PVP combat in Avalon, a simulated fantasy life as an online RPG, provides opportunities that make any other arena seem child's play and frivolous. In a normal PVP game, graphical or text-based, competitive combat between players is held in special areas and measured by the player's latency (speed of communication to the game) and their reactions using a set of predefined skills, usually on an action bar, and a set of defences -- offensive and defensive actions that normally number no higher than a hundred at best.
Avalon in 1989 was the first PVP multiplayer game and over the years has gone further than most to make competitive combat exciting. Still to this day, it reigns supreme with the most complex yet simple balance between hundreds of abilities, skills, defences, poisons, herbs, potions and so forth. It invented equilibrium and balance based PVP combat, which has unsurprisingly been an influence on the whole game industry ever since. The system is actually simple and most will recognise it in games today in some form or another -- though Avalon makes no claims whether it originated from seeing Avalon's system, it was certainly the first to invent it. Equilibrium and balance are lost by using abilities and regained over a set amount of time (sometimes now called cooldowns). What most other games do not have, however, is a mechanism for shortening and lengthening these times, by getting it closer to a defined window, changed by a small random modifier, changed by abilities to use against players or locations and made to effect other kinds of equilibrium and balance. Avalon has numerous kinds of balance. They overlap together to create a rich combination of possibilities, nearly infinite in scope when one considers everyone also has at least some modest ability to force another player to execute commands of their choice. And... we have not even touched on the text environment allowing for faking, spamming, tactical retreat, complex combinations, defensive play, group and team strategy and a host of other mixtures of competitive PVP.
Competitive PVP combat in Avalon follows some simple rules to sift out who has merit and who is just lucky. It rewards those with merit who have the imagination, spend the time and effort, and learn quickly from their mistakes until they reach the top.
The golden rule above all others is that all professions (sometimes called classes) are equal but unique in their style of combat and play. Equilibrium, spread of abilities, possible actions shared by all, combinations and speed of action or reaction, all come against the great levelling mechanism of timing and the requirement that, all else being equal and given infinite equipment/resources, two equally good competitors in PVP combat will remain alive forever. Of course, no one has infinite anything and no one is perfect -- even automation, which Avalon's unique combat environment only allows to reach mediocre levels when facing a truly imaginative fighter. PVP rewards effort and merit in Avalon. There is no way to win without being good and no way to buy your way to victory that cannot be done by someone else with time and effort.
PVP in Avalon, to be exciting and really challenging, though, closely follows the second rule that if it is credible or plausible, it can happen -- cities can ultimately be destroyed, actions and abilities have many undocumented possibilities, the balance between all abilities and their strength weighed against each other carefully, etc. It is essential to Avalon's simulation of a complex fantasy life that what can be done is believable and, through imaginative deduction, you can always discover by yourself; that whatever you can do, another can; that if you are slack or incompetent, the better player wins; that defeat is just a step towards learning; and, that the more experimental and playful you are within the bounds of Avalon, the more dangerous and knowledgeable you become. PVP fights are consequently about how imaginative you are and what possibilities within this fantasy world you find and use against others.
PVP is the default norm in Avalon. There are only very few places one is truly safe, and even that at great costs. Knowing at least some combat and how to defend yourself are requirements of any serious Avalonian fighter interested in PVP combat. There are, of course, a few choices to opt out entirely, such as pacifism, but they carry their own price. Survival is a general necessity because Avalon, like real life, is a harsh world, but because it is a fantasy life, everyone starts on a fair and equal footing.
In the end, Avalon holds up a mirror to every player and asks: what are you really capable of? So, will you be the next in Avalon history to be a great PVP fighter, where there is no real limit on your imagination or possibilities, with only yourself and your potential to challenge?