Creating a DKP system

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A guide on how to 'create a DKP — Explanation, Examples, and Summary.

An introduction to the DKP system.Edit

A few years back when the concept of raiding was introduced in MMO games, players invented a system to determine who would receive the rewards from the raids. This original system was called Dragon kill points, based on the two dragon bosses in the original Everquest, "Lord Nagafen" and "Lady Vox". The idea behind this concept was that the members of the guild who attended the raid were to be rewarded points for attending the dragon raids in order to determine who was the most eligible for the loot the dragons dropped. Prior to this, most guilds went with the random number generator and assigned the loot to whomever came out most lucky with the /random roll.


In its early stages, most DKP systems which were used were designed around the idea that attending X raid would yield Y amount of points to each member. The members of the raid with the most points would then be the ones who were to receive the rewards from the raid. However, a while after such systems were implemented a severe flaw was detected – inflation. As most economists would testify to, the effects of inflation are hardly ever beneficial to an accounting system – which is what DKP in its base really is. The problem arose after members had been raiding for a while, and the amount of points coming into the system as a whole was much greater, or lower, than the amount of points being spent on the loots. The problem with this is that if you have more points coming into the system than are going out, the relative value of each raid would be diminished on a scale equal to the level of inflation in the system. Plainly put, there would be little to no fluctuation in the relative order of who are to receive loots. Allow me to give an example:

40 people attend a raid on "The woeful Forger", and as a result are each awarded 3 DKP. "The woeful Forger" drops 2 loots. The price for these loots is set to 10 points each. Now, at this point, a total of 120 points (40*3) has come into the system, but only 20 points (10*2) has gone out. Following this system, the amount of points coming into the system is 6 times greater than the amount of points being spent. 20 weeks later, all 40 members had received the items from The woeful Forger and there was no one left to loot the items, in which case, they were looted and sold for money that was put into the guild’s bank. What happens then is, not only are members earning points for attending raids, but nobody is spending any points at all. Everyone has the same amount of points, and as the weeks pass they all gain an equal amount. Eventually everyone has 300 points each, and everyone is on exactly the same standing. The value of all the members’ points is at this point nothing. They could all just as well have 0 points each rather than 300 each.

If a new member were to join the guild at this point, that member would never be able to catch up to any of the veteran members, and always have to pick up the scraps after every single one of the older members has had their pick – forever. This is a bad thing for any guild for a multitude of reasons. First of all, it is in the guild’s best interest that each of its members can perform at peak level. Secondly, the morale of any new member would be tremendously low as they would feel that all the effort they are putting into raiding with the guild is being wasted since they always are at the back of the line. Sooner or later, they would quit playing and the level of attrition of members would set in. Attrition like this is in many cases a domino effect, which in return would leave the guild unable to raid and eventually dissolve. A solution was required.

Null-value systemEdit

The solution to this problem was normalizing the amount of points in the system. This was done by changing the way members were rewarded for attending raids. Instead of raid X being worth a fixed sum of points regardless of which items dropped and were looted, the value of attending raids was made to reflect the value of the items looted on said raid. Simply put, this means that the sum of DKP coming into the system is always equal to the sum of DKP being spent and the system remains in balance. This is done by summing up the amount of points spent on items, and dividing the total points spent by the amount of members attending the raid. Example: 35 members attend a raid on "The woeful Forger" and he drops two items. One is worth 10 points, and one is worth 15 points. Both items are looted, resulting in the raid's worth being (15+10)/35 = 0.71 DKP. Everyone in the raid gained 0.71DKP, and the members who received the items are subtracted 15 points and 10 points respectively. A month down the line, the same encounter is raided by the same 35 people and the same two loots drop, however this time only the item worth 15 DKP is looted by a member, while the other one is destroyed/sold due to it not being of any upgrade to anyone attending the raid. The value of the raid is now 15 points / 35 members = 0.428 ~ 0.43. The points rewarded are of different amount than the first time due to less points being spent on the raid.

Using DKPEdit

When setting up a guild, one of the most important aspects of guild management is loot distribution. Many guilds have been disbanded and dissolved due to loot arguments. For all intents and purposes, the distribution of loot in the guild should be as fair as humanly possible. There are many ways to set up a DKP system for recording attendance and loot distribution. While there are many systems tailored to each guild’s individual needs, there are two systems that stand out as mainstream: "The bidding system" and "The fixed price, highest DKP holder wins" system. Let us look into the main concepts of these two radically different systems of loot distribution.

The bidding systemEdit

There is a wide variety of different bidding systems in use by guilds around the globe; however, again there are two mainstream variations. In variation A, members attend raids and when loot drops, members interested in the loot sends a message to the loot distribution officer with a bid of their chosen amount. However, the bid sum cannot exceed the amount of DKP points said member has earned thus far. When everyone is done sending their bids, the loot distribution officer then awards the item to the person with the highest bid, and records the amount of DKP spent on the item.

An example: Member A has 157 unspent lotto DKP (lotto DKP = DKP + IDKP, see own section) in the system, and bids 75DKP on X drop. Member B has 189 unspent lotto DKP in the system, and bids 60DKP on X drop. Member C has 234 unspent lotto DKP in the system, and bids 10DKP. In this case, the loot is awarded to Member A due to him/her placing the highest bid – regardless of the fact that Members B and C have a higher total of unspent points.

In this system, the value of the item is solely determined by the members of the guild and the general demand for the item. This means that if the item is very popular, it will sell for a much higher value than the second best item for that slot. Also, it means that eventually, people who decide to "sit it out" and wait until there is no more competition left for said item will get it at a much lower DKP cost than the first members to get it. The result of this is that Member A might pay 75 DKP for an item that Member X pays 1DKP for later.

Variation B follows much of the same rules as the first one, however in this system the loot distribution officer or guild leader, depending on how the guild functions, sets a minimum price on the bids, meaning that regardless of demand for said item it will never be sold for less than X DKP. This somewhat evens out the amount spent between Member A and Member X.

Flaws in the bidding system.Edit

The biggest problem in this system is that members will end up paying a different amount of DKP for the same item. While many argue that this is fair seeing as the ones who pay the most DKP for the item gets it first and therefore gets the most out of an item, this only takes into account desirability on a personal level. However the way MMORPGs are designed, in most cases there is a requirement for a guild to attain a certain level of gearing through items to be able to progress to the next tier of raid encounters. Simply put the durability and damage output of members needs to rise through gear in order to match the difficulty of the next level. In a bidding system like the one described above, it is the most beneficial for members on an individual level to postpone looting an item for as long as possible in order to deflate the cost of the item where as the guild’s best interest is to gear up its members as quickly as possible in order to be able to take on harder raids. These two ideologies greatly conflict with one another.

Other flaws with a bidding system are the animosity it may create between members or alliances between cliques within the guild itself. Situations where members may forge agreements to inflate the bid on an item due to discontent for a potential member bidding, or "pacts" to not bid higher than a certain DKP value in order to artificially deflate the items DKP value come to mind.

Fixed Price, highest DKP holder winsEdit

In this implementation of the DKP system, things are pretty straightforward and simple. The Guild Leadership or Loot Distribution Officer goes over the list of items that may drop from all applicable raids, and assigns a value to each item. After the raid has defeated the encounter, and it is time to distribute the loot, the Loot Distribution Officer requests that members send him/her a tell informing that they are interested in the item. When all requests are sent, the loot distribution officer then checks the DKP list and determines which member has the highest amount of unspent DKP, and awards the item to that member and records the value of the item and who looted it for use with awarding points for said raid. Example: Member A has 135 points. Member B has 147 points and Member C has 69 points. The item is awarded to Member B due to him/her being the highest DKP holder interested in looting the item.


When progressing through raid content as a guild there is often a lot of learning and failed attempts encounters. Due to the lack of items being looted on failed attempts, there can not be awarded any DKP to members due to that doing so would create inflation – e.g. DKP in = DKP out. In order to be able to reward the members for nights of learning and failed attempts on encounters, IDKP was developed. IDKP means Imaginary Raid Participation Points. The way IDKP works is any IDKP that comes into the system must always also go out, in true null value tradition. However when no items are being looted, how is this done? It’s simple. IDKP is used to award members attending failed raids or raids that do not produce DKP. Let us assume that guild X has 55 active members on the roster. The chance of everyone in the guild being online for every raid always is non existent. If the hard cap on how many members that can attend a raid is 40, having about 50-60 members is reasonable in order to always field a full 40 man raid.

So let us assume that 40 members show up for Raid Y, which consists of a night of failing the encounter and progressing through its learning curve. The guild leadership decides they want to award those members for attending although no items have dropped. They decide that the whole night worth of raiding should be worth 20 IDKP, which means 40 members each gain 20IDKP. At this point, there is a sum of +800 IDKP inflation in the system. After adding the IDKP to each member who attended the raid, the sum of 800 IDKP is then divided by the total amount of members in the system, in this case 55 total which equals 15.545 ~ 15.54. The sum of 15.54 IDKP is then deducted from everyone in the DKP system, not only the people who attended the raid. When all is settled and the adjustments have been made, the total sum of DKP + IDKP in the system is still zero, however, the people who attended the raid have a slightly higher total lotto DKP (Lotto DKP = Earned DKP + IDKP) and the members who did not attend the raid have a slightly lower lotto DKP than before. When thinking about IDKP, it is imperative that one does not think of IDKP in terms of gains and loss. IDKP is simply an adjustment which is applied to all members across the board. No one person will ever take a higher negative IDKP adjustment than anyone else in the guild. While it is true that members who do not attend said raid end up with a lower lotto DKP, the relative order of all members in the DKP system is intact. The net result is exactly the same as if real DKP were rewarded, though without the heavy inflation.

Pricing ItemsEdit

There is a lot to be said about pricing items in MMORPGs. First of all, an extensive knowledge of what kind of item is good for each class is required. Secondly, realizing how big of an upgrade item X is compared to item Y. If your guild is newly formed, you will most likely find yourself in a situation of having to price every item from ground up. The first step is to get an idea of how much you want the best items in the lowest tier instance to be worth. Now, there are two ways of going about this. Either you can assign points based solely on the items granted stats and develop a formula that translates +stats and +effects on an item into DKP value, or you can assign a price based on the desirability of said item. While either happens to be technically equally correct, it is this writer’s belief that items should be priced based on 1) desirability and 2) the amount of upgrade it is in comparison to the previous item in the same item slot.

Let us use World of Warcraft as our base for examples. Your guild is about to start raiding Molten Core, the first tier of raid content available in the game. The first thing you want to do is set an upper cap on how much an item can be worth in this zone, i.e. the best items off the last boss. Second, as this is a zone that contains item sets (a full suit or armor for each class) you want to assign a value to each of the slots of armor that is equal for each class based on the desirability of the slots. In World of Warcraft, there are 8 different visible armor slots which item sets fill — Head, Shoulders, Wrists, Hands, Waist, Legs, Chest, and Feet. The desirability of Wrists items, which in WoW carry substantially less stats, is lower than the rest while the desirability of Legs and Chest slots are substantially higher than the rest. Taking this into consideration, you set item values for Hands, Waist, Head, Shoulders, and Feet at 30DKP per item. You set the value for Wrists to 25DKP, the value for Legs to 35 DKP and the value for Chest to 40 DKP. In doing this, you have set a price range for most items in the zone, namely 25 DKP for least desirable item (wrists) to 40 DKP for most desirable item (chest). With weapons, which are by nature more desired than regular armour slots due to them usually being significantly larger upgrade pr slot, you decide to set a cap at 60DKP for the zone, twice the amount of a regular armour slot. From here on it becomes easy to fill in the blanks where the best weapon in the zone is priced at the cap, and lesser items are priced within your pricing range for the zone. It should be noted that I chose the base range for item value completely at random. You could choose 2.5, 3, 3.5, and 4DKP for each of the slots respectively if you so wished without it having any impact as long as you keep the scale equally in a relative sense.

Now that you have your pricing foundation set, adding new tiers of items into the DKP system should be relatively simple. When the next tiered zone is released, you make an estimated guess on what your max price for an item from the last boss should be, and proceed to price items equivalently. It is important to note that when pricing an item, you must gauge the relative value of the item to the members who will be looting it. If they have Tier 1 items, and are going to Tier 2 when it is released, while the stat points on each item may not reflect a significant upgrade, the desirability to get the better items still remains high for the most part and your pricing of the Tier 2 items should reflect that. Obviously, some items need to be viewed on a case by case basis, however in most cases common sense should prevail throughout your work.

Lastly, it is important that you end up pricing items equally for all classes. There are a few reasons to this, but mainly because many items are shared between multiple classes. You want to maintain the equality between the classes total cost for a full set of items so that no one class can complain about another class having to pay less for their class only items and have a head start DKP wise on the non class specific items. In the end, DKP and loot distribution is all about fairly distributing loot to your guild members based on their attendance and work with the guild.

Good Luck! Nimloth @ Tuesday, May 9, 2006

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