Deserve is a rather touchy term. It almost borders on entitlement which seems to be looked at like a four letter word in the game lately. But it really isn't, at least not always. If you work 40 hours a week you are entitled to be paid for your work aren't you? So what exactly should people reasonably feel entitled to? What do they deserve?
It seems to be a common belief, even by people in my own guild, that if you do not raid you do not need gear. I've often argue against that and will continue to.
I have not raided on my shaman this expansion, but I would like to keep it geared so if we start a third 10 man, or if there ever is a pug, I have a healer that is geared enough to be capable of doing it. There are also the gathering characters. I have a rogue I do not raid on that is my skinner / leatherworker. The more gear my rogue has the faster I can farm materials to make what I want to make or to sell to for gold.
Before I started to gear my rogue, I never went out to farm leather with it. It was a long drawn out process and it seemed to take forever to get a decent amount of leather so it didn't feel worth my time. Now with some gear I can pull packs of 4+ mobs and mow them down and skin until my little rogue heart is content. It makes it feel worthwhile to do.
So that is my standpoint on why I do believe that even if you do not raid you should have access to gear of some sort. For me, I am lucky. I am willing to do the LFR to get them some gear. Every character of mine goes into the LFR, even if I dislike doing it, even if they do not actually raid. They go in at least enough for my shaman to stay within pug capabilities and my rogue to more effectively farm materials for me. But what if someone does not wan to raid? What if there are reasons that can not raid?
Does the non-raider deserve a path of progression when it comes to gear?
Let me tell you the story of a man named Jed. Wait, wrong story.
There are, or should I say were, two members of my guild that have been consistent raiders for the better part of 4 years if not more. Both never missed a raid night. Both were more than capable of performing their role. Both were always geared as much as they could be outside of the raid to make how they performed in raid better. Both are no longer raiding since 5.2. One isn't even playing any more since 5.2 dropped. He quit.
Why do I bring this up? Because of the reason they are no longer raiding. It is, in my opinion, the perfect example of what those people on the forums are complaining about. Sure, the people on the forums might be unwilling to raid, unskilled or lazy but the two people in question are none of those things.
Their computers just can not handle 25 man raiding. Even on the lowest of low settings they describe the experience as frustrating and near impossible. They have never had issues with our 10 mans but for some reason they can not do the 25 mans. As a odd side note, they are both melee so I can only guess it is the mish mosh of heavy graphics in melee range that is getting to their computers. Only a guess however.
When they could not get reputation past whatever we might down in a 10 man they felt as if they were falling behind and just quit. Let someone else have the spot. Give credit where credit is due. They at least admitted they were no longer capable of giving 100% and left to allow someone that could give 100% the chance at a raid spot.
Now, lets end with that story and look at the non-raider. Perhaps they are a non raider for the very reason those two guild mates quit raiding. And this is why I told that little story. Not all people that don't raid are bad or lazy or unwilling to work type of players. Some just can't for various reasons.
Perhaps they can't because of computer issues. Some can't because of time issues for a planned group. Some can't because they do not have enough time in a row to dedicate to it even in the LFR setting. Some might have a disorder that makes them anxious around others making it impossible for them to do group content with people they do not know, and yes, that actually happens even in a game. Some might have connection issues. Some might have a fear of failure, or being insulted which makes them shy away from it. Others can't because they do not like large groups, 10s are so much more casual friendly.
There could be one hundred and one reasons why someone does not want to do the LFR to gear up. My tank doesn't do the LFR, or at least not often at all. I refuse to tank it without another guild tank going with me. Has nothing to do with my ability, I just do not like having to work out who is going to do what through whispers with someone that most of the time just does whatever they want anyway or doesn't respond at all. At least my tank gets some real raid time in, so it is not horribly behind on gear because it has won a few pieces from the real raid but there are two pieces I would like to buy with valor that I just can't, because I do not have the required reputation and that puts my tank firmly in the same ballpark feeling like the non-raiders feel. Not being able to buy something.
But once again I have lost track of my own subject. This is not about the raiders. It is about the non-raiders. Sorry for side tracking again.
Is there any good reason why non-raiders should be denied gear progression because they do not raid?
I have thought about it over and over and I can not think of one reason why they should be denied gear of some sort. I can see the argument that they should not be able to get raid quality gear but that is basically were it ends for me. I can agree with that completely. But no gear? That just seems like too much of nothing for them. They should still be allowed some sort of personal progression gear wise in my opinion.
The only reason I could see for saying they should not get gear is so I would feel special walking around in gear they do not have and quite honestly I really do not give a crap about that. I don't care who has less gear than me, more gear than me or the same gear as me. All I care about, I guess it comes from being a raid leader, is what you can do with the gear you have.
Gear can only make up for so much, it is what you do with it that matters. So seeing a non raider with gear does not make me go ooohhh he is good. I reserve that opinion for when I see them in action. Like the hunter with nearly all 483 gear in the LFR pulling 120K, he was doing awesome but the boomkin who had all 522 gear except for one piece pulling 100K and telling the entire raid how great he is, is really average at the absolute best and that is me being extremely generous in my assessment. The gear doesn't not make the player. Never has, never will. It just helps the player become the best they can be. They still need to have the skills to back it up.
Non raiders like to see their character advancing too. Just like a raider likes to see they went from the 5th boss to the 6th boss the non raider likes to see they went from having 14 level 25 pets to 16 level 25 pets or from having 2114 bones collected toward the raptor to having 2344 bones collected, or they moved from 9880 into revered to 10480 into revered after their dailies.
Everyone, no matter what they do in the game, likes to see they are making some sort of advancement. Even role players who are heavy into it and do not care about raids or pets or bones or reputations, they need to move their story forward. So it isn't always about things directly tied to the game, it is anything. It is human nature to want to see yourself moving forward and for many people that symbol of moving forward in a game like this is gear. Gear is the one universal in game. It is the one thing that even the game uses to judge people. So it is, in fact, the one true way for the non raider to advance.
So do non-raiders deserve a path of progression?
I don't care, as long as I can still do my thing I say let them have it.