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Intro Guide to Karma and the Renown System

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July 28, 2012 - 5:31pm -- jeffprime
guild wars 2 intro guide to karma and the renown system

Guild Wars 2 offers quite a few unique mechanics and one of those can be found in how the game handles normal questing and rewards. Instead of hordes of NPCs with question marks floating over their heads, Guild Wars 2 has a more centralized system of questing known as Renown with rewards in the form of Karma. To fully explain these mechanics, Guild Wars 2 Hub offers this intro guide to Renown and Karma.


We're all used to the standard MMO fare of grabbing quests from multitudes of NPCs in an area and then running off to do them. Guild Wars 2 handles this aspect in a different way. Instead of multiple NPCs that give quests, there are a handful of fixed locations in every zone that are known as Renown Hearts.

These are marked by heart-shaped icons on your map and will be highlighted by any scouts (people marked with the telescope icon) you interact with, along with what is need to complete each Renown Heart and its level. Each Renown Heart is associated with a specific NPC (those with hearts floating over them), and those NPCs will ask the players to help them. However, a player does not need to talk to the NPC to get the quest as just moving into the area will have it automatically show up on your screen.

guild wars 2 intro guide to karma and the renown system

To help a Renown NPC in Guild Wars 2, the player will need to perform a variety of tasks. Being able to fulfill a quest by different means is a refreshing change from the typical MMO. In the image below, you can see that I'm involved in helping Farmer Diah. The various ways that I can help her are shown along with a bar showing how much I've completed for this Renown task.

guild wars 2 intro guide to karma and the renown system

As you will notice, I can gain progress by watering corn, stomping wurm mounds, feeding cattle, and defending the fields. Each task you do will increase the total in the progress bar. You can choose to do the same task over and over again (allowing for respawn) or do a multitude of different tasks. It does not matter which task you choose and the choice is up to you.

Once you've completed the Renown tasks and filled up the bar, you will get rewarded with some XP and Karma. You will then also receive a letter from the NPC that includes some money as a reward. Fulfilling a Renown Heart also counts towards the total completion of your map.

guild wars 2 intro guide to karma and the renown system

Once you have finished the Renown tasks associated with a specific NPC, the heart floating over them, as well as on your map, will be filled. Once this is accomplished, the NPC becomes a Karma Merchant, which leads us to...


Karma is a form of currency in Guild Wars 2 that you can spend at Karma Merchants for a variety of goods. Every Renown NPC becomes a Karma Merchant once you've completed all their tasks, but there are also other Karma Merchants scattered throughout Tyria. For example, there are Karma Merchants located in each major city that will sell you a variety of crafting materials, and even certain crafting trainers, such as the Chef trainer, will sell materials for Karma.

You can gain Karma from completing Renown tasks, dynamic events, and through personal storylines (both yours and other players if you're grouped with them). Karma Merchants can sell everything from weapons and armor to potions to food. Usually, the items that a Karma Merchant carries is of higher quality than items dropped by creatures of a relative level range. Naturally, the better the item, the higher the cost. Below you can see some items carried by a Karma Merchant in lower level zone in Guild Wars 2.

guild wars 2 intro guide to karma and the renown system

As you can see, Renown and Karma go together, hand-in-hand. Completing Renown tasks rewards you not only with XP and money, but also with Karma points and the ability to spend those points from the NPC you've just helped. Overall, the Renown and Karma systems in Guild Wars 2 is a different take on the quest/reward mechanic.

Instead of running willy-nilly all over a zone looking for quests, you automatically know where to go, what you need to do, and what level the challenge is for the Renown tasks. Wasting time is irritating and Guild Wars 2 really keeps that to a minimum. Now get out there and start making those hearts glow!


sylvinstar's picture
Submitted by sylvinstar on

I love that you can be running around killing things, or doing other activities and actually be completing the renown tasks before you even talk to the NPC.  We did have an issue this weekend, where a friend of mine playing a human was not getting the updates in the Sylvari and Asuran areas without first talking to the heart NPC however.  This is something to keep in mind come launch if it doesn't get fixed.

From what I remember, some of the crafted stuff I made in BWE1 was about the same quality as the karma gear.  Some items were better.  If you don't plan on crafting, karma will be the way to get better gear.  What will be interesting to see, is if the stats on equal level Karma gear, Crafted gear, and Dungeon gear are in the same ballpark.  Supposedly, this is how it will be in Guild Wars 2.

In addition, the daily/monthly completions can also be quite rewarding.  I received a transmutation stone, money, xp and some other goodies for completing a monthly completion last BWE.  I believe it was participating in 100 events (yeah I PvE'd that much).

Galen's picture
Submitted by Galen on

Nice guide indeed.  I know one of the things I didn't understand at first was the concept that the karm rewards were kind of like when in the old system you finished a quest and got a piece of armor.  The difference, of course, as pointed out, is that you get Karma and the decide what you want to buy with the Karma.  Not realizing that, I wasn't getting the armor and stuff cause I was hording the Karma, thinking I would need to horde it for later use to get good stuff.  The truth is, between Renown Hearts and Dynamic Events you can easily and quickly build up an impressive amount of Karma and have no real need to stock pile it.



Yski's picture
Submitted by Yski on

Talking about Renown hearts, I've seen people confuse these for the dynamic events and criticize that they're not all that different from normal quests, and many people seem to just go from heart to heart and grind their way through them, ignoring dynamic events.

With that in mind, here's the history behind renown hearts in case we have people here that don't know it.

During early alpha testing, there were only dynamic events, but people were confused due to not having anything telling them where to go. To solve this problem, the Scout NPCs were added to show where a lot of dynamic events often happen. Originally, the hearts were simply marks on the map to show people where to go.

Since then the heart system has evolved, namely they are no longer just marks on the map. It's a nice idea: you don't have to walk around randomly, and when you get somewhere and there are no dynamic events to do, you can always do a few small tasks and get a reward. Unfortunately, it has resulted in people simply trying to complete all the renown hearts, which really aren't what you're supposed to focus on. It's a bit like trying to collect as many candy papers as possible and throwing the candies themselves away.

So, my advice is, do the hearts only when you have nothing else to do (Or when they are awesome like the golem chess thingylaugh) and you happen to be passing by.

Every single forum I've used to spread anti guardian propaganda has subsequently died out on me. Coincidence? I think not!

sylvinstar's picture
Submitted by sylvinstar on

The hearts and the resulting Karma you get for completing them are also a good source of cooking mats and even recipes.

Ian Smith's picture
Submitted by Ian Smith on

I thought some vendors had transmog stones on them too?  Has that been changed?

Sardu's picture
Submitted by Sardu on

A few months ago, most karma merchants after the 1-15 zones seemed to sell at least one form of of the stones along with either salvage kits or gathering tools.

That seems to have been scaled back a bit (I see a lot more bulk cooking mats instead now) but I'm sure there are still some merchants around that sell them.

oneeyered's picture
Submitted by oneeyered on

Another nice guide.

Its a simple world for complicated people



Madrox's picture
Submitted by Madrox on

Karma was incredibly useful in the BWE's for filling equipment slots. Decent trinkets are sold from karma vendors, which are hard to come by from mob drops. It made doing dynamic events and completing hearts all the more rewarding.

So should you save your karma for later areas with better rewards?

jeffprime's picture
Submitted by jeffprime on

I'm glad that they brought Renown Hearts into the game in addition to the dynamic events. The more choices you have for playing the game, the better it is (a sad fact that most online games ignore). As for Karma, I'm torn between hoarding them until the teens or just picking up some nice trinkets right away.

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