Player vs player combat can be some of the most challenging and rewarding experiences in Dungeons and Dragons (DND).
Here is what you need to know about DND player vs player (PvP):
Run a DND player vs player one-shot or campaign by establishing clear rules, choosing an arena, balancing player power, using fun and creative ideas, and keeping the results outside of standard gameplay and canon. Players can even build new characters for player vs player battles.
In this ultimate guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to run player vs player in DND.
What Is DND Player Vs Player?
DND Player vs Player, or “PvP”, is when players combat against other player characters.
In a PvP environment, players typically form two teams – usually of equal size – and battle against each other until one team is defeated or forced to retreat.
There are many different ways to set up a PvP encounter.
The most common method is to use a tournament-style format, in which each team is assigned a specific goal, such as capturing a key location or eliminating all of the enemy’s forces.
The winner is typically determined by whichever team accomplished their objective first.
Though, in some cases, the victor may be decided by who has inflicted the most casualties on the opposing team.
What You Need To Run a Successful Player Vs Player in DND
There are a few things you need to successfully run a DND player vs player competition.
- PvP rules
- PvP arena (or setting)
- PvP characters
- PvP balance
- PvP tools and resources
Player vs Player Rules
It’s exceedingly helpful to set some ground rules and expectations before you begin a PvP battle.
Doing so can and will prevent a lot of in-group conflict and drama.
Here are a few example rules for running player vs player combat in D&D:
- Establish that the PvP is not canon. In other words, the events of the battle do not actually happen in the game world and have no bearing on the story or plot.
- The PvP should not be personal. This means that players should avoid targeting each other’s characters specifically, and instead focus on general strategies.
- There is a clear objective or goal. This is how the players will know who won. It can be knocking the other player out, solving a puzzle, or retrieving an item before other players.
- Define limitations. The game master should set physical limitations (the area of combat) and clearly define any limitations to actions (ie., is magic allowed, can characters seek outside help, etc).
- Set a time limit or deadline for the battle. This will help to keep things from dragging on too long and will increase the sense of urgency (Example: 5-10 rounds).
- Reset Between Rounds. After each battle, contest, or competition, everything “resets.” Characters regain hit points, spells, and abilities. Traps reset. Everything “starts over” just as it was before the first round of PvP.
- Follow Normal Combat Rules. For example, roll for initiative, attacks, and damage. Take turns. Anything outside of official combat rules should be discussed before PvP starts.
- Answer any questions that players may have before starting the battle. This will help everyone to be on the same page and avoid any confusion mid-fight.
Along with rules, make sure to establish expectations.
For example, in one PvP battle, players might not be able to use magic.
In another, players can ONLY use magic. In yet another, players can only use a SINGLE spell chosen before the battle at random.
I love these ideas because they remind players that PvP is not “real” gameplay with lasting consequences.
That’s also why I like to use creative settings, characters, and objectives.
Keep in mind that these rules are meant as general guidelines.
Feel free to add, delete, replace, or change them to fit your style of gameplay, players, and preferences.
DND PvP Arena
When it comes to PvP combat, there are few things more important than having a good arena.
An arena is an enclosed space where players can fight one another without having to worry about outside interference.
This can be anything from a simple ring of ropes to a complex maze with traps and obstacles.
Regardless of its size or complexity, an arena provides a fair and safe environment for players to test their skills against one another.
Here are 10 examples of arenas that would be perfect for DND player vs player combat:
- The Coliseum – A massive stadium with thousands of seats for spectators. Players would fight in the center of the arena, surrounded by a raised platform where onlookers can watch the action.
- The Dragon’s Lair – A huge cavernous space with lava pits and dangerous creatures lurking in the shadows. Players would have to be careful not to fall into the lava or get snatched up by a dragon.
- The Maze – A complex series of interconnected rooms and corridors, with multiple ways to reach the center. Players would need to be strategic in their movements, lest they get lost in the maze.
- The Stronghold – A fortified castle with high walls and numerous turret positions. Players would need to use all their skills to breach the stronghold and take down their opponents.
- The Temple – A sacred place dedicated to one of the gods of DND lore. Players could battle atop a floating platform in the middle of the temple, surrounded by statues and guardian angels.
- The Tower – A tall structure with multiple floors, connected by staircases and elevators. Players could fight on any level of the tower, making for some very exciting battles.
- The Battlefield – A wide open space with hills, trees, and other natural features. Players would need to make use of cover and terrain advantage in order to win the battle.
- The Dungeon – A dark and dangerous place full of traps and monsters. Players would have to brave through hordes of enemies in order to reach the final boss chamber.
- The Underworld – A eerie place populated by ghosts and other undead creatures. Players would have to keep their wits about them as they battle their way through this treacherous realm.
- The Void – An infinite blackness where players battle in complete darkness. This would be a true test of strength and endurance, as players would have to rely on their other senses just to stay alive.
You could also use a city street at night, an island, or a submerged ship.
DND PvP Build
Put simply, a PvP build is a character built specifically for DND Player vs Player combat.
This means that they’re often highly specialized.
Usually customized for the specific type of PvP and sometimes focused on dealing as much damage as possible, as quickly as possible.
While this might not sound like much fun, it’s actually a great way to test your skills against other players.
Let’s look at a few good examples of DND PvP builds:
- The Glass Cannon. This build is all about dealing massive amounts of damage, even at the expense of durability.
- The Tank. As the name implies, this build is focused on being tough to take down, allowing them to soak up damage and protect their allies (if they have any).
- The Classic Fighter. This tried-and-true build is great for front-line combat and can easily take down opponents with little fuss.
- The Support. This build specializes in providing buffs and debuffs to their allies and enemies respectively, giving them a significant advantage in combat.
- The Beastmaster. A warrior who fights alongside ferocious beasts.
- The Controller. This build focuses on controlling the battlefield with various abilities, making it difficult for opponents to fight back effectively.
- The Melee Specialist. This build is focused on getting up close and personal with their opponents, using their powerful melee attacks to take them down.
- The Ranged Specialist. This build keeps their distance from their opponents, using long-range attacks to pick them off from safety.
- The Dual-Wielding Rogue. A popular choice for those who like to use multiple weapons at once, this build excels at quickly dispatching foes before they have a chance to strike back.
- The Assassin. A nimble fighter who specializes in dealing quick, deadly strikes.
- The Caster. A flexible build that revolves around spells and spellcasting, the caster is perfect for those who like to mix things up in combat.
- The Elementalist. This build uses magic to control the elements themselves, unleashing powerful attacks against their foes.
- The Necromancer. This dark and twisted build raises the dead to do their bidding, using them as an undead army to overwhelm opponents.
- The Conjurer. This build summons various creatures to do their bidding, using them as additional muscle in combat situations.
- The Polymorph. This build changes their form into that of another creature entirely, giving them access to that creature’s abilities and strengths.
The perfect build possesses strengths that match the competition.
If you’re battling it out in a coliseum, you probably want a tank character. On the other hand, if the PvP competition relies on stealth in a city setting, you might want a light and quick character.
DND PvP Balance
PvP balance is important for running a successful DND Player vs Player battle or contest.
Without PvP balance, one side would have a clear advantage over the other, making the battle or contest unfair and one-sided.
Here are 10 examples of how to bring balance into DND PvP:
- Make sure both sides have equal numbers of players.
- Make sure both sides have similar levels of experience.
- Make sure both sides have access to the same resources.
- Make sure both sides have the same objectives.
- Make sure both sides have the same level of motivation.
- Make sure both sides have the same level of skill.
- Make sure both sides are equally prepared.
- Make sure both sides understand the rules and regulations.
- Make sure both sides feel they have a fair chance of winning.
- Finally, make sure both sides are willing to abide by the decisions of the game master.
DND Tools and Resources
I highly recommend that you use every resource and tool at your disposal when running PvP.
Here is a list of tools and resources to use:
- DND maps (For example, DND Mansion Maps)
- DND miniatures
- DND dice
- DND AI writer – Jasper (generate characters, descriptions, and adventures)
- DND Rulebooks (see chart below)
|Recommended D&D Resources||Price|
|D&D Core Rulebook Set||Check the latest price|
|D&D Rules Expansion Set||Check the latest price|
|D&D Dice Set||Check the latest price|
|D&D Accessories Bag||Check the latest price|
DND Player Vs Player Tips
While PvP can be an enjoyable way to test one’s skills against other player characters, it can also lead to heated arguments and even real-life feuds.
As such, it’s important to remember that PvP is just a game.
Winning or losing doesn’t necessarily mean anything in the grand scheme of things.
With that said, here are a few tips for those looking to get into the world of DND Player vs Player:
- Find a group of people you trust and enjoy playing with. This is perhaps the most important factor for having a good time in any D&D game, but it becomes doubly important when engaging in PvP. After all, nobody wants to play with people who are constantly trying to one-up each other or start arguments.
- Know your audience. Before planning any sort of PvP event, it’s important to understand the personalities and preferences of your players. Some might be competitive and thrive on the cutthroat nature of PvP, while others might prefer a more cooperative play style. There’s no right or wrong answer here, but understanding your players will help you to create an event that everyone can enjoy.
- Set clear rules and boundaries before beginning play. This will help ensure that everyone knows what they’re getting into and prevent any misunderstandings from happening mid-game.
- Keep the rules simple. The more complex the rules are, the more likely it is that they’ll be broken or abused.
- Be clear about what counts as cheating. Cheating can ruin PvP, so it’s important that everyone knows what constitutes cheating beforehand.
- Use handicaps. If a player is overpowered for a PvP, enact some limitations to make the battle more balanced.
- Change something. In my experience, change helps the players remember that PvP is outside of canon. I also think it helps them take the PvP less personally. Change the character’s name, make a completely new build, or use a new item.
- Make sure there’s something at stake. The players should have something to fight for, whether it’s glory, treasure, or just the satisfaction of victory. Without something on the line, it’ll just be a bunch of people rolling dice and getting nowhere.
- Keep things moving. A good contest should be exciting and fast-paced. If it starts to drag, spice things up with some unexpected twists and turns.
- Set a time limit. This will help keep things from dragging on too long and will allow all players to experience multiple rounds of PvP gameplay.
- Don’t take sides. As the game master, you should remain impartial throughout the contest. It’s not fair to play favorites or give anyone an unfair advantage.
- Be flexible with the rules. If something isn’t working out as intended, feel free to change it on the fly.
- Make it fun. At the end of the day, a PvP event should be enjoyable for all involved. This means striking a balance between challenge and reward, and ensuring that there are plenty of opportunities for players to show off their skills. Above all else, remember that fun should be the top priority.
- Don’t take things too seriously. Like we said before, D&D is just a game. So have fun with it. trash talk your opponents, make light of bad rolls, and most importantly, don’t be a sore loser (or winner).
DND PvP Tips for Players
When you’re an actual player in a DND player vs player battle, here are some of my best tips:
- Don’t be afraid to go all out. This is a battle, after all.
- Know your opponent. Study their strengths and weaknesses before engaging them in combat.
- Use terrain to your advantage. Take cover behind obstacles and use the high ground to get the upper hand.
- Stay on the move. Standing still makes you an easy target.
- Don’t get surrounded. Fighting multiple opponents at once is never an advantageous position to be in. If possible, try to pick them off one by one instead of getting caught in the middle of a free-for-all.
- Remain calm. In the heat of combat, it can be easy to lose your head. But if you let emotions like anger or fear take control, you’re more likely to make a mistake that could cost you dearly. Stay focused and think clearly to maintain the advantage.
- Keep an eye on your surroundings. Be aware of potential traps and hazards that could put you at a disadvantage.
- Use teamwork. Coordinate with your teammates to take down your opponents more effectively.
- Attack when your opponents are weakest. Find openings in their defenses and exploit them.
- Strike first, strike hard. The best defense is often a good offense. If you can take out your opponent before they have a chance to retaliate, you’ll come out on top every time.
- Be strategic. Think ahead and plan your moves carefully to gain an advantage over your opponents.
- Know when To retreat. There is no shame in admitting defeat and retreating when necessary. Sometimes it’s best to live to fight another day.
- Stay focused. Don’t let anything distract you from the task at hand. Any lapse in concentration could cost you the battle or contest.
- Don’t get cocky. Confidence is key in any battle, but overconfidence can be lethal. Remember that even the weakest opponent can take you by surprise.
- Think outside the box. In any contest, creativity can be just as important as brute force.
- Be prepared for anything. Expect the unexpected and be ready for anything that comes your way.
- Always be learning. Learn from your losses and successes alike to become a better player overall.
- Be flexible and adaptable. Things rarely go according to plan in a PvP, so be prepared to adjust on the fly.
DND Battle Royale
A DND battle royale is when a group of adventurers – typically between 3 and 6 players – are all put into the same area with the objective of being the last one standing.
Oftentimes, there will be items or objectives scattered around the area.
This adds another layer of strategy to the game.
The most important thing to remember in a DND battle royale is that it’s every adventurer for themselves. In other words, don’t get attached to your party members because they’ll probably end up stabbing you in the back – figuratively or literally.
There are many different ways to set up a DND battle royale.
Sometimes, the dungeon master will simply throw all of the players into an arena and let them fight it out until only one is left standing.
Other times, the players may be given specific objectives to complete in addition to defeating each other.
For example, the players may have to retrieve a magical artifact from the center of the arena while also fighting off their opponents.
DND PvP Ideas
Your idea will make or break a DND player vs player combat scenario.
The better your idea, the better your PvP.
Here are 10 good DND PvP ideas:
- Desert combat. What better way to test one’s mettle than by engaging in combat in a hostile desert environment? Players could battle each other using long-range weapons or engage in hand-to-hand combat, using the sand to their advantage.
- Chariot races. Two teams of charioteers racing across the desert (or another terrain), trying to reach the finish line first. Hitting and ramming opponents’ chariots is encouraged.
- Dragon riding. Two dragons, their riders mounted on their backs, engaged in aerial combat.
- Castle siege. One team tries to take over an enemy castle or fortification, while the other team defends it. Can be done with traditional castle siege equipment (such as battering rams and catapults) or magic-based attacks/defenses.
- Rescue mission. One team has been captured by the enemy and imprisoned in their stronghold; the other team must infiltrate the stronghold, rescue their comrades, and escape before they are caught themselves. Can be done as a stealth mission or an all-out assault.
- Escape room. In an escape room, players are locked in a room together and have to work together to solve puzzles and find a way out.
- Confined spaces. Set the PvP battle in a room, cave, or labyrinth.
- King of the Hill. Players battle to control a central point on the map. The longer a player controls the point, the more points they score. The first player to reach the score limit wins.
- Shipwrecked. Stranded on a deserted island with only your wits and whatever you can find to survive, including other players.
- Juggernaut. One player is randomly chosen to be the Juggernaut, who is much tougher than normal players but moves slower. The Juggernaut’s goal is to defeat as many players as possible before being defeated themselves. The last surviving player wins.
For even more DND Player vs Player Ideas, we wrote a good article over here with 140 ideas.
DND PvP One Shot
A DND PvP One Shot is a combat scenario in which all participants are defeated in a series of rounds.
This can be achieved through a variety of means, such as overwhelming force, clever strategy, or simply blind luck.
However, regardless of how it is accomplished, a DND PvP One Shot is always an impressive feat.
Here is an example DND player vs player one shot:
The Arena of the Ancients is a fabled proving ground for adventurers, a place where only the strongest and bravest warriors earn the right to call themselves champions.
Now, it has been opened once more, and you and your fellow competitors have been invited to take part in a one-shot PvP tournament.
The title of Grand Champion of the Arena, and a purse of gold that would make even the richest dragon weep with envy.
The tournament will consist of a series of challenges, each more difficult than the last.
You will have to use all your skill and cunning to survive these tests, and emerge victorious. But beware; there are other contestants who will stop at nothing to win.
And if that wasn’t enough, the island upon which the Arena is located is surrounded by dangerous sea creatures that are just waiting to eat anything that moves. The first team to reach the finish line wins…but there’s a twist.
The losing team gets fed to the sea monsters.
Will your team be victorious…or brunch?
Should You Allow Player Vs Player in DND? (Does PvP Ever Work?)
Yes, player vs player can work brilliantly in DND.
The best evidence for why you should allow player vs player in DND comes from the fact that people have been playing it for decades and it still hasn’t destroyed the world.
If anything, it might make the game more interesting.
It can add a sense of urgency and competition that might be lacking in some groups.
It can also help players bond with each other as they try to figure out how to beat their friends.
Just make sure everyone is on board with the idea before you start and that you, as the gamemaster, do your homework to make sure things don’t get out of hand.
The worst thing that can happen is someone gets their feelings hurt because they lost a fight to another player.
Nobody wants that.
So as long as everyone is cool with it, go ahead and give player vs player a try. It might just be the thing your group needed.
To play Devil’s Advocate, here is a good video about why you might want to avoid DND player vs player:
Final Thoughts: DND Player Vs Player
If you need more inspiration for your DND player vs player battles, we have a ton of other good articles on this site.
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