Player vs. Player Hack&Slash

  • 26 Replies
Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
« Reply #15 on: March 03, 2012, 04:08:29 PM »
There's a thread on Story Games about Initiative in Dungeon World which has some bearing here. The tl;dr version is that there's no such thing as simultaneous actions. Someone acts first and someone reacts immediately afterwards.

Have you read Apocalypse World, ambayard? Unlike DW, that's implicitly set out to pit PCs against each other, so it might be a useful book to read if you're wondering about how to hack DW to make PvP more fair.

Although having said that AW supports PvP, I don't see what in DW doesn't provide the same support. Yes, this is a game where a player can damage another player without a defensive roll.

Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2012, 04:14:20 PM »
It seems like this would be easy to balance by allowing the defender to interfere, then to roll their damage on the attacker's 7-9. That way, the most likely result is probably both characters take damage.

Then the attacker knows what they're getting themselves into when they attack, and can choose to attack or not accordingly. It gives the advantage to the defender.

Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2012, 04:36:16 PM »
Anarchangel: Thanks for the link. I like your idea and several others that have come up. This thread has helped me wrap my head around the issue. I've only skimmed Apocalypse World -- I'll delve into it more.

Noofy: Word. Ideally the players aren't all trying to game the system to kill each other more efficiently. :)


Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2012, 04:49:41 PM »
I agree. It's one of those areas in *World games that come up from time to time that make me go "hmmm..." and have to think through the implications of the rules in an interesting way.

Was this a situation that actually came up in a game, or was it theoretical?

I've never had an actual PvP moment in a DW game I've been involved in. I usually try to head it off at Chargen. It helps that Evil in DW (for PCs at least) is pretty much Selfish rather than "Team-Killing F---tard" (NSFW) :D

Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2012, 08:00:04 PM »
Theoretical. But, a few of the characters in our party could easily end up at cross purposes, so it could come up.


Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2012, 08:00:17 PM »
Oh, I can so see this coming up in a game.  :)

I'm still working my way through the Beta 1.1, but I would be tempted to let both sides in a PvP combat make simultaneous H&S rolls and then rule it something like this:

Player B
Player A  10+7-96-
10+Stalemate – Both PCs take Interference Penalties  
B takes interference penalty  
B takes damage
7-9A takes interference penalty
Stalemate – No Result
B takes interference penalty
6-A takes damage
A takes interference penalty
Stalemate – Both take damage

This way, as both PCs begin a Mutual Clobbering, successful rolls lean toward giving an advantage on the next exchange while failures result in the PC leaving themselves open to damage (or some other "hard move") from the opposing PC.

I feel that, being a fan of all the PCs, it makes some sense to allow them to have a better reaction to another PCs H&S then all those goblins, giants and demons did that they've encountered along the way.

Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2012, 08:54:45 PM »
admutt: That's awesome. I think I like your idea better than mine, but here's mine:

1. Players can only take damage on their own move.

2. When you attack another PC, roll + STR

On a 10+ the other PC must Defy Danger to avoid your attack

On a 7-9 the other PC must Defy Danger to avoid your attack, but you are exposed to retribution and the other PC may deal his damage.





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Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
« Reply #22 on: March 03, 2012, 09:17:44 PM »
I still think that the answer is to be derived within the fictional positioning of the thing, rather than coming up with any number of mechanical adjustments to make it 'fair'.

Remember to remind the players why we are playing this game. To do amazing things, play off each other and explore the world. I can see the allure of a game full of betrayal and backstabbery, but that should be at least explored a little in the fiction. The player's will have flagged it with alignment / bond / class / move choice and probably set a few fictional events in motion before 'popping the question' of who gets to stab who in the ghoulies first. (and thus gaining mechanical advantage in the hack and slash / aid paradigm)

Remember too, to address the characters, not the players, but cleverly do so to reveal the player's thoughts on the situation. What sort of story are they interested in playing? Part of your responsibility as GM is to cater to this. Make sure you spell out the impending doom of their actions, give it real and significant fictional 'weight'. Give them consequences and ask too. Offer a carrot that is far more fictionally rewarding (to the player) than the death of a fellow PC.

'So you roll a strong hit and deal your damage without nary a scratch. You know that'll kill 'em right? If you do, you'll become the 'Scourge of Dingledale. You'll lose the sanctity of the town, you'll be hunted down mercilessly by every gold-hungry adventurer in the region. Or.....
Use their life as leverage in a Parley. After all you have their life in your hands. What do you really want from them?'

This then gives the 'stronger' PC a choice, they can still murder their fellow PC accepting fictional ramifications. Or they can allow the fiction to 'snowball' toward a Parley, giving the player in control of the deathmarked character a chance to accept fictionally juicy terms or lose their life. It also calls for another roll if the players go there, introducing another chance for a near hit or miss for you to intercede as GM.

All still by the rules without hacking.

Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
« Reply #23 on: March 04, 2012, 09:38:56 AM »
noofy - I agree with you.  Using the existing rules should work 99% of the time, allowing everyone involved to narrate a satisfying fictional result to one (or more) party member's betrayal of the group.

However, that other 1% of the time, when two (or more) PCs are warily circling each other with drawn weapons and preparing to spill each other's guts on the cold, hard ground?  At that point it's going to be up to the GM to tweak the rules slightly so that neither PLAYER gets upset at the outcome.  Sometimes, and I emphasize "sometimes", we're just going to need some sort of balance in this kind of encounter.

Whether or not this sort of encounter actually ends with the losing PCs guts spilled on the ground is still something that can be narrated within the rules.  Yes, definitely, the winner may decide that using Parley as his "damage" is more satisfying, or maybe he has another idea and comes up with a custom move on the spot.

And let's not forget the "Last Breath" move.   Specially when there might be a god looking on, waiting for some reason to step in and prevent something really bad from happening.

There are lots of ways that the fiction can take over again, but the actual "duel" between the PCs should provide both players with the opportunity to "win."

In the end, this is a game with shared authorship where everyone, not just the GM, should be a fan of all the PCs.  Is it bad to have a special rule (or suggestion, or hack) for a situation that might otherwise sour the game for some players?   You might never use this hack, but it might be something that other GMs would use.  Or, at least, something that other GMs might hack even more.

I think, when it comes down to PvP, perceived fairness is essential when there's a possibility that one player might come away feeling cheated or otherwise soured on the game.

YMMV.  Ours, too, as we get more experienced with this system.  :)

Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
« Reply #24 on: March 04, 2012, 10:54:18 AM »
Trying to kill another PC (while others watch) should have harsh ramifications and is kind of jerk thing to do because now the fiction is going to be about your having killed the other character instead of the awesome stuff everyone was working on making. 

When you get into a brawl with another PC, revert to stun damage.  As long as no one is killed, you may each rewrite a bond to reflect your [re]new[ed] friendship.  If you do, mark XP.

Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
« Reply #25 on: March 04, 2012, 02:45:04 PM »
admutt, well put. I agree that fairness is important if things start to "get real," so that the players don't feel saddened.

mease19, I wouldn't assume player vs. player = jerk move. I've had great PvP moments. If it follows the fiction, it can be a lot of fun for all involved. Clearly, an element of PvP is built into the game, otherwise we wouldn't have the -2 to interfere clause. Though, I understand that this is a delicate thing. And, I probably do agree in that this has probably been done poorly as much or even more than it's been done well.

One solution: If it's a situation where one PC is clearly now against the goals and motivations of the group, and makes a move against the group, that PC gets NPCed and goes under the control of the GM. This can help prevent hurt feelings too, because it's not just what the players are used to, GM-created opposition. If the NPC is killed, or stays on "the dark side," that player can create a new PC.

Obviously, this doesn't work for those minor squabbles, or one where there is more of a party split (2 vs. 2, etc...). 

Re: Player vs. Player Hack&Slash
« Reply #26 on: March 04, 2012, 03:09:57 PM »
mease19, I wouldn't assume player vs. player = jerk move.
I'm wasn't just talking about PvP generally.  I'm talking about when you either take PvP all the way to the death or when you out and out murder another PC (e.g. I stab him in his sleep).  When you do that, you've unilaterally shifted the focus of the whole game away from the shared narrative of the adventure and made it about what just happened.  I'm not saying it can't be cool to have one PC kill another PC on occasion but there's a lot of room for hurt feelings if there isn't mutual buy in.  

In stories/TV/film, it's common to have main characters get into fights throw a punch/slap but it becomes a whole different genre when a protagonist kills another protagonist - it usually turns out that the rest of the story is about the fallout of that act.   Some custom moves could make PvP fun and put some speed bumps between character drama (fisticufs, a slap, wrestling) and PC death or hurt feelings.