Blizzard posted yesterday about patch 5.3's aforementioned introduction of off-spec rolls, and it's now in the PTR, so, of course, WoW Insider had to go check it out. Our first observation is that it's slightly oddly positioned, as you can see in the image above, it's in the right-click drop-down menu that comes off the character pane. Once you've located it, it's simply, as you can see, a matter of picking your spec and heading into your chosen content. As you can see above, I'm on a shaman, and so can choose to gear any of my three specs. The "Default" option, as the name would suggest, is the standard behavior of the system: the loot will be for the spec you have entered the instance in.
This system is active wherever the new loot priority system is, so, Raid Finder loot, including Bonus Rolls, and, as the Blizzard post says, Heroic Scenarios and Mists of Pandaria quests. At the moment on the PTR, it is not working for normal scenario loot, I went and did a few scenarios as Elemental with Enhancement loot selected, and got intellect mail every time, which is not a huge surprise given that the Blizzard post doesn't specify non-heroic scenarios. It is a little odd, though, given that many people will start off in normal scenarios, particularly DPS hoping to gear a tank or heal spec, as the queue times are so much shorter.
Of course, this system is not relevant for 5-man dungeons, where you can already roll need on off-spec gear with no detriment to your chances apart from the anger of four other people. Alas, thanks to a mixture of very long queue times and woefully bad luck, I was unable to test this system in the Raid Finder.
Hit the break for the full Blizzard post.
In the upcoming patch 5.3, we're adding a new "Loot Specialization" option that will give you more control over the loot drops and quest rewards you receive that are based on your class specialization (spec). This includes items obtained through bonus rolls, Raid Finder loot, the Heroic Scenarios coming in patch 5.3, and Mists of Pandaria quests. This new option will allow you to, for example, enter into Raid Finder as a Protection Paladin, but receive loot appropriate for a Holy Paladin.
To change your spec-specific drops, you'll right-click your character portrait, and select the "Loot Specialization" menu option. The "Default" setting refers to your current spec, and you'll have the option to choose from any available class specs (e.g. Frost, Fire, or Arcane). This option can be changed at any time you're able to swap specs, which generally means while out of combat, allowing you to change which spec's gear you'll get from each boss within a single raid. Need those healing bracers from Tortos but that DPS off-hand from Megaera? No problem!
Right now, it's difficult to collect off-spec gear easily, which can make it tough to switch roles if you decide you want to start healing or tanking. This change will allow people to play the specs they're most comfortable with while collecting loot for another should they want to try out a new role . . . or even fully transition. Going from DPS to tanking or healing-especially when you've never done it before-can be daunting, and gathering up the appropriate gear can be a good first step. We want to help make it a more comfortable one.