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Thread: It's the Law

  1. #1
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    It's the Law

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    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 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

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    My favorite game console is a table and chairs.
    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by tesral View Post
    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.

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    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.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    My favorite game console is a table and chairs.
    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    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.
    Education is a better safeguard of liberty than a standing army.
    - Edward Everett

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    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.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    My favorite game console is a table and chairs.
    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    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.

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    Make the consequences fit the action. And...There is always a bigger fish.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    My favorite game console is a table and chairs.
    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    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.
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    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!)

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    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.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    My favorite game console is a table and chairs.
    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    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.

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    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.

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    My favorite game console is a table and chairs.
    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    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!

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Captain Tobacco View Post
    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?

    Quote Originally Posted by rurikjapa View Post
    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"...


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    I'm going to necro this one to get the Atlas of Law 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.)

    Garry AKA --Phoenix-- Rising above the Flames.
    My favorite game console is a table and chairs.
    The Olde Phoenix Inn

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    Good info on how you handle law tesral, thanks for posting.
    Skunk
    a.k.a. Johnprime



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