The Lazy DM on constructive PVP
by Neal Mattingly
Once again you’ve failed to write up anything for the upcoming game. Since it happens to me a good nine out of ten times, I bet it’s happened to you as well. You know you have a week left to write, but you also know that although you are on vacation it’s just too much effort, and you’d rather watch your Godzilla movie Boxed set or Rome the first season.
Time for quick action to save face! You write an email and copy and paste the text to each of your players complaining about how you just can’t seem to deal with another player’s walking systemic, statistical anomaly that ruins all your hard work each time…you change the names so that each player hears you complain about another playe’rs character. Since the players have been sending you email after email about needing this or that for their character (things like experience for item creation or some item from some obscure book that implodes BBEG 1/day) you have something they want, so you offer them a deal.
The deal is that if they write up a villain to challenge the ‘problem’ character you’ll let them have the ‘do-dad of infinite whatever’ if they can provide it to you before next session. Give em bonus XP and stuff if they can tie it into the character’s past exploits.
Most players will hesitate so you tell them…I promise I won’t attack your character first with it. The deal is sealed at that point, and in a couple of days you have an entire team of adversaries for the party to run into, complete with motivations.
You, of course, keep your promise to attack them last with what they wrote because you have one designed just for them which will attack first.
The session is going to be a blast. Near death experiences all around the table and they will be happy to have had such a challenging encounter. In fact, if you do it as a couple of skirmishes and a final showdown it should take up the whole session and the excitement of the event will cover up what you did. Given they all were cutting deals with you behind the screen, none of them will fess up that what they wrote almost killed the guy next to them. Since they won’t talk among themselves about it, your face is saved and once again their perception is that you are a hard working DM.
You can’t do this more than once or twice per year, or else they will talk, and they may get resentful that you played them like that.
You should also keep the NPBs (non player badasses) they wrote since you can use the stat block to fill out the ranks of the enemy in a couple of months or levels when it’s not likely to kill them but will get them motivated, and they aren’t likely to remember the specifics.