Tuesday, March 1, 2016

The Adventurer's Rank: Having Paragon Levels in WoW

Players in the World of Warcraft are something of an unsung hero. In lore, they are defined as adventurers and have been involved in many pivotal points of Azeroth's history. They start from humble beginnings and rise up to be recognized. Aside from these well-defined roles, however, adventurers are a bit of an enigma that could be worth fleshing out. What if there were a more clearly defined, lore-friendly methodology that defines how great an adventurer is? In this article, I will suggest and detail such a feature in the form of the Adventurer's Rank, a form of content that has the capability of adding a nearly endless well of solo-oriented content.

What is the Adventurer's Rank?

As the title indicates, Adventurer's Rank would be similar to the Paragon system in Diablo 3. The Paragon system allows players to continue to advance their character beyond the maximum level by doing any activity that normally yields experience with each level providing a bit of extra power and the progress and benefits being shared across all characters on the account. By having such a system in place, all content (especially at level cap) becomes a little more relevant to do and players can feel like they're progressing almost regardless of the activity of what they're doing. Considering World of Warcraft is loaded with content but consistently had issues with content longevity especially at the endgame, it's no wonder this has been suggested a few times already.

Differentiation From Paragon

However, I do not think a carbon copy of the Paragon system is necessarily the best idea for World of Warcraft, not to mention I could just condense such a suggestion into a tweet sent at WarcraftDevs or the like. This is why the Adventurer's Rank would feature some key differences and additions, such as the following (with explanations as to why):

Adventurer's Rank can be gained by doing anything that yields experience (even if the player outlevels it to the point of gaining no experience normally) in World of Warcraft regardless of player level. The feature would be initially unlocked at level 20.
My reasoning here is that introducing players to the feature early on would allow players to have a taste of what it has to offer and teach themselves about certain aspects of the system over time, which is more than what I can say when it comes to other aspects of the game. Furthermore, it makes creating alts beneficial in the sense the player feels like they're not losing out as much by choosing to level up more characters instead of playing on level capped characters. It is worth mentioning that level capped characters would still have the advantage of generally earning more experience towards advancing their Adventurer's Rank.
The experience requirements for Adventurer's Ranks would be the same as Paragon except divided by a factor of 100.
The reasoning behind changing the experience requirements in such a manner is that it better matches the lower experience game numbers in World of Warcraft, especially considering that the number squish reduced this further. This may need to be adjusted further, however.
In addition to traditional methods of gaining experience (exploration, quests, killing mobs), players can also do tasks that award bonus experience towards the Adventurer's Rank and the new currency associated with the system, known as Marks of Distinction.
I'll go into detail a bit more on what tasks are later but the general idea is that they are a large part of the aforementioned "nearly endless well of content" since doing them would generally be the most efficient way to gain Adventurer's Ranks due to the bonus experience gain. Tasks themselves are essentially quests with some randomized elements such as the number and type of enemies a player has to kill to complete the task, kind of like with Runescape's Slayer skill, though the nature of a task can go beyond generic quest design parameters in a manner similar to Runescape's Treasure Trails. Tasks can also be better assigned to fit what the player desires through the use of various consumables and Adventurer's Rank-related benefits, allowing players to have a notable degree of choice over their gameplay experience.

Because tasks are essentially quests, they would also have rewards somewhat similar to quests (some bonus experience and money, for example), but compared to quests themselves these quest-like rewards would be inferior in favor of providing more Adventurer's Rank experience. Marks of Distinction can also largely only be earned by completing tasks.
There would be a shop to accompany the addition of Adventurer's Ranks. Players would be able to buy a number of items associated with the feature, most for either gold or Marks of Distinction.
As mentioned above, players can alter how tasks are assigned to better fit a playstyle. Adding a shop to purchase said consumables is practically a necessity as a result and might help to serve as a permanent gold sink. Items sold by the shop will be listed in a later section.
When gaining Adventurer Rank, the player earns various benefits such as perks. However, benefits generally do not give a significant amount of power and especially do not provide bonus raw stats like in Diablo 3. Benefits would be non-specific (meaning there are no class-specific benefits) as those are already thoroughly covered through other features such as talents.
This system wouldn't be too great without some incentive, thus earning benefits as one ranks up is imperative to ensuring players retain an interest in the feature and in extension, the significant amount of content that becomes relevant as a result. As one can see, I specifically made the benefits different from Paragon in Diablo 3. The reasoning behind not providing notable levels of power through the benefits is because I don't want experienced players having an additional layer of unfair advantages that newer players do not, much like why I dislike the rune system in League of Legends (or this). A more experienced player will be able to best newer players purely on account of ability and in other aspects (like gear), so why let them win more?


As mentioned above, tasks are a large part of the Adventurer's Rank feature because it would be the primary method of increasing ranks. Because by design they would be similar to quests, tasks can involve doing pretty much anything in the game. Examples of task objectives would be:
  • Defeat X number of enemy of a specific name, type, location, or zone. This includes enemies in instances.
  • Gather X items and give them to a specific NPC. This can include gatherable quest items.
  • Visit X location.
    • This task can also assign the player to visit multiple locations. Despite its general simplicity this task is one that makes players have to go out into the world for the sake of exploration. Furthermore, the location can one that's relatively obscure, such as the Whispering Forest in Tirisfal Glades.
  • Talk to X NPC.
    • This is a rather simple task but it's also one that'll make players have to explore (or at least use Wowhead) to find them. The NPC may also assign the player to do something.
  • Complete X of a specific type of quest.
    • This one may seem redundant, but there's a lot of possibilities for assignments that justify it, such as "complete X quests that give Knights of the Ebon Reputation" or "complete X daily/repeatable quests."
  • Perform a profession-related activity.
    • This can range from anything to completing an artifact for Archaeology to crafting an item. The task would always be something the character is capable of doing.
  • Complete X (matchmade) group activities (Battlegrounds, Dungeons, etc)
    • There's already quests for this, so it's reasonable to have some integration between (matchmade) group activities and tasks.
  • And more...
    • There's a lot of creative ideas for what a task could assign a player to do. I'm certain if Blizzard was on board with this idea members of their team can think of additional objectives.
Beyond objectives, tasks would have some specific aspects to them that are important to its inner workings, such as:
  • They would be account-wide and not on a character-by-character basis (Marks of Distinction would be too if Blizzard could make it work).
  • Task assignments would be based on what the currently played character is capable of. However, higher leveled characters can still be assigned lower level content-related objectives (albeit somewhat rarely).
  • Task experience rewards would be based loosely on difficulty, though not so significantly that lower level tasks are useless to do (meaning rewards have a high lower limit and a low upper limit).
  • Task rewards (experience and Marks of Distinction) would also be weighted on length, meaning if a task requires a player to defeat a high number of enemies or the like, more experience is awarded. Such rewards would generally be linear in scaling.
  • Players have a task log where they can initially have two tasks available to do at a time. A rank-related benefit increases the cap.
  • There would be an item that can reroll a task.
A lot of this may seem boring to some and to a point, it is. On the other hand, considering how Warlords of Draenor has been a great example of what shifting rewards and by extension incentive can do to content consumption, I'm certain players will be rather accepting of this concept. In a way, tasks draw from the Timewalking feature in the sense that content obsoleted to power creep becomes relevant. Tasks also have the advantage of reducing the obsolescence of more recently added content that is normally skipped over due to accelerated progression in later stages of a given expansion. The concept of tasks is future proofed as well since new content means new tasks to add to the pool of tasks players are going to do if they want to gain Adventurer's Ranks.

Benefits of Ranking Up

The other major part of the Adventurer's Rank system that would help to ensure tasks are relevant, as I mentioned above, are the benefits that serve as an incentive for ranking up. To echo what I said above, the benefits are not intended to provide a significant amount of power (so no DPS or healing increases in group settings, notable PvP advantages, and so on). The benefits are split into three major parts: lesser perks, greater perks, and unique benefits. Here are some general notes about perks:
  • Lesser and greater perk points can be distributed as the player wishes much like Paragon Points. Players can visit a class trainer to reset their distribution until rank 100, which unlocks a unique perk that allows players to redistribute them outside of combat at will.
    • One specific perk is excluded from being subject to redistribution at will. The exception will be noted below.
  • Perk point distribution is account-wide due to the non-specific nature of it. This also allows players to not have to distribute points when creating new characters,
  • For players who want specific perk point distribution for certain situations, they can use loadouts to save their distribution. Players initially start with 4 but can increase the cap through perks.
Lesser perk points are gained at a rate of one per rank and can be used for the following benefits:
  • Quantity of Quality (100 ranks): The drop rate of higher quality equipment is increased for all mobs in the world, with uncommon dropping up to 100% more often, rare items dropping 50% more often, and epic items dropping 25% more often.
    • These drop rate increases are based off the base drop rate, meaning uncommon equipment would drop twice as opposed instead of off every mob. Overall, the beneficial effects are rather minor but helps make a difference if one were to farm for them.
  • Negotiation (200 ranks): Reduces the gold price at Adventurer's shops by up to 50%.
    • This may seem like a huge benefit but it's worth mentioning that Marks of Distinction prices would not be decreased and would generally be the currency worth spending at the shop since there would (at least initially) be no other sink for it. Also, some of the shop items would exclusively cost Marks of Distinction (mostly expensive, one-time purchases).
  • Spirit Healer's Favor (100 ranks): Resurrection Sickness debuff duration is reduced by up to 5 minutes. In addition, the resurrection timer is reduced by up to 25% (does not work if player engaged in PvP combat in the last minute prior to death).
    • Neither of these benefits are that significant, but they're helpful in the event of an unfortunate demise. Furthermore, the latter may help a little when fighting something major outside of an instance like a World Boss, but not significantly so.
  • Efficient Consumption (100 ranks): Many consumable items have up to a 25% chance to not be used.
    • This may seem very overpowered but I worded it in such a way that at best the perk is a money-saver. This especially applies to consumables purchased from the Adventurer's shop. If there's key consumables that this perk would benefit too well from, it can be deliberately excluded from benefitting.
  • Masterful Distinction (200 ranks): Increases the number of Marks of Distinction gained by up to 100%.
    • This is a benefit that allows players to farm more Marks of Distinction. For players doing lots of tasks it's beneficial since it allows them to utilize items from the Adventurer's shop more, making this benefit a self-contained one.
  • Expedient Rider (100 ranks): While in non-PvP world areas, mount cast time is reduced by up to 33%. This effect is disabled if the player has engaged in PvP activities within the last minute.
    • This is probably the most controversial lesser perk but I reasoned that it's okay since the benefit in its current state largely provides convenience more than an unfair advantage.
  • Seeker of Loot (100 ranks): Increases area looting range by up to 100%.
    • Much like with the last perk, this one is more about convenience. I reasoned that a sizeable range increase generally won't matter much but could help in fringe cases, especially considering utility items such as the Loot-A-Rang exist to make (AoE) looting more convenient.
  • Rapid Charge (100 ranks): Reduces the cooldown of various toys and items with moderate to long cooldowns by up to 50%, such as the Crystal of Insanity.
    • Much like with the Efficient Consumption perk, this one could be controlled by Blizzard to ensure it isn't overpowered. It should be a little easier, however, since toys are largely cosmetic and a reduced cooldown on items like Crystal of Insanity, which is inferior to other consumables already, is a matter of convenience instead of increased power.
Greater perk points are gained at a rate of one per 25 ranks and can be used for the following benefits:
  • Life-Binder's Boon (12 ranks): Allows the player to self-resurrect while in the world every 12 hours, with each subsequent rank reducing the cooldown by 1 hour. Cannot be used if damaging within the last minute by another player.
    • There's some precedence of this effect being used in the game, though more to help reduce the iteration time of early stages of the game (like the Death Knight's starting zone). Considering this effect would just remove the time a player spends to run back to their corpse, it's largely a convenient benefit, especially with the removal of PvP-related cases where it would make some difference.
  • Multitasker (8 ranks): Increases the maximum number of tasks by 1 per rank, up to 10.
    • This perk allows players to have more tasks available to do simultaneously, which generally means they have more choice of what activity they wish to do without having to reroll a task. Activities have a greater chance to complete multiple tasks at once as well.
  • Extended Loadout (8 ranks): Increases the number of lesser perk point loadout slots by 1 per rank, up to 12.
    • This benefit is for players who want a lot of loadouts for various reasons such as class-specific loadouts. While its use would diminish greatly at higher ranks when most perks (at the moment) are acquired, it could provide a nice amount of convenience until then.
  • Long-term Planning (4 ranks): Increases the length of some tasks by up to 100%.
    • This may seem like a penalty more than a benefit, but since experience gain and Mark of Distinction awards are based on the length of a task, it effectively allows players to do longer versions of tasks they like to do if they so desire.
  • Buffer Buffs (4 ranks): Increases the length of various long duration buffs on your character by up to 100%.
    • Much like some previous perks, this one can be controlled to ensure certain long duration buffs that are too strong don't benefit. This perk should largely benefit cosmetic effects and reduce the amount of rebuffing a player has to do on themselves.
  • Legacy Slayer (4 ranks):  Increases damage dealt to non-player targets 20 or more levels lower than your character by up to 60%. Reduces damage taken from such targets by up to 20%. This does not work in Timewalking.
    • This benefit initially looks like a blatant power increase. However, the reason it's not is because the large level advantage a player has over the target already provides effectively turns this benefit into a "win more" perk, especially since it doesn't apply in cases where it could have major relevance.
Finally, every 100 ranks up to rank 1000, players earn unique benefits:
  • Rank 100: Players earn the ability to redistribute perk points at will outside of combat. In addition, new items become available in the Adventurer's shop and players can access an exclusive zone: the Adventurer's Guild Hall.
    • These benefits generally speak for themselves, though the full benefits of unlocked Adventurer's shop items will be listed below. As for the Adventurer's Guild Hall, the most notable aspect of it would be convenient access to an Adventurer's shop (since it can be teleported to), among other vendors.
  • Rank 200: When a player becomes Dazed in the world, they have a 50% chance to avoid being dismounted. Does not prevent other dismounting effects.
    • This benefit is largely about reducing the frustration that being Dazed can cause. However, it's worth mentioning that even though Dazed might prevent dismounting, it'll still slow the character down and make it likely for enemies to land more hits and thus Daze even more, so the advantage isn't as significant (not to mention it provides practically no PvP benefits).
  • Rank 300: Players can purchase a tier 1 version of a special transmogrification set along with the Overcharged Hearthstone. The Overcharged Hearthstone has a 20 minute base cooldown and when used, increases movement speed by 150%, mount movement speed by 100%, and allows instant mounting for 30 seconds. These effects are cancelled by combat.
    • This rank provides some obligatory cosmetic items along one that at the very least reduces the Hearthstone cooldown by 33%. The movement speed bonuses are designed specifically for convenience as well.
  • Rank 400: Players can access another Void Storage tab, gain 25% increased Guild Reputation, and non-guild reputation loss is reduced by 10%.
    • Might be a little inconvenient to add another Void Storage that ends up being underutilized, but it's a very beneficial perk for reaching a rank milestone due to the inventory management potential. The other two benefits can also be situationally helpful.
  • Rank 500: Players earn a mount with an Adventurer's shop vendor riding it. In addition, they earn many cosmetic backgrounds for the character equip menu.
The current character equip menu featuring a certain Undead Rogue. Note how the background looks.
    • Considering that mounts with a vendor riding them cost a substantial amount of gold (maybe not for me in the relative sense), it makes for a significant benefit while providing more convenience oriented towards the Adventurer's Rank system. The addition of more cosmetic backgrounds would allow players to spruce up the look of a menu that currently is based solely off the character's race.
  • Rank 600: Players can purchase a tier 2 version of a special transmogrification set. In addition, players can buy a Cloaking Field, which allows them to not be able to aggro any mobs with a grey level relative to them. This effect can be toggled on and off by using the item.
    • This rank's benefits are similar to that of rank 300's in that it provides a cosmetic set and a handy gizmo. The applications of this gizmo have potential to be rather varied compared to the Overcharged Hearthstone, however.
  • Rank 700: Reduces the cast time of almost all teleportation by 20%. Only works out of combat and outside of PvP areas.
    • This benefit might be controversial in a manner similar to Expedient Rider since it could potentially provide a major advantage. However, I tried to design it in such a way that it won't. The benefit is very powerful though even for convenience and applies to class abilities like Astral Recall.
  • Rank 800: Players can purchase a variety of Adventurer-themed toys and gadgets with inconsequential effects, such as a banner with an Adventurer's crest and so on.
    • I will admit I had some trouble thinking of benefits, so I went for various cosmetics.
  • Rank 900: Players can buy the Adventurer's Satchel, which when used permanently provides 12 free inventory slots for items purchased from the Adventurer's shop.
    • This gizmo is probably the most important since it allows players to essentially buy inventory space. I wanted one unique benefit to involve inventory in a more direct way than Void Storage and reasoned this is the best way to do it without messing with sensitive code like the Backpack.
  • Rank 1000: Players earn "The Adventurer" title. In addition, the mount earned at rank 500 is upgraded to have a repair vendor that sells supplies riding it. Players can also purchase a tier 3 version of a special transmogrification set and gain access to a special area within the Adventurer's Guild Hall with exclusive vendors, refreshments, special buffs (that provide cosmetic effects or short-term benefits), and so on.
    • It's only appropriate that the initial upper limit of the Adventurer's Rank system earns a wide range of benefits. In this case, players earn a fully functioning vendor mount, cosmetic swag in the form of a title and high-end transmog set, and access to a place akin to a VIP lounge.
As one can see, these perks are largely geared towards reaching rank 1000. I think for now it would serve as content for a few years to come. Adding even higher rank benefits is as easy as award titles and cosmetics. In addition, it would also help to have a public high score that shows how much Adventurer's Rank experience players have earned over the course of the week across the region and within more local groups (such as among friends, within a realm, within a battlegroup, and so on). Adding such a high score would add a bit of a competitive edge and provide further motivation to rank up.

The Adventurer's Shop

The Adventurer's shop serves as another pivotal element of the Adventurer's Rank system in that it allows players to redeem the benefits they've earned and purchase items to help with their tasking. This is far from a full list, but some example items could include:

Click here to Show/Hide

Final Statements

A major focal point of my suggestions list that I have since analyzed is that there needs to be more solo content oriented towards being relevant and lasting for a long time. While I had a number of suggestions, they were mostly in reference to building on concepts that were already in the game in some form. In the case of the Adventurer's Rank, it's a concept built on one of Blizzard's other games with additional inspiration taken from games such as Runescape that enhances the experience of existing content. I don't expect it to be mindblowing to players by any means, but it's safe in the sense of using tried and true concepts of extending personal progression, not to mention that while it's time-consuming to implement, there shouldn't be many complications. Here's to hoping World of Warcraft at least sees something resembling a Paragon system, especially since the Honor system has prestige in Legion.

No comments:

Post a Comment