Reopening World of Warcraft after two weeks of inactivity, the first order of the day was to get some glyphs.
Glyphs are a way to enhance your spells and special abilities. There’s a special interface, a tab under the Talents menu, containing three banks of glyph slots, each accepting one prime, one major, and one minor glyph. (This prime/major/minor distinction is apparently a recent alteration to the system.) The interface also has a lengthy scrolling list of all the glyphs available to your character class, with tooltip descriptions of their effects. Each glyph applies to one spell, and the effects are varied. Most glyphs simply increase the effect, range, casting frequency, or duration of their spell. Others are more miscellaneous: the glyph for Healing Wave, for example, causes it to heal the caster for 20% of the amount it heals the target, and the glyph for the Grounding Totem, a summoned object that absorbs one attack spell cast at you, makes it instead reflect the spell back at the caster. There are even vanity glyphs: one minor glyph for the Shaman that just alters the appearance of your Ghost Wolf form to look like an arctic wolf.
None of this is available from the beginning. The first bank of glyph slots (and the entire glyph interface) becomes available at level 25, the second bank unlocks at level 50, and the third at level 75. Furthermore, in order to assign a glyph to a slot, you first need to learn the glyph. And this was a sticking point for me, because the game doesn’t explain how you learn them. I’ve spoken in praise of WoW‘s tutorial system before, but the glyph interface is one place where it really let me down. It guides you to the point of looking at the glyphs interface when it initially unlocks, but you can’t do anything with it at that point, because you haven’t learned any glyphs yet, and it doesn’t give you a clear notion of what to do about that. When Oleari turned 25, I just figured that I’d find some glyphs somewhere eventually, and then I forgot about it, until she hit level 50, and the second bank opened, and I realized that I needed to research this a little.
It turns out that glyphs are created by player characters using the Inscription profession. This means that if you and your friends have opted for professions other than Inscription, and you’re not willing to change, the simplest way to obtain glyphs is from an eBay-like in-game auction. Auctions are an area of the game I hadn’t delved into before, figuring I wasn’t advanced enough to take advantage of it. I mean, I’m still finding better equipment on my own on a frequent basis without having to buy it. But I should probably be taking advantage of it more, to sell all my surplus herbs and the like. It’s definitely a big part of the game for the experienced players — possibly the biggest. The auction house in Orgrimmar is always the busiest place there.
And, having participated in some auctions now, I can report profound sticker shock. Trying to pick up glyphs when the interface opened at level 25 would have been pointless, as I would not have been able to afford them. My total wealth right now tends to hover around 100 gold; some of the minor glyphs can’t be had for that much. I have to wonder if the auction prices really reflect the market here, or if most glyphs are going unsold. You’d think that there would be a low demand for glyphs, seeing how each player character can only usefully learn nine of the things, and high supply, as scribes create them for practice. But then, gold isn’t really as valuable for most players as it is for a noob like me. (Strange that I can play for nearly two months and be more than halfway to the level cap and still be a noob, but there it is.)