Hyperspace Beacon: Breaking into SWTOR’s roleplay community

I’ve hit a wall in my personal gameplay. Most people run into it eventually when they are dedicated to one MMO like I am. Sometimes, I will move on to another game. Guild Wars 2 and DC Universe Online are calling me pretty strongly again. The problem I’d face if I did that is that I would be leaving behind my guild and the friends I have in Star Wars: The Old Republic. Not that I’m opposed to playing a game solo, it’s just that my guild is the biggest reason I still play SWTOR.

I still want to play the game, but my fourth alt is near 50, PvP disappoints me because of the Elite War Hero grind, and my raid group seems to be stuck on a single boss fight. It’s not that I don’t like the game; it’s just disappointing at several turns. So how am I going to keep this game interesting? Well, I didn’t join a roleplay server so that I can pwn noobs in PvP; I joined because of the community.

Perhaps some of you are in a similar situation. Maybe you’re looking for something else to do in the game, but don’t know how to get started. Maybe you’ve always wanted to break into roleplay, but you weren’t sure where to start. If so I have some tips for you.

Hyperspace Beacon Breaking into SWTOR’s roleplay community
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of research. Part of the enjoyment of roleplaying stems from interaction with other people and those other people enjoying interacting with your character. If a character is not properly researched it can be jarring to other players. To be fair, I don’t think that you have to know everything about Star Wars in order to roleplay a character in SWTOR, but if you play a specific species, you should have a basic understanding of that culture and why your character does or does not fit in with that culture.

Secondly, simpler is better when it comes to personality and character history. Just as it is when you meet a new person in a social setting, the first time your character is introduced in roleplay he or she is not going to spill his or her entire life story. In fact, it’s more fun for other players sometimes when your character remains a bit of a mystery. Also, if the character’s personality is close to yours, then it’s easier to play, but be mindful that the other characters you’re interacting with might not be a reflection of their players. That said, sometimes it’s easier to play a personality that is quite different than yours because there will be greater separation. My advice: stick to something close to your personality, but vary it slightly so that you have just enough separation so that you don’t build too much of an emotional attachment.

Hyperspace Beacon Breaking into SWTOR’s roleplay community
In Star Wars: The Old Republic you will find that a lot of roleplayers hang out at the bars. This is frequently called cantina RP. It’s an easy meeting place for RPers, and it allows for many different types of interactions. My character is a Sith, so I don’t hang out there a lot. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t watch from afar. At which cantina should you start? There are three primary cantinas and two secondary cantinas on roleplay servers.

If you’ve completed the first two planet’s storylines then you’ve seen the major cantinas for the Republic side. The fleet is the first and most obvious meeting place for Republic roleplayers. In the center of Carrick station sit four bars next to the VIP lifts. However, the specific bar that the roleplayers are hanging out at varies from day to day. The secondary location for the Republic that seems to be picking up steam is Dealer’s Den. This bar and restaurant sits in Coruscant’s Old Market district. If you’ve played a Smuggler, then you know that this is the place where you meet Darmus Pollaran.

The Imperial side also has a bar in the middle of Vaiken station. Many of the Imperial roleplayers can be found talking about the latest gossip there. Similar to the Republic side, another cantina frequented by roleplayers lies on the second planet: Dromund Kaas. The Nexus Room sits to the west of the main square and the Imperial Agent’s storyline passes through there as well as a side quest that starts with Minder Twenty.

Hyperspace Beacon Breaking into SWTOR's roleplay community
The last cantina is, of course, the Slippery Slopes found on Nar Shaddaa’s Lower Promenade. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective) brand new players cannot get to this cantina until they have access to a ship, which doesn’t happen until about level 16. (Pro tip: if you have someone carry you through the story quest, you can gain a ship at level 11, but this is not recommended.)

Hyperspace Beacon Breaking into SWTOR’s roleplay community
OK, you have a character and a venue; now you can dive right in and start talking to other characters. Before you do that, let me give you a couple of pointers:

Do not metagame. Metagaming is taking knowledge that you would know out of character and using it in character. For instance: Players’ names float above their heads, but your character wouldn’t know that information until that person was introduced. But it gets even more complicated when you think about a player’s class. Some players don’t play their class in roleplay. Just because the character sheet says Sith Sorcerer, don’t assume that the character is a Sith unless she is wearing a lightsaber or something else that would signify that she is a Force user.

Do not power-game. There are other terms for this, but I call it power-gaming. The basic idea is that you don’t apply actions to another person’s character nor do you inflict an action on another person’s character. Let that person do the reaction. A simple example: if you want to shake hands with another character, simply emote your character extending his hand. Let the other character actually do the shaking. And definitely don’t inflict harm on another character. Instead emote your character’s action. “Shaddoe slaps Seeri across the face” is bad; “Shaddoe swings at Seeri’s face with an open palm” is better. The second one allows for Seeri to take the blow and react accordingly.

Do not god-mode. This should be simple: understand that your character is not indestructible. But also understand that there are players on the other side of the characters you’re interacting with and they care about their characters as much as you care about yours. Treat them with respect.

This should help you get started, but this is definitely not a be-all-end-all guide to roleplaying. If you are really interested in developing your skills as a roleplayer, you will want to read Eliot’s weekly guide to roleplaying in MMOs called Storyboard. Ask him questions in the comments if you like. He doesn’t bite… hard.