I haven't discussed my World of Warcraft activities in a while, so I figured it was about time to bring it up again.
I've engaged in some genuine "instance dungeon" activity since my last post. For those not in the know, instance dungeons are special areas where only your group exists; other groups that go through the entrance end up in their own separate versions of the dungeon. You can therefore never have more than five people in an "instance" at a time. Instances are also extremely tough adventuring, with lots of particularly nasty monsters to encounter, but the rewards tend to be better, too.
Grimbor joined groups that ventured into the Deadmines dungeon a couple of times in the the last week or so. As a Hunter, Grimbor has a pet that accompanies him. The prevailing wisdom for hunters in dungeons seems to be that you should keep your pet on "Passive" behavior, so it doesn't fight unless you specifically tell it to: it won't even defend itself if attacked. This keeps your pet from accidentally drawing more monsters into a fight by running off in response to a ranged attack against the hunter or the pet itself.
I'm inclined to challenge that wisdom, though. I can see a situation in which having an "Aggressive" pet -- one that will spontaneously attack any monster that comes too close -- could be useful, although it will take a good bit of management.
In dungeons, there are patrols -- groups of monsters that wander the dungeon looking for intruders. These never go away completely -- even if you kill them, the dungeon will replace them periodically. Consequently, groups in dungeons always run the risk of being ambushed from behind by a patrol while they're already fighting some other nasty monsters.
This, I think, is where the Aggressive Pet comes into its own. As the hunter, I tell my pet to "stay" somewhere well behind the party and set its behavior to Aggressive. If a patrol does come up behind the group, the pet will attack them, hopefully keeping them occupied until the group takes care of its current situation (if any). Lurking behind the party, the pet also becomes a guardian for the group's more vulnerable members, the priests and mages. If a monster breaks through the group's "front" to attack these vulnerable group members, they can retreat toward the Aggressive Pet, who will attack the monsters as soon as they come within range. My pet, at least, has the ability to draw a monster's attention away from others, providing an additional way to get priests and mages out of trouble.
I'm in search of a group that would be interested in testing this plan in a dungeon, as well as general comments on the idea.