To All The Characters I've Loved Before

As a wannabe cartoonist, one of my personal heroes is Chuck Jones. The mastermind behind Looney Tunes who brought Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and all their friends to life. There is a story that is frequently told regarding him, wherein he introduced himself to a small boy as “The person who draws Bugs Bunny”. The boy promptly corrected him, “No, you’re the person who draws pictures of Bugs Bunny.”

See, that’s how I feel about my characters in WoW. I am not Tawyn. I just play her in a video game.


Tawyn’s path to life has been a long and windy one. There were some parts of her character that I knew from the beginning: for example, that she lived in Stormwind instead of Darnassus. But most of the other aspects of her character wouldn’t manifest themselves right away. In the beginning, largely influenced by the night elf voice acting I think, she was a much nicer and more serene and overall “elfy” individual. It was my first ever Brewfest at level 50 or so where the guild running joke of Tawyn being an alcoholic surfaced, and I later decided to tie this into her personality. After that, it was just a snowball effect, with my character leaping unbidden from “neutral good” to a much more chaotic persona. She became misanthropic; a cowgirl and a mercenary. A Beast Master because beasts were the only thing she could trust. Time and all the changes it has brought to WoW had an effect on her as well, and I tend to say that she has since fled Stormwind due to the political goings-on and now wanders around Northrend as a vagabond.

When I think of her, I don’t think of her as a character in WoW. I think of her as this living, breathing individual. She is of course, not real, but it sure feels that way sometimes.

I think this may effect the way I play the game. For example, the idea of a faction- or race-change seems almost like a crime to me. Sure, there are races I like more than night elves, but the whole idea of Tawyn’s identity as a night elf and the internal struggles she has with this fact is bound tightly to her character. To change her into something different and rip that integral part of her story away is unspeakable. I don’t even like thinking about it.

At this point you may be thinking “Wow, you are superbig into roleplay, aren’t you?” to which my reply is, actually, I almost never roleplay in game. I was never comfortable with it. Primarily because I didn’t want to step into the shoes of this character who I knew I could never do justice. I always approached roleplaying with trepidation, the way an actor might approach playing some historical figure in a film. I don’t much like roleplaying because I know I am not Tawyn and am afraid I’ll play her all wrong. You’re laughing at me, telling me I invented her, but in truth it feels more like she came to me. I don’t fully know her yet. I’m still learning about her.


So it is that I have this character that popped into my head and I also play her in a video game. The video game aspect of it is a large part of it, and that’s why I never quite understood the “I don’t roleplay in WoW because stuff like spirit rez’ing is too unrealistic” thing. That doesn’t make sense to me because what’s happening is just that, a game adaptation of your character’s life. Stuff that happened in game doesn’t necessarily have to be stuff that happened to your character’s backstory. Tawyn didn’t actually murder thousands of the Defias Brotherhood. Tawyn didn’t actually wipe on Sapphiron or Curator billions of times. Tawyn didn’t actually do that infamous “torture quest”. The game is a loose roadmap for Tawyn’s life, but it’s not a home movie. Most World War 2 video games aren’t exactly how it happened either.

No, the Real Tawyn lives in my head and manifests herself to me in stories and in her little personal piece of lore that has been cooking in my head since day one.

All my other characters feel very real to me as well, of course– heck, I’ve been known to level characters only because I like their backstory— but none of them is quite as real as Tawyn is, and I think that’s why after all these years, Tawyn is still my main. Cause how can you shelf a character that real?

I gotta say, in the end, this is why I play World of Warcraft. I mean, the huntering is great. Obviously I love the huntering. But if you shoved Generic Hunter #13458 in my face and told me to play it, I’d lose interest. Very fast. Because in the end, the biggest reason I love WoW is because it’s a gateway for letting some really interesting imaginary people into my brain.


And that’s awesome.

18 thoughts on “To All The Characters I've Loved Before”

  1. I totally get the whole “this character feels real to me” thing. That’s how I feel about Matojo, but I play him – I RP him – all the time. I think, when I first started off, I didn’t do him justice, but now that I honestly know him it’s better.

    But yeah, the backstories and everything, that’s what helps me stick. So much.

  2. I can relate to how you feel about typing at a cartoon. Gotta say, tho, if someone did shove “Generic Hunter #13458” on you, you’d be more likely to invent a cool backstory than lose interest 😉

  3. I kinda feel the same way about my characters. Of course I haven’t been playing as long as you have and so there hasn’t been enough time for them to really settle into my head (except for my druid (level 52 now! yay!)), but all my characters definitely have distinct personalities and likes and dislikes.

    I didn’t do many quests in Desolace with my druid because he just didn’t like the place – it gave him and his kodo the creeps. And even though he’s my main and I may wish I could be in a real guild with him, he’ll never leave my little Kodo Hugs guild that my BF and I made for sharing trade supplies, because that’s just where he belongs.

  4. Sometimes, I will just let Darallun take over and see where he feels like going. I’ll wander around, find a hill with a nice view, and sit there admiring the scenery.

    My character also ,is not so much of an extension of me as he is his own personality. He’s SV, but that started as a reason for Darallun to strap a piece of dynamite to an arrow.

    On the other hand, my secondary spec is a BM spec, optimized for pet tanking. I have tried to circle Sholozar basin and get Loque’Nahak since Wrath dropped, with no success. Then, yesterday, a guildie of mine (Rorik, the same guy who killed the pally that was interfering with my Gondria tame.) came into guild chat “LOQ IN THE BASIN!”

    This was the result. Just thought you’d like to see, as a BM hunter.

    Oh happy day. I think I may copy your BM raid spec now… cuz a pet that good lookin shouldn’t sit in a stable.

  5. Any time I’ve written a story, it always feels as though the story is really just revealing itself through me. The one time I actually wrote a story myself, it was terrible because I didn’t let it do what it wanted to do. I think that until someone has written a story (or a character background or something similar), they really don’t have the experience to criticize that point of view.

  6. I love your take on your character! I’ve played many characters and had my own story for each of them… my hunters I love the most though! Mainly because the class reminds me of my fav class from FFXI (Dragoon). Keep writing those stories, and we’ll keep getting those warm squishy feelings about our characters too. =)

    on a side note, I had been camping Loque’nahak collectively across 2 hunters for over 2 months. I finally got him Saturday during the Ohio State football game… this makes me all kinds of happy! d(^o^)b

  7. As someone who can’t enjoy playing a character without having some idea of who they are and where they’ve come from, I completely agree with you. One of the first mods I started running was FlagRSP, and though it has long since fallen out of widespread use, all of my characters still run around with a surname and a few paragraphs of flavor.

    Like you, I can’t see myself ever actively roleplaying, mostly as an issue of perspective; it would be like changing my character’s stories from third-person to first. For me, every character embodies some aspect of my personality, but none of them is *me*, and I wouldn’t be comfortable trying to change that by taking on one of their roles directly. In fact, I view each character as their own person, working side-by-side on their quest to defeat the Lich King, their backstories overlapping and interconnected along the way.

  8. That indeed is awesome.
    The true reason for me playing Rilmandra is the feeling of being taken over by the character herself. Those pointless walks around the nicest spots of Azeroth with a faithful pet friend by her side, helping those in need, robbing the poor, giving to the rich…
    wait, eh nvm.
    That is the true beauty of the game… an amazing potential of unleashing one’s imagination and pouring it into a detailed, beautiful and powerful avatar.

  9. It is for me as Armond says: my characters reveal to me what they want to when they want to. My job is to write it down. My main, my first, my hunter: I sometimes think I am only just getting to know her after all this time in Azeroth.

    I will never forget Llyrra’s emotional and mental anguish when sent to the Nexus to free Keristrasza… and when she finally faced Malygos, a rage so violent, so intense rose to the surface, I did not recognized her. Her disgust at the Blood is Thicker fishing quest… the comfort she finds in the sound of the mechanical Yeti running around Everlook.

    Little things revealed that start to complete a picture. I don’t role play either but my toons all have a reason for finding me. Overtime, they’ll let me know just what that reason is.

  10. I find that this article outlines a big reason why I loved Klinderas. I mean, I started him based off of me: intelligent but in no way able to compete in a melee, proficient with ranged weapons. Loves animals, and takes pride in how he looks.

    Klinderas evolved all on his own though: all I did was provide a skeleton. He eventually fleshed out to be arrogant, a bit racist, and heavily vindictive at times.

    But he also managed to earn a very accurate moral compass, have a powerful sense of what was just, and to put aside his faults when it really mattered in order to get the job properly done. He was a good guy, but an asshole.

    His character was something I really enjoyed playing with: and like you said, the WoW questing is only an outline. Tawyn may not have done the torture quest, but Klinderas sure as hell did, and with relish since he hated what the Blue dragonflight had done to the area by murdering scores of innocent tuskar and nearly killing him a few times.

    I wouldn’t ever torture, but I can imagine that Klinderas would have. It’s something about him that would never be me.

    Klinderas, the character I’m not, is the reason why I find it hard to quit WoW.

  11. @Klinderas – in truth, I really loved the torture quest. I thought it added a really neat moral dilemma to WoW. It made you think. I do it on all my characters.

    Honestly the main reason I don’t think Tawyn did it in her backstory, isn’t so much because she thought it was wrong, so much as because I don’t see her as the type of person who has done many “quests” in the first place. She walks alone– she doesn’t do many favors for people.

  12. Speaking about revealing, I just realized the reason I don’t like PVP is that somehow it seems when a Real Human attacks her- my Velu – I have empathy pain. She long ago decided she was peaceful and wants to live harmoniously except for Pew Pew ing evil.

  13. Oh wow, I feel the exact same way. I started out on a PVE server, but as my character grew and developed a personality really without me wanting her to or trying (she loves goblins, wtf?) I decided to try out an RP server. But it just didn’t work for me. For me, the character is in the story in my head, and when I tried to RP, it felt like me just talking to someone, it didn’t feel comfortable or real to me.

    All of my characters have personalities and tidbits of stories, but in the same way I’m not an actress, I’m not really a roleplayer, it seems. But that’s okay, and I decided I like the roleplaying server anyway, even if I’m one of the shy residents. 🙂

  14. Pike? I couldn’t agree more with everything you and the others have stated. I started to write something here, but it became too large and ended up as a cross post to my own blog.

    So, again, thank you for enough of a thought provoking article to spawn another.

  15. It’s neat to see how much you and I are alike Pike 🙂 As a huge fan of Chuck Jones I’m also a big fan of Tex Avery, the father of Bugs.

    Like yourself, I too, feel that Wulf is a slight extension of my persona to a point, as all of my WoW toons or even cartoons I create are. Just one of the fun things about being a cartoonist, professional or not 🙂

    I don’t roleplay in game, but I will roleplay in my personal journal/stories and illustrations of my toons.

    With the introduction of Worgen to the game, I have my own inner conflicts of changing from a Night Elf to a Worgen.

    Great post, and very inspiring. <3

  16. You keep posting things that I’ve been trying to put into words for months! I don’t even play on a roleplaying server, yet I have a very clear idea of who Durkon is, why he is different from all the other dwarven hunters.

    Actually, reading this has also helped to isolate one of my problems: Every time I write something about Durkon it seems to me like self-insertion fanfic, like I’m trying to write about myself in the third person instead of writing about my character. This is I think because the name of my character is the same as the name I post under. I think I’ve made a mistake identifying myself with my main character’s name.

    Thanks for the post, Pike!

  17. I just know OC does stuff when I’m not online….

    I got stuck for 6 months RP-wise because I tried to force a story on him, so I don’t sweat it now. He’ll let me know if there’s something he wants said.

Comments are closed.