Design Issues – Legal System.
Warning – this document may contain smileys. It is not intended for the hard of humour. Please read at your own discretion and try to imagine that the author is tired, has had a long day and thought it would make you laugh.

1) Make the Empire feel real as a funcioning society. LRP campaigns are normally endless variations of mob-law with no credible legal system and ultimately no credible society. The Empire should actually feel like an Empire. A real thing that exists day-to-day and is ruled by the PCs. When they pass a law in the Senate, it should feel like it means something.

2) Avoid Fucking Boring trials. Every single trial run by players in a LRP game produces the same verdict – death by ennui for all participants. The judges, the jury, the witnesses and the accused – all bored to death. In recent years some players have been fighting to try and change this unique approach to LRP jurisprudence, but we’re not taking the risk. Put NPCs in charge of the trials so that are fast, furious and fun.

3) Emphasize the PvP political game, de-emphasize the PvP combat game. Maelstrom has done PvP combat to death. We want Empire to be an uber-political game, with a huge amount of PvP politics. But PvP politics in LRP has a fundamental flaw, the most effective political strategy that you can employ is almost invariably “murder EVERYONE who disagrees with me”. Murdering people makes for pretty poor story, in our experience, it’s actually much much more fun to fume over the way you have been blocked by those fools in the Senate, to plot your revenge and spend years working on publically humiliating them. That’s exciting, it’s cool, it’s dramatic, it’s fun. It’s fun for you, it’s for your enemies. In our opinion its’ much much more fun (for both of you) than hiding behind the cistern and sticking a sword up his bottom while he takes a crap. So we want the most effective possible legal system we can physically devise to try and change the equations so that fuming and plotting and scheming become more effective strategies for victory than hiding in toilets. That means NPCs because…

4) PCs who aren’t corrupt are as rare as a snowflake in hell. They do happen, but they’re notable and rare. Players love to be corrupt. I have to admit I’ve played a number of characters of dubious morals over the years, but mostly because I like the conflict of being less than honest. But Empire will provide truck loads of PvP conflict, all within a legal framework. But building a credible functioning legal system is incredibly ambitious. Just look at how this tiny detail has attracted so much interest!!! A legal system? That works? In LRP? Never I tell you! It doesn’t happen normally because most players don’t intrinsically build the kind of characters that make a legal system possible – we build adrenalin junkies, conflict junkies and people who want a wild ride – and usually we build utterly morally corrupt characters. It will be hard enough to create a credible society that has existed for hundreds of years, if we put PCs in charge of the legal system it won’t last two minutes, before we’ll be back to mob-rule.

5) Rules make play. The law can be your friend in Empire. Lots of things are not illegal. The sort of thing that you might think “that’s cool, it really adds game and doesn’t consist of stabbing people while they take a dump”. The problem with cleverness in normal LRP is that it falls over at the point where your enemy, who you have just confounded, fooled, bamboozled or ridiculed goes “Why – that woman is my enemy – kill her!” A decent well designed set of laws will make it easier for players to do cool shit and get away with it, precisely because it’s legal to make your enemies look like idiots and they can’t just murder you for doing it (not without taking enormous risk).

6) Rocks make play. If you play many wargames you know that playing on a perfectly blank field is dull. Every battlefield needs scenary. Despite what modern computer games think, scenary should be largely immutable – it’s role is to make the battlefield more interesting by having elements that can’t be moved through. If everyone you can see is made of tissue, if everything is corrupt, if everything responds equally well to the application of force then the political/strategic battlefield is essentially empty. To be interesting a world needs things in it which can’t simply be moved out of the way, things that must be maneuvered around or taken account of.

7) I’m bored of mob-rule LRP. I’m bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored bored of mob-rule LRP. I want to run something new. What is the point of creating a new game if we don’t try and do new things? Things we haven’t done before? Things we haven’t seen done before?

Finally, here are some famous narratives from history. Lets see what they look like with the narrative adapted to a LRP game that is using mob rule.

“D’artagnan – that fiend Cardinal Richelieu – he plans to disgrace the queen and expose her affair with Buckingham!”
“Outrageous – we will hide in his toilet and murder him when he takes a shit.”
“Shouldn’t we try some insanely complex plan to retrieve the necklace and prevent her betrayal being revealed?”
“Or… we could just murder Richelieu while he’s having a dump?”
“Perhaps if we endlessly dueled with the Cardinals’ guards in the streets? Hah that would embaress the Cardinal and show that the Musketeers are the true defenders of France.”
“I hear he goes to the toilet every day….”

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“Quick Little John, the Sheriff is riding through Sherwood with the taxes he has stolen from the people.”
“Double, Double, Double, Double. Excute. Well that’s the end of him then. Robin crack open a tinny. I think tomorrow night we should kill King John as well.”

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“The ring must be cast into the pits of Morder, only the fires of Orodruin can defeat its power and unmake it.”

“There’s only like ten of them, we could wait until it’s dark and just roll them in their camp?”
“We must choose a Fellowship, there will be one of us for each of the nine riders…”
“Are you on crack? If there’s 9 ring wraiths, we need at least 40 of us, to make sure that we have the odds to take them without any risk to us what-so-ever.”
“There will be four hobbits.”
“Don’t be stupid, they’re under-age and not allowed to fight in this system. For FFS Gandalf, just let me get Boromir and the lads together and we’ll sort this out at 1am in the morning when all the Ring Wraiths are pissed.”

—————————————-

“Chancellor Palpatine has outwitted us in the Senate!”
“I’ve got a lightsaber?”
“He has fooled everyone. They have declared martial law and created an army of clone warriors, but the warriors answer only to him!”
“Wooosh. Woooosh. Woooosh”
“He intends to have the Senate declare him Emperor!”
“Uh… lightsaber?”

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Revised by Delvy @ Tue, 15 May 2012 10:38:24 +0000

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  1. Tue, 15 May 2012 10:38:24 +0000 – Delvy : Start of a brand new world [ Current ]
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