Thursday, April 23, 2009

Jury Duty...

I had jury duty a couple days ago (which prevented me from logging onto the MUD for awhile, except for on breaks, when I logged on with my phone... and lemme tell ya, reading 8pt type on a 3 inch screen isn't exactly conducive to mudding...) This sort of got me thinking about what a legal system on Lost Souls would look like.

There really isn't much of a legal system on Lost Souls to speak of... The various settlements do have guard forces, which usually do enforce some rudimentary rules (usually 'don't attack people', but sometimes also stuff like 'no orcs'), but it's really only a 'legal system' inasmuch as a deputized posse might be considered one. Indeed, there is no real incentive, once one finds oneself on the wrong side of the law, not to simply hack their way out of a city -- even if one wanted to surrender and face the wheels of justice, there is no 'perform surrender' command, and no system by which the surrendering party might be held to account for her actions. The automatic sentence for any crime, no matter how small or inadvertent (such as accidentally catching a Losthaven guard in an area attack) is death (assuming that the person cannot fight her way out.)

Which brings me back to the top of the post... What would a legal system on Lost Souls look like? Of course, the ideal legal system would be player-driven -- those interested in becoming guards, judges, or lawmakers in a particular settlement would be able to (assuming they satisfied certain prerequisites), and would be free to make and enforce the laws within their town as best they could, with a certain amount of system support to provide some needed abilities for law enforcers... But of course, a player-driven legal system would require a much larger player base to really be feasible for even one settlement or kingdom within Lost Souls, much less a majority of them. It would certainly bring a lot more of a roleplaying element to the MUD, though...

Somewhat more possible (at least with current MUD demographics) might be to make justice a minigame of some sort (perhaps similar to what the Pantarchic Church has with confession.) Someone who committed a crime could surrender to guards and undergo a minigame to determine the outcome of his or her case... a good result coupled with a minor crime (such as accidentally hitting someone in town with an area attack) might allow the character to get off with a simple fine, while a worse result might entail a period of exile (basically, a period of days during which the guards in the town were auto-aggro to you). In order to encourage compliance, fugitives from the law (those who choose to fight their way out) might encounter persistent (lasting across reboots) auto-aggro from the guards in the town/kingdom/culture (basically however wide the devs would want to make each jurisdiction... guards in Camelot, for instance, would likely be on the lookout for a fugitive from Devonshire)... Perhaps extremely poor behavior (such as amassing a 600k bounty in Losthaven ;P ) might become grounds under which a character could find herself being excluded from a greater range of settlements and cultures (as her reputation for violence and lawlessness grew).

Anyhow, just something I was mulling over the other day while serving my civic duty (I didn't make it on any juries...)

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