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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 can't interact with characters outside that league.
These two leagues exist permanently:
- Standard is the default league and has no modifiers.
- Hardcore has the hardcore modifier, meaning characters who die are moved to Standard. Hardcore is equivalent to permadeath in other RPGs, though characters and items are not automatically deleted.
Characters used in certain races (notably Descent, Descent: Champions and Endless Ledge races) are afterwards sent to a Void League instead of being deleted. Players can't access these characters or their inventories; void characters can only be deleted or kept as a sort of trophy.
Temporary leagues have a set duration, which can vary from 12 minutes to four months. They are usually defined by specific modifiers or features that the permanent leagues don't have. When a league ends, the characters are not lost but transferred to one of the permanent leagues.
Periodically, two new leagues are created and the previous two challenge leagues are removed. These leagues are intended to introduce and test new content while providing players with a fresh economy. Challenge leagues have been three or four months long. In addition, each pair of leagues has a set of optional challenges that can be completed for a prize.
When a challenge league ends, all characters and their stash will be sent to their respective parent league (either Standard league or Hardcore League).
The Essence leagues are the ongoing challenge leagues. They started on September 2, 2016 along with the release of Atlas of Worlds and will last three months.
- The Prophecy leagues ran from June 3, 2016 to August 29, 2016.
- The Perandus leagues ran from March 4, 2016 to May 30, 2016.
- The Talisman leagues ran from December 11, 2015 to March 4, 2016.
- The Warbands league and Tempest league ran from July 10, 2015 to October 2, 2015.
- The Torment league and Bloodlines league ran from December 12, 2014 to March 24, 2015.
- The Rampage league and Beyond league ran from August 20, 2014 to November 20, 2014.
- The Ambush league and Invasion league ran from March 5, 2014 to July 5, 2014.
- The Domination league and Nemesis league ran from October 23, 2013 to February 23, 2014.
- The Anarchy league and Onslaught league ran from June 8, 2013 to October 8, 2013.
Race leagues are temporary leagues created specifically for a single race event.
These leagues have their own stash. At the end of the event, characters and their stashed items will be moved to the parent league, which is typically Hardcore or Void league. The player's race stash may be placed in remove-only stash tabs if the parent league has no empty tabs. A list of race modifiers is here.
- Chris (September 23, 2013). "What's happening when Anarchy/Onslaught leagues end?". Official Path of Exile Forums. Retrieved Oct 7, 2013.