[MUD-Dev] Legal enforcement mechanisms (was Re:Blacksnow revisited)

Matt Mihaly the_logos at achaea.com
Sat Apr 20 07:31:36 New Zealand Standard Time 2002

On Thu, 18 Apr 2002, Jon Leonard wrote:

> But the question of jurisdiction leads me to a tangent of much
> greater interest to me.  To what extent is it fun in a game to
> have multiple competing justice systems?
> There's an opportunity (probably exploited by some games I should
> be playing) to add an extra dimension to group-vs-group conflict,
> by having different guilds, cities, or governments have different
> ideas about what constitutes 'legal', and different ideas as to
> how these things should be enforced.

This happens in Achaea, and, as you say, probably a number of other
games. Various political organizations evolve legal systems that can
become quite elaborate, and govern things ranging from plantlife
conservation (the Council of Oakstone regulates plant and herb
harvesting very strictly) to city-state property tax on shops in the
city. The city-states in particular have evolved player-written
legal codes that differ from city to city. It was unofficial for a
couple years, and then one particularly Solomon-like figure wrote a
formal constitution for her city, and since then, all city-states
write their own legal codes that regulate all sorts of things. It's
very cool, insofar as the debates over the interpretation of the
codes mirror the kind of thing you see in real legal systems.
> From an individual characters's perspective, he might be engaging
> in a trade (mercenary work, for example) that's legal in some of
> the cities in the game, but not others.  This impacts where in the
> game it is safe to go, which NPCs will treat the character as a
> criminal (or even an outlaw) and so forth.

Well, I don't think it'd be really possible to allow for an
interesting amount of player-developed legal code that tied in
directly with NPC behavior (or at least, you'd have to limit the
range of nuances any particular system could have). Every player
situation is different, and they really get into the details. What
we do is allow them to declare other people enemies of the
city. It's a little crude at the moment, as either you're an enemy
or you're not, and if you are, you're ruthlessly attacked by archers
and telepaths upon entering the city. There could be some more
gradations, but it's dependent upon a player interpreting the legal
code and then imposing a punishment (being enemied). Fines to be
unenemied have become fairly popular lately, and seem to generate a
bit of extra revenue for the city-state.

>From my admin perspective, at least, these kind of in-game
activities are the most fun. They don't directly involve a ton of
players, because most players aren't really up to writing legal
codes (even when they're not composed of 10 million laws), but the
results trickle down and create consequences for player actions,
which is a prerequisite for immersion.


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