Pacifist Warcraft player trying to hit the top without killing anything

A college student is attempting to level two "pacifist" characters up to the top of World of Warcraft's character progression, characters he's playing without attacking anything. It's partly to try out the philosophy of pacifism in the violent virtual world, and partly to see if he can do it:

Show us your kung fu: what's the actual nuts-and-bolts reality of this character?

Both my priest and my rogue try not to hit anything, although there's always a chance of a misclick when trying to open a quest item with mobs fighting near it. Both of them always wield a fishing rod, so any accidental hits won't increase their weapon skills. Neither of them will do quests where they have to kill things. In battlegrounds, my rogue will throw bombs to interrupt flag captures and stun people and may even accidentally kill players low in health or nearby critters. My priest only heals, so he is actually closer in roleplaying terms. Neither will "get around" these limits by grouping and having other players do their dirty work. In terms of bragging rights, I intend to keep my rogue's weapon skills (dagger, thrown and unarmed) at all 1s. My priest will also have all 1s, but it won't be obvious on WoW Armory that he has no offensive spells beyond the level 1 Smite all priests start with.

Link (via Negatendo)


  1. An important social experiment. Had intent not been declared, the trial of pacifism would have been more objective. Now the glove is down to all and more violence will be attracted.

  2. Pacifism has long been a voluntary challenge in some Roguelike games (I play SLASH’EM, not sure about other variants). It’s an insanely difficult challenge. I’ve watched my mates play WoW but never played myself… But I would imagine leveling up without killing is crazy-hard.

  3. Its completely possible and as a dedicated healer not that hard (given good circumstance and those around you). Good luck.

  4. Reminds me of me and my friend’s idea of naked runners that wear nothing and try to map the entire WoW world by running(scared) everywhere and never fighting, occasionally leveling up by the XP gained from just finding new areas.

  5. >> Both of them always wield a fishing rod, so any
    >> accidental hits won’t increase their weapon
    >> skills.

    so long as they don’t go near any rivers…

  6. A friend of mine is the Lintilla referenced in the story. (The one point in unarmed was a mis-click on a rabbit, that survived, and the dagger skill is from the stun attack, which I don’t think he does anymore.) He’s been quite active in trying to find ways to enjoy WoW that aren’t on the rails that Blizzard wants you to stay on. I believe another of his characters collected heads (which is much harder to do now that dropping quests destroys quest items). He’s also got a character that collects mounts. (That spectral tiger from the trading card game is expensive…)

    I collect pets, but that’s not particularly interesting. I also have alt-itis, like many in my main guild.

  7. What’s interesting, to me, is that I recently started another MMO called EVE Online and was surprised how much easier non-combat characters have it there. There are people in the game who earn their money only by mining, or research, or transporting things from A to B for other players or NPCs.

    Still hard and there are things you can only achieve/get with violence, but much easier then in other MMOs I know.

    Btw, I love #4s idea of naked WoW map exploration. Do it, man, the Internet demands it!

  8. Not only can you live very profitably as a non-combat character in Eve, but there is also quite a bit of work for diplomats and others that are lovers, not fighters.

  9. An extremely interesting roleplaying experiment, but is it still pacifism if you’re healing the damage dealers so they can stay alive longer to do more murder? Seems like Gandhi would not approve.

  10. @#3 — it’s possible if you’re willing to group with other people who do your killing for you — the chap in the OP isn’t, except in battlegrounds I suppose, and he doesn’t get XP there except by completing the daily quest.

  11. An interesting experiment, though their definition of a pacifist is pretty loose.

    Level 28 opens up the Missing Diplomat quest series, and I might actually do the fights (since nobody actually gets killed) to go as far as I can with them.

    Isn’t pacifism, non-violence?

  12. “Isn’t pacifism ,non-violence?”

    good point

    Sometimes what appears as “violence” might be more.
    What has become called “martial arts” (in the West) can have examples of “violent” non-violence.

  13. >> Both of them always wield a fishing rod, so any
    >> accidental hits won’t increase their weapon
    >> skills.
    > so long as they don’t go near any rivers…

    Yeah, is this a vegan character?

  14. Cory, I don’t think the author’s a college student…

    “How old are you? What do you do in real life?

    I’m a 50-year-old male computer programmer, and I’m also the main webmaster of the Firesign Theatre website.”

  15. Playing a character with a deliberate handicap is something of a tradition in Blizzard MMORPGs; in Diablo, there was a group of “beyond naked mages” who wore only that gear that gave a minus to attributes, meaning that the characters were more vulnerable than they’d have been if they’d been naked. There was someone in Diablo II that was playing as a sorceress, without gear, and seeing how high they could get without using spells or putting any points into attributes, only the unarmed melee attack. I assume that these people all had a lot more free time than I usually do.

  16. #15 beat me to it — the guy doing is a 50-year old programmer, not a college student. (but it’s fair to say he could be both, i guess…)

    i started playing WoW in october, and just got my mage to lvl 40 this past weekend. i am *very* impressed with his dedication and creativity in working his rogue this way. it’s hard enough to get to 40 (let alone 70 or above, i am sure) playing the normal way, let alone adding in handicaps like this. i find his take refreshing.

    i think one of the things that i find wonderful about warcraft is the creativity that gets generated by the blizzard creators and also among the players. recently on several servers there was a unofficial “naked gnome race” organized, and only level 1 naked gnomes could run. it didn’t take place on the server i’m on, sadly, but i’m hoping to find a video of one. the sight of hundreds of naked gnomes running from ironforge to stormwind and down to goldshire must have been hilarious.

  17. Only distantly related: In the original SSB, Luigi’s taunt (a “gosh shucks” kick) does 1% damage if you get the positioning right. I spent an entire day trying to taunt a com enemy to death, but it turns out that the kick only sends the victim a certain distance that doesn’t change at all. You could still have an entire battle without attacking and still win though.

  18. Not to split hairs, but isnt healing a person so they are able to kill mobs that you get exp from… quite a bit like, oh, say, NOT pacifism? Sounds more like “accessory to the crime!”

    Cool concept though, and reminds me a bit of collections in EQ2 in that you can get abilities through picking up shinies! oooo shinies!

  19. Right, #20, because we all know Martin Luther King Jr. and Ghandi accomplished nothing…???

    I think this player is doing a great thing. There are other ways of making a game exciting besides requiring the player to kill stuff. For example, I said over four years ago that someone needed to make an FPS game where you didn’t actually have to kill anything. People’s reaction was always, “Dude, that sounds so boring.” Then a little game called Portal came out and showed them how brilliant games can be when designers actually take the time to be creative rather than rehash what’s been done to death over the past decade. The fantasy mmorpg genre could most definitely use a Portal-esque makeover.

  20. “When all the world has gone insane, the sane man appears crazy.” I forget the StarDate, though. Go, Noor, go!

  21. This is not a new idea. I remember reading about people doing this in Everquest years ago. They just leveled up by doing non-violent quests.

  22. >>I’m also the main webmaster of the Firesign Theatre website.

    Ah, perfectly in keeping with the pacifist gameplan: “Don’t crush that dwarf, hand me the pliers.”

  23. I don’t believe this is doable. Theoretically possible, yes. But doable? I mean, it would take full concentration at all times when travelling, and doing only non-combat quests? That would make getting to 80 VERY difficult. Maybe you have to try the same quest over and over and over and over again before eventually getting there, and then the next one shows to be even harder. If you were doing it for world peace, I am sure you could muster motivation and time for it. But if it’s just a wouldn’t-it-be-cool-if-project I am afraid you will have a hard time.
    Kudos though, Blizzard’s way isn’t the only way to play WoW. Been playing for three and a half years myself, and still has my highest level character at 51. If I wanted to play for points I’d play pinball, but roleplaying doesn’t get much better than it does on Europe: Argent Dawn.

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