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This is a question I have been asking myself for a long time. In D&D in was fine to have your characters save the Forgotten Realms world a thousand times. It provided enjoyment and a sense of having done something good.
Now, with MMO's there are thousands of players on a given server, and given time most of them will reach max level. What is Max level? In EQ when your mage hit 60, you were dubbed Arch-Mage. That's a friggin load of Arch-Mages running about (Arch-Mages who could still do squat w/o a group ).
Should the maximum level, be it 50, 60, or 100, ever be so powerful lore wise? Everyone, in most modern MMO's has the potential to reach max level, it all depends on the amount of time you spend in the game.
Can everyone be a Drizzt? A Gandalf? To me this just seems to ring false.
Now, it's true enough that few people are going around soloing Dragons, or Balrogs, but the result, to me at least is still the same.
I was in the auction house the other day on WoW, and noticed that everyone around me was level sixty and toting Epics... it kind of ruins the "Hero Factor" when everyone around you can do exactly the same things you can, when everyone's weapon glows so brightly it makes your eyes hurt.
This is why, when SWG, came out I was so thrilled to hear about their Jedi system (in theory). I thought it was really cool that only a certain amount of people could be Jedi.
On the otherhand, I knew I'd never want to devote that much time to play if I wasn't a Jedi already, and while I thought the concept was great (even though it turned out to be a near endless grind) I never bought the game.
So I guess, even to my own suggestion I am wary. Would even I play a game where I couldn't be the "Ultimate" Hero?
I mean, people pay 15$ a month (sometimes more, sometimes less) to BE the Hero, not to be some rank and file nobody. But in the end, if everyone is the same, are you not that anyway?
This is the core of my post, and the heart of my trouble, below I have delved into theorycraft and wish to label it as such:
-Have a system like SWG's old one, where to become a Jedi/Hero (or open a "force sensitive" slot) it takes a great deal of time and the grinding of a lot of professions.
-Make everyone (at max level) have the ability to become a "Hero" through PvE missions, allow them then to have access to another 5 levels or so, and extra skills. If you embark on the path of the Hero, however, while you're on the mission to become a hero, and while you are a hero, you suffer from a properly instituted system of Perma-Death (even from players, you are perma-flagged for PvP). A sizeable bounty is placed on your head.
-Become a "Hero" as stated above through achievements in PvP. Once again, after becoming a Hero, you are flagged for Perma-Death. A sizeable bounty, is put on your head. Killing a Hero gives you a chance to go on and become one yourself.
In any of these Perma-Death cases, the player would get 3-5 lives to make up for lag deaths etc.
This is what I have come up with. It allows players to go beyond the scopes of normal PC's, at the cost of Perma-Death, and constantly being hunted. Instead of grinding endless hours like SWG, however, a difficult Quest is undertaken, or you match your skill against opponents' in PvP.
Let me know what you think,