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Danshir's Blog *Where I rest after I stop my stabbin*

To talk about a large variety of MMORPGs honestly with no prejudice. Also to simply talk about the insane, funny, or just plain outrageous MMO experiences we as players have had.

Author: Danshir

How to prevent ninjas, and how developers can put an end to it for good

Posted by Danshir Sunday December 14 2008 at 2:34PM
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I cannot fathom that there is a single player of MMORPGs that has not experienced the horror that is a Ninja. If your new to the whole scene of online games, let me explain. A ninja(short for Ninja Looter) are people that will steal items from bosses/other mobs that would normally be rolled upon by the whole group. You will rarely see this during a guild raid, but PUGs(Pick Up Groups) and PURs(Pick Up Raids) are where you can see this pretty frequently. I've seen it in every MMORPG I've ever played, from EQ all the way to WoW. We will now discuss them, these evil jerks.

Things YOU can do to prevent Ninjas.

1. Watch for someone looting nonstop, even as the group is fighting. While this isn't a guaranteed way of spotting a ninja, it's bad group conduct and can endanger the group. Mention it politely, sometimes people just don't pay a lot of attention to their surroundings and it could be an honest mistake.
2. The Silent One. As cliche as it sounds, most ninjas I've come across never talked in group or responded to needing them to perform something, like crowd control. While there ARE some people that just won't talk to people for a variety of good/bad reasons, just keep a bit of an eye on them, especially if they're the leader of the group.
3. If your grouped with someone that won't shut up about an item he's been trying to get for days from a boss your about to fight, if the item drops be careful of pilfering. I've seen this a few times especially at lower levels.
4. Wait on rolling. Most good groups will have everyone pass if they're using WoW's built in dice rolling system for loot. This is what you SHOULD do so everyone can roll on loot when everyone is ready. However if for any reason you think there is a threat of ninjas about(shadows moving, that kinda thing?) wait to pass. Don't roll, but wait. If said ninja rolls by "accident" you can then ask the group if you can roll. Most groups will shout for you to do so, if anything to prevent the ninja from making off with the goods. Remember when doing this always ask the group, make your intentions clear, and be polite.

Sometimes however there is nothing you can do to prevent a ninja's vicious attack in your gullet as they take the goods. While World of Warcraft has some loot protection against ninjas, it's at best a paper shield. Some of the worst cases of loot stealing I've seen has been done by the leader of the group, who has full control over loot rights. If you've ever been fighting the end boss of an instance/raid and suddenly when at 1% health the loot is changed to Master Loot, you know what I mean. While this is more rare than the common Ninja, it is all too common if you play on a private server. So what can we do to combat these evil rogues?

Most people report these kinds of "accidents" and other forms of loot stealing to forums. There a large majority of players are warned by that persons actions. While this cannot stop the first occurrence, the player in question will quickly find themselves blacklisted from groups and guilds. Guilds also at times keeps lists of people to avoid and share that to their guildies on their websites. None of these or any measures I've found have stopped ninjas. What could the game developers themselves do?

What about a better leadership system? Why not have a VETO system. If the leader wishes to change loot rules after a time limit of say 10 minutes once the group has entered an instance or formed completely, he must get the approval of more than 50%(or more) of the other players in the group. This will completely axe any possible ninja action by the leader due to the other group members keeping him in check due to VETO. Without the approval of the group the loot remains the same, which means yay for those who are not losers.

Ok we have an idea of how to combat stealing by the leader, but what about someone rolling on items when the group asked to pass on an item? I propose giving the leader the ability to cancel any roll made as long as 2 other group members agree with the action. The scenario in the picture above wouldn't happen. Of course there would have to be like a minute delay between winning a roll and receiving the item to make this even remotely possible.

While these ideas are hardly perfect, they ARE ideas. While most people can get over these kind of griefers, they still ruin what would have been a perfectly good experience. Some stronger defenses should be put into place. If you have any ideas leave a comment on what you think game developers could do. Until then we can only report them to a GM, and hope SOME sort of action takes place.

To read the original post go to The MMO Experience

Tekkaman writes:

You could have saved yourself a bunch of time from typing this by using this solution:


Stop playing carebear games and just kill the ninja and loot his gear.



Believe me, it IS that simple. I've been doing it for years if people are going to be douche bags.

Sun Dec 14 2008 4:39PM Report
Quizzical writes:

Ninja-looting exists in World of Warcraft because that's how Blizzard wants it.  It's not a case of them simply refusing to wave a magic wand and eliminate it.  But other games have eliminated it via game design decisions that Blizzard was unwilling to make.  That's what makes your assertion that everyone who has played MMORPGs had had to deal with ninja-looters completely absurd.

The most extreme example is A Tale in the Desert, which has no concept of looting mobs at all, let alone ninja-looting them.  That's obviously unsuitable for a game like WoW, though,

Another alternative is Guild Wars, where every time an item drops, it is flagged as being for a particular player, and no one else can loot the item for ten minutes.  It is theoretically possible to ninja-loot in Guild Wars, but it is extremely rare in practice, to the degree that I never saw it in 19 months.  Atlantica uses a system where one of the loot options is that when a player loots a mob, the game picks at random which player in the party to give the item to, without regard to who actually looted.

Either of those systems would work quite well for most items in WoW.  Blizzard choses not to take that approach to indulge players who are enamored with the idea of looting an armor off a 50 foot dragon that fits perfectly well on either a 7 foot NIght Elf or a 2 foot Gnome and then equipping the armor themselves, as opposed to trading it for a more sensible armor that someone else looted.

But that won't work for bind on pickup items.  None of the games above have bind on pickup items that you equip.

Wizard 101 does have a fix for that, though.  Everyone in a group gets the same loot from a battle.  WoW could do that, too, and completely kill ninja-looting, though if they did, it would probably be best to make bind on pickup items vendor for far less and disenchant to far less.

But Blizzard chooses not to, in order to indulge players enamored with the idea that a bunch of players work together to kill a boss, and then one player gets an item and no one else does.  That is, Blizzard chooses to ensure that ninja-looting is possible.

All your proposals would do is make some minor tweaks at the edges to slightly change how ninja-looting is done.  It wouldn't meaningfully reduce ninja-looting.


Sun Dec 14 2008 6:18PM Report
Deewe writes:

WoW has one of the worst loot system, so anything you would propose will be better.

Quizzical is right with Guild Wars, so is DDO. A chest contains at least one item reserved for each player.

As long as the loot distribution is tied to human decisions there will be ninjas and griefing.

It's as simple as that: remove any non automatic loot system and improve trading or transmuting items.


Sun Dec 14 2008 8:34PM Report
Kordesh writes:

 I thought this was going to be a satirical anti-piracy message and was sorely disappointed. 

Sun Dec 14 2008 9:40PM Report
pileopoop writes:

Why don't you do something productive like play your MMO instead of complaining about nothing.

Sun Dec 14 2008 10:07PM Report
keolien writes:

this was one of the main reasons I quit wow pre-bc, it really sucked spending 2-3hrs in a 40man raid, just have half the gear ninja looted.

Atleast warhammer fixed the ability to roll need on something that your class cant use. Even DDO had chests that everyone could loot.

I just cant believe wow still hasn't fixed that problem.

Mon Dec 15 2008 4:04AM Report
caemsg writes:

you have good ideas except there is 1 major flaw in your thinking

gear based games they are bad stop playing them ninjas would be stopped if gear was all similar

also if i ninja takes the loot just kill her you have the group numbers are on your side you will be grouping with a similrly skilled bunch of people so you cant lose just gank them FLOWPVP worlds are the best

oh and lvl based games are crap also dont play them

this can all be fixed with the right mechanics no levels and dont base the game on gear simple

Mon Dec 15 2008 5:29AM Report
achellis writes:

there is no reason to stop ninjas,  if they ninja you then yeah sucks to be you its part of the game and it makes you think everytime you get a none guild group going like, oh can i trust this guy and stuff like that it just adds a good aspect to the gaming experiance.

Mon Dec 15 2008 11:55AM Report
Danshir writes:

Some good, bad, and stupid comments. Thanks all. =)

Mon Dec 15 2008 12:56PM Report writes:
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