[RPG] How to make a player vs. player fight without it being obvious


I'm a fairly new DM and am trying to plan my own story, I'm having trouble envisioning an important part however.

I have the group getting separated and eventually meeting up. Before they realize it's the other half of the group, however, a fight ensues between the two groups. (PvP)

I have how the players get separated and how they are unable to recognize each other. I just want to know how to go about having the players attack each other and not realize that it is they're teammates that they are attacking. I'm unsure how the actual attack sequence should play out. The problem for me as a GM is that I am not sure how to work the at-table logistics. Narratively, everything is sound. I just don't know how to logistically set it up.

How can I go about having the two player groups fight each other without realizing who they are attacking too quickly or too late?

Best Answer

I have witnessed a game where the two stories are played out asynchronously.
Group A was going through their scenario (Took 20-30 minutes?) while Group B waited out their turn (with brief moments of "meanwhile" dialogue to keep them involved). Group A found the group of "bad guys", and managed to launch a sneak attack. After the surprise round, they rolled initiative and then their story paused.
DM then hit the proverbial rewind and we played out Group B's story. They follow their path (with brief moments of "meanwhile" dialogue to keep Group B involved) and eventually get attacked by a group of bandits who get a surprise attack on them.
At this point it was clear that Group A had attacked Group B. Group B relished the opportunity to get a return round. At relevant moments, calls were made for perception checks (before the sneak attack, after the surprise round, when someone got face to face it was with advantage and they realised what had happened)

Everyone seemed to enjoy it. Even though Group B knew out of character after the surprise round that it was Group A that attacked them, they rolled with it.


You could set up an almost identical board for each (have a few flourishes or touches to make them seem different) Group A's board showing the positions of Group B as bandits, and vice-versa.

Mirrored boards

Make the 'bandits/rogues' for each group move in the same initiative order. So you can get a whole round of attacks from a group, then a riposte from the other group. You make the 'rolls' behind your DM screen and fudge them to get the same result as the opposing team did*.
Once they figure it out you just switch them onto the one board. Probably harder to pull off, but could really have them fooled if you can do it.

  • DMG p.235 on roll fudging

    Rolling behind a screen let's you fudge the results if you want to. If two critical hits in a row would kill a character, you could change the second critical hit into a normal hit, or even a miss. Don't distort die rolls too oftren, though, and don't let on that you're doing it. Otherwise, your players might thing they don't face any real risks - or worse, that you're playing favourites.