Nov. 25th, 2012 12:18 pm
sesquepadalia: (Spaniard)
[personal profile] sesquepadalia

So, the question of PvP in Anticthon has been raised. I'm torn on the subject, and want to write a game that enough people will enjoy, so thought I might throw this open to the floor.

Points against PvP
  •  If your plot's good enough you shouldn't need it. 
  •  It often creates OC resentment and feuding between players. - Counterpoint: It's just a game, grow up
  •  Said feuding can spoil the game for others, even if it's just IC - I've had games (mostly tabletop though) where the plot got ignored for the sake of two characters constantly playing stupid pranks on each other. This got very boring very quickly.
  • It makes it hard to get the plot done when you can't trust the rest of the players
  • The player party's supposed to be The Heroes- Counterpoint: There were heroes on both sides of the Trojan War too...

Points in Favour of PvP
  • With PvM, often player success feels inevitable. There's no real challenge. And if it is a real challenge, players will bitch that it was unfair.
  • Personally I'd rather be killed by someone actually trying to kill me rather than accidental monster-to-the-face.
  • PvP =/= character death. There are many other fun ways to compete without actually losing a character, and that makes so much game.


My personal opinions are that death in LARP should be meaningful. People get invested in their characters, often spend a lot of time and money creating kit for them. Meaningless and random death is horrible and not something I want to encourage in any larps I run.
PvP grants the opportunity for the best and the worst kind of larp deaths. 
On the positive side, I've always held that assassination is the highest form of flattery. I don't like the thought of dying to a random monster-in-the-face, but if there's no PvP, the only threat comes from the chance of dying to RMITF. I remember just how much plot was created by Nefertiri's assassination, and it was fantastic. 
On the negative side, I also really hate the kind of cheap deaths that you saw so often at Maelstrom - muggings on the way to the loos, random murder in the dark, shiving people up for loot, etc. It pisses me off when death is that cheap.

I like the idea of FvF play - faction vs. faction, knives turned outwards. Much less bitchy. 

My current plan is to:

a) Create non-lethal opportunities for PvP.
b) Create IC consequences for lethal PvP.
c) Make PvP available, but not actively encouraged.
d) Give the players enough plot to keep them occupied so they don't just go on a killing spree.
e) Make most things reversible - albeit with a lot of effort - thus creating game.

This is all subject to change, but I want to open up the discussion. 

Date: 2012-11-25 01:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] draxar.livejournal.com
The player party's supposed to be The Heroes

There are two things here; firstly that is its own assumption; that they're the heroes (rather than just medium or big fish in a world that contains other fish of similar and larger sizes, as well as many smaller fish). I'm guessing in the game in question, it is the case that they are the heroes.

Secondly, what do you mean by 'heroes'? The word originally meant 'demigod' to the Greeks, with no moral overtones. Whereas now it's much more associated with being a goodie, with risk and sacrifice for the greater good. I'll admit this question comes largely from my interest in Exalted, where the exaltation seeks heroes, but in that context that essentially means 'people of consequence who will make use of this power'.

I'd say if your heroes are more modern heroes, they're meant to be the good guys, then you want to disencourage PvP, at least somewhat. Whereas if they're merely people with the power to change the world, then that's more a situation where some PvP makes sense.

My personal opinions are that death in LARP should be meaningful. People get invested in their characters, often spend a lot of time and money creating kit for them.

This is less of a overall point, more of a noting of personal preference — my preferences run more to risk and realism. That in the rather Wild West setting that Maelstrom was, if you walk around on your own at night, you risk death. One of the things I always want in the LARPs and tabletop games I'm in is risk of failure, of things not going your way.

As a semi-related point, you've made me think of something I'm now curious of — you're not fond of random murder in the dark, of being mugged and sacrificed for the fact that you walked around on your own in the wrong place, but what are your thoughts on slightly more directed death?

Specifically, I'm thinking of at Maelstrom, the people who weren't considered up to standard to be initiated to the Native Religions. People that had expressed an interest in converting, but hadn't impressed the people they spoke to enough (or had actively unimpressed them in some way), and thus were taken into the forest or a tent to be initiated, the next sight of them being them walking out with their yellow armband on, having just been sacrificed.

I was never an initiator, so I have no idea of the relative success rates (and would guess it varied quite a lot by individual Native god). But it certainly happened a fair amount, and I'm wondering how someone who's not fond of mugging in the dark would view it.

Date: 2012-11-26 11:40 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sesquepadalia.livejournal.com
As to Heroes, I was quoting someone else, and I think they meant in the modern "goodies" sense. I'm more into the Greek definition, hence the mention of Troy.

Interestingly, I've been on both sides of the murder-in-the-dark game at Strom. Actually all three sides - Native, Pigskin Child and potential murderee.

As a potential murderee, I hated it. It was such a relief the first time I played ODC and found that I didn't have to spend endless hours on guard duty and I could wander round after dark getting on with RP without having to worry about being escorted from camp A to B because otherwise I would be killed. I completely agree with all the reasons PD has done that.

As a murderer of various kinds... yeah, ok it's fun. But repetitive. And I feel myself silently judging people for whom that is the only aspect of Larp that they enjoy - to the point where they winge that they won't go to ODC/Empire because it's actively discouraged there.

And as a GM I really don't like the idea of a game where PCs are killed for a) being in the wrong place at the wrong time, b) for their loots (or souls) c) because deity team told them to or d) because it was easier than talking to them. All of those (IMO) are the wrong reasons for offing another PC.

I enjoy having the risk of failure in a game. That's why I don't like entirely PvM games, because there's unspoken expectations that the PCs will win, and if the monsters kill you all then it was unfair. With PvP, you can't both win, so it seems a much better challenge.

Date: 2012-11-26 03:14 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarahlascelles.livejournal.com
I quite like that in Odyssey too - the ability to just wander off for a toilet break or something to eat. Then again, I also liked the fact that going anywhere alone at Alone was a death sentence (well, OK, I probably could have managed, I was tough).

So how does that help you? It doesn't, because you'll find that many players are the same as me and either a-awkward, or b-want the good points of both systems.

I think the important thing is how the setting justifies what you end up with. The Maelstrom murder game sounds dull to me, whereas in Alone there were really good reasons for the danger of the dark.

Date: 2012-11-26 03:40 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sesquepadalia.livejournal.com
At the minute, I can envisage holding two different kinds of event - An outdoor summer one where the environment around the players is actively hostile, and yes, wandering off alone is a stupid idea, and an indoor winter one where the biggest threat is politics.

Date: 2012-11-26 04:00 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sarahlascelles.livejournal.com
At Alone there was an element of PvP, and the way they managed it was by adding it to the players guide not to kill other PCs too early on. This was typical of the pretty much freeform rules system. The feeling they were going for was cinematic, so the event got steadily more dangerous as time passed.

There was also a weird resurrection thingy going on with nanites until about 7pm when it blew up.

The big difference of course is that Alone is a one off event, so you're less invested in your character. So it doesnt really apply, I merely offer it for comparison :-)

Date: 2012-11-26 11:50 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raggedhalo.livejournal.com
I was going to mention the heroes thing, but then realised that my own preferences (i.e. that the PCs are the most important people in the story, but not necessarily the most virtuous or even the most likeable) are probably pretty niche and I oughtn't project my views onto someone else's game!

Date: 2012-11-26 12:33 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raggedhalo.livejournal.com
You might just as well say, "if your plot's good enough, players should want to kill each other's characters to get involved."

I am a big fan of FvF (which might be obvious from Insurrection). We balance it using our XP system so that in order to get the absolute best outcome, you have to co-operate in general but screw each other over at the pivotal moment.

Date: 2012-11-26 11:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sesquepadalia.livejournal.com
How would you balance FvF in an XP-less system?

Date: 2012-11-26 11:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] raggedhalo.livejournal.com
Hmm. I think the key thing to do is to ensure that the rewards for co-operation are tangible and meaningful but so are the rewards for competition. Certainly, making it very hard to share stuff goes a long way. Left to their own devices, players en masse will seek compromise and niceness over conniving and fucking people over. Stoopid 21st century morality.

Helping people to develop a clear factional objective with good solid reasons to hate each other is important. The other thing to do is to make sure that external antagonists aren't such an overwhelming mega-threat that all inter-group rivalries get put to one side to deal with it. It's way too easy for the baddies to unify everyone, and in fact that's the norm in most systems.

Date: 2012-11-27 05:08 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] knightclubber.livejournal.com
I have mixed feelings about violent pvp (contrary to my reputation amongst people who know me only from Maelstrom, a pvp system). In my local system I really dislike it, as it just gets too personal and breeds bad feeling. Not amongst everyone, but among enough people that it isn't healthy.

Also, you touched upon a nerve of bad memory in your OP, with the 'pranks' between characters in tabletop. I have poor memories of what was in hindsight just bullying when I was a young tabeltop gamer, where pvp can just be a way of players establishing dominance. PvP as a macho pissing contest is the worst kind IMO (and characterised what I disliked about some of the pvp in the last year of 'strom).

Having said that, I am all for conflict between consenting players (which is why I liked the Huntress game- you are targetting people who have themselves killed others, so I have no sympathy if they get upset when it happens to them. Most of those players thankfully have the good grace to take it well though).

Equally, I tend to think that pvp may be a consequence of people caring a whole lot about the game- they are willing to take extreme measures to achieve character goals. Thus making it possible, but with consequences and some difficulty, is my ideal state.

Date: 2012-11-28 10:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sesquepadalia.livejournal.com
Thankfully the pranks I mentioned were never spiteful. Just along the lines of "I put itching powder in your character's sock drawer!" "lol! Well then I'll put gravy granules in your shower head!" - It was daft and annoying, but harmless. And took up ENTIRE sessions at a time, which was a whole heap of no-fun for the person playing the aloof Ice-queen pilot taking the moral high ground...

I do not want to make the kind of game where people feel left out, and players have nothing better to do than annoy each other for shits and giggles.


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