Posted by: Sean | January 20, 2009

You got PVP in my RP! You got RP in my PVP!

Last weekend, I had the pleasure and privilege of defending Wintergarde Keep from the foul might of the Horde. There were surprise attacks and desperate stands, reprisals and counter-attacks, heroic speeches and desperate cries for help.

Welcome to the world of PVP/RP events; any event where a group from one faction base a role-play event around combat with the other. It’s one of my favourite parts of role-playing Warcraft, and done right it can be an absolute hoot. There’s a true thrill in the danger and carrying that over to the role-play really can add major sizzle. Some of my observations.

1. How to announce it.

A good PVP/RP is announced. Always. While realistically you wouldn’t do this, it’s just not half as much fun to stomp guard-heads as it is to stomp other player-heads. You want the other side to show up. But you also have to set the tone right, or it’s not a PVP/RP event, it’s just an invitation to a head stomping. But how can you justifiably let the other side know what would be a secret plan? Well…

  • Many Bothans died to bring us this information: Spies are always a good one. They can act as a nifty method to plausibly include players in the story, and it’s a very popular way as a result. You generally do this by posting it as a story on the realm forums.
  • Spies, inverted: One of the other ways can be that one of their spies has been caught, and is going to spill the beans. This is a terrific one on a PVE server or if someone (on a PVP server) has two accounts and can make one for the other faction. Maybe a gnome was corrupted and promised forbidden knowledge. A troll’s ancestors threatened by a human warlock. Whatever the reason, one of your faction was turned… and you’ve just caught them. This has the advantage of being doable in game, not just on the forums.
  • Pure bloody arrogance: We can beat you even when you’re all arrayed against us, and we WANT to kill as many of you as we can! You announce your target in a letter to the enemy (posted to the forums) explaining your plans in detail.
  • A show of force. This one’s tricky, but it is doable, especially if you have a rival guild you’re attacking. (As we did.) Simply march up to the location you’re attacking and stand there, yelling at it. Run a few small attacks but hold back your main force. They will hopefully get the message.

2. The rules.

The other thing your announcement (or negotiations thereafter) should establish are the rules of conflict. How do you decide who wins and loses?

Generally this is decided by a particular target – If they die, the game is over. Flightmasters are a particular favourite for this. They don’t die easily, lots of towns have them, so they make a good bellwether of control for a zone. But you could as easily choose an important NPC in an area, such as the commander in a keep. If you so dare as to make a city raid a PVP/RP event (Now that’s epic!) then the obvious choice is a faction leader. It could also be a particular player character, announced in advance.

Or it could be simply a ‘feel’, though this is harder to guage. Could the defenders repel the invaders before they ran riiot? The problem here is that opinions vary. You could well have both sides claiming victory… which, to be fair, happens a lot in real battles.

2. The lead up.

Probably my favourite part of a good PVP/RP event is the waiting. Unlike with your standard role-play event, you don’t know what’s going to happen. If you’re attacking, could the enemy launch a counter-offensive before they even begin? If you’re defending, there’s a terrific waiting for it to begin. This is a great chance to break out every World War 1 ‘in the trenches’ trope you’ve ever been dying to pull off. Nervous nail biting, jocular joking, the works. If you have the chance, it’s a chance for a big, heroic speech – You can have a lot of fun being theatrical. Don’t be shy.

3. The battle

To be fair, the battle is probably the least role-play centric part of the event. The fighting is usually simply too chaotic to role-play with any real depth. That said, try to keep the play going as best as you can – Good yells and battle cries add immeasurably to the play. One bit I have seen done that was particularly cool was someone /yelling out, “HORDE AMB–” seconds before he died. Now that’s grace under pressure. He realised he was doomed, and rather than fight back beyond auto-attacking, he took the seconds to put together a great role-play moment. Brilliant.

4. The Aftermath

Finally, what do you make of the aftermath? Smart players here will adapt on the fly, adjusting to how the battle went. Victorious sides will usually shoot for a triumphant feel, yelling out victorious shouts, saluting each other, and otherwise giving the sense that things went well. Defeated sides will, by contrast, will usually play to the idea of pain and sorrow. If you’re killed on defence, and the game looks lost, consider not resurrecting so that your dead body can be found — A few bodies littering the ground certainly give the sense of loss and defeat. (And it saves you from another pounding.) This is particularly good if the victory condition has already been met, so you can sit the battle out without being accused of not hauling your weight.

Done right, a PVP/RP event can be a hoot. It’s intense and dramatic, with a lot of theatrics and explosive moments. It’s also more chaotic than your standard role-play, but good, sensible thinking can minimise this and maximise your fun.



  1. Great tips on this kind of event, it all sounded like lots of fun and makes me want to play WoW even more! 😀

    As for input. I would say first, that you could announce such a thing in a more subtle fashion by combining the spy and show of force options. As what you would do is simply gather the troops, and walk to the destination as any force would. Camping out, sleeping and continuing further each day. Which of course, be noticed quite a bit. And those who do, might tell the forum about this suspicious activity and alarming amount of forces in the area. Then people starting talking about it, wondering why the force is there, guess where it may attack and then they could make preparations for the impending attack.

    Course with that, you be found out early and fall prey to surprise attacks. Which is why you could assign scouts of your own to take care of any on lookers, before they can report your activity. But regardless, maybe being found out was the point. To distract your enemies with that force, as a another force sneaks its way to the desired target. So what forces remain to protect your target, will be overwhelmed and surprised by the other force.

    And of course, if other players didn’t do the sighting reports for you on the forum. You and others apart of the force could do it, using other characters. And you could even use said characters to direct the thoughts of what the force’s target is, so people who want to defend will understand the deal without being told outright. Or maybe go the other way and try to throw off their suspicions, so that they won’t know your true target.

    Now for the battle itself. I think this can be role-played quite a bit. By first assigning groups of players in squads, with their leaders dishing out orders during the battle. Having people on mounts (flying mounts preferably) acting as scouts, giving new information of the battle to the leaders of the force who then tell that information to the squad leaders who then get their squad to act accordingly. And of course, you could arrange players in battle formations and what not. As well have them take positions like hunters acting as archers/riflemen, people on mounts act as cavalry…etc.


    In the end, the point is that there are lots we can do. And we could even go further than the above by doing a full on war campaign scenario. With guerrilla tactics, cutting off supplies and much more fun war stuff. Though such, would take a lot of planning and time. But damn, what an event that would be. Especially, if it was really rich with story, very involved over time and most importantly; done well.

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