PCvPC or PvP?

So.  Let’s talk about PvP and PCvPC.

I love the idea of inter-PC conflict.  This is something that is called “PvP” but I think should really be called PCvPC.  In what I see as good, high-quality PCvPC action, I and the other player should be working together to create a scene/action/time that is satisfying to both parties.  Our characters may get bruised, beat-up, one-upped, or lose status or position, but I as a player and the other player have worked together to make it something interesting and meaty to play with and through.

One of the best examples of PCvPC in my history was shortly after I joined the Camarilla back in 2000.  I, being new, hooked up with someone local  that was pretty bad news in the global game.  Someone globally thought I knew that and took me to task for it on a public list.  I e-mailed back with “Eep!  I HAD NO IDEA, OMG, I JUST GOT MY MEMBER NUMBER.”  The player e-mailed me back and we worked together on crafting some scenes where my poor PC took it pretty hard from some higher ups…but I was included in working out what would happen and what the results would be.  I never once felt that I couldn’t go to the other players and say “Hey, X is kind of an issue, would Y work for your PC instead?”

PvP on the other hand means that you, as a player, are working to deny me, as a player, fun through my PC.  PvP action is the kind of stuff where a bunch of people get together and decide to killbox someone at a major convention.  Or on a local, small scale, one person decides he’s tired of your goody two shoes PC, waits until you’ve put them in a situation where you don’t expect it, and then comes out of the dark to stab you.  There’s no fun in that for you as a player and you’ve just lost a PC.  Meanwhile Tim (like in Holy Grail) on the other side of the table is gloating that he backed you into a corner and you “never saw it coming, did you?  DID YOU?!”

So.  Two questions.  1) How do we promote more PCvPC action in games/at the table?  2) How do we work to curb the instinct/desire for PvP action at the same games and tables?

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One thought on “PCvPC or PvP?

  1. Charles says:

    I’ve had PCvPC games that were truly fun and awesome times. I’ve had PvP games where I would rather go to the dentist for a filling than stay through that game session again.

    The difference? Pre-planning. As you say, that tabbing in the dark. If everyone is onboard with the idea of “these PCs are all working at cross purposes and may end up fighting because of it…” then great. If “These PCs suddenly out of nowhere attack each other!” then not so great.

    Part of it is the genre / setting, too. A high politics game almost guarantees there will be back stabbing fun. A high combat, “dungeon crawling” game probably should steer clear. Why? Because as a person, if I didn’t think I could trust Bob to have my back going in, then I wouldn’t go in with him at my back. Period. As gamers, we sometimes brush that concept under the rug. But seriously, would you choose to go into a dank, dark, dangerous dungeon knowing full well that “That damned thief” was going to abandon your entire group the moment things got rough or steal your stuff every night? Or would you refuse to accept that additional risk? Or think about military units. A huge part of special ops training centers around building that trust between members. The “buddy” mentality. Adventurers are, at their core, a spec ops team. If they aren’t willing and able to trust each other explicitly and implicitly, they’re not a team at all.

    But I’d love to play some games where we all went in knowing we couldn’t trust each other. It wouldn’t be a D&D style dungeon game. It’d be a political machination game. And, based on my experience playing Risk and Diplomacy board games, I’d probably suck at it as a player. But I’d enjoy every moment regardless. (As a player or GM)

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