Desert Oasis: A guide to open PvP and grindspot etiquette in the world of Black Desert


Back in my classic Guild Wars days, I was so happy to have the scrimmage system. It was a great way to solve arguments. Basically, players could invite other players to their guild hall to duel through a mock guild battle. It solved a lot of disagreements. After that, I didn’t really see this system in place in many MMOs. It’s something I missed in the MMO genre – the power to outright kill players who annoyed me.

So it won’t surprise you to learn that one of my favorite activities in Black Desert is the open PvP. Aside from adding a level of dread in a grind spot, it also creates some player-driven drama. It’s a great motivator for putting in the time to get stronger.

But let’s not be naive here; for many players it’s also a major hurdle to playing this game, be that because of anxiety, a fear of losing, a desire not to waste time, or experiences with other open PvP MMOs that are just mounds of dead bodies between towns. It’s something that might turn a potential player off from this game. So today, I want to demystify some of the misconceptions of Black Desert’s open PvP, the culture around it, and what to expect.

How open PvP in BDO works

In Black Desert, PvP is opt-in, but staying PvP-free comes with limitations. To get to level 50, you need to do a quest that’ll both activate open PvP and let you progress to level 50. If you choose not to do the quest, you will be immune to PvP, but you won’t be able to level past 49. Those planning to participate purely in lifeskilling enjoy this immunity so they can gather in peace. So the option to stay entirely safe is there, but I’d still recommend at least developing a character past level 50 since progress is tied to the account and any discoveries made by those characters unlocks for the whole account.

So let’s say you do decide to get past level 50 – what can you expect?

The short answer is “you can expect to get killed by other players.” But there’s more to it than that. In my experience, getting outright murdered senselessly doesn’t happen too often. There’s usually a reason for it. Unless the player decides to explicitly become a “perma-red” – a player killer – most players are kept in line by the karma system and community expectation.

The karma system

So let’s talk about that karma system. Basically, every player has 300,000 karma points. Attacking a player will lower that karma. Killing somebody will lower your karma even further. If it goes negative, you’ll no longer be welcome in cities; the city guard will attack you on sight. Also, depending on where you are, there are different punishments. Getting killed outside the desert will result in destroyed gems, lost EXP, and more painfully, a piece of equipment will downgrade. If you’re red and are killed within the desert, you won’t see a downgrade of your items, but you will get sent to a jail deep in the desert.

The only way a person can regain karma is by grinding out mobs. Getting killed by players won’t restore karma. This system is in place to bind some accountability to PvP and PKing. But it’s not an all-encompassing system; it’s just lenient enough to allow players who need to kill multiple players to do so without punishment, but most folks still consider it a last resort or even a time saver. Surprisingly, PvP in this game is avoidable. Assuming players follow the community’s unspoken rules and expectations.

Grindspot formalities

Black Desert players do have a set of expectations for each other when it comes to grindspots. But keep in mind they’re mostly upheld by an honor system and enforced only by the game’s karma system. Expect to get killed if you’re in the way – be ready for anything. The mechanics are in place to lower incidents, but how a player interprets another’s actions is on the player. Here are some basic expectations to keep in mind while playing.

Grindspots are first come, first serve. It’s pretty straightforward. The problem is how can a person prove he was there first? You can’t, and both players might think they were there first. Players can either hash it out or bash it out. If time permits, I usually talk it out with the player and a compromise usually happens. But sometimes, you gotta bash it out.

My favorite grindspot is the tshira ruins in Dreighan. On a good day I can pull in 25 million silver from loot drops. I was in the area on a tight rotation for about two hours, a rotation being basically a kill order players generally agree constitutes a grindspot. It’s a great way to ensure a player’s grinding time generates a good amount of EXP and money. I also use it to mark my territory. Once, an Archer showed up and started killing monsters in my rotation. He said he was there for the past 3 hours. I knew he was lying, so I killed him. He moved on, and that leads me to my next point.


Some players will only yield to power. This is what I love about BDO. You need to be strong enough to defend your grindspot. It’s either kill or leave. Being too trigger-happy with other players can result in their guild declaring war on your guild, and you can get in trouble over that. If I’m trying to maximize my time, I attack on sight. If I win, I ask them to move. If I lose, I leave. It’s direct, and it doesn’t waste time. It’s nothing personal.

It’s rude to kill monsters in another player’s rotation. A rotation is basically a kill order of mobs in a specific area. Popular areas like Nagas and Bandits have well documented rotations. These rotations provide a steady stream of cash and drops, and some of the better ones are timed so precisely that players will get back to the start of their rotation as soon as the mob respawns. Coming in and killing those mobs can be considered rude. It’s even worse if a player is doing it as a passive-aggressive way to make the other player move. It ruins the timing and takes the player out of her flow. Some players use timed EXP and loot buffs to maximize their time in the spot, so forcing them to stop can be extremely frustrating and players will not be willing to chat since they’re busy. Don’t be surprised if you’re killed outright.

Forcing players to kill you is another type of griefing. Honestly, I worry about this more than actually getting killed myself. Some players just opt to keep coming back and force the player holding a grindspot to kill them. In BDO, this is called karma bombing. This forces the person to give up their spot because that player is exploiting the karma system – or rather, your fear of losing karma – to their gain. It’s super dishonorable too. Let me get on my soapbox here: If a player has to go so low as to exploit the karma system or push into a grindspot, it really annoys me. But if my karma gets too low, the only choice I have is to either move or declare war on the enemy player’s guild. That’ll prevent karma loss for killing that person, but it can be seen as an escalation and can force others to get involved in a little grindspot drama. In the end, it’ll be time wasted.

The PvP system is a way to give players control over players who enter their territory. And players being so roundabout about claiming a spot is a huge waste of time. And that’s what really hurts the most: time wasted.

In the end, I recommend that you never take things personally when it comes to PvPing in this game. Most players in general are pretty chill if you follow these basic guidelines and community etiquette. And if PvP is your only hang-up, just jump in! You might end up liking that extra bit of freedom.

The Great Valencian Black Desert is a dangerous place, but thankfully there’s always a chance for respite. Join Massively OP’s Carlo Lacsina every other week for just that in Desert Oasis, our Black Desert column! And don’t worry; he promises he won’t PK you. Got questions or comments? Please don’t hesitate to send a message!
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