Funcom, in making The Secret World, created a universe with a rich mythology in which players could explore what it would be like to fight the supernatural in a modern day environment. Like all MMOs though, a section of the player based latched onto this world and mined it for the wealth it could provide for role playing. But at some stage, people started to veer away from what Funcom had created, and began to weave their own stories where their characters are no longer bees, but are vampires, demons, or even demi-gods. This community took on a life of its own, both in the game, and outside of it.
But when does this player created world become too much, and break what Funcom has built? When you character bumps into another toon who describes themselves as an eternal being with unlimited power, can you call them out on it? Who’s to say what is right or wrong when it comes to role playing, especially when you are making things up that are outside of the established mythology created by the game developers?
I’ve been role playing my character, Zoe Prue, for a few years now. I’m not what I’d call hardcore, or particularly well known in the RP community, but I enjoy the various aspects of role playing. What I enjoy most though is telling a story. I’m slowly creating a long and hopefully rich background for my character to help with this, but at times it’s left me wondering – can I really tell the story I want to? Am breaking the world with this non-canon lore I’m creating? I mean, no one is going to accept Star Trek fan fic if Darth Vader turns up in it, right?
This thought crystallised for me a week or so ago, when I asked others how they dealt with Fae when role playing in TSW. I know a few people who role play actual Fae characters, something that isn’t really covered much in the established lore. I must admit, my question was loaded, as I had a pretty good idea what people would say, and what I was hoping to hear.
A few of the replies said that they took guidance from specific books, the Dresden series being a particular favourite. Others said that they did a little research and then just kind of made it up.
Now I have to admit, I’ve always had a fascination with the Fae. I’ve done a fair bit of research over the years, and have built up a very clear picture in my mind of what I thought they should be like. And this image is what I wanted for my story with my character. So, when some of the players described their thoughts, I bristled at the notion that their reality wasn’t the same as mine. How dare they try and create a world where our take on something didn’t align! I don’t want cute and fluffy Tinkerbell style fairies flitting about, I want dark and malicious, morally ambiguous! God dammit, you’re spoiling my fun!
After I’d gathered up all the toys I’d thrown and put them back into my cot, I took a deep breath. These other players, they want to have fun and tell their own stories too. They aren’t doing anything different to what I am, so how can I possibly get mad at them? Maybe they think my idea of the Fae is dumb too, and who’s to say they are wrong?
No one forces who you role play with in this game. You’re not bound by any law, or game mechanic that says you must conform to someone else’s expectations, apart from those established in the game. If someone’s style doesn’t match your own,it’s easy enough to ignore them. In fact there are even tools both in and out of game that let you do it! So everybody should be empowered to have fun.
What I love about TSW is the world that was created. It is deep and interesting, and provides the players with a place to escape the grind of everyday life. And if that means playing as a fluffy pink fairy who loves riding a yellow unicorn, then who am I to object, right?
Zoe Prue has been playing TSW on and off since 2012 and now RPs mostly on Twitter and Google Docs. You can find her on Twitter @zoezotprue