Goldenstar has a great post about the Assist Experience Penalty over on A Casual Stroll to Mordor. Go check it out. It touches on some things that fascinated (sometimes frustrated) me about LOTRO from the beginning and went from a few lines in a comment box to this:
Assists happen. I don’t mind when it’s help. Sometimes that’s real “Oh crap!” help, but it might be noob zeal or pro role-playing. It’s all good. I can forgive when it’s an accident. It’s easy for ranged classes to attack my target if they see the mob and not me.
However, I doubly hate obvious kill-stealing. First, I hate it because it flies in the face of proper etiquette and the spirit I think many in LOTRO have. Second, I hate it because it doesn’t work. Unfortunately, many people don’t understand how experience works in the game. So they cause harm and get no benefit for it. Mean AND stupid!
I’m torn when I’m the one in the position to give assistance. The RP’er in me wants to charge in and help if that’s what my character du jour would do. The gamer (or maybe the urban hermit) in me doesn’t want to intrude or ruin what might be a really triumphant moment. So I check the relative health, power, and level before doing anything, then position myself to help. I jump in when I would be reaching for an “Oh crap!” button if I were in the other person’s elven boots.
One thing I’ve started doing lately that is assist-ish is pulling nearby mobs to make sure the person I’m helping doesn’t accidentally pull them and get into real trouble. That avoids the penalty and keeps me close enough to help if needed.
There’s a related problem: Many people don’t understand the math behind fellowship experience either. It’s not a straight division; there’s a bump for every additional member, the group experience bonus. A large fellowship clearing an area will make far more experience over time than the same members working separately.
How much? A 6-member fellowship gets a whopping 116% experience bonus, so each kill is worth over twice its solo kill value. A fellowship member gets 36% of what the solo experience would have been–not the 17% you’d expect from dividing the solo experience by 6–and you kill mobs much, much faster. That’s a higher “XPS” for individuals and a huge bump to the total experience awarded. (All else equal–your mileage may vary based on level disparity in the fellowship.)
Turbine did a brilliant job engineering this. It discourages power leveling and kill stealing while promoting teamwork. The shame is if people don’t understand or even know about it, they will continue to make bad choices that end up hurting everybody.
Related Lorebook articles
Update: I adjusted the numbers based on the Lorebook articles above. My original figures came from the Experience Mechanics article on stratics.com. Lacking evidence either way, I decided to go with the Lorebook numbers.