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It's a key code to get onto a specific server. A person on the server you want to get to has to obtain it from an NPC in-game and give you the code so that you can join them on the server. A WP can be used 5 times, but has to be used within a week or it expires. They go from 1000-1500 gil and I only know where you can get em in Winhurst (in W.Walls, inside the tree, through the 2nd set of doors and the tarutaru in the center behind the counter sells 'em).
As for other MMOGs having balanced servers, I'd question that. I understand several of EQ's original servers have almost no lowbies, and on AO, one of the two english servers had about twice the population of the other...
But, the real idea behind the worldpass, as far as I can tell, is to provide another effective moneysink :-/
If you were me, and I were you, I\'d put your gerbil in the microwave.
The world passes really aren't all that bad. The point of the random server select if for people who don't really know anyone or don't really care where they go will end up on lesser populated servers. People looking to be with their friends need only get a pass from one of the people they'd like to hang with. 1000 - 1500 gil is not all that much, a completely new player could make that in an hour just selling the things they get from the newbie area in the Auction Hall. For example, a stack of wind crystals can fetch up to 1500 gil in some places... those crystals can be harvested by newbies off the level 1 bees just outside the city gates of Bastok and Windurst.
World Passes = not nearly the big deal people make them out to be.
We should think about... what we got right now,
\'Cause the good things are made up of time.
Smile to your problems, leave the past behind.
Never forget this.
- Eiffel 65, \"Now is Forever\"
Yup---if you want to relocate to your friend's server, gotta start from scratch.
That's true with pretty much ever MMORPG on the market though, and not specific to FFXI. Starting over on Torvonnilous was a PAIN in the ASS after busting my buns on 7th hammer and getting my cleric up to lvl 50, but I wanted to be with my friends.......only to have all my friends on that server migrate onto SWG.