I was reading an article over on Saylah's blog over at Mystic Worlds when it dawned on me (I know I'm slow)... with FFA PvP servers in Funcom's Age of Conan PvP will be enabled everywhere except inside of towns and city hubs. In cities and towns, it'll be a safe haven from the harsher wilds of Hyboria. Now this isn't exactly lore appropriate, but it does help PvP players have a safe place to go and enact trades, check their mail and go AFK.
My only concern with this is what can best be described as bottle-necks. Now assuming that Funcom doesn't already have a solution to this problem (the NDA is still up after all for General and Technical Beta tests), what I'm referring to are those choke points that will be created by the Safe-Zones and their exits into the greater FFA zones that will be the rest of Hyboria.
If left without some sort of solution, these areas could become havens for gankers and it will wind up being the kind of game where smacktards sit outside of a city jumping around like numbnuts and waiting for some poor schmuck to leave the safety of the city or town. Somehow though, I don't think Funcom would let this problem slip by.
This is just an educated guess, but I'm thinking that the "safe zones" that are Cities and Towns will be real "zones", as in you'll have to load in and out of them as you might do in EQ2. If this is the case, the developers can simply place a temporay invulnerability buff on players who have recently zoned, giving them time to get acclimated to their surroundings before they get raped by a bunch of rabid PvP fanatics out for a cheap thrill near the newbie towns.
Out of the two scenarios, I'm inclined to believe that the latter is the way things will work come launch. Even in an Open PvP environment, there must be some measure of policy in place in order to fit in the greater contexts of the game (like auctions, trading, crafting, etc). The former example of bottle-necks seems too conducive to rampant griefing and ultimately unhappy players, while the latter example of zoning and invulnerability buffs makes more sense for the greater purpose of a FFA PvP server. At least in my version of the rules it does.
My only worry is what if the invulnerability buff breaks and some lucky guy winds up running around Hyboria unable to die and reigning terror on anyone whose path he crosses? If that happens... I hope it's to me. Then again, I suppose Funcom can make this impossible by simply making the buff also remove the buffed player's ability to do damage for the duration as well.
Bah, this is all theory-crafting. We'll see how it works soon enough. Open beta and presumably an NDA lift is next week.