I think we’ve derived into two main topics here. Death Penalty, dealing with the dangers.
I personally consider the death penalty to be a welcome feature, in the sense that it is a better alternative than losing the items, exp deductions or debuffs applied to a player. Losing items is just two big off a drawback in my opinion, exp deduction is too hard of a blow for many, with more harder skill builds to level up for and debuffs could be bypassed by just logging out until it passes, or do something else entirely (could be applied as a counter for as long as you’re in game). Death penalty just has a everlasting effect, while keeping us able to use the damaged loot.
The value may be a thing to consider lowering down (I personally consider 25% as a good value, but having nothing against it being lowered to something like 15%), but I think the mechanics of it should stay as they are.
Other than that, the issue is battling danger and ways to avoid it. I believe Boundless is a game of choices and options, as such it should allow for ways to battle off creatures than direct confrontation. Right now we have the options to run and fight them directly. I believe all professions should have ways to fend them off, maybe with different levels effectiveness, but still possible. Hunters will be able to kill them, explorers will sense them and avoid it, crafters and miners/gatherers will be able to bait them off or repel them with craftable equipment and consumables, etc.
No one is denying the fact that hoppers are a pain in the butt and are hard to predict or notice, I just believe that as they may seem to be correlated, I don’t think is of such importance that death penalty should be completely reworked, and more of reworking Hoppers interaction and our options for us to deal with them and other creatures in the feature.
I believe damage to all tools should remain, it will be a much simpler concept to understand and remember. At the start I believe many will die while carrying wooden tools, the game is making it obvious of your loss, it’s harmful enough that it reminds the player, while soft enough to keep them interested.
Sure enough losing durability on weapons and tools made of gold and above is a big loss and certainly we’ll feel the burn. But as long as we have ways to avoid death and reduce durability with the investment necessary then I think we all can deal with it. Things such as skills that reduce the death penalty, or maybe just maybe, buffs with consumables or perks added to tools or wearables with the centraforge that reduce death penalty will be valid options, let’s say you have a buff that eliminates the death penalty for the next two deaths, after that you proceed to lose death penalty as it should.