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Lost Pages of Taborea: Costume Killer


If you play MMOs long enough, you may find yourself running across glitches or mechanics with interesting side effects. Sometimes these side effects can be beneficial to your gameplay because they circumvent difficult parts of a game. Maybe jumping at just the right spot lets you walk on air and cross a cavern, or maybe certain spells and items give beneficial effects which allow you to down the Lich King.

These types of loopholes have always interested me from a psychological perspective. They present a moral gray area for players to make a decision. On one hand, nothing is being used that isn't already in the game. There are no outside programs or hacking of any kind, but the mechanics of these unintentional easter eggs seem to tiptoe around what are supposed to be challenges.

Runes of Magic has its own gray area that affects the PK system on PvP servers. I'll give you the gist of it, what it results in, and my opinion on whether players should be using it or not.

RoM has a PK system that I refer to as Darkfall-lite. Anyone can be ganked anywhere in the persistent world at anytime. You can also drop anything from your bag or anything you're wearing if ganked by another player close to your level. You can buy equipment sealers that lock up to eight different equipment slots to protect your most valuable items from being pilfered -- of course, there are more than eight slots on a character. I think it's a very intelligent and fun system that offers incentives for those already choosing a PvP server. It's also where I found a workaround in the Item Mall.

On top of being able to transfer stats from one in-game item to another, you can buy blank costumes from the Item Mall. These are fancy outfits that have no stats and are meant to further customize your character's appearance. Because these items are sold exclusively for real cash, they all come with a no-drop-on-PK status. That's fine because it's a cosmetic feature like coloring your mount, and to have something like that in PvP would just be unnecessarily annoying and a waste of real money. If a player wants to aggregate stats onto the costumes, it simply voids the no-drop-on-PK status. However, players have found a way to upgrade these costumes, both adding to their character's attributes and keeping them non-droppable.

Now, a lot of players are taking advantage of this by using equipment sealers to seal the limited eight slots and then using the specially upgraded costume pieces to fill in the rest, thus ensuring they will never drop anything they are wearing. If you add in costume wings, you get even one more slot than usual. Add to this the default ability to switch entire equipment sets with the touch of a button, and players can have both PvE armor and PvP armor instantly accessible. If someone tries to gank them, they simply click a button and don their non-droppable PK armor set.

It sure looks like the costume pieces weren't intended to have any kind of feature allowing players to upgrade them in any way, without removing the PK protection on them. The loophole doesn't destroy any game features, but it does cause some contention among players with which I can sympathize. Firstly, it detracts from the way the system was intended to allow an element of danger or incentive in PK, but it's also annoying for people who don't pay or can't pay fast enough to keep up with their ever-growing character. It creates two groups of players: one filled with strong players who are well-protected, and the other group that may be strong but still has the ability to lose some of their powerful gear without the incentive of scoring another's nice piece of armor.

I don't really care for this unintended feature, as it circumvents what I think is a really fun aspect of gameplay, even if I'm not much of a PvPer. It's a thrill to know that you could lose equipment, and that creates value in RoM's PK system. I also think it's a risky endeavor for players to involve themselves in because Frogster could change it at any time. If players are spending time and wads of cash over and over to protect themselves and suddenly Frogster patches a fix, it would upset a lot of players, but who would be to blame?

Another issue is that this has been going on for so long that it invites the question: Should the PK system in RoM be changed? Even though I would personally like it to be corrected and regain the danger and excitement of knowing I could lose good gear from my character, I can't speak for the playerbase. Maybe it's time to find a better system to complement RoM's world. I've seen many posts on the official forums from people saying they thought it was too harsh and the penalties should be lessened.

With Chapter 3 in full swing and the siege wars still being fleshed out it seems likely to be lower down on any list of priorities. I doubt the developers are going to halt all work on new content until this ambiguous costume issue is dealt with. Still, the issue is there and may one day be corrected. If and when that day comes, what is it you would like to see done? Are there less harsh systems -- as seen in other MMOs -- that you'd prefer, would you rather see it stay the way it is, or do you have the perfect new PK system?

It's not my desire to report or explain bugs or loopholes, but if you know of any similar issues that you think deserve articles of their own, drop me a note about it. Either add it to the comments or email it directly to me at Jeremy [AT] massively [DOT] com. Together we can figure out how to better enjoy our time in Taborea.

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