View Full Version : Separated PC competitive games

2013-07-09, 10:52 PM
I've been thinking for a long time of a campaign or designated system in which PvP can happen on a large scale. Not a single combat but an entire adventure. As the scale increases though, the problems become more apparent.

In a single combat encounter, time remains round for round and everyone is constantly active.

Two teams hunting each other through a large building isn't bad, but can have issues. For example, one group could set up an ambush, waiting for the opposition to enter their sight before acting. This causes two problems: First, the ambushing group has to wait while normal length turns are played out by the other team, not a fun experience, and second, the non ambushing group sees that their opponent is always finishing immediately and can gather that there is some sort of immediate action prepared for them, or that the opponent is sleeping or otherwise inactive.

To jump to an extreme, two groups in a full size campaign, thwarting each others actions, causes huge time concerns. One group can be moving at 5 seconds/turn, while the other can be moving at a day/turn or more. This could only possibly be done as a PbP, and even then it would be tremendously boring.

The other issue is that is that the GMs workload increases dramatically the more separate groups there are. In a team based game, each team needs a separate account of the events, while in a free for all, every player needs their own description. Multiple, coordinated GMs could fix this problem, but it would still be a hassle and probably lead to confusion.

Has there been any system that made this work? Does anyone have ideas? I love the idea, but can't get over these hurdles.

Realms of Chaos
2013-07-10, 06:08 PM
Intuitively, I'd say that making this type of system work would require two things to be done.

1. There must be a LARGE selection of potential options that can be taken in nearly any situation. Take the example of setting up an ambush in your post. Having the ambushers not do ANYTHING is a real bore so you'd have to make special actions specifically for ambushers to take, such as fortifying their position, actively searching for foes to get the best of their senses, camouflaging themselves better, setting traps deploying individual scouts, etc.

That's not to say that certain actions must be restricted to certain tasks (as you'd have to make a ton of brand new actions whenever players would do anything unexpected) but rather that you as a GM could list off a few relevant actions that could be taken no matter what your parties try to do.

2. This is the important one if you really want the system to be able to play out anything. Whenever possible, each action must be possible to perform over different time intervals.

I'd personally recommend against specific time intervals, instead having 10 actions (equivalent of 1 combat round) = 1 endeavor (something taking a number of minutes), 10 endeavors = 1 task (something taking an hour or two), and 10 tasks = 1 mission (the rough equivalent of one day).

Taking a larger time increment to do something would generally be more efficient but keeps you from also performing other tasks and could possibly be subjected to interruption or sabotage (especially from other players).

Of course, all of that is just a bunch of rough ideas.

2013-07-11, 01:03 PM
Going round by round in cases of two groups wandering around or waiting in ambush will be painfully slow and doesn't sound like tons of fun if it is going to happen more than once or twice.

I'd recommend doing a more 'cinematic' or fast-forward approach to how combat would initiate. In cases where there may be PvP conflict, talk to each group to find out how they want to handle the situation. If Group A wants to hide behind bushes along a path, find out how they want to set up (place minis on a map) and make any applicable rolls (Hide, Survival to cover tracks, etc). Then talk to Group B and see where they go and see if they would encounter the ambush at all. Or maybe their tracker saw suspicious tracks, so they send their invisible rogue up ahead to scout.. at which point you'd go back to group A for additional dice rolls, etc.

If the groups DO encounter each other, put Group B on the map at the point where they either trigger the ambush, spot the ambush, or sneak up behind group A. There is a good chance there will be NO encounter at all.. in which case you've spent minutes instead of literally hours of wasted set-up time.

Essentially, talk to a group, get their applicable rolls/action sets and then talk to the other group, handling the first group the way you would handle NPCs. And set up the encounter as it has played out.

Doing set up round-by-round for every POSSIBLE encounter would not be a game I would want to play in or GM. As a player, I'm sure I'd start getting frustrated with spending hours of IRL time on missed encounters and I'd start skipping steps, trying to hurry things up. Then when something DOES happen, I'd be irritated that I hadn't been as prepared as my character would have been... And as a GM, dealing with irritated players, feeling gypped, would be a nightmare.

2013-07-11, 03:04 PM
This introduces a number of problems. What do you hope to gain from doing so?

If I want PC conflict, I generally set it up so that they have some common goals they're working together achieve with smaller personal goals that conflict.

If you want a study in PVP conflict, check out Paranoia, which mastered it.

2013-07-11, 03:41 PM
I tend to agree with most of the opinions given here but ill add my take on it.

I feel that heavy PvP based games with two seperate groups are just alittle to extensive for one person to handle AND play by exact book rules AND not piss anyone off. it would require lots of time and very patient people and if it is as extensive as i am thinking about (which i have thought of trying to run a campaign like this) and if it was a complete adventure, it could take many months or even a year to cover everything making it (depending on how deatiled you like to get). It could be done but honestly i think it would be alittle un reasonable to ask that of yourself and your players.

Now for the way i have tried and achieved a real fun and unique campaign.

If you can manage not spoiling anything and keeping information seperate, you can run a really successful 1-20 campaign having two groups against each other going after the same "Prize" for different reasons that cause them to cross paths at various intervals. run one group through as the good guys and one through as the evil. give them a similar goal and let the campaign build. i personally used a backdrop of gods going silent and each group was researching into that and it caused situations very similar to the war of the spiderqueen series for anyone who has read that. just plan ahead and know that at some point they will meet up have a way set up to speed up them confronting one another and then from there you bring them into the same room and play out combat liek normal but unless it is a final battle never let one of the groups die as a whole. once you get two groups aware of each other and knowing that they have the same goal for opposite reasons they will always look for the conflict.

now that i am done rambling, i would like to say that i did work for me, you just gotta be on your toes about it and know when to stop each group so you can have them meet. i cant really explain more without going into crazy amount of detail. and id rather not do that sense it is basically all my homebrew stuff.

Hope this helped.

2013-07-11, 04:22 PM
Try not to give the players tools to destroy each others' characters. PVP combat should be avoided in favor of PVP strategizing. Alternatively, you might have two games you run, with one group of players suffering the fallout of the others' actions and vice versa. This means no one has down time while they wait for someone else, and it makes it hard for the two groups to directly interfere.

2013-07-11, 04:40 PM
Depending on what your goal is, you may also just want to do a series of group PvP combat scenarios without a real campaign behind it. PvP is most fun, in my opinion, when it isn't tied to a campaign where players actually like their characters. It can be tons of fun to roll up characters and pit them against other players.

In my experience real PvP ends up almost always having one person feel gypped because there will ALWAYS be a rules call that has to be made that will favor one over the other. :P

2013-07-11, 08:19 PM
There isn't a specific goal, but I'd prefer something open and sandboxy to setting up two paths which collide at set points. Unfortunately something sandboxy seems impossible.

There are two scenarios that seem most fun in my mind.

First one is fairly practical and could actually be done. One party has an area to defend while the other tries to break in and/or kill them all. This could possibly be made more interesting by separating it from story and putting everything under the characters control. One party gets a pretty large amount of money and xp to spend on building characters and building defenses, the other has a similar or equal amount to focus on crushing the first group. Dm stops munchkining as they see fit.

The other is much less practical but is much more exciting. I designed an arena like setting very very similar to the hunger games, before the book came out (and of course now my idea is unoriginal). The setting is more modern scifi than fantasy, with normal people put in an arena to fight. To begin with there are maybe 100 people, split 50 a side. The arena is generally a very large area, such as a small city, with key points to try and control and resources scattered about. The confused, emotional and unstable don't last long and after a certain number of deaths the next round begins, with teams scrambled. After some number of rounds there are only 10 or so alive, and the game is made a free for all. Last man standing is set free.

My thoughts on this are, and I know its not likely to work, two coordinated Gms with a shared detailed map (smaller than a whole city, but with a lot of wandering room) run 10-20 players on teams. The game is run as PbP with a set schedule, say at a set time in the morning and afternoon, all turns have to be in. Each turn covers a half hour of activity. In case of an encounter, both parties are notified and when theyre both available, play out combat at a round per round level. This could be delayed into the next half hour, with their actions decided afterwards if both are not simultaneously available. If theyre still unavaliable the Gm plays out combat as if they were both npcs and reports the results to the players.

This is obviously great work on the Gm(s), as the players are split apart frequently, all of their situations have to be described. Also because they will be so likely seperated, play through PMs rather than a thread would be preferable. Only with actual communication devices can players learn each other's positions. With adjustment to the player/Gm count, could this be doable? Anyone have ideas to fix its many problems?

In my experience real PvP ends up almost always having one person feel gypped because there will ALWAYS be a rules call that has to be made that will favor one over the other. :P

I think generally you can rule in favour of the defending party. It discourages most of the crazy antics that cause rule calls in the first place.

2013-07-11, 11:19 PM
So, it's a wargame? Like one mech vs. another mech, or something of the sort. Combat-focused with minimal emphasis on story?

Because if you want PVP in a campaign, and I've seen it done and done well, you'll want an entirely different angle.

2013-07-12, 01:04 AM
So, it's a wargame? Like one mech vs. another mech, or something of the sort. Combat-focused with minimal emphasis on story?

Because if you want PVP in a campaign, and I've seen it done and done well, you'll want an entirely different angle.

I was mostly hoping for a general system that could work with a variety of situations, story or combat based. I think saying "you're doing it completely wrong" isn't as helpful as you might imagine.

2013-07-12, 06:59 AM
I dont have a specific system for this but i would definitely concider being a part of this in some way. whether its as a player or if you wanted to try to collaborate i could give GMing it with you. at the very least i can work with you to try to make the system you seek.

i am currently in the process of coming up with a very sandboxy game for some of my friends where it may end up with a sort of hunger games/enders game situation. they make level 1 NPC class child characters and they go through an academy at a major city in my campaign setting. It is one of those "school for gifted children" kinda things and the end of the first plot in this world ends with graduation where only a child from each "class" gets picked to apprentice to masters of their crafts. basically there will be a major combat (not to the death) where students will be allowed to work together with students of other paths to try to be the final team and last ones standing in each path. the ruler of the land secretly put this school together to gather future leaders together for a prophesized war. at which point, characters can retrain npc classes to the classes their masters have and i will be using large scale combat rules mixed with regualr scale sabbotage stuff once the war starts.

if we use rules similar to what i am using, and apply it so that every student in the academy is a PC. could make for a very interesting time.

2013-07-12, 12:34 PM
I was mostly hoping for a general system that could work with a variety of situations, story or combat based. I think saying "you're doing it completely wrong" isn't as helpful as you might imagine.

I was asking what you're trying for. Let me put it another way. Here's some types of games that I've seen or designed.

PVP Fight: Most wargames have this. It's all about constructing an individual or team for combat. Then fighting to the death. Winner, loser, game over. There's no such thing as a campaign.

PVP Campaign: Paranoia is a good example. The Android playtest (http://android.caligrean.com/) (which as far as I know has never been published) is also good. These have players trying to scheme against each other, trying to disrupt each others plans. Killing each other off is a temporary setback, so if you really want to get someone you get in the way of them achieving their goals. Android pits androids against their controllers. The controllers want to accomplish the mission, but they're human. They send superpowered androids to do the mission, giving them orders. The androids don't care about the mission, probably want their freedom, and try to subvert those orders.

Organization vs. Organization: In this game, each player is running their own organization and acts through their minions. The only game I've seen this done in is Paranoia High Programmers, and arguably the unpublished Android RPG, but this allows you to send out expendable minions to kill enemy minions without dying yourself. I've designed a few games of this type.

GMless PVP: The Skullduggery kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/level99games/skullduggery-competitive-storytelling-for-supervil) has a different take on PVP, which is a one-shot where you're all trying to accomplish your objective. Entirely different take.

Point being, here's 4 different ways of going about PVP that go in entirely different directions, and have entirely different rules.

2013-07-12, 12:47 PM
That sounds great! I would love some help. Is yours set in a DnD setting? I was thinking of adapting some mostly compatible d20 games and adding my own content until it matched what was in my head. We're probably going to both much prefer our own stories since we've grown attached to them, so we should either work in a way that both are possible, do one and then the other, or combine them somehow. In any case, first we should find out if the system I suggested works at all.

Edit: also due to the way the system works, I think having a detailed map is very important, both so that we can track everyone's locations and distances remain accurate, and so that no player has a huge advantage over the others.

Sorry I misinterpreted your first post. I know and love paranoia, but as the threads title suggests, I'm thinking of games where the Pcs are competing from outside a single party. My issue is actually more with running games with separated Pcs than it is allowing PvP in the game. I suppose what I'm asking for then is a system that could handle the first two, but with distance between the players.

Also you both have really cool names.

2013-07-17, 12:39 PM
I think generally you can rule in favour of the defending party. It discourages most of the crazy antics that cause rule calls in the first place.
There isn't always a 'defending' party in PvP... and ruling against the 'attacker' won't make him feel any less cheated when he loses because (in his eyes) of the rules call.

2013-07-17, 07:39 PM
You have the players know the the guideline beforehand, and no there isn't always an attacking and defending party, but it covers many situations. Can you think of examples? I might be able to improve the system.