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  1. #1

    Lightbulb Conflict RP - has it ever been done successfully?

    Hello fellow Laurelinians,

    I have been pondering in the last few days my enjoyment from the various "campaign" RPs that I've had the pleasure of taking part in for the last year and a bit in LotRO. Without a doubt the best thing about this game is its players (sorry Turbine - but you're pretty good too ).

    I've noticed, though, that the majority of the RP I've been involved in has been of two types: primarily social, and organised combat with an imaginative use of NPCs and mobs. There's no complaint here: it is genuinely relaxing and enjoyable to take a break from grinding down orcs and pretend to be an Elf in the Hall of Fire, or visit friends and neighbours in the Green Dragon. Likewise, the amount of effort put in by kinships like the old Mithril Guard, Durin's Folk, Loth i Lonnath, and many others in running patrols, structured events, and longer-term campaigns has paid off in polished and engaging RP.

    It just occurs to me that very little use (at least in my own RPing experience) has been made of what might be called "conflict rp" - essentially the PvP of RP. What I mean by that is not RP that irritates people, power emoting, or deliberate disruption of other people's experience (all of which I tend to think of as "drama"), but RP where players have their characters work in opposition to one another, perhaps even in literal conflict. It might be in the form of inter-kinship rp disputes, but I'm thinking mainly of characters designed to inject some player-based danger into the mix: to play the villain, rather than to RP badly.

    I can understand reticence, simply because "baddies" can attract just the kinds of poor ettiquette and roleplaying that really ruins the experience and creates heated and unpleasant environments for players. But a good roleplayer is just going to be creating unpleasant environments for characters. I'm imagining something not too far off the kind of relationship between a gamesmaster and players in classic pen-and-paper roleplaying games: where players roleplay out antagonistic characters, but for the enjoyment of all.

    So what I'm wondering, Laurelinians, is firstly whether there is much of a tradition of this on the server, and if so, why I've been missing out. And secondly, if other RPers would be interested in a mature, structured piece of RP that employed some "PvP". I've actually got a few ideas regarding the practical logistics of doing this, as well as finding ways to get different kinships involved in competitive/conflicting goals, but I want to hear if there is any appetite or experience from others.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    The PvP aspect of roleplay can be brilliant fun and just the threat of it alone can often way how your character might react to a situation. The problem with how i see it is the LOTRO game mechanics. No matter what the background of your character, combat is still going to be majorly governed by the level difference of those involved.

    Also there is the aspect of the quality and power of an individuals gear. This is fine is the combatants are all of the maximum attainable level and equipped with same level equipment. There are no accepted rules or code of conduct where those who roleplay have agreed to only use a certain standard of equipment.

    Another interesting aspect would be if Kins could consensually 'war' each other and thus be able to enter combat with any individual without the game asking for a sparring request as long as both players are in a mutually 'warred' kinship. This is something perhaps Turbine could look into.

  3. #3
    Literal combat is certainly going to be an issue, precisely for the reasons you describe. Besides which, a player may not identify in RP with their actual class (I have a Champion, for instance, who is largely a non-combatant in-character), and there might be instances where a character wants to lose for plot purposes, but would find it very difficult to to do so in a straight-up sparring contest.

    I've heard rumours that Turbine might be playing with the possibility of virtual "de-levelling" which would solve some of those issues, but in the meantime there are perhaps things that can be done.

    "Combat" is maybe too close to fighting. I guess by "combat" or "PvP", I mean player RPers who introduce antagonistic elements into RP plots, without that necessarily meaning fighting. Characters in line with the likes of Bill Ferny, perhaps. But not just traitors and spies, but also finding ways to create believable situations in which two very good characters might end up heading for two very different, and mutually exclusive ends.

    In the end, it's the plot situations that are the means to produce opportunities for "conflict" RP. So for instance, an investigation into some shady buisness could involve a handful of characters who would RP out certain actions in "secret", allowing for other players to "discover" them, spy on them, and ultimately formulate plans to stop them.

    Some of this can be done with a bit of imagination. Most of the characters I've met in RP sessions tend to be fairly strongly in favour of doing good, and doing it the right way (Tolkien would be proud of all of us). There are of course a fair number of anti-hero types, and even a few downright scoundrels. But what about using alts specially made for providing antagonists (assuming people have a slot to spare)?

    Surnames could also be another means. All you need is a Level 15 character, and a spare cosmetic slot, and you're away. That way it's easy for players to identify a temporary human-played bandit, even if normally that toon was Sir Braver than Brave, the Gondorian knight.

    This could be extended for other uses. How about if that investigation runs across a couple of bodies: (Brave) Corpse is found lying face down in the square. Characters can "investigate" by examining it, and the player behind the corpse can provide information in the form of emote-text (and giving the player something to do):

    "/emote Sleuth takes a close look at the corpse's clothes"
    "/emote The corpse appears to be wearing rough-spun clothes, stained with the dirt of the fields"

    Wouldn't take anything more than a cosmetic slot, a quick trip to the notary, and perhaps 30 seconds to log out when the need for a corpse has passed.

    Inevitably this is going to need a bit of organisation and forethought - but it also gives players something new to do in the RP department: as well as turning up in-character, it means planning out perhaps a sequence of situations. Not plotting, and certainly not railroading, but providing events that will stimulate RP. All of this could be done without player antagonists, but the big advantage there is in doing this, is that players can respond to that RP and plan down the line. (Brave) Corpse one minute, (Brave) Bandit the next, if required, or if the characters decide to visit the archives on the Scholar's Stair instead (Brave) Librarian.

    If you've ever seen "Kind Hearts and Coronets", it's like being Alec Guinness.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Rezz Circle
    well i can see some kins who aren't all about protecting the weak and poor.(the lawless and simaler groups come to mind.) fighting other groups who are aginst their goals.(Eagle Gaurd and mabey the Mirrored Blades.) but other wise. in kinship? my one char Targel is something of a scrapper and has had a hard life most can not under stand. this has given him a violent dispostion. his distrust of elves boarders on hatered. this has lead to him coming to blows with one kin mate. and he is not on good terms with most of the others. i think that Raid vs Raid fights would not work well for level and typeing problems. but smaller say about 3v3 could work.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    NW Europe
    Quote Originally Posted by sarlinspellweaver View Post
    It just occurs to me that very little use (at least in my own RPing experience) has been made of what might be called "conflict rp" - essentially the PvP of RP. What I mean by that is not RP that irritates people, power emoting, or deliberate disruption of other people's experience (all of which I tend to think of as "drama"), but RP where players have their characters work in opposition to one another, perhaps even in literal conflict. It might be in the form of inter-kinship rp disputes, but I'm thinking mainly of characters designed to inject some player-based danger into the mix: to play the villain, rather than to RP badly.
    I think you're exaggerating here to make a point , but with this generalizing statement you ignore the high quality roleplayers providing thrilling challenges, hiding their dark intentions with subtle RP, to strike when you least expect it. But I have to admit, I have seen plenty of badly played out villain types, disregarding the environment they're in, simply marching about as imposing Lancelots with ridiculous arrays of weapons and armour.

    In my opinion, key to this type of character is to play it out subtly, to avoid drawing attention to your dark schemes in an otherwise lawabiding environment. But attention, hmmm! That's what they're after in the end...

    I think the problem with roleplaying a villain in a sandbox environment (improvised open end RP) is: how do you know for sure the victim you chose is willing to go along with your RP? Send a tell "hey, mind if I'm going to attack you" and blow away the element of surprise? Quite usually the "victim" is not ready for this RP-offer, resulting in a fail: first the victim tries to rp his way out of the situation, eventually falling back to god-moding, then OOC argument, tears and drama.

    The solution to avoid this problem is to create kinships for this purpose, like two families, caught up in a vendetta? Members of these kinships know they can expect to be challenged, without sacrificing the element of surprise. Which is, to my opinion, the most important and thrilling element of "PVP" RP. Except ofcourse the kin title would give away you're dealing with a possible adversary. OP is this what you're thinking of?

    What the others brought up: using game mechanics and sparring? I think that's to everybody's taste. But in my opinion its out of the question. Simply because the lvl 75 burglar, warden or loremaster will win. And ofcourse the fact that many roleplayers portray a type of character which has nothing to with their game role. Like a runekeeper OOC, a flower seller IC, a captain OOC, a low rank town guard in Bree, minstrel OOC and a housekeeper IC etc etc.
    Last edited by Cymaru; Jul 06 2012 at 04:29 AM.
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Bosnia & Herzegovina
    Sorry to say this, but I've had only bad experiences in PvP RP... People seem to understand RP conflict as OOC conflict as well, and they start stalking with their alt chars, involving OOC metagaming and what not... This type of RP can be only organized with serious, mature people who are willing to understand some principles in a conflict: no one is invincible.

    Also, a very important thing in PvP RP is that everyone AGREES (OOC of course) on what is going to happen with his char. Playing a non-scripted conflict will almost always lead to metagaming and that's just wrong.

  7. #7
    Sadly that is often true, BosDragon :/

    I too have experienced that I had to wonder at people, especially around Bree that in generel conflict rp, may it be with arms or words, there is often a lot of OOC tension.
    It almost seems as if an IC attack on their character is seen also as OOC attack and people get mad about it. So far even that people get bullied.

    For my part, I either ask during PvP RP if what I want to do is allright if it might be fatal or dangerous to my rp partner. That both understand each other and leave one another chances and opportunities to either rescue their character or maybe bringing him in a dangerous situation is of cause required.
    Hence I usually do this kind of RP with people I know. Taking my friend's character Edstan, I know his char and what he is capable of and so can wonderfully adjust to it.

    Then such RP is actually very fun!
    "She is blind? Then she sees more than I ever will." Amlarad, the ranger

  8. #8
    There seem to be three things everyone agrees on:

    - Sparring doesn't work. That's ok; it isn't what I was thinking of anyway.

    - Combat rarely works and is usually accompanied by hassle when it's done in walk-up RP.

    - It would need to be "scripted".

    The last point is probably the one I'm heading towards - not in the sense of "railroading" or "pre-scripting" other characters' responses (that would defeat the whole point). I'm thinking more about providing some antagonist characters specifically to provide a focus for other RPers and hopefully to inspire people to maybe do the same, so I can bring some of my characters along for the same fun.

    Would people generally be interested in some sort of scenario based RP - where, say, there is a very loose "plot" that attracts your attention? Loth i Lonnath did a great "big" campaign last summer in North Downs, but I'm thinking more small plots - bandits in Bree, a mystery to investigate etc. Not as a means of playing out a "bad" character (I don't have much interest in playing one for the long-term), but having some short sequences. Also, it would be tending away from "combat" and more towards investigation, planning, and discussion etc.

    Would that be of interest, or am I barking mad?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    I used to do conflict RP a lot in WoW some years ago but nothing in LoTRO. Nor do I intend to here right now.

    In WoW, I had a character which was a very strong villain type. People loved to hate him. IC he was that arrogant, racist, angry, distrustful, greedy guy, but he'd act all good and proper when he needed to (up to a point), especially to those of his kind.

    I feel the trick with role playing a proper villain is it's harder (but funner!) to be the subtle bad guy - not the one who just goes around kicking puppies. Bleh. Evil is good when it's nearly behind the scenes; when you can't really do anything about the guy because you can't prove or discover what he's done. You've only hints or suspect he's done something more than he gives off. If he even directly hints at anything at all..

    The other thing that's difficult is that some folks forget they're roleplaying and take in-game events or arguments as real life slights. And there are some who honestly believe that their toon IS them in game. Literally. So eh. Because of this I've almost always set-up my RP conflicts with a close friend or two who knows my character and me, and can separate both realities. Otherwise I keep it very minimal with other folks and make sure in whispers the other person knows my toon is just irritated, not the player.

    As for in-game fights: I know the dual timer in LoTRO is short, just don't know how short as I've not dueled here in maybe 2 years. I used to use the WoW one as a way to make confronting situations more realistic.

    For example, my villain used to adventure with a business partner (another villain type) as it was safer to do so than solo (and because we liked duoing ooc). They'd be out hunting targets to assassinate, and suddenly middle of a fight they might toss a few daggers at each other. Accident, of course...*ahem* Occasionally this would go into a full RP fight session with un-scripted text and such, and any mobs popping into the scene would only help the tension.

    *thinking* "The naga will surely distract him long enough for me to put a dagger in his back..."

    Of course it never got to killing each other IC (came close many times) but it built up a lot more tension and depth between these two characters. They even ended up grudgingly respecting each other for not giving in and being the others lackey or whatnot. It also made for more fun from an ooc point of view when we as players try to see if we can deliberately (and maybe subtlety) kill the other's character, or maybe see how much mob adds they can take before we have to come save the other.

    Again, I've not done a villain type in LoTRO yet. I love the idea but as it is currently I've not much time to dedicate to a full-blown villain with a strong story that can hold up to a proper Middle-Earth. But if I could be a villain here, oh I've so many ideas...

    Anywho, hopefully the above ramble will help give you some ideas. Good luck!
    Uninstalled this expac. Be back later?



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