BTH came home from work yesterday, looked at Kivrinne sitting down drinking on my screen, and said “who’s that?”
“It’s my Undead Mage,” I said.
“You have so many alts I can’t keep track of them anymore,” he said, shaking his head disbelievingly. “They multiply like rabbits.”
I laughed. “Yes, I suppose they do. Only not quite like rabbits. Like plotbunnies.”
Then, since he hasn’t spent most of the last ten years reading serially posted Harry Potter fanfiction* the way I have, I had to explain to him what a “plotbunny” was.
* if you’re interested, I highly recommend the works of The Phantom Librarian.
In the context of WoW, “plotbunnies” are the character concepts that make us want to roll a new alt to tell a story.
I haven’t always been much for telling stories with my characters. I still don’t know very much about my Tauren, only that they are all, with the exception of Kregga, sisters, and that the two youngest are their parents’ “surprise” late-middle age children who, being vaguely unsatisfied with the current paths of the Earthmother, will find their callings in the new paths offered by the worshippers of An’She after the Cataclysm. I don’t really know very much about my Blood Elves either. They are also all related, either as sisters or as cousins, but I haven’t worked out the details of those relationships yet. I know that Kimona was happily married, that her husband died in the Battle of Silvermoon when Arthas came to defile the Sunwell, and that her daughter will take up her father’s sword as a Warrior when she comes of age after the Cataclysm.
A year ago, when my only characters were four Tauren and six Blood Elves on Lightninghoof, I made up a story to explain how the Tauren and the Elves knew each other and why they were willing to share money and materials: Kamalia was running errands in Silvermoon City after doing her Shattered Sun dailies on the Isle of Quel’Danas when she met a Blood Elf Mage (Kaelinda) whose surname was the same as her own clan name. I still haven’t decided precisely what that family name is, but if you look at the family names of Blood Elf and Tauren NPCs on WoWwiki, you will find a surprising degree of overlap or similarity! Amused by this coincidence, the two developed a friendship which soon extended to the rest of their families and Kamalia contracted one of Kaelinda’s relatives to serve as her financial agent.
Then Cataclysm was announced, and I moved all my Blood Elves over to Winterhoof to make way for names I wanted to save on Lightninghoof. Even though they can’t share materials and money anymore, I haven’t made up a story about a breaking of the ties between Kamalia’s house and Kaelinda’s because I still consider them friends who may interact with each other in future storytelling.
But I didn’t really start thinking about histories for my characters until I rolled my first Death Knight. I thought, when Wrath of the Lich King first came out, that I could never play a Death Knight because I couldn’t stand to play an Evil character. I eventually became tempted by the idea of making a DK just to experience the DK starting area and to try out the class. It wasn’t until I came up with a story to explain the background of a DK, however, how she could become one in a way that wouldn’t make her Thoroughly Evil and Irredeemable, that I was able to roll one. My first Death Knight was Katelaira, and Katelyra the Hunter was originally created to represent Kat’s backstory — that will be a story for another post!
When Cataclysm and the new classes for Tauren were announced, I decided that as much as I’d resisted the idea of having a Tauren DK — how could a Tauren ever choose to become a Death Knight?! — I really did want to have a Tauren of every class. It took me awhile to work out the story (in fact I’m still working out some bits of it), but when I had the basic gist of it down, I created Kregga Grimtotem.
Most of my “level a character of each Race to 20” project characters don’t have stories. A few of them have begun to develop personalities, but I have even less sense of their histories than I do for my Tauren and Blood Elves. Kivrinne, though — she has a story she wants to tell, and she has had to be leveled somewhat past 20 for me to be able to tell it. Again, that will be another post for another day, because I still have work to do on certain elements of the story and how I want to present it.
I love to play with the character creation screen and think about interesting appearances for characters to have — with or without an accompanying story.
One such plotbunny arose from a name and appearance I wanted to use that only felt right for a Night Elf Druid. This character is sitting at Level 1 waiting for me to finish some other projects and level her to 20. I can’t decide whether I like the black NE kitty or the white NE kitty better, so she wants to be the mysterious wildwoman whose hair changes colour with the seasons: black between the Spring Equinox and the Autumn Equinox, and white from the Autumn Equinox to the Spring Equinox.
Of course, some of the plotbunnies that inspire character creation “click” and some of them don’t.
My first idea for a Draenei character went about like this: when she was born white-skinned and white-haired, her parents took it as a sign that she was destined to serve the Light and dedicated her to the Temple, where she grew up to be a Priestess. This idea never took flight on the one hand because I decided would rather play a Mage or a Shaman and on the other because I wanted to have a blue-skinned, white-haired Draenei more than an albino one.
My third DK, rolled on Argent Dawn primarily to be the practical source of the RP “inheritance” that would fund my SAN characters’ level 20 mounts, was a Human female with that dark blue-black DK-exclusive haircolor named Kazuligosa. I wanted to rock the blue hair as a Blue Dragon who either turned to Arthas for more power to wield against the Black Dragonflight, or was raised at Sindragosa’s Fall and came up out of the ice in humanoid form instead of Frostwyrm form — to everyone’s surprise and dismay, especially her own! — whereupon the Cult of the Damned necromancers sent her off to Acherus because they didn’t know what else to do with her. But I couldn’t get the story to work out, because upon finding herself an assumed member of the Alliance, she would feel that her ends and motives had been thoroughly frustrated, she would rebel vigorously against participating in the Nexus War against her kin, and she would thus not get very far in Northrend at all. Presently I deleted Kazuligosa so that I could roll Draenei DK Kamaleya on Argent Dawn to do Outland Childrens’ Week stuff with Dornaa as proxy for Kamaliya. Since Childrens’ Week was her only purpose for existing and her contributions had already more than doubled my SAN characters’ fortunes, Kamaleya has also been deleted.
(Funny how these things happen — I thought I would never roll a DK when LK first came out, and now I have played through the DK starting area four times!)
And some characters feel like they should have a story, but they haven’t told it to you yet.
Standing there on my character selection screen with her short black hair, dark skin, pierced nose and brow, and pleasant middle-aged face, my Human Mage, Khitka, looks like she should be a mother — but where are her children, and why is she out adventuring?
What are some of your WoW plotbunnies?