattled her, but she could feel her anger begin to build… slowly.
Lord Tagious emerged from the distant door and strode toward her, pulling his hood up over his gaunt features. At his approach, she stood tall. The human stopped his laughing and pretended to work.
“Lord Shundrax has allowed us one more week to locate the Jen’Hutis,” Tagious grumbled.
“Yes, my lord.”
“Come. We have work to do.”
Veetha turned and started to follow her master to the waiting taxi speeder. Then she stopped and turned her cowl toward the human. When he looked up at her, she smiled, her thin black lips curling into a sneer as she pointed an arm toward him. The lightning that rippled from her fingertips seared the rain and filled the dank air with the pungent odor of ozone and burnt flesh as she sent the screaming human cartwheeling back over the edge of the platform.
Tagious rolled his eyes. “Amused?”
“Get in the cab.”
“Yes, my master.” Veetha did as she was instructed.
So, that begs the questions, RolePlayers: What do you do while you’re waiting? How do you RP when you’re grinding or playing a Flashpoint?
During the recent successful Beta Weekend Stress Test, I had the pleasure of meeting up with some guildmates to try our hand at a run on the Esseless Flashpoint. We had talked about it for weeks leading up to this moment, exchanged Skype information so we could quickly vocalize our strategies, made our reservations for healer, tank and DPS….
Wait a minute. I thought this column was about RP. What’s this Healer, Tank and DPS stuff?
Hang on. I’m getting there.
As I said, we’ve been in the planning stages for the Esseless for some time. It was going to be our dry run at RPing through a Flashpoint or in-game operation.
We all wanted to try our hand at different classes and races, genders and alignments, but we all elected to reserve at least one character a piece for grouping on Heroics, Flashpoints and Ops. When we all recently received our SUPERBETA weekend passes, we decided to take a stab at the Esseless and see if our tactics meshed.
There were a few differences. For starters, my chosen Republic class kick-off character is going to be a Jedi Consular (aka. “The Healer” to all you non-RP gamers out there. And, yes, I know you know that. I’m just making sure you know I know that). We tackled beta a bit differently because some of us wanted to try out character classes that were different from what we intended to play at launch. We didn’t want to “spoil” anything story-wise, so some of us elected to test drive and bug report from different perspectives. For me that character was a Jedi Sentinel.
Yes, I know it’s not the “opposite” of the Consular, but I’ had already played up my Bounty Hunter to Level 17 and wanted to try something closer to “home.”
In a previous weekend beta, we all failed miserably at Esseless. For starters, our levels were mixed from 9 to 11, we didn’t have any healers in the group and we failed to stock up on buffs and medpacks before diving in blindly.
This time, however, we were closer to our intentions post-launch. Though our party consisted entirely of Force users, we at least thought to bring along a healer this time and an ample strategy for tackling the Flashpoint.
And before you say anything, yeah, I know there are those of you out there bragging that you ran through Esseless or other Flashpoints without a fill-in-the-blank, but that’s not relevant to what I’m talking about, so let me get to the point…
It was fun. It was relatively easy, but a blast nonetheless. It was an exciting time and we ran like a well-oiled machine that will only require slight tuning before launch. We joked, we laughed, we emoted like a bunch of noobs trying to RP to players of other languages. It was a silly good time.
We took a pass on RP because we were actually testing the game and some of us were playing “mannequins” (soulless characters just used for mechanics and not RolePlay). It was beta, after all, and we were busily working at ironing out our own bugs as well as those we might find in the game. We encountered a couple of hiccups during the Esseless run, but many of those could be chalked up to our own exuberance and lack of attention. “Oops. I… didn’t see that pit there. Guess I fell in.” That kinda thing.
After the episode, we took some time to hash things out via a shared email “After Action Report.” Among the things we agreed to include next time is the necessity to RP into the in-game episodic content so that we could keep the RPG part of MMORPG alive and well. And, as you know by now, I’m not going to play TOR unless I can play in-character. Flashpoint or not. This brought with it some logistical questions because we could all also see the necessity for Teamspeak/Vent/Skype, etc. while running through game content as a team. It was much easier to respond to a vocalized, “Our healer is drawing aggro!” than to take our eyes off the action to read the same thing typed in the chat box.
The RP strategy we came up with is a common sense line drawn between RP and OOC tactical planning. I want to share it with you in the hopes it’ll help your game play in- or out-of RP.
When the time comes to group up for a Flashpoint, we’ll form up in character. A Jedi may take his Padawan along as part of her training. A Trooper may call upon a Smuggler to give him transportation to X coordinates. One way or another, we’ll all end up at the entrance to the Flashpoint, and we’ll all be fully stocked on whatever we’ll need: Medpacks, Stims, all our hotkeys programmed and ready, etc. We’ll work our way into the event in-character, possibly throwing out some ideas in OOC chat if someone hasn’t already pre-scouted the event and fed the rest of us some intel.
For example, transportation aboard the Esseless to a Republic war zone would be enough of an excuse to bring a party together.
What about during the event? When does voice come in?
The rule is this: Strategy is RolePlayed IC (In Character). Tactics are spoken OOC (Out Of Character). For example, a strategy might be written as, “Excuse me, Master Kendris. I’m sensing a great deal of Imperial activity beyond this door. May I suggest our heavily armed Corporal Wex lead the way?” A tactic might be spoken as, “I’ll get the guy on the right, you get the guy on the left. Watch the boss for ranged attacks.”
As a rule, we won’t speak during cut scenes and dialog choices, nor during RP. Any veteran RPer worth his or her salt will tell you that RolePlayers don’t use voice chat during games because it breaks immersion, particularly when you have male players with female characters and vice-versa. It’s also rare to find someone who can pull off a good Jennifer Hale impression better than Jennifer Hale herself, so RP is best left to type.
While we messed around in beta and laughed our way through some of the conversation choices some of our guildmates used, we know we’ll stick to IC post-launch and approach the conversation choices appropriate to our own character’s background.
I’m sure most of you are familiar with the Esseless by now. But, for those of you hiding under a rock until launch day (Just a hair over two weeks as I write this!), I’ll present the following spoiler-free. If you don’t trust me, skip down to the last part of this article.
At one point during the Flashpoint we hit a live-or-die Dark vs. Light decision. The end result favored the Light Side though we did see one of our members sporting the little red inverted angry triangle, an indication his response favored the selfish, easy, dastardly, or otherwise evil path. In our emailed A.A.R., he suggested that such a situation “live” could require an in-character “sit down” where we hash out his misguided foolishness in-character—or succumb to his debating skills and “turn” his way for next time. The cool thing about the Flashpoints (at least where the Esseless and some other early-level events are concerned) is that we had opportunities while “on the stage” to RP between conflicts or before or after cut scenes.
THE LAST PART OF THIS ARTICLE
So, the point of this trip down memorybeta lane is to point out that you can have it both ways. Those of you wondering how you can RP through in-game content or play the in-game content through your RP can rest assured that the scripting and staging in Star Wars: The Old Republic is very RP friendly.
The only advice I could give at this point is to be wary of potential enemy spawn points. Once you clear a room, move to a distant corner near the entrance to the next room to avoid having enemies appear in the midst of your RP. Trust me. It’s embarrassing.
Going forward we have a plan to split our foursome into two duos, covering Ord Mantell and Tython until we reach the Republic fleet and the Mad Skillz of our Advanced Classes. That’s not a bad way to go about it. You can build an RP rapport with a friend or guildmate one-on-one as you handle starter world Heroics, quests and XP grinds, all in-character while you get used to your character’s voice and the game mechanics.
What if you’re a loner? What if you want to play the game and enjoy the story BioWare has carved out for you? What if you want to RP, but don’t have anyone to RP with at launch?
Tune in next Friday. I think I can help.
MJ is an editor with swtor-spy.com and swtor-life.com. He writes a regular column about RolePlay in Star Wars: The Old Republic for swtor-life. You can contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @Mjswtor.
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