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Hover over specific areas in the image to see a short description. Click the area to for more information.

Character Creation

The first part of any MMORPG is of course Character Creation. WoW has made this simple, but how quick it can be depends on how much detail the player wants to get into. You can change so many aspects of your character that deciding on a 'perfect look' can be a time consuming task for the anal retentives among us. Once upon a time the image on the screen where you created your character was called a 'paper doll'. This term doesn't quite do justice to the animated figure on the WoW Character Creation Screen. You can rotate it 360 to see all sides, and instead of a generic looking flat figure you now have a literal interpretation of the character you've created exactly as it will be viewed in-game. Once you've created your character he/she will be available to select when you join a game. All characters you create will be viewable on the Character Selection Screen and again, they will appear just as they will in-game. Select from the list on the right where you can see the Character Name, Level, Class, and Location you last were in the game with that character.

Learn more about character creation by clicking the image to the left.

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Cursor Types

Depending on what you hover your cursor over on the game screen the Cursor will change to indicate what actions are available. The default 'hand' Cursor will change to a small icon that represents the action you can take. Some examples are 'talk', 'attack', 'use', 'mine', etc. If the Cursor is subdued in color then you are not able to take action. Usually this is because you are too far away or don't have the necessary skill or profession.

Cursor over the icons to the left to see what each represents.

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Player Portrait

Once in the game there are any number of parts of the interface for you to manipulate your character and your world. The first we'll discuss is the Player Portrait. Situated in the upper left corner of the screen, it is a basic display with your character's name and head shot, plus the important vitals; Hetitleh, Mana/Energy/Rage, and level. The green bar will indicate the percentage of hetitleh remaining for our character. Hetitleh is, of course, diminished when you are injured in battle and can be restored with potions, resting, eating, etc. How much and how quickly depends on the method. The blue bar indicates the percentage of Mana remaining. Mana is consumed when you perform spells and use certain abilities. It can also be restored by potions and resting. Energy is for rogues and is a yellow bar that depletes and restores while in combat. Most rogue abilities take Energy and the Energy is restored after a set period of time. Warriors use Rageand this appears as a red bar. Rage is unlike Mana or Energy in that you start with none and build it in combat. Also, the Player Portrait shows what appears when your character is hit by an enemy. Red appears around the name and the head shot and numbers reflect the amount of damage done.
The Player Portrait also reflects various states such as 'combat' or 'resting'. When you're in a major city or an inn, your Player Portrait will reflect that you are resting by a yellow pulse and the ZZzz's in the bottom left. When you are in combat, you will see a red pulse and crossed swords in the bottom left.

Other portraits you'll be seeing are those of your 'targets'. This refers to both hostiles and friendlies. They're the target of some sort of interaction by you. These can be Player Characters or NPCs (non-player characters). The Target Portrait is similar to the Player Portrait in that it displays a head shot of the character, level, hetitleh, and mana/energy/rage information. The benefit here is that you can tell in a glance if maybe a monster is too tough for you. No need to die every ten minutes after all! Blizzard wants you happy and playing, not frustrated and kicking your PC. These portraits will appear just to the right of your player character portrait.
Another type of character portraits you'll see are those of your party. The Party Portraits show the head shot, name, hetitleh, and mana/energy/rage bar. They appear on the left of the screen under your main Player Portrait. You can interact with these portraits for spell casting and the like. You will be able to tell the leader of the group (who did the inviting into the party) by the appearance of a small crown on that character's portrait. The leader has limited abilities, like determining the 'looting' settings and disbanding the party.
And lastly there is the Pet Portrait. These will appear for characters such as Warlocks that can summon pets, and Hunters that can tame them. The Pet Portrait will appear directly beneath the Player Portrait but before the Party Portraits on the left of the game screen. Damage done to your pet will appear about the head shot of the Pet Portrait. The icon to the right shows whether he is 'happy' or not. Keep your pet happy by keeping him fed or he might run away!

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Mini Map

In order to get around the World of Warcraft you have to have some idea of where you're going. For that we have the Mini Map. It appears in the top right corner of the screen and displays the basic information of where you are and which way you are going. Along the top it tells you what area you are in, while within the Mini Map itself is a small relief map of the general vicinity. You can zoom in and out for more or less detail, whatever you need. Your character is shown as a directional arrow in the middle of the map and the map has the compass point for North on it so you can always tell which way you're heading (for those of you directionally challenged; south is down, east is right and west is left). You will also see other indicators on the Mini Map for: group members, quest turn-in locations, resource locations, and more. An icon depicting the sun and moon helps show you when night is falling or day is breaking... in real time. The Mini Map also has small icons to show you which gathering skill is active, (if you have one) and if you have mail. Like many of the interface items, the Mini Map has the option to be closed; providing you with even MORE playing space on the screen.

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Menu Bar

The Menu Bar is the main area for interacting with your character. From here you can access your spells, abilities, backpacks, and a ton of other goodies. For all it does, it only takes up a small area across the bottom of the game screen. You can access each of the options with one simple click.

If you have a pet of any kind, you will see his/her Menu Bar above your own. You control your pet with this bar.
  • Experience Bar

The first item on the Menu Bar is the Experience bar. It is a series of cells that fill up as you gain in experience and gives you a quick indication of how far you've advanced towards your next level. By hovering over the bar you can see how many experience points you need to achieve your next level. There is also an indicator to show when your character will fall from one rest state to another. This is when you'll want to go rest in an inn or major city.
  • Items/Abilities Quick Slots

Next, starting from the left hand side are 12 Quick Slots for fast and easy access to your character's Spells, Abilities, and Items. There are 12 such rows that can be scrolled through for a total of 144 possible Spells, Items, or Abilities! Just one right click to activate these makes interacting with the world around you easier to manage. Each slot is numbered allowing the use of hot keys to make it even easier for those not mouse-dependant. It's completely customizable so you can put your most used spells and such in the first row. You can also add more bars to further customize your interface. Up to four additional bars can be added allowing you access to virtually your entire assortment of skills and items with a single click. Also, if the clicked ability requires a casting time, it will be represented by a bar, as below, just below your character. You will not be able to cast another spell until that bar turns green.
  • Menu Items

Right of center on the Menu Bar is a series of buttons for managing different aspects of the game. They provide access to various sub-menus. Click the buttons to bring up new pages with more indepth information.

  • Baggage

The last group of slots on the Menu Bar is for storage of all the loot you acquire whilst roaming the World of Warcraft. You have a Backpack as well as options for other bags. These bags range from 6 slots to 16 as well as specititley bags like quivers and ammo pouches. You can carry a total of 5 bags at anytime.
  • The Backpack

As any good MMO knows, a good inventory system is the basis for all adventuring in any given world, be it fantasy or not. World of Warcraft has gone with a straight-forward (and simple) method of inventory and item-space. The far right slot is the Backpack. This opens up your main pack with 16 slots. Items placed in your backpack take up only ONE slot; hence you can carry 16 items. Herbs and potions and many other items can 'stack' so you have a LOT of space to play with. Currency (gold, silver, copper) takes up no physical space but is simply tallied at the bottom of the backpack screen.

Bags are containers in which items are held. Certain items, like Light Leather or potions will stack in 5's or 10's to take up only one item slot, and others, like armor/weapons will take one slot each. There are different sized bags and it is up to you to upgrade their size as your character progresses.

At low levels, you will find a few 6-slotted bags (smallest bags available) off mobs, but most of the time you will hire the services of a low-level tailor to make you a bunch of 6 slot linen bags for a price. Most people find that it is so much easier when a low level character starts off with 4 6-slot bags so they have room for the fodder most mobs drop because they can then sell that to a vendor and make some much needed money.

Around level 20 (if you haven't blown all your savings) you should have enough money to purchase 8-slot bags for your character. Depending on where you buy them, they can be as cheap as 15-20 silver and as expensive as 50 silver. Be sure to shop around and find the best price. Remember, you do not have to buy all four at once, but if you find a good bargain for all four bags, be quick to act on it. Remember that your bank also utilizes bags, so if you can get an extra bag or two for a good price, buy it and stick it in your bank slots. It will just be more room.
There are also specialized bags called Ammo Pouches and Quivers. These hold arrows and ammo for classes that are dependant on their ranged combat (like Hunters). Ammo Pouches can only hold ammunition and give your ranged attacks a 10% speed increase, but also take away a bag slot that can be used for storage. The same goes for quivers, except they hold arrows. Leatherworkers can make these specialized bags, which are not useable in the bank slots.

Most bags are not soulbound, so you can sell your bags when you are done with them. Some players are kind and give their bags to lower-level characters to save them some money. Certain NPCs sell bags, but you will find their prices a little expensive. You can find them for much cheaper off of players. Pressing "B" opens your backpack, and shift+B opens all your bags. The F8-F12 keys also correspond to your bags, so if you are really customized and know what each bag contains, you can use the F-keys to quickly access a specific bag.

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  • Looting

What's the fun of killing monsters if you can't loot the corpse? Hover your cursor over the corpse of a slain enemy and your cursor will turn into a small pouch. Clicking on the corpse will bring up the looting window where you can pick through the bounty. If you hover over an item that has more information available about it a small window will pop up to show you any details. Any item you click on will automatically be moved to your backpack, provided you have space of course.

If you are in a party any money looted will be shared amongst all members. Also, if you are in a party, depending on the 'loot settings' made by the party leader you will be able to loot corpses in a particular order. You'll know it's your turn to loot when gold sparkles appear over the corpse. There are several loot settings:
  • Round Robin - Everyone takes a turn looting. After each mob your party kills it will be one person's turn until the next kill and so on. If the looter leaves any items anyone can loot. If you are after a specific quest item, everyone will be able to loot that item at the same time. This is generally the fairest way to setup looting.
  • Free-For-All - Anything goes. Anyone can loot any corpse. This is handy in situations where one player's bags are full and others loot for him or if you really don't care who gets what.
  • Master Looter - Only the party leader loots in this setting. It works well when you know the party leader is someone you can trust to dole out the loot fairly. Most often used within partying guilds.
  • Group Loot (default) - When an item equal to or above the threshold (details on threshold below) is on a corpse, everyone gets a pop-up box on their screen with the item, pass or roll options, and a timer. Anyone who rolls, displays a number between 1 and 100, the highest roller of all those who choose to roll automatically gets the item. Anyone who waits until the timer expires automatically passes. Items below the threshold are taken care of by normal round robin rules. If there is a tie in the loot roll, a random player will receive the loot.
  • Need Before Greed - Same as Group Loot, except players who cannot use the item based on class or race restrictions automatically pass.
  • Threshold - This determines the level of items that are affected 'Group Loot' and 'Need Before Greed'. If a party wants to set the threshold to blue items and are in group loot mode, then green items that are found will be handled according to the normal Round Robin rules.
  • Selected Info

Any time you hover your cursor over an NPC or an object, information about them will appear in the bottom right hand corner of your game screen just above the backpack slot and will include the NPCs: name, level, hetitleh, and (where applicable) mana bar. When you're hovering your cursor over an object, it will display information about it.

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The Chat Window is where you 'talk' to other players. You can talk to your party, your guild, the local vicinity, the zone, and private chats as well. You can also see various discussions going on depending on which channel(s) you are in. To join a channel simply type /join and then the number of the channel you want. For example, all major cities have a trade channel usually designated channel 2. Type /join 2 to view and participate in this channel.
The Combat Log shows you what's happening in the world around you. Whether feeding your pet, attacking an enemy, or healing a friend it will all appear in the Combat Log. You can move this log from behind the Chat Window to a more convenient location if you so choose.
The small chat bubble on the left side of the screen opens a dialog box with chat, emote, and other options. Other chat window options allow for scrolling the text and going to the last comment. The chat options allow for a greater range of HOW you speak in WoW. You character's actions and reactions help convey every nuance of what you say.
Say /s - The message you enter will appear to everyone in the immediate area
Party Chat /p - The message you enter will appear to only those in your party
Guild Chat /g - The message you enter will appear to only those in your guild
Yell /y - The message you enter will appear to everyone in a larger area
Whisper /w - This is a private message to only the person you select by his/her character name
Reply /r - This command sends a direct reply to a person that has 'whispered' to you
Emote /e - This command brings up a window of emotions (emotes) for your character to display
Speech /v - This command brings up a window of voice options for your character to say
Language - This option allows you to toggle between any languages your character may have learned


In order to help you keep track of your friends (and others) there is the Friends List. This window allows you to add/remove friends so you can easily see if they are online and chat with them. You can also invite a group of up to 4 friends to join your party. A second tab is for those 'others'. It's the ignore tab and allows you to easily ignore the mindless ramblings of those who would otherwise annoy the bejeebus out of you.

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One of the main aspects of World of Warcraft is quests. If you don't want to simply wander around looking for things to kill and loot, you can speak to any number of NPCs to be given quests to do. Just like in the Warcraft series any NPC that has something to say to you will appear with a big yellow exclamation mark over his/her head. If the NPC has a quest for you your quest log will open showing you a description of the quest and allowing you to accept or decline it. An interesting feature in WoW is the ability to not only choose your quests but to choose your rewards.

In order to help you choose appropriate quests for your character's current level the color of the exclamation mark over the NPC's head will change. If the quest fits your characters current level it will be yellow, if the quest is more difficult and suited for a higher level the exclamation mark will appear gray and eventually disappear, though the quest will still be there if you really want to do it.

Quest Log Window

Since quests are such an integral part of WoW it follows that you will need a place to store them all. The quest log is displayed as a book and has as many pages as you have quests (up to a total of 20). You will be able to see all the quests you've accepted and the specific details of each. It will also tell you if the quest is complete. If a quest has only a portion complete it will let you know what you have left to do. You can also 'shift-click' on any quest and the basic requirements will appear on your screen to help you keep track of what you still need to complete.

Not everyone likes to read all the text that comes with a quest, but if you read nothing else, Read the Quest Log because it will give you vital information about what you need to do, where you need to do it, and if there is a time or other limitation. While the community within WoW is quick to help newcomers, they do get tired quick of answering questions that can be found in your quest log and they won't hesitate to tell you so.

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Just as the name says the Spell Book is a book. It has pages to display all of your spells and abilities that you can move through with the 'next' and 'prev' buttons. Empty slots show where future learned spells can be added. As with most things, hovering your cursor over an icon will give details. You can click and drag the icon to your quick slots (menu bar) for fast access in battle.

The Spell Book in this example is from Hunter class. While it is called a Spell Book, in truth it lists all spells and/or abilities for your character. The spells and abilities in each Spell Book will differ based on race and class. Each Spell Book has four tabs to coincide with the talents of your character's class.

The General tab exists for all classes but the spells or abilities displayed in it may differ. Racial abilities appear here as well as professions and general abilities. More abilities will show here once you have trained in them.

In the Hunter Spell Book the second tab holds the abilities for interacting with your pet, the third tab is for outdoorsmanship, and the last for ranged attacks. Again, these tabs and the abilities or spells shown in them will vary depending on the race and class you choose for your character.

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Another thing you can do with NPCs (and with other players), is trading. Whether in a shop or out in the wilderness someone else will always have something you need or want and vice versa. The trading screen is where you do all your trading of course. With other players, from the trading screen you can move items to and from you and the other character. Once you both click accept the deal is done. On the shopkeepers trading screen you will be able to see the price of the items available. The amount of money your character has available will be shown in the bottom right of the trading screen. Different shopkeepers have different items and different prices so shop around!

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Also on your game screen you will see different indicators. Near your mini map you will see a small icon if you are under the influence of any buffs. To find out what the buff is and how long is remaining, simply hover your cursor over the icon.

As you enter and leave areas, regions, dungeons and the like a text message will appear letting you know what has occurred.

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June 5, 2006