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Solo play is possible, but, as in many MMORPGs, the classes differ in their solo performance because of the unequal distribution of crucial abilities. Typical soloing strategies, such as self-healing, kiting and fear kiting, are only available to some classes; likewise, controlling fights with crowd control, avoiding fights with stealth or invisibility, and terminating lost fights with fake death or emergency evacuation teleports is not possible for all classes. Some classes, such as the Necromancer, have more soloing options, while some others, like the Warrior, are more narrowly focused. Player vs player (PvP) was available on the Sartok FFA PvP server, in the PvP arenas, or on PvE servers using the /duel command. This aspect of gameplay has never been a priority for the SOE developers. Vanguard classes are therefore not balanced with PvP in mind, and some classes are much more capable in this regard than others. For example, the maximum damage of a single attack is restricted to 20% of a target's maximum hitpoints, but certain classes can combine multiple instant attacks, resulting in "one-shotting", or immediately killing other players in one shot with no chance for the victim to fight back.
The second sphere of Vanguard is Crafting, and involves creating in-game items using 'recipes' and raw materials. Crafting recipes are a set of actions that must be performed in a particular order to produce a final result. Each of these actions costs 'action points', taken from an action pool. The maximum number of action points available varies with each recipe. During the crafting process, 'complications' may arise which affect the crafting process, usually, but not always negatively. The crafter can attempt to correct complications or resume crafting and deal with the consequences or benefits of ignoring the complications. 'Diplomacy' is a concept unique to, or at least first introduced by, Vanguard. It is basically a card game inspired in style and rules by collectable card games. Diplomats can enable certain city wide 'civic' buffs and gain certain special items needed for end-game content such as Guild Houses, the Griffon Mount, and other important end-game quests. Harvesting forms a fourth, simple sphere. Characters have a general harvest skill, which controls how well one can help others with their harvest, and can choose two out of five harvest types they want to specialize in, out of the pool of Mining Metal Ore, Quarrying Stone Slabs and Gemstone Samples, Lumberjacking Wood Timbers, Skinning Leather Hides, and Reaping Cloth Bales. Rechoosing these skills is possible, but all previous progress is then lost.
Vanguard is set in a high fantasy
world called "Telon", unusual among MMO worlds in that it is almost
entirely persistent, with no instancing or load screens. Telon does not
have "zones" in the manner of most fantasy MMOs, but there are discrete
areas, sometimes called "chunks" which delineate content to some extent
and serve to provide general geographical reference points. The world
contains 19 playable races, many of which are drawn from or inspired by
traditional high fantasy sources such as the work of J. R. R. Tolkien and the tabletop fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons.
There are three "continents" on the world of Telon. Each is reachable
by direct, contiguous travel from the other continents, via air or sea,
or by NPC boat from the major ports of call. There are various ways to
travel through Telon, besides simple walking on land: by mount (horse),
by player-crafted ships, by a riftway, and by flying mounts. Vanguard players can build two houses per server per account.
Telon contains a large number of dungeons with a broad range of size
and theme, found in many types of locations; some are very large, and
many are above-ground structures or even outdoor adventure areas rather
than traditional subterranean catacombs as such. Although most of the
dungeon content is aimed at the 'full-group' encounter (six players)
there are numerous areas, particularly at the lower levels, designed for
solo play and small groups (2-3 players). All dungeons but one are open
"public" dungeons; there is no instancing anywhere in Telon with the exception of the Ancient Port Warehouse (APW), added to Vanguard
by SOE in late 2007. There is a total of six copies of APW, called
"shards," and any new raid force has to choose which of the six copies
to enter. Vanguard also features several overland raid encounters. "