Playing Dress-Up with your RPG Characters

Please tell me that I’m not the only person who likes to put together non-functional but cool looking outfits for my RPG game characters. This is of course not possible in all games. Some games offer you very linear gear progression. Others offer a very wide variety of armor sets, many of which are purely cosmetic. For example, you can make your character wear an expensive shirt, and fancy boots which offer no combat benefits, but look kinda cool.

I do this every time I go back to play Morrowind. I buy, steal and collect fancy clothes and stash them in my house. Then when a quest requires me to visit a local noble or some high ranking official I strip out of my armor and put on nice stuff to be presentable. This has absolutely no effect in game terms, but it makes me feel like I’m role-playing that character. After all, that’s what you would do in real life, no? You wouldn’t wear your combat gear to a job interview or a fancy banquet.

Actually, I really wish this sort of thing had an impact on game play. I’m still waiting for an RPG that would reward you for wearing situation appropriate clothing, and punish you for running around in your scary combat armor everywhere. But we already had this discussion once before.

I recently discovered that you can actually do the same thing in WoW. I play a Tauren hunter but when I’m hanging out in a town, shopping or crafting I usually look like this:

Everyday Clothing

This is my every-day, non-combat outfit which features a plain shirt, low level leather pants and funky goggles. The goggles are actually quite unique. In WoW most goggles are restricted to characters with Engineering skill who are the only ones that are able to craft and wear them. There are few vanity goggles in the game available to everyone, but they are usually rare drops or high level quest rewards that either can’t be traded, or sell for exuberant prices at the auction house. Mine were freebies. I got them as part of a quest during which I was supposed to use them to detect some hidden crystals underwater, but I liked them so much that I never finished that quest and just kept them.

When I go fishing (which is another skill you can level, and also good source of income since some fish you can catch are sought after by alchemists) I change into this outfit:

Fishing outfit.

I don’t know – it just feels wrong to fish in full combat gear. Which by the way is currently in a state of complete miss-match. My character is currently level 57 and wearing pretty much whatever dropped for him during instance runs. Mostly greens, few blues and an occasional purple. It is the classic RPG hero look:

Combat gear.

Everything I’m wearing has a sort of reddish motif to it – except my pants which are inexplicably green. I’m trying to mask this by wearing the red guild tabbard over them and it is somewhat blending in. Still, I’m not entirely happy with this look, and I feel much more comfortable walking around in my two meticulously crafted, minimalistic outfits.

Unlike in Morrowind, Oblivion or Fallout, doing this in WoW does have some meaning. I play on a RP server where this behavior is actually encouraged, and good outfit will get you some positive comments and praise from other players. My outfits are done on the cheap, but they tend to stand out from the crowd of over-geared, miss-matched heroes that you tend to see in the major cities.

Have you ever played dress-up with your RPG characters like this? Which games did you do it in? Do you have screen shots? Let me know in the comments.

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7 Responses to Playing Dress-Up with your RPG Characters

  1. Phil UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Before WOW had a built-in outfit system, I used a mod for this exact purpose. Though, my only two outfits were combat and take-off-all-the-armor-that-can-break-so-i-can-go-jump-off-this-really -high-cliff

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  2. jambarama UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    No, I’m afraid I’ve never done this. Inventory limits mean I tend to keep an array of gear, each piece of which has some purpose.

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  3. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux Terminalist says:

    @ Phil:

    See, I just use Evonice’s Landin’ Pilla for that. It’s a trinket that gives you 10 seconds of slow fall. You jump of the cliff and hit as you approach the ground. If you time it right, you get no damage. Love it. Sadly, it has a 30 minute cooldown.

    I’m sort of envious of my brother’s Parachute Cloak which does the same exact thing, just has longer duration and shorter cooldown. Sadly it requires Engineering skill.

    @ jambarama:

    This was never a problem for me in Morrowind and Oblivion. I would just keep my fancy clothes in my house. I got into a habit of visiting my place frequently to unload all the loot, and that’s where I would change outfits if I wanted to.

    Plus Bethesda games had weight based system rather inventory slots so fancy shirt and pantaloons were usually almost weightless.

    Now in games that have limited inventory slots, having outfits may be difficult. Fortunately in WoW my brother’s friend is a Tailor and she made us sets of nice big frostweave bags for free because he helped her collect all the super-rare materials for her flying carpet mount. So for now, I sort of have space to spare for a few extra RP shirts. :)

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  4. Zel FRANCE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    No, I can’t say I do this either. While I’m always on the lookout for more cool looking gear, sometimes sacrificing slightly better items, I’ve never changed my characters into casual clothing while shopping, fishing or the like, unless it had substantial in-game benefits.

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  5. Macedoneus Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    My Dark Brotherhood character in Oblivion was never seen in Dark Brotherhood gear outside the Sanctuary. His traveling gear was worn only on the road, armor when dungeon delving, and DB gear when performing an assassination. I think the best part actually cam from my roommate poking fun at me because of it, until I caught him doing the same thing.

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  6. Sameer NETHERLANDS Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    I always dress up my MW character for any occasion. In addition to my armor I’ll carry 2 or 3 different clothing outfits, a robe, several pairs of boots and 2 overcoats. When I bring a companion with me I’ll carry clothing and armor for them too. It just doesn’t feel right to wear my armor when I’m redecorating, fishing, sleeping or visiting high ranking great house members.

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  7. Steve Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    To be honest, this “dress up” stuff is one of the reasons I quit WoW. Let’s face it, WoW is glorified Barbie dress up – with people competing for “cooler” (i.e. prettier) costumes. Nope – I wear whatever gives my char the best stats and I don’t change for in-game occassions :)

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