Sunday, January 25, 2015

Make Friends

I may change my mind about player-vs-player, if . . .

Proposed:  if you have a character dumb enough to get into a combat with another player, and not make amends before the combat is over . . . and your character dies . . .

You're out of the campaign.  Permanently.

See?  No revenge possible.

Make friends with your new co-players.


  1. Or take a lesson from the BDSM community:
    "Obtain consent from all persons involved, always ask if your partner is okay, and have a safe word for if things get too intense for 'stop' to make sense in context."
    For most gamers, PVP is simply going to be a no, and that is fine. My group does have limited PVP, but we still seem to balk at random stabbing and player assassinating players, but that is okay too.

  2. Something that puzzles me about this blog is the intense dislike of PvP you seem to have, not just as a poor gameplay mechanic, but to the point of animosity towards players who enjoy it. It just doesn't match the vast majority of my experience playing and running, or what I've heard on other blogs and message boards. I think there's only one game I've run where PvP has gone too far, and some players became upset. This was an experimental one-off game, and the player who dominated the game wasn't a regular.

    In the course of standard campaigns, PvP has been a very rare occurrence and hasn't seemed to ruin the game for anyone. This post and some others here seem to imply that there are large numbers of players who join cooperative campaigns with the intent of damaging the group and making the experience worse for others, though, and I've never really seen that.

    I'm just curious how you came to develop such strong feelings about a problem that, from my perspective, hardly exists. How many players have you run into like this, and what rough percentage of the total? Is it just a few bad apples you've into over the decades, or is this a common problem I've been spared or never noticed?

    Please realize that my confusion is sincere. I'm not asking these questions to say you're wrong and start an argument, I'm just genuinely curious about where our difference of perspective comes from.

  3. I continue to be astounded by people like you, Ozzie.

    All this time I have been running a game in which my players, having created characters, work to achieve something with those characters. As a result of their efforts, these players obtain an AFFECTION for their characters. That is, warm, legitimate feelings developed for something that - to the player's mind - attains the status of something they have CREATED.

    The presence of PVP means that some fool asshole playing the game with others has ZERO appreciation not only for his or her own character, but for the character/creations of other people as well.

    In other words, they consider their own fleeting pleasure in being able to attack other players AS MORE IMPORTANT than the creations of other people.

    Yes. There is something incredibly wrong with destroying created things.

    When a person like you, Ozzie, expresses a position like, "What's the big deal, anyway?", what I hear is, "I play a game where characters are meaningless wooden pieces. I don't give a shit what piece I'm playing. I don't give a shit what pieces other people are playing."

    In the bigger sense, what I hear is, "I don't give a shit about PEOPLE. I just want to satisfy my selfish need to do whatever the fuck I want. I think everyone should act that way."

    See, to me, characters are artworks. I play with people who see them that way also.

    "Where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people."
    - Heinrich Heine

    I hope that conveys the incredible level of disdain and disgust I felt upon reading your comment, Ozzie.

    I know you are young. I hope someday you grow up.

  4. Is PVP purely destructive, though? Is a player in violent conflict with another player always bad, even with consent?
    To give an example, in a game my fiance is currently running, all the characters started off in the docks not knowing one another. One player started indebted to a thieves guild, and was being pressured to look for new recruits or marks. Enter my character, a deposed noble from the far east. I was tailed to a tavern where I met the other players, and caught the thief player leaving in a hurry to report. I ran out of the tavern, caught her, forcibly disarmed the thief, and demanded to know where she was going. The player smiled just before having her thief measure the odds of "can I kill this guy and get away?" The dialogue led to the party being leaded by a thief held at sword point to the guild house.
    The play moved forward, at no point were we told "no" by anyone, not even the victim, and now the thief and the noble are fast friends, and the respective players remained so.
    Did we do anything wrong just by having a bout of PVP, or does it not count until someone dies?

  5. You just described a situation where everyone playing was encouraged to be selfish with respect to the other players. Your DM was completely capable of saying, "You're all friends, you've known each other since birth," but she decided it would be more FUN to create a situation where you were all technically inside an arena of her creation. And you cheerfully embraced that idea because it appeals to your personal sensibility. You would rather kill and attack other people than be their friends. Your DM would rather enjoy the experience of watching her players enact an arena scene for her amusement. What fun! What excitement!

    What a bunch of swill. None of you gave a shit about your characters. So of course killing one or risking one means NOTHING to you, they didn't have any more value than a monopoly piece.

    You're not playing a role-playing game, you're playing just another strategy game. Which is fine - for what it is. It's crappy role-play, though. Pure shit on a stick. There's minimal imagination, minimal investment, zero immersion and a clear example of people who prefer a confrontational game that enables them to masturbate their own egos at the expense of other people - and I include your DM there.

    What the fuck are you doing reading a blog about role-playing?

  6. PVP is a tool of player agency, simple as that. PVP has it's uses in situations where both players want to test out or teach other characters ("Hey Bloodfist, wanna spar?") to prevent party-splitting stupidity ("my thief pick-pockets the fighters sword before he can kill the princess.")or simply to punish behavior the GM will not ("my fighter holds down the party thief while the cleric searches him for the stolen items.")I believe the last is what you had in mind when you said the following:
    "Here is my suggestion. Rather than insisting that the paladin act according to the dictates of some god or cultural rule-making, simply issue everyone else in the party an 'anti-paladin' bat. Let the players all know that when the paladin acts like a fucking tit, the magic in their bats gives them both initiative and an automatic hit, which causes the paladin's nervous system to shut down irrevocably for five bliss-following rounds.

    That ought to shut them up."

  7. The sort of person who thinks that it is appropriate, ever, to 'teach' people through attacking and destroying their characters is a person I don't even want to KNOW, much less ever play a game with.

  8. What I want to hit on is consent. PVP is a terrible thing without consent given, that cannot be argued with. But is two consenting adults with two characters want to have their characters spar, or enact a strip search, or disarm one another, or what ever would make sense in the situation, why would it be a bad thing?
    Hell, in the game my fiance is running, there is a system for teaching magic and martial arts based on time spent in-game training. Having an instructor allows a prospective student learn faster. Thus my character has been asked to spar by just about every other character in the game just because, from their stand point, my character is the best fighter they know and can talk to. Am I supposed to have my samurai say no, because that would be PVP and it is wrong always?

  9. Spaz,

    No. Consent is NOT a cure all.

    Where consent occurs in an abusive situation - which is what you keep describing, though clearly you don't see it - it is evidence that something else much more serious is going on.

    Take another common situation where people argue consent as a justification - drug use. The freedom to use drugs does not change the fact that the user is being self-destructive in the process of seeking fulfilment. While I don't particularly have any problem with drug use, when I encounter people who use drugs it isn't very hard to see where they have failed to address the problems in their lives in a positive, constructive way. Rather, they choose to abuse themselves in exchange for an emotional release that is, inevitably, destructive to themselves, their families (particularly their children) and the general welfare as drug use supports an AGENCY that justifies murder and oppression in order to make money through sacrificing client health.

    If you will argue CONSENT with me, here's what I will need:

    1) Proof positive that NO ONE at your table is going along with this consent in order to retain friendships - that no one is lying in order to remain 'accepted' by the perceived majority.

    2) Evidence that the consenting people at the table have been given a REAL choice, i.e., the option to play a game for an extended period, say a year, where PvP doesn't take place - in order to have a COMPARISON.

    Right now, it sounds like your present system is the only game in town - and I'm sure your players totally know that. I'm also equally sure they're uncomfortable with admitting their real feelings - because people ALWAYS ARE.

  10. This will probably come across as a strawman, but here is the best I can do:
    In quotation marks is going to be what the "victim" of the thief scenario says about her experience. You caught me on a day where I was going to run a game for her. I will leave the room, and she has instructions to hit post before calling me back in. This is the best way I can think of for the whole truth to come out to your specifications.

    "My character was caught sneaking out of an inn for spying on another player for the thieves' guild she worked for. Once caught the guy had a sword at her throat demanding information. All it took was some fast talking to make the encounter successful for my mission and show that neither of us were push-overs. After taking them to the guild it quickly became funny with the entrance of the rest of the party. Mind you the other player was in-character and reacted I think in a way that most would if they have been spied on in that setting. This to me was small potatoes to the fights I've had with other player characters. All I can say is that a lot of my gaming experience the players' characters have gotten into at least one scuffle with each other. to me that resolved a few issues in the group. I have played in a no PVP game and honestly a few of us wanted to fight each other especially when one player started making the whole process not fun. It can be easily argued as a 'what would your character do?' thing. From bar fight to boss-fight betrayal (the latter I have not encountered but would make a great twist in any campaign if done right). Some of mine would and have gotten on the wrong foot with some of the other player characters which lead to violence. Sometimes I win and like the earlier encounter I had try and not get said character killed. Everyone was in on the idea most of it was spur of the moment and in our group we try to not kill each other on purpose. that is all I have really put into words about the matter.

    I apologize for any grammar errors in this post."

  11. "I have played in a no PVP game and honestly a few of us wanted to fight each other especially when one player started making the whole process not fun. It can be easily argued as a 'what would your character do?' thing."

    If the player was making the "process not fun," why did you, another player, tolerate his/her behavior? Because it was easy to argue that your character would react that way in-game? Of course, then you can avoid the discomfort of dealing with a dick in real life.

    Of course, I expect the answer is the same as the one already given: it is an immersion technique. If the player is being a dick, then clearly the character must be a dick and it's okay for me to hit the character as hard as I can. I don't hvave to address the real problem and we can all have a drink afterwards like nothing happened.

    Reverse that for a moment and apply the same logic: the next time a character threatens you, pull a knife on the player. See how well the player reacts to that logic...


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