When role-playing in an MMORPG such as World of Warcraft, it is very tempting to turn your character into what is commonly referred to as a Mary Sue, or Gary Stu. This is a character that is virtually flawless, or has flaws or issues which ultimately benefit the character. An example of this is the a-typical Damsel in Distress, whose horrific past often enables her to catch the man of her dreams, defeat the bad guy and all with not a hair out of place. While this is not to say that having a horrific past should not be done, it is all the matter in which you do it.
The problem with making your role-play character a super-warrior at 16, or a part-demon long lost princess of Silvermoon is that it severely damages your roleplaying options. For a start, where is the fun of playing a character that just has to grin for all the enemies in his/her path to fall over? It may seem interesting for a while, but the eventual lack of challenge will cause the character to pall. Not only that, but many other role-players may avoid you based on your character, as they feel it is not one they wish to interact with. Once again, this limits role-play options.
So, the real thing is, how can one avoid making a Mary Sue character? Well, this article contains several hints and tips that can get you on the road to a well-balanced, fun to play character in no time.
Let’s start with appearances. One thing that it is very important to avoid in World of Warcraft are what are commonly referred to as “mood eyes”. As you probably have gathered, these are eyes in which the irises change colour depending on the mood the character is in. There is no mention of these in World of Warcraft lore, and what’s more, it ruins a lot of fun role-play. After all, what is the point in interacting with a character, if one look at his eyes can tell you exactly what mood he is in! Similar to this is having unusual eyes for your race/class. For example, all Blood Elves have green eyes, all Death Knights have blue eyes, and all Night Elves have silver/gold glowing eyes. This cannot be changed by any normal method, and having eyes that don’t fit the race can mark you out as a Sue. Of course, this is not always the case, but it Is a good idea when contemplating, for example, glowing green eyes on a Human “Is this necessary for my character?” if the answer is yes, then go ahead. If the answer is no, but it looks cool, then maybe not!
Another thing that often causes people to be wary of characters is mismatched heights and weights. It is a good idea to check what is a healthy weight for the height you want your character to be, then working near to that. Of course, if you are planning on your character having a weight problem then going higher, or lower, than the healthy weight is acceptable, but not so much that it is impossible for your character to be walking around and swinging that sword! It is also important that you stick within the racial height parameters. For example, four foot would be incredibly small for a Night Elf, while seven foot would be incredibly tall for a human!
On the subject of bodies, one thing that will cause many people to cry “Sue!” is overwhelming beauty or handsomeness. Now, I am not saying that beautiful/handsome characters are a bad idea, far from it! In fact it can be a lot of fun to play a pretty character. However, rather than just announcing to the world that your character will be found beautiful/handsome by all and sundry, explain why. It’s best to use simple language, for example “Her eyes are a light blue, and tilt upwards. She has brown freckles across the bridge of her nose and onto her cheeks, has a small, cute nose and a rose-bud mouth”, than “her sapphire eyes gleam at you from underneath, long dark lashes that caress her cheeks like a ravens wing” etc. etc. This turns many people off, as they want to know just quickly what your character looks like so they can interact accordingly. For example, if someone has a horribly twisted arm, however the player doesn’t see this as it is hidden between descriptions of how incredibly sensual ones mouth is, it can cause some awkward moments!
After that long lists of don’ts, let’s have some do’s for a change! One thing that is very important in any well balanced character is to have some flaws. For example my Blood Elf warrior, Aeylwyn, is a long term veteran and an alcoholic. She’s covered in scars and deathly sarcastic, to the point of it getting her into trouble. She’s also fairly good with a sword, and her long military career means she almost always follows orders. Oh, and she can do very little magic, which is a pretty bad flaw for a Blood Elf! These flaws means that she is a delight to play, as they each impact on how she reacts to other people and her surroundings. It also means that I have the chance to role-play getting over/being punished for some of her flaws, for example her alcoholism and sarcasm. Of course, the flaws can be anything from an addiction, to a phobia, to a racial flaw. For example, your character may be terrified of swimming, or fire. Or it may be a he’s a Death Knight who still has some compassion for the living, or is haunted by his past. I heard of a Death Knight that kept hearing the screams of his victims, and so burst his own eardrums. This is a kind of flaw that makes a character interesting to play. Other flaws may include anything from being an Orc that barely passed his right of passage, to being a lousy cook. Of course, some are more minor than others and it’s good to get a good mix of both flaws and good attributes to make your character interesting!
I’ll finish up by one last, final thing, and it’s this: demons, dragons, and being related to major lore characters are one huge thing that you just should not do. Instead, try being a technomancer, a mage who mixes arcane with technology to avail in battle, or a priestess of the Loa! These will get you a lot more respect, and a lot more fun. And fun is what it’s all about, in the en