I was roleplaying on Jana the other morning in the Cathedral Square. Jana had sparked a discussion with a rather reserved night elf hunter. The discussion was pleasant, and certainly was what I would consider to be “good roleplay”. We discussed things, Jana introduced a bit of her backstory, and it was interesting enough for me to put that person on my friends list.
Perhaps a half hour in or so, our conversation was interrupted by a very noisy blonde human female who I’ll call S. Her MRP was short, not very descriptive, but rather suggestive of a well thought out character. Basically, she had framed herself as a trophy wife to a noble man far older than she was: her MRP said something along the lines that the wedding was lovely, in a snarky way as to suggest most of Stormwind’s nobility actually disapproved of the marriage and her in particular.
And boy did she act the part. Loud, obnoxious, and apparently extremely drunk. She was proud of her wealth, proud of her beauty, the sort of person who you would like very much to go away to get back to your conversation. S was told to go away, and other given annoying looks, but she didn’t. And so I decided it was time for Jana, as an actual member of the noble class, to get involved.
Jana lit into her in extremely nasty ways. She told her that her dress looked ridiculous. She told her that she was money-grubbing trash. She told her that her husband only wanted her for sex. She told her that her husband would dump her once she was used up. She told her she wasn’t fit to be in Stormwind.
Normally when you get this kind of roleplay it turns into an OOC slapfest where people start insulting each other OOCly. I think some people other than S may have even tried to push it there. But S’s response were far subtler than her initial brash approach would have suggested. She was brave, but there were subtle indications that she was breaking down from Jana’s verbal assault. At some point she decided to fall over, apparently from being drunk.
That’s when Jana’s attitude shifted from confronting an annoyance to feeling a bit of sympathy for her. After a little while, Jana offered to help her up and get her somewhere safe. S greeted her by throwing up at one point, but eventually agreed to go off with Jana. We went to a less crowded patch of grass behind the cathedral, and that’s when the RP became truly exceptional.
After a little bit of conversation, Jana called S out. She said that she thought the whole show in front of the cathedral was an act, that S was in fact far smarter and far more devious than she appeared, and that she probably wasn’t really drunk at all. And the extraordinary thing about S was that she in fact copped to all of these things. She wasn’t really drunk; she had just swished alcohol around in her mouth like mouthwash. Her dress was hers, not her husband’s daughter’s (as she originally claimed), and was tailored to fit in a way as to suggest trashiness. She admitted that she only married the guy for his money, and the only intent she had in marrying him was to get out of her hellhole life in Elwynn Forest.
At that point, I had a great liking for the character and an appreciation for the roleplayer. OOCly she told me that this was her take on a subtlety rogue and I found it to be among the best I’d ever seen. She was marvelously deceptive; I figured most people around the Cathedral Square thought of her as a trophy wife out on a bender but somehow, she managed to slip in enough clues for me to conclude it wasn’t really true and to call her on it. It made me feel smart and that’s one of the best ways to get on my good side.
More specifically, she did something that I don’t ever think I’ve experienced. One of the things Jana berated her for was for her dress, which Jana said was more appropriate for an underdeveloped girl than a more mature woman such as herself. Jana said it fit in strange ways. The reason I said this as Jana was because that was the picture I imagined. In my experience, many roleplayers will spend needless time arguing about this, and in fairness S would have the right to say what she is in fact wearing and how it would fit. But she didn’t. Not only did she accept Jana’s description of the dress, she used that description in further roleplay of that particular scene. It showed a remarkable amount of flexibility in collaboration, to an extent I’m not sure I could do.
And it just got better.
S portrayed herself as fearful, claiming that the husband was an abusive figure who regularly took advantage of her. She begged Jana not to call her out on her lies. At this point, of course, Jana had no reason to trust her, but S’s claims resonated with Jana. Jana felt that S was suffering from the same sort of treatment Jana’s first serious boyfriend had given her. She knew in the back of her mind that S might be trying to manipulate her, but she decided to offer her aid. Jana gave her some jewelry that would enhance her deceptive abilities (some ilvl 415 rings and a necklace that were laying around from failure to sell at the AH), and then in an ultimate display of misplaced trust, gave her the key to Jana’s shop as a place for a safe haven should she ever get in trouble.
The relationship quickly became one of the more complex I’ve experienced. S would try to specifically manipulate Jana, and Jana would call her out on it. S would plead with Jana to not reveal her secrets. As Jana, I would subtly use that power to try to convince her to be more forthcoming. It was marvelous, and at the end of that first RP session, we had established a loose relationship: Jana saw her as a daughter, someone she could mentor and assist. What S saw, well, I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps she saw a friend and a teacher. Perhaps she saw someone who would be a challenge to manipulate. Whatever it was, there was something solid there.
The RP has just gotten better and better. The next time, there were some basic discussions. S kept with her attempts at manipulation and Jana would start down the path of a victim before pulling back and calling her out. At some point, I decided to leave Jana vulnerable to her, to see what happened. Jana drank some fruity drinks that were far more powerful than she had thought, putting her in an almost incapacitatedly drunk state. S, rather than taking advantage of that to steal a necklace she so desired, helped Jana home. That established a fair bit of trust between the characters.
At some point, S confided with Jana that she was worried about what Jana had said, that S’s husband would hurt her or kill her or discard her, leaving her again penniless. Jana suggested that she should so something about it. S asked what, and then Jana revealed the ruthless, psychotic killer side of her: she suggested that S should kill her husband’s daughter and frame the husband for it, ensuring that the inheritance went to her. S blanched at the idea, never believing herself to be capable of such a thing.
Two days later, that’s exactly what happened.
Well, not exactly. S came to Jana in tears, claiming that she had killed her husband’s daughter accidentally and worried that she would be put to death. Jana took her to a safe place, discussed what happened, and then hatched a plan to cover up the killing. The details are a little convoluted, but it was made to look like S’s husband was killed by her daughter after attacking her, while the daughter died from the wounds of the attack. This required S to show the necessary resolve to mercilessly kill her husband. (Both her husband and the daughter are not played by anyone, so really this was just a matter of saying that she had done it). And it worked. So it was that S became a grieving widow.
RP this morning demonstrated how fun this RP could be. S and Jana met another woman and were talking casually with her. In that conversation, Jana spun a fanciful tale about how S met her husband: she had rescued him from a camp of kobolds. This tale was absolutely not true, and both S and Jana knew it. S’s reactions and encouragement were fantastic, playing along with the tale with such gusto that an incredibly observant person might have well concluded that Jana’s tale was sort of fishy. (One of the moments of humor I’ve shared with S is how credulous some people can be, accepting wildly improbable stories as fact). The banter between S and Jana is far better than anything I could come up with on my own.
At this point, I’ve determined to do something with S that I rarely do with anyone, even after the fact. S is now a part of Jana’s canon, and I feel comfortable referring to her or exposing the relationship between her and Jana to anyone. Jana thinks of her as somewhat of an adoptive daughter, someone Jana can guide and mold into a powerful and independent woman (albeit one who is in many ways evil). I am so enthusiastic about this RP that I want to show it to the world.
I’m really looking forward to see what happens next between S and Jana. Jana considers her to be the daughter she’ll never have.