Let’s say you’re playing Pathfinder and you notice the player controlling the rogue lets it slip that he found treasure in a room that he didn’t originally tell you about. What would you do? Let’s imagine that your party has two barbarians who are constantly bickering over who is the strongest. How would you solve the conflict? Conflict is the central word in today’s review, and it’s all about competition and supremacy between players. In the Pathfinder RPG there are plenty of ways for characters to overcome challenges, but when it comes down to it there’s nothing like a battle between players to prove who is the toughest of all, or who deserves to be crowned king.
If you wanted to settle player disputes like these you could always have them enter combat against one another, but the Pathfinder rules aren’t exactly geared for that. Author Mark Scott knew this was the case, and that’s why he and his company, Conflict Games, came up with Conflict PvP: player versus player rules for the Pathfinder RPG. These rules add a brand new are of play to the game that makes things brutally interesting.
What’s It All About?
Conflict PvP is described eloquently in its book as:
Raw, brutal, yet governed competition.
This is Conflict PvP.
Conflict focuses on the ultimate combat experience – player versus player combat using the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Driving combat are clearly degined objectives and your team’s will to win.
At its core, Conflict offers a set of different match types for players who want to engage in combat against one another. The book offers its own maps, ruleset, character creation templates, and more to get players to the table and battling in no time at all. In fact, one of the great things about Conflict is how easy it is to get the game on the table and have players actively playing.
The game works out both for players and GMs who want something a bit different and more entertaining from their game. For players, Conflict offers a level of strategy and tactics that can’t necessarily be explored to its fullest extent in Pathfinder campaigns. It also allows players to enjoy a new level of gameplay, as the enemies they’ll be fighting will have strengths that match their own. For GMs, Conflict allows them to provide their players with entertainment, all while not having to follow plot lines or drawn-out stories. It offers players a new challenge, as they face enemies who really will do everything in their power to kill them, and that’s enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Visuals and Presentation
One of the best things about Conflict PvP is its artwork. Seriously, each piece throughout the book is stunning. The artwork provides action shots, depictions of weapons, character shots, and all sorts of other imagery to get players seated in the game. What’s more is that the Conflict book does something I’ve not seen before in any other tabletop RPG game: it lists the artwork in an index at the beginning of the book, giving credit to each author who contributed. I honestly don’t feel that enough games do this, and I give mad respect to Conflict Games for laying this out almost immediately.
As far as the ruleset that’s laid out through the book, I feel Conflict presents each section of information the player needs in a nice format. The sections covered are: Introduction, Cautionary Advice (this is a great section for beginners), Starting a Match, Battlepoints, Map Elements, Laws, Planted Items, Match Types, Battle Maps and Passcards, Gamemastering, and Pregenerated Characters. Each section flows into another, and with the way the information is laid out you won’t need to flip pages nearly as often as in other games. The sections even have their own suggestions and pop-out advice to make sure everything is clear for the reader. Not to mention the glossy pages are snazzy and the book just looks gorgeous.
When sitting down to play a game of Conflict PvP, there are some Golden Rules that the book urges you to follow, and I agree:
- The players and GM should be respectful of each other.
- The rules are never more important than the game.
- Don’t forget that this is a game and you’re playing to have fun.
From there you need only follow some simple steps to set up a game and begin the carnage!
Characters in Conflict are built using Battlepoints. Battlepoints are the game’s method of estimating the overall power level of a character, with the intent that only characters who are roughly of the same power level should be competing against each other. These Battlepoints help to level the playing field, and each game has a Battlepoint Cap. When determining a character’s BP value, many different aspects of the character are given a Battlepoint rating, and the sum of those ratings is the character’s BP level.
Think of Battlepoints as sort of a currency system. You have a cap, set by the GM, and then you build your character, choosing gear and whatnot, to meet that cap. Everything from character levels and abilities will be bought using these points. When it comes to building the character, Conflict follows the Pathfinder “Purchase Method”, wherein players spend an allotted amount of points to increase their scores as they see fit. There are also rules for using sourcebooks, adding additional races, and buying animal companions & familiars.
There is also a Match level, which is the average level of the characters that will be fighting in the conflict. The level of any character in the match can only deviate from the Match level by one, whether it is over or under.
There’s a great section on how to best-tier your character for a Conflict match toward the end of the Battlepoints section, which really helps pull everything together. By the time I finished reading through it I could roll a character of my own and get ready for battle.
The book goes on to talk about Map Elements, or obstacles and traps that are placed around the map to help allies and hinder opponents. These obstacles are purchased with Map Points, and the amount of points each team gets is listed among the various Match types in the later section of the book. You spend MP as a team, and the more MP you spend on a Map Element increases its usefulness. There are some ground rules you need to follow when using these Elements, though, such as they can’t be stacked on top of one another, you can only place elements on your end of the map, they can’t extend past map borders, and more. Each Element has its own stats and purpose, so using them adds a great level of strategy to your Matches. You can even make your own!
Something that makes each game of Conflict interesting are its Laws. Laws are optional rules that the GM can set in place to change the dynamic of each Match. The Laws are universal, and apply to each character engaged in the match. There are three types of Laws to use: Action Laws, Character Generation Laws, and Player Laws. Each one offers a different description and effect on the game, and there’s no limit on how many Laws a GM can use.
Some examples of Laws are:
- Blade Bound – Character Generation Law – Restricts all players to classes that rely on mundane weapons and skills
- Dead Lands – Action Law – The Match occurs on lands where magic is dead, no magic of any kind may be used in the Match.
- Steal the Roll – Player Law – Twice per Match, each team can “steal” the roll of an opposing team.
There’s a short section next on Planted Items, which are items that the GM can choose to place on the map before any Match. Planted Items are usually powerful enough to shift the battle towards their possessor, and come in many different types. These items are place on the map before the Match and all players will know what type and where they are unless the Match Type states otherwise. This is a way for the GM to add some spice to each game.
What I consider to be the meat and ‘taters to Conflict is the section on Match Types. A Match Type is a complete description of a scenario, with its own included rules and victory conditions by which all characters must abide. Each of the different Matches has its own difficulty level and qualifiers, so you’ll need to make sure everything is met before you can settle down into a Match. In this section you’ll find rules for character casualties, death, and even banishment. Of course, it’s up to the GM whether or not a character is considered a casualty, and in a lot of Matches the victory condition is elimination of the opposing team, so this is important.
Something really cool about Conflict is that it can be integrated into an already-running campaign. There are rules laid out in the Match Type section that allow players to use the Conflict rules in their game. Each Match Type will have a listing on when it can be integrated into a campaign, though the GM can use his own discretion on when to use them. There are rewards for campaign characters, and even characters who aren’t actively engaged in Conflict matches that are taking place in a campaign.
Some of the Match Types are:
- Ambush – One team launches a surprise attack while the other tries to survive it.
- Brother’s Keeper – Slay all opposing characters.
- Burden of the Crown (one of my favorites) – There are no teams, and every character is out to make themselves king. Grab the crown and fight your way back to your Hollow (safe point) to claim the throne.
To round out the book, there’s a section that covers Battlemaps and Passcards. Battlemaps are just like the flip mats that are available in the Pathfinder game. They serve a different purpose here, and are tailored for the different Match Types. They are all broken up into a square grid, only they’ve coordinates for easy reference when needed.
Passcards are sheets of paper that players use to record their character stats, actions, and communicate with the GM. There’s an entire section dedicated to going over these, and they’re easy enough to use for the game that most of the time they’re all you’ll need aside from your miniature.
The final two chapters in the book cover Gamemastering and Pregenerated Characters. There’s a lot of information for those who want to GM games of Conflict, all packed nicely in its own section. The section covers things like when to remove a miniature from the board, covering how to integrate the game into your campaign, how to avoid metagaming, resolving player disputes and more.
There are 10 pregenerated characters at the back of the book that the players can use, but they also are reference for anyone building their own characters. They can be used as a template, or be put to work on the battlefield as the players see fit. Each character has their own stats and abilities for a few different levels, as well as suggestions for play. They’re perfect for getting quick matches started and running.
All in all, the gameplay in Conflict PvP follows its own rules, but uses the Pathfinder rules as a template. Players will choose from different Match Types to play through, and they will each have their own win conditions, whether it be defeating all opponents, grabbing a special item and making it back to safety, or even defeating your opponents while battling a giant monster! Games aren’t drawn out, and it’s something you can get together a play quickly with friends.
When I first took a look at Conflict PvP I was not prepared for what was about to hit me. The book offers an amazing twist on Pathfinder gameplay, and the ability to add the ruleset into your campaign makes for very entertaining sessions. The Battlepoints system is easy to use, and not once did I feel overwhelmed by character building or equipment purchasing. It takes a while to get things running at first, but the more you play and the more familiar you get with the matches, the easier and quicker it becomes.
This is a great multiplayer game that works through the use of teams. Having three-on-three matches is quick and crazy, and each Match plays out differently than the one previous.
Having the ability to fight against other players forces you to use strategies that you’d never thought of before. You’re constantly on your toes, and you’ve got to use everything you have to its utmost advantage. The minute you blink could be the minute you find yourself being a casualty. If you’re looking for a supplement to your Pathfinder games, or if you want some efficient and hellaciously fun tabletop PvP, Conflict is something you need to pick up immediately. Its only downside is that if you’re not a tabletop RPG fan, this won’t be for you.