Reminisce with me.
It’s many years ago. (We won’t say how many.)
We have our Cheetos. We have our Mountain Dew. (It’s in the fridge, duh.)
Piles of books and scraps of paper are strewn liberally around the living room.
We’re all lounging on couches, sprawled in chairs, stretched out on the floor.
Character creation is in full swing.
“Ok, I’ve got an 18 in strength.”
“Roll your exceptional strength percentile.”
*shake* *shake* *shake* *roll*
“That’s going to get you a +5 to damage, +2 to hit, encumbrance of 235 pounds, and a max press of 380 pounds.”
I imagine about 3 of you understood that. So here’s the explanation for the rest of you:
In the days of yore and Dungeons & Dragons, we rolled dice to get ability scores for our characters. (This by the way, is why we call it “rolling” a character in RPGs nowadays even though the randomness has been removed from character creation in most games.)
Abilities were very similar to what you’re familiar with in WoW: Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma. WoW owes much of its design to the fantasy RPGs that preceded it.
Before racial adjustments, scores for any given stat ranged from 3 to 18. 10 to 12 was average, 3 was horrible, 18 was kick ass. (This all changed in 3rd Ed, we’re talking old school here.)
Way back in the days of Advance Dungeons & Dragons (and possibly before, but I don’t have those books to verify), the tweaky part came in for the Strength roll. If you got an 18 in Strength, you could then roll a percentile chance to get even better. The closer to 100 your roll, the better your strength.
A character with 18 STR and a percentile of 1% could carry 135 pounds and bench press 280.
A character with 18 STR and a percentile of 100% could carry 335 pounds and bench press 480.
That’s what being at level cap is like in WoW.
A character at level 80 might have 1500 spell power or 20k HP.
A character at level 80 might have 3500 spell power or 55k HP.
There are three schools of thought regarding leveling characters. (And yes, this all ties back in to raiding… eventually)
School of Speed: Fuck leveling, get to end game as quickly as possible. Don’t worry about the journey, it’s the destination that matters. This is the school often recommended to me when I mention that I’m leveling a healer or a tank AS a healer or a tank. “Don’t do that, just get to 80 and then worry about it.” Now if everyone in the game took that approach to leveling, go DPS or go home, we would be greeted by many hours of this:
School of Twink: If you’re going to do something, do it right. Every piece of gear has the best enchants and the best gems. Those pieces of gear are the best that can be crafted or purchased. If we can’t make it or buy it, the best drops and quest rewards have been researched and obtained. And then do more research! This method is all about squeezing out the last bit of potential from a character every step of the way.
School of Whatever. We’ll get there when we get there in whatever gear we happened to pick up. Quests are done for the enjoyment, not for the sole purpose of an uber reward. Enchants and gems might be present, someone was giving them away free on top of the Org bank to level up.
I think I’m a blend of the last two and it’s very dependent on the character’s situation.
My mage was pretty much in the School of Whatever with a bit more research, certainly not as bad as my poor warrior. But he was leveled without a main to support him so had to earn all his toys without the benefit of me having the experience of knowing how to get those toys fast and easy.
For my priest, I am terrified of getting to level 80 and not knowing how to heal. I’ve learned a lot so far in the 1 – 70 leveling process, and have been very thankful that I was learning it with friends. I hope they continue to be patient as we hit the content that now really starts to tickle. Because of this pressure (self-inflicted) to succeed, my priest is twinked. I have the best gear I can make for him from my mage’s tailoring. I have every piece enchanted (not always with Northrend quality yet, but soon). My gems are ones I cut myself with my power-leveled JC. I’m now at the point where I can make choices while healing and am starting to poke around for good priest healing blogs (drop me your suggestions in the comments!).
For my DK, I don’t have a lot of cash on that server so his options are a little more limited. I do have some experience in making a bit of coin, so he has his flier and has never come up short when it’s time to train or repair. I stopped tanking on him when I hit Wrath material because I felt my gear was lagging too far behind to not be laughed out of a pug random. I have saved the day on a few occasions with a quick pop to frost and blowing cooldowns when the tank drops, but I can’t support full tanking on him without giving a level-appropriate healer a coronary. My gem slots have BC-era gems, but most of my gear is still from BC. I waited until 72 or so to move to NR so I’m a bit behind on quest gear. I have a few pieces enchanted by my little pally. What I lack in gear, I’m making up for in commitment. I’m hammering out my rotations and grilling Dark/Soth for tips, I even stole his spec and glyphs. It’s paying off; I’m beating out most and beaten by few in damage or DPS. (Because GS = skill, amirite?)
My pally is in the same boat (and same server) as my DK. Adrift with no BoA or other support from my mage, they’re doing the best they can on their own. The pally is leveling enchanting and inscription and so supplies those services to both characters. She is primarily leveling through random instances – as a healer. This experience should carry over to help me on my priest since he primarily only heals people I know and trust. My poor pally ends up with tanks wielding the BoA-version of the Arcanite Reaper (“do you have a shield?” “lol, no, why u ask?”) or the pally tank that never judges (or does any other ability and can’t understand why white damage alone is not holding threat).
There’s just no way I could do the School of Speed. I would miss too much about the development of my character, and I do mean the mechanics not RP development. I power leveled another pally through some dungeon runs just to get his inscription leveled. I have no idea how to play him. He has so many skills and abilities that I don’t even know where to start, I might as well have just eBayed him for all of as much as I understand him.
That isn’t to say that the fastest school is bad, I’m sure there are plenty of people that can do it. But there are also plenty of people that *shouldn’t* do it. Not everyone knows which of those two camps they belong in and we have a tendency to believe the best possible potential for our friends, possibly encouraging them to take a speedier route than they should.
I’m in no rush to get to 80.
Once we hit max cap, we’re there for a long time. Cataclysm is hardly on the horizon.
Unlike D&D where you roll your exceptional strength percentile once at character creation and it’s carved in stone for the rest of their days (or until you get a Ring of Wishes), in WoW we have the opportunity to raise that bar at level cap.
The level 80 we are the day we ding is not (hopefully) the same level 80 we are 1 or 2 or 3 months down the road.
Which leveling school do you belong to?