Every evening, Freyja takes to a street corner in World of Warcraft and yells at anyone who will listen. She’s there to warn others about an impending apocalypse — a war criminal will head up north, shatter the sky, and flee into the afterlife, she says.
“Citizens of Azeroth, our souls are being sucked straight into hell! Something terrible is happening!”
Mostly, people ignore her. Sometimes, people argue with her claims. Once, a gnome with pink hair followed her for several minutes, only to pelt Freyja with vegetables and boo her.
But Freya isn’t going to stop until other players finally acknowledge her message ... or until the pre-expansion patch, which will bring waves of undead and set up the events of Shadowlands.
A little, friendly cult
Freyja and her group are one of many small initiatives by players who get fully into character when they play World of Warcraft. Some players hold debate nights, or in-game rallies for fictional political causes. Others create festivals and gatherings for characters to attend for gossip and socialization.
Freyja is a dedicated World of Warcraft role-player, and she’s taken up the role of doomsayer and cultist. As Battle for Azeroth draws to a close, Freya leads a small group of players in an attempt to prepare the rest of Azeroth for the next big threat — all without touching any of the new systems or content contained within the most recent patch. They role-play as a small, obscure cult with the gift of prophecy, and stay in character at all times.
There are tons of NPCs who show up to provide foreshadowing or prophecies in World of Warcraft, so Freyja and four friends modeled themselves after those characters. They dress in grim robes and hoods, walk through the crowded city streets of Stormwind, and try to warn everyone about the upcoming expansion — specifically, the portal to all hells and heaven in the sky, and the fact that everyone who dies is being sent straight to megahell.
“It’s so funny to me,” says Freyja, noting that most quests send the player out to kill animals and monsters. “But then characters are opening sky portals to death world, where literally every possible afterlife is real.”
World of Warcraft players have seen the trailer where Sylvanas rips open the sky. But our characters technically don’t know about what’s coming yet, and that’s part of the fun when it comes to role-playing. If a player heads to a site like Wowhead or MMOchampion, they can find every detail of the Shadowlands alpha, from plot twists in the leveling zones, to brand-new character models for returning heroes from Warcraft lore — all of which can be used during a role-play.
But dipping into spoiler territory means that Freyja’s band of prophets deal with in-character resistance. At one point, an angry werewolf in a dress came up and argued with the prophets.
“You can’t say stuff like this!” the worgen shouted. “There are children around! Stop telling lies!”
“They’re not lies,” Freya responded. “A new nightmare is coming! The skies will open, and souls will rain down!”
The two of them argued back and forth; the werewolf took the reasonable position that no one could possibly tell such a thing (unless, of course, they had somehow left the realms of Azeroth to watch a trailer), and Freyja argued that the citizens needed to prepare for an otherworldly assault. It was a conversation all about platform, responsibility, and free speech.
After the nihilist prophet and the civic-minded worgen finished their two-hour debate, they added each other as friends. They now intend to stage a similar spectacle sometime soon.
That was a more civil encounter. Other times, onlookers might stand there and spam the spit emote. Freya has gotten whispers from people who don’t find the shtick fun due to spoilers, or because the antics might encourage dataminers. They argue that if content isn’t in the game, it shouldn’t be fair game for open, uncensored discussion.
While some players might dislike getting spoiled on upcoming events or storylines by role-players, for now, Freyja intends to keep going.
“It’s fun to have something emergent out in the world,” she says. “Dataminers can find stuff, Blizzard can release stuff, but at the end of the day, you can’t ever really control the players, right? So I’m going to keep adding spice to things. Because that’s the thing with a MMO — it’s supposed to be about other people.”
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