No PvP that will lead to PK can ever occur in front of non-hostile NPCs, even if those NPCs are friendly to you. I.E. Lawful Good lynch mobs killing evil Banites in a good temple does not fly. If NPCs are present, a DM MUST be present for PvP to occur. This does not only cover magical and physical attacks, but bully brow-beating and threats. If it is reasonable for an NPC to intervene or react to a situation, get a DM there to witness it.
Beating up a PC in front of NPCs does not equal killing him in front of NPCs, get a DM if you intend to do that. - This includes BROWN NPCS. A DM is required to kill in front of an NPC, period- unless it's hostile and obviously some sort of generic monster.
Regarding Brown NPCs
Please be aware, some areas now have BROWN NPCs these NPCs have a brown coloured name above their head. These NPCs are fine to pvp in front of, but will become hostile if you affect them with spells/affects.
That doesn't make them someone you can metagame in front of, these BROWN NPCs are essentially just unconcerned who you fight l as long as you leave them alone though. Killing players in front of Brown NPCs still requires a DM, due to the fact that npcs like the Penal Legion would get involved.
- You can use Pick Pocket near blue NPCs
- Your victim and those nearby can beat the crap out of you if you are caught in front of the NPCs
- You are part of a DM Faction with policing powers in the area you're located in, such as the Citadel, Hardcastle's Estate, Crown Forces barracks etc.
- For DM Factions with Policing Powers, if you engage in PvP without a DM, you take it upon yourself that you might lose without back up. If you are defeated, the player you were pursuing is expected to run away from the scene, he may gloat and give a villainous laugh- but he should not do anything that NPCs would reasonably interfere in such as looting, killing, etc...
- Shylock's Pub welcomes criminals, and brawling is permitted without a DM. However, a brawl stops being a brawl if potions, weapons, or magic begins to be used. Keep it classy.
- Old Town and Arabel North are 'PvP free' areas. However, in the presence of the Penal Legion, attacking members of the Militia won't be allowed without a DM. The Penal Legion doesn't care if you fight, they do care, however, if their necks are on the line.
- Militiamen, Crown Forces and Hardcastle Retainers may not enter Old Town without a DM. You may run through invisibly or wear a convincing disguise, but if players spot and call you out on it, you're expected to leave the area.
- Wanted/Exiled criminals may not enter the Citadel without a DM. They may enter Arabel North with a convincing disguise, but if a Militia PC or character of authority* spots you, you're to run away.
- Beating up a PC in front of NPCs does not equal killing him in front of NPCs, get a DM if you intend to do that. - This includes BROWN NPCS. A DM is required to kill in front of an NPC, period- unless it's hostile and obviously some sort of generic monster.
This post is an example post of the New Player Handbook we're working on to make rules clearer for everyone, we are giving this one an early publishing to remind players about rules but also to show case the re-work of CoA rules to make the forums more user friendly.