View Full Version : D&D Save My Game: Character-on-Character Violence

PnP News Bot
11-02-2006, 02:05 PM

Check out this new article Wizards of the Coast posted recently:

Save My Game: Character-on-Character Violence (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/sg/20061102a&dcmp=ILC-RSSDND)

Character-on-Character Violence

10-03-2008, 02:26 PM
While it is true that there is nothing that the game itself that prevents PC vs PC, it has a lot of the same problems as allowing 'Evil' PCs into the game; Without some Goal or purpose, it will kill the Game.
There are things that the DM can do to deal with both.

(1) Prevention: if PvP is something that the DM does not want to deal with: State that you do not want this to happen in your Games. Anyone that does it should only get two more warnings. Make it known that the “Deities” of your Game are intolerant of this, and will kill anyone that does this. This has been used for years – and is normally called a DM/God Blue Bolt.

This is the official stance of a lot of DMs that run Convention Games – and why Jason Nelson-Brown from WoTC takes this stance: after all these are meant for Group co-operation, more even then Home Games. And, conventions attract more Teens, and the Convention Staff just don't want to deal with potential fist-fights (or crying) at the tables. Sadly, there are still Adults that will behave that way, as well.

As the DM, I ask to see the Player's Character sheet (something that DMs should ask a lot, and not always for obvious reasons. Keep the players guessing) and then declare that their Character is dead, and that they need to make a new Character. With a reminder that doing that behavior again would mean that the Player will be asked to leave the game.

While this may seem to be harsh, and unyielding, it does make sure that the Players stay focused on the Game. The challenge for the DM here, is to make interesting Challenges, powerful Monsters, and detailed Villains. All of which is designed to be defeated.

(2) Acceptance: There are those that love pitting what they have against what someone else has.
However, this is for those involved must have a much higher level of emotional Maturity; Where the losing of a battle, or even the death of their character, does not cause them to become petty and/or mean towards the other Players, or the DM.

PvP is something that requires all the Players sitting at the table acknowledge and respect that the DM as the final Judge of what happens.

While this side of the fence may seem to be tempting to try, I want to warn new DMs that you might want to work your way up to this. Sure, it can make for great games – but experimenting with a new group of players is not really a good idea. Even I, an experienced DM, don't try PvP with a new group; I wait for at least a few months of gaming to get a feel for the group, and then I will suggest it to them.
Dragonlance officially introduced the Greater Game idea – where, more powerful (Higher Level) Characters have the ability to do things (Adventures, Quests, etc) on their own, and that they only need to get the Old Party back together to deal with really dangerous and powerful threats: be it an army, or an Adult [or older] Dragon and high level Rider.

It also introduced the idea where one player's Character can have a goal that opposes another Player's Character, and that they need to come to some kind of resolution. Notice that I said “resolution”, which does not always mean that they have to fight to the death. Sure, they may fight, but once one has won, they go about their business – and don't seek to make sure that the other is dead. Sure, if the dice rolls fall in such a way that a character takes enough damage (or fails a saving throw) that kills them, then let it happen.

It is when a Character dies in this kind of game that there can be unexpected problems.
Very few Players are going to want to make a 1st level PC in a 15th level Game, and them making another Character of the same level is just a different version of being brought back to Life.

Jason states that this can create multiple Campaigns to happen, and this is true. But, if the DM has a good enough of a group, you can make one night being set aside for the High Level Group, another night for the Low Level Game, and one more night for when both groups can get together and Roleplay the lower level characters being trained and given guidance by the higher level characters
Time management is the real issue, here. I would love to be able to be able to do the full Game, but usually there is simply never enough time.
It is that “make sure they are dead” attitude that a lot of Players have, that makes PvP so difficult.
The RPGs (even D&D) are not like a MMO (World of Warcraft, Everquest, etc) where the Characters constantly re-spawn after death, and can continue gaming as if (almost) nothing had happened. The computer that is the server for that MMO is the one that keeps track of these things, and automatically makes adjustments for what happened, within the limits of it's programing. If the Game does not have anything that allows the Character to attack a NPC, then the game simply does not do anything when the Player tries to do so, or “attack” actions only cause pre-determined speech from that NPC.

But while Raise Dead - the lowest Clerical power that can do this – can do bring them back, is risky and expensive. To have re-spawning being something that affects every character, every time - is going to make the game get stale, IMHO. It takes away one of the most powerful things that Clerics can do, and a lot of the reason for why there are in the game. Sure, a 13th level Wizard could cast Limited Wish to duplicate the 5th level clerical spell: Raise Dead, but all the normal limits that apply to Raise Dead still apply, plus - they must still pay the 5,000 gp in diamonds, as well as an additional 300 exp.

Far be it for me to tell anyone else how to have fun. Determine what is best for your style as a DM.

10-08-2009, 01:56 AM
Oh, man, this topic sparks horrible memories.

I once played with a decent sized group of young adults. All of us were friends since probably early grammar school years. We had the occasional PC on PC violence episode, but those were few and far between, and mostly occurred when there was indeed a situation which warranted such actions (one PC beat the snot out of another after learning that the second had carelessly caused the death of the first's child). That was actually some pretty good and intense roleplaying! Sad scene, but well-played.

Then there was the guy who just kept trying to be Billy-Badazz... I'm sighing just recalling these episodes. This guy would have his PC fight anyone and anything for any reason whatsoever... nearly destroyed the group's unity, and it definitely disrupted the games. Eventually we had to ask him to leave since repeated attempts to get him to change his behavior seemingly went over his head.

10-08-2009, 03:08 PM
I believe in limited quantities it can be a good thing, but only as long as players, and characters, understand they are on the same team. So while the paladin might want to wring the little $#!t's neck, he still knows that the rogue can do things and go places that the paladin can't.

Doesn't mean he can't chuck'em into the lake once in a while.

10-08-2009, 08:30 PM
I cut my gaming teeth with a ruthless bunch of bastards (great friends though), infighting and backstabbing was commonplace. As we matured as people and as gamers it naturally toned down a great deal, but there was always still an element of it in our sessions. Often nothing would happen, but the potential was always there, it kept us on our toes and ultimately made for much more entertaining gaming. As long as its not mindless and arbitrary betrayal and violence, it is handled properly, and everyone is on board and can game without taking things personally, it adds a sense of realism and a greater depth to the experience.

Unpredictability is an important part of an engaging session, the possibility of schisms and shifting agendas and alliances among friends (in game and out) serves to spice things up and enhances an already rewarding experience.

Imagine an unscrupulous rogue of your party decides to abscond with the item you've been commissioned to find in order to sell it and keep the profit for himself. Not only is the plotting and execution of his scheme entertaining for that character, the party now shifting their focus to hunting their former comrade makes for some great and exciting role playing. Will you exact revenge for the betrayal? Will there be a reconciliation? Will you even catch the guy?

Now I believe this sort of an adventure should generally be the exception and not the rule, but just having the possibility open is exciting in its own way.

Ultimately the success or failure of these less restrictive games depends on the quality of the GM, can you weave complex stories where these things are possible? Or in your games do your characters raid this tomb, slay that monster, claim this treasure, rescue that damsel and endlessly repeat? Can you think on your feet and adapt to the curve balls always thrown into the mix by intelligent and imaginative players? Or not?

So mix it up, everyone be open minded and dont always follow the same cookie cutter formulas when you game (especially you GMs), you wont be sorry.

07-17-2010, 02:59 PM
There was a good example of this type of behavior that happened last night during our game.

It was the opening encounter of a brand-new campaign and a warlock used some type of power to steal HP from another member of the group in order to empower one of his attacks (not sure how it works exactly). Anyway, if in the opening encounter someone goes from aiding you to defeat the bad guys to harming you...what would your character do?

The guy in question rolled a 50/50 (>50 he attacks the other PC who harmed him, <50 he roleplays some angry words toward the warlock but continues to fight). Luckily it went in the group's favor.

In real life, if someone who had been helping me in a life-or-death situation then harmed me, for whatever reason, I'd most likely consider them a threat as well. All in all, it was a great example of the situation in question.