A Treatise on P V P
P.V.P or Player Versus Player refers to combat encounters that do not feature creatures controlled by the dungeonmaster, but instead (as the name implies) relies solely on the characters that the players have created fighting each other. Such encounters are ruled over by the DM, but players are responsible for the entire course of the battle. The main problem with this type of encounter is that it tends to make players upset because they feel that they as a player are being criticized and proven to be weaker than the other. This kind of power struggle often creates animosity between players (as well as characters). As a player and a DM I have seen and been involved in this type of encounter far more often than I would like. Usually the rest of that evening at campaign is terrible or under strain due to that self-same animosity. Another reason these encounters are ill-desired is that unless the entire party is involved, the other players have to watch the fighting people try to kill each other while they can do nothing. This makes the campaign less fun for them. Also these encounters tend to distract from the story, so the DM doesn’t enjoy them either (OH DEAR GOD THE DM DOES NOT ENJOY THEM!). So I wholeheartedly discourage pointless P.V.P.
There are, unfortunately, situations where P.V.P. will inevitably arrise. Lets face facts, there are times when one character’s thoughts, goals, intentions are at complete odds with another’s. These are difficult (though natural and real for the story) situations for the DM to handle. As such I have devised a solution: The DM takes a minute or two to review the character sheets of both players (perhaps taking each aside to ask how they would defeat their opponent seperately) and then determines, based on the situation and statistics and abilities at hand, who will ultimately end up being the victor. If chance seems as though it should come into play, as in most cases it will (this is a dice game after all) each player will be asked to roll 5d20 and write the results for each. These die rolls will be taken into account for the final conclusion. This is my house rule. Live with it. I will be, as a DM, unbiased as to who is the victor.
In order to avoid these situations, it is important to recognize that even though your character has a goal, he still has a general compassion for others in one way or another (unless he’s evil, in which case there will most likely be way more P.V.P., thus why we usually play good or neutral characters, or characters who work well with good or neutral characters). Create some kind of catch inherent in the personality of your characters to help reduce the tendancy towards P.V.P. when things aren’t going your way, and you’ll make the DM and your party much happier.