Ever since Bethesda announced Fallout 76 will be a multiplayer survival game, fans have been asking if there were any anti-griefing measures in place. Now it seems like there are - they are rather unforgiving and might limit PvP enjoyment.
Fallout 76 has barely been playable so far, since there was only a handful of B.E.T.A. event times to play it, and even then, it was restricted to those who pre-ordered the game on Xbox One. Therefore, it is somewhat hard to gauge the fidelity of claims of what happens when certain mechanics kick into gear, but a Redditor going be the name TommyBoyTC may have shed some light on PvP mechanics and punishments.
As Bethesda previously stated, PvP will be "legal" only if both parties consent to fighting each other. If that is not the case, the attacker will deal reduced damage until the other player starts defending themselves.
That is not all, however, as a PvP damage penalty can occur even if a player doesn't have enough bottlecaps to pay a bounty, should one be put on their head. These bounties can happen if a player kills another who has not consented on PvP or if they steal something. Once another player kills them, a bounty will be paid to the headhunter from the offender's own pocket.
In Tommy's case, he accidentally stole an item that triggered a bounty of 30 caps on his head. Turns out the player had only 5 caps in his inventory, so once someone killed him, only 5 caps were paid, which prompted a debuff that was named "Debtor's Penalty" or something along those lines, since Tommy doesn't really remember the exact name.
This Debtor's Penalty reduced his PvP damage by 50 per cent for four hours, which begs the question of whether the penalty would be applied even after PvP consent from both parties or if Tommy was attacked by another player and decided to defend himself. If the penalty indeed applies over all the other restrictions, this would mean the player would effectively have no means of defending himself from attackers.