I really think like most things the question as to why you have the multiclass needs to be answered. Are you being a rogue merely for the sneak or is it for other ic reasons. Perhaps you are a paladin/ rogue because you joined a brotherhood and sought to follow your holy path as a paladin but you have some of rogue for lockpicking and a keen eye for seach and such because you grew up the son of a lock smith. Just because your a rogue doesn't mean your focus has to be nefarious. It could be because the rogue class only offer the skills you would like to develop icly. I have a fighter rogue with I think one point in hide but because of the way she grew up she has a facsination for mechanical things like locks and traps. Not because she is a sneaky stab you in the back sorta gal although she may still stab you.
But that's just it; CoA has never been a sandbox. People who think it is I don't think really understand what those terms mean when discussed in context of online worlds. Let me preface this a bit and explain the themepark/sandbox diatchomy which while most usually discussed when talking about MMOs I think is relevent here because aside from the lack of massively we are a multiplayer online world and whether we want to acknowledge it not we have been effected by the greater trends of the online world industry. So here it is; themepark is what is commonly known by World of Warcraft started by Everquest and pretty much every other major MMO title today save for EVE Online and Ultima which I will get to later. Themeparks by their inherent nature are static by design; the player isn't meant to really effect the world per say he or she's relationship is focused with the CONTENT rather with other players. We all know the formula; you move from zone to zone completing quest after quest until you reach max level and get the highest loot. They are not really made for roleplaying however because the focus is not your character's role in the world but what his gear and abilities are. I am sorry but it is functionally impossible for a player to have a meaningful impact on a game like WoW without GM involvement. It is simply not designed for it. You can interact with other players sure go quest and kill the latest raid boss but hes just going to respawn for the next group. Themeparks are not the natural choice for roleplaying because your not really playing sort of role to begin with in the world beyond your mechanical abilities in combat in relation to questing. As for PvP its usually in a structured environment and the only thing that changes is the flag (sound familar anyone?)
Moving to the second type of MMO and sadly the less popular one which is sandboxes. Sandboxes are charactetized by the fact that there is very little pre created content per say rather the game is built from the ground up for players to make an impact on the world. The two most well known MMOs that fit this catagory EVE and Ultima Online although its more modern equilvant would be Darkfall do not use a level based system that most of us have come to know rather opting to let you train a certain amount of skills. This is no accident when you think about it because in a sandbox where the aim is how the player chooses how they interact with the world and the players. A generic level system does not accomplish this objective. I am not saying you can't have skill grinding but why your grinding those skills in the first place in the context of a sandbox is an important difference. In Wow I am grinding quests so that I can reach raid content. In EVE; I am grinding my mining skill because its my profession in the game world which in turn helps me make better items to sell to other players which in turn increases my status in the gameworld. See the relationship between the two? While themeparks do facilitiate interaction between players I would argue that one is anti social because it is built around the player moving through pre created content rather than interacting with the world itself and in turn other players. As for PvP here; the consequences have far more meaning here; year long wars have been fought over sectors in EVE and in Darkfall if I lay siege to a city and take it over that means very real change for the players in that region for my control dictates what the environment will be.
NOW how does this all relate to NwN and CoA you might ask? Well as a player from EfU pointed out "We are inherently dealing with a dungeons and dragons system. So killing monsters, adventuring, and questing are really are the core of the game mechanics and therefore the rewards system. What makes D&D not an MMO is that we are pretending that we're someone in the world for real, we are giving the world a sense of suspended realism." I agree with the player half way on this, NwN is mechanically limited in terms of the options aviabile that we can do when it comes to interacting with the D&D ruleset. You could have a sandbox world using a D&D ruleset because you do have more options than combat as a way of XP gain if the world is designed that way. When it comes to NwN however the sad truth is that we on roleplaying servers are playing world's that are themepark by design at least in the sense that we reuse the same content over and over again to advance our characters. This is not entirely unavoidable but it can be mitigated somewhat by the design of the world themselves. Arelith is probably the best example of a sandbox world; players can run cities, own shops, run trade routes etc. For all its flaws I will credit them for essentially building a world that is niether quest reliant nor DM dependent. The rest of us are not so luckily but maybe we can chnage that. I am not saying CoA become like Arelith I don't think its possible with our playerbase but I am saying if we are going to call ourselves a sandbox than lets do so more than in name. Now in which one CoA has been so far I think -functionally- by when I talk about design we have leaned towards a themepark BUT until v4 it felt like a sandbox, players focused on playing characters in a world versus plot objectives.
Which is ironic because v4 was supposed to make the server more sandbox like, instead player's took the whole adventure and intrigue mantra to treat the game like WoW which has lead to the decline of roleplay which folks are now lamenting. In addition roleplay was also heavily enforced in ways that it isn't now which has also contributed to the lack of quality in "standards". Contaray to popular belief I do not think SIMs was inherently bad for CoA; again go back to the idea that we are playing an MMO only digused by roleplaying. The Adventure component at this point in time literally translates into doing a quest or grinding an area under the pretense that it will advance "story". In small doses this isn't necessarily bad but whether the DM team intended to or not it seems like large swaths of the playerbase took this as the bible and focused on nothing else and alienated a lot of CoA's core playerbase because this was essentially telling folks the only way for your character contribution on this server is if you use the suspension of disbelief and essentially play the game like a themepark mmo. DMs I know you don't like SIMs but I think this is you can't have your cake and eat it too type situations here. I know the intent wasn't to Wowize CoA but thats what its done and a longterm player remarked this a long time ago to which a DM concurred. DM presence has always been a degree been minimal the difference was that there wasn't this hyperfocus on plot driving that there has been and the only thing that the DMs really asked for in the general playerbase is that they roleplay their characters. If you want to have players going out and adventuring whatnot than I suggest we figure out a way to make a server where this is actually fun because grinding the same quest or area doesn't seem to be the way to go about it. I am happy to hear about the random dungeons being implemented; this kind of dynamic content is what makes the game feel less static as a whole which is what we need to get the immersive feeling we have lost.
So where does this leave us in terms of options? Well I think it comes down to much what BrokenGunBlade said about the server adopting an identity/theme (/forum/vie ... 0&start=45 thread here for players who haven't read it all the points made it are still sailent imho) something which I think it is still lacking and thus really the reason why these type of threads keep coming up every year because we keep trying to treat the symptoms rather than the root. Thats why v5 I don't think is a sucess in the way the DMs wanted it to be because we are still lacking this. I am not even sure what we are trying to go for in this new setting and some of the other players I've talked to feel the same way. V5 when it was being originally teased to the playerbase excited a lot of people because it A) Brought back the feeling of being in a fleshed out setting again something that CoA traditionally did very well B) Had a distinct theme of exploration. These used to be CoA's strengths. The current v5 I don't think has niether at this point, we seem to be wanting to call ourselves a sandbox but in reality it seems like the game is being blantantly being played like a themepark and folks really don't have any control over how they effect the setting indepedent of a DM.
In closing; this server needs to figure out what it wants to be and how to make whatever theme/identity appealing to players new and old. We need to encourage folks to put the focus back on their characters and not just plot driving for the sake of it. While parts of this server may be inherently themepark its best if we try to mimimize the ones we can. If all this can be done than I think we'll have a more stable future than we do now.
Elsewhere at this time, D3's currency (gold) is dropping fast in value. Soon enough, maybe 3ish months from now, it'll be as useful as D2's gold currency. Which is to say useful to repair shit. For those who are still playing this game for some odd reason. This means the real money auction house will be the only place to get items auction-wise, and the gold auction house will have items for exuberant gold prices than what they are now. So, enjoy…
I'll be honest. I suck with casters unless they're clerics, and then I tend to play those tanky. Something about squishy characters just…makes me squirm. I have a fairly comprehensive knowledge of most spells and everything, but the actual implementation and execution is lost on me. I even applied to play this one really cool wizard and had to abandon the concept because I just COULD NOT get into the style of play it requires. On the other hand, throw me a fighter, cleric, or monk, and I'm all over it both in mechanics and in RP.
The only true and honest tip I could ever give to anyone playing a caster from the perception of the tank role is this:
When the enemy targets you, run TOWARDS your melee folks, not away. (Apologies if this was already said in this topic, a lot of it was tl;dr).