By Thilo Graf
This product is something different from my usual fare, as it is a player vs. player-driven combat system – Just imagine a balanced battle between teams with the GM as the referee. I got the boxed set, containing the Keeper’s Keep map, 5 pages of Conflict tokens, 4 pages of effect templates for spells and the like as well as the rule book. The rule book is 122 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page dedication, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover and a two page index, 1 page advertisement, 1 page thanks and acknowledgements, leaving 112 pages of content.
That being said, let’s dive in! Conflict kicks off by presenting us the central theme of Conflict – Respect for the opponent. After all, PvP should remain fun for everybody. The first 4 pages make a great introduction to the game and explain the concepts that are different from standard PFRPG games like battlepoints, mappoints, etc. The concepts are explained in greater detail later in their respective chapters, but it’s nice to have an overview including a short glossary in the beginning.
Chapter 2 details the point-buy system for character creation in Conflict called battlepoints. (4 pages)
After character creation, we get three pages on how to start a match and different match types (22 pages) – they include scenarios like Regicide, King of the Hill, Ambushes, etc. Each scenario comes with a short set of complications, alternatives etc. which make the matches more diverse. Plus: Each match type gets its very own 1 page-illustration, which itself could be the banner of a unit of mercenaries, which brings me to a major plus of the book: It’s beautiful, the b/w-artwork is great and layout and formatting as well as the way in which the rules of the concepts are portrayed makes this file very easy to read and actually made me chuckle once in a while. Given the nature of a good-humored competitive game between players, this is a good thing.
After this plethora of tactical options, we are presented with even more options in the concept of map elements the competing teams may buy to influence the outcome of the battle. (16 pages) They range from healing statues to bursting pods, teleportation squares and the like. The individual elements have modifications (e.g. a healing statue that damages the opposing team instead of healing them) that may lead to bursts of schadenfreude and interesting gambits.
7 pages are devoted to Conflict-laws, rules that the teams agree upon prior to starting a match. They range from “only classes xyz” to “no side-kicks” and even the possibilities to steal die roles or evoke a 60-second time-out to announce what a player will do with his/her character.
6 pages explain when or when not to use passcards to communicate the movements of the characters to the DM without warning the other team. A sample system for PC-moves with suggested abbreviations is also given.
The next chapter deals with team feats that make the individual players of a team work better together. (4 pages)
Chapter 10 deals with “Player’s Tips & Tactics” (7 pages) and offers both a chart of friendly taunts, advice on character optimization, what would be considered wise feat-choices etc.
The GM gets also a chapter (16 pages) on the particular challenges of being the neutral judge in a Conflict game, complete with condition summaries, a table on armor class and attack roll modifiers , common item hardness and hit points etc. – Neat!
For all the people who want to dive into the action, three teams of pregens are presented, each character also featuring a blank version of his/her sheet to modify. (19 pages)
Finally, we get a sheet and a page with a match type summary.
I already mentioned that the book is beautiful and well- and concisely presented. However, there were some minor typos, which albeit they did not impair my ability to grasp the rules, did keep the book from getting an A in editing. Apart from that, I can honestly attest that this book makes you WANT to try out Conflict. The tactical options are manifold and can easily be expanded upon, the rules as presented are fun and the system fills a definite niche: Sometimes a player pivotal to your session doesn’t show up, so what do you do? Just whip out Conflict. I also think that this system should be a great way to throw parties, game at conventions etc. With Conflict being a completely different experience from standard role-playing, I have to admit I was quite skeptical at first, but that skepticism has somewhat evaporated. The matches I had were fun and while I as of yet cannot profess to have crunched the numbers or assured that the system is perfectly balanced, I can attest to the fact that really does count here: Conflict makes Pen & Paper/Miniature-driven PvP on basis of the PFRPG fun! Thus, due to the minor editing glitches, I’ll give this a 4.5-star rating – check it out if you ever wondered how a team you built would fare against one of your fellow players or whether you and your friends would take on another group of adventurers in a tactically-driven brawl.