((The RP XP with MJ #26))
The Padawan Tarik strained himself to the point of a splitting headache, reaching out with the Force to see if the young Rattataki woman next to him was true to her word.
Is there such a thing as atonement or regret among the Sith, or was this a ploy?
“You can turn off the sensor beam into my soul, Zabrak. By now you know I’m telling you the truth. Don’t overdo it.”
Tarik glanced over his shoulder at the covered body of his master as the speeder made a sharp turn. Then he looked at Veetha.
“Don’t talk to me, Sith. I’ll do the talking.”
A smile curled over Veetha’s black lips. After a moment of silence, she said, “That’ll make it hard for me to answer questions, you know.”
“I don’t understand,” he said. “You could’ve killed me and you didn’t. Why?”
“A good question that I already answered. Try another.”
“Try answering it again — and make sense of it this time!”
Veetha smiled at him. “The reason I am accompanying you on the return of your master’s corpse is because I wish to help the Republic.”
Tarik huffed. “Help the Republic? Why?”
“I have my reasons.”
He glanced at her as the speeder slowed its descent toward a secret Jedi enclave on Coruscant. “You said you’d answer my questions.”
“That was an answer, Tarik.”
Tarik gasped. “How did you know my name? I never told you.”
Veetha smiled. “Now that, my friend, is a good question.”
Recently, a friend and fellow guildmate announced that he had “trashed” all his mid-level characters to start them over again. Naturally, for someone like me who scrapes and claws to find any game time at all — let alone RP time within the game time — I was aghast. Not to mention the notion of “rebooting” RP with a possibly radical characterization. I had to ask… WHY!?
I could see his reasoning once he explained the situation, but it still seemed like a bummer to me. And that got me to thinking. What if you spend a lot of time building up a character, their characterization and RPability, leveling them throughout the mobs and stories and quests of the game, only to find you’ve hit a wall well before level 50?
There are two generalities I could come up with that would explain a need to completely respec a character you use for RP. The first is that you simply don’t like the class. That was the reason my guildmate wanted to change. He had an RP character in mind, a voice he liked for a Jedi Consular, but found out somewhere mid-Taris that it just wasn’t working for him. Sure, he may have an RP voice in mind that transcends the “hunting for a cure” / “compassionately forgiving” nature of the Consular, but let’s face it: there’s a lot of work that goes into leveling and grinding your gear and appearance before you can settle into structuring your RP. You really need to be sure before hitting that DELETE CHARACTER button that there’s no way to redeem the virtual personality you’ve constructed.
The other possibility behind the sudden desire to respec is that you’re hitting roadblocks in your RP, that you feel you’ve hit a wall with their story or personality and you just see no way out of it. Maybe the other characters around you within your RP circles aren’t really in tune with your character. You’re thinking “permadeath” — but WAIT! Before you throw your Sith Lord on their lightsaber, let’s look at some ways to salvage your character.
WHAT DID I DO WRONG?
If you’re at an RP roadblock because it seems no one wants to RP with you, don’t be so quick to blame your character. Maybe it’s you as the RolePlayer. If no one comes out and says, “((I just don’t see how my character and yours would get along. My character is suspicious of Jedi)),” then it may be something other than virtual-skin deep. Is it possible you’re being shunned because you stepped out of character too much, took your character too seriously, didn’t communicate or godmodded?
If all your RP partners are up front about what they don’t like, you can change (if, that is, you want to continue to RP with them; otherwise, there’s no problem with abandoning that group and finding another who appreciates you). Or, if it’s character related, you can adapt. If you play a Jedi and all your partners claim to be suspicious or distrusting of Jedi, invite them to bring that up in-character to give your character a chance to defend himself. Maybe your Jedi can show them he’s not that uncomfortable memory from their past that gives them the predisposition against Jedi. Maybe you can co-write a story that allows your Jedi to save one of them, find a lost artifact, or in some other way show them he’s not all bad.
If the apparent alienation of your characters doesn’t seem to be character-related, consider the simple possibility that you simply don’t mesh with the rest of the group. Consider moving on, or start small. Find an independent lone RPer willing to work on a personal scenario with you.
In either case, DO NOT respec the character. It’s a natural part of life (virtual or otherwise) to expect a segment of society to not gel with you so well. Don’t change your character’s personality to fit what they want. If you’d rather not go the, “Let’s sit down and talk about why you (fear/hate/shun/abandon…) me,” move on. And if you personally don’t click with the clique, don’t waste your time. Take your characters and find another group — or start your own.
I JUST DON’T LIKE MYSELF
What if everything is fine and dandy with your RP group but you’re just not “feelin’ it” anymore? What if you come across a Bounty Hunter with a really cool way of acting that inspires you and makes you want to emulate it? What if you see a character in a movie or from a book that you can see as your character in the game? What if that dry, humorless persona you thought would be perfect for a Sith Warrior is just plain boring?
Don’t lose faith. There are ways to fix all that without resorting to a respec.
Addicts overcome addiction all the time. Overweight people change their lifestyles and become thin. Shy, timid people come out of their shell. Jerks turn over a new leaf and make amends for past wrongdoings.
You can change your character using the same principle as a “life-changing moment” in real life without deleting and re-building her. Just give some thought to why and how some people change. Google “Overcoming addiction” and you’ll find nearly four million entries. Do you know someone who lost a lot of weight, turned over a new leaf or gave up smoking or drugs? Take a page from real life and apply it to your character.
Epiphany is the easiest tool to use for a character change without respec and it doesn’t take much preparation or build-up. Someone who is a jerk or overly boisterous could suddenly tone down because they witnessed something that showed them the error of their ways, or maybe they recently underwent a traumatic ordeal that gave them a glimpse of a horrible future if they didn’t change who they were. The easy part about epiphany is that you don’t have to “act it out.” One day another character will say, “You’ve changed. What happened?” and you can tell them the story of how you saved a child from the jaws of a rancor and it just made you all warm and fuzzy like an ewok.
It can be a little more difficult if you’re dealing with the stonewalling opinions of other characters. If someone says, “I’m suspicious of Jedi,” there’s nothing you can do without their input. Either in- or out-of character, they have to volunteer a reason for the suspicion before you can present a change they’ll accept. Have a long chat OOCly and get to the root cause of their suspicion.
WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS
Respec. But consider this: if you plan to continue RPing with the same people, even if they know why you’re reinventing the same character OOCly, you’ll need a solid plan to explain why Jeroff the Jedi is now Jeroff the Smuggler. If he’s essentially the same character, consider that you’ll have to RP him as a “former Jedi” with all that it entails (including Force abilities that you’ll “hide” or otherwise “lost” because of amnesia or some kind of accident or attack).
Have you ever “re-rolled” a character in an MMO for RP reasons? Have you ever worked through it and came out an even better RolePlayer for the experience? Have you ever played a character with an epiphany and changed their characterization mid-stream. Let’s hear about it.
((The RP XP with MJ)) appears right here on swtor-life.com every Friday. MJ is a long-time RolePlayer with decades of experience as a DM/Host as well a player. You can contact him directly with questions or column ideas by writing to swtorliferp(at)gmail.com. You can follow him on Twitter @MJswtor.
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