The tier system is an OOC system for classifying the quality of items.
Weapons and Armor
To briefly explain tiering on staff side..
We have a tool that makes items from tiered templates. Player-forged items were, from what I recall, designed to always be better. It does frequently leave us in a tough spot to provide something top shelf though. Also, to make something as good as or better than forged, it requires knowing the crafting system in a way that only a few players have really worked out. To be blunt, most GMs don't have that interest level. To go briefly offtopic, yes, it has been considered to simply get players to craft something and then copy it, but it's not something I believe we're doing.
|Tier 6/7||Not always fully tiered for the template, but this is our top tier and typically only seen behind paywalls.|
|Tier 5||This one requires senior approval typically and is usually paired with a unique mechanic. Typical for non-pay event auctions, limited raffles, limited sales.|
|Tier 4||This is considered "master quality" steel and is frequently found in festival shops or "limited availability" shops. You shouldn't see this level at auctions or for quest prizes but you may see it in raffles. These typically fall to "pretty good, but if I spend out a bunch more money, I can get better."|
|Tier 3||This is appropriate for 24/7 shops in a major town. We also sometimes use this tier for common treasure drops. It's "acceptable" quality if you just need a quick weapon and can't drop loads of money yet.|
|Tier 2||This is the appropriate level for 24/7 shops NOT in a major town. It's adequate. It's what you can trade the grizzled veteran for or pick up cheaply as a noob.|
|Tier 1||You found this on a creature like a goblin. It's terrible. It's what you got from the character manager.|
In general, weapon "tier" is determined by stats. Every weapon category has a formula that determines its total stats at a given weight. This formula is unique due to how each weapon group's RTs, base weight and handidness vary.
Mathematically you might say this should give lower-tier lighter weapons an edge, and higher tier 2-handers an edge. However, stats have a built in diminishing-returns that evens this out nicely.
But this breaks for weapons like mirror blades that add a gigantic bonus to balance and suitedness. In combat today, balance improves your OF score and suitedness raises your potential damage cap and chance to stun/knockback. At the extremely high end these do not provide as much of a functional benefit as raising the damage stats, so the "tier" appears inflated. A true Tier 8 weapon would have the same stat total, but would shift some power/balance into P/S/I.
|Tier 8 - Unique Quality||Absolute cap for items. [Approval Required]. (Players cannot forge this)|
|Tier 7 - Epic Quality||Quest Boss Drops. [Approval Required]. (Players cannot forge this)|
|Tier 6 - Legendary Quality||Final Quest Prizes, Auction Quality. [Approval Required]. (Only forged from End-Quest/Auction metals)|
|Tier 5 - Very Rare Quality||Quest Drops, Player Cap for Very Rare Metal Forging|
|Tier 4 - Rare Quality||Expensive shops, Player Cap for Steel Forging|
|Tier 3 - Uncommon Quality||Normal shops|
|Tier 2 - Common Quality||Normal shops|
|Tier 1 - Poor Quality||Specialy Shops|
Armor and Shields
|Tier 6 - Grandmaster Rare-Metal Quality||Auctions, Quest prizes. [Approval Required]|
|Tier 5 - Master Rare-Metal Quality||Extremely Expensive, limited-quantity shops. [Approval Required]|
|Tier 4 - Grandmaster Steel Quality||Expensive shops|
|Tier 3 - Master Steel Quality||Normal shops|
|Tier 2 - Storebought Quality||Normal shops|
|Tier 1 - Low Quality||Specialy Shops|
"Tier" is a broad term that covers any item with levels of upgrades. A fluff ring for example may have 3 verbs at tier 1, 5 verbs at tier 2, 10 verbs at tier 3, and 15 verbs at tier 4. In that ring's case, there may not even be a tier 5+ like gear has. Outside of gear, tier is a general term to explain how many 'unlocks' a particular scripted item can have / what it's currently at." --Zadraes (1/19/2016)