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You gotta get a gimmick…

August 22, 2010

Do something special
Anything special
And you’ll get better because…
You’re more than just a mimic
When you gotta gimmick
Take a look how different we are!

~Gypsy

In marketing language, a gimmick is a unique or quirky special feature that makes something “stand out” from its contemporaries. However, the special feature is typically thought to be of little relevance or use. Thus, a gimmick is a special feature for the sake of having a special feature.
~Wikipedia

Today, I want to talk to you all about Gimmick Characters.

“What the hell, Apple?” you ask. “What is a gimmick character and why should we care about them?”

Well, I’ll tell you – a gimmick character is any character in World of Warcraft (or any game, really, but we’re obviously focusing on WoW in this blog) who is played in a distinctive way, or has a distinctive trait setting them apart from every other character of the same race and class combination on their server. It’s a character whose player takes time to instil with a sense of originality or uniqueness. And I’m not really talking about RP here, to be honest, though obviously you can have gimmicky RP characters. It’s playing the game in a relatively unique way that wasn’t intended by the designers, a weird quirk you give a character to make them stand out. Some people do it for attention, some people do it to change things up or challenge themselves, some people do it because… well, hell, why not? It can be as simple as always wearing a pimp hat or always speaking in-character (on a non-RP server), to as difficult as levelling 1-80 naked, or without dying. Reinisch levelled from 1-80 without intentionally killing anything, and I know that he’s not the only one, and I know there was a hunter somewhere levelling as melee-only a while back.

Now, obviously these aren’t (generally) the kinds of characters you raid with or anything, but they can be challenging, interesting, and a lot of fun. Sometimes, a person creates a gimmick incidentally, because of something RP-related; I read a blog post somewhere about a year ago of a guy who’d gone on a raid with a holy priest someone had invited, and when he asked her to psychic scream or something along those lines, she said, “Oh, I don’t have that, I never trained any shadow spells. My character wouldn’t do that.” I had a priest myself I took to level 12, RPing regularly amidst questing, who didn’t learn any shadow spells or talents until then. Her character had grown into someone who WOULD take the spells, by that point, but it was definitely an interesting experiment while it lasted.

I’ve got a couple of gimmick characters that I adore. Kaeleigh, my gnomeish DK on Proudmoore, is my only DK specced Unholy. This is entirely so I can have the hilarious image of a tiny, smiling, pink-haired gnome girl running around with a perma-ghoul and an attack penguin (also known as Mr. Chilly). She also emotes and speaks (in all channels) in-character. And she’s a bloodthirsty little psychopath. :D So much fun to play, though – she makes me wish I liked PvP, because the free-for-all of, say a PvA area like the Gurubashi Arena would make her positively gleeful. Mellie also fits this, to an extent – she’s on my main server, which is PvE, but I have PetEmote enabled on her, so her minions will randomly emote. She often reacts ICly to this, chattering at her minion or whoever happens to be around at the time.

One thing that I’ve always wanted to do would be to level a DK to 80 without turning in the last Acheron quest. This would mean silenced and pacified in Durotar or Elwynn (depending on faction), no runeforge, and no respeccing. It would be an amazing RP opportunity, and one that I’ve started and abandoned at least three times. But think about it: You hit level 80, and your character decides that yeah, maybe they don’t like this race or that leader, but that doesn’t mean they can’t align with the faction in order to better get revenge on the Lich King, or better atone for their past deeds, or just… help people. However you want to play it. You spend those 25 levels forging relationships and building character, and then when the moment comes, you mount up and walk slowly through the city, your friends and comrades walking with you, as you finally deliver that letter.

My point is, really, that we all do quirky things with our characters, sometimes long-term, like levelling pacifistic or undying, and sometimes temporary, like when I briefly had a druid who didn’t like wearing the skin of other animals and levelled up in cloth armour, before I realised she was a pansy and should be a priestess instead of a druid and deleted her. XD It’s fun and it’s a way to shake up the daily grind of Azeroth.

Have any of you had a gimmick, short-term or long-term?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Lara permalink
    August 22, 2010 4:37 pm

    When I was levelling my Troll priest, I thought for a long time I would try to get her to level 80 without any deaths. I like gimmicks, as you describe them, but usually I find they don’t rub up against group play very well, and I really much prefer playing with other people to playing alone.

    She made it all the way to level 58 without dying once, and I wasn’t even being particularly careful about it—I was pugging in dungeons, and questing freely in areas appropriate to her level. I even managed to survive some terrible mispulls in Dire Maul East, thanks to the miracle of Power Word: Shield. But, finally, I died to healing aggro in Hellfire Ramparts, and that gimmick was broken.

    Otherwise, I’ve not had much in the way of gimmicks on my characters. I love the idea of lore-based things like your “no shadow spells,” but I can’t bring myself to play in a group without all my abilities trained and ready to go. I might enjoy it myself, but I’m not sure it’s fair to impose my own limitations on others.

    There is a really wonderful RP player on our realm, named Abominus. As far as I can tell he is always in character, and he role-plays his Forsaken warrior to the hilt. It’s a little creepy sometimes, but it’s always entertaining to watch him at work. That’s a gimmick I can really support. :)

    • August 22, 2010 4:50 pm

      See, I think the random dungeon finder has actually discouraged this sort of interesting play, in some ways – if you were pugging a 5-man, you could say “hey, I don’t have any shadow spells, just so you know”, and they could choose whether or not to invite you. With LFD, you can’t really warn anyone, and not all of them are going to be from an RP realm, which ups the likelihood of you getting a group with people who don’t get the drive to play a character in a less-than-absolutely-optimal-way for the sake of lore and story.

      I envy you and your troll – I die all over the place, generally, though I often make it up to 12 or 15 before it really starts.

      Abominus sounds like a top-notch RPer, especially since it’s creepy. :D You don’t see enough legitimately creepy Forsaken around, in my experience. :(

      • Lara permalink
        August 22, 2010 5:11 pm

        Abominus is a really masterful RP’er, there’s no doubt about it!

        To be fair, part of the way I was able to go so long without dying is that I already have a max-level Discipline priest, so I’m very familiar with the play style, and also that she had Heirloom gear the whole way up. Having that much spell power on your gear makes your bubbles last for-EVER. :)

  2. August 23, 2010 8:39 am

    The Prettiest Elf is a complete gimmick – he, um, won’t wear anything in which he doesn’t look fabulous. Currently he’s in Outland, where everything looks awful, so mainly he’s questing in a tuxedo. Since he’s a mage it’s not quite as problematic as it could be. But he is the Prettiest Elf. I never consciously chose to level entirely in a tuxedo either, the character was just so absurd-looking that I knew he’d be that stupid and vain :)

    • August 23, 2010 8:43 am

      *cracks up* Oh, the Prettiest Elf? That is brilliant. Makes me think of one of my favourite characters from my favourite fantasy series (and his EVEN FUSSIER DESCENDANT) who is AAAAAALL about being pretty.

      Questing in a tuxedo. Man, I seriously wish I could see that. XD

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