PVP and Roadblocks

As a GM I try to be very careful to state interesting complications to make the action twist and turn in different directions. In versus tests I give NPCs intents that will similarly complicate matters.

I had a player make a versus test against another player with the intent to trap that player in a cave in. This was successful.

As the GM I gave the victim a wound to represent that injury and the other player got his intent. His companion was trapped under the rocks.

The player’s intent was somewhat a roadblock to the actions available to the trapped player. But I can’t blame the player. The rules don’t ask him to think of complications like a GM. The rules ask for intents and tasks. I approved them.

I fixed up the problem by introducing a monster as a new game element in such a way that it did not violate the intent.

Has anybody else seen players produce roadblock situations using the intent and tasks available to them. How did you deal with it?

It definitely can be problematic in BW and MG. I shall ruminate on it.

It’s tough - sometimes, you kind of just outright win. I mean, the other player can try to be really clever and get out of the situation, and I’m usually somewhat lenient in situations like that. For example, if someone gets trapped under rocks, they might say, “OK, well, I use my Tunnel-wise skill - the cave-in revealed an entrance to an abandoned mine that might lead to the surface!” Something like that. If they don’t have the skill, they can try a Beginner’s Luck for it.

If they’ve got a Persona point, they can blow it to introduce a Complication - don’t forget that. So there might still be a way out - they can re-frame the situation into something that might use one of their good skills.

As a GM, I’ll nudge players and give them ideas for ways to get out of seemingly hopeless situations. I mean, it’s not really fun when someone just loses and can’t do anything about it. “Rocks fall; everyone dies.” That’s shitty. But if a player is just frustrated and not engaging the system, that’s on them. Throw 'em a couple of lifeline ideas - the Persona complications, various skill tests, Beginner’s Luck, etc - and let them run with it.

Try not to outright invalidate the other player’s success - let it stand. The idea is that you should offer suggestions that further color and complicate the situation for everyone.

Now, it’s possible that a player acts outside of the buy-in for the game. Maybe you’re all a group of adventurers and someone says “I turn to my friend and kill him” for no apparent reason. If something runs the risk of derailing the game for no good reason, without really doing anything to advance the story, against the wishes of everyone else and what you agreed would be the tone of the game - well, they’re kind of an asshole. When someone’s being a total douchebag in the game, and essentially griefing the party, I have few reservations about being a total dick to them right back.

I highly encourage you to probe somebody who wants to do something that seems way out of whack or potentially game-stopping. Why are they doing that? Are they frustrated? Do they feel like that’s the only way they can make something happen in game? Maybe you’ll find out that you’re setting your obstacles too high, or that they’re not interested in the direction their character is going - something will reveal itself.

What was the victim’s intent?

Brechtanz wanted to lead the party down a new tunnel, one that he could tell was vulnerable to cave ins using his Tunnel-wise skill so that he could steal the sword in the distraction or the rescue. I set an obstacle for identifying the tunnel and the dwarf succeeded, he kicked a support and the tunnel started falling. If anyone had requested I’d have made him test for keeping it hidden, I didn’t realise until it was too late that there could have been conflict here too. I asked the others what they would do when rocks started to fall above them. They said they’d outrun it so each of them tested speed to avoid the cave in.

We were playing The Sword at a con and I had said beforehand that it was ok to want to win. I was going to use Chris’ same page tool but I left the print out at home.

The game was still good but I found myself having to tread carefully between pacing the game, keeping the action, and having a meaningful success/failure for those players rolls.

He rolled to identify a tunnel that he could collapse. But that intent doesn’t necessarily lead to trapped elf. So, when he went to kick out the supports, his intent changed from grab the sword in the distraction to trap the elf? Did the elf have an intent at that point with regard to the Dwarf?

Cave in doesn’t necessarily mean roadblock, especially if the intent was to get the sword.

Sorry, one more, what did you tell the dwarf would happen if he failed his tunnel-wise?

If we analyse it sufficiently I’m sure you can always point out my imperfections eventually.

Screw it. If I concentrate on static I’m going to hear static. I’m going to concentrate on the music before the song is over lest I miss it.

Well, I wasn’t trying to get at imperfections just that trapping someone under rocks is a big deal intent. I would be looking at the elf and asking what his stakes were. Because if the dwarf suffers nothing on failure, than I don’t feel bad about telling him he can’t trap the elf and that the best he can hope for is to give the elf a supi and to get an advantage die as the elf digs his way through the rubble.

On the other hand if failure means the dwarf is trapped as well and they have to figure stuff out from there, totally. Make that roll.

I’m a BW newb, but an RPG vet, so I’ll give you my generic answer in this case. It may not be BW-appropriate, so I won’t be too surprised if I get smacked down :slight_smile:

Any support that’s key enough to cause a cave-in when removed is, by definition, load-bearing. Removing such a support is not a trivial action. As such, I would have given the other players a chance to turn the cave-in into a Vs. test of some sort.

Also, for that kind of hasty cave-in, I would have told the dwarf that he’d also have to make the speed test to get out of the cave-in, as with such a hasty move there’d be no way to effectively control the cave-in in such a way that he could guarantee his own safety.

Either of these could potentially be done by passing a significantly higher Ob test to find the alternate tunnel. Finding a tunnel you can cave-in is one thing. Finding a tunnel you can cave-in only the area behind you is harder. Finding a tunnel where a slight nudge will bring the tunnel is hard, too. Finding one that meets both conditions… pretty darn tough.

(This isn’t criticism, btw, I’ve had about a day to think about this. You had a minute)

There’s still the meta-point though, in that there may be actions available to players that “block” the other characters, but are not directly opposable by those other characters.

Rob, James, et omnes. Guy indicated that he was done with this topic. Let’s let it be.