LitRPG ecosystems. What happens?

#1
What would happen once exp becomes a necessary resource? If animals need to level up, then exp would be the most important motivator bar air and possibly water. Levels are useful for everything. Fighting, running, camouflage, making shelters, attracting mates.. prey and predator animals in an area would need to maintain a careful balance of levels, lest one of them collapse. If anything stronger from outside wanders in and starts eating everything, that's an ecosystem collapse. If there's a powerful creature that serves as a keystone individual, and some adventurer wanders in and kills it, that's an ecosystem collapse. If there's a large number of predators (say, pack animals like wolves) with a wide range of levels from high to low, the stronger ones would decimate the weaker/younger among the prey species, and they'd slowly bottleneck their prey species. Ecosystem collapse. 

Just as a thought exercise, how would an ecosystem have to adapt in order to avoid destruction? 

Re: LitRPG ecosystems. What happens?

#2
It would be just like real life, but a little more extreme. A strong monster wandering in does happen in the form of invasive species. People do kill keystone species like elephants for money, which could be compared to experience within monetarily driven societies since it leads to power. Over predation of prey would cause the predator species to depopulate due to less experience for the young of the predator species.

The ecosystem just has to deal with it. It has to accept the new strong monster into its ecosystem with all the pain that comes from it. The ecosystem just has to deal with keystone species dying due to hunters and undergo massive change, likely causing mass death. If there is not enough prey, the predators die until the prey-predator equilibrium is regained.

The ecosystem, like in real life, needs protection by a outside force, be it magic, intelligent guardian animals, or humans in the case of a fantasy setting from destabilizing forces. They are not built to withstand a lot of change.

Re: LitRPG ecosystems. What happens?

#3
Yeah imo litrpg ecosystems would work the same way they do in the real world because if you imagine life itself as a System, it provides xp to living things as energy and species of higher "level" i.e. complexity consume that energy to evolve better adaptations to their environments over time. Species that can't level fast enough, or find a sustainable niche, die out and species that reach max level i.e. dominant species really do go around destroying other habitats and stuff. 

It's literally the same concept, just quantified with numbers imo

Re: LitRPG ecosystems. What happens?

#4
I think in a game world, or game like world, the rules have to change. And that is going to be dependent on the world building.

When a group goes out to hunt wolves and bring back 6 pelts for a quest, is it an hours job, or a week of hunting in the wilds? Or can they grind out 200 wolves in a day?

Players can kill an amazing amount of stuff, especially if higher level than the area. 

UO originally wanted to have animals breed in the wild and produce more animals, giving the game real world mechanics. It didn't work because players killed everything too fast. 

I think it's going to be different in every story, depending on the rules of the world or the game. And that's part of the fun of reading the stories.

Re: LitRPG ecosystems. What happens?

#6
Morning,

Intra-wildlife in an RPG-world would work about the same as IRL. The "higher-Leveled individual" would get a higher chance to breed, would be better at hunting (or grasing) and would become a "higher-Leveled individual". Exactly the same as IRL.
There are, however, two problems.
1, Enter monsters. Not mundane animals, but aggressive ones with a cheat-power gimmick. Slimes are just one example, and the lowest Level bottom-feeder. Dragons, Wyverns, Undead, Trolls, you name it, and the ecosystem suffers massively.
2, enter Humans or any other species, that realises, killing stuff give you EXP. We more or less succeded in killing off any large predator in Europe and the American Buffalo, but that took a couple of thousand years (or a hundred or so for the buffalo), and that was without a System giving out EXP. Why are still Wolves, Bears, Big Cats, other stuff around, when killing them is good for Leveling and every basic quest is "Kill 10 Wolves"?

Re: LitRPG ecosystems. What happens?

#7
I agree with other people on this as it wouldn't have much of an impact, unless you factor in like spells and magical abilities.

Rpgs were created the way they were to basically model how a real person gets more skilled, stronger and older over time. Books and novels didn't need to use that system since you could write whatever you wanted. That's why old fantasy novels sometimes get called progression fantasy too since the people in those stories learn how to use their abilities better over time, just without it being the main driving factor of the story.

Now you've got books with an rpg system inside of them. You're basically putting the model into a format that doesn't really need it. So the only difference you'll really find is in things that are outwardly fantastical. Magic, enchanting, mana, monsters, stuff like that. What you should be wondering about is how these fantastical elements actually affect the story, since the system is just a way to interact with them.

Also animals can benefit from exercise but they don't. So that might also help a bit.

Re: LitRPG ecosystems. What happens?

#8
Well, the first question that you need to ask is how do you gain EXP? If it’s only by killing, then predator species would gain an unfair advantage that would probably lead to mass extinction. A quick google search tells you that most predators species have less than 50% success rate when hunting, and even more of them around 5%. You don’t really have to wonder that much what would happen if that rate of success rose to 100%. More and more predators lead to less prey, the prey dies out which means no more food for predators and the predators either migrate and repeat the cycle or they themselves die out. Once the board is clear, the cycle of repopulation with new species and extinction would repeat itself until a balance is met. How that configuration would look like is anyone’s guess. Life on Earth is a balancing act, which is a problem because if only predator species gain an advantage from leveling up, that balance is almost impossible to achieve.
 
On the other hand, if both predators and prey species gain EXP at similar rates, then that balance would be much easier to find. Oh, there would still be wide spread extinctions but the general structure of ecosystems should be fairly similar to what we know today.
 
Another question to consider is how many species are included? I think the most balanced and interesting might be if everything is included. I think that in this scenario it would be life on steroids. Plants would grow faster and sturdier, but biomatter would decay quicker as well. The balance between prey and predator would be preserved. Life in general would be more than it is today, but the general shape would be similar.
 
It really all depends on what type of system you are using. What benefits and what doesn’t? How fast do they grow and what do they need to do in order to grow? Do animals hunt only for food or for EXP as well? Is there magic? Can they become immortal? Are they ruled by instinct or do they gain intelligence?
 
 
I don’t know. But one thing to keep in mind is that ecosystems are not static even today. You just need to change the timeframe from our short human lifespans to hundreds of thousands of years. Climate changes, continents move, comets fall, Earth wobbles, and more.

Re: LitRPG ecosystems. What happens?

#9
I think the main thing to focus on would be the idea of a “level cap.” I mean, the whole idea of an RPG word is theoretical infinite growth. Even the deadliest species in real life are limited by their material reality as organisms who conform to the laws of physics, but in an RPG fantasy scenario you could have some wild boar being strong enough to move mountains. 

I guess this could all even out to an exaggerated yet still analogous reflection of real life by virtue of an “effective” level cap in the way of the most powerful beings simply running out of other beings powerful enough to provide enough EXP to level up. At that point I see one of two options: 1. The strongest beings around eventually find and kill each other until there is a single apex predator who can never realistically be challenged (and I’m talking one single being, not a species), or 2. The strongest beings become vaguely conscious of their pre-apex predator geopolitics and naturally decide to basically establish regional control, effectively creating a sort of system of animal feudal protectorates.

All of this is assuming that humans or some other equally intelligent species (i.e. capable of mass scale and complex ecological regulation) doesn’t become the dominant species as in our case, because if that happens I’d assume that we would basically become world equilibrium enforcement in an even more direct way than we do now. That would mean making sure to tamp down on invasive species and other ecological stewardship, but mostly I think it would be setting an arbitrary level cap for nonhuman creatures and culling any that go above that.

Re: LitRPG ecosystems. What happens?

#11
in regards to an ecosystem, you would need to start from really small organisms that feeds on ambient mana that give xp just for existing, to bigger ones that feed on them etc. all the way up to big monsters. So having a peaceful world is impossible if advancement means the death of something weaker than you. Everything is carnivorous and everything will try to kill you if its able.

Re: LitRPG ecosystems. What happens?

#13
I don't really like the idea of "kill stuff, gain XP, level up!", because that would lead to high level fighters, who fight with sticks because the crafters, who don't kill stuff-gain XP-level up would be able to make those. 
If XP is gained for other things, say, crafting, cleaning, or anything, really, the non-combattants would be still in the game. There would probably still be a level-gap between murderhobos and normal people, but less than in the alternative.

For the environment that would mean, herbivores would gain XP by doing herbivore things. Dunno, letting methane into the atmosphere, being very good at chewing plants, or... hey, wait! Even herbivores fight for dominance! Only the best plant-cheving-methane-leaker would have the right to get know the pretty, female part of the population intimately :)

The animal world would still be under the same rule as the Earth-ecosystem. If the carnivores are overly successful, they will decimate the herbivores and they (the carnivores) wouldn't find enough food. Self-regulating.
Earth managed to make it work for what? More, than a billion years? Only when those pesky hairless monkeys fell down from a tree and realised, killing stuff is easier when using tools, got the system f***ed. Even than, it took what, a million years?

As long as the animals aren't sapient to realise, killing stuff is what make them stronger (i.e. level up), the Earth-rules apply. There is only so much game a predator can kill and only so much grass a prey can convert into methane.

The really iffy part are two things:
1, sapient creatures, that KNOW, killing stuff is good for them
2, invasive fantasy monsters

Re: LitRPG ecosystems. What happens?

#14
A good litrpg must be rooted in a good story.  The stats, tables, xp, and little blue boxes exist as tools to tell that good story, not the other way around.  To put it another way, you tell a good story, then you enhance it with the stats, tables, xp, and little blue boxes.

A practical way around this for the OP is twofold.  Diminishing returns and practical limits.  While it is possible to wipe out all life on an island, say, it's impractical and boring after a while if you're doing it the slow way (one at a time).  Diminishing returns means you stop getting the same amount of xp after a certain point.  That point might be when you reach a certain level, making hunting rabbits nearly pointless from then on.  You might require higher level meat and plants to survive, meaning you'd have to hunt/gather those higher level resources or starve.  You might only be able to take in a certain amount of XP per day, and anything after that would be wasted.  

Take xp and use it like food and you get things like satiation (limit on how much xp you can have at a time), but also things like food poisoning, starvation, and the like.  XP bonuses might come from certain activities, nerfs from others.  Might be an xp drain occurs at certain points- say, holding too much without using it to level up, applying it to skills or abilities, or the like.  Use it like air or water and you get things like anoxia or drowning- too little or too much xp could harm you.  

The take away is that the story happens first then you apply the rpg mechanics in nearly every instance.  So when disaster occurs, as it does in real life, life itself finds a way.  Even if major global disasters occur, the Earth hits the big red reset button and starts over with some bacteria and extremophiles and works its way up from there.  An extinction even for the sentient beings does not necessarily mean the end for life itself.