Lost Pages of Taborea: PvP culture

Even though I'm not a very competitive player, I sometimes like having the additional options found in PvP servers. In fact, my main character has been on one since Runes of Magic's open beta, and I've come to really appreciate the fun that can be had on it. Simply being a spectator of all the random and exciting fights has been enough to outweigh the annoyance of being a target for more than a few gankings.

RoM's fully open PvP system makes for an interesting cultural perspective in which the players create the equilibrium of peace and conflict. It may be surprising -- or not -- given the somewhat harsh rules, but life on a PvP server is a fairly peaceful experience. This week I take a look at the past and present of RoM's PvP system. What are some of the system's implementations? How have players adjusted to self-govern? Why isn't there rampant chaos? It's an interesting learning experience if you're new to RoM or you've never played on a PvP server, but it's also a great retrospective for you veterans to get involved with.
There really isn't that much difference between now and the first days of open beta. Frogster primarily toned down the gank-a-rific-ness of the PK system by adding short-term PK Protection, thus ending overly grievous spawn-camping. Camping still occurs around mailboxes and auction house clerks, but it isn't near the extent it was before protection buffs were added. Also, I've mentioned before about the PK button being changed from forcing a 10-minute cool-down to the ability to instantly turn off PK-mode whenever a player wants. Gone are the days of a player turning PK on, then running around zones like a chicken with its head cut off trying to avoid any and all contact as the 10 minutes count down. Guilds would seek out and share secret hiding spots where players could safely go AFK while waiting for PK or red-status to wear-off. Those spots are still there for people who have accrued a lot of negative rep, but the few players PKing to that extent are tougher than most, which drastically reduces the need for many to hide.

There's also never been a lot of griefing. It's possible to kill someone locked in PvE combat and weaken him so the mob can finish the job and the victim accrues experience debt, but it's usually a one-time thing. Anyone trying to repeat the offense will find the victim can easily run or teleport away.

The new system is on the nicer side, but it's still seen as pretty harsh by the current player-base. I can only imagine what Darkfall fans would make of all the people wanting RoM's PvP to be more like World of Warcraft's. It isn't all non-stop crying to change the current system though, as much as just tweaking parts of it. Most complaints seem centered around the ability to instantly switch an entire set of gear with the click of a button. Players locked in combat watch their health gauge and simply click-remove everything right before dying to protect gear from getting looted. Apart from that, no one is really screaming for the entire system to be overhauled, and players have adjusted to the system in some interesting ways.

Having the ability to gank or be ganked by anyone, anywhere, at anytime seems like it would create anarchy and make it impossible for anyone to do anything besides hide in his guild house or castle. The reality is, through this system the players have more control over governing the peace, and there are reasons many of them don't simply go on crazy non-stop killing sprees. A very social aspect of PK trading has arisen from lots of highly sought-after bound items. It doesn't behoove people to get on each other's bad sides and risk being ostracized by the community. Guilds also form alliances, because guild wars, guild sieges, and many high-level instances require a lot of cooperation. Many guilds will create these alliances, provide private chat channels for behind-the-scenes governing of these peace treaties and go to great lengths to maintain a good public image. If someone does go PK-nuts, an administration of guild players quickly gets involved. Through fear of being kicked from the guild or being exposed as a jerk to anyone and everyone, the PKing goes away or stays to a minimum, with many friendly players being safe from future pulverizing. What all this has resulted in is more people complaining that PvP is full of carebears, rather than any other problems players might see with the system.

There's still an element of danger from rogue players, and I get PKed a fair amount -- depending on what zone I'm in. Playing for only a few days will have anyone recognizing regular PKers and learning where not to be and when. Some ambitious PKers have become infamous as they regularly go on killing sprees and leave no zone safe. I still don't think it's been like the crazy days of open beta with much larger groups having stand-offs all the time. I remember at any given time there were dozens of players hanging outside Obsidian Stronghold waging war. It was usually a collection of two guilds that would square off between Obsidian's Battle Square and the nearest spawn point. One side always tried to maintain its footing nearest the entrance to the city, because if an opposing player got close enough, the NPC guards would recognize him for being red-named and attack. I miss those days full of fun-filled combat and just don't think PvP of that scope exists anymore.

I keep waiting for a guild to secretly form and stay quiet until it's fully geared all its members. Then, when all of Taborea is happily leveling, crafting, and raiding, a thunderstorm of hooves sweeps through all the zones as a large group of deadly horsemen mercilessly slaughter its way through the entire world. It's very possible, but when players end up investing so much time into RoM, they start caring about the social structure, that is very important to any MMO.

What keeps you from throwing inhibitions to the wind and PKing everyone in sight? Is it the relationship your guild has with other guilds? Do you simply not feel you're strong enough? Or, is it something I've left out entirely? If any of you has gone on -- or has been witness to -- wild killing-sprees, I'd love to hear about them.
This article was originally published on Massively.