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Author Topic: OD&D/AD&D/2e: PvP scheming  (Read 171 times)

mAcular Chaotic

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OD&D/AD&D/2e: PvP scheming
« on: April 04, 2021, 05:20:57 PM »
Old D&D tales are rife with stories of unsavory PCs that would scheme against each other with long term plans, eventually culminating in the domain kingdom building game where you move armies like Diplomacy.

The part I'm curious about is the pvp scheming. Have you ever had this at your table? Do you allow players to hinder each other? Steal a bit of loot? Perhaps try to scam each other out of the dungeon while in town? Or even kill each other?

Newer editions treat the party like a band of heroes wedded at the hip, almost like a team sport, so this mentality would run against that.

But older editions treat each player more like a separate entity, it seems. If that's the case, conflict is inevitable. Right? How do you handle this? Do you treat the PCs like a "team" where everyone has to work together, or can they be an unruly band of misfits at odds with each other, even fighting and killing if it fits their agenda?
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S'mon

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Re: OD&D/AD&D/2e: PvP scheming
« Reply #1 on: April 05, 2021, 03:30:27 AM »
The big problem is that the normal D&D game premise is that the PCs go adventuring together. The metagame social contract is that all PCs are to be permitted into the party. That's not compatible with PvP - the PCs need to be able to trust each other, so betraying each other is a violation of the metagame social contract as well as in-game social contract between the PCs.

If the GM is willing to run different sessions for different antagonistic PCs, then PvP works fine, but most players play to spend time with their friends.

IME even a whiff of PvP tends to create hurt feelings and ragequits.

I did run a 2-session B/X game of political scheming and PvP intrigue, the group started on the way to a political wedding, by the end of 2 sessions the PCs were all over the map and I was running mini-sessions with the various PCs. It didn't work very well overall though the first session would have been a good one-shot.
« Last Edit: April 05, 2021, 03:33:26 AM by S'mon »
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RandyB

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Re: OD&D/AD&D/2e: PvP scheming
« Reply #2 on: April 05, 2021, 08:48:32 AM »
The big problem is that the normal D&D game premise is that the PCs go adventuring together. The metagame social contract is that all PCs are to be permitted into the party. That's not compatible with PvP - the PCs need to be able to trust each other, so betraying each other is a violation of the metagame social contract as well as in-game social contract between the PCs.

If the GM is willing to run different sessions for different antagonistic PCs, then PvP works fine, but most players play to spend time with their friends.

IME even a whiff of PvP tends to create hurt feelings and ragequits.

I did run a 2-session B/X game of political scheming and PvP intrigue, the group started on the way to a political wedding, by the end of 2 sessions the PCs were all over the map and I was running mini-sessions with the various PCs. It didn't work very well overall though the first session would have been a good one-shot.

OTOH, this is exactly how Gygax ran his games, from all available reports. As the OP noted, that group of gamers regularly played miniatures war games and Diplomacy. What we call PvP was simply "gaming" for them.

Today's players have the PvE mindset "us against the fictional world". PvP is a different mode, and carries all the implications stated.

Steven Mitchell

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Re: OD&D/AD&D/2e: PvP scheming
« Reply #3 on: April 05, 2021, 09:03:12 AM »
Playing Diplomacy (the board game) is not for everyone.  It's a game where you must eventually stab every other player in the back, if you want to win.  Thing is, everyone at the table knows it going in.  Which is why some people don't go in.

An RPG session that features unlimited PvP doesn't necessary end that way.  Some of the PCs could form alliances and honor them.  However, if any devious or backstabbing plan is allowed, then everyone has to go into the session ready to accept it as part of the game.  Really accept it--not lip service.  For one thing, it allows the players to create a little extra detachment from their characters. 

I've played absolutely no PvP, very constrained PvP (my preference), mostly PvP with no holds barred scheming and misdirection but no outright lethal confrontation, and wide-open, anything goes PvP.  The last two are a very acquired taste.  Even players that have gleefully jumped in and had a blast all wanted something more team-oriented after such a short campaign.  I've even done it without the separate sessions:  A handful of note passing on preset plans and the target players being the audience for what was about to be unleashed on them while acting as if they didn't know who was really responsible.  Sometimes even rueful admiration for what was being done to them.  You really need detachment to play that way, which is certainly not for everyone. 

Ghostmaker

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Re: OD&D/AD&D/2e: PvP scheming
« Reply #4 on: April 05, 2021, 12:02:01 PM »
S'mon's got his finger on the issue here. Internal party scheming probably needs to be kept at 'lighthearted shenanigans' levels. Remember, there's a reason people hate kender.

Amusingly, this is also why my gaming group never got into Munchkin. It felt too nasty and personal, whereas Red Dragon Inn was much less obnoxious in tone.

That being said, there are a few games that work with that -- Paranoia springs to mind -- but it needs to be stated at the outset.