Warning! Long, navel-gazing post to follow. tl;dr version: Kate loves roleplaying, roleplaying on a Normal server is not fun, planning to transfer to an RP server.
I had my first introduction to organized roleplaying while visiting my grandparents in Utah. Sure, I'd done the usual "playing house" before, and my friends and I loved to get together to act out scenes from Star Wars (I was always Chewbacca), but this was Dungeons and Dragons. This was real.
The game was run by my cousin Danny, and players included his brothers, his fiancee, and me. We tried to get one of my brothers to play as well, but it ended in him being turned into a chicken and forbidden to play with us anymore. My character was an Elven thief named Kestrel. She had silver hair, hazel eyes, and the amazing Dexterity score of 15. I had no idea how to play (I think we might have been playing a very early edition going by what I remember of the setup) but I loved every minute of it, and I squealed loud enough to wake the dead when Michelle drew a picture of my little elf for me. This roleplaying thing was so cool!
Eventually we had to go home, and I promptly forgot all about it. I would occasionally rediscover my character sheet and picture, folded up and lovingly tucked away in a free AOL tin---I'd unfold it, sigh happily, then put it away again after promising myself to try that again someday.
That day came when I discovered D.A.B., a roleplaying site based around one of my favorite book series. It was linked to from the official Redwall website, and I was immediately intrigued. Earning points and competing with other people from other places, on the computer? And making up my favorite kind of stories? I begged my parents to let me join, and eventually they agreed. My first character, Daffnee, almost immediately managed to get on the wrong side of one of the site's leaders, so I scrapped that idea and went for another: Amber Merida, a Good Wildcat. When I grew tired of roleplaying her as a child, I switched over to the more grown-up Lancepaw's Fort, and kept on going.
Realizing instinctively that going for one of the least common villain races in the books and making it a good character to boot could easily lead to Bad Roleplaying, I made an effort to give her various flaws--she was a skilled fighter, with a speshul non-magical sword from her parents, but she hated battle and would always take the peaceful way out because she had horrible wracking guilt from the one time she charged in without asking questions first. Eventually she evolved into more of a healer type, though still with heroic aspirations, and became a much less annoying character. She fell in love, adopted a baby rat, and then faded away as I focused on other interests: Specifically, adoptable dragons and RedVenture 2. I played a major role in RV2 as Anora the stoat, returned for RV3 as Elana, and won entry into and then flaked out on RV4 as an insane feline cook. By that point, I was pretty much through with the whole Redwall thing; most of my friends were long gone from the community (including Hawkeye Bigmouth Longears, my "bestest friend ever"), and even the books weren't good enough to keep me around any longer.
Luckily, I'd fallen in with a very nerdy crowd in real life, and in between beating each other with pool noodles and falling asleep in Sunday school, we played Dungeons and Dragons. Edition 3.5 was very different from what I remembered, and my new Dungeon Master was much more strict about setting enemies on fire, but I still loved it. I didn't revive Kestrel for this game--I'd learned upon purchasing the Player's Handbook that all sixes and sevens with one score of 15 was not a good array of stats--but instead created a half-elf paladin and proceeded to badger the DM into giving me the following as rewards for battles won:
-A cape that turned into wings so I could fly.
-A fiery, shocking sword. Zzzzzap crackle pop!
-A dark bay pegasus named Whuffles.
That character lasted until the group fell apart, shortly before I left for BYU. (Our DM had headed out the year before, but we'd still played together when he was home for winter and summer breaks.) Suddenly alone in a strange new place, I did the only thing I could: I joined another D&D group.
This time, I knew how to avoid most of the mistakes I'd made with previous characters. Hazel the human ranger was a grumpy, anti-social bounty hunter with a pair of very sharp knives, a huge mastiff as her companion, and a fun and detailed past: After her parents died, she started hunting criminals and highwaymen to earn enough money to allow her younger brother to keep the family farm. He grew up, got married, had a couple of kids that she adores, and never ever found out where all the money was coming from (though he definitely suspected something). The rest of the party, meanwhile, always wondered why she never seemed to have any gold to spare, and spent what she did have carefully. I had the extra challenge of having her get by on only about 20% of her share of the party's loot, and I got to make her favored enemy humans--convincing the DM was no easy task, but it was definitely worth it in combat.
She developed more of a personality as we played, gaining a slightly twisted sense of humor, and leaning away from her original True Neutral alignment towards Neutral Evil thanks to the efforts of a certain monk of Hextor. The players connected just as well as the characters in this case, and Jon and I got married the next summer--but not before he got me hooked on WoW.
World of Warcraft was a very different roleplaying experience for me. My first few characters had very little personality at all, though I enjoyed exploring the various actions and emotes built into the game, and would always /sleep on a bed in the inn before logging off for the night. My Orc Shaman was different. I didn't know who she was or where she'd been, but I knew there was a story there, and I wanted to find out. Even when I started leveling Izsera, my Night Elf Hunter, Tanakyll (named after the ratling Amber adopted years before) was still my main. I hit 70 on Izzy, raided, leveled up to 80, raided some more... eventually Tana became an alt, one that at times I forgot existed. I didn't roleplay.
Then I started leveling Hellen again. I'd created the Human Warrior a little before the Scourge invasion event marking the approach of WotLK, talked Jon into helping me get enough of the dropped items to trade in for an Argent Dawn tabard as a joke, and walked all the way to Light's Hope Chapel before learning that although I had the required currency, I was too low level to unlock the vendor and actually buy the item. The little teasing voices of roleplaying that I'd been ignoring for so long suggested that maybe, just maybe, I wasn't the only one who was annoyed here. Hellen was pretty upset, too. And, having been rejected by the Argent Dawn, perhaps she would turn to an alternative source of help in fighting off the undead menace. After all, there was a wearable Scarlet Crusade tabard in-game...
If WotLK hadn't come so soon after I got Hellen her tabard, I probably would have simply focused on her. I was loving the Warrior class (Charge is officially my most favorite ability ever), and I was finally roleplaying again, even if it was just by myself. But I needed to get to 80 so I wouldn't get left behind the rest of my guild, so I set my little warrior aside, and got back to work. I hit 80 easily enough, and then real life stepped in, limiting me to only a few minutes of play time a day. I left the guild I'd been with, joined several new ones but never really fit in, and in between getting a headache from TEH DRAMAZ!!1 I secretly worked on leveling Hellen. She was my escape, the character I logged onto when I just wanted to work on building up the story that was growing around her.
She stuck with the Crusade until she once more arrived at Light's Hope, this time following Scarlet Commander Marjhan. Despite her previous rejection, she chose to assist the Argent Dawn's efforts. Unfortunately, her argument of "Hey, we all just wanna kill some zombies, why can't I help them out?" was not persuasive enough to keep her from being treated as a traitor to the cause, and when she helped a dying Tauren Druid it was the last nail in the coffin for that part of her career. Following the battle at Light's Hope she headed to Outland, hoping to find some sort of purpose now that her original goals were out of reach...
Hellen is level 70 now, and just venturing into Northrend. (She has yet to learn that the Scarlet Crusade are there as well...that will be a fun series of quests to do!) While I've got Tanakyll up to 80 now after a week or so of frantic questing, I can't wait to have a "roleplaying character" on the Alliance side of things as well. Tanakyll is, and really always was, a healer and a background character. Hellen is ready to be a hero, and I can't wait.
I'm not sure that she'll get her chance to shine on Sen'jin, though. It's a Normal server of the sort where roleplaying is mocked whenever it comes up--when I did the Battle for Light's Hope Chapel on my DK and went so far as to *gasp, shock, horror* /kneel, I immediately got tells and /says from three or four different people all telling me to go and lolRP somewhere else. Meanwhile, even the ones who hadn't whispered me were bouncing up and down impatiently and one guy was spamming /train at Mograine (who looked kind of pissed about it, but then he always looks like that...)
I'd be taking a bit of a risk by transferring to an RP server. No one wants to walk in on a threesome, especially one consisting of two Gnomes and a Draenei, and I hear that sparkly vampires have become a bit of a problem in Silvermoon. The alternative is being forced to stop doing something I love, something that's been a major part of my life for nearly ten years, or be mocked publicly by people who think that MMORPG stands for "Massage Myself, Obliterate Rats, Purchase Gold". Which, really, isn't much of a choice at all.
Now I just need to decide on a server. :)