What's your attitude towards PVP?

What do you think of PVP happening in your TTRPG?

  • Fun way to bring some drama and excitement.

    Votes: 6 9.1%
  • Yeah no... my players can't handle that.

    Votes: 11 16.7%
  • I've never seen that work.

    Votes: 29 43.9%
  • What's a campaign without a little PVP sometimes?

    Votes: 6 9.1%
  • All I can say is... it depends?

    Votes: 22 33.3%
  • PVP is only okay when a PC is under some kind of influence.

    Votes: 10 15.2%
  • It's just not something I'm interested in or have enjoyed.

    Votes: 8 12.1%


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Mort

Legend
Supporter
Mmmmm-mmmm-mmmm, this post goes down like fried chicken! Look I'm not interested in putting down folks who can't understand the appeal of playing like this, but you're explaining such a bog standard kind of campaign (at least in terms of my own experiences), and yet it's so "subversive" by many people's standards it's like you're reinventing the wheel. We, i.e. people who have fun playing in all evil campaigns, are playing Dungeons N Hamsters the same as all you guys.

You don't have to be an alien or something to think it's fun being a Sith when you play Knights of the Old Republic. It's a game. The heroic/normal campaign is still chocked full of stuff that is bewilderingly different from how a person would act irl. Morality is already a wacky mess if you just try lining up your ideas about what's really good and just, in the real world, with the things that "good guys" do in campaigns.

Wouldn't a lot of us be pacifists if in the real world there was magic and stuff? We wouldn't honestly go out adventuring and killing "for good", would we? We'd think those "good" adventurers are insane and wish that our "actually good" town guards would throw them out before they cause bloodshed in town.

This post makes the assumption that in an "evil" campaign or with "evil" PCs there will be PvP conflict within the group.

But I've found, ESPECIALLY with evil campaigns or PCs that there needs to be a good reason for the group to be together - a common goal etc. One where character conflict is far from optimal. Evil DOES NOT mean a psychotic need to kill/betray everyone around you (well it can, but those characters make awful, awful PCs).

The few times I've tried PvP type campaigns (have as a player not as DM), I've found them to be completely not for me. Mostly not because of the conflict, but because of the boredom. Everyone spent so much time trying to one up each other and get at each other that NOTHING ever got done and it was just a slog to sit through the session. I much prefer when the table is working together to achieve a common goal - it doesn't have to be a "good" goal mind you (heist games etc. can be a blast) but IME common ones are, by far, the most fun.

Now this is talking about games like D&D. Games like Paranoia, where PvP is practically built in and the system has ways of keeping things 1) fun and more importantly 2) moving along briskly - that's a different thing altogether.
 

Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
This post makes the assumption that in an "evil" campaign or with "evil" PCs there will be PvP conflict within the group.

But I've found, ESPECIALLY with evil campaigns or PCs that there needs to be a good reason for the group to be together - a common goal etc. One where character conflict is far from optimal. Evil DOES NOT mean a psychotic need to kill/betray everyone around you (well it can, but those characters make awful, awful PCs).

The few times I've tried PvP type campaigns (have as a player not as DM), I've found them to be completely not for me. Mostly not because of the conflict, but because of the boredom. Everyone spent so much time trying to one up each other and get at each other that NOTHING ever got done and it was just a slog to sit through the session. I much prefer when the table is working together to achieve a common goal - it doesn't have to be a "good" goal mind you (heist games etc. can be a blast) but IME common ones are, by far, the most fun.

Now this is talking about games like D&D. Games like Paranoia, where PvP is practically built in and the system has ways of keeping things 1) fun and more importantly 2) moving along briskly - that's a different thing altogether.

No that post really does not make that assumption, I promise, lol. I never assumed or said that "evil campaigns mean PvP".

Both evil campaigns and PvP are kind of taboo to players so I was speaking of them in the same tangent, of course because the person I was responding to described an evil campaign. But it was never my intention to conflate evil and PvP.

However, yes I have done evil campaigns that yes also had PvP. And it wasn't even remotely a problem, in terms of pacing or whatever else.

Whatever seems to be happening to you guys when PvP comes up, that doesn't happen to everyone. Clearly. And I'm not the only person here with that experience.
 

No that post really does not make that assumption, I promise, lol. I never assumed or said that "evil campaigns mean PvP".

Both evil campaigns and PvP are kind of taboo to players so I was speaking of them in the same tangent, of course because the person I was responding to described an evil campaign. But it was never my intention to conflate evil and PvP.

However, yes I have done evil campaigns that yes also had PvP. And it wasn't even remotely a problem, in terms of pacing or whatever else.

Whatever seems to be happening to you guys when PvP comes up, that doesn't happen to everyone. Clearly. And I'm not the only person here with that experience.
Well, at the risk of creating an 'alignment war'... evil is pretty much definitionally a lack of regard for the welfare of others. At the VERY LEAST this is a hallmark of evil. So, the characters participating in an 'evil campaign' are basically BY DEFINITION unconcerned with each other's welfare (beyond some sort of narrow self interest obviously). The classic evil campaign we ran for a few years pretty much worked on the premise that there was, at some level, an 'evil overlord'. If you screwed up the 'evil side' too much with whatever antics you were up to, then you got offed (because Mr Evil Overlord squashed you like a bug, or more like some of his sub-lieutenants did that). NO PC ever learned the identity of the evil overlord, and if you did rise to a level of power that seemed a bit too much, you found your 'usefulness' started to be doubted!

So, the basic equation was, you could backstab or whatever, but if it compromised the outcome of your current mission, then you were probably SOL unless you had a really good excuse, or could get something on your immediate superior so he wouldn't just off you. Thus the PCs often DID cooperate, and in many cases there wasn't a lot of reason for them NOT to do so. Albeit someone was always scheming and each character constantly either sought out some way to get more powerful than the others, or else to force them to work for him, etc. After a while some PCs rose into the ranks of the 'supervisors' a couple levels, and of course it was all just more of the same! Except now you had minions (who were often other PCs, this was after all AD&D).

Overall it worked pretty well, but there were certain inherent limits. Any PC that was weakened for some reason was either ripe to be ganked and looted, or put under another's thumb, so it was hard to survive and actually advance. Beyond that, the campaign could only go in a few limited directions or else it would 'blow up'. Without an evil overlord any pretense of cooperation would evaporate (we learned this). In fact the whole thing eventually crashed and burned because some certain player's character decided to help the good guys in order to get something or other, and evil's organization got mostly destroyed, after which the PCs just all murdered each other left and right. It was interesting, but it pretty quickly got old and futile.

I think it was a great success, lots of fun was had by all (many hilarious and stupid deaths of PCs) but it was not the most long-lasting possible format. I guess if you could come up with some sort of really credible ideology for evil, that might work better. Maybe something "We Orcs are the best!" or something.
 

Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
Well, at the risk of creating an 'alignment war'... evil is pretty much definitionally a lack of regard for the welfare of others. At the VERY LEAST this is a hallmark of evil. So, the characters participating in an 'evil campaign' are basically BY DEFINITION unconcerned with each other's welfare (beyond some sort of narrow self interest obviously). The classic evil campaign we ran for a few years pretty much worked on the premise that there was, at some level, an 'evil overlord'. If you screwed up the 'evil side' too much with whatever antics you were up to, then you got offed (because Mr Evil Overlord squashed you like a bug, or more like some of his sub-lieutenants did that). NO PC ever learned the identity of the evil overlord, and if you did rise to a level of power that seemed a bit too much, you found your 'usefulness' started to be doubted!

So, the basic equation was, you could backstab or whatever, but if it compromised the outcome of your current mission, then you were probably SOL unless you had a really good excuse, or could get something on your immediate superior so he wouldn't just off you. Thus the PCs often DID cooperate, and in many cases there wasn't a lot of reason for them NOT to do so. Albeit someone was always scheming and each character constantly either sought out some way to get more powerful than the others, or else to force them to work for him, etc. After a while some PCs rose into the ranks of the 'supervisors' a couple levels, and of course it was all just more of the same! Except now you had minions (who were often other PCs, this was after all AD&D).

Overall it worked pretty well, but there were certain inherent limits. Any PC that was weakened for some reason was either ripe to be ganked and looted, or put under another's thumb, so it was hard to survive and actually advance. Beyond that, the campaign could only go in a few limited directions or else it would 'blow up'. Without an evil overlord any pretense of cooperation would evaporate (we learned this). In fact the whole thing eventually crashed and burned because some certain player's character decided to help the good guys in order to get something or other, and evil's organization got mostly destroyed, after which the PCs just all murdered each other left and right. It was interesting, but it pretty quickly got old and futile.

I think it was a great success, lots of fun was had by all (many hilarious and stupid deaths of PCs) but it was not the most long-lasting possible format. I guess if you could come up with some sort of really credible ideology for evil, that might work better. Maybe something "We Orcs are the best!" or something.

Actually there are a ton of different ways to do it.

In one campaign that we liked to call Murderhoboism Incorporated, the party was goblins, hobgoblins and orcs. They fought over loot, heck they fought over all kinds of things. PCs even died in PvP. But this was explicitly the premise, being very gobliny goblins and orcs.
 

Umbran

Mod Squad
Staff member
@Umbran, are you stating an aesthetic preference or making a claim about what is practical in RPGing?

Mine was a practical observation, specifically and explicitly noted to be from personal experience.

then I don't agree.

That's fine.

The thread title specifically asks for our individual attitudes. There is no claim here on objective truth, no need for agreement. Your agreement is not really relevant - you weren't at my tables, after all.

I daresay the constructive thing is not for you to stand there and say you disagree. That doesn't reveal anything interesting or useful. More interesting might be to accept that we are both right within our individual contexts - our experiences, players, and personal GMing styles, and to explore the differences between those contexts.
 

Scruffy nerf herder

Toaster Loving AdMech Boi
The thread title specifically asks for our individual attitudes. There is no claim here on objective truth, no need for agreement. Your agreement is not really relevant - you weren't at my tables, after all.

I daresay the constructive thing is not for you to stand there and say you disagree. That doesn't reveal anything interesting or useful. More interesting might be to accept that we are both right within our individual contexts - our experiences, players, and personal GMing styles, and to explore the differences between those contexts.

Ding ding ding! We got a winner. The OP never intended to present the answer or act like there is an answer.

In fact the OP was set up to avoid people saying "I don't think you DM right, my way is right" because there's already way too much of that anywhere people discuss D&D on the internet.

Sure I "liked" pemerton's post too but hey he made interesting points. I like interesting points, guys, shoot me 😉
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
In any game in which the players choose their PCs' goals, conflict between PCs is almost inevitably going to be on the table as a possibility. Conversely, a rule that all PC goals must be compatible if not the same is a clear departure from the idea of players choosing for their own PC.
Agreed.

And what commonly happens in order to accommodate these conflicting notions is that while players are on paper allowed to choose their PCs' goals they are not in practice allowed to act on said goals if doing so causes serious conflict with one or more other PCs. It's passive-aggressive table management, and very poor form IMO.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Well, at the risk of creating an 'alignment war'... evil is pretty much definitionally a lack of regard for the welfare of others. At the VERY LEAST this is a hallmark of evil. So, the characters participating in an 'evil campaign' are basically BY DEFINITION unconcerned with each other's welfare (beyond some sort of narrow self interest obviously).
Maybe.

But consider this as a premise: a group of bitter adventurers get together and, while drowning their sorrows in a tavern one night, collectively decide "Screw it. We're gonna band together as friends and allies; we'll cover each other's backs, but the rest of the world can go eff itself and we're gonna help it along with that by any means possible."

And so they start raiding and looting and pillaging and butchering...all the usual Evil stuff, only they look out for each other and actually keep their promises to cover each others' backs.

Boom - instant long-lasting Evil campaign premise. And little if any reason for PvP.
 

Dausuul

Legend
In my group, PvP usually happens when a PC turns to the dark side; it's a way for that character to exit the campaign. There is out of character discussion of it beforehand and we make sure everyone is okay with the consequences. Most of us have several new character ideas lined up at any given moment, so we don't mind too much if the current one bites it.

We are probably going to have such an incident soon; in a moment of mortal peril, the party paladin was tempted by a devil and succumbed. The player is planning on having his character turn gradually darker as the devil's influence grows, and at some point he will cross a line that the other PCs can't tolerate, whereupon there will be blood and death. The player is already considering his next character (he wants to try a spellcaster).
 

Yora

Legend
My campaigns all require that all PCs generally like each other and want to work together. That's really the only requirement I make other than the available race and class options for the setting. Otherwise it makes no sense for a PC to be in the party and why would the other keep dragging him around?

If players think they have good reason to turn on another PC, that's fine with me. But the last word is always with the player whose character is being targeted. That's the one instance where anyone has a say on what someone else's character is doing. The character can still want to turn on another PC, but if that player decides that he's not going through with it, that's it.

I had one case in which a player wanted to pick a magic item from another player's pack, but since I got a note that the character is only going to study it while the other sleep and then put it back, I went through with it without asking the player who had taken the item for safekeeping, specifically to make sure the other character isn't fiddling with it.
The player was going against the specific agreement of the rest of the party that the magic item should be left alone, who even took steps to keep that one character's hands away from it. That's a player causing conflict with the rest of the party, but since it didn't mess with anyone else's characters, I saw no reason to stop it. The fallout of it is for the players to work out.
 


Maybe.

But consider this as a premise: a group of bitter adventurers get together and, while drowning their sorrows in a tavern one night, collectively decide "Screw it. We're gonna band together as friends and allies; we'll cover each other's backs, but the rest of the world can go eff itself and we're gonna help it along with that by any means possible."

And so they start raiding and looting and pillaging and butchering...all the usual Evil stuff, only they look out for each other and actually keep their promises to cover each others' backs.

Boom - instant long-lasting Evil campaign premise. And little if any reason for PvP.
I would say if there's enough verisimilitude in characterization to engage me, then these guys will need to invent a 'myth', an ideology, which makes them the good guys. While others may see them as evil, this kind of group will not see ITSELF as evil. They might go so far as to acknowledge that they "do some evil things" in service to whatever cause they've invented to justify their actions, and leadership might be seen as "brutal but on our side" etc. You can see this sort of thing in action, and it could be modeled by players in an RPG. Of course the main pattern that emerges is that eventually the whole thing devolves into some sort of cult of personality or something similar, and then down some rabbit hole or other. You can GET to basically stark raving evil that way, but none of these people will label THEMSELVES as evil, or if they do it will come as some terrible revelation, usually followed by separating from said group.

My bet is that your scenario is basically like the genesis of gangs. A group of people, living in an 'outsider' role in society band together and create some sort of gang. Again, they will take on some level of ideology, symbolism, and construct a gang culture which distinguishes them from society as a whole. In all the cases I know of these gangs are seen as an in-group, sort of like a family, that they owe loyalty to and to which they attribute positive attributes, including the attribute of opposition to the out-group, the rest of society. They may take this to the level of basically labeling everyone else as "not human" or something like that. I can't draw examples from RL here, but you can clearly look around and see how this works. Again, they never see themselves as EVIL.
 

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