The Rogue Question

One type of item that drops in Classic but not in the live game - and that isn't common in more modern MMORPGs in general - is the lockbox. And I know that as soon as you read that word your mind probably went to what gamers have come to associate with the term in recent years, which is microtransactions with uncertain outcomes, but I'm actually talking about old-school lockboxes, which is to say items that are simply locked containers that need opening in the world, either via the lockpicking skill or use of a key.

I'm always a bit conflicted when I end up finding/winning one of these, because I know they are a hassle to deal with that probably won't be worth the reward, but at the same time I hate to vendor anything that has a use, not to mention that vendors only pay an absolute pittance compared to even the cheapest drop you're likely to get if you were to actually open the box (presumably to give you an incentive to open them).

Keys are technically accessible to all (though they require crafting by blacksmiths), however the way the material cost of crafting them works out compared to the rewards from the boxes they can open, it doesn't appear to be a good business model to buy or sell them.

Ideally I'd love to just put every box I find on the auction house - presumably some rogue somewhere would be quite happy to make a profit while levelling their lockpicking skill - but alas, "you can't auction lootable items".

So that just leaves the option of finding a rogue. I used to just wait until I'd end up in a dungeon group with one, at which point asking them to please pick a lock while the mage distributes water or whatever feels like a natural part of the grouping dynamics. The only problem with this has been that rogues don't seem to like dungeoneering very much and I only encounter them in my groups quite rarely compared to how commonly they are played, which means that any lockbox can end up sitting in my inventory for quite a length of time before I get to open it, taking up precious bag space in the meantime.

More recently I've taken to just doing a /who rogue Ironforge whenever I'm in town myself and then looking around the Commons for a suitable target, which never takes very long. I then politely whisper them to ask if they would mind opening a lockbox for me, and I've actually never had a negative reply to this (though I think a couple of times I've whispered people who were AFK).

It still makes me somewhat unreasonably anxious though. I'm not at all shy when it comes to approaching people about grouping up, but something about bothering a rogue about a lockbox just feels... different. I can never help but remember having read one too many rants from people feeling pestered by strangers wanting to use their class's services (also see mages re: portals and water). To make up for any imagined transgressions, I try to always give an appropriate tip (appropriate to my level that is... if I'm on a lowbie alt I just don't have that much money to give away). Of course what happens then is that I open the box and the contents are actually worth less than the money I just spent on opening it; though I've got a little better at judging how much of a tip I can reasonably give without going negative even if the drop from the box is not great.

I do remember all of this being a non-issue back in the day when I had friends who played rogues - they were usually happy for me to just send them any boxes I found in the mail, and they would unlock and return them to me free of charge. I remember one rogue in my old guild also tended to include funny little RP-style notes about how each lock had been challenging in particular ways.

Ultimately, I don't know how I feel about this mechanic playing as more of a loner these days. It is interesting in many ways, but in others I also find it bothersome. What about you?


  1. As someone playing a rogue in Classic, I'm actually really happy when someone asks me to open a lockbox because there's a chance of getting a skill point. It's actually somewhat hard to level lockpicking in normal play, without deliberately grinding mobs who you can pickpocket for the boxes.

    Maybe that changes at max level with maxed out lockpicking. But I think for levelling rogues, it's an even trade. You get your box unlocked, and the rogue gets a chance of a skill point.

    1. I usually combined my lockbox leveling with questing if I could help it.

      Waiting for a group for Sunken Temple, imbibe a water breathing potion and unlock the lockboxes in the water surrounding the entrance. (Or hang out near the Nethergarde, where the Twilight encampment nearby has lockboxes.)

      Waiting for a group for Mara? Go hang out underwater off the coast of Desolace and unlock lockboxes there. The same goes for questing at the pirate haven in Tanaris: load up on quests, and unlock lockboxes while killing those pirates.

    2. Yeah, there are lots of those places with locked boxes to level your skill... I seem to remember encountering them in Darkshore and Redridge too.

      I've seen people advertise free lockbox opening to skill up as well, but with more characters accumulating at the level cap by now I'm seeing less and less of it. When I specifically seek out a rogue myself, I tend to target the higher-level ones as I just assume that the lower-level ones might not have sufficient skill to open anything but the most basic boxes.

  2. I found it quite irritating when I was playing Classic. There were often rogues in Ironforge either offering to unlock boxes, someteimes free, sometimes for a fee, or actually asking for people to let them skill up on them. Either way, it struck me as a nuisance.

    I really dislike virtual-physical interactions between characters in all MMORPGs. They are, without exception, clunky and awkward. I can't count the number of times I've hit the wrong key or got the timing wrong and ended up with everything back to front or failing. And there's sometimes a clashing sound efect to indicate an error which is even more jarring.

    It just seems like something I'd rather avoid. I tend to just stick all my lockboxes in the bank rather than deal with the interface issues.

  3. I really like this kind of system, if there are alternatives. In later expansions you have keys and seaforium charges to blow locks, so rogues are required just for this. Same in DDO, you have rogues, but also bards and artificers can also excel at opening locks or disabling traps (and the odd spell or scroll to help too).

    1. Well, keys already exist in Classic as well, but as I said in the post the cost of the mats generally doesn't make it worthwhile to use them. I don't know if that's something that changed in later expansions?

  4. You could hang out with me on Myzrael-US, you know.... ;-)

    One option I can suggest to you is that you find a person who has unlocked a lockbox or two and ask them if they'd mind being your "regular". I'm the regular unlocker for a few people, and they send me over a lockbox via mail and I unlock it and send it back. One person tips me 10% of the vendoring, and another person just sends me over a bunch with a gold or two. It only takes me a minute or so, and I just have to pay attention to how I put the lockbox back in the reply email, as right clicking will open the damn thing instead of loading it in the mail.

    1. Only if I created another WoW account. :( Remember, Blizzard still doesn't like people mingling across the pond...

      That regular thing is an interesting idea! I don't think it would work for me right now due to how irregularly I play, but it's certainly worth thinking about.

  5. > The only problem with this has been that rogues don't seem to like dungeoneering very much

    Is that case or aren't they invited?

    Tanks are in short supply and a rogue does roll on the same loot as you. While leveling they use the same weapons and stuff and at end game they roll on all the leather you might like to collect for your damage spec.

    Then you have a high chance of getting one of these "cheap shot fuckers". Seriously, I'm trying to pull the mobs in position and desperately need some rage to start tanking. Your cheap shot is as useful as a priest shield on me.

    And then they bring absolutely nothing to the group. They have no CC, have no AE and they can't off tank a mob as good as a DD warrior.

    The rogue class also seems to attract annoying players, which means you have a higher chance to get "one of them" in your group.

    And it's one of the two classes that don't pay the price for their fuckups while leveling (vanish and feign death) which effects they way you play.

    If I build a group I take a mage or warlock over a rogue any time.

    > Ultimately, I don't know how I feel about this mechanic playing as more of a loner these days. It is interesting in many ways, but in others I also find it bothersome. What about you?

    I'm more annoyed by the mechanic that mages can conjure free water but everyone else pays a high premium. That just makes it very hard to play some specs, like shadow priest, moonkin or prot paladin. I think there should have been other sources to get cheap water, like the cooking profession or they should have had more water all over the world (like these melon juice barrels in the starting areas).

    1. There are certainly people like you who don't like rogues, but while "looking for more" myself I also rarely get whispers from them. Like you say the class seems to attract players with a more selfish outlook... that said, my personal experience has been that PvE/more group-minded rogues tend to be both excellent players and very fun to have around.