A vanity set, commonly known as a transmogrification or transmog set when used with that feature, is a group of items of the same armor type designed with the same visual style and spanning at least two displayed equipment slots. A character wearing the set or a transmogrification of the set will tend to have a consistent appearance, so they are often collected purely for this purpose. They should not be confused with gameplay-affecting "formal" armor sets, which are named and defined in-game and grant set bonuses when worn together. Most armor sets do form vanity sets due to their matched art design, but there are many vanity sets that are simply collections of regular items that do not depend on or enhance each other in gameplay.
These terms are also used in the community to describe any player-created group of items used for transmog or vanity wear, even if it is not a "proper" matching set intentionally created by game artists. On some reference sites, a distinction is made between player-made and "natural" vanity sets. On others such as this one that are not designed to feature player content, "vanity sets designed by Blizzard Entertainment" is usually what is meant.
History and terminology
Vanity sets were originally collected and worn by high level characters for appearance's sake when in social or other non-combat situations, such as in cities. Such a set (or part of one) might also be worn on an ongoing basis by a character at the level intended for its items, either consciously or simply because those were the best items available through the course of typical leveling gameplay. The phrase comes from the vanity label meaning that the gameplay value of an item is subservient to or nonexistent next to its "fun" use, and so "vanity set" implies that the set is not useful to a maximum-level player in combat - but it is also used as a blanket term when cataloging item designs so that high- and low-level item art can be discussed in the same way.
The addition of transmogrification removed the need for high level characters to swap between combat and vanity sets before and after entering battle, by allowing combat gear to take on the appearance of a desired set of items. The term "transmog set" (short for "transmogrification set") quickly became popular to describe sets used for this purpose, although the term is slightly misleading since all transmog sets can still be worn without using transmogrification, as was done in the past. The term is also slightly narrower than "vanity set" since not all wearable items can be transmogrified, like common quality items.
The term "cosmetic set", describing vanity sets with no significant combat attributes, also became more prominent with the new feature. Cosmetic sets did exist beforehand, such as the Haliscan and tuxedo collections, although it is notable that those cosmetic sets are not valid transmog sets due to their quality. Transmogrification made cosmetic sets attractive for many more players, and consequently they became prominent additions in areas like the Darkmoon Faire.
The increase in popularity of transmog sets also led several WoW web sites to begin cataloging them, and to the creation of new websites dedicated for that purpose.
The primary characteristic of a vanity set is a very specific visual style or concept. There are many dark colored, tough looking plate armor pieces, but a given vanity plate set might employ specific shades, geometric elements of a certain shape and size, adornments that curve in a given fashion, AND a distinctive overall style evocative of a certain period of real-life history. At least one of these properties is likely to be lacking in any item outside the set. Thus it's usually possible to distinguish between the items that were actually designed to be worn together, and other items that are only "close enough".
In some cases the connection between pieces of a set may not be apparent if the set is missing key items. For instance the Contender's Dragonscale employs different designs on the lower leggings and boots than it does on the upper pieces, so without the leggings (which contain elements from both sub-styles) it would be difficult to tell that the boots belonged in the same set as the shoulders. Despite artistic quirks of that nature and the inherent subjectivity of design, the community has largely been able to agree upon which items were designed together. Between the number of sets identified by the community, and Blizzard employees' statements about the item graphic design process, it is clear that most items were indeed designed in concert with others to achieve a cohesive look when worn together, especially in modern expansions.
Identical, lookalike, and recolored models
Many items have the same art as another. In other words, these items may replace each other with no change to a character's appearance. In most cases they are therefore considered to be alternates within the same vanity set, since both are equally effective in complementing the other pieces in the set. In some sets there may be quite a few choices for each item slot. With certain sets where one specific selection of items is considered to be more definitive, such as named raid "tier" armor sets, items that have the same model as the definitive version may instead be grouped and labeled as a separate "lookalike" set. This distinction is meaningless from a purely visual standpoint. "Lookalikes" may also refer to pieces that are not identical but very similar, especially when the true set pieces are difficult or impossible to obtain.
Some items with visual differences may be considered alternates within the same vanity set as long as the majority of the item is the same. A common example is a sleeveless version of a chest item when the torsos are identical. For example, the sleeveless is an alternate to the sleeved , since both match the color and style of the other two pieces in the set.
Some items are palette swaps or "recolors" of another, meaning they have the same geometry and outlines but different colors. Different dungeon or raid difficulty versions of an item are often recolors. When the items in a set are recolored versions of those in another set, the two sets are said to be recolors as well. There may be multiple recolor versions, each corresponding to a different color palette. Recolor sets may be different sizes from one another as long as the slots that they do have in common are recolors.
Identification and categorization
The ways in which vanity sets are made available to players makes it easier to identify and corroborate set membership than by visual inspection alone. Items in a given set tend to appear at about the same point in the progress of a character through an expansion, so it is often possible to narrow down pieces of a set by looking at items of a given armor type within a certain item level range or content patch. This also makes it possible to categorize sets as being obtained while leveling, in early end-game content, or in late end-game content; even finer divisions may be made depending on the set and content type.
The following patterns can be useful for identifying item sets:
- Raid instances, PvP seasons, and certain other content releases each have formal armor sets associated with each class, in particular the "tier" and "_____ Gladiator" series. Such armor set items are always designed to match others in the same set. Often they do not cover all displayed item slots, so non-set items from the same content may each be designed to match a set (despite being wearable by members of other classes), forming a vanity set with more pieces than the armor set alone. For instance, Damron's Belt of Darkness matches rogues' Barbed Assassin Battlegear; the full Battlegear vanity set has eight pieces even though the formal set has five.
- Other formal sets such as Windhawk Armor also typically have matching items. As above, items from outside the set may also use the same style, thus forming a vanity set larger than the formal sets. Because the items are not content-linked, it is more common for such sets to draw from a variety of levels. For instance, Ironfeather Armor is part of the same vanity set as Windhawk Armor, despite being from classic and The Burning Crusade, respectively.
- Certain cosmetic sets are usually released as a group or from the same source, such as those rewarded for challenge mode dungeons.
- The heroic dungeons of a given expansion or content patch often drop gear that can be grouped into sets of matching items, sometimes corresponding to different roles. For example, Patch 4.3.0 added the three Hour of Twilight dungeons, which collectively dropped items that could be assembled into nine vanity sets.
- Quests that are close together, both geographically and by level, may award items in the same style.
- Item collections, groups of crafted or world drop items with the same name, often form vanity sets, but frequently a difference in style is observable between two subgroups within a collection. For example, six level 48-53 cloth items named "Abjurer's _____" are in the same style, but the and Mantle have a slightly different style and are part of a separate 3-piece vanity set.
Because many items may use the same models and are therefore usable in the same vanity set, some sets may contain pieces that fit more than one of these patterns. For example, the Contender's Dragonscale is a formal set associated with a PvP season, but its pieces also match a number of items from heroic dungeons; PvP gear sometimes matches PvE content of an equivalent patch or level; and world drops may match rewards from quests of similar levels.
In general, the game has become more focused and consistent in the way it presents sets of items. A number of The Burning Crusade items reused models from classic, but modern expansions are more likely to have their own styles with fresh artwork. Collections in the past, such as the Abjurer's series, often had splits where some did not match the others, but now are very likely to be consistent throughout.
There are a couple logical arguments that may also aid in identifying sets:
- If item A is in the same style as B, B uses the same model as C, and C is in a set with D, then theoretically all four items should be in the same style. For instance are in a set with the , the Breastplate uses the same model as the , and the Hauberk matches the and Bracers, so all five items are likely to form a consistent 4-slot transmog set.
- If items in a set have recolors, then logically any items recolored the same way form a set, even if they share no in-game connection beyond their visuals.
Determining a name for a set can be quite arbitrary, and depends on the will of the community. When sets are recolors or lookalikes of another, they will often use the name of the other set appended with "(recolor)" or "(lookalike)", either to respect the notability of the referenced set or simply to avoid having to make up a new name. When numerous pieces inside a vanity set share a formal armor set, name, or other key word, it is common but not universal to refer to the set by that term. Names of items that were released in the game first may receive precedence. Other criteria may be used, but in many cases it simply varies from case to case.
- Patch 4.3.0 (2011-11-29): Transmogrification added, expanding and popularizing the use of vanity sets.