Let's have a moment of silence for poor Buffy the demon hunter. We only knew her for 3 hours and 15 levels but she will be missed.
Losing a party member leaves me wondering what should be done in such a situation for a hardcore team. There are five options that I can see...
- Dead guy is kicked out of the party. Other three people keep playing without him until they eventually die off and then restart everyone from scratch.
- Dead guy is kicked out of the party and someone with an appropriate level hardcore character tags in permanently.
- Stop playing for the night. Dead guy has a week to level a replacement character when everyone will resume.
- Other three people keep playing for the rest of the night. Dead guy has a week to level up a replacement character to tag in next week.
- Dead guy makes a new character immediately and rejoins the party at level 1.
I took the fifth option last night. I pretty much died immediately on respawning to terrain (the wall spit poison at me and killed me). I restarted again and died when a lacuni huntress thing jumped on me and one-shot me at level 3. BuffyIV played super carefully and actually managed to survive. Leveling up seemed slower than I expected and I ended up at level 11 with everyone else at 19 or 20. I'm going to (hopefully) get the last 7 levels on my own before next week.
One thing I noticed was I seemed to be getting a lot less experience than other people. I had Robb track his experience gain for a period of time and he'd gained 9k while I'd gained 3.3k. He had some +xp on his gear and I was naked so I thought he should be getting a little more than me but not that much more. I did some poking around and it seems that while you get an xp bonus for fighting higher level things you also get a massive penalty for having a high level friend helping you out. I found an interesting post detailing the level vs mob bonus/penalty. It turns out if you're 6 or more levels higher than the enemies your +xp from gear turns off which is certainly good to know, but it doesn't go into the grouping penalty. In fact there doesn't seem to be any concrete data for that penalty anywhere. Supposedly it kicks in with a 5 level difference and hits a -95% penalty at 10 level difference but I can't find anything verifying that. I certainly believe that something like that is going on since I was getting substantially less than Robb was. Note that quest reward experience isn't penalized and I didn't know about that last night so it's entirely possible most of that 3.3k came from quests.
Given that information I think the option I chose where a new level 1 dude tags in is very flawed. I can see it working if you're still in Act 1 normal but even where we were at the start of Act 2 normal it didn't seem to work terribly well. I was of no use to the rest of the party while causing the enemies to have an extra 75% of base health. The only plus side really is I'd get my share of drops which could then be split to the people who could use them. Catching up is pretty hard and that gap will only widen as the group gains levels. Not to mention that it will be harder and harder to stay alive as a low level hardcore character in higher zones. I believe eventually there's even a minimum level for zoning into higher difficulties so there's no way it would work once the group is in nightmare mode.
That said, what is the better alternative? I like the idea of subs but since there is no effective group communication in the game it actually seems really impractical. Thoughts?