March 23, 2010

4E PvP

4E D&D is a wonderfully tactical game which allows a variety of abilities and play styles to coexist. Classes and races are balanced to allow them all to contribute at roughly a similar level of effectiveness. Some are stronger in one aspect but weaker in others.

I think it would be a lot fun to allow for some pvp (player versus player) within the game framework. Out of all the RPG game systems out there, 4E is probably the most able to handle pvp with any sort of balance, while at the same time allowing for variety. This measure of variety is a key consideration, since there are other systems out there where pvp is possible but without the assortment of abilities it lacks excitement.

What I envision is a system similar to what we see now with the trading card market and the tournaments they run. At gaming conventions such a tournament could easily be run. Players bring their standard characters to the tournament and work their way through a bracket.

Some considerations should include:
Character generation has to be standard
The stats can not be random and should provide the players with a set from which they can choose, such as Method 1 or 2. I personally prefer Method 2 as it allows for greater customization.
Only options selected from “official” rulebooks are allowed. This however, can include all the Player Handbooks and subsequent books such as Martial Power. Setting books, such as Forgotten Realms, may be allowed or disallowed. Articles from Dragon magazine are another option for whether or not they should be allowed.

Characters have to be of the same level
I envision several different types of tournaments dependant on level. There could be a Level 5 bracket, to keep the game play fairly simple and fast. There can also be a Level 25 bracket for those more experienced and willing to pull out all the big guns.

Gear needs to be uniform
Magic items can sway a fight, especially at higher levels. What type of gear allowed needs to be determined ahead of time. There can be additional tournament styles that include magic items. This can be handled in a few different ways.
One-Give players a set amount of gold to spend on items. Let them choose what they like as long as the items are within a certain range of their character level.
Two-Let the players choose from certain item levels of magic items; for instance, the Level 5 bracket gets 1 potion, 1 item level 3 magic item and 1 item level 5 magic item.
Three-Let the players pick from a preset list of items.
Four-Give the players a preset list of items; for instance everyone gets 2 potions of healing and a +1 weapon.

Number of players
I would recommend against one-on-one fights. Some classes are designed to work with other classes and thus would suffer for it. A better option would be for 3-on-3 as it allows for a greater mix of classes and synergies, while at the same time keeping the game play time down to manageable levels.

Rate the player not the character
A rating system can be set up that carries over from tournament to tournament. If this is done it has to be done by the player. With supplements coming out in a regular manner players will likely change characters between tournaments; either race, class or at the very least abilities.
This is a good thing. For WotC it gets people to buy the newest books. For the community that would form around the concept, people would avidly discuss the latest ability as to how it pertains to the pvp tournaments. What is the best class combination? How will the new feat affect game play? This form of discussion will help the longevity of tournaments.

Some other questions that would have to be answered:
Are line-of-sight, line-of-effect allowed to be measured ahead of time?
How much table talk is allowed?
How long does a person have to take his turn; i.e. is there is a time limit similar to a chess-clock?

I think a sustained system of tournaments would be good for 4E overall. It would be easy to start up. A simple tournament at various conventions. At first resources required would be small; a couple of people to run it, some preset maps and some miniatures (10 max). From there how much support it needs would depend on how the interest for it grows. At the very least it would a novel tournament idea for any gaming convention.

What do you think of the idea? What other things need to be factored into such an idea? What characters would you and your friends make for such a tournament?
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