On the April 27 episode of the Gauntlet Podcast, @edige23 raises an interesting issue about player vs player dynamics. My read of the challenge is that a game with a collaborative tone might switch to a more confrontational tone. (I hope Lowell steps in to clarify if I’m summarizing incorrectly.)
In his example, from the courtly variation on Hearts of Wulin, the courtly intrigue might provoke actions in which the characters are actively trying to undermine each other. He suggested that the GM technique
The Check In is crucial here. Player A suggests something that is detrimental to Player B’s character, and the GM should step in to ask Player B, “Are you OK with that?”
The segment ended without much more discussion. With experienced GMs Jammi and @RichRogers on the show I’d hoped to hear their takes on this.
So, posting here to see what others might think. I have two additional thoughts:
The Set Up
Another crucial GM technique is
The Set Up, where the tone between the players should be established in the campaign’s introduction. This is especially true when playing with people new to the game. They may not realize that the game is supposed to be collaborative or confrontational or whatever. In games where it’s ambiguous or up to the table, I see an opportunity for the GM to point out the places where PvP might come up and ask players for their preference.
My “face-to-face” game (now meeting online) is playing Good Society. This game has mechanized the PvP aspect. When you want to negatively influence the circumstances of another’s character, you must negotiate with them and give them a token (which they might use against you later). My group is very non-confrontational and very collaborative, and we frankly haven’t used the resolve tokens much. At first I thought the game was broken, and then I realized what the game was expecting (more attempts to undermine each other’s characters) is not what we were playing.