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Is it wise to pit players against one another?


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#1 H.B.M.C.

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Posted 23 April 2014 - 11:55 PM

Hello all,

 

The topic line is a bit general, so let me add some context. Say the beginning of the campaign sees the players unwillingly forced into a sort of "sink or swim/survival of the fittest" situation where the winners will go on to be champions of the overlord (ie. the person they'll be working for in the campaign proper) and the remainder just get killed. The situation would involve encounters against NPC's, but also against one another.

Generally I don't like inter-party conflict, but as a starting point to introduce them to the brutal nature of the universe and to get them caring about their characters lives, could this idea work?


BYE


Edited by H.B.M.C., 24 April 2014 - 01:32 AM.

Matt Eustace. Contributing Author Credits: Church of the Damned, The Lathe Worlds, The Lathe Worlds - The Lost Dataslate, Only War Core Rulebook, Hammer of the Emperor, Shield of Humanity, Tome of Fate, Tome of Blood, Tome of Excess and Tome of Decay.

The views expressed in this post are my own. I do not speak for or on behalf of Fantasy Flight Games.


#2 Calgor Grim

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 12:40 AM

Rivalries are fine as long as they are just that, friendly and competitive. The one thing you risk though is that if it goes into full survival of the fittest mode, that the players do indeed try and kill each other. This can present a number of hazards to a GM and severely disrupt your campaign, never doubt the ingenuity of a player wanting to kill someone else and mess up your plans in the process!

 

Additionally it may create a situation where one player kills another and some may not be able to keep that IC/OOC seperation and enact retribution with their next character. It all depends on the group but I would recommend against actual PvP since the risks are not that favourable, you dont want to kill off a persons character that they may have spent hours dedicating a backstory and character sheet to early on in your session and thus force them out of the campaign as they have no backup. It would leave them twiddling their thumbs for a few hours..


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#3 H.B.M.C.

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 01:35 AM

I get what you're saying and it makes sense (I've also edited my post - it should have said "generally I don't like...", not "generally I like like"). I am sure most of them will keep character rivalries IC, and not push into OOC territory (even the two brothers in my group!).

Let's then say, for sake of argument, that I've had them prepare three characters each, in advance, so that the death of one doesn't result in them being out of the campaign until they formulate a new one, the idea being that when all is said and done each player will (should) have one character left, and then those remaining characters get to fight along-side one another in a sort of final conflict situation that bonds them as a team?

BYE

 


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#4 Calgor Grim

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 05:28 AM

Again, risky. PvP to the death can still cause issues. IF, and I stress that, you can keep the IC/OOC seperation clear and it's done correctly then maybe. The problem you have though is it means the characters may end up as a very aggressive and combat orientated group (which is fine if thats what it will entail) since anyone who focuses or deviates on social/intellectual is likely to be killed if they try and fight for survival as they will not be able to stand for long against dedicated combat specialists. Plus the humans in the group will probably be at even more of a disadvantage.

 

If that's ok with you though then I dont see why not. Just need to consider what will be left when the dust settles, and you might have a group of tough characters but none of them are bright enough to work out some complex puzzle elements or have any form of decent conversations with NPCs :)


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#5 H.B.M.C.

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Posted 24 April 2014 - 09:10 AM

Further clarification. No one would have any armour or weapons to begin with. Yes, Marines would still have an advantage just due to their physicality, but they wouldn't begin every fight in their Legion Power Armour or decked out with Legion-grade weaponry. Psykers, in the end, might have the greatest starting advantage given that they might not need weapons to cause damage (but then again I limited everyone to one psyker).

I've told them that they can make whatever they want but should all be ready for a fight, even if their character isn't a pure combat monster. The last two fights will be against NPC's, rather than one another, and we'll be using the arena rules from Tome of Excess to give them a bit of an edge.

 

I'll be an interesting experiment at least.  :D 

BYE


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The views expressed in this post are my own. I do not speak for or on behalf of Fantasy Flight Games.


#6 Lynata

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Posted 25 April 2014 - 01:48 PM

Ultimately, it depends on the group, or more specifically its players. "Evil" groups are already a challenge as-is, as the risk of internal conflict is somewhat higher than in "good" groups (though this is an oversimplification, especially in 40k) ... and this is a concern that has been brought up even before BC was released. Yet, lo and behold, it worked out better than the sceptics were able to envision.
 
However, by basically programming PvP into the campaign as one of its core components, you are essentially forcing the issue, and at this point everything depends on how well the players can take their character - something in which they have (or should have) invested quite a bit of time, thought and thus even a degree of emotional attachment - getting killed. The worst case result would be that one player might end up sulking, even blaming another player. This kind of reaction might not only carry over to their new persona and their treatment of the killer's character, it might also taint the atmosphere at the table.
 
On the other hand, this challenge occurring very early in the game sort of "softens the blow", as losing the character now would be considerably easier to bear than if they had already spent months or even years playing and developing them. Also, you did say that you believe your players are able to separate IC and OOC. If this is truly so, then it might work out nicely, and it is an intrigueing idea. I would be tempted to forewarn the players about this aspect of the campaign, though, both to reduce the shock (unless this is specifically what you intend, re: "brutal nature"), and because a lot of groups have a tendency to coordinate character creation, by collectively discussing party roles and maximise their synergy, which in this case would be a disadvantage and might even predetermine the end result simply by looking at the character sheets.
 
Which leads into the next problem, the one already raised by Calgor. Is this challenge solely a physical confrontation, or can it be influenced/manipulated by wit and intrigue, such as characters making deals with other PCs and NPCs, setting traps, and generally sabotaging a "fair" fight behind the scenes? If yes, things might get very interesting, though I reckon this approach would also require a lot of one-on-one time by the GM. Also, what about characters who are smart enough to know they stand no chance against the likely victor, and who might thus want to focus their efforts on getting on this prospective champion's good side in order to become their minion?
 
Especially if you have both humans and CSM supposed to compete against one another. And even moreso when neither has weapons or armour. I mean, if they are fist-fighting, a human's only hope (barring psychic powers) would be Zealous Hatred, whereas the CSM does not even need to roll for damage to inflict Wound damage. On the other hand, I guess anyone with psychic powers would have a ridiculously easy time, as their powers essentially replace ranged weapons, and the lack of armour makes them even more potent...
What did you have in mind for these challenges, exactly?
 
Not sure about having everyone come up with 3 characters, by the way. This depends a lot on the individual players again, but there's a risk that they would end up less developed than if they were to focus their attention on a single personality. That being said, this could actually be a boon in that it reduces personal attachment and keeps potential for further development for the ones that actually survive. What is important is that the player actually ends up having fun with whatever remains of their ideas. Being forced into playing one's 3rd choice could be considered a bit of a blow.
 
How about having everyone roll a CSM and have those compete against one another? The survivor gets to be the Champion, and the other players can roll up whatever character they like. That might be the easiest solution, and it allows you to keep the trials a bit more balanced, and thus challenging/exciting.

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#7 FieserMoep

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 04:31 AM

Preparing 3 characters might help you to avoid that a player might thrown out of the group but most players I know would not shape these "throw-away" characters as much as they would with one dedicated character that has a sufficient and wealthy background. I would expect that these three characters would just be one thing: stat-monsters dedicated to survive a FFA arena. In the best case they get some personality during the campaign but most players wont spent hours of creating a story if this character is quite likely to be obliterated in the first ten minutes of the campaign.

 

But maybe I am just a branded child for a master introduced my troll-slayer in a WHF game where he had to fight another mercenary. Understandable I was not backing off and the dice-rolls were just horrible and what was intended as a friendly fight became a "10 minutes into the game character wipe" for some reasons. I can tell you: that was not great.

 

You can argue that your campaign will have a more controlled environment but in the end the dice rolls decide what character lives and what character does not and I dont think such an FFA-arena would add much flavor to the campaign. Maybe I'd go with some kind of grotesque lottery that groups all the "participants" and hence randomly mixes your party together. The overlord wont price individual strength in that case but more the strength of a group. How good are the strong members carrying the weaker ones? Do the brains or faces compensate the social weaknesses of the brutes etc.

 

Can the PC group ally with an NPC group when there is a huge arena fight going on like 2v2v2 etc. where they have to interact to make it a 4v2 fight that breaks down to a 2v2 after that, do they trade for weapons/armor they found somewhere in exchange for favors or other stuff etc. Also I'd limit psychic powers for these are absolutely destroying the entire thing by making some special preperations by the overlord.

 

In the end I believe such an approach would suit the campaign more than the "pure survival of the fittest" thing for the overlord could just have made an arena with some gladiators and watches who comes out alive. If he want some operatives that can be challenged and overcome these different challenges they should start as a group.

 

Though I am a friend of inter-group conflict though I prefer it for a character driven reason and not because the campaign forces it to happen. And confronting a scripe with a khorne berserker in a fight to the death is just... stupid by the overlord.

 

PS: To make a knowledge character work maybe include some puzzles around the competition area that once solved unlock some specialty. Maybe a save shelter where they cant be attacked for some time and have some rations/medicin supplys in. Maybe a puzzle that allows access to a certain weapon and instantly guarantees the love of the combat characters. If you want to create such an arena some gamey mechanics like "pick-ups", "puzzles" and "secrets" might actually be fun and suit the twisted mind of the overlord.


Edited by FieserMoep, 26 April 2014 - 04:35 AM.


#8 H.B.M.C.

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 11:39 AM

You both raise some interesting points. I actually agree with all of them for the most part, but I still couldn't resist trying this out. And yes, the intention is that this is the start of the campaign rather than part-way through it. I wouldn't pit players up against one another after a long period of character development unless it was perhaps the end-game, where suddenly the group's goals became mutually exclusive for certain members, or the completion of a pact required conflict within the group. But I'm getting ahead of myself - we're a long way from that. And yes, the three characters each was so that players that had a bad first round didn't find themselves removed from the proceedings (and they wouldn't have to spend time making characters on the day - we did spent almost the entire previous day making characters!). I also intentionally didn't tell them what they'd be doing, only that they'd need three characters each, at least one Marine, at least one Human, no more than one psyker, and that everyone should be prepared for a fight but equipment wasn't important right now.

Generally the idea was that a number of individuals had been taken against their will and placed into a do-or-die gladiatorial combat situation at the whim of a powerful Tzeentchian sorcerer. Set on the moons of Kurse, with their ever-so-convenient fighting pits, I pit the players against one another in several rounds before the final two rounds where the survivors would have to work together. I avoided Marine vs Human as much as possible, but some confrontations were inevitable. Each bout saw them at opposite ends of the arena (thankyou Paizo and your wonderful arena map sheet!), with a nice Chaos altar in the centre and what were essentially two weapon racks on either side. They had to decide which rack they'd run for (without the other player knowing), and then we started. Sometimes that meant players went to different racks, sometimes they went to others. It made for interesting situations. Depending on how much time they spent looking for weapons determines what they got, and I made a d100 table for weapons, with everything from swords and shotguns to Legion Lightning Claws and man-portable Ectoplasma Cannons.

It went well over all, but quite differently to what I expected. The characters we ended up with were:

Renegade speced for ranged combat.
Khornate Veteran (his character creation was interesting - created a complete monster... peudo-daemonhood is scary)

Thousand Sons Sorcerer

Human done up to be a type of Senator.
Human Sorcerer done to be a renegade drugs manufacturer.
Khorne Berserker
Pirate Prince of the Ragged Helix
Alpha Legion Chaos Marine
Human Sorcerer
Marine Sorcerer
Heretek
Noise Marine

I expected the psykers to have an early advantage, but due to weird circumstances they didn't. The Heretek v Human Sorcerer went the opposite way we expected (all of us were surprised), with the Heretek dodging bio-lightning like it wasn't even there. Eventually the Heretek put the Sorcerer down. The fight between the drug maker and the Renegade ended quickly when Chronological Incontinence took over and the drug maker vanished. For fun we decided he'd appear during the next bout. That one, the monstrous Khornate guy vs the Alpha Legion Marine was also different, with the Khornate guy literally picking the Alpha Legion Marine up and throwing him at the people presiding over the even before decided he'd won the fight without the need for death. At this point the drug maker reappeared just as the Alpha Legion Marine, still prone, managed to score a Missile Launcher from one of the weapons lockers. After burning Infamy to stay alive (Krak Missiles are very good against squishy humans!), the Alpha Legion Marine bargained for the life of the other one, and now that Sorcerer will be a Minion of the Alpha Legion guy. :)

The Berserker vs the Marine Sorcerer was the quickest fight, with both characters ending up at the same locker where the Berserker quickly beat the Sorcerer to death. The Noise Marine vs Thousand Sons Sorcerer went the complete opposite direction that we expected with the 1KSons Sorcerer accidentally summoning a Bloodletter that proceeded to tear him limb from limb. Then the two most "social" characters, the Pirate Prince and the "Senator" got into a mock-fight, intentionally trying not to hurt one another whilst attempting to play it up to the crowd. The crowd found it funny at first - a nice bit of light entertainment between all the deaths - but eventually the farce of it all began to annoy them and the editor was forced to intercede, admitting that whilst the vast wealth of both combatants would be useful to his cause he really only needed one of them. The Pirate Prince disgraced himself, resorted to begging and the senator was allowed to leave with the former Prince as his slave.

From then on in they worked as a team, first taking on a crazy gunslinger Marine and a Helbrute (they got lucky when searching for weapons, pulling three Clarion Cannons, a man-portal Ectoplasma Cannon and a Missile Launcher!). Then the final fight was against a human Nurgle Sorcerer, a Khorne Champion (w/Great Axe of Khorne), a Slaaneshi Assassin, and a Thousand Sons Sorcerer (w/Terminator Armour & Pandemonium Stave). The Berserker and the Khorne Champion went at it for a while, but after burning away almost all his Infamy the Berserker finally fell. The monstrous pseudo-daemon took out both the Assassin and Sorcerer... and the Heretek and pseudo-Daemon managed to get the Nurgle Sorcerer (they were scared of him - Leper's Curse is a mean power!).

So in the end we had 6 characters alive, with two others reduced to serfdom. Everyone enjoyed the day (although the Berserker player did get a bit salty when his Berserker finally bit the dust - it's not like anyone cheated or anything, he burnt all his Infamy Points and couldn't survive), and we've got an interesting group to carry on forward.

Of course now I have to think of a plot... :lol: 

BYE


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#9 Lynata

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Posted 26 April 2014 - 02:20 PM

Thanks for posting the results - it was an interesting read!

 

Glad to hear the players had fun.


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#10 Annaamarth

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Posted 29 April 2014 - 05:02 AM

That's certainly one way to develop a coven.  And it will certainly be combat capable.


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#11 Kamikazzijoe

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Posted 01 May 2014 - 05:52 PM

One thing to remember with pvp in this system is that instead of dying, they can be pushed to burning infamy.  At that point the combat should stop.  The loser should acknowledge the winner and acquiesce to one or more demands.  PCs are cut from sterner stuff than the common riffraff and living to fight another day rather than martyring themselves uselessly.


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#12 H.B.M.C.

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Posted 03 May 2014 - 09:53 PM

Burning Infamy works in two ways. I burn some to survive, or I burn some to get back up on 1 wound. They always chose the latter, in some cases more than twice in a row.

BYE


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#13 Kamikazzijoe

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Posted 09 May 2014 - 06:23 AM

Burning Infamy works in two ways. I burn some to survive, or I burn some to get back up on 1 wound. They always chose the latter, in some cases more than twice in a row.

BYE

 

Then you end with the scene from the Malus books where the chaos champion is down, continually asking for blessing and then turns into a chaos spawn from too much of their attention.

But, once their reputation has suffered from clearly losing to the other guy (hence the loss of infamy) the losing play should (and thats a "should" not a "shall") submit to one or more of the winners demands.  They've been working together on compacts making the other PCs a valuable resource to them.  Thats not something to just throw away.  The fight just reestablishes the pecking order.  Chaos love lording their superiority over others.  

 

Unless you're at a climatic finish where one players ascends and all the rest are dead or spawn.



#14 Calgor Grim

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 05:25 AM

 

Burning Infamy works in two ways. I burn some to survive, or I burn some to get back up on 1 wound. They always chose the latter, in some cases more than twice in a row.

BYE

 

Then you end with the scene from the Malus books where the chaos champion is down, continually asking for blessing and then turns into a chaos spawn from too much of their attention.

But, once their reputation has suffered from clearly losing to the other guy (hence the loss of infamy) the losing play should (and thats a "should" not a "shall") submit to one or more of the winners demands.  They've been working together on compacts making the other PCs a valuable resource to them.  Thats not something to just throw away.  The fight just reestablishes the pecking order.  Chaos love lording their superiority over others.  

 

Unless you're at a climatic finish where one players ascends and all the rest are dead or spawn.

 

 

Nah they don't end up as spawn by asking too much the Gods just say "You don't interest me any more" and leave them to their fate :)

 

But yes the whole infamy burning thing, players who have had to burn infamy to survive SHOULD use that time to acknowledge that they have lost and give in. Unless they have some spectacular plan in mind to turn the tables guaranteed or are intending to go down fighting then they should lick their wounds and bow in subservience. Problem you have though is that hotheaded characters might refuse to go down, spend that infamy to get back up with 1 wound left and go back to kicking seven bells again only to go down a second time. Repeat until dead...

 

Natural selection, the 40k edition. 


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#15 Keffisch

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Posted 12 May 2014 - 06:24 AM

If that is the case then I suggest that the GM talks to the player(s) in question.

 

There is an inherent RP flaw which I call the "I refuse to yield" syndrome, where common sense goes out the window because of the notion that to surrender is to die.

 

Explaining how this "really" happens, can happen, how it can help the story, the player(s), if they don't just burn infamy and keep at it, etc. might help the player(s) to make more sensible choices.

 

Gods forbid that they actually start developing a rivalry story together.

 

(/sarcasm)

 

:)


Edited by Keffisch, 12 May 2014 - 12:15 PM.

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#16 Traejun

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 10:15 AM

Hello all,

 

The topic line is a bit general, so let me add some context. Say the beginning of the campaign sees the players unwillingly forced into a sort of "sink or swim/survival of the fittest" situation where the winners will go on to be champions of the overlord (ie. the person they'll be working for in the campaign proper) and the remainder just get killed. The situation would involve encounters against NPC's, but also against one another.

Generally I don't like inter-party conflict, but as a starting point to introduce them to the brutal nature of the universe and to get them caring about their characters lives, could this idea work?


BYE

 

Inter-party conflict is part of BC and chaos in general.  Trying to avoid it is leaving out an important part of the fluff/game.

 

That said, there is a fine line between a little conflict and outright combat between players.  I've both played and GMed BC and I've never been in a game where there wasn't conflict, beit behind the scenes or plain PKing.  That sort of what chaos does.  The fine line we have to walk as GMs is to make players understand that while the Tzeentch psyker and the Khornate Berserker won't like each other, early on, they need each other.  A fresh group of disciples and CSMs are a motley clew with few friends and even less power.  Early-game conflict both hampers story and makes zero sense - since you'd assume these people would understand that "using" others is generally more effective than "killing" others.

 

As an example, in a recent BC campaign I GMed, there was some very serious early game conflict - like literally the first session.  The players found themselves marooned on Mire after a warp travel incident sent their transport out of control, translating from the warp above and going down onto that world.  The players had to work together to survive and find their way off the rock while local savages and dark eldar raiders showed varying degrees of hostility to one another.  Unfortunately, 2 of the players -  Word Bearers sorcerer and Blood Gorgons champion - immediately began squabbling over who was in charge whilst the rest of the group (humans) sat back and silently picked their sides.

 

Long story short, despite this ragged group of heretics having no power and only a recently captured (from the Dark Eldar) transport, the sorcerer and heretek made moves to PK the champion - and succeeded.  The loss of that character scarred the group and additional attempts at PKing occurred throughout as players struggled for control of a warband with little power and almost no hope of obtaining any.  It took a good few rerolls and "1 on 1's with the GM" to actually get them to understand that what they were doing made no sense - even for chaos.

 

Since that time, I have instituted the "10 session rule" - which essentially states that while players can certainly scheme, no PKs will be tolerated or even allowed, absent very specific circumstances.



#17 Magellan

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 11:02 AM

The winner will be whoever has the cheapest build. Probably the space marine sorcerer. The losers will be everyone who was to listen to or participate in the ensuing arguments about the fine details of every rule everyone is trying to abuse against each other.


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#18 FieserMoep

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Posted 10 June 2014 - 11:08 AM

I like internal conflicts if they happen because of different perspectives and personal goals, as long as they make sense for that character. With that in regard I do not allow insane lunatics, that have nothing in their live than kill the first thing on sight as a PC in the first place too. These characters do exist, but with that minimalistic mindset there is no RP value included. They are just a NPC that gets its stats rolled by a player.

 

It is okay for a GM to present the players with a problem or target he knows from the beginning that they might have very different opinion about that, even further leading to some hostilities. What I do not like are scenarios where players are literally set up against each other and wasted. It might happen that some sort of Warlord wants to see some action from them, and in order to be hired they have to prove their worth when they start to fight against each other. But I would handle, a complete combat focused selection process on a narrative way.

 

They might create 3 characters with some decent background, but I want all the work for background of these 3 characters concentrated on one character to begin with.






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