Draining: a sensible solution


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Mines Malingerer

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Post Tuesday, 28th February 2012, 05:22

Draining: a sensible solution

I think a combination of XP loss, mediocre damage and lack of significant advantage through HD reduction is making the all too common draining brand a real letdown in terms of flavor. I have a solution that would require a bit of tweaking but in the end makes it a much more interesting and useful brand.

Correct me if I'm wrong but I read the mechanic for draining does +50% damage on proc correct? Or is it 1d50% damage? I've heard average is 25 so I'm going to assume this is correct for the purpose of this suggestion.

First, make HD reduction slightly more useful

Make HD reduction short lived, regaining 1 HD about twice as fast HP at most. But make the HD reduction 1d2 HD instead of just 1.

This gives to different advantages:
-the damage multiplier advantage to high damage slow weapons while also lightening up the HD of monsters slightly
and
-the HD monster weakening more effective on low damage fast weapons without it being totally pointless to reduce HD. If this is too much, keep current HD reduction and simply scale the next proposal to balance.

Second: XP as a consistency issue, where to make up for that +5% average damage over just 66% of the time

The ability to kill outright a monster with 0 HD is powerful, but the XP loss makes it impractical and a painful sacrifice most players, especially for those without spoilers that notice the XP loss in the description. And considering your XP goes down whether draining is used ON the player or BY the player, that lost XP seems to being disappearing from the world, why not instead give this temporary XP and HD drains to the monster or player in the form of:

-MP as a function of 1d((damage dealt)/3)(1+HD drained/4), perhaps capped at 5, a 10 damage weapon could do at max 5 mp recovery, on average about 2 mp, this being every drain success, this would be the counterpart of vampiric brand, it heals less in MP since MP is lower than HP in most cases, and it would be a better fit for evil magic players fitting with it's theme as an evil ego sapping energy from those it strikes.

The mp cap of 5, and the fact it drains only 2/3 of the time, which could change for balance, and the drain of XP without the issue of dancing if rot is removed, or just dancing for HD death, become non-issues.

This means the temporary HD reduction could affect XP the same way, but I think the fact that it takes time for the monster HD to return, but less time than it takes for monsters to heal (as more time would essentially work like now so it isn't fixing anything), it gets rid of dance draining and it:
-gives squishy characters a reason to take the XP hit on powerful monsters, Because the HD reduction is actually effective to combat and to convert drained HD to mana!

Vampiric brand is STILL better in terms of hp conversion WITHOUT XP loss, albeit no damage perk but still a huge food cost, putting them at far more equal footing in my opinion. This can work with or without hp rot but without it discourages dancing and in my opinion doesn't fit with the theme of draining life per se.

Is there any other suggestions for a change to draining? Should it be kept as is? What could change about my proposal to make it better? Thanks.
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Dungeon Master

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Post Tuesday, 28th February 2012, 09:46

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

Counter proposal. Make draining temporary, both for monsters and players.

Increase the damage and/or the HD reduction but HD is recovered (less scummy). The XP penalty could be completely removed (have the XP value based on initial HD, not current HD).
For the player, 1d3 skills are drained for a total of 2d3 levels (each skill can't be reduced to more than half)
Skills and XP drained is recovered progressively when you gain new XP (not by resting).
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Abyss Ambulator

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Post Tuesday, 28th February 2012, 14:49

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

Counterproposal: Get rid of all draining everywhere forever. It makes no sense (the monster is taking away the character's knowledge and experience...what), it's incredibly annoying (I will often avoid places like elf:5 because I'm not in the mood to be drained), it creates bizarre situations that should not be possible (see: syllogism's xl1 win), and most importantly, it adds very little to gameplay.

You hear all the time how useless rN is...that is because draining is useless. It's an inconvenience, nothing more; a level 23 character can ascend just as easily as a level 27 one, and once you've reached level 27, there is almost no chance you will be drained back down.

So why not remove it entirely? Give shadow dragons a new breath type or remove them entirely, and just take it away from everyone else (replacing it with something else as necessary). rN can then either disappear or be given some new use (rot, maybe?).

I think that draining only ever made it into crawl because of dated rpg convention. There's no reason to keep it, so just take it out.
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Dungeon Master

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Post Tuesday, 28th February 2012, 14:58

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

Well sure, something is a little bit broken, let's just remove it. Or how about we talk about it and try to find a more interesting design? Isn't it the point of this forum?
Skill draining can have a tactical effect which is more interesting than the permanent XP drain. Weakening the target seems interesting to me. The current implementation doesn't do it properly, sure, but that doesn't mean it's impossible to come up with something better.
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Dungeon Master

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Post Tuesday, 28th February 2012, 15:08

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

galehar wrote:Counter proposal. Make draining temporary, both for monsters and players.

Increase the damage and/or the HD reduction but HD is recovered (less scummy). The XP penalty could be completely removed (have the XP value based on initial HD, not current HD).
For the player, 1d3 skills are drained for a total of 2d3 levels (each skill can't be reduced to more than half)
Skills and XP drained is recovered progressively when you gain new XP (not by resting).

I like this idea. Draining should be relevant.

Increasing the damage is probably unnecessary though... draining does reasonable damage if you don't have any rN. It's just that it tends to be in the form of bolt of draining, which can be dodged.
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Dungeon Master

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Post Tuesday, 28th February 2012, 15:25

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

evilmike wrote:Increasing the damage is probably unnecessary though... draining does reasonable damage if you don't have any rN.

What about damage to monsters? It's considered a weak brand, even when dismissing the XP penalty. Increasing the HD reduction might be enough to boost it and in a more interesting way than damage.
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Crypt Cleanser

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Post Tuesday, 28th February 2012, 15:26

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

galehar wrote:Counter proposal. Make draining temporary, both for monsters and players.

Increase the damage and/or the HD reduction but HD is recovered (less scummy). The XP penalty could be completely removed (have the XP value based on initial HD, not current HD).
For the player, 1d3 skills are drained for a total of 2d3 levels (each skill can't be reduced to more than half)
Skills and XP drained is recovered progressively when you gain new XP (not by resting).


I also support this idea. I've always hated draining, mostly because the amount drained is overkill even with 2 pips of resistance. So a monster worth a few hundred exp makes you lose several thousand exp. It's not tactical, and just makes the level grind feel sisyphean.

I will say though, I realize that formula is just for example, but do keep in mind that you're rarely drained only once. Otherwise every shadow dragon you meet will probably halve all your skills if the RNG doesn't give you rN+++.

Dungeon Master

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Post Tuesday, 28th February 2012, 15:35

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

galehar wrote:
evilmike wrote:Increasing the damage is probably unnecessary though... draining does reasonable damage if you don't have any rN.

What about damage to monsters? It's considered a weak brand, even when dismissing the XP penalty. Increasing the HD reduction might be enough to boost it and in a more interesting way than damage.

Hmm. True, it is of less value than most other brands. I could see it being boosted in some way here. Draining tends to be something I use only when nothing better is available. Usually only an early game thing.

Also, right now the brand is a bit weird in that it's more effective in the hands of monsters (always drains the player's xp, not a serious threat but encourages you to avoid it).
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Abyss Ambulator

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Post Tuesday, 28th February 2012, 15:36

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

The thing is...many other things already weaken the target in a much more effective way. Slow, for example, makes the target (as I remember) 33% weaker. Confuse cripples them, and hitting them kills them. My point was not that draining is a little bit broken, although that is part of the problem. My point is that draining is unfun and illogical, and the amount of tweaking needed to change that would be tantamount to adding a new effect entirely. Of course removing draining wouldn't make its design more interesting, but it would make Crawl's design more interesting. Sometimes, as with permabuffs, it's better to change an idea than remove it entirely. Sometimes, as with divinations, it's best to dump it. I simply think that draining falls into the second category. It isn't a good enough effect to be worth overhauling.

Now...a reply to the other ideas.

Regarding the OP, DRAINING XP LOSS DOESN'T MATTER. AT ALL. The reason drainig sucks as a brand has nothing to do with xp and everything to do with mediocre damage. Moving on...

Converting drained xp to mana is interesting, but I can't see it changing much in practice. Monsters have no mp pool, so nothing would change for them. Players who need mana in battles generally nuke dudes from a distance, and use effects that restore large chunks of mana at once.

It would certainly make draining immeasurably better if the xp drain was temporary. Removing the xp loss would keep the forehead-shaped dent in my keyboard from growing larger, so I approve of that. Skill drain...not so sure about that one. With the amount of draining thrown around, characters like TrMo and MiBe would be walking around with every skill halved all through elf:5 and vault:8. The amount of draining would have to be hugely reduced to make it plausible, and there would be a fine line between "annoyance" and "character-crippling mechanism."

Halls Hopper

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Post Tuesday, 28th February 2012, 16:21

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

I like to use draining on things like SPEN to lower the HD and help confuse or EH take hold. This niche of a warmup shot could be expanded for both player and monsters. Maybe adding a vulnerability status effect and make it variable strength. This crosses into the hex school, but we're doing that anyways with the temporary debuff to skills line of thinking.

This would turn creatures with the draining ability into very dangerous support roles that remove the 100% clarity when you have on an amulet of clarity etc.

rN+++ can offer immunity to the damage and resistance to the status effect, but no total immunity exists. Maybe offer total immunity to creatures with rTorment.

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Tuesday, 28th February 2012, 17:08

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

Blade wrote:...the amount of tweaking needed to change that would be tantamount to adding a new effect entirely.


What if there was a "Drained" effect that did impact you like the other hex effects you mentioned? It could have a negative impact on skills, as has been proposed, kind of like an anti-heroism. Instead of quaffing a curing potion, you could fix it with a restore abilities potion. (Although those are more useful now that royal jellies are no longer guaranteed.) I don't like the idea of that effect sitting on a player for an extended period of time, though. That seems out of line with all the other effects. I'm not sure what impact this type of effect should have on monsters.

I also like the idea of using draining to lower MR to make hexes work better. That's an effect that works nicely player->monster and monster->player. Maybe that could be coupled with a reduction in AC and hit/dam to make it useful for both summoners and melee characters too.

Halls Hopper

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Post Wednesday, 29th February 2012, 18:03

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

What if there was a "Drained" effect that did impact you like the other hex effects you mentioned? It could have a negative impact on skills, as has been proposed, kind of like an anti-heroism.


I'm not a numbers guy, but maybe something like a maximum 1/3 reduction in skill levels at no negative resistance, 1/4 reduction at one pip, 1/6 at two, 1/9 at three pips? Total reduction per hit would be based on damage (so a shadow dragon would reduce stats more quickly than a wraith) but the effects would be temporary, ala sickness or severe poison. The high reductions might make it tactically interesting while the temporary effects make it less blah than draining's current effect, along with less of a monkey on your back than rotting/acid.

As for the player advantage, I'm also unsure what to do to improve it. Draining mana based on HD sounds interesting, given that it might encourage casters to melee. Maybe more damage in exchange for more XP reduction?

Mines Malingerer

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Post Friday, 2nd March 2012, 08:23

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

It looks like most of you are focused more on monster>player effect of drain branded things, I'm more interested in making the brand an actual unique and desirable brand in it's own way. I could hardly argue that drain was balanced, it seems mediocre, boring and confusing. Hit by drain? Less XP. Use drain? Less XP. That doesn't add up to me and it feels lazy.

Blade wrote:The thing is...many other things already weaken the target in a much more effective way. Slow, for example, makes the target (as I remember) 33% weaker. Confuse cripples them, and hitting them kills them. My point was not that draining is a little bit broken, although that is part of the problem. My point is that draining is unfun and illogical, and the amount of tweaking needed to change that would be tantamount to adding a new effect entirely. Of course removing draining wouldn't make its design more interesting, but it would make Crawl's design more interesting. Sometimes, as with permabuffs, it's better to change an idea than remove it entirely. Sometimes, as with divinations, it's best to dump it. I simply think that draining falls into the second category. It isn't a good enough effect to be worth overhauling.

Now...a reply to the other ideas.

Regarding the OP, DRAINING XP LOSS DOESN'T MATTER. AT ALL. The reason drainig sucks as a brand has nothing to do with xp and everything to do with mediocre damage. Moving on...

Converting drained xp to mana is interesting, but I can't see it changing much in practice. Monsters have no mp pool, so nothing would change for them. Players who need mana in battles generally nuke dudes from a distance, and use effects that restore large chunks of mana at once.

It would certainly make draining immeasurably better if the xp drain was temporary. Removing the xp loss would keep the forehead-shaped dent in my keyboard from growing larger, so I approve of that. Skill drain...not so sure about that one. With the amount of draining thrown around, characters like TrMo and MiBe would be walking around with every skill halved all through elf:5 and vault:8. The amount of draining would have to be hugely reduced to make it plausible, and there would be a fine line between "annoyance" and "character-crippling mechanism."


I disagree that XP loss from using drain weapons to fight is indeed an unfun mechanic, unlike vampirism which is a fitting thematic cost in food for non-undead for hp gain, you could get rid of extra damage on drain and instead implement mp sapping in much the same way and even keep the XP loss if you want to compensate, it seems like food for hp and xp for mp is a decent trade off, but the old robe of the archmagi showed that XP reduction is really just annoying.

I can think of many situations in which the current mechanic of draining puts a character at a distinct disadvantage in several stages of a playthrough by XP loss. You COULD play with a drain weapon, but you said the damage isn't really all that great, but it's actually better, from how I think the math works out at least, than fire or ice brands with the added HD drain in all cases where monsters don't resist. So the TWO problems are what I'm arguing about, XP loss is a problem in a BETTER drain brand, in which there's a distinct damage or tactical advantage over other brands in a given situation, in order to create variety and interesting choices.

I like the idea of a thematic drain debuff, it could be like corona for to-hit, or it could weaken melee attacks, or slow, drain stats on the player, many skills are affected by stats anyway, or some other interesting effect like dispel.

Anything but a little extra damage, HD loss and less XP. Temporary but significant HD loss, and maybe no instant HD 0 death could make it a more interesting brand for more weapon types.

Blades Runner

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Post Friday, 2nd March 2012, 17:43

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

The one time I tried to ditch Ash, I was shocked by how much a 10-level decrease in certain skills matters. In short, I love this idea. Yes, I would search out rN++ before taking on shadow dragons if a couple hits from them reduced my skills instead of my XP.

Regaining skills through XP is a great call.

BTW, early on draining seems to be a great way to kill things. I think it's because taking one HD off a low-HD monster is more impressive than taking one HD off, say, a stone giant. If draining reduced monster's spell power, to-hit and damage instead, draining could be set up as better for the early game (by subtracting X from spell power, to-hit and damage) or the late game (by dividing spell power, to-hit and damage by X).

Tartarus Sorceror

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Post Tuesday, 13th March 2012, 03:02

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

I registered to make this suggestion for the player hits monster case:

When you drain a monster, you immediately gain xp equal to the reduction in its xp value. This means there's no longer any disadvantage to using draining, besides the opportunity cost of not using a different brand.

If that makes draining brand too powerful, then make it proc less often.

Mines Malingerer

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Post Friday, 23rd March 2012, 00:08

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

Rast, I really like that idea actually, perhaps you could INCREASE the HD of monsters as well so that killing draining monsters returns you XP. Or you could go the Stats>HD way and even gain power from killing, like boosts to your stats for HD you drain, reasonably short lived or capped. A random point of Str/Int/Dex is an interesting, and sinisterly power mongering effect that wouldn't be abuseable without a lot of speed, and even with speed it would never be more than 4 times a turn. Unless you're in really delayed battles, a decaying boost would not let you carry over momentum, like berserk, it must finish the job quickly or you'll be dead, so choose wisely if you want to use a much stronger enemy's power against them or flee.

Right now the extra damage and XP loss makes draining better for larger, slower weapons. What could we do to make this an interesting brand on more types of weapons?

Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 23rd March 2012, 00:28

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

Draining is actually better on fast weapons because it has a flat damage component. It's not a very good brand on slow weapons as-is.

Also the xp loss from using it is completely insignificant and if you didn't have someone tell you that it happens you would probably never notice it, even if you're a Necromancer killing everything with Lethal Infusion melee.
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Ziggurat Zagger

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Post Friday, 23rd March 2012, 14:54

Re: Draining: a sensible solution

I think draining as a temporary effect, to make you less effective overall as a % drain to all skill usage, might work best.

It could be a status effect like being poisoned or rotting, or losing str / int / dex.
Subsequent drains either extending or empower the effect (or both), which either wears off over time or after drinking a potion of restore abilities, might work well.

For example, you're hit by drain; all skill use is reduced by X% for Y turns.
Additional hit in next turn, all usage reduced by X+W% for Y-1+Z turns.
Or the % just decreases over time ("You feel more capable").

+rN decreases the effect affecting you.

- - - -

In other news, I am of the mind that applying rPois and similar AFTER the fact should increase the chances of the associated effect diminishing. I'm poisoned; I put on rPois, chances are I will recover sooner than someone without rPois. It would make carrying around protection slightly more interesting.
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