What Should Cosmetic Glyphs Look Like? + Class Skins!

The new druid forms in 9.1.5 scratched an itch with many players that they have had for a long time. I was very happy when I first read about that too, but I ultimately walked out a little disappointed, simply because I don’t really play druid. Now, I do think druids are in a somewhat special case for receiving new forms, as 3 of their specs spend most of their time in druid forms and won’t get to customise their appearance with their transmogs as often… but wouldn’t it be great if we had more cosmetic glyphs for others as well?

We have actually seen a steady influx of cosmetic glyphs over the years, water elementals received a few new colour variations in BFA for example, but most of these additions are either rare or very small… and they are consumable effects, likely as to not make inscription even weaker of a profession than it already is. The most notable cosmetic spell effect we have ever received was the addition of the green fire questline, which is pretty universally loved as well.

So in this thread I’d like to open some discussion about cosmetic spell effects in its various forms. I’m personally more interested to discuss systems and implementation rather than specific customisations in this particular thread, but I would also love to hear suggestions for things to add.

The primary means of acquiring glyphs are through the inscription profession, which I think is doing both inscription and everyone else a disservice. A major profession should ideally not rely so strongly on serving a market that isn’t related so much to gameplay as much as it is to social interaction and personal expression. Glyphs also tend to vary in price by a lot, because demand for them fluctuates wildly. They are also consumable, which in its current iteration isn’t necessarily negative, but that is mainly because you will rarely actually replace or remove them very often - both because you might not have alternatives to replace them with, and because the glyph prices might be so high that swapping them regularly becomes untenable.

And while I say glyphs are consumable, I do of course mean that this is what counts for spell customisation, and not druid forms. They have a more permanent home in the barbershop, and I would ideally like to see another library added to the collection UI where we can gather our other glyphs.

So if we were to be able to collect these appearances and unlock them permanently, what now? Do we change our spell appearances in the transmog interface, or the barbershop? I remember reading somewhere, probably a good while ago, that Blizzard was wondering what to do with class trainers. We could always let our class trainers allow us to change up our spell appearances for us, much like how we would visit the barbershop.

There are some concerns to address with this, however. If we want spell customisation, there has to be rules set in place to decide what goes, and what doesn’t. One of the biggest reasons we haven’t seen a lot of these spell effects (aside from resource management I imagine) is readability. Spells still need to be recognisable enough, while also being creative enough so that you might want to change it. Incinerate is easily read as Incinerate, whether it is red or green, and that might be as far as these changes go. But if one has to be this conservative with changing spells, one has to wonder if a wider collection system is even warranted. It would then be easier to decide whether or not you want green or red fire, as warlocks can do today, without having to saddle on another system. Another issue with being very conservative about customisation is that some classes will inevitably have more customisations than others. Warriors, for example, generally use melee animations to convey their abilities, and it is harder to make much of a change to those than it would be to change the tint of a mage’s frostbolt, or a paladin’s judgement. Should classes be treated differently in that case?

I could go on and on about this, I’d love to hear some thoughts on how this would realistically even be implemented.

Class Skins
An idea that has been brought up frequently in many different subcommunities in WoW are class skins, the ability to replace all of your abilities appearance but with the same function as your original class, to not make a balancing nightmare.

Personally, I am a little unsure of class skins, as I do see a couple of hurdles to overcome. A lot of class features such as class quests, class sets, order halls and so on, while not necessarily a barrier, appeal to the core fantasy of the classes. A necromancer skin for a warlock might make sense because they would theoretically share the same toolkit (summoning, shadow abilities, dots), but it might be a slightly bigger stretch to see necromancers running around in the warlock order hall. (Disclaimer: I know this is actually a bad example from a lore point of view, because the Legion and warlocks have tons of ties to necromancers already!)

That being said, these obstacles aren’t necessarily that difficult to overcome, and there are other pros. I also think that class skins would be able to quench some of the demand for new classes. A lot of people want to play as necromancers, the cloth-wearing kind and not the death knight kind, and a class skin would be a better way to implement that than to add a whole new class to have to balance. Assuming the class skins make sense, of course.

In the end, there might just be better ways of doing this that I haven’t even thought up.

Okay, that was a lot of words. I’m curious to hear what others have to say about this!


They can also add back a lot of old lost effects like some legion ones that were tied to traits (icy veins ice buildup or firemage felomelorn floating orbs)


Pretty much just path of exile style spell animations. They really hit those out of the park


I love unique spell effects. Warlock green fire, glyph of the foul menagerie for DK, glyph of stars for druid, etc.

I think two key points that were well addressed here:

and here:

Are that we need to be careful about what is customizable. Because it’s important to remember that some abilities have their colors for a reason.

Some examples I can think of that could work:
Hunter traps (some of this has already happened)
Warlock Pets
Druid Forms
DK Pets
Worgen Tails

Some examples I can think of that would not work:
Mage spell color
Shadow Priest appearing holy
Hunter pet reskins

The list goes on.


I wanted to bring this up, briefly:

Already it does seem like the new incubus can be a little clunky because of the glyph system, perhaps building a better framework for glyphs could be a good way to hinder problems like this from arising again in the future - should there ever be any similar situations.

On another note, I love the new incubus and he’s definitely not eating my soul right now. I’d really like more variations to other demons as well!


Yeah, I’ve played Path of Exile as well, and being able to customize your character’s spell animations is fantastic. I’d love to be able to do it in WOW. I could even see it having some accessibility benefits. For POE, I specifically chose spell animations that made it easier for me to see important things through the chaos of a fight.