Leagues in Path of Exile represent the game worlds that characters exist within. A single character can only belong to one league at any time, and cannot interact with characters outside that league.
Leagues allow for different sets of rules that affect the entire game world. For example, the standard and hardcore leagues have different penalties for death. In this way, the gameplay experience a player has may vary dramatically depending on the league they are in. Grinding Gear Games [|have announced] that there will be two default leagues that are permanent, Standard and Hardcore. The standard league will be the top-level parent league for all others.
- Each league's economy is entirely separate from the economies of all other leagues. Characters can not trade items between leagues, and cannot form parties with characters in other leagues.
- Players are not restricted to only having characters in one league. A player may have characters in multiple leagues, and even multiple characters in the same league.
- A character's stash is shared among characters in the same league, but not with characters on other accounts or leagues.
- Leagues can be either permanent or temporary. Temporary leagues will end after a set period of time, or once a certain criteria is met.
- Standard is the baseline for the difficulty of leagues. Other leagues will only feature rules that increase the difficulty, never rules that make the game easier.
Temporary leagues can have a set time duration of any length, or even remain open indefinitely until a certain condition is met. One example would be a league where players race to reach a high character level. The league could end after a set period of time, with the winner being the highest level character at that time. Or perhaps the league would end as soon as any player completes one or more objectives, such as killing a particular boss, completing a certain difficulty level, or finding a specific item. When a temporary league is created, a another (most likely permanent) league is specified as the parent. This parent league will probably be the one whos rules are most similar to the temporary league. When the temporary league ends, all characters in it will be moved to the parent league. The the contents of the character's stash will also move to the parent league.
Moving between leagues
A character can not move between leagues voluntarily, however there are certain conditions that cause players to be moved involuntarily:
- Death in a hardcore league. The character is permanently moved to the parent standard (non-hardcore) league, where the character can continue to be played but is no longer a hardcore character.
- When a temporary league ends, all characters in that league are moved to that league's parent league. The character retains all experience and items when moved in this way.
For a fee, players can create their own private leagues, with custom game rules. Only players that receive an invite from the league's creator can create a character in a private league.