Hi everyone, this is my first post in the Minecraft Forums (even though I've owned the game since version 1.2).
What I've done is that I have created (a theory-crafted) skill tree to use the experience orbs found in the 1.8 update!
You'll notice that with this skill tree, it will take quite a few 'levels' to actually max everything out. The goal of my skill diagram is to ensure that each point only gives a small increase, so that a level 20 player won't be absolutely crushed by a level 50 player. When you first spawn / respawn, you start at level zero.
You'll notice that other than a small health bonus gained from one of the skills, you are still very much susceptible to dying! This was intentional, because if players were allowed to shrug off 50% of enemy damage, enemies wouldn't be very scary anymore and the game would be a LOT less exciting.
Lets try to keep the replies constructive. I would love to see this tree or a skill tree like this one in version 1.9!
I think that skills with raw number increases should be avoided. They're just boring. The game should be more dynamic and less like a spreadsheet. So anything with a percentage or flat increase of any number could be skipped.
Lets take a systematic approach to this.
You have monsters: Skeletons, Zombies, Creepers, Silverfish, Endermen, Ghasts, Pigmen and Spiders.
You have tools: Pickaxe, Shovel, Hoe, Axe and Fishing Rod
You have weapons and armor: Sword, Bow, Chest, Helmet, Legs and Boots
You have damage types: Falling, Fire, Monsters, Explosion and Hunger
You have environments: Night, Day, Rain and Underground
I'll merge damage types and environments for the skills.
Here are my suggestions. Skip a "talent tree" gimmick since its been done to death. Allow any ability to be learned each level or every other level.
Monster Related Abilities: Skeleton's have no brains: If an enemy hurts you while a skeleton is targeting you then it has a chance to change targets to that enemy. I've seen too many Zombie movies: Every time you hear a zombie say "Brains" you gain a slight speed buff. Stacks several times. That's just creepy: Striking a creeper causes it to follow you for several seconds like a dog. (Now how do you dispose of it?) *Shivers* I hate spiders: Striking a spider with an arrow roots it in place, creating a cobweb along with it. Ender-- what? Staring at en Enderman for a few seconds causes it to lose its ability to teleport. It also makes it mad.
Tool Related Abilities: Off to work we go: Destroying a block of coal ore, iron ore, gold ore, redstone or diamonds has a chance of also destroying every adjacent block of the same type. Lawn care is important: Placing a dirt block next to a grass block will turn it into a grass block instantly. Also, Increased rate of digging for sand and gravel. Seeds, seeds and more seeds: Destroying grass with a hoe has a much greater chance of dropping seeds. It also has a very small chance of dropping pumpkin and melon seeds. Also, walking on tilled soil while carrying a hoe no longer damages it. TIMBER!!!!!: Destroying a log block with an axe has a chance of also destroying every other log block in the tree. However, the axe is still damaged as if it had cut every block itself. I love seafood: The chance of catching a fish is increased. For one day after catching a fish, all health regeneration is slightly quicker.
Weapon and Armor Related Abilities: Engarde!: Chance on hit for burst of health regeneration or guaranteed string of critical hits. Once one of the two effects occurs it can't occur again for a few minutes. I should of brought my pointy ears: Any enemy struck by an arrow is knocked back. Also, chance on hit for the arrow to pass through the target and continue its trajectory. The Midas touch: Any enemy that you kill while you're wearing a chest piece has a chance of dropping one piece of the material your armor is made of. The drop chance diminishes with higher quality armor. (Diamond armor has an extremely low chance) I hear you: Creepers have a faint sound when they walk while you're wearing a helmet. These boots were made for walking: No seriously, this time the boots were made for walking. You now walk slightly faster. After walking for a few seconds you pick up speed, this buff disappears once you stop moving. This does not affect your sprinting speed.
Environment Abilities: I should be in a circus: You take reduced damage from falling. Also, no fall will reduce you below half a heart. Warm and toasty: When near a fire source you regenerate health slightly quicker. I'm so full: A full hunger stays full for much longer before dropping. If the hunger bar isn't full then it drops slightly quicker than before. Singing in the rain: The radius at which you will attract a monster's attention is reduced when you're in the rain. This only lasts while you're actually IN the rain. Sunrise and sunset: You randomly regenerate a few ticks of health and hunger every sunrise and sunset. The amount of each you regenerate is random. This regeneration occurs over the course of the next few seconds.
Note: I've avoided any numbers. I think it should be kept that way to allow for "Behind the scenes" balancing and to keep the game from becoming too much of a numbers game. Naturally some people will figure out the numbers anyways.
Note 2: I avoided any mention of stronghold or nether monsters since there's likely to be more in the future and these places will change.