Death Penalties

This is part of a Blog Azeroth Shared Topic.  Check the thread out to see posts from other great blog authors!

There are only two things that are certain in life: death and taxes. Fortunately there isn’t a monthly gold fee to pay to Stormwind or Orgrimmar to pay for the services you get there – that’s why you have to pay for repairs and the auction house fees. However, death is rampant in WoW. There are very few people who can say that they haven’t died at all while leveling, and if doing dungeons or raids is your thing it’s a given fact that you will die at some point.

One big question stands out: how does a game deal with a character death? This question has been mulled over, thought about, and discussed a great many times as everyone has a different approach to it. I’ve played a few games which have all had different ideas about it, which I will explain and then give my own thoughts.

The first MMORPG I played was one called Nexus: The Kingdom of the Winds. Penalties for death included losing half the experience you had (over level 99), as it was used as a currency to purchase better health, mana, and stats. Also there was a “death pile”, which consisted of various items that the character was carrying, and certain items broke upon death. Prior to level 99, the character would lose a portion of their current experience.

After Nexus, I played Final Fantasy XI. Their death system worked similarly, with the exception of the items being dropped in favour of a more steep experience penalty. When a character dies there is a large experience penalty, and the chance that the character can actually level down. I had experienced that many times, when I was in a group killing stuff and recently leveled and then we all died… and I was suddenly the level I was previously.

Full disclosure: I haven’t played either game in a very long time, so their death systems may be different now. What I explained is how they worked when I played them.

As many people know, in World of Warcraft the penalty for death is fairly low. In essence, the taxes that I mentioned in the first paragraph are the penalty for dying in WoW. Equipped items are charged 10% durability loss with every death, in which the repair bills add up quickly after a night of learning a new raid boss.

If it’s decided to use a Spirit Healer, then an additional durability loss is charged to ALL items that are carried – whether they’re equipped or in the inventory. A character who has multiple sets of gear will go through great lengths to avoid using a Spirit Healer. On top of that a debuff called Resurrection Sickness is applied to the character for a period of time, which reduces health, mana, damage, and healing done. Basically, if you don’t go to recover your corpse you can’t do anything but travel for a while.

The death penalty is charged to discourage people from not caring about dying. Blizzard wants us to care about our characters, and try to keep them alive. At the same time, the penalty isn’t so steep that if a death happens we aren’t so discouraged that we throw our computers out the window.

In comparison to the other games, I believe that the penalty is exactly where it should be. It’s not so huge that we are mad beyond all reason, and not so small that we don’t care about dying at all. I can attest to the fact that after a night of learning a new encounter in a dungeon or raid, seeing my repair bill sure makes me want to have less wipes the next time I go.

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Guilds and Responsibilities

For a great many people, a guild can be a very (if not the most) important part of their gameplay. What good is a MMORPG if you don’t have people to play with? Yes, there are features that help with this like the random dungeon finder, trade chat, official forums, and so on – but there is nothing like a close-knit group of people who spend most of their gaming time together.

A guild should do a number of things for the player, both in-game and out. Even though the reason that it exists in the first place is to facilitate gaming activities, many stories are out there that show how a well-managed guild can be support people in their real life world. Think of it like a workplace: if you’re going to spend a great deal of time with a group of people, getting along with them can be an important step.

Like a workplace, people don’t always get along. The kindest person might rub someone the wrong way unintentionally, and conflict is born. Depending on how this conflict might be handled could make or break a guild’s leadership. Reacting either too soft or heavy could make an officer or guild master lose any sort of respect that they might have.

This is why I personally enjoy a medium-sized guild. At the most through my WoW career, the guild has had a maximum of around 30-50 active members at any point in time. On an average night, there could be anywhere between 10-30 people online, but I knew each one of them. I’ve never been in a larger guild, so I don’t have the experience when it comes to large-scale management.

The guild master and officers should be respected members of the group, and able to handle the responsibility of leadership. Like anyone who is looked upon for guidance and direction, they must have thick skin and be able to be accountable. Someone in power who thinks they are above the law is a bad idea.

Members also have their own responsibilities. Most guilds have their rules and regulations posted in plain sight, so when someone joins a guild they agree to abide by those rules – there’s no pleading ignorance if something happens that goes against them. Members must respect the leadership of the guild, and follow the established protocol for conflict resolution, as I mentioned earlier. If there’s a raid signup, if someone signs up, they had better be there for that raid. Planning raid composition and people who may have to sit out is a tough job, and then if someone is a no-show you have people who miss out for no reason.

A guild is made up of every single member working together. People should have respect for one another, working with the established code of conduct, and being responsible for their position within that guild.

For a great many people, a guild can be a very important (if not the most important) part of their gameplay. What good is a MMORPG if you don’t have people to play with? Yes, there are features that help with this like the random dungeon finder, trade chat, official forums, and so on – but there is nothing like a close-knit group of people who spend most of their gaming time together. 

A guild should do a number of things for the player, but in-game and out. Even though the reason that it exists in the first place is to facilitate gaming activities, many stories are out there that show how a well-managed guild can be support people in their real life world. Think of it like a workplace: if you’re going to spend a great deal of time with a group of people, getting along with them can be an important step.

Like a workplace, people don’t always get along. The kindest person might rub someone the wrong way unintentionally, and conflict is born. Depending on how this conflict might be handled could make or break a guild’s leadership. Reacting either too soft or heavy could make an officer or guild master lose any sort of respect that they might have.

This is why I personally enjoy a medium sized guild. At the most through my WoW career, the guild has had a maximum of around 30-50 active members at any point in time. On an average night, there could be anywhere between 10-30 people online, but I knew each one of them. I’ve never been in a larger guild, so I don’t have the experience when it comes to large scale management.

The guild master and officers should be respected members of the group, and able to handle the responsibility of leadership. Like anyone who is looked upon for guidance and direction, they must have thick skin and be able to be accountable. Someone in power who thinks they are above the law is a bad idea.

Members also have their own responsibilities. Most guilds have their rules and regulations posted in plain sight, so when someone joins a guild they agree to abide by those rules – there’s no pleading ignorance if something happens that goes against them. Members must respect the leadership of the guild, and follow the established protocol for conflict resolution, as I mentioned earlier. If there’s a raid signup, if someone signs up, they had better be there for that raid. Planning raid composition and people who may have to sit out is a tough job, and then if someone is a no-show you have people who miss out for no reason.

A guild is made up of every single member working together. People should have respect for one another, working with the established code of conduct, and being responsible for their position within that guild.