Monster Experience Pool

Following up on the discussion in the tavern, here's a wiki page on another proposal to reduce victory dancing and hopefully remove the need for the numeric display of the Experience Pool.

The Basic Idea

Every monster has an experience pool; initially, the pool is full of the same number of experience points as the monster would have given you. Whenever the player and monster interact (usually by attacking each other) experience is transferred from the monster's pool to the player. Interactions between monsters and player allies drain the monster's pool at the ordinary rate; however, only some percentage (50%) of the experience is transferred to the player.

Awesome page, many thanks! — dpeg 2011-01-28 02:03
Obvious advantage: no more “xp awarded when killed” means that we can much better reward skills used during a fight (instead of just the killing method).
By the way, xp used for level purposes should be treated as now: you get it for the kill.
I'm pretty sure it was mrmistermonkey who spiffed up the formatting. And yes, good clarification. You've gotta kill stuff to level. This only trains skills. — njvack 2011-01-28 15:40

For Example

You're a caster who wants to train fighting. You see a monster, disable it with Mephitic Cloud (transfers some experience to you), walk up, and start hitting it. Each attack transfers some of the monster's experience to you – so each attack can train Fighting. If the situation becomes dangerous, you can escape, but you'll still have trained Fighting to some extent, even if the monster is still alive.

Or you're a summoner. You see an Ogre and cast Summon Small Mammals to surround it. As the ogre and mammals fight, the ogre's pool is drained and half the experience is transferred to the player – so there's less incentive to try to get in and get the last hit.

Challenges and Extensions

Eliminate experience pool

It may make sense to have the skills involved in the interaction exercised at the time of the transfer – so casting Throw Frost on a monster could cause some of the experience to flow directly into Spellcasting and Ice Magic. At the extreme end, the skills involved could use all experience in the transfer, which would eliminate the Experience Pool altogether, at the cost of needing some serious thought as to how to train some skills.

Delay transfer

The system detailed above allows the player to train skills without killing, which has severe balance ramifications. Notably, characters who rarely kill things, but instead dive and steal, will be far more powerful than they currently are.

mrmistermonkey proposes that, should this go in, actions that would train skills only determine the distribution, and skills finally train after killing. As for implementation, this would obviously be more complex and have a bit of overhead, but he doesn't know how much.

Do people really do this? I'm not talking about sneaking past things (though that's probably how you'd train Stealth) but interacting with monsters. And kiting entire groups of monsters around the dungeon seems impossibly dangerous, unless you're strong enough to kill them already. The stealth thing seems like it's manageable simply by turning down the experience transfer in that case. - njvack
There are indeed many character builds that simply steal loot, runes, and eventually the orb, while killing very little, and indeed again do some degree of interaction (by this system, this would usually train extra Charms, Translocations, Dodging, but sometimes others like Evocations, Stabbing/Weapon/Fighting (getting enemies out of the way, not actually killing them for the exp or anything), Necromancy, Elemental schools, probably others). It's not about kiting enemies around the dungeon to milk them before running off; it's about just happening to get extra skills while diving for loot/runes. — mrmistermonkey 2011-01-28 00:31
Also, game mechanics aside, I kind of like the narrative aspect of the realtime transfer. If I trade a few blows with a monster, or cast at it, or take a few arrows from it, I kind of feel like that should make me more experienced. — njvack 2011-01-28 00:06
Sure, but gameplay trumps all. — mrmistermonkey 2011-01-28 00:31

Problems with training specific skills

If this reduces the amount of experience in the Experience Pool, how do you train things that aren't obviously used in fights? Main examples include things like Traps & Doors, Translocations, and Charms – neither one of these skills tends to directly affect monsters.

One possible answer to the Charms problem is that if you're under the influence of Charm spells while interacting with monsters, Charms is exercised. Or, say, blinking near a monster could drain its pool and exercise Translocations.

I believe the principle should be that xp comes from monsters, and things (spells, abilities etc.) are about dealing with monsters. This applies to a great many things (transformations train when they are used to affect monsters, translocations are used when you blink/teleport etc. from/to a monster etc.)
There are exceptions to this: T&D is not at all about monsters (which could be changed… by trap planting). Levitating to cross a moat (without monsters around) or digging from one orc bubble to another would not train anything. This might be not so bad once we get accustomed to the idea. — dpeg 2011-01-28 02:03
Translocations seems like it would be a bigger problem than the other magic schools, since many of the key spells are largely used outside of combat. Blink is obviously used mostly in combat, but consider a lot of the other spells: apportation is used for grabbing items, cblink and teleport self are often used as a travel method (although you don't really need to train tloc once you have the former castable), and then there's banishment which is a useful spell but has the drawback of not giving any xp. Plus, there is the fact that if you want to get the highest tloc spells castable, you are basically required to victory dance. Under the proposed system, this would change to doing weird things like blinking a dozen times in front of every monster, and going into combat with the cTele buff active without any intention of using it. This might be a sign of problems with the tloc school in general. — evilmike 2011-01-28 06:28

Traps & Doors is a trickier problem – leading monsters into traps is one possible way to do things, but there really aren't enough traps around to make that viable, in my mind. Another possibility is to actually make traps worth some experience (say, via detection, activation, and disarming) – but this strays from the current design that only monsters (and a few rare items) give experience.

You could give XP towards the skill but not XL for disarming/detecting/stumbling into traps. Possibly other non-monster activities as well.. — evktalo 2011-01-28 11:17
Wouldn't it be a no-brainer to (tediously) disarm all harmless traps for the free T&D, then? — mrmistermonkey 2011-01-28 11:39
Yeah, duh. What of just detecting/stumbling into them? That's a bit automatic (nicely affected by species' T&D aptitude), but once you can set your own traps (b0rsuk's wand proposal), you can train it by hurting monsters with your own traps too. — evktalo 2011-01-30 17:16

On pacification

What about Elyvilon's pacification – we probably want to avoid players draining a monster's pool and then pacifying the monster. Maybe pacification would only work if the pool was more than, say, 75% full? Or have an increasing malus to success as its pool is drained?

If you delay transfer, pacification could simply override any distribution plans and transfer all gains to Invocations. — mrmistermonkey 2011-01-27 20:36
Pacification is not a problem: for xl purposes, you get xp/2 once the monster is pacified. For training purposes, you'd move xp from the monster's pool into Inv if there is some remaining. (There is an issue with dancing here: just as now, players could carefully dance around puny monsters to make sure their pool is transferred to some arbitrary skill. The correct solution for this is, in my opinion, to make sure there are no puny monsters generated.) Likewise, draining isn't a problem: you reduce both the monster's remaining pool and the xp (for xl purposes) when using a drain attack. — dpeg 2011-01-28 02:03

On control over allotment

And, most importantly, as raised by many in the Tavern thread: this gives players less control over where experience goes – any scheme that reduces victory dancing will necessarily do so. Is this a tradeoff that is, overall, positive?

I'd say so, yes. It also helps make Ashenzari's knowledge transference a bit more appealing for those who use it purely as a prettier interface to a victory dancing equivalent. — mrmistermonkey 2011-01-27 20:36
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dcss/brainstorm/skills/experience_pools_for_monsters.txt · Last modified: 2011-12-20 17:15 by XuaXua
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