I got a sort of strange idea today, while I was out walking the dog. What if I used a combat oriented RPG (4e is what I would use, but that's just because it's my current obsession) to run a player vs. player combat league?
I'd probably set this up with multiple players on one team. I could see having each team be run by one player, operating several characters, but at least with 4e I could see that getting unweildy at higher levels. Making it one-player-per-team would also increase the "build the statistically perfect fighting machine" aspect of it, the kind of thing that dominates competetive play of games like Magic. Which is fine, but I like the idea of having a teamwork element to it.
Because that's really the whole point. The concept, in my mind, is "like sports, but with D&D," which strikes me as stupid but quite funny. I could never make this a regular game, but as a way to kill a couple of hours a week, supplemental to a regular game, it could be fun. Especially if I could get enough people together to have a bunch of teams, with rankings and feuds and maybe even playoffs.
I'd have to figure out a way to do leveling. The standard D&D "winning makes you more powerful" deal would require me to work up a system that kept one team from totally dominating everyone just by dint of superior level. Probably what I'd do would be to just have everyone level every week or so, and set up a 20 or 30 week "season," after which the whole thing would start over with new characters, and maybe some changes to player lineups, if desired.
The other logistical issue that occurs to me right now (there will be more, if I actually try to get this thing going) would be refereeing. We'd need some way to adjudicate and interpret rules, to fix issues on the fly and keep little disagreements from derailing the whole thing. But without monsters to run, I could see that job being crazy boring; I can't see anyone wanting to do just that, all the time. I certainly wouldn't.
The easiest thing would be to rotate the job through players who's teams aren't in the current match up, but that still has a certain element of conflict of interest involved. Probably not a big deal, as long as things stay casual. And the job could be made more interesting by giving that person the job of designing a map and tactical features. It might even work to throw in traps, or even a few monsters, as an additional hazard.
I could actually see doing something like this next year. I've got some people talking to me about putting together a roleplaying club, which, if we could get it going, would make it a lot easier to get enough people to put this together. And having a light but roleplaying related activity like this would give people a reason to actually show up to the meetings.