Zounds, a roleplaying post? WTF IS THIS.
Anea recently wrote a very interesting post inspecting the dubious morality of a certain Horde quest. In the quest, you meet a female tauren named Thersa Windsong in the Undercity, who after drinking some strange water, has developed a strange illness that priests and shamans have been unable to cure. A Forsaken scientist named Chemist Cuely asks you to fetch some water samples, ostensibly for a cure. However, the "cure" ends up killing Thersa, and Cuely thanks you for helping advance the Forsaken's plague research.
Anea's point was that she hated the quest because of how evil and sad it was, and how it went against everything her character (a shaman) stood for - namely, healing, life, etc.
My take on it was very different. I actually think Anea's shaman *would* have done the quest, and without any hesitation at all. Why? Because not doing the quest would be condemning Thersa to death.
From an RP perspective, there are severe repercussions to ignoring Cuely's request. Thersa is dying, and the only possible solution available to us is Cuely's potential cure. Even if we as players know the outcome, our characters do not, an important fact to remember when roleplaying. Our characters cannot preemptively hate the outcome of a quest because to them, it hasn't happened yet.
Another important distinction lies with Chemist Cuely himself. While not technically a member of the Royal Apothecary Society, his actions and goals tie in very strongly with the R.A.S. Anyone who's experienced the Wrathgate knows what that means. They're pretty despicable folk, and yes, our level 80 veterans knocking down the Lich King's doors know this very well.
But a low-level, fresh-to-the-world character? They don't hate the Royal Apothecaries. They probably don't even know who they are yet. Refusing to associate with them because of their evil ways makes no sense when you have never seen them do anything bad. In fact, it's actually quite the opposite - if you (as a player) hate the Royal Apothecaries and you want your character to as well, you SHOULD do their quests! How else is your character going to learn to dislike them? It doesn't really make sense to hate them when all you've ever seen them do is stand around Undercity waving beakers around.
Pretend for a second that you have never done this quest before. Maybe you're a new player, or you've never played Horde before, whatever. You go fill Cuely's vials, maybe a little suspicious of his motives, or maybe completely unaware of what will happen. And so you hand in the quest and witness the tragic results.
Some characters, like Anea's shaman, would be horrified at trying to save a poor Tauren's life only to have her expire horribly and immediately upon drinking the supposed "cure". Likely she would be very shaken and disturbed, and probably strongly distrust the Society (if not ALL Forsaken) afterward.
Others, like Chas's Forsaken Warlock, would probably revel in the terror and death they had caused, embracing it as the destiny of their race and justified vengeance for the suffering they had experienced.
The point is, THESE are the types of experiences that establish your character; powerful, emotionally gripping events that make you, the player, stop and think. For example, the shock and brutal nature of Thersa's story could easily become one of the most important, pivotal events in a young adventurer's life.
It's important to remember that not all of your character's life experiences have to be positive ones, and in fact probably shouldn't be. Just like in real life, some experiences are sad, some are unsatisfying, some are ones they probably wish they could forget. But just as a person's happy memories influence who they become, so too do their unhappy ones. Together they shape and mold our characters from lifeless pixels on a screen into - in our minds - living, unique people with their own opinions, motivations and beliefs.
This doesn't just apply to our characters. Consider poor Thersa, whose sole purpose in the game is to die. For roleplaying purposes, she doesn't exist except in a doomed state. She is both alive and dead; she will never die until you know of her, but the act of meeting her is what makes her death possible and inevitable. She is Schrödinger's cow.
Ironically, only by exploring her story and unknowingly killing her are we able to bring her to life as a person. She has no dialogue, doesn't tell us any important information, and in fact never even moves from her spot...yet she becomes a unique, sympathetic individual, whose story is capable of evoking incredibly genuine player emotion.
So roleplayers, embrace the bad with the good. Look at the old classic Disney movies; nothing builds character like tragedy and tough experiences. By avoiding uncomfortable or unpleasant experiences, you are robbing your character of crucial opportunities for self-discovery and growth. The heartbreaking memory of poor Thersa is one that sticks with many players, but it's only possible because she dies!
Alive, she's nameless and meaningless. In death, she's a martyr, an unforgettable life lesson, and a motivation.
So don't ignore Thersa's little questline. Yes, it's a sad story, and you may feel bad about killing her...but it's her destiny.
Only in death can she help you bring your character to life.