30
Oct
08

Sudden Character Twists

Character development is a strange and rocky path – if anyone’d told me where Nhani Moonfall would end up in some near four years time when I first started her back when World of Warcraft was first released in Europe.. I would’ve told them they were out of their minds. To quote one of the achievements now implemented with patch 3.0.2: What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been.

The Scourge Invasion certainly provided character moments – though perhaps not so much growth – for Nhani in the start. She rises to meet the challenge, that’s what she’s like. In a situation like said invasion she’ll stubbornly refuse to show weariness, hopelessness or despair; and try her best to bolster the hope of those around her.

And then the quest in the above image happened, and Nhani went from fairly stationary to taking a gargantulan leap of character development in a single go.

As a character, Nhani started very simply. She was a former Sentinel, having left the sisterhood to pursue her own path due to feelings of helplessness and inadequacy – she’d been able to do nothing to affect the events at the Battle of Mount Hyjal and realized that perhaps she’d spent the vast majority of her life actually getting nowhere. So she took a journey about Azeroth, mastered Common, saw places like Stormwind and Ironforge.. took time to try to understand the new order of everything.

And then she returned to her people, and I took on the mantle of playing her.

Ending up early with a charge – the Lights of Elune order – and a title – Priestess – Nhani’s spent most of her time since trying to live up to the role entrusted her. She’s grown significantly from being an average Sentinel without direction to the very epitome of a Mother – both to specific individuals as well as her people in general. From the cubs she’s been sheltering to the events in Sunrise to her finding that she once again had to stand up because no one else would down to now.. she has gone a very long way.

And then the above statement – specifically, “Nhani, my daughter.”

I know what it means: that Tyrande – like Nhani sometimes – acknowledges all of the Night Elves as her children and loves them like she was their mother. To Nhani however, who has been looking to Tyrande as a role model and to a point distant surrogate mother for the last ten millenia, being told those words has so many hidden meanings veiled in them that it’s just crazy. Especially with my own little self-indulgent hidden sideplot going on about developing Nhanis’ interaction with Tyrande.. this just adds even more dimension to it, and very much defines where Nhani’ll be heading in the near future.

For Nhani there’s a definitive line – normally Tyrande is High Priestess Whisperwind and Nhani is Priestess Moonfall and their interaction is on that formal level of leader and subordinate. That’s also the side of it that the public gets to see. But.. there’s starting to be a point where they end up being Just Tyrande and Just Nhani.. and they can speak on a personal, private level and – I’d like to think – can lend a shoulder to eachother when necessary. Noone but the two of them get to fully see that side of things, but it’s still a key one in subtext.

It’s interesting, really. A good four years ago – even a single year ago in fact – I wouldn’t have dreamt of even suggesting that player character Nhani Moonfall could be starting a very mutual friendship with High Priestess Tyrande Whisperwind. Now? It seems nonsensical not to have that context in the background.

I’ve seen alot of people who claim authority or friendship with important lore characters – there’s ultimately very few of them I’ve actually believed in as very few seem to know how to treat or address formal people properly and how to maintain a friendship by respecting the characters’ importance and place in the world. Nhani, I would like to think, can maintain that respect, and still consider the High Priestess a friend.

Beyond Nhani, I had the priveledge to not only see but also affect the character growth of one of Nhani’s adopted younglings last sunday. It’s an interesting thing, seeing a character develop before your eyes – in this case a young woman went from having been an occasional sellsword to actually picking up the mantle and becoming a Paladin. Not in the sense of official nomer, mind you – she doesn’t have the official title or any some such. That said.. she took on the responsibility to protect others, the understanding of what role she served not only as a warrior, but as an icon.. and accepted that responsibility.

In that instant, she became far more of a Paladin than actually a whole lot of the “proper” Paladins I’ve seen played – someone who embodies the idea upon which the Holy Light is based, not someone who utters the words every so often between their doing whatever they want.

It’s a priveledged thing to be able to cause things like that, and I’m happy to still have the chance to. Sometimes characters can take great leaps of development in a short amount of time, things that change them from what they used to be to something new. Some characters are ultimately disinteresting because they never change. Characters who grow, who change as their experiences change, who gradually go from one point to another.. those are really the interesting ones.

Star Wars four through six would be very disinteresting if they were about Yoda – it’s not about how much proverbial bottom Yoda can or cannot kick – it’s about how when we first see Luke Skywalker enter the scene in Return of the Jedi, we can see how utterly different he is from when he first popped his head up in A New Hope. And we can trace that development and see how he went from ordinary to a hero.

It is, indeed, a priveledge to get to cause that sort of change.

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