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NOTICE: This guide is meant to be a complete guide to DKP and
its use. It is however written from a WoW perspective so some of the
terminology, group sizes, items, etc are only relevant for WoW. The
ideas and concepts are easy to view separately from the game and use
for any MMO, and players should feel free to do so. Most DKP systems
are only used for large raids and not 5 man instances. I have included
some 5 man instance examples just for simple examples.

What the Heck is DKP?

This is a fairly common question for players either new to MMO's or
new to end game raids in MMO's. In fact many people play MMO's for
years before they actually hear the term, as it is only really used at
the raiding level of play. If you are a casual player and do not raid,
DKP does very little for you.

DKP is a loot system that was invented long ago (in the video game
time frame) as a way to decide who should get the loot that drops in a
dungeon. Most players feel that a completely random roll for loot is
not fair since one player may consistently win or lose the roll. A more
controlled and organized system ensures that all players eventually get
roughly even amounts of loot based on their attendance of the guilds
raids. The acronym DKP stands for Dragon Kill Points. A simple
definition of DKP would be:

DKP (Dragon Kill Points) - A complex
tracking system used by guilds in MMO's to distribute loot to players,
based on the player's contribution to the guild's raiding efforts.

A more complex and in depth definition of DKP and a bit about its
history can be found in the definition from href="" target="_blank">

DKP, short for Dragon Kill Points, is a concept originally
created by Thott of Afterlife. These points are awarded to each guild
member as they attend a guild raid. The current DKP of each member
reflects his or her priority for loot. When a member "wins" an item,
they lose a DKP amount that reflects the value of that item. DKP allows
for an unbiased comparison between guild members when decisions about
loot are to be made based on attendance and recent items that have been

The Afterlife guild is still alive and well and can be found here: href="" target="_blank">

How Does DKP work?

DKP can be complicated and has evolved over time into several
different variations. Before getting into the exact details of the
variations and different ways DKP is implemented you should have a firm
grasp of the basic concept. The basic concept is that you are awarded
points for participating in Raids with your guild. These points are
then tracked by someone in the guild and used to help determine who
gets future loot.

In general the player with the most available points will get the
item that they want over another player that wants the same item. This
means that if player 1 has 200 DKP and player 2 has 175 DKP and an item
drops that they both want, player 1 gets it if they are willing to
spend the DKP points on it. If it was 50 DKP points they would recieve
the item and pay the 50 DKP. The next item that both players want would
then go to player 2 as they would be the higher player at 175 DKP
compared to player 1's new total of 150 DKP.

How do I earn DKP points?

No matter which system of DKP is used there are usually several ways
to earn points. The ones used in your guild are up to the guild. Some
guilds use all methods to award points while others only use the loot
drops to determine points. There is no right or wrong way, as long as
it is consistent. Below is a list of the primary methods of earning DKP

Loot Drops - This is by far the most common method
to award points to players for the actual loot that drops on the raid.
This requires either a chart of point values for all possible drops in
a zone or the use of open points bidding for the item. Points charts in
WoW are normally allocated in increments of 10 or 25 so that any item
that drops can be easily divided by the number of players in the raid.
With a point chart system each player would get a fraction of the
points that were allocated to the item, whether they got the item or

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Loot Drop Chart Points Example:

Guild A kills a boss in a 10 player raid. The boss drops 3
epic items that have a points rating. The items are worth 100, 100, and
50 points.

  • Gradiel and Woodchick each bid on, and receive one of the
    100 point items, while Kaarma receives the 50 point item. The other 7
    people in the raid receive no loot.
  • A total of 250 points were dropped by the boss.
  • Each of the 7 players in the raid that did not get loot
    recieve 25 DKP for future use.
  • Kaarma loses 25 DKP (25 points earned - 50 points spent)
  • Gradiel and Woodchick each lose 75 DKP (25 points earned -
    100 points spent)

If your guild uses a bidding system then it all comes down to how
much is bid on each item. There are generally minimum bids for an
items, and minimum increments. Bid systems are becoming less common
though, as tracking them becomes more complicated and the actual bids
need to be manually tracked and updated into a system later.

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Loot Drop Bid Points Example:

Guild A kills a second boss in a 10 player raid. The boss
drops 2 epic items that players want and bidding ensues.

  • Demonseed and Woodchick bid against each other for a caster
    weapon and eventually Demonseed wins it for 450 points.
  • Velas and Gosfail both want a healer ring and bid against
    each other until Velas wins it for 300 points.
  • Each of the 8 players in the raid gain that did not get
    loot recieve 75 DKP for future use.
  • Demonseed loses 375 DKP (75 points earned - 450 points
  • Velas loses 225 DKP (75 points earned - 300 points spent)

Boss Kills - Some guilds award points based on the
boss that is defeated. This can be based on the difficulty of the boss,
potential drops from the boss, or difficulty getting a group for the
boss. This is often used for bosses that people do not like fighting,
have poor drops, or are that players have grown bored with. Many times
this is a bonus to the loot drop points that guilds use to encourage
players to attend for all bosses.

Instance Bonus - This is sometimes used to
encourage players to stay to complete entire raids. Many guilds will
track when players join the raid and if they stay until completion.
Some guilds offer bonuses to those that stay until the end, while other
guilds chose to not award their loot or boss kill points until the end
of the raid and then only to those still in attendance. Either way
works out to roughly the same thing.

Time Bonus - This is very often used by guilds when
learning new instances or bosses. There are few other ways to earn
points if you are not killing bosses or receiving loot, so this
encourages guild members to attend and help learn the new instances or
bosses. It is generally a preset point amount per hour equal to to
normal DKP awards if fighting bosses.

Extra Bonuses - There are many other things that
your guild can choose to award bonus DKP for. For instance some grant a
bonus for being on time to a raid, some grant bonuses for first time
kills of bosses, some grant extra DKP for defeating heroic mode bosses,
or for showing up for gearing runs for new players. This is really up
to your guild and is generally used as extra motivation to get people
attending different things or as rewards for downing new content.

What are these Variations of DKP that you mention?

There are several main types of DKP. The biggest that are in
standard use are regular DKP (as described above), zero-sum DKP,
suicide DKP, and GDKP.

Standard DKP - This is a straight forward system
where everyone earns points and you can only spend the points that you
have. You may never spend more than you have and no one is ever below
zero points.

Zero-Sum DKP - In a zero-sum DKP system the guild
DKP records always end with a zero total point balance. The person that
is interested in an item may voice interest no matter their points
balance. The player with the highest points balance receives the item
and goes down that amount of points even if they were at a negative
number or it will take them to a negative value.

Zero-sum takes some time to get used to and is more complicated but
many feel it is a fairer system and allows people to get items they
need even if they do not have points, instead of disenchanting them.

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Zero-Sum DKP Example:

The following group is in a DKP rated instance with the
starting totals shown:

Messiah (Mage)
Ratboy (Hunter)
Boomjack (Druid)
Ralphedel (Warrior)
Ethec (Priest)

After killing the first boss a caster staff drops that was
assigned a value of 10 points. Messiah, Boomjack and Ethec all want it.
Messiah has the highest current DKP so is awarded the staff, which
costs him 10 points. Each member of the party is then also awarded 2
points for the drop (10 points / 5 players), which leaves us with the

Ratboy (Hunter)
Messiah (Mage)
Boomjack (Druid)
Ralphedel (Warrior)
Ethec (Priest)

The next boss drops 2 items, an Axe worth 15 points and a
caster ring worth 10 points. Both Ratboy and Ralphedel are interested
in the axe, but Ratboy has the most points so gets it. Ethec is the
only caster that wants the ring (Messiah and Boomjack already have it)
. Ratboy spends 15 points and Ethec spends 10 (driving himself further
into the hole, but still getting items!). Also 25 points were dropped
so each player earns 5. The chart would now look like this:


Messiah (Mage)

Boomjack (Druid)
Ralphedel (Warrior)
Ratboy (Hunter)
Ethec (Priest)


Zero-sum DKP was originally designed to resolve the issues around
item rot. What is item rot you ask? It is what happens to items that
nobody can afford due to lack of points, or they are not willing to
spend all their points knowing they would be near zero and not be able
to get anything else after.

An example of this would be that a boss drops an Uber Sword of Fire.
It is worth 120 points, but nobody that wants it has 120 points.
Without zero-sum it would not be given out and would "rot" on the
corpse. The saying, "Grats Rot" was common in EQ for this reason.

Suicide DKP - This is a relatively new DKP system
that is similar to zero-sum but far simpler. DKP is earned normally by
all players, however, when you win an item, you immediatly lose all
your earned DKP and drop down to 0. This has seen a lot of use lately
for two main reasons.

The first reason is that it is simple to maintain, because everyone
has a point value as they earn them or zero as soon as they get a piece
of gear. The second reason is that it really pushes players to use
points early when they have them, since no matter how many points you
have, you still drop to zero once you buy an item.

A key point to keep in mind here is that you do not actually need
points to get an item. If you express interest in an item, win it and
drop to zero, and then another item drops, you can still express
interest in it. If no one else wants the item, you can still get it,
and it just cost you nothing. If multiple players that have zero want
it, then it goes to a tie breaker, usually based on the results of a
random roll.

GDKP - The first three all use points-based
systems to track and priortize loot distribution. GDKP uses gold and is
generally a system used for pick-up-group raids. It will not be
discussed in detail here, instead if you are interested in it, we have
a full guide for it here: href="">GDKP Guide.

What about the bidding systems I have heard of?

Many guilds either do not like pre-made point charts or want a more
free flowing system. In these systems any time an item is dropped
players are allowed a chance to bid on the item. This allows players
that do not have the most points to still potentially get the item that
they want if they are willing to spend more points.

Even though one player may have a 100 DKP and another only 80, under
this system if the person with 80 was willing to give up 75 of their
points and the person with 100 was only willing to spend 70, then the
person with 80 would get the item. Under a fixed system the item might
have only cost 40 points, but the player with 80 would never stand a
chance to get it, or it may have been worth 120 points and neither
could have gotten it.

All of the DKP charts are then updated based on the points spent on
the item. When using a bidding system, numbers can get complicated on a
DKP chart as many players will have fractions of a point. Some guilds
drop all fractions at the end of a raid, while others keep them or
round up to the nearest number.

Lastly, most guilds that allow bidding have a minimum point value
assigned to items. It may be on a per item basis or a simple 10 point
min. on all armor and 15 point min. on all weapons.

Why do we need DKP?

DKP is in place to, over time, make things fair for all players in a
raiding guild. It has several goals that most games do not address in
their loot system. If a system was built in-game to address the
perceived loot issues then DKP would probably not be needed. The issues
it tries to address and the general goals of the system are as follows.

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DKP Goals

  • Effort equals reward. A long time player should have a
    better chance to get an item they want than a first time raider
  • Must be fair and unbiased for all players
  • Strengthen those that will further help the guild. To do
    this you must reward players that participate and help the guild over
    time become stronger, thereby helping the guild become stronger 
  • To promote participation in raids. Even if the raid does
    not have an item that you need, you will gain points that can be used
    in future raids to get items you need
  • Be an easy system to manage

Is DKP Fair?

This is a matter of opinion rather than something that can easily be
given a yes or no answer. There are two sides to the argument. Both
have some valid points and are worth looking at.

Yes, it is fair - Without a DKP system or some loot
distribution system it is entirely possible that a player could raid
with you for a year and never get an item. This could happen if every
item was randomed and they were unlucky on the random rolls. This means
they may put 52 weeks of effort in for zero reward. With a DKP system,
they would be guaranteed to get something as over time they would
become the highest on the list and become eligible for the choice of
the gear they wanted.

No, it isn't fair - On the flip side, attending
additional raids does not up the percentage chance that the item you
want drops, it's always random. Additionally, if it is known that you
are only attending and saving points for item X and you have the
highest DKP, it decreases the chance that others that want that item
will attend the raid. This is because as long as you have the highest
DKP total they have no chance to get the item.

Like I said both have their points. In the long term though I (and
most guilds) find it is better to reward the players that have put
serious time into learning and playing through raids with the guild.
Without a DKP system it is entirely possible that a player joins a raid
guild, runs a few raids, gets all the items they need / want and then
leave the guild. By using an effort-based reward system it promotes
staying with a guild over time and helping the guild as a whole.

Where can I find DKP management software?

There are two main DKP software packages right now. The are eqDKP
which is based on the first implementation and designed for Everquest 1
and 2 and nDKP which is made primarily for World of Warcraft. Both are
easy to modify though and there is tons of support (especially for
eqDKP) that should allow you to fit almost any game. Links to both
sites can be found in the Links and References section below.

Links and References

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our World of Warcraft Game Page.

Last Updated: Mar 13, 2016

About The Author

Byron 1
Byron has been playing and writing about World of Warcraft for the past ten years. He also plays pretty much ever other Blizzard game, currently focusing on Heroes of the Storm and Hearthstone, while still finding time to jump into Diablo III with his son.


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