On The Design of Five Oaths, PvP, and Secrets

Before the next game we would like to take the chance to discuss some of the intentions and expectations behind Five Oaths’ game design. 

On PvE and the Spirit of the Game

The main source of challenge in Five Oaths is intended to be Player vs Environment (PvE) conflict, whether that’s players fighting off monsters attacking the camp, pitting their wits against puzzles and traps in an ancient tomb, or negotiating a compromise between hostile parties.

Player vs Player (PvP) conflicts are not intended to be the focus in this game. Rivalry and competition are expected, but it is intended to primarily take place in terms of who can make the greatest name for themselves as a Galloglaigh; who can earn the respect of their peers and win the admiration of the Riders and Iarlas. Challenging another player character for an officer role, heated debates over politics, theology or metaphysics, or resolving your differences of opinion with nonlethal duels can all be fun additions to the game, but fundamentally the player characters are all assumed to be on the same side. 

Forms of PvP where characters are actively working against the interests of other members of the band including lethal PvP are difficult by design; this form of play should be rare. If you want to plan and carry out a secret murder, plot and game design will not facilitate this by providing you with opportunities for conspiring or acting without witnesses, you will have to create them for yourself. Choosing to betray a bandmate, or the band as a whole is possible but should be a risky choice with serious potential consequences and should not be taken lightly.

Group vs Group conflicts are not an intended feature of the game. While group backgrounds are accepted as a way of facilitating linked backstories, groups are not intended to function as autonomous units competing against each other, or the band as a whole, for resources.

On Secrets In-Game

Secrets and control of information is something that will come up from time to time in game, and this should follow the principles outlined above. Most of it should be player versus environment; for example, keeping an employer in the dark about something you did while carrying out their mission or being cautious about what you say in the earshot of a monster you’ve brought back to camp for questioning. PvP control of information, particularly keeping information within groups, is not encouraged. In fact, players are encouraged to share information with other player characters and making discoveries and resolving plotlines is likely to depend on disseminating information widely; the more PCs know about a mystery the band is trying to solve, the more chance that someone will be able to spot a clue or know what questions to ask when they run into a relevant NPC in camp or out on a mission. As with active PvP, secret-keeping is allowed but should be difficult and will not be facilitated by plot or game design.

Our intention is to make a game where every player feels that they can get involved in the game and enjoy it. Given the size and format of the game, having a lot of PvP action, particularly group PvP, would be very likely to create a situation where newer players, players without groups, smaller groups, etc would find it difficult to compete with larger, more experienced, or more established groups for plot opportunities, information, or resources, meaning that a lot of players would feel like they couldn’t get involved and could not enjoy the game. 

In-character your success is largely dependent on the success of the band as a whole and you’ve sworn a binding oath of loyalty to them, so both self preservation and virtue demand that you cooperate. Out of character, we all want to keep this game welcoming and accessible. So look out for opportunities to share information and get others involved wherever you can.

The Five Oaths Team