Conflict Games has recently released the Conflict Roleplaying Rulebook, “a tactically-driven system for player vs. player roleplaying using unlimited d20 rules.” Conflict is exactly what it sounds like, a PVP system for Pathfinder RPG.
I know certain gamers are going to balk at the idea thinking it is practically antithetical to everything they believe roleplaying is about. I can hear the terms power gamer and munchkin being uttered by readers right now. Personally, I think inter-player conflict can be interesting and unofficial PVP combat has been sort of a time waster with my group during times when we haven’t actually started the game for one reason or another (waiting for the GM to finish some last minute prep, waiting on players to arrive, or waiting for character creation to be finished).
Frankly, when I think about, I am surprised I haven’t seen a book like this before. Another interesting point is that the book seems to be written with the fact that there is still a GM moderating play, so players can feel free to try things beyond the rules in order to get an upper hand on each other. I imagine a couple of players could run without a GM, but I definitely see rule interpretations becoming an issue.
Here is a quick look at what the book includes:
Conflict realizes that level alone isn’t a complete indicator of how well two characters are matched. Instead, players are given a Battlepoint cap and basically purchase levels, ability scores, race, and equipment.
Match Types are scenarios with unique tactical elements, objective, and victory conditions. Some of the match types include Ambush, King of the Hill, Snatch & Grab, and Monster Mash. It really reminds me a lot of match types from first person shooters. For instance, in McGuffin, players compete in a sport like event where they have to score points by bringing a loadstone to the opponents’ goal, which reminds me a lot of UT2004’s Bombing Run mode.
Players and teams may purchase elements such as traps, barriers, and creature and place them on the map. The book has a lot of original elements for players to use as well as providing rules on how to create new ones.
Laws are option requirements or restrictions that can be placed on matches. Laws affect character generation, actions, and even players. For instance, the Blade Bound law restricts character class to barbarian, fighter, monk, ranger, and rogue. An interesting player law is Steal the Roll, where twice per match a team may designate someone else to roll the dice, which could be very interesting if you have a bunch of superstitious gamers.
A key element of the game, conflict maps all have grid coordinates (so tactics and map elements can be secretly communicated to your team and GM on passcards). They have map ends, centerlines, restricted areas, and a center square. Teams roll initiative and then begin claiming starting areas and may place or pass characters on their turn, which adds to the strategy and tactics involved.
Represent the key method of commination as well as tracking round by round actions and track important character information such as hit points. The most important thing about the passcard is it allows players to secretly communicate their intentions to the GM to keep metagaming elements from encroaching upon play.
Team feats are exactly what their name implies, special abilities available for teams. The number of feats available to a team depends on the number of players, or GM discretion. A sample team feat is All For One; it improves the Aid Another action bonus from +2 to +4. I actually think the team feats could be used outside of the Conflict rules as something like Adventuring Party Feats.
Player Tips and Tactics & Game Mastering
The rest of the book is dedicated to helping players make the most of the Conflict rules and giving GMs advice on how to run Conflict matches. Advice on hidden movement, when to remove miniatures from the map, and how to integrate conflict matches into a campaign are some of the topics covered.
Without running a few matches, it’s hard to say how well they work. However, I think Mark Scott, the designer, clearly put a lot of thought in how to make PVP interesting and tackled the critical issue of metagaming. The Maps Elements and Team Feats definitely have use outside of the PVP game and I think it would make for some interesting gladiatorial scenarios in the context of a larger, more tradition campaign.
And for those days that only a couple of players show up on game night, I think Conflict makes an exciting alternative to the current campaign.
Want to learn more about Conflict Roleplaying? Read on…
- Atomic Array: Episode 042: Conflict Roleplaying
- Apathy Blogs: A new way to play Pathfinder