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tesral
07-06-2010, 01:35 PM
Below is my law outline. I use this format to determine the basic laws of a given area. Everything from a village to an empire. The Atlas of Law (http://phoenixinn.iwarp.com/fantasy/fantpdf/Atlas%20of%20Law.pdf)shows it in use. (One not safe for work picture, PDF format)

Law outline
Statute -- Penalty -- Social View
Criminal
Murder
Assault
Battery
Sexual Assault
Theft
Fraud
Identity (Forgery)
Real Property
Trespass
Damage or Destruction of
Moral (Blue Laws)
Corruption (Bribes, official lawbreaking)
Civil Obedience
Treason

Civil
Marriage
Inheritance
Property rights
Personal Rights
Slavery, indentured servitude
Trade
Contract

magic-rhyme
07-07-2010, 03:25 PM
Below is my law outline.

This is pretty good!

I notice a section for definition and subdivisions is missing from both the Criminal section and the Civil section.

For a criminal example, the definition of "murder" varies considerably across time and culture, and in the United States it is subdivided into both murder and homicide, with different degrees of murder and therefore different legal and social punishments. Similarly, "treason" has had many different definitions -- who can forget the sedition act in the 1930s in which it was considered "treason" to publically question any decision made by the Federal government?

For a civil example, the definition of "marriage" has varied considerably as well; the United States currently is grappling with whether or not to acknowledge same-sex marriage in law, but the laws against polygamy remain on the books with little protest.

There isn't really that much difference between modern American debt culture and indentured servitude, is there?

Have you played with the idea of cultures where activities taken for granted as criminal or as subject to civil law don't exist? For example, many historical cultures have never had notions of "sexual assault" or "identity theft" or "property rights" or even "trespass" as modern Americans understand the term. In Ancient Rome, there was no shame to being a slave, and many starving people actively sought to become a slave in a household as a preferred alternative to dying on the streets.

tesral
07-07-2010, 10:04 PM
I have actually.

The varied definitions of murder are a fairly modern thing. If it matters it is mentioned in the national write up. The outline is just that; a suggested structure to be simplified or complicated as required. Read the PDF.

Lord Captain Tobacco
08-12-2010, 10:40 PM
Good stuff. Most players just Tank their way through law enforcement until they cause enough damage that the heavy guns are brought out. Sometimes this can also lead to interesting situations...

The party Barbarian starts another bar fight. A town constable shows up and is trashed by the Barb. The constable looks around the bar at the other patrons and sees the fighter(LN) and Ranger(NG). They were staying out of what was a 'private fight' that got out of hand.
Raising his voice he calls to the other players "In the name of the King, I charge you to put down this villian!"
Both characters shrugged and proceded to pound a new mud-hole in the Barb before turning him over the the town guard.

tesral
08-14-2010, 12:54 AM
I try to make sure the city guard is not a bunch of wimps. I had them be ogres in one town. That sobered up the party pretty fast. the guy that started a riot that killed 17 people was hung for it and his body burned.

rurikjapa
08-18-2010, 11:51 PM
I asked advice from a long-time DM of mine, whose campaign we played in and not always law-abiding types. His advice, which I have taken to heart was threefold: 1. Make the response fit the trigger, i.e. a bar fight means the city guard either wades in clubs a-flailing or tracks down the slightly bloody PCs as they stumble drunkenly around, but when the PCs murder someone, a'la "taking out a doppelganger", then a squad of heavily armed guards backed up by a mage and cleric tracked the PCs; 2. If your players are the pummel-the-town-guard-'cause-we're-PCs types, make the town guard 1-3 levles higher and make sure they patrol IN FORCE; 3. Keep track of what the PCs do where, if they stabbed a minor noble who was in cahoots with a necromancer and he lived, he'd hire bounty hunters or assassins, if he died, his heirs might very well track them down, but either way, no sane person in a position of power would shrug off an assault.

tesral
08-20-2010, 01:11 AM
Make the consequences fit the action. And...There is always a bigger fish.

DM_Running_Farland_3.5
08-26-2010, 01:40 PM
Yeah. Police/military/guards may look like meatheads, but they are rarely stupid. If they see a situation they can't handle, they will get help. Having a lightly armored runner with each patrol (or magical means of instant communication) can put a hurt on the PCs quickly. Cop sees something bad, he doesn't jump in. He gets at least five more buddies than the bad guys have and then he goes in - often with even more en route. Of course, this can't be the case in small villages, but that can be settled by having some semi-retired highish level fighter living there.

It does stand to reason that this would be the case.

The PCs are not the most powerful people around and some of these other powerful people must have broken the law along the way. So any town or village off in the middle of nowhere that wants to survive would NEED some powerful people either living there and willing to help or working for them.

Malruhn
08-31-2010, 06:04 PM
I've always used the concept of the noise-maker in the security patrols/police.

Three guys with whistles make a BIG noise... and make it a capital crime to have similar sounding whistles.

I recall one group that wanted to cause mischief when the city watch showed up - with one guy about 50 yards away, yelling at them to put their weapons down - and three guys blowing their whistles. The party thought they'd have an easy time with the watch... and they would have... until 30 of them showed up. (insert evil laugh here!)

tesral
09-01-2010, 12:04 AM
On the gripping hand the London police whistle is a common thing to get (I have one around here somewhere), and anyone blowing such a whistle would bring the Bobbies. Ergo, everyone with a whistle becomes the eyes and ears of the watch.

rurikjapa
09-01-2010, 05:24 AM
Interestingly, the same DM who gave me the aforementioned advice was a player in one of my games which had a session I was totally unprepared for. I actually wasted close to 2 hours of real time BSing and blathering while their PCs travelled about 30' down the road. In revenge, several sessions later, he (a Lawful Neutral halfling monk) and another PC (a true neutral rogue masquerading as a cleric) plotted the death of an NPC rogue. When offered the plot hook, they made her "swear" to tell all she knew; as the party ventured into the sewers beneath the city, they encountered a monster. After the battle, the monk and faux-cleric braced the PC as to her failure to alert them to it's presence. Her response of "I didn't know it was here" triggered a simultaneous crossbow bolt from the monk plus a bastard-sword sneak attack from the pseudo-cleric. They killed her and looked at me expectantly... I was flummoxed, she had been a key NPC and I was stunned. Enough to tank the whole campaign. I continued to play in the DM's game (he never took anything like that out on players, just AS a player), and when I asked him how HE would have prevented such an occurence, after saying "I would never come to a session unprepared", he then offered me the idea that if there is a chance the players would wantonly slaughter NPCs, make them at least 3 levels higher than the PCs, and give them an escape plan. The corollary he offered vis a vis city guards was numbers, plan-of-action for out-of-control adventurers and ramifications, i.e. not welcome in city, reputation travels to other city, travelling nobles/ other adventurers seeking revenge/ bounty on law-breaking PCs.

tesral
09-01-2010, 12:15 PM
Never hinge a plot on one character. Second, be flexible. If something unexpected happens, change the parameters. I never seek to control the PCs actions in that respect. If they kill an NPC, I change what I must to keep things moving. Actions of course will have consequences. No free rides.

Stormbow
11-03-2010, 12:27 AM
I don't mean to ressurect a dead or dying thread here, since I'm new to the forums and all, but this thread was awesome and I wanted to say thanks for sharing. I saved the Atlas of Law to make one for my own homebrew someday. Thanks!


Good stuff. Most players just Tank their way through law enforcement until they cause enough damage that the heavy guns are brought out. Sometimes this can also lead to interesting situations...

The party Barbarian starts another bar fight. A town constable shows up and is trashed by the Barb. The constable looks around the bar at the other patrons and sees the fighter(LN) and Ranger(NG). They were staying out of what was a 'private fight' that got out of hand.
Raising his voice he calls to the other players "In the name of the King, I charge you to put down this villian!"
Both characters shrugged and proceded to pound a new mud-hole in the Barb before turning him over the the town guard.

It's not often that people genuinely "L.O.L." in real life, but this one made me laugh out loud for real. I didn't see it coming, and I've never thought to do something like that in my campaigns, but I definitely will in the future!

What would you have done if the PCs had ignored the order?


Interestingly, the same DM who gave me the aforementioned advice was a player in one of my games which had a session I was totally unprepared for. I actually wasted close to 2 hours of real time BSing and blathering while their PCs travelled about 30' down the road. In revenge, several sessions later, he (a Lawful Neutral halfling monk) and another PC (a true neutral rogue masquerading as a cleric) plotted the death of an NPC rogue. When offered the plot hook, they made her "swear" to tell all she knew; as the party ventured into the sewers beneath the city, they encountered a monster. After the battle, the monk and faux-cleric braced the PC as to her failure to alert them to it's presence. Her response of "I didn't know it was here" triggered a simultaneous crossbow bolt from the monk plus a bastard-sword sneak attack from the pseudo-cleric. They killed her and looked at me expectantly... I was flummoxed, she had been a key NPC and I was stunned. Enough to tank the whole campaign. I continued to play in the DM's game (he never took anything like that out on players, just AS a player), and when I asked him how HE would have prevented such an occurence, after saying "I would never come to a session unprepared", he then offered me the idea that if there is a chance the players would wantonly slaughter NPCs, make them at least 3 levels higher than the PCs, and give them an escape plan. The corollary he offered vis a vis city guards was numbers, plan-of-action for out-of-control adventurers and ramifications, i.e. not welcome in city, reputation travels to other city, travelling nobles/ other adventurers seeking revenge/ bounty on law-breaking PCs.

In a situation like that, I would have gone with the "someone is looking for the dead person" approach, and had the city guard, etc. after the PCs for that missing rogue. Speak with animals and a nearby rat? Who'd expect a rat to rat on the rats that killed a rat in the sewers? There'd definitely be a witness to their "crime"...

;)

tesral
10-24-2014, 06:50 AM
I'm going to necro this one to get the Atlas of Law (http://phoenixinn.iwarp.com/fantasy/fantpdf/Atlas%20of%20Law.pdf) back on the plate.

This is a updated version, still has some boobies so NSFW.

(Incidentally spoke to the Artist of that piece. It is like he read my mind on Domian Court fashion.)

Skunkape
10-24-2014, 02:23 PM
Good info on how you handle law tesral, thanks for posting.

Malruhn
10-27-2014, 02:11 AM
Where does robbery come in? You know - whip out a knife and threaten to stick someone unless they hand over the goodies? It isn't officially "theft" by the definitions above, and it might be under some others, I'm just curious.

tesral
10-27-2014, 08:58 AM
Well it is. Theft, assault and perhaps battery. The usual definition of an Honest Thief is one that steals without violence or fraud. Depending on the culture some theft is considered worse than others.

nijineko
10-28-2014, 10:59 PM
it saddens me how many players seemed shocked by natural consequences to their actions... actually that happens a lot in real life too, now that i contemplate it a bit.

tesral
10-29-2014, 01:42 AM
I've run into mote than few such examples including a few that were horrified and even insulted that their PCs might have to pay consequences for their actions. How dare my game have cause and effect.

falinxelote
10-29-2014, 05:32 AM
I've had people quit my game over it. They wanted to play evil and when they got arrested for theft and imprisoned they got all butt hurt over having got caught. I gave them a fair chance to con the judge, to escape to authorities, or to plan the crime better so they had a fall guy or some other way out. In the end they just rushed in and robbed the guy and then got caught. Dumb thieves usually end up in jail or in a noose. They got jail, I was again being nice and giving them the chance to find a way out. But rather than try to escape from the Kings prison they quit playing. So I do understand people expecting just because its a game that normal rules don't apply,

Malruhn
10-30-2014, 08:02 PM
it saddens me how many players seemed shocked by natural consequences to their actions... actually that happens a lot in real life too, now that i contemplate it a bit.

Oh. My. FLYING UNICORNS!!!

The amount of butthurt is AMAZING for this - both in and out of game!!

We have a player that recently was caught fudging dice rolls - he was a 4th level thief doing upwards of 60 points of damage on a sneak attack - even when he rolled 1's and 2's on his dice. When presented with VIDEO evidence (ceiling mounted web-cam), he got indignant and said, "Everybody does it!" When we showed him that everybody else rolled on the table in the open... he told us to get stuffed and stormed out.

I have an acquaintance that was railing about corruption and unfairness in the police departments, and for no good reason, I asked him why he got arrested. He said, "Well, the charges are for bad checks." When pressed, he admitted to writing bad checks... but couldn't figure out WHY he got arrested for it. When we found out that some of the checks were at our local gaming store, we became unglued... he's now a former friend.

Unfortunately, I could go on all night... GAAAAHHHH!!!!

tesral
10-31-2014, 10:49 AM
I really have nothing to say here. I've seen it too. Special snowflake taken to the extreme. "But...but consequences are for other people?" they cry.

Break out the worlds smallest violin. :violin:

nijineko
11-01-2014, 04:58 PM
a violin small enough would drop out of this universes scale into the micro-verse.

tesral
11-01-2014, 09:28 PM
Need something I can make of pixels.

What do other people do for the law of the land in games? Make if up as you go? Pure handwavium? More or less modern law codes? I have a degree in law and have killed players by dropping my Law manual?

Malruhn
11-03-2014, 03:00 AM
In my campaign world, each nation has their own laws. Some places are quite similar to others... and there are those that are WAY out there. I have them codified, and if players are smart, they can speak to the first guards they meet about the easiest ways to be thrown in prison or executed.

I'm not a lawyer - nor did I sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night - but I've got more than 20 years of enforcing laws and regulations.

tesral
11-03-2014, 05:34 AM
Examples? It is good to see how other people approach the issue.

Skunkape
11-03-2014, 12:36 PM
I try and keep my laws similar to modern day laws. That might not be historically correct or realistic, but I try not to ruin the players fun by making the game world hard to comprehend. Therefore, I'll cut corners from time to time.

I have worked a basic set of laws for my fantasy world that I allow my players to have a copy of, but they usually don't get too out of control when we play. They know that I'll send out the big guns to capture them if they start on a rampage of illegal deeds!

Here's the overview of the law in the country I start most of my campaigns in.



Arms & Armor – Any non-military personnel must have a permit to be a mercenary in order to carry arms and/or wear armor. Anyone found to not possess a mercenary permit, may be subject to questioning, confiscation of arms and armor and possible arrest. Fines may also be applied concerning the violations at the discretion of those conducting the search.

Non-citizens may be questioned as to their reasons for being in the country and carrying arms and armor and then their arms and armor may be confiscated until such time as they complete their business in the country.

If non-citizens provide a reasonable need for carrying arms and armor, they may be granted a special permit to carry said equipment.
Clothing & Jewelry – Only nobility is allow to wear clothing that has been dyed violet, and is made of silk or velvet. Furthermore, the wearing of certain uniforms is restricted to military or guard personnel. The dark blue uniform of the military/guard is restricted.

Recognized jewelry restrictions follow, most jewelry is allowed except pendants (badges) which identify members of the Bardic College, Rangers’/Scouts’ Order, Academia Magus, clergy of the recognized churches or Council of the Majei. Those are restricted to individuals who are members of those organizations.

Punishment for breaking these laws varies from confiscation of the jewelry in question and fines for the Bardic College, Rangers’/Scouts’ Order badges, to imprisonment for possession of Academia Magus badges and possession of symbols identifying individuals as clergy, to possible death penalty for possession of a Council of the Majei badge.
Forced Labor – Generally individuals who have failed to pay back debts can be forced into servitude to repay the debt. Furthermore, commoners may be pressed into temporary service for a public works project, such as the construct/repair of a roadway or bridge which is in close proximity to their property.

Military personnel on extended duty may billet in private homes if they cannot reach a more suitable camping location prior to nightfall. Outright slavery is strictly forbidden and is punishable by imprisonment for a specified period of time, depending on the violation, with forced servitude for another specified period of time after the end of the prison sentence.
Legal Privilege – In the event of a crime, common citizens can expect justice to be handled by the local magistrate. Noble individuals can expect some kind of trial by their peers.

Individuals from the established organizations can expect trial and punishment to be handled by their organization, unless the crime is against a person of noble station. In the event of individuals from the Bardic College and Rangers’/Scouts’ Order, trial is by local lord. In the event of individuals from the Academia Magus or clergy, trial is by local lord with representation on hand by the Academia Magus or local temple. In the event of individuals from the Council of the Majei, trial is by regional lord with representation on hand from the council.
Wealth & Power – As a common guideline, adventurers can expect to be treated well by the common man as they gain wealth and power, but those of noble station will still consider them to be a member of the commoner class until such time as a title has been granted to the individual. Individuals who have performed some service for the local government can expect better treatment, with the possible bestowing of a title as well.


I also have taken time to work out laws dealing with magic. My campaign world is a high magic world, where even commoners can cast spells, though they tend to have minor magic, spells used to help with growing crops for instance. I used the spell law rules from the Urbis website as my guide. I'll have to find out what the link to that page is because it has changed since I read their rules.

tesral
11-04-2014, 05:23 PM
Hmm sumptuary laws. I should go back through and include that category. In the case of the Eyrian Empire they are specifically forbidden. Nobility is identified by its actions, never its clothing. In places like the Domains and Anorian sumptuary law is rife.

nijineko
11-08-2014, 11:21 AM
so... for us less legally educated, what are sumptuary laws and how do they differ from non-sumptuary laws?

tesral
11-08-2014, 12:24 PM
Sumptuary laws refer to restrictions on consumption. Restricting purple and ermine to the King, not allowing non nobles to wear silk clothing or gold in their clothing.

The purpose was to make sure you could judge someone's class by their clothing. Very much tied into the idea that "clothes make the man" and to prevent the rising middle classes, who often had more money than the nobles, from "putting on airs" or dressing above their station.

A sure sign that the class structure is in trouble.

nijineko
11-09-2014, 12:35 PM
Thank you very much.