Advantages and Drawbacks of a Fully PvP+ System

If it’s possible to attack another player in whatever game you are playing, someone will do it sooner rather than later.  In a pen and paper game, this is moderated by the GM, who either allows the attack because it furthers the plot or is in character, or else kicks the attacking player out of the group.  The MMORPG has, at best, highly limited human moderation of player activity, and rightly so:  any subjective decision by a GM is usually criticized as being unfair, and many time the accusation is correct.  Therefore, no matter how intricate your justice system is and how well it works, at some point someone will attack someone else who isn’t interested in being attacked.  This is a double-edged sword.

The negatives of a fully PvP system are obvious.  PvP presents opportunities for gamewreckers and dickheads to harass other players without thought to how this affects the game as a whole.  Because there is no immunity, players will out of necessity tend to build characters optimized for PvP combat, like the guy in UO who won’t leave his house to walk through the woods until he is a 4x GM combatant.  Large groups of PK’s can dominate smaller, less organized groups of adventurers very successfully, destroying the avenue of exploration those players are probably trying to check out.

On the other hand, PvP+ systems are realistic:  there is no force field that prevents real world people from punching each other in the face.  PvP+ systems give an incentive for players to work as groups, as opposed to the large-scale single player game that AC and EQ have become.  And correctly played killers and outlaws contribute to the ongoing plot of the game with little additional work from the game’s content team.  Certainly those who were involved in the "Kynn Goes Crazy and Takes Over Arwic" subplot in early AC final were on the whole more interested in that than the vague "official" plot being pushed at the time by the actual game.

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