Lootmaster Priorities

I suppose that title makes it look like I'm about to rant on about which class/role deserves loot over another, but that's just the title being tricksy. Instead, let me talk about the much-maligned friendly /roll system my guild is presently using, and the lack of understanding that had it faceplanting in yesterday's raid.

The system is this: loot drops, people who want it /roll. As we're a small, community-focused guild, people for whom the loot is a minor upgrade, or people who have already won a piece of loot, tend to pass pieces on to others. It's not a requirement, though, and there's no sense of pressure. I can say this with confidence because I have been opting to pass on Incineratus when it has dropped every week. While making that decision I've never felt pressured either way.

Lately, though, we've had a few incidents.

Incineratus did not go to a roll. Our lootmaster presumed our shadow priest was the only one who needed it. He looted it directly to the shadow priest without even linking it in chat first.

X-Tron Duct Tape was immediately looted to me when I did not need it. After realising his mistake with the dagger, the lootmaster saw the belt drop and immediately leapt on the supposed chance to curry favour with me. He looted it directly to me without asking if I needed it and without putting it to a roll.

Legwraps of the Greatest Son were looted to me despite the fact that I did not want them. I told the raid that I did not want them, that they were a downgrade. The lootmaster looted them to me anyway.

Though each incident has some unique issues, I believe all three are the product of one mistaken view: the friendly /roll system is friendly because everybody gets loot. This assumes that:

  • the point of raiding is to gear up;
  • giving loot is inherently a friendly action;
  • discussion of who needs what more is a minor part of the system.

To tackle these in order, every raid member may have different reasons for raiding. They could be raiding for rep, to play with a friend, to enjoy the content, to involve themselves with the guild, to judge their abilities as a player, to improve their abilities as a player... the list is extensive and should be irrelevant. Why? Because the lootmaster's role is not to judge why a player is raiding. The lootmaster's roll is to hand over loot.

Meanwhile, giving loot is not inherently friendly because loot should be a treated as a reward, not a gift. The players earn the drop as soon as they down the boss. Therefore, the lootmaster's action of handing over the spoils is not kindness but a simple conveyance of what they have already earned.

Essentially, when running the /roll system, the lootmaster is no friendlier than the need/greed/pass box that pops up when you PuG. (Just to clarify, I'm not saying the lootmaster is some apathetic nobody either. They could well be a close friend, but their role as lootmaster is distinct from their role as friend and fellow player.)

The friendliness, in fact, has much more to do with the third bullet point. It's tied up in the fact that players are aware of one another and able to act on that awareness. Passing to someone is a friendly gesture; both players have already earned the gear, so passing is about making the choice to defer that piece to another player. Being able to choose to roll instead without fearing judgement, meanwhile, is something that only happens when the raid community is friendly.

The crux of this is choice. Friendliness is about choosing to do something nice. The system can only be referred to as friendly when it allows choice; when the final say on the allocation of loot goes to the people eligible to take it. In all three cases I outlined before, the lootmaster ignored this basic principle. He went over the heads of his raiders. Even if I was going to pass on Incineratus so that it went to the shadow priest; even if I needed and would have won the X-Tron Duct Tape; even if I had wanted the Legwraps of the Greatest Son, his actions were fundamentally incorrect.

I feel I have a fair understanding of the guy. I don't doubt that he has the best of intentions. When he forgot me on the first roll, he sounded honestly flustered and apologetic. What he needed to do was see it as a reminder to keep himself out of the process as anything other than a facilitator and let us raiding minions puzzle it out between us.

PS - having now endured the third situation, where I told the raid I did not want Legwraps of the Greatest Son and several people immediately replied that 'loot is always better than a shard' and 'it has more intellect and stamina!' and 'it's yours', I can say with experience that pushing someone to take something is the same as pressuring them to pass. It feels like a group of people you like rearing up and stomping on your opinion, and it sucks. Don't do it.

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