My husband’s Alliance bank alt was in Stormwind this morning, when he was unexpectedly killed by someone in his own faction. He wasn’t flagged, he hadn’t agreed to a duel. He was just puttering about in the AH and the next thing he knew, he was being asked if he wanted to release his spirit. (A level 70 Gnome warrior standing by said “bwahaha,” so at first he thought he was responsible, but it may be that he was laughing because he survived the blast.) As it turns out, there is an exploit, typically used by shamans with their fire totems, that allows you to kill someone in your own faction. Because of the way it’s done (and I will not post that here), it will only kill them if they are a low level toon because it requires that they be killed in a single blast from the totem.
This is clearly not something Blizzard intended to allow and it’s been reported in several places, including a few threads in the official forums. I did some searches this morning (carefully, because if you put “exploit” in the search terms, you get some rather shady-looking, potentially keylogger-laden hits), and it seems that as often as people are reporting that they got ganked by someone in their own faction, there are others begging for it not to be reported because they like to use the trick to kill goldspammers. You know, it’s funny… I did notice quite a few dead goldspammers on the ground in Ironforge this weekend, and I thought for a moment that maybe a GM actually did something to zap their characters or accounts. For as many times as I report those bastards, I’ve never seen their corpses around, so these caught my eye. But now it makes a bit more sense… I’ll bet they were killed by other players.
I’m sure this exploit will be fixed, just like the similar ones that came before it (snake traps, infernals, etc). Each time such an exploit is found and fixed, some of the player base interprets it as Blizzard’s support of goldspammers. I disagree. I think it’s Blizzard instead protecting the legitimate player who would be targeted by a bored shaman while their lowbie bank alt is checking the price of leather in the AH. Some players have not only asked that this exploit remain in the game, but that there be more options given to players so that they can take the law into their own hands and gank the goldspammers and botters. Again, while it would be great to be able to buy a nice “Shut Up Balm” (or “Bomb” maybe) to apply to a goldspammer so he can’t say anything else, I just don’t think Blizzard can trust its players to target only “the bad guys.”
The one thing I can’t decide now is whether I’d report someone if my bank alt was caught in the blast. I’ve read that players can be banned for using this exploit. (Just a 3 hour ban, but a ban nonetheless, and a flag on their account.) I think I would, but maybe it would depend on how many goldspammers they managed to take out. 😉 Maybe I should get some better armor for my bank alt?
EDIT: From what we’ve heard and read since I first posted this, it seems very unlikely that the Gnome warrior who killed him. Instead, it was probably a shaman that had logged out, so I massaged the text above to remove blame from the Gnome.