In the L5R Game I just got out of playing, I had a particularly fun session. Why? Well, I'm playing the Scorpion in the group, and despite it only being session 2 I've already begun my Scorpion shenaniganry. This has me thinking about PvP, and so I wanted to talk about it briefly with folks, and collect people's thoughts on the subject.
Pick Your Targets
The first thing that is important to know about PvP actions is to pick your targets. I mean this seriously too. If a player isn't cool with PvP than you shouldn't pick on them with it. Especially not the kind that will make things harder for them. Arguments can ruin sessions and even entire games, so try to only PvP with folks who are cool with it. For GMs, if you definitely want, or don't want, pvp in your game, then tell your players. It isn't fair to a player to come in expecting one type of game, only to find that the game is actually using a different kind. As always, communication is key.
Keep It Entertaining
I disagree with the concept of PvP for PvP's sake. That may work for you, and that's fine, but for me I prefer more narrative focused game. Chances to lose are fine, but the game should tell a story. As such, the best kind of PvP in my mind is the kind that is fueled by drama. For example, in today's game I pulled off a stunt right in front of another PC, because I had no other chance. Had I failed, it likely would have led to a fight to the death with the other PC. A fight that I am fairly sure my character would lose. However, it would have added to the story when it happened, which made it awesome. Crisis was averted, but even with that we learned about my character. For one, he's not above trying that stuff while being watched.
PvP Doesn't Mean Kill Each Other
The last thing I want to mention is that PvP does not necessarily mean you kill each other. It just means that the antagonist - however briefly - in another PC's life is a PC themselves. This could be for a trade deal, an argument, a drinking contest, or even kidnapping another PC's loved one to see how they react. This, combined with the above, can be used to create all sorts of interesting scenarios and to really add tension and drama to a scene. Use it carefully, and use it well, but if your group is fine with it - by all means use it.
How About You?
I'm curious what your thoughts of PvP are. Do you like it? Dislike it? Why? Have any cool horror stories to share? How about stories about awesome PvP encounters? Sound off in the comments.