DDO is running a special where a different item goes on sale for 50% off each day in July. This coming Sunday will discount the "Veteran" account status to 498 Turbine Points ($5 at the 5K/$50 exchange rate).
To Buy or Unlock
Veteran Status allows new characters to start at level 4 (more significant than it sounds because the DND ruleset caps out at level 20, I'd guesstimate that we're talking about something like 5-10 hours of solo play). This option can be unlocked on a per-server basis by earning 1000 favor, but I'm not entirely satisfied with that approach for several reasons.
First, I'd have to earn 1000 favor - my highest character so far has 300, and it gets slower and more difficult as you go because it's more difficult to solo the hard difficulties of upper level quests.
Second, I'd have to focus on a single character instead of messing around with alts, which is the opposite of how I've been playing the game so far (and would probably require more content purchases, since I've focused on lower level content unlocks to date). Moreover, any alts I create in the mean time would not have access to the Veteran unlock, so I'd want to do that sooner rather than later.
Third, the unlock version is limited to a single server, and I have characters on all seven servers.
Finally, I'd quickly bump up against the character slot limit (you get a total of 4 if you've ever paid) if I was trying to roll all my alts on the one server where I hypothetically had Vet status.
But is Vet Status a Good Thing?
Overall, I'm reasonably convinced that it makes more sense to pay to unlock the Vet toggle if indeed I want it. So do I want this unlock?
My original reaction was that this seemed like a silly thing to pay for. Level four doesn't take that long to earn, I might still want to go back and complete some of the lower level quests for gear (you get a lackluster starting package of equipment) and favor, and, ultimately, why does it make sense to pay to get out of playing the game?
The thing that has me reconsidering is now that I actually have a fair number of charaters in the level 3 range with 50+ favor (in fact, only one of my 15 characters has made it past the level 3 wall). I've seen the content enough times that having the option of starting with higher level stuff sounds more appealing.
There's also the matter of the poor scaling of the Dungeons and Dragons Ruleset. Whether you're planning to multiclass or just a late bloomer, there are any number of reasons why a low level DND character might just be too fragile and not so fun to play. If you start out four levels ahead of the curve, you get to skip past some of the less pleasant short term consequences of longterm decisions.
Lastly, there's the difficulty of re-specing characters. This too can be blamed on the ruleset, but that does not make it less irritating. Of my 15 attempts at characters, a dozen are not worth playing beyond their next favor award because of character decisions that did not work out so well. With Veteran status, I'd be able to take new alts on a test drive and immediately pitch them (or do a delete and re-roll "respec") without having to sink a fair number of hours into seeing whether my crazy new idea even works.
I haven't made a final decision yet (I have until Sunday, since that's when the sale is), but I'm leaning towards taking the discounted paid unlock. I'm going to spend more money on the game eventually (things like the Half Orc race and the new Red Fens AP are going to cost more points than I have, and sound like they'll be worth the money), so the main opportunity cost is that this would clean out my existing point balance. Even so, discounts of 50% don't happen that often, so I won't cry too much if I miss a 30% sale on a single adventure pack because I spent the last of my points on this upgrade (assuming I don't earn more while trying out new alts).