My, how the tables turn…
I’ve been gaming for awhile now, and I’ve seen plenty of different situations at the table: different gamers, different points of view, different likes and dislikes, and on and on. If you’ve been gaming for any decent length of time, you’ve seen it all, too. And then, of course, after we’re sure that we’ve seen it all, we get hit with something new.
Charisma had a good article, PVP is cool. …I mean, NOT cool. Here’s a quick quote:
“No, you can’t make an attack roll against another player character. We’re fighting monsters; not players. The moment we start rolling against each other, the fun ends and the unfun competition begins. There is no PVP at this table.”
I remember that as a beginning gamer, the thought of attacking another PC never even hit the radar. The thought of PVP combat simply never entered my mind as a possibility. That wasn’t part of the game – after all, it was the GM against us.
Then, as my group got more comfortable with the notion of roleplaying (and because we thought we were so smart), we ‘realized’ that there was no reason that the combat rules wouldn’t apply to our characters, and in allowing player vs. player we were actually growing and maturing as gamers.
Unfortunately, this stage of our gaming careers was fraught with problems at the table. While we allowed for inter-party actions that were… aggressive, our quality of gaming started to suffer. I began to feel the exact same way as Charisma with her aversion to PVP. It just wasn’t working, and continued to create problems at the table.
Moving on, I began gaming with a new group, and for the most part there was no PVP (in any form). It was clear that this group was really focused on campaign story and the stories that were woven around the player characters. We were all there at the table to enjoy a good game, without drumming up any negative actions or energy, and it was pretty rewarding. None of our player characters ever despised, hated, or even wanted to (god forbid) kill each other. Normally, you’ll hear that such conflict is just bad form at the gaming table. And why not? I play a game to face challenges brought on by the Game Master, right?
In a previous article, I talked about adding PC vs. PC tension to your game for everyone’s benefit. Sure, that’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it has made such an impact on our game’s story (increasing our fun factor) that I feel it’s worth recommending. The challenges that are brought into the game when tension among the party builds add a new element to the experience. You don’t have to burden the GM with all the story-telling; players can shoulder some of that weight just as easily. I say bring on the tension! But what about inter-party conflict that ultimately leads to one PC killing another?
I’ve been playing a Priest of Sigmar, in the challenging and unforgiving world of Warhammer Fantasy. As are many young Priests of Sigmar, he has a very black and white view of the world, and will charge into any battle without fear. There is no negotiating with evil or chaos, and those even slightly tainted by it are either brought to trial or killed outright.
Enter another PC (Willhelm), one who has a very troubled past and has once been associated with Chaos. As time rolls on, the tension between these two character builds. It builds even further when Willhelm develops a Chaos mutation, furthering the conflict and tension in the group (especially with the priest). Only because the threat that our characters face requires our PCs’ continued cooperation do we not kill each other. In fact, it is suspected among the player characters that regardless of how the threat is finally dealt with, there will soon be some lethal PC vs. PC combat. The campaign’s story and conflict was eventually overshadowed by the conflict among the party members. It took a lot of work for our characters to continue to stay together, let alone not kill each other.
And you know what? It was the absolute best campaign that I’ve been a part of.
The campaign just wrapped up, and (unfortunately) I didn’t get to kill Willhelm. Unfortunately? Yeah, unfortunately. It’s all right, though, because everything ended so perfectly in quintessential Warhammer Fantasy style.
So my question is, have you ever witnessed a player vs player death, and how did your group take it?