[OOC] Why many roleplayers are planning on an Unofficial RP server anyway
(credit: Tyler Jacobson)
There seems to sometimes be a degree of confusion as to exactly what it is that we as roleplayers usually do in-game. As with any community there are horror stories and polarizing topics, but at our core we as roleplayers simply do as the name suggests: We play a role, and that role happens to be a character we craft for ourselves. Name, lore, costumes, class, appearance, residence, background, and even playstyle are often carefully considered when it comes to writing said character.
Much like a protagonist in a movie, or show, or book—the roleplayer's character is the fictional individual through with the roleplayer experiences the setting, and for many this is more entertaining when said individual is complex and interesting to them.
To some from an outside perspective "roleplay" is a very peculiar way to play an MMO. After all, what people do know of the community are the things that grab public attention—which may not always be the best side of roleplay as the noteworthy events most care about tend to be negative or at the very least surprising. But at its center, what many do is collaborative writing. Much like stories such as The Witcher series, or shows such as Game of Thrones, or various other examples that exist (including Ashes lore itself) what people are seeking to create is that same sort of narrative entertainment.
(credit: Stephen Stark)
The difference is that generally instead of making a story in the traditional sense, what numerous roleplayers do is more along the lines of improvisation. Others write to us and we respond, all from the perspective of our characters. It's an act of coordination and shared understanding that has been refined over decades on the internet and tabletop games, with commonly accepted rules and methods to keep things fun for everyone. It may not take long to grasp the concepts (or even step right in with a bit of common sense), but there is a degree of learning to properly interact with others when it comes to the the collaborative writing style of roleplay.
And it's for this reason that many roleplayers seek out the company of other roleplayers instead of doing what they do by entirely themselves or in crowds of those disinterested in roleplay. By its own nature, this type of interaction requires others to play along in the same way you do. It's a very lonely existence to be the only one who cares about writing in this way among a group of dozens who don't—and though a rare few form small groups entirely away from the general roleplayer population—a very large portion of the roleplay community looks to interact with a greater number other roleplayers, or at least to have the option to form connections with a greater amount of other roleplayers.
(Credit: Michael Kormark)
This isn't the only definition of roleplay, clearly. Ashes of Creation's design promises to include many elements of roleplay and it is, after all, an MMORPG. But many are seeking the experience of something similar to a Tabletop Roleplaying Game (D&D, Pathfinder, and so-on), where we describe the actions of our characters—often through text instead of voice—and have dialogue in-character with other people's characters. We seek our own adventures and interactions and drama, the same types that are recognized in great works of fiction across the globe—like that scene you remember from watching a great show, or those well-written characters that you remember from a movie. The idea is to fill the setting with our characters, becoming the cast of a constantly evolving and changing story told by various people behind a screen one post at a time.
So while the idea of spreading roleplayers across multiple servers with the intention of not wanting to separate the overall community is well and good—it will only truly work for those roleplayers who either have dedicated groups with similar interests that they'll play with, or don't mind being alone in the way they play. And if either of those things shift, such as their group splitting up or they gain a desire to write with others, it can still be good to have the opportunity to be around other roleplayers as a sort of safety net.
Given the plans for Ashes to not have an official server labeled for roleplayers to congregate, this makes unofficial roleplay servers (typically one per region) an inevitability as well as a necessity for the playstyle—and is why a great portion of the roleplay community will definitely gather together in a shared space where we can collaborate with one another, whether our characters end up as strangers, acquaintances, allies, friends, or even enemies.