It is a common problem for people in a fantasy gaming world to encounter: Once the evil dragon is finally dead, how do we divvy up the loot? Even the classic Dungeons and Dragons 2nd ed. players handbook talks about how the party could or should divide up the magical items and treasure that are found once a monster is defeated. There are many systems of course and some are better than others. The D&D 2nd solutions range from everybody getting loot totally randomly (which is fair, but idiotic since a fighter with a magic wand and a mage with a suit of Chain Mail + 1 is not particularly good for beating the *next* dragon) to everyone just being reasonable about things and giving loot to the people who can use it best. There is much discussion about making sure everyone gets something and balancing need against equality.
This question is an important one in WOW. When a boss finally dies you have to figure out who gets the stuff. The most common methods are Loot Council, Dragon Kill Points (DKP) and rolling. Loot Council has the benefit that the officers of a guild can make sure that loot goes to people who have better attendance, greater need or are deserving in some other way. It has the problem that the council can also make sure the guild leader's significant other gets more loot than anybody else even though they are terrible and rarely show up. This is obviously not the only way favourtism appears but it certainly is very common. The greater problem is that even if the leaders are being quite fair there is a constant perception of bias from outside their circle. DKP has the advantages of being transparent and equitable but it requires large amounts of outside work and leads to point hoarding, collusion and badly allocated items.
When my guild decided on our loot system a few years ago we wanted something very fast to use with minimal overhead and absolutely zero decisions to make. Nobody wanted the headache of trying to figure out what was most fair and the inevitable ill will that results from making the decision rightly or wrongly. When a piece of loot is being allocated everyone interested in it rolls. The person who is highest on the following list gets the item and if there is a tie the highest roll takes it.
1. Raiders for Main
2. Raider-Initiates/Members for Main
3. Raiders for Main, same ilvl
4. Raider-Initiates/Members for Main, same ilvl
5. Raiders for Off
6. Raider-Initiates/Members for Off
7. Raiders for Off, same ilvl
8. Raider-Initiates/Members for Off, same ilvl
That is it. No decisions, no overhead. There are a few caveats in that hunters get 'super mainspec' access to range weapons and 'not quite mainspec' access to melee weapons and items with hit or spirit can only be rolled as mainspec by the appropriate classes/specs. Also the guild leader would get to award a legendary item if that ever came up... which it did not.
I have played with DKP, Loot Council and the rolling method above and I can say for a certainty that this system is by far the best. There is no guilt or confusion about when you are allowed to roll, no hidden penalties for rolling at the wrong time and no significant way to game the system in a fashion that is bad for the group. One advantage I particularly like is that it is extremely fast to award loot compared to how things worked with other systems.
Unfortunately my guild is done with raiding, which is certainly another post in and of itself. This means that to continue to raid I have to find some other group of folks and learn to deal with all their quirks and peculiarities including a loot system that isn't all it could be. The group I found has a pretty reasonable system... but I am spoiled now; I have become a loot system snob. Now I must qualify this with the note that they don't run a pure Loot Council nor DKP but rather a rolling system that has a ton of unwritten social rules. You don't ask for too much loot, you don't ask for loot someone else really wants, you don't ask for loot that is a bigger upgrade for someone else than yourself. Trouble with all these caveats is that they just invite drama and delay. Before I know if I should ask for something I have to check the other bidders to figure out how much loot they have gotten lately and compare that to my own acquisition. I also need to figure out how much of an upgrade it is for the various people involved and whether or not anybody is waiting on this particular drop. All of this leads to delay while everybody involved does all the calculation and inevitably hard feelings will emerge when somebody comes to a different conclusion than somebody else. The group I am joining have a long track record of being successful and lacking in drama so I suspect nothing bad will happen but once you have worked with the best it is hard to accept anything less.
We had some very telling experiences with our system when new recruits joined up. In particular a recent warlock recruit was asking about the status of the set piece shoulders.
Me: I keep hoping we will run out of mainspec people to give them to so I can get a set for my tanking spec.
Recruit: Well, obviously I will pass the shoulders to you.
Me: The hell you will. You will roll like everybody else and the system will award it to the correct person which is you in this case. I don't expect you to pass up mainspec gear just because I am the guild leader and you need to pander to my desires - that kind of crap is for other guilds.
Man, that felt good. That careful pussyfooting around trying to figure out how to not offend people by asking for what you want is a regular and terrible aspect of joining new groups. I am damn glad that my guild spent more time yelling at recruits to roll for gear and stop being scared than for anything else. Creating an atmosphere where the focus is on playing the game instead of trying to avoid hurting people's feelings is important.