Pathfinder: PvP?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


I didn't want to derail this thread, but I also wanted to continue the discussion. Is Pathfinder a PvP game?

The idea (hopefully without straw-manning) is that the GM makes appropriate encounters, then does everything they can within those encounters to win.

I'd say it's pretty clearly not PvP. In a PvP game, players can ONLY win by beating the other players. A TPK, while it might be fun for some GMs, seems to me to be a loss for everyone involved.

As a side note, enemies in Pathfinder are non-player characters, and the GM isn't really playing NPCs the way players are playing PCs. The only players are the PC's, so unless they are fighting it cannot be player vs. player. That might be semantics, but I think the difference between PCs and NPCs is important.


Combats are PvP as much as any game is. Like let's take WoW, if I write up a bunch of bots to play the characters and then put them into the arena are the people that fight them doing PvP? I say yes, they are doing PvP style game, regardless of the amount of humans involved.

Same for pathfinder combats. Humanoids are built the same was as players are and follow the same rules. Thus the fights are PvP fights and thus it's valid to look at classes as "needing to be semi-equal". But they aren't, that's why people would rather fight a lv20 fighter than a lv20 wizard, the fighter is far easier to manage than the wizard.


The point of a PVP game is to win against another player. Depending on mindset and a gaming group's micro-culture, that can be a goal in Pathfinder. Check out "agon" over here for reference:

https://sites.google.com/site/amagigames/the-what-i-like-glossary

However, an important caveat is that winning isn't necessarily the goal. There are plenty of other reasons to play, as the rest of that article shows.

That said, if the question is, "Can you have fun treating Pathfinder as PVP game?" then I think the answer is an emphatic yes. There are many ways to enjoy this hobby. No reason to deny their existence just because they aren't your cup of tea.


As a GM, I do not consider combat to be PvP. My goal, when piloting the monsters is not to have the monsters use the best tactics that give them the highest chance of winning the fight- I do not want the monsters to win the fight.

What I want is the monsters to do things that make sense based on their characterization and for them to make combat interesting, dynamic, and ultimately fun but at no point am I trying to "win."

If a monster can take an action that results in-
a) a tactically advantageous situation that benefits the antagonists
or
b) something funny or cool or interesting

I will choose b 100% of the time and would do it more often were it mathematically possible. As the GM I can "win" any time I want to, so that's never anywhere near to anything I'm trying to do. Assuming my players are okay with it, I will throw a combat or handwave the rest of it if it's not going a way the players are happy with. I don't see how that's compatible with a "PvP mindset."


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If I understand you correctly, the argument you are purposing is the GM is one of the players (in a sense I suppose, but the usual construction is GM is one category of person participating in the game, player is another) and that because the GM creates the opposition for the players it is therefore (always) player vs. player.

If that is the argument then it is wrong. First for the category error I mentioned above, but second for the notion that creating opposition means PvP, which also has a specific meaning in discussing games.


Normally I'd have some hesitation on this but having played 4e (and I think 5e, only did the intro), Pathfinder is definitely PvP. And by that I mean that anything the GM throws against you you can (in theory) play yourself. The kobold shaman is just a kobold with levels in... well, sorcerer usually, but that means anything they do you can replicate. Maybe with some caveats you don't want to do (worshiping Rovagug or what not) but it's not impossible. Whereas in 4e that kobold shaman is just a kobold base with a few appropriately thematic powers thrown on, scaled to the level of threat you want.

I feel the need to include that I'm not bashing 4e (I think it would have made a great strategy video game) but it's a very distinct example of Players and Monsters having wildly different rules.

It does not matter if one side (the GM) is not intending to win. People throw games all the time. It does not matter if one side is playing poorly to be funny or cool. There's probably millions of videos of someone's l33t 360 noscope headshot (that leave out the 100 that failed first). What matters is that both sides play by (basically) the same rules. Yes, the GM has way more toys available, but if the party gets killed by "the greatest Human Fighter" then one of the players can choose to play that next time around. There's rules to do that with the non-class monsters too, to be honest. Probably less utilized but the option is there.

Of course, by the strictest definition it's all PvP because PvP is just "any two live players" versus PvE which is "one or more players versus a computer". Unless someone's perfected a GMbot and isn't sharing it's always going to be PvP.


Chess Pwn wrote:
Combats are PvP as much as any game is. Like let's take WoW, if I write up a bunch of bots to play the characters and then put them into the arena are the people that fight them doing PvP? I say yes, they are doing PvP style game, regardless of the amount of humans involved.

I'd actually say this isn't PvP anymore than fighting a preprogrammed goblin is. I haven't played WoW or made bots, but I assume they use a decision making algorithm or repeat a pattern of actions. Just like a preprogrammed adversary.

That said, the two games are different. In Pathfinder, the GM loses if they "win" by beating the players.

PossibleCabbage wrote:
I do not want the monsters to win the fight... at no point am I trying to "win."

Pathfinder also doesn't fit the definition of PvP

Dave Justus wrote:
second for the notion that creating opposition means PvP, which also has a specific meaning in discussing games.

In a PvP game, real human beings are controlling characters in combat. They are on a level playing field (or can be, with time and experience), and can only win if the other players lose. This is not true in Pathfinder. The understood meaning is important. It's like how the video game industry calls everything an RPG. You might be "playing a role" but that doesn't make it an RPG. And a GM creating opposition for players doesn't make it a PvP.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If Pathfinder were a PvP game where the palyers fight against the DM... they would ALWAYS lose.


PvP is build possible via player rules vs build possible via player rules. And PvE is build possible via player rules vs build following different rules.

And so pathfinder fights are often PvP. That lv12 wizard is a lv12 wizard, everything it can do you too could do with that build. There are no "magic rules" or "GM fiat" or the likes letting him work and do his stuff.

Sure the NPCs have the disadvantage and not always played optimally. But that doesn't change the fights. If you had this on a virtual tabletop and a GM was running two tables but each table thought they were the only one and the GM had them meet up and fight neither of them would know the difference between the GM running the enemy "NPCs" and the fact that another table is running the "NPCs" (for sake of point we are excluding person specific tells and the like)

So just because the game is rigged for the players to win doesn't somehow turn the game style to non-PvP. An example for those that get it would be easy bots in league of legends. League of legends is a PvP game, even if you're against easy bots that are barely trying to win themselves and are playing intentionally non-optimal. This sounds similar to what people here are saying they do as GMs, not actually trying that hard to win and intentionally doing non-optimal things. Thus it's the same things for Pathfinder, the setup of it is a PvP game, characters built within the rules fighting characters built with the same rules. And thus it's PvP regardless of if one side is really wanting to win or plays well or whatever.

EDIT:
And this is true for so many other games as well. Street fighter type games are PvP with an easy story mode against the computer. Madden and other sports games are PvP games even though they have an easy story mode against a computer. There are tons of games that have PvP format even though you're against computers that are easy to beat.

So just because it's often not played in a competitive style with each NPC being played by an individual person. The combat of the game is that of a PvP.
PvP is a game where the enemy is something that you could be and follows the same rules you do. And that's true for pathfinder. The NPCs only win the fight if the PCs lose the fight. And the PCs only win the fight if the NPCs lose the fight.

Now if what I'm saying PvP is doesn't match your definition of PvP then that's cool. If you know of/have a better term for this thing I'm discussing then PvP style game then I'm all ears. But this is my understanding of what a PvP game means and it has nothing to do with how much either side is trying nor if their enemies are robots or people.


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I mean, I think the fundamental thing that makes Pathfinder *not* a PvP game is that the GM is not a player. The GM is a participant in the endeavor, sure, but the GM falls somewhere on the "referee" - "storyteller" continuum rather than as a player. I mean, there's a reason that we call the characters that the GM pilots "Non-Player Characters."

There's also the point where we shouldn't call something a "PvP game" unless that's pretty much all you do, whereas in a Pathfinder game a lot of what you do is not necessarily faced off against an unfriendly antagonist who is trying to kill you. Stuff like "navigating a dungeon full of traps" and "talking to people to get information/what you want" or "solving a mystery or a puzzle" are as much a core part of the game as "stabbing orcs to death."


" Humanoids are built the same was as players are and follow the same rules."

"anything the GM throws against you you can (in theory) play yourself. The kobold shaman is just a kobold with levels in... well, sorcerer usually, but that means anything they do you can replicate. "

Is there a citation for this? I don't think I've ever seen anything like that in the rules.

My vote is that no, Pathfinder is not designed to be player versus player. The GM is not called a player in any of the descriptions of her role.

PVP has, as Dave Justus notes above, a specific meaning in gaming discussions. By those definitions the GM isn't a player


PF is, essentially, whatever the group in question wants it to be. The only way to 'win' at a RPG is to have fun, after all.

If the group decides that it's fun to have all the PCs at one another's throats until last man standing, then it becomes a PvP game.


Well in this vein of talk is Dark Souls offline mode PVP or PVE? A Game Developer made the AI, a human programmed the enemies and hollows. But the machine, the AI, the game's design runs the combats. In this sense I see the GM as a "Video Game Developer" who has real time reactions. Thus making pathfinder PVE


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Chess Pwn wrote:


And so pathfinder fights are often PvP. That lv12 wizard is a lv12 wizard, everything it can do you too could do with that build. There are no "magic rules" or "GM fiat" or the likes letting him work and do his stuff.

This is objectively false. If I'm the GM and I think this goblin should have fire breath, then that goblin will have fire breath.


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Pathfinder, in general, is not PvP. In particular, the GM's goal in combat and the player's goal in combat are not the same as what one typically considers PvP (i.e., to defeat the other).

The players' goal in combat is to defeat/survive/circumvent/whatever the challenge the GM puts before them. The GM's goal in combat is to adjudicate and represent said challenge. In that respect, the GM is more referee than adversary. This is good, as if the relationship was truly adversarial, the GM would never lose (or, rather, never be forced to lose). As the saying goes, in a player-versus-GM arms race, the GM always wins.


Bob Bob Bob wrote:
It does not matter if one side (the GM) is not intending to win. People throw games all the time. It does not matter if one side is playing poorly to be funny or cool. There's probably millions of videos of someone's l33t 360 noscope headshot (that leave out the 100 that failed first). What matters is that both sides play by (basically) the same rules. Yes, the GM has way more toys available, but if the party gets killed by "the greatest Human Fighter" then one of the players can choose to play that next time around. There's rules to do that with the non-class monsters too, to be honest. Probably less utilized but the option is there.

The GM uses suboptimal tactics because they don't win by defeating the players. Simply "not trying to win" isn't the argument for PF not being PvP. It's that winning the combat doesn't equal winning the game, so the GM generally has other goals than winning a combat.

As for players and monsters being built the same way in PF, in general I don't agree with this. They use similar methods to build a stat block, but monsters (and sometimes humanoid NPCs) can have access to things players don't, and vice versa. That said, I don't think this matters. It seems like there are more definitions for PvP than I thought, but for me having an adversary on a level playing field (i.e. using the same method to get stats) is only a part of what makes a PvP game. My definition would be:

1.) Characters must be controlled by real human beings (not people who wrote code or made a bot).
2.) Players can only win if adversaries lose (not the case for Pathfinder)
3.) All players must be on a level playing field (access to the same resources, ability to recreate a character).

I don't think that 3rd point is satisfied in PF. If I as GM make a human wizard to fight my party, it doesn't matter if it has the exact same stat block as my party wizard. I can throw 50 of them at the party within the rules. But the party can only control so many characters (generally 1 per player, sometimes with a companion. Even Leadership has limits on this though). And the party doesn't have access to monsters. The player can't choose to play a demon next time around. In a true PvP, the GM would simply throw Cthulhu at their 1st level party. It would be boring, but the GM would win.


ChessPawn PVP is player vs player, not just opponent vs opponent. Otherwise everything is PvP simply because the automated bots are programmed to try to win by the designers of the game. However since games have PvP modes where you go against other players we know what the intent of PvP is when it's used.

In Pathfinder the GM is taking the role of the computer(enemy AI), and the NPC's are equal to the programmed bots in a computer game.


So explain the difference to me of my two table with the GM pitting them against each other without them knowing? Is that PvP all of a sudden? Is it magically NOW PvP even though they don't know it?

Like if there's a better term for what I'm saying share. But currently it fits my understanding of PvP. And that a PvP game is PvP regardless of if it's actually a bot controlling them or a human and regardless of if you know it's a bot or a human.

Games don't have to be highly competitive to be PvP either.


I don't think like "actual video games" where it's a player vs. CPU controlled enemies is considered PvP by anyone, but I might be wrong.

And players opposing each other outside of combat is not traditionally "PvP" in the tabletop games sphere (like every In Nomine game I've ever been in where the PCs were demons.)


If the GM is deemed a player, then RPGs (including Pathfinder) are PvP.

If the GM is not a player then then RPGs (including Pathfinder) are not PvP.

Who cares what you call it? RPGs (including Pathfinder), like any game, are played to be enjoyed, whatever terminology is placed on the real human participants. If you enjoy RPGs - play them, if not - don't.


Chess Pwn wrote:

So explain the difference to me of my two table with the GM pitting them against each other without them knowing? Is that PvP all of a sudden? Is it magically NOW PvP even though they don't know it?

Like if there's a better term for what I'm saying share. But currently it fits my understanding of PvP. And that a PvP game is PvP regardless of if it's actually a bot controlling them or a human and regardless of if you know it's a bot or a human.

Games don't have to be highly competitive to be PvP either.

That's a corner case. I wouldn't call it PVP though anymore than I'd call a dominated player attacking a team member PVP.

Your definition of PvP is not the standard use of it.

Nobody I know would call a bot vs a player PvP. Even when games, such as Splinter Cell have modes that allow you to take out bots, and aren't part of the storyline it isn't PvP.

If anything that put you against anyone was PvP then PvP servers which are typically designed for player vs player action would have a different name also.

Why have PvP servers if you have PvP all the time?

True that a game doesn't have to be competitive to be PvP, but the competition is the norm. I've played games against other players, and I've met several people who've played WoW, Everquest, and other games. No matter what games it was they typically going for the kill.

Occasionally I'd be online just goofing off or trying something new, but most people are trying to do bad things to you while avoiding bad things being done to them.


CrystalSeas wrote:

" Humanoids are built the same was as players are and follow the same rules."

"anything the GM throws against you you can (in theory) play yourself. The kobold shaman is just a kobold with levels in... well, sorcerer usually, but that means anything they do you can replicate. "

Is there a citation for this? I don't think I've ever seen anything like that in the rules.

Certain creatures, including most non-Giant humanoids, do not have Racial HD. In these cases, they have a number of adjustments that define the race, but all their HD and most of their strength comes from having class levels. The presented Aasimar (incidentally the first entry in the first bestiary) is a level 1 cleric. It's extremely easy to make a player-ready build identical to the bestiary statblock, though your ability scores won't be very good by PC standards. As for anything else in the bestiaries, they're actually very close, just with their "class" being their racial HD.

Appendix 4 of the Bestiary details using monsters as Player-controlled characters. It reccomends using standard classes for advancement since racial HD abilities are not standardized (A whale and a horse are both receiving the same type of HD: Animal type racial)

full text here:
PRD, monsters as PCs wrote:

Using one of the monsters presented in this book as a character can be very rewarding, but weighing such a character against others is challenging. Monsters are not designed with the rules for players in mind, and as such can be very unbalancing if not handled carefully.

There are a number of monsters in this book that do not possess racial Hit Dice. Such creatures are the best options for player characters, but a few of them are so powerful that they count as having 1 class level, even without a racial Hit Die. Such characters should only be allowed in a group that is 2nd-level or higher.

For monsters with racial Hit Dice, the best way to allow monster PCs is to pick a CR and allow all of the players to make characters using monsters of that CR. Treat the monster's CR as its total class levels and allow the characters to multiclass into the core classes. Do not advance such monsters by adding Hit Dice. Monster PCs should only advance through classes.

If you are including a single monster character in a group of standard characters, make sure the group is of a level that is at least as high as the monster's CR. Treat the monster's CR as class levels when determining the monster PC's overall levels. For example, in a group of 6th-level characters, a minotaur (CR 4) would possess 2 levels of a core class, such as barbarian.

Note that in a mixed group, the value of racial Hit Dice and abilities diminish as a character gains levels. It is recommended that for every 3 levels gained by the group, the monster character should gain an extra level, received halfway between the 2nd and 3rd levels. Repeat this process a number of times equal to half the monster's CR, rounded down. Using the minotaur example, when the group is at a point between 6th and 7th level, the minotaur gains a level, and then again at 7th, making him a minotaur barbarian 4. This process repeats at 10th level, making him a minotaur barbarian 8 when the group reaches 10th level. From that point onward, he gains levels normally.

GMs should carefully consider any monster PCs in their groups. Some creatures are simply not suitable for play as PCs, due to their powers or role in the game. As monster characters progress, GMs should closely monitor whether such characters are disruptive or abusive to the rules and modify them as needed to improve play.


I agree with considering PF PVP based on NPCs and PCs following the same rules. However, I think the imbalances of race, class, and feats makes it a rather lousy PVP game. Which is ok, because I see the PVP nature of the game as secondary objective.

Scarab Sages

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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

I think it is a misconception that it is PC's vs GM.

That being said, you can play with that mentality if you choose.

This may not seem like a full argument, but it is what it boils down to. The perception of the game. Perception is almost 100% subjective. Therefore, before answering if Pf is a PvP game you have to answer whether the game is PCs vs GM or not.


Obscure citations wrote:

Appendix 4 of the Bestiary details using monsters as Player-controlled characters. It reccomends using standard classes for advancement since racial HD abilities are not standardized (A whale and a horse are both receiving the same type of HD: Animal type racial)

** spoiler omitted **
...

No, that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm asking for citations that back up the claim that the game requires GMs to create NPCs and opponents using the same rules that players use to create PCs.

I don't believe there is any such rule in Pathfinder. It's certainly not true in Starfinder.

GMs can give opponents and NPCs all kinds of attributes and weapons and other items that would not be allowed for PCs.

Two people claimed that the opponents and NPCs are built the same as the players and that players can replicate anything the GM throws at them.

That's simply not true


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I don't really think it's PVP, because the GM is more of a facilitator. They do still have fun, but their role is separate.

You can run it as a PVP, but it wasn't really designed for that, and countless other games would probably do it better.


All of the "follows the same rules" stuff is irrelevant, the real thing that makes Pathfinder not a Player vs Player game is the fact that victory condition for the GM is not to win.

GM's victory condition is the exact opposite. GM wants to lose. GM wants his player to win. He is both omnipotent in his power over his players, but can only ever be the loser, because his content is built to be beat. Successful gamemastering involves holding the illusion of danger while actually presenting none. Chainsaw with no chain. The roar of the engine with no actual bite.

What kind of PvP game makes it default for one and the same side to always lose? A poor one.


CrystalSeas wrote:
Obscure citations wrote:

Appendix 4 of the Bestiary details using monsters as Player-controlled characters. It reccomends using standard classes for advancement since racial HD abilities are not standardized (A whale and a horse are both receiving the same type of HD: Animal type racial)

** spoiler omitted **

No, that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm asking for citations that back up the claim that the game requires GMs to create NPCs and opponents using the same rules that players use to create PCs.

I don't believe there is any such rule in Pathfinder. It's certainly not true in Starfinder.

GMs can give opponents and NPCs all kinds of attributes and weapons and other items that would not be allowed for PCs.

Two people claimed that the opponents and NPCs are built the same as the players and that players can replicate anything the GM throws at them.

That's simply not true

The game doesn't require anything. People houserule the @#$% out of it. Rule zero specifically exists to grant those exceptions. From the section on adding class levels to a monster:
Monster Advancement wrote:

Next, add the class levels to the monster, making all of the necessary additions to its HD, hit points, BAB, CMB, CMD, feats, skills, spells, and class features. If the creature possesses class features (such as spellcasting or sneak attack) for the class that is being added, these abilities stack. This functions just like adding class levels to a character without racial Hit Dice.

It literally says "functions just like".

That still doesn't affect the main point, whatever fancy monster the GM makes up is fair game for being played by the player. The Monsters as PCs rule has no restrictions I can find. If they can fight it, the players can play it. Yes, the GM can say no. Every GM has the option of saying yes though, with more rules support than adding eye lasers to a goblin (seriously, the monster creation rules suck).


CrystalSeas wrote:


No, that's not what I'm talking about.

I'm asking for citations that back up the claim that the game requires GMs to create NPCs and opponents using the same rules that players use to create PCs.

I don't believe there is any such rule in Pathfinder. It's certainly not true in Starfinder.

GMs can give opponents and NPCs all kinds of attributes and weapons and other items that would not be allowed for PCs.

Two people claimed that the opponents and NPCs are built the same as the players and that players can replicate anything the GM throws at them.

That's simply not true

You won't get that citation because anyone who has played the game for longer than week knows it doesn't exist.

The GM can do anything he wants due to rule 0, and even if it didn't exist nobody is going to steal his GM'ing license. The game assumes that the rules will be followed however.

In addition most people don't think that the players can do anything that the NPC's/monsters can do. Whoever said that plays at a different table than the rest of us, and should be addressed separately.

edit: If two people or a small amount say something crazy that the majority of those disagreeing with you are not likely too support it's bad form to apply to everyone who disagrees with you. People opposing can still have different arguments from each other.


I consider PF primarily a cooperative game, rooted in an ancient game where four heroes had to work closely together to survive deadly dungeons of doom. PF is flexible enough to make a PVP game out of it, but you could also have an entire campaign with PCs talking about ponys or players just making up builds to be evaluated by the others. So no, in general I don't consider PF a PVP game, pony talk game or build presentation game.

I don't see the GM as a competing player, either, and the CRB seems to show the same opinion:

CRB, page 12 wrote:
Game Master (GM): A Game Master is the person who adjudicates the rules and controls all of the elements of the story and world that the players explore. A GM’s duty is to provide a fair and fun game.

There are players and GMs who get into a competitive mood - which is fine as long as everyone involved is ok with that.


Pink Dragon wrote:

If the GM is deemed a player, then RPGs (including Pathfinder) are PvP.

If the GM is not a player then then RPGs (including Pathfinder) are not PvP.

Who cares what you call it? RPGs (including Pathfinder), like any game, are played to be enjoyed, whatever terminology is placed on the real human participants. If you enjoy RPGs - play them, if not - don't.

I don't think this is true. The GM is a player, but is not an adversary. So it's not PvP. As for why have the discussion, I agree it really doesn't matter what anyone calls it. I still think it's an interesting conversation to have. I've learned about how people define PvP, and while I don't agree with some of those definitions I am glad to have learned them.

As for the "follows the same rules" arguments, even if the players play NPC classes, PC classes, or just monsters, they will never have the same resources as the GM. The GM can always open another page in the bestiary. The players can't. The GM can always just give that monster a breath weapon. The players can't. Besides, in a PvP game, your adversary doesn't determine what resources you get like the GM determines resources in PF. That said, this:

Envall wrote:

All of the "follows the same rules" stuff is irrelevant, the real thing that makes Pathfinder not a Player vs Player game is the fact that victory condition for the GM is not to win.

GM's victory condition is the exact opposite. GM wants to lose. GM wants his player to win. He is both omnipotent in his power over his players, but can only ever be the loser, because his content is built to be beat. Successful gamemastering involves holding the illusion of danger while actually presenting none. Chainsaw with no chain. The roar of the engine with no actual bite.

What kind of PvP game makes it default for one and the same side to always lose? A poor one.

I can understand how people might call Pathfinder a PvP. But it doesn't fit the regular definition of a true PvP, which has a few universal attributes.


This discussion usually goes like this:

A: "Fighters have less power potential than Wizards and that's bad!"
B: "Who cares? It's not PvP, it's PvE!" (I.e., since the PC Fighter isn't trying to kill the PC Wizard it doesn't matter.)
A: "But you're fighting enemies who are often built using PC classes! It's effectively PvP with the GM controlling one side!" (I.e., The consequences of power imbalance are the same either way.)
B: "But the GM isn't trying to win!"
A: "But the NPCs the GM is controlling are trying to win, and it breaks realism if the GM doesn't play them that way!"

Since A is playing in a game where the GM is running an adventure path as written, and B is playing in a homebrew game where the GM is creating challenges based around the overall power level of the group, they're both right from their own perspective.


The GM is not a player, they are the Game Master.

Ergo, your standard game of "GM creates challenges for the PCs to deal with" is not at all what people mean when they say player vs player (PVP). That standard type of game is called player vs enemy (PVE).

Regardless of how you might personally feel about the topic, those are the commonly accepted definitions and trying to redefine them to mean something else that fits with your view is a Sisyphean task.

Also, GMs don't necessarily play by the same rules player characters are required to play by. And a GMs goal is to challenge PCs, but not to kill them. If the GM "wins" by killing the party the adventure ends or they retcon or they have to come up with some (usually poor) reason why the PCs survive and have a chance to escape.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

In Computer Games, there's the differentiation between PvE and PvP settings. In PvE, the program provides the setting and the story as well as the opponents, but it generally has not the goal of beating the players but to give them an apropriate challenge. in PvP, the program provides the setting but it's to the players to use the setting's possibilities to compete with each other. And story is ultimatively irrelevant as the game is about players competing on the player level, not about any ingame competition between the characters (even is some story is provided like Horde vs. Alliance in WoW)

To me, GMing is comparable to the role of a computer program in a PvE environment. I'm providing the setting, part of the plot and the opponents for the players to beat. But as I'm not competing with the other players in any meaningful way, I don't think that this should be called PvP.

Dammit, and now that I've written this, I see that Claxon already did it for me. ^^


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The argument that Pathfinder is PvP (in the non-literal sense of "has some things in common with PvP") was first made known to me
here.

The Exchange

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Matthew Downie wrote:
The argument that Pathfinder is PvP (in the non-literal sense of "has some things in common with PvP")

Maybe that's where my disconnect with this comes from. If someone says the first, my brain will never translate it into the second, so I'll be immediately inclined to disagree with that statement.

On the other hand, I'd probably agree with the claim that it has some things in common with PvP.

Still, in the end it comes down to this for me:

PVP = players playing against each other

As a Pathfinder GM I'm not playing against the players, I'm playing with them. So no PvP.


Matthew Downie wrote:

The argument that Pathfinder is PvP (in the non-literal sense of "has some things in common with PvP") was first made known to me

here.

Except that was not about whether Pathfinder was PvP or not, it just read as "Pathfinder is not actually a deterministic video game program!" which caused just confusion in the thread.


Yeah, I think the whole thing is a confusing sidetrack. It's basically:
A: "Class balance is important!"
B: "No it isn't, because it's not PvP!"
A: "It is PvP, because (reasons)!"
B: "That's not what PvP means!"
A: "Are you saying the GM isn't a player? Are you saying GMs aren't allowed to have fun?"

When the actual point they were originally trying to make was:
A: "Class balance is important!"
B: "No it isn't, because it's not PvP!"
A: "But we're still playing in a system where GMs are trying to provide challenges to the party in which the whole party can participate. If the classes aren't balanced, then the CR system fails, because the CR system is based on the assumption that a Rogue or Fighter is equal to a Wizard or Druid at any level..."


Indeed, PVP has certain connotations. It requires player characters fighting other player characters, and both sides are trying to beat the other with the best of their abilities. GMs are not counted as players because their goal isn't (or at least shouldn't be) to beat the players. GM goals should be to challenge the players and make an interesting and fun story, but beating your players means the end of the campaign. Also as the GM you literally have unlimited power within the confines of the game. You can make the challenges however difficult you want.

You want an enemy that has infinite SP, +50 on all saves, a crit threat range of 2-20 with an attack bonus of +100, gets 20 extra attacks per round, and casts as a 9th level druid, wizard, cleric, etc. That's within your power as a GM. Your players will probably complain and not take you seriously, but technically whatever you say goes as the GM. You automatically win, if you want to as the GM. That's why your goal isn't to beat the players.

Now, just because the goal of the game isn't for the GM to beat the players, and the players should act as a team doesn't mean that the game doesn't have a certain amount of competitiveness between players within it. Players often want to be "the best" at whatever they're doing. And when two players are trying to do the same thing there is often resentment when you're not as good at your designated task as another character. Even worse is when your character isn't capable of even attempting something like other characters can. And this is where the caster martial divide begins.

The rogue is stealthy, he might be able to sneak through the whole castle to retrieve the McGuffin. The wizard can, in conjunction with other magic and little personal risk, teleport to the McGuffin, take it and teleport back out unless the GM specifically prevents that sort of activity.

And that really represents the problem. GMs specifically have to build things to counter the things casters can do, or they trivialize many situations the GM might create to challenge the players.


Sure, Pathfinder has things in common with PvP. But it also has things in common with a RTS. That doesn't make it a RTS.

Class balance is important, but that doesn't make it PvP. If all that makes a PvP is having players and enemies with similar statistics, then almost all games are PvP, and the name is meaningless. The arguments for PF being PvP will never get around the fact that the GM is not an opponent. The NPCs are, but they don't represent the GM the way a PC represents a player in the game world. If the party wins, the GM wins; so if PF is PvP, who is the opposing player? Because the GM does not qualify.

Again, the GM is trying to win. But their win conditions are not met by killing the party. This is true in both an AP and a homebrew.


Claxon wrote:
The wizard can, in conjunction with other magic and little personal risk, teleport to the McGuffin, take it and teleport back out unless the GM specifically prevents that sort of activity.

The GM can usually prevent this by using Paizo's anti-scry-and-fry guidelines...

Ultimate Intrigue, page 159 wrote:
Teleport: Teleport is like dimension door, but adds considerably to the range and versatility. However, it is important to note that teleport has several special limitations built into the spell. For one thing, the caster needs to know both the layout of the destination as well as where it is physically located. If the caster has managed to use divinations to see the layout of a secret hideout, it still won’t do any good unless she knows where it is.


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PvP is player versus player. One player is trying to beat another player.

PvE is player versus environment. One player is trying to defeat challenges created by the environment.

The GM is not a "player." He create the world and the story. In other words, he creates the environment. The GM may create NPCs in that environment that play by the same rules that the PCs do - but he may create many others that don't. PCs don't follow the same rules that lots of monsters do. Monsters can have new abilities or feats or classes or whatever else the GM wants to put on them. PCs can't.


I consider most Pathfinder games to be the exact opposite of PvP.

In almost every D&D-style RPG table I've sat at in 40 years, the game has been cooperative. Cooperative games are the opposite of PvP. All the players are working together to achieve a common goal, rather than working to oppose one another.

Pathfinder could be used to create a PvP style scenario, such as a last-man-standing type gladiatorial arena where all the players are thrown in. However, the nature of games like Pathfinder make true PvP difficult and impractical to pull off. Character creation takes time, and the combats take time. If you play true PvP, the players who's characters have been taken out get to sit around doing nothing while the rest of the PvP scenario is resolved. It's not like a computer PvP game where your reset is super fast, and you're able to jump right back into the action.

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