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Chris Goodwin

Law in Fantasy Hero

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Have you ever done anything with law in your Fantasy Hero games?  

 

We've all had the PCs thrown in a cell before, haven't we?  Have you ever had them ask for a lawyer once they were in there?  What did you do?  

 

Have you ever had them ask for a lawyer when they weren't being thrown in a cell?  

 

Have you ever had any PC lawyers, or at least PCs with PS: Law, or KS: Law, or similar?  
 

If so, how did it go?  Because I think most of the time we just assume that every polity is some autocracy where whoever's in charge can just have anyone clapped in irons if they want.  

 

How about bodies of law, like how IRL we have English common law, Roman civil law, Napoleonic code, etc.?  Have any polities in your world inherited a body of law, or maybe more than one and had to reconcile them?  

 

I Am Not A Lawyer, but I am curious. 

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About 1/2 of the countries in my campaign world have a "Roman-culture" so for those countries they have a kind of Roman civil law.  I tried to read up as much as I could about how Roman's dealt with legal matters.  A couple of my players really are into stuff like that so I have some help there.

 

A couple of countries are kind of Nordic/Viking in nature so I tried to match what we know about them.

 

I have one country that is unique because that country is primarily made up of bipedal felines (think Vincent from the 80/90's Beauty & the Beast).  In that case the first two players who played characters from their helped with formulating the society/laws.  I had some basics.  Smallest societal unit was a pride (like a lion pride).  One alpha male and potentially multiple partners.  Seems patriarchal except the females in the society controlled all the wealth and really made most of the economic decisions.  The males made decisions about fighting/warfare/exploring.  There was a complex honor/vengeance/vendetta system. Females who didn't want to be tied to a pride would often pack up and leave for other lands to start out on there own.

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Constantly.

 

I've made no secret of the fact that I'm not a big fan of "yet another" type of "vaguely feudal Europe" fantasy.

 

I won't go into great detail, as each campaign is different, but I work like a madman to avoid feudalism in any but the most remote and rural places, and "kingdoms" are few and far between, with other forms of government-- ranging from church-derived "moral law" all the way to elected officials or bands of smaller tribes rotating rulership-- anything to not be yet another.

 

 

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14 hours ago, Duke Bushido said:

Constantly.

 

I've made no secret of the fact that I'm not a big fan of "yet another" type of "vaguely feudal Europe" fantasy.

 

I won't go into great detail, as each campaign is different, but I work like a madman to avoid feudalism in any but the most remote and rural places, and "kingdoms" are few and far between, with other forms of government-- ranging from church-derived "moral law" all the way to elected officials or bands of smaller tribes rotating rulership-- anything to not be yet another.

 

 

 

Could you provide a little detail, I really would like to know.

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Yeah, it depends on how much you want modern legal concepts to suffuse your medieval world. I remember playing in a GURPS Fantasy campaign in which the players--and to an extent the GM--kept applying modern social/cultural attitudes, expectations, and ethics which felt completely out of place in a milieu that felt completely medieval in every way except for the presence of magic.

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1 hour ago, zslane said:

Yeah, it depends on how much you want modern legal concepts to suffuse your medieval world. I remember playing in a GURPS Fantasy campaign in which the players--and to an extent the GM--kept applying modern social/cultural attitudes, expectations, and ethics which felt completely out of place in a milieu that felt completely medieval in every way except for the presence of magic.

 

I have to admit, I'm not sure where you're going with this.  Care to elaborate?  Do you know what world the GM was running in?  

 

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Well bluesguy is, in my experience, a rare example of a GM who takes the time to work out a reasonably plausible legal framework for his medieval fantasy RPG world. Most GMs I've encountered don't do that, and the most disappointing example of this was the GM who ran a GURPS Fantasy campaign that I played in and who used the generic world supplied by that supplement. He, and a number of like-minded players in the group, kept applying modern social/cultural ideas and expectations to the game, including how the law worked and how they would be treated by it. It was pretty cringeworthy, and I'd like to encourage all GMs to do as bluesguy does.

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I once had a player  who needed to make a new character (last one died) and was having trouble finding a "hook"/"class" or what-not that was exciting him. He came across the "Low Justice" Fringe Benefit Perk and DING. Lightbulb went off. 

He build his whole character around that Fringe Benefit. A character who had (through family connections in the royal court) been given the right to be judge, jury and executioner out in all the small towns and villages of the kingdom, where no judges or courts existed. 

 

Very much like in westerns and the old west, where the judges would travel from town to town over very long periods of time, so court cases would have to wait for them to show up (unless they were summoned by the Marshalls in a major case or need). 

 

It wasn't his whole character motivation, but was his reason for being out on the road and meeting up with the rest of the players and joining in their adventures. It did come up from time to time in play, when they were in towns and villages, but not super often. I didn't want it to take too much time away from the rest of the team and the campaign. But it was a great backstory and motivation. 

 

Which is also why I love fantasy hero. Not many people might have come up with that idea if they were stuck sticking to standard D&D classes and progression. Hero allows for those kind of unique and non-standard characters, just as easily as generic ones. 

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30 minutes ago, mallet said:

A character who had (through family connections in the royal court) been given the right to be judge, jury and executioner out in all the small towns and villages of the kingdom, where no judges or courts existed.

 

Yeah, I like that concept too.

 

I had a knight character once (in the previously mentioned GURPS Fantasy campaign) who was basically the local king's equivalent to a U.S. Marshall. It was the job of these knights to enforce the king's laws in all the in-between places where no local lord could be counted upon to keep order and justice in play. This was especially needed on the frontier borders where lizardmen were often making raids, massacring (and eating) isolated peasant villages.

 

I distinctly remember once when our party captured one of these lizardmen, and it was my character's intent to bring him to a local magistrate to pass judgment and sentence, but another emergency came up and the party couldn't deal with the new crisis and shepherd this lizardman at the same time. I decided that we couldn't just leave the lizardman to his own devices as he would most likely escape his bonds and go on killing and eating peasants, and so I sentenced the lizardman to death and executed him on the spot, which was completely within my character's powers as granted by the king. Some of the other players were horrified, as was to be expected I guess given the socio-political composition of the group. They seemed to forget both the medieval time period of the game, and the more primitive "laws of the land" that prevailed in situations like that.

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On 10/25/2019 at 3:53 PM, zslane said:

Well bluesguy is, in my experience, a rare example of a GM who takes the time to work out a reasonably plausible legal framework for his medieval fantasy RPG world. Most GMs I've encountered don't do that, and the most disappointing example of this was the GM who ran a GURPS Fantasy campaign that I played in and who used the generic world supplied by that supplement. He, and a number of like-minded players in the group, kept applying modern social/cultural ideas and expectations to the game, including how the law worked and how they would be treated by it. It was pretty cringeworthy, and I'd like to encourage all GMs to do as bluesguy does.

 

You've kind of hit one of my pet peeves, that being the notion that fantasy has to equal medieval (which I disagree with).  I went back through my copy of GURPS Fantasy, and the world there is in fact pretty medieval, with Catholic canon law, Islamic law, and Jewish law, among others.  Which kind of bothered me some, as the Banestorm was around 990 to the 1200's, with occasional aftershocks, and the "now" of Yrth is... I guess whatever now is IRL, so probably 2019?  They've had over a thousand years of development, but they're still working with a medieval system?  I'm interested in things that are not just default "generic medieval"; I know also that we don't get a lot of that in fantasy.  

 

Note that IRL, the Code of Hammurabi dates back to 1754 BC.  Athenian law dates to 621 BC; Roman law was in effect from 449 BC to 529 CE, and Rome had its own judiciary.  English Common Law got its start with approximately the court of William the Conqueror (1066).  The English Parliament's House of Lords got its start in 1215 with the Magna Carta, and the House of Commons was first elected in 1265.  None of these are exactly modern.  

 

(Also, why are all fantasy worlds not only generically medieval and feudal, but always with a generic "council"?  Never a parliament and never any political parties?)

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45 minutes ago, Chris Goodwin said:

(Also, why are all fantasy worlds not only generically medieval and feudal, but always with a generic "council"?  Never a parliament and never any political parties?)

 

Historically, political parties as such were a late development. More or less 18th century. They didn't take their full modern form until somewhat later, and still exist in a relatively "primitive" form in the USA.

 

Of course there were political factions before that, but they weren't "parties".

 

The closest I can think of would have been the Optimates and Populares in the Roman Republic.

 

I can't think of any fantasy parliaments outside post-medieval settings. In general, though, they were historically usually fairly powerless.

 

I don't think there are enough republics (oligarchies) and democracies in fantasy literature and games either. (Parliaments have no necessary connection to either of these state forms, being generally subordinate to royal power).

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One of the more interesting elements of Hero's Turakian Age setting (to me, anyway) is that, while the majority of states have kings, emperors, and comparable figures as heads of state, there are some other variations in governing structures. For example, the large realm of Besruhan is ruled by an "Imperial Senate," essentially an hereditary oligarchy (although any Senator can give or sell their seat in the Senate to someone else if they so choose). The Senate is divided along, not really "parties" in the modern sense, but factions supporting particular causes or policies, most prominently: the Theocrats, who want to share power with the setting's dominant religion, the High Church; the Imperialists, who want to expand Besruhan's borders through conquest; the Militarists, who want to increase resources to the army, mainly to keep conquered territories in line; the Populists, who believe the citizens should elect their Senators; and the Crymythans (named for a notable conquered city) who want to withdraw the army from subject territories. But many other causes, or more selfish goals, are advocated by Senators, who constantly maneuver to build coalitions supporting the laws or policies they favor. (Bribery, blackmail, even assassination are also political tools in Besruhan.)

 

Another example is the Free City of Tavrosel, a sort of semi-democracy governed by a Triumvirate elected by different segments of the populace. The nobles can vote for the Lords' Man; guildsmen, merchants, shopkeepers, and traders vote for the Guildsmen's Man; everyone else votes for the Townsfolk's Man. (Despite the name, women can also be Triumvirs.) In principle the Triumvirs divide the duties of governance between them, but as they often don't get along most of the actual work of governing the city falls to its large bureaucracy.

 

The city-state of Tornath, a prominent maritime trading state, is governed by a body of the wealthiest merchant-captains in the city, known as the Captains' Council. The Captains vote on state policy, with the number of votes each Captain can cast based on their wealth relative to the others. Membership in the Council is informal; any captain can try to attend their assembly, but if the Council doesn't recognize them as having sufficient stature they're thrown out. Only merchant-captains who undertake their own voyages are accorded respect in Tornath; but by law they aren't allowed to choose a proxy to vote for them when they're away from Tornath, so the balancing act is tricky.

 

For my part, when using the Turakian Age for games I sometimes tweak given details for more granularity in government. Take the city of Aarn, largest in that known world. It's ruled by an hereditary King, but "If a king loses the support of the nobles, or of the people, the nobility usually deposes him for someone else." (TA p. 59) I gave that practice a little more formal definition, by creating a sort of bicameral parliament for the city: "the Hall of Nobility" composed of the heads of the leading noble families, and "the Hall of the People" made up of elected representatives for the rest of the populace. While the king makes decrees and formulates laws, a two-thirds majority of either Hall can veto any of the king's actions. The same majority in both Halls together can depose the sitting monarch. The members of the Halls also appoint some of their number to various administrative offices in the city. (As I indicated, the preceding is just my unofficial extrapolation.)

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On October 25, 2019 at 10:17 AM, bluesguy said:

 

Could you provide a little detail, I really would like to know.

 

 

Dude, I have just sat here for two hours, typing, and eventually deleted it all.

 

The answer, I think, it "no; despite thinking I could, I clearly cannot."

 

In the telling, nothing came across as truly unique (though none of it came off as "kingdom" either).  The problem is that what makes a setting truly unique or compelling isn't the overview, as much as it is the details, and those are really hard to "sum up."  

 

Let me try one more time, keeping in mind that this time I'm not even going to bother trying details:

 

Nine Clans of the arid plains is just what it sounds like: it's a collection of 9 nomadic clans that used to fight constantly, and steal and raid from each other all the time-- little more than barbarians.  Eventually a "visionary" leader was born to one of the tribes and he spent his life creating peace between his own and two other clans through trade and, eventually, the sharing of certain secrets of craftsmanship, farming, and even raiding.  He stressed most of all that no one Clan should rule all three Clans, and implemented a system by which the three leaders were always under the protection of a troupe of guards composed of equal number of guards from all Clans but his own.  One guard was changed each day, so as to slow any possible plotting.  One leader made all decisions for Three Clans, and remained "In office" for a single season, then the leader of another Clan took over for a season, etc. To ensure fair treatment of the other Clans, the new leader's first decision is always a ceremony in which he judges the previous leader's decisions and treatment of the Clans other than his own as "worthy of the ruler of Three Clans."  If he judges yes, the old leader is returned to lead his Clan and there is a great celebration, etc.  If he judges "no," there is a public execution and great celebration, etc.  Theoretically, in this way and Clan leader can stop a potential alliance between any other two leaders.

 

Over the course of the next few generations, all nine of the arid plains Clans have been united into what is known as Nine Clans.  Honestly, the larger the alignment became, the easier it was to sway the remaining Clans.  The Clans are still nomadic and responsible for their own, and still travel their traditional Clan routes, though there is much more mingling between the Clans than before, and they still meet for seasonal celebrations and the transition of power.

 

 

There.  That's one, and it went on too long and told too little.

 

One more:

 

Sway (as opposed to rule) by sharing

 

A much more educated people, far smaller in number, and decentralized as student travelers, are defacto "rulers" of  a small forest continent.  Originally arriving here to study, they found native tribes of people similar to themselves and, out of compassion, helped to heal the sick.  They were first revered as god-like beings, which to a being they denied (though it may have stuck with them that they were somehow "better" than the natives, from person to person).  They never settled with the people, and continue to travel as "students of science ("science" in this case being magic, astronomy, astrology, alchemy, all practiced as aspects of botany or meteorology).  They will happily offer advice to natives (when asked, or even volunteer when a clear problem is evident: farming techniques, harvesting of animals, preparations of medicines, or even advanced warnings of great storms), but have never forced it on them.  Over the generations, the native villages noticed that those who accepted the advice of the "wood walkers" tended to fare much better than those who didn't, and eventually the "Storm Seers" became so influential as to be sought out for counsel on all manner of issues, even as villages grew into towns, cities, and eventually small city-states, independent of but peaceful with (on the advice of the Wood Walkers) each other. These mystics (as seen by the natives) do not try or even wish to rule, but they sort of do regardless

 

 

There is a small fortification known as the Peasant's Keep.

 

A castle, ostensibly, is a fortification in which the rulers and their closest confidants live, and in which the peasants and serfs may seek shelter in times of invasion.

 

These castles are "fed" by a feudal system, peasants working farms that ultimately provide food for the nobility and its army.  The larger the nobility and its army, the greater its need for material.  Spread out too far, and even the army is charged with spreading out and making sure that the peasants are performing their due diligence for the nobility  (when they should be drilling, or at least not skipping leg day).

 

When a kingdom gets so large that the peasants realize that during an invasion they have a seventeen mile sprint to the safety of the king's fortifications, problems arise.

 

One such kingdom once existed, and it's furthest-flung reaches were so far flung that the nobility dispatched to keep it governed ordered the construction of a walled fortification at this location, as it was ridiculous to think anyone could make it to the castle.  In this fortification, the army dispatched to enforce the king's law could drill and barrack, and the local nobility tasked with running the poor in this area could live in relative comfort.  The spoils of the poor could be stored here until proper transfer was arranged, and peasants could more readily reach the safety of these walls than those of the great castle beyond the hills.

 

The military quickly realized that this fortification would well-serve a warlord and his men, and upon the completion of the fortification the put on a great feast, at which they slaughtered the various dukes and governors and lay claim to the small castle and the peasants beyond.  Things were never great for peasants, but after two separate battles between the renegade mercenaries and the distant king, things were downright _bad_ for the peasants.  A daring raid had resulted in the food stores of the king's castle being poisoned  (largely though magic), and the king's men became desperate, laying absolute siege to the small keep to gain access to the stores within.  During the battle, the storehouses were burned.  No one had anything worth fighting for, and those were weren't dead or poor simply _left_.  The king's influence dropped considerably, back to a supportable level enjoyed by his ancestors.

 

The peasants slowly repaired the smaller castle, expanding and reinforcing it as time went on, and using it largely as a store house for their harvests.  They take turns training as an army, but today exist largely on trade with caravans and the king up on the hill.   To date, Peasant's Keep has never been taken: the owners fight with a ferocity not seen in any paid mercenary, and they have learned a great deal about repelling invasion (step one being "invade no one else.")

 

 

Meh.

 

Still not working.

 

 

In short:  the king and feudal system doesn't work unless you're willing to let it.   A world filled with kingdoms is a world filled with cowards.  I have no doubts about the reality of a world full of cowards; I really don't.  However, I adventure so that I may _leave_ it once in a while.

 

 

Duke

 

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 I haven't done a great deal working law in my Fantasy campaigns as plot points, but it's a good idea, I tend to pay more attention to government, though.

 

The D&D campaign I'm just starting, the setting is the Plenary Empire, a multi-species society loosely based on the Byzantine Empire (in that it's old, bureaucratic, and is clearly in decline as bits secede in civil wars or are conquered by its neighbors). The ruler is the Autocrat of the city of Pleroma. There is no hereditary aristocracy as such, though the super-rich oligarchic families often manage to pass Exarchies (provician governors) and bureaucratic ministries doewn to a son, daughter, niece or nephew. The population is more than half human, but with significant minorities of dwarves, elves, halflings and orcs, with smaller fractions of other races. All are nominally equal as citizens, as set forth in the ancient dictum" Whoever would live under Plenary law is allowed to live on Plenary land." Many nonhumans have autonomous homelands with their own traditional forms of government, such as small forest kingdoms of elves, monarchic dwarven city-states, halfling provinces with elected mayors, and the tribal council of the Bone Desert orcs. (The caravans of the gnomes are ruled by a "Gnomish Council" that doesn't actually exist, but the gnomes keep up the paperwork as a perpetual joke.) But everybody mixes in the cities.

 

The Autocrat is nominally all-powerful, but after centuries of delegation the ministries have most of the real power and are not going to give it back. The Autocrat can appoint anyone to a ministry or Exarchy as seems prudent. At the Autocrat's death, the ministers and Exarchs gather to select whoever they want as the new Autocrat. (Bribery is often involved.)

 

The campaign is starting in Thalassene, the City of the Sea, the Empire's biggest trading port. Thalassene is an Imperial Free City, subject directly to the Autocrat. It used to have a Lord Mayor elected by the top guildmasters and merchants, but a usurping Autocrat repaid a supportive Admiral by making him the ruler and abolishing the office of Mayor. This doesn't matter much for the aediles of the Imperial civil service. A smart Lord Admiral still pays attention to what the aediles and guildmasters want, though.

 

One of the top guilds is the Juridi, the guild of judges, lawyers and notaries. They have a gaudy marble guildhall, but smart people suggest their real center is the Pandect, a government building holding records of every law and court decision in the Empire's long history. (Or it's supposed to, anyway.) Every Imperial city above a certain size and administrative rank is supposed to hold a Pandect. Victory in court cases often depends on which side can assemble the largest and most impressive body of law and precedent from the Pandect's immense and contradictory supply. (Assuming the judge is honest.)

 

Two points of law that rarely come up:

 

The Empire limits contact between religious and secular authority. This is practicality, not a philosophical commitment to freedom of religion: The Autocrat and civil service don't want spiritual competition. Anyone registered by the Ministry of Cults as in holy orders cannot hold a government post, except on the staff of a city's Pantheon (temple to all gods -- again, a practical matter because you don't want to piss off a god by failing to honor them).

 

The druid college of Falcata Mons is millennia older than the Plenary Empire. Legend says its hilltop is where the elder god Doxomedon surrendered to his usurping son Adrigon, and gave the first legal defense as he pleaded for his life. Doxomedon warned that divine patricide would unmake all physical and moral law: Adrigon would rule so long as he was strongest, but would inevitably be overthrown in turn. It worked: Myth says Doxomedon is bound but was not slain. Plenary law still recognizes the authority of Falcata Mons as the court of final appeal: Its elders can overrule any mortal authority on grounds of natural law, including natural rights, and the good of the world as a whole. This authority has not been invoked in centuries, but it's still on the books.

 

I also wrote up a new background, Bureaucrat, for PCs inspired by China's Judge Dee or Japan's O-Oka. Nobody's used it yet, though.

 

The PCs are starting as a neighborhood watch in a district of Thalassene. There's also a regular City Guard, but it's so undermanned and corrupt as to be nearly useless.

 

Dean Shomshak

 

 

 

 

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In my Greyhawk game the PCs are now based in the Free City of Greyhawk. My take on the city is the council there is an elected body, with open elections every 5 years. There's a property requirement to qualify as a voter. The councilors don't change a lot with each election, as the voter's are pretty conservative, but there's some churn. But that's the City itself. Outside the immediate city surrounds the Free City is in the process of turning a confederation of allied cities into a realm ruled from Greyhawk by the Lord Mayor. Most decidedly not democratic.

 

The PCs found themselves hiring a lawyer in their first adventure in the city. They were accused of a crime they didn't commit. This was actually a ruse by the Lord Mayor who needed some outsiders to carry out an investigation for him. In the end they didn't need to be represented in court but they have since used that lawyer to help them purchase property & set up businesses.

 

Later they used their local fame (and a good amount of their own cash)  to campaign for the enfranchisement of a new borough of the city: Orctown! It lies outside the city walls and is home to people who had fled to Greyhawk City to avoid the Greyhawk Wars* some 20 years earlier. Once the PCs convinced the Council to enfranchise the borough they then campaigned hard for their preferred candidate.

 

Much later than that they engineered the overthrow of the King of Redhand (see the DnD3.5 adventure path Age of Worms for Redhand and Alhaster) and replaced him with an elected council. So they're sort of agents for the spread of democracy.

 

In a game my wife runs for me the PCs live in the Republic of Jataka. The game is inspired by the Jataka Tales, a collection of Buddhist tales with animal characters. The races in the game are all animal folk (monkey-, cat-, lizard- folk etc.) The PCs mistrust the state (I'm taking my Chaotic alignment seriously!) and most especially the president, Louis the Prez (who is basically King Louis from the Jungle Book.) One of our first adventures was investigating the mysterious death of a candidate in the upcoming elections. Much to our disappointment Louis was not involved.

 

Hmm, I realise now I spoke about political systems much more than day to day law.

 

 

*Greyhawk City was not involved in the Greyhawk Wars.  They're named that because the final peace treaties were signed in neutral Greyhawk City. It's all part of the official World of Greyhawk canon.

 

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I would elaborate more. But I have done simple law for simple lands, and complex law for civilizations with deep bureaucracies. I even had a bit for the Jaggiri. But since we have no electricity, and may have to evacuate I cannot elaborate further. Typing this at a Denny’s. 

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IMHO bringing law into a fantasy game is mostly a plot device. Usually specific laws should be applied only as a springboard to an interesting story. A lot of common crimes should be self-evident to any reasonable player: theft, trespassing, disorderly conduct, murder, blasphemy, etc. It's not at all unreasonable for a GM to deal with such situations on a case-by-case basis, rather than working out a whole system beforehand.

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On 10/25/2019 at 5:53 PM, zslane said:

Well bluesguy is, in my experience, a rare example of a GM who takes the time to work out a reasonably plausible legal framework for his medieval fantasy RPG world. .... It was pretty cringeworthy, and I'd like to encourage all GMs to do as bluesguy does.

 

After 30 years of off and on playing and running RPGs I have learned a bit ... Thank you for the compliment.  I did take about a year to build a framework for the world and the cultures before I ran a single adventure.

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On 10/27/2019 at 10:51 AM, Duke Bushido said:

 

 

Dude, I have just sat here for two hours, typing, and eventually deleted it all

....

 

Let me try one more time, keeping in mind that this time I'm not even going to bother trying details:

 

Nine Clans of the arid plains is just what it sounds like: it's a collection of 9 nomadic clans that used to fight constantly, and steal and raid from each other all the time-- little more than barbarians.  

 

....

 

 

In short:  the king and feudal system doesn't work unless you're willing to let it.   A world filled with kingdoms is a world filled with cowards.  I have no doubts about the reality of a world full of cowards; I really don't.  However, I adventure so that I may _leave_ it once in a while.

 

 

Duke

 

 

Thank you that was helpful.  Sorry you invested so much time.   I really like the whole Nine Clans story and impact on its culture. 

 

As for the last statement, there are things IMRL that I don't want intruding on my gaming life, so I totally understand "reality of a world full of cowards" is something I get.

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My own personal preference is for worlds that seem "lived in".  Which I guess explains my preference for non-High Fantasy, non-Epic Fantasy.  (I don't want to say Low Fantasy because, like "bemused", it seems that the phrase has been misused enough that I'm not sure anyone is really using it to mean the same thing.)  

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On October 26, 2019 at 7:37 PM, Chris Goodwin said:

 

You've kind of hit one of my pet peeves, that being the notion that fantasy has to equal medieval (which I disagree with).

 

Same.  While I don't mind "doing medieval" once in a while, I'd prefer to really invest in something new.  Honestly, I am _delighted_ by the existence of urban fantasy.  Don't get me wrong: I absolutely _detest_ it, but I'm very pleased that it _exists_.  It's a slap in the face to all who have ever told me that "Fantasy means X".  It's my fantasy, damn it!  And more often than not, you will find that my fantasy contains few kingdoms, very little medieval Europe, no elves, no dwarves, damned few giants, and a credulity-straining number of thick-thighed brunettes with muscular calves!

 

Wait....   I think I'm mixing things here.....

 

 

On October 26, 2019 at 7:37 PM, Chris Goodwin said:

 

(Also, why are all fantasy worlds not only generically medieval and feudal, but always with a generic "council"?  Never a parliament and never any political parties?)

 

On October 26, 2019 at 8:38 PM, assault said:

 

Historically, political parties as such were a late development. More or less 18th century. They didn't take their full modern form until somewhat later, and still exist in a relatively "primitive" form in the USA.

 

I could be wrong here, and don't presume to speak for someone else, but I _suspect_, based on my own irritation with the trope, is the _generic_ part: it's all the same bunch of talking heads, appointed the same way, doing the same thing, handing down verdicts and edicts without anything _behind_ those decisions.  They all work the same way; they all do the same thing; they all have the same intrigues.  This goes all the way up to the freakin' Jedi Council that Lucas thought we should give a crap about.  Well, the best way to make us care about something is to not let us in on anything more than the talking heads aspect, apparently.

 

 

 

On October 28, 2019 at 12:32 AM, Scott Ruggels said:

Typing this at a Denny’s. 

 

 

Keep typing, but for the love of all that's holy, DO NOT EAT!   Dude, I wouldn't wish that on anyone!

 

 

Seriously though; how are things on your end?

 

11 hours ago, bluesguy said:

Sorry you invested so much time.

 

 

Not at all.  I _wanted_ to share, but couldn't seem to summon any words....   Happens from time to time.  I'll finish out with a small "bonus."

11 hours ago, bluesguy said:

 I really like the whole Nine Clans story and impact on its culture. 

 

Thank you.  I'd like to say "Oh, well, it was inspired!  It came to me --- " blah blah blah."

 

But the fact is the players happened across a band of nomads, and got lucky enough to get in their good graces (instead of their stewpots).  They adventured the next _several_ sessions both working with the caravan and using it as a sort of "base of operations."  The more they worked with the nomads, the more they got entangled, the more they needed to know, the more they wanted to know, etc--- well, you know how that goes.  I kept notes as things developed; worked on them between games, etc, and focused on "there is not a kingdom and there are no serfs!"   In short, whether they realized it or not, as is so often the case in my worlds, the _players_ designed it, if only through questioning and creating a need.

 

For example, I really wanted them to be in a secluded area, but I needed a _huge_ crowd (of both possible suspects and possible allies, for the particular scenario), but how to make that happen?  How about a big nomad get-together?  Well that's freakin' bland and over-used.  Why are they getting together?  Seasonal tradition?  Spouse shopping?  Elections?

 

Once you decide on a couple of reasons, you have to put them together:  a new leader.  Nobility?  Maybe.  He must be from a different Clan; the law expressly states that no man can be leader twice, and no Clan may lead a consecutive season.  And then the rest falls out-- even the "what is written" stuff.

 

 

 

As to that "bonus:"   In one of my rare kingdoms, law was based on the Flame of Truth.  The founder of the kingdom, a warrior mage, in order to know the virtue of his Knights, summoned incredible power to create an everlasting flame in his courtyard.  In front of this flame, his knights would recite their oaths.  Periodically, in the presence of the spoken truth, the flame would burn more fiercely.  (Detect: spoken truth, 14-).  It was spotty at best, but quiet reassuring when it worked.

 

As the ages passed, the entire kingdom took to resolving disputes in front of the Flame of Truth.  You see, at "game time," the rightful king was gone far abroad (and had, in truth, died, as this "king" had left nearly forty years prior), and the regent he had appointed had unfortunately died of sword poisoning.  To be fair, if the sword _hadn't_ been poisoned, he likely would have died of sepsis, which is far, far more awful.  

 

Appointed judges would stand behind the flame and hear testimony from each side; both sides were allowed to have their personal clergyman represent them (sort of lawyer / guidance councilor / character witness).  All cases could be brought before the Flame up to three times.  If neither side could get a response from the Flame in three cases, both sides were judged negatively.  If both sides got a reaction from the Flame, the judge and clergymen would work to find a reasonable solution, with each side taking a binding oath before the Flame.  If only one side got a reaction, then the other was declared to be at fault / guilty what-have-you.  Your life generally went downhill after the Flame had lit for your opponent, but not for you.  As time went on, the entire society began to pride itself (quite wrongly) on being scrupulous, honest, truthful people who could not be deceived.

 

No amount of science was going to sway a decision made by the Flame.  Was it an idea law system?  No; not really.  And that, I think, is why it was believable for the players.  :lol:

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Duke Bushido said:

no elves, no dwarves, damned few giants

 

Is there a lot of magic and other magical beasties at least? If not, then it sounds more like alt-history than fantasy to me.

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55 minutes ago, zslane said:

 

Is there a lot of magic and other magical beasties at least? If not, then it sounds more like alt-history than fantasy to me.

 

Why does fantasy have to have those particular tropes? Magic I'll give you, but elves'n'dwarves?  Why do they have to be there?

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