Ask Elb: PUG Loot Rolling Etiquette

March 4, 2011

Community, Dungeon Guides

Yajard asks:

I was curious on the proper etiquette for rolling on items for PUGs.  I recently participated in a turtle raid with a roll/pass loot setting.  The raid itself was quite successful, and the raid managed to finish off the turtle in one go.  Naturally, this being the second time I did it, I was still pretty excited to complete it with minimal deaths!  Once everyone was revived, the leader looted the chest, and there happened to be a 1st age item I could use!  There were a few other champs in the raid of the same class, so I knew I may not get it, but it was cool to have the opportunity to roll on it.  Once the rolls finished, it turned out a captain won the roll….  I was totally confused and frustrated.  I thought maybe the captain by-mistake may have rolled on it, since he seemed rather out of it at the time.  While I was still pondering and vocally asking the others in the raid why a captain got a champ 1st age, a few members of the raid forgot to loot the chest for their tokens.  Being the nice person that I am and still being in the room, I invited them back in.  The captain was one of those people and also another champ.  It turned out, after questioning the captain when I invited him back, that he rolled on it for his kinmate, the champ I reinvited back in.  This does not seem right to me.  I had two of my own kinmates in the PUG and did not ask for them to roll for me.  Am I correct in assuming that this is frowned upon?  Other than grouping with people you know, there’s not much I can think of that would avoid this kind of situation unfortunately.  Perhaps changing the loot rules could help prevent this?

This question really hits on a topic/situation that so many people are encountering in their PUGging experiences. I’m glad you asked it! Thanks, Yajard.

The first and most important thing to point out is that, technically speaking, there are no real rules when it comes to PUG groups and you’re going to find people who disagree on the matter. What I intend to lay out here are a set of easy to follow, basic courtesy rules in regards to rolling on Loot in PUG groups.

  1. You roll for the class you played. (No one knows nor cares what other characters you have, if you played a minstrel this time, then as far as anyone knows that all you have, leave it that way)
  2. No Proxy Rolling (this means you roll for yourself and yourself only).
  3. If you’ve already won a set-piece or rare item during the raid session, you should pass on all other high-demand drops. (sharing is caring)
  4. If you’re the raid leader you should always use Master Loot to take control of the rules, if you don’t people will magically “forget” that they shouldn’t be rolling on something.
  5. If a class specific item that is tradable (not bind on acquire) drops and no one is present on that class, anyone who hasn’t won some form of rare drop should roll for it on the premise that they may sell it to improve the character that they’re currently playing (or give it to an alt/friend, whatever, but the logic is that anyone can make good use of gold generated by selling)

Now, bear in mind, just because I’ve laid out what I perceive to be a fair set of guidelines for PUG loot rolling doesn’t mean that things like this won’t continue to happen, because they will. Yajard touched on the fact that the only really safe way to know that you’re not going to have someone blatantly rolling in a manner inconsistent with generally accepted etiquette is to stick to grouping with people you know. PUGging opens up more group opportunities but the quality of the experience will vary. This is one of those things where you have to roll with the punches and hope that the leader of the group will at least do their best to keep things fair. It’s not a bad idea to ask the group leader what the loot rules will be before deciding to go.

This article is part of the “Ask Elborigorn” series, where I encourage CSTM readers to send questions to me at: . I then will answer the question either with an entire article or as part of a multi-question weekly article.

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20 Responses to “Ask Elb: PUG Loot Rolling Etiquette”

  1. Luciferon Says:

    If its a PUG the rules were simply Roll/Pass not Master or N/G/P then anyone can roll for it. Blame the leader not the cappy.


  2. Svenn Says:

    If I was in a raid like this and someone rolled (and won) an item that was not for their class, they’d make it on my “do not group” list instantly. You should NOT be Need rolling on stuff you can’t use, regardless of reason.

    Need/Greed is ridiculously simple, so I’m amazed that so many people can’t quite seem to figure it out. If it’s an item you can and will use, then you need on it. If not, then you greed on it. Simple as that. There is no “well my friend can use it” or “it’s for my alt” or something. If someone can’t figure this out, then there is no reason to bother grouping with them.


    • Khosael of Brandywine Says:

      Need/Greed IS ridiculously simple… IF your PUG is doing it right. I recently joined a PUG to do some fellowship quests–and while the combat cooperation was okay (not great, but def okay), the loot-sharing was very unequal. There were two characters who were either VERY lucky, or simply “NEEDED” everything. The rest of us well-behaved adults who mostly just hit greed for crafting components etc, were continually shortchanged. Toward the end I got frustrated enough to “need” a few things for my alts. Dastardly, perhaps, but I felt justified in that I’d bascially been shouldered out of getting any loot other than shared coin for the whole adventure.

      This experience won’t prevent me from joining future PUGs, but it will make me speak up to clarify loot rules next time I join one. If not everyone is on the same page regarding what’s appropriate to need/greed, I’d rather stick with plain ol’ Roll/Pass.

      Here’s a follow-up question for you:
      How do you handle generally-useful but unnecessary loot like rep items in Need/Greed situation? Again, in this group I was “greeding” these items since no one *really* needs them. But the same two characters kept taking all of these too. Why should they get all the credit with the Mathom Society? ;-)


    • Nophilip Says:

      Whenever I lead a pug I ALWAYS set it to Roll/Pass, because in my experience there is always that one jerk who rolls need on every single piece of loot. Call them out on it and they usually say something like “I can’t be bothered to look at every piece of loot and decide whether or not I actually need it”. Setting it to roll/pass ensures that no one misses out on at least having a chance at the loot.

      In kinship runs I always have it on N/G/P because we don’t let jerks into our kin.


  3. General-Gouda Says:

    The easiest way to ensure fairness in a PUG is to lead the PUG yourself with Master Loot enabled for anything that is rare quality and up. When people want an item have them use the /roll command. Whoever rolls the highest gets the item (so long as it is an item they need similar to the situation above with the champ 1st age going to a captain). Also, another idea is to install a plugin that allows you to take quick notes and keep record of who gets what during the outing.

    Good luck!


  4. Strunto Says:

    If I was in a PUG, I would not be happy with a Master-looter situation. I’d rather take my luck with a roll/pass scenario than face a “Oh, yeah, well my friend and I were running this instance just for this item, so I’m giving it to him” after the fact.

    “PUGging opens up more group opportunities but the quality of the experience will vary,” says Elb. Translation: There are a lot of buttholes out there.


    • General-Gouda Says:

      What I meant to say is that if you want the group to be fair then YOU have to be the leader. That way you can control the flow of the loot and you can be fair. Yes, it is easy to join a PUG that has the party almost full so you can go quick but you never know who the leader is, what kind of experience they have, how they handle problems and what kind of angle they might have. What if they were running just so that they could get gear for a kinmate who is in the group?

      If you are the loot master you can be the fair person. Being fair hopefully has a positive effect on those around us. Heck, they may even ask to PUG with you again! At which point you can create a group of regulars. :)



      • Strunto Says:

        The problem, though, is that while you might have every intention of being fair, the complete strangers that are joining your group have no way of knowing that. Perhaps you are a person of great integrity and, should an item drop that you have wanted for months and run the instance dozens of times to get, maybe you would open the roll up to everyone else. Buuuuut, maybe you wouldn’t.

        I’ll relate a recent experience. I was running with my kinship. We were trying BG. We solicited for a PUG to fill out our group. One PUG among a raid of kinmates. Our leader, to her credit, was fairly straightforward that we used a point system.

        Then came the point where we’d finally finished a boss (and I do mean finally. We kinda suck.) And then the leader starts posting the roll numbers, and some of these people had like 200, 300 points. I don’t raid often. My roll number was barely over a hundred. But I couldn’t help feeling sorry for this guy who’d spent his evening with us, and had a snowball’s chance in hell at actually winning something.

        He was very gracious. He said he ran the content just for the pleasure of trying new groups, seeing different strategies. But I felt the sting of injustice.

        All of that to get to this point: My personal opinion. As soon as a stranger is introduced to the mix, and most especially in a PUG group, the playing field should be evened. Everyone should feel comfortable that they at least have a chance to gain the rewards offered by the content, even if it’s only 1/6 or 1/12. To me, that is fair.


        • Dreahed Says:

          Sorry off topic, but.

          Arrggghh I hate point systems… Point Systems = Kinship Drama in my opinnion.

          But as a semicasual player I also find that point systems deter people from even running instances. If I can do a raid a month, and others are doing them weekly, why should I bother, as I don’t and will likely never have a chance for an item. Maybe it works well for hardcore raiding kins, idk.

          On topic.

          I PUG alot. I think the number one rule that I use when looting is to not role on something that I won’t use. If I am on my LM and an LM 2A drops, I am free to roll on it if I want to. If however I am on my LM and an RK 2A drops, I won’t roll unless there is no RK in the group. Put PUGS are by nature a bit of a free for all, and you get what you get, and some are better than others. Biggest piece of advice I can give is to not get worked up over anything that happens in a PUG, better for your health. If something unforgiveable happens, but the person on your ignore list and tell your friends and kins about what happend. Even tell GLFF if it is worthwhile.

          When I say unforgiveable, I once ran SH with this guy who once we downed all the bosses, went master looter and took all the relics and runes for himself. That to me was bordering on evil.

          The drunk sleepy pugger who accidently roll on the ril-mir even though he already has one, is just an A$$ but if its not in boat of unforgiveable, more along the lines of PUG luck..

          But remember rules and ethics in PUGS only apply to yourself. No matter what is right or what rules you think others should follow, its a PUG and anything can happen.


  5. Bryandt Says:

    Don’t do PUGs. PUGs are bad. M’kay?


    • Avatar of Ketani
      Ketani Says:

      Eh, as frustrating as PUGs can be, that’s usually where I find myself challenged the most. The farther you push yourself, the better player you’ll become. Of course, my personal rule is that I’ll only PUG if I can heal. There is nothing more frustrating than running something on one of my hunters and knowing that I could have made that fail PUG work if only I’d been on one of my captains…


    • Yajard Says:

      Well, I would like to avoid them, but I really can’t due to the size of my kinship and the amount of friends I have online that are able to do those instances. I’m currently taking a break from LOTRO due to other reasons, but glad to see this come up!


  6. Tony Says:

    For better or worse, I think this is just the nature of PUGs. It’s a bunch of random people, you don’t necessarily know their personalities or goals for the instance… I’m not saying it’s not irritating and I’d certainly not do what that Captain did, but I guess I’m not surprised either.

    I tend to only do those things if my Kin is going if I really want something specific.


    • Nishka Says:


      If I’m doing a raid/instance, I choose kin first (being an officer, I usually organize them too), and then find pugs to fill in the blanks if any. We always do n/g/p, but after some very spectacular fails in raids, I make a habit of explaining the loot rules before starting the instance. If I see pugs ignoring the rules I’ll either boot them (if they’re being a jerk in fighting as well as looting) or change the loot rule (if they’re good fighters but just idiots with looting).

      However, if I join a group and *I’m* the pug, I go in expecting to get absolutely no loot, to minimize disappointment. I only go in as a pug if I need the raid (and guaranteed loot) itself.


  7. Ialva Says:

    I usually don’t really care about loots in PUGS coz there will ALWAYS be jerks who roll on stuff they don’t need or can’t use (even BoAs)

    As a healer I got constantly pulled into PUGS tho so usually I either pass on everything or just roll on universal things (XP runes, pots)


  8. fogsong Says:

    I think another thing to consider is something that Elb has brought up before – communication in a group situation is key. Asking and/or outright saying at the beginning of the run what you expect the etiquette to be is a good thing and probably will be appreciated by everyone. Most PUGs I have run in are actually pretty rarin to go by the time they fill up (1 of 6 for Grand Stairs – lol) – so most people are probably not thinking of the distribution system – they want to run the content and have been waiting and hoping the group will come together. If you bring it up then, before anything has happened, means there is no pressure on anyone and everyone knows everyone else’s expectations.

    My personal preference is Need/Greed/Pass and we extend it for crafting items – you need if you have on that toon the crafting profession for the materials. But this is PUG not kinship play – so don’t expect it to be as behaved either and be ready to either Need or just change to Roll.

    Ketani hit it – I have learned a lot about playing my class from PUGs – unexpected things happen when you play with people you don’t know. Though playing with people who are not using voice – I have had mixed results there. Fail in on simple stuff but succeed in places like Sammath Gul – lol


  9. Yajard Says:

    True, there isn’t a set of rules for PUGs when it comes to looting, but there are norms (just like in society) that are generally acceptable. You’d hope people would practice these norms in a civilized game such as LOTRO, but as I have found out, that isn’t the case all the time. I did contact the leader afterwards and did suggest a better loot system or at least explaining the rules to begin with, so someone can’t claim ignorance when proxy rolling etc.


    • Grimbran Says:

      Asking ahead about the loot rules on any kind of run where you really care about drops is the way to go. The general populace will agree that what the captain did was in really bad form, but since no one clarified the loot rules at the start, it wasn’t technically wrong.(just really annoying)

      Having the raid leader state ahead of time any special loot rules is *required* in my book. There is nothing worse than a partial-kin run where the awesome-item-x is reserved for a kinmember in the raid, and they don’t tell the puggers that they pulled in about it at the start. Its great that a kin works to help out their members, but you have to be fair about it. Cause if you were one of the pugged people and the only reason you ran with them was to have a chance at awesome-item-x, then find you have no shot at it at all, you just wasted a ton of time for nothing and feel supremely cheated.

      Personally I hate point systems for loot, they only benefit the hardcore raiders and they are the ones that institute them to benefit themselves, out of a false sense of entitlement.

      In the end some people are naturally honest and fair about things, and some people aren’t. Specifying the rules for loot beforehand will set expectations for everyone and help keep a regularly honest person from being tempted to do something stupid. For the people that intentionally run in a pug with a friend or two and have all of them roll on things you want just to increase your chances: A= You suck, its dishonest and you know it. B= If people catch you taking part in it, welcome to the ignore list.


  10. Barde Says:

    In a PUG group it is the leaders responsibility to tell the group what the rules are when it comes to loot. The Captain was not told he could not roll and the item will not go to waste as it’s not BoA. Sure it’s considered bad etiquette, but he may not know that. If it was a BoA it would be a different matter.

    Anyway the way to go about it is to simply say at the start. As someone who has lead many DN PUG runs, just state what the loot rules are before you get going. I’ve always said one armour piece and one bit of jewelery max each run, we will be using master looter for boss chests and no relogging for loot(not a problem now though). Then if people don’t like the rules they have the choice to leave. Only problem i have ever had is the amazing frequency with which real life intervenes for players right after they win their one piece, but i’ve learned to expect it now :P

    Also i personally would never use Need/Greed in PUGS as it designed for BoE items and nearly everything in LOTRO is BoA these days(with the single exception being legendary items) but if it works for your kin/group of friends then fine :)


  11. Lydia Says:

    I really appreciated this discussion. I generally only fellowship with my irl husband who is sitting in the same room with me, and we n/g/p according to what our toons and alts need most. But occasionally other people will randomly invite me to do quests in a monster-laden area, so I’m glad to see some etiquette guidelines for handling loot in those situations. And my primary is getting high enough level, that I’ll probably have to stop avoiding working with larger groups of players.


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