Coriolis wrote:So far I've had Trolls that learned to blink, that learned to fireproof themselves, and a Naga that mastered throwing lighting bolts. Gotta say, this is very strange and interesting, watching allies pick up intrinsics the way the player usually does in some roguelikes. I wonder how they know when they can 'upgrade'? Do they get experience points too, and at the point they 'level up' they get to take an intrinsic from their next target? What's the criteria that determines how they choose when to eat a corpse or study one?
Glad you asked! It's something of an experiment in making allies more interesting and durable, with the quirk that (as folks here can attest) most players will encounter it for the first time when their unambiguously ground-based ally suddenly learns to fly by playing with a dead bat. It's weird, and I've wondered in the past if it was TOO weird, but I left it in anyway.
Allies gain invisible experience for being your allies as you as you explore the dungeon: each dungeon space that you see for the first time gets added onto their experience point count, which (a) gradually but noticeably makes them stronger in combat, and (b) permits them to absorb an enemy ability the next time an opportunity presents itself. An opportunity presents itself (as I recall) when the ally watches an enemy with a learnable trait die and can commence absorbing it within the next few turns. If you don't want your ally to gain a trait from a monster (e.g. invisibility), just interrupt the ally while it is poring over the dead enemy and it will abort that particular absorption and try again at the next opportunity.
Here are the traits/abilities that can be learned:
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LEARNABLE_BEHAVIORS = (MONST_INVISIBLE | MONST_FLIES | MONST_IMMUNE_TO_FIRE | MONST_REFLECT_4)
LEARNABLE_ABILITIES = (MA_CAST_HEAL | MA_CAST_HASTE | MA_CAST_BLINK | MA_CAST_CANCEL | MA_CAST_SPARK | MA_CAST_FIRE | MA_CAST_SLOW | MA_CAST_DISCORD)
The particular verb that they use to describe the absorption process, like the attack verbs that monsters use, is purely a matter of flavor and depends on the species of the ally.
I'd be interested to hear suggestions on this stuff specifically or the ally system generally. My goal, which I don't know if I've yet achieved, is to make allies an asset worth cultivating and protecting, to the point that a viable character can be built around them (e.g. staff of healing, staff of haste, wand of plenty, etc.).