So, this is going to be a quick post (the main post for today is the play update below) but I am interested in discussion this week. That said, today I want to talk about Player versus Player in RPGs. Now, this is a touchy subject for some people, some people have bad experiences. I know a lot of GMs who just flat out ban it from their games. But it is something that can, and will, happen eventually. Something you should know how to handle. So lets talk about it. Read on for more (including the real original beginning to this post)
A couple days ago I ended up talking to Jason Marker about Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, and some other games that we are either in, have been in, or just caught our fancy in some way, shape or form. What the conversation really brought to light for me though was just how differently Marker's group handles their table craft from my own, and in turn, how that changes how PvP happens.
At the table(s) I play at, the group is fairly open on an OOC level. Most of us have bonded over some of the games we've ran, mentally challenging things that really gave us a sense for how the others think and play. We don't go into other rooms for secret meetings all that much, instead just trusting the other people at the table to keep their IC and OOC separate. It works for us, and we have a lot of fun. It also means though, especially with the RP discussion we do at the end of session, that PvP is usually seen coming by all sides nearly a mile away. When it does come to play, it is very quick, involves no OOC drama (or very very little) and can be brutal. Mostly though, as it is seen coming it can be avoided if one person doesn't want it. So when it is done, it is gone into openly with people knowing what is happening.
On the other hand, Marker's group is much more - dare I say - classical in their approach. They pull the GM aside for secret chats, pass notes, and keep each other in the dark. They all know each other very well, have been playing together for years, and handle things with maturity, but PvP when it happens is not done with everyone knowing what is going on. They have fun doing it this way, it works for them, and you get a more 'genuine' reaction out of the player and character to it because their mind hasn't had time to work out proper responses to what is going to happen to them.
Now, we both agreed that PvP should be organic. Meaning you have a reason IC for it and it is not just about being a dick to someone. But aside from that, the approaches are very different. So I'm curious, how do you handle PVP in your games? Do people get to know? do you keep it secret? What way would you recommend someone knew to GMing to handle it when it came up? Any particularly awesome stories about when PVP in a game of yours went off amazingly well and to the enjoyment of all?