[True/False] There is a point in every campaign when the PCs come to blows.

[True/False] There is a point in every campaign when the PCs come to blows.

  • True.

    Votes: 64 22.5%
  • False.

    Votes: 220 77.5%


Moderator Emeritus
A little bump to see if there are any new opinions/votes on this issue. . .

We haven't had any punches thrown between PCs in a while, but one thing I noticed in re-reading this thread is a lot of people interpreted my question, or I guess the situation to be one where PCs might kill each other (either purposefully or accidentally), but in my experience, I would say 95% of the purposeful PC-on-PC violence (that is, nothing involving charm or domination) was of the non-lethal variety.

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Rarely and not for a long time, and invariably symptomatic of non-game-related interpersonal problems among the participants on those occasions when I have seen it happen. They've been some of the most thoroughly unpleasant game sessions I've ever presided over.

The closest one of my own characters has come to intramural violence was in a one shot, an embarrassing but non-dangerous Command spell on someone who was about to do something I considered extremely foolish.


Any campaigns? Yes.
Most campaigns? Perhaps.
Every campaign? No.

That said, it almost always leads to bad feelings.

Agreed. My bro can be a bit stubborn, and it sometimes leads to him saying "my way or bust". But it's only ever led to in-party physical conflict once.

More likely to happen: some outside force compels a PC to attack his friends. I've had 3 campaigns end because of this and a few others that caused a lot of grief. I try to stay away from that these days (as fun as it can sometimes be for a DM to sit back and watch the chaos unfold ;))

I'd say that it happens more than half the time in long-term games that I've participated in (not including instances anti-social acting out or actual fallings out between players).

A couple of the more memorable times, for me, have been...

In a campaign that I played in, I was playing a paladin, and another member of the party became demon-possessed somehow. Usually, the character was in control of himself, but rarely, the demon took possession, and set about wreaking havoc. My paladin was very confused, at first, because he would sometimes get 'false positives' from the demon-possessed character on the detect evil. That is, the character would detect as evil, but the paladin knew that the character was not evil, based on the character's deeds and words (they group had been traveling together for quite some time, and the two characters were friends, the paladin had witnessed the other character's goodness for himself). Eventually, the demon gave himself away to my paladin. So, with the help of another party member, we managed to beat him into submission and restrain him until the demon could be exorcised.

In a campaign that I ran, one of the party members was accused of intentionally letting a plague (a figurative one, in the form of an escaped bad guy) loose on a planet. The evidence did not look good (some members of the court having it out for the party) so, in a fit of good sense, the character demanded that he be granted the right of trial by combat (something that he could do, due to his character's background). He chose one of the other party members as his second. The court agreed, choosing the other two party members as its champions. The accused was victorious, but barely, even after a tiny bit of shenanigan on behalf of an interested third-party.

In both of these cases, it was clear that the conflict was between the characters, not the players. Tactics were used, stops were pulled out, wackiness ensued, and a good time was had by all.

Jeff Wilder

First Post
Barring magical compulsion, it doesn't happen in our groups. It's not prohibited, or even discussed. It just doesn't happen.

When I learned to play AD&D, I was in a large game-store group where intra-party conflict was pervasive and even tacitly encouraged. I actually kinda enjoyed it, as a kid, but even back then I was always on defense. Even when my magic-user made an unwitting pact with a devil and became LE, he got along fine with the other PCs.

Fallen Seraph

First Post
There is inter-party conflict as related to whatever is happening in the story, ie: the players know it is the characters fighting not them.

It also never comes to actual blows, it is more back-door dealings, bribing, etc, etc.


I encourage internal conflicts and reward them. But conflict must be relevant and limited to the story and the PC classes' backgrounds. Everyone gets a reward out of such internal conflicts and the "loser" gets even more than the "winner". It is strange but it works :)

If I was in a group and found out that the DM (without telling the players) was encouraging inter-party conflict, this would be the quickest way to lose me as a player.

While I've certainly seen conflict between PC's many times over the years, I've rarely seen it done well and without hurt feelings. In most cases at least one of the players was definitely not OK with the outcome.

Now if this was an up front assumption and the DM was open about it (For example, we did an evil mini-campaign a bit ago where the whole point was to be the one coming out on top) that's a whole different story and I'm fine with it - so as long as it's out in the open.


First Post
We used to see a lot of this, a few decades back, and even saw a few DMs who chortled along, loving it, because it meant that they didn't have to really do any work, just put the PCs in a situation and watch them kill each other over some doctrinal interpretation of what their alignment meant.

Then we started discouraging Paladin characters, and de-emphasizing alignment as a whole, and since then, it's been smooth sailing.

No more cries of 'You killed my prisoner!' 'The town guard treated me disrespectfully!' 'I attack the king's advisor because she detects as evil!'

The assassins, necromancers, evil clerics of the insane god of destruction, etc. seem to mesh together like a finely-tuned machine compared to a party of all LG characters with different notions of what 'LG' means (but all agreed that a LG alignment means that they are morally justified in attacking anyone, PC or NPC, who offends their personal interpretation of right and wrong).

I know that doesn't work for everyone, but generally, you learn to tell the players that are going to be unable (or unwilling) to function in a cooperative activity by the character they place in front of you. It doesn't always say 'Paladin,' but it's one of the warning signs. It's usually a player thing, and that player will be just as prone to causing inter-party conflict if he plays a Wizard, but the Paladin just gives him an excuse to attack other PCs and then hide behind the 'I'm just role-playing my alignment!' defense.

Other classes don't have built in justifications for being jerks, so the less jerkish ones are likely to behave themselves and allow everyone to have a good time working together, instead of ordering everyone else to obey their character's alignment restrictions and code of behavior.

True for my group. Especially when we play OWOD. Sometimes resulting in players making new characters every session due to irate characters resorting to violence.
In D&D, it tends to be more rare as the players resort to threats.


First Post
In the game I currently play in we have raised our voices and argued at the table, but we never came to blows in or out of the game. We have even gone so far as to tell each other that if your character proceeds to do whatever it is they are planning that we won't support it our have any part in it. As an example in our most recent adventure we are in an underground area known to be an old abandoned dwarven citidel. We had just finished getting our tails kicked by an Iron golem, and half the party was low on hp and the other low on spells. We needed to rest and had chosen an out of the way room with one entrance/exit and started setting up watchs and such. The party rogue does not agree with our choice of rooms and wants to go back to a previous area we had been in that was guarded by a good aligned and friendly gaurdian. However per the constructs original orders it was not allowed to let any dwarf pass it into the area we had come from originally. So while it would let us pass the way we came into the area we were presently in, it would not let us return back that way with the dwarf in our party. The rouge voted to split the party so that we could be guarded by the guardian, and leave the dwarf to fend for himself. The rest of the party looked at him as one and said no, and that if he wanted that it was fine but he went his way alone.
Again outside the game voices were raised but it all ended agreeably.

The last time I can remember inter party conflict outside of a setting where we were actually pitted against one another for the game, would have to be all the way back in grade school about age 7.


No, despite how much I enjoy it, a substantial fraction of the games I've been in have never had the PC's come to blows. And a good thing too, because too much of anything gets boring after a while.


Excluding monster-attack-mandated situations such as domination of PCs, it's more common than, in my opinion, it should be, but not inevitable. I would say about half the campaigns I've played in had such an incident.


Victoria Rules
In my new campaign there's already been two characters intentionally killed by the party, and they're not halfway through the first adventure yet.
They started, it seems, as they meant to go on. We're now up to 4 party-vs.-party deaths, along with any number of other varieties of conflict (for example, at one point the party sold* two of its own into slavery just to get rid of them). The players, however, get along just fine with each other in and out of game. Now *that's* D+D! :)

* - by "sold" I mean left tied up with the slavers made aware of their location. No money changed hands...in case that matters...



It's been false for me. If you had said, "There comes a point in several campaigns," I'd have said "true." However, it's maybe one campaign in every three or four. For the most part, we'll have character friction based on choices made, or we'll have smack-talking-fests, but not to a point where blood is drawn or spells cast.

In my 4E campaign about two months ago, it happened - the wizard loved using his Orb of Blood ("Orb of Sanguinary Repercussions", a damned stupid name) with the Cleric of the group in range every time the cleric was bloodied. It affects EVERYONE in range who is bloodied. He'd done it twice before, so the player of the cleric decided that the cleric was fed up, and cast one of his big spells (Cascade of Light, I think?) On him, and CRITTED, doing max damage.

The wizard responded by unleashing some whoop-ass on the wounded cleric, and the Shifter Ranger in the group saw the exchange, but not the initial incident that caused it, and unloaded on the cleric, killing him dead, dead, dead. The group just decided that the cleric had lost his darned mind in the depths of the dungeon, and looted his body and moved on.
It looked like there was friction between players, but they assured me there wasn't, and they were just "having fun". So the Cleric player announced he didn't want to keep playing the Cleric, he rolled up a different PC, and they found a captive in the dungeon that they knew from back in town, freed and equipped him, and there wasn't a problem after that...

Before that, the only other time the party came two blows was about five years ago, in a Forgotten Realms game, where one guy was playing his last game session before moving away, and wanted to make a "memorable exit." :)
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First Post
It's almost never happened in any game I've played in, apart from one Evil game where it was pretty much a case of "When" rather than "If" it happened.

But no, it's not a part of the games I play in.

Although, in the way in which the OP tells it, it'd be a good game to play in where that kind of play was possible.


Rich Burlis has a great article on this on his site (giants in the playground).

The key point is, PLAYERS choose to interpret things and act in ways that cause conflict.

There was a good example upthread where the player's psion chose to intepret that the other PC's failure of an umberhulk saving throw was deliberate.

This is intentionally causing conflict. The player of the psion could have shrugged it off.

This is the same as players who make the elf hating dwarf when they know there's an elf in the party. When the 2 PCs come to blows, over it, it's because the player CHOSE to make a violent issue out of it.

I'm ok with PCs having faux-arguments that are character building. I'm not OK with them choosing directly confrontational (and party splitting paths).

It would also be different if an in-game event caused such a party division.


I was just about to post that my campaigns have been PC-on-PC violence free for over a decade when I suddenly remembered a recent event in my Tales of CITY game in which Rackhir the Bloody Archer persuaded Atlatl Jones not to touch the Word of Creation by shooting him in the head at point-blank range with a magic arrow that resembled a hissing snake made of black iron (that dripped corrosives).

Which got the point across. Fortunately, there were no hard feelings.
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First Post
I have rarely had my PCs come to blows ... except where that was part of the initial campaign (Klingon FASA campaign, anything with Paranoia).

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