This maybe an artifact of the people I game with, but there seems to be a common thread of sadness in all characters who come from “the North.” In fact Yeats said it best (with one small tweak), “Being a Northman, he had an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustained him through temporary periods of joy.”
For our RP, it comes up regularly in the Wrath Expansion. Arthas. The Culling of Stratholme. Wrathgate. The lore and setting of Wrath remind Alliance and Forsaken characters of what they have suffered through and lost. This loss–at least for our realm– has begun affect the identity of characters who come from Lordaeron–Northmen and Forsaken alike.
Grouping people together by ethnicity, even a virtual ethnicity like “Northman” or “Forsaken” is a risky proposition. Just as there is no reason to expect that everyone who was raised in a certain neighborhood/culture/ethnic identity to be alike, there is no reason to expect every character who grew up in Old Town, Senjin Village or as a dwarf in Ironforge to be a carbon copy of WoW’s races. That being said, there are certain historical and cultural concerns that these players will be exposed to.
For example if we continue to look at the North, we see a group of people who were not just devastated by war. We see a landscape decimated by plague. While the living survivors of Lordaeron can mourn their country, there are Forsaken survivors who lost more than just their country but their entire identity. Granted, through Sylvannus and other strong willed Forsaken, they have reforged a new racial identity, but as a culture the Forsaken are not even ten years old. While the living mourn the passing of their home and aspects of their culture, the Forsaken are forced to create something new.
Both provide a certain sense of melancholy. The Northmen miss their home and the Forsaken’s home is damn creepy. Members of both groups are angry at their situation but individually powerless to change it. Granted, we are limited by the mechanics of WoW itself–no matter how many times you clear Stratholme or raid Undercity, they wll always be there–but the logistics of healing the Plaguelands or warring with the Undercity are mind boggling. So we are locked in the same pattern of anger and melancholy that defines Northmen and Forsaken.
Of course there are exceptions; however, even exceptions would be exposed to these aspects of the culture. While the exceptions may not be particularly moved by the loss of their ancestral lands or disturbed by their rotting flesh, they will be aware of these ideas.
I wonder, however, if this Northmen Melancholy–or other cultural tropes–is limited to Feathermoon. I’d ask that other computer-desk-social-scientists give me their impressions of their servers. How do cultural and racial identities play out in the RP on your server?