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Number 6
2008-03-25, 07:54 PM
It's a problem that I run into a lot in RPGs. If the town's police are too weak, evil player characters can get away with anything and their players start acting immature. I think it's necessary that the town guards, militia, whatever are stronger than the party.

If the local police are tough enough to smack down out of control PCs, the players sometimes start saying "If the police are so much higher level than we are, why don't they go get rid of the ogres? They're breaking the law, too"

If the local police won't do the party's work for them because they don't have evidence, the players whine "They didn't have any evidence that I stole the town treasury either. You're not being fair."

Any solution to this problem? Other than just saying "Good alignments only?" I also don't like the "wandering high level NPC comes by just when the party gets out of hand" solution either. It's a bit contrived.

Spiryt
2008-03-25, 08:03 PM
If the local police are tough enough to smack down out of control PCs, the players sometimes start saying "If the police are so much higher level than we are, why don't they go get rid of the ogres? They're breaking the law, too"

I suppose that gving police specifing builds - to incapacitate people, not to kill monsters, - would help. You know, a lot of grapple, trips, disarms. Like actual police forces everywhere, everywhene.

Good tactic (cooperation, reach weapon, nets, attacks of opp).

Of course it depends what you want to have. I suppose that City Guard in Waterdeep would be as I said - highly proffesional ec. Guards in some province towns would indeed be just group of poorly organized thugs.

snoopy13a
2008-03-25, 08:12 PM
The strength of the town guard is in numbers. Additionally, the local noble has a responsibility to protect the local villages.

If the players get really out of control send in a posse to hunt them made up of:

1) The Local Noble (Mid-level fighter)

2) The Noble's retainers (Low to Mid Fighters)

3) The Town Guard (mostly low level fighters, a mid level or two)

4) The Town Guard from the surrounding towns

5) A group of concerned citizens (commoners)

6) Good-Aligned NPC Adventurers who happen to be in town (Mid level in any classes)

7) Priests from the local temple (one or two mid level clerics, a couple of low level ones

8) The local wizard (low to mid level wizard)

A small group of the town guard can be beatable but if the players decide to attack the guard, have the entire district form up a large posse and begin to hunt down the players. Strongly suggest that the players flee for their lives outside the country. If not, have the posse wipe them out.

Dausuul
2008-03-25, 08:12 PM
It's a problem that I run into a lot in RPGs. If the town's police are too weak, evil player characters can get away with anything and their players start acting immature. I think it's necessary that the town guards, militia, whatever are stronger than the party.

If the local police are tough enough to smack down out of control PCs, the players sometimes start saying "If the police are so much higher level than we are, why don't they go get rid of the ogres? They're breaking the law, too"

If the local police won't do the party's work for them because they don't have evidence, the players whine "They didn't have any evidence that I stole the town treasury either. You're not being fair."

Any solution to this problem? Other than just saying "Good alignments only?" I also don't like the "wandering high level NPC comes by just when the party gets out of hand" solution either. It's a bit contrived.

I favor having a city watch that's individually weaker than the PCs, but there are a heck of a lot more of them, enough to swarm the party under if need be.

horseboy
2008-03-25, 08:13 PM
Well, there's desk cops, beat cops, homicide detectives, SWAT, CSI (cause a couple of clerics and a mage will solve SO many crimes in D&D). Each one would be a different level and different classes. SWAT is what you roll out to keep PC's in line. They don't leave town because they don't have jurisdiction.

Chronos
2008-03-25, 08:18 PM
The police could go clean out that den of ogres, but then who would protect the town while they're gone? Their responsibilities lie in the city, not in the surrounding wilderness.

Also, part of the advantage the police have is information: They have patrols, watch-houses, informants, etc. that can tell them where a miscreant lives, what their daily routine is like, who they do business with, etc. But this information network only extends within the city. So they can arrest the adventurers, if need be, by catching them sleeping, not by being outright superior.

Finally, in any D&D world, adventurers themselves are going to be a significant portion of any civilized nation's security forces. Your PCs are disturbing the peace of the city too much? Then the duke hires some other band of adventurers to take out the menace. And the more trouble you cause, the more the duke will be willing to pay the heroes, so the more powerful heroes he'll get. They don't just happen by; they're there precisely because they're getting paid to be, because of what you're doing.

SamTheCleric
2008-03-25, 08:20 PM
Only as strong as Sting makes them.

... What?

:smallbiggrin:

TheThan
2008-03-25, 08:23 PM
how about a swat team designed to deal with adventurers out to cause undo mischief?

where normal police deal with day to day crime, the swat team deals with adventurers that can bend the laws of physics. as far as how powerful should they be? well that depends on how powerful your pcs are.

Pie Guy
2008-03-25, 08:33 PM
Or you could warn them that when they distract the campaign too much by nuking towns, suddenly all the magic items and side quests are gone, and when they fight the BBEG, they just get killed outright from lack ofexperience.

Later, when they're annoyed, you can say that they shouldn't have destroyed the town. And then maybe find some new friends, because the old ones will probably have left.

Flawless
2008-03-25, 08:36 PM
how about a swat team designed to deal with adventurers out to cause undo mischief?

where normal police deal with day to day crime, the swat team deals with adventurers that can bend the laws of physics. as far as how powerful should they be? well that depends on how powerful your pcs are.

Okay, but then why not send this swat team to kill the ogre instead of the PCs?

BardicDuelist
2008-03-25, 08:43 PM
I have groups of adventurers who specializing in dealing with rogue groups of adventurers (basically, what the PCs normally do with the BBEG).

Dispel/Counterspell Master (Warlock or Sorcerer)
Spell Thief (not a great PC class, but a great enemy)
Trip/Disarm/Sunder Master
Etc.

They are basically PCs, but not played by the players. Where the PCs would normally be the ones dealing with a rogue wizard or maurauding merc. band, now, since they are the maurauding threat, they have to face people like themselves.

I hope that made sense. Basically, make a group of PCs, twink them out as much as you would let your players twink a character out, and have them be the problem.

Don't try to railroad with this, but make it a significant threat so that they players don't feel that they can do whatever they like.

holywhippet
2008-03-25, 08:46 PM
Begin by deciding what level the average person in the game world is. Level 3 is a good estimate for an average world. Next ask yourself how dangerous living in the city/town is. If the guards see regular action against bandits/monsters etc. then raise their level by an appropriate amount. Now consider the wealth and politics of the city. Under a wealthy, benevolent ruler the guards are more likely to have high quality equipment, possibly even magical equipment for the higher ranking officers.

Finally, don't forget mercenaries. If the guard runs into something they can't handle, they are likely to hire someone to deal with it.

Lupy
2008-03-25, 08:50 PM
Well, if you go with the (N)PC party, think linear guild, so the party is really challenged, have them sneak up, team up, and then beat up.


The posse idea is better, but the clerics should be one mid and the rest low, maybe with a few temple guard warriors. And use warriors over fighters except for the noble...

Or have an adventuring Paladin with a challenging CR show up and whup it up on them, then throw them in prison after taking away all their stolen goods.

Jack_Simth
2008-03-25, 08:57 PM
Okay, but then why not send this swat team to kill the ogre instead of the PCs?

1) The ogre's aren't bothering the town's citizens; they're bothering the traveling merchants who go through that pass. It's not the king that hires you - it's the local merchants association.
2) The swat team charges more per outing for something that's not an immediate threat.
3) The swat team isn't so much an on-call swat team as another band of adventurers who take bounties. They're stronger than the party, but they also charge more.

snoopy13a
2008-03-25, 08:59 PM
Okay, but then why not send this swat team to kill the ogre instead of the PCs?

It is probably more cost-effective to use PC adventureres.

Suppose a few town guardsmen lose their lives. The town loses the investment they made in training the guards. Plus, the town has the problem of supporting the families of the deceased. This cost will probably be more expensive then whatever bounty they'd offer to adventurers.

Why not just post a bounty that any adventurer can collect? If a couple of PCs or even the entire party die, who cares? They don't live in the town or have any roots in the community. If the PCs succeed, then it is money well spent. If the PCs don't succeed, the town owes nothing and another group of adventurers should get the job done.

Smiley_
2008-03-25, 09:16 PM
Frankly, there should always be consequenses for gross stupidity. The chaotic stupid, er evil wizard begins to start bombing a small town with fireballs and beteor swarms. There is always someone more powerfull, be it an anti-magic specialist team (many counterspells, forcecage, feeblemind from many directions) or the epic-level wizard and his brother who are also the king's advisors can do a quick teleport and obliterate this wizard in two turns.

The local athorities, I feel, should be on par with the PCs at the least.

In a small town, the guards may be dispatched handily by the PCs

The guards and soldiers from a nearby outpost arrive, putting more pressure on the PCs. The PCs are still winning. Now what? This is enough time for messages to get back and forth between some of the larger cities and the outposts. A group of Wizards and skilled fighters teleport in with an anti-magic field to prevent escape through teleportation on the PCs and proceed to neutralize them.

They are captured and scentenced to death for mass homicide. Game Over

AslanCross
2008-03-25, 09:17 PM
If the town watch/guard/militia is important enough to figure in the plot, then they should be as strong or as weak as they need to be for the PCs to affect them reasonably.

I think Neverwinter Nights 2 did this reasonably well. If you joined the Watch, it was mired in corrupt elements who were either deliberately doing it for profit or were just too afraid to stand up to the corrupt ones. Any straight-laced cops were too weak to really work against lawless elements properly. Depending on how well the PCs do, they can turn around the tide of corruption and actually make the Watch do its job right.

I've never really played the other route, where the PCs join the thieves' guild, but you end up going against the Watch, which in that case is still big and organized enough to give a series of challenging encounters.

FireFox
2008-03-25, 09:18 PM
I personally like to say that "No the guard cannot fight the ogres, they have to keep the peace, which is why they contracted you to do it, duh"

TheCountAlucard
2008-03-25, 09:29 PM
The strength of city guards is directly proportional to the size of the city. That's why small towns (which are a poor choice for evil adventurers to prey upon) are so constantly in danger by ogres, while the denizens of a large metropolis don't have to worry about evil adventurers.

And, of course, there's always the option of hiring mercenaries...

Aquillion
2008-03-25, 09:31 PM
If the PCs act up occasionally, there's not much you can do. It's part of the perks of being a PC. Local town guards are generally not going to be very strong (if they even exist.)

But if they do it regularly, and make a nuisance of themselves, then it's fair to have people start trying to hunt them down. The exact form this takes could depend on the world.

In Eberron, say, or someplace like it (relatively civilized and organized), if they did things that seriously disrupted trade they would quickly attract the ire of the major houses or factions that depend on it. That world might not have high-level characters, but it has something even worse -- good communications and transportation, so a group of players might find endless swarms of decently-equipped mid-level characters looking for them (and sharing gossip on their tactics, etc, so after a few fights you can have the enemies start to adapt to any of their tricks.) Plus, professional bounty hunters are likely to be optimized for duels with PCs.

In worlds with high-level characters, the players might eventually step on someone's toes. Maybe one of those townsfolk they just murdered was Elminster's second cousin or something (or your world's Elminster equivalent). You should not pull this out just because the players are occasionally doing bad things (then it would feel fake), but if they keep burning down towns and murdering everyone in sight they'll eventually kill / hurt / steal from someone they shouldn't have.

Robbing banks is much easier to punish. Banks have money in them because wealthy, important people put money in them. Wealthy, important people have wealthy, important friends... if the PCs rob the head bank of a major metropolis, well, where exactly do you think that town's highest-level caster keeps his cash? Which businessmen have the best lines of communication to the high priest and so on?

Now, speaking of religions, it's obviously very bad form to have deities stepping in left and right... but if the PCs rob a major temple, kill important priests, or do things like that, eventually the deity is going to get involved. Probably not personally, but they're more than capable of sending nasty challenges after the PCs. What if the PCs refuse to obligingly offend a deity? Well, the thing is, NPCs know the PCs won't want to offend a deity -- they might call in a major priest in the local religion for help, say. If the PCs kill them, then you have an excuse to throw all sorts of things at them; at the very least, they should realize that killing the equivalent of an major bishop in the local religion is a big problem in all sorts of ways.

At the very least, once the PCs have won the enmity of a major religion you'll have all sorts of plot hooks.

Benejeseret
2008-03-25, 09:43 PM
I like the police to be just above the average citizen (npc warriors). Can they smack down the PC's....no

But if the PC's commit a crime and a warrior NPC tells for them to halt they can easily kill him. BUT, that warrior (peace officer) has the support of the entire town and a small legion of other officers who (knowing you are a cop killer) begin to use extreme measures and call on community support to take you down.

Reoutation (warrents, etc) play a big role as noone will sell to you, noone will let you in their Inns, everyone rats you out. Eventually, bounty hunters (or the nations version of KGB/FBI/SWAT) start to come after the party and they are PC classed, well armed, and using tactics to the extreme.

Spellwarp sniper empowered headshot.

Artificer tactical squad metamagic spell trigger wand of fireballs shotgun.

Neon Knight
2008-03-25, 09:46 PM
Yay! A chance for me to employ my power model!

Power relations in roleplaying games where the PCs are the force of change are as follows:

Bystanders < Problem < PCs (Agents of Change)

Note that this measures ability to solve the problem power, not power in the combat sense. A schoolgirl is less powerful in conventional combat than a SWAT team, but might have more power to solve the problem than said SWAT team. (i.e. if she had the ability to see and speak with the dead, thus allowing her to calm spirits that the SWAT team are unable to affect.) Likewise, an entity that could kill any humanoid type creature (but cannot affect any creature of any other type) might be more combat powerful against a group of Human PCs, but he will have less ability to solve the problem if the problem is an Outsider type.

When the PCs start doing things like killing guards and townsfolk, they leave the model, or at least gain a new role within the model. They are now the problem. You can take this train of thought to its logical conclusion.

But honestly, gaining OOC player compliance and consent is more worthwhile than any in-game wrangling. You should let the PCs pursue the goals they want to, within reason; Everyone should be having fun, and nobody should leave the boundaries of good taste as set by your group.

TempusCCK
2008-03-25, 10:01 PM
I'm a firm believer in the "If the PC's can do it, so can anyone else." PC's causing havok in a town, well, then eventually good aligned NPC's are coming for them.

Mark Hall
2008-03-25, 10:23 PM
how about a swat team designed to deal with adventurers out to cause undo mischief?

where normal police deal with day to day crime, the swat team deals with adventurers that can bend the laws of physics. as far as how powerful should they be? well that depends on how powerful your pcs are.

Actually, I was about to point to the Waterdeep supplement, which includes such a group. High-level adventurers whom the city keeps on retainer to deal with threats beyond the watch's ability to handle.

Aquillion
2008-03-25, 11:03 PM
When the PCs start doing things like killing guards and townsfolk, they leave the model, or at least gain a new role within the model. They are now the problem. You can take this train of thought to its logical conclusion.Not really. It's exactly the same, when you get down to it... you're looking at the model the wrong way.

The model is more appropriately: Players have goals, there are monsters between them and the goals, they slaughter the monsters and win.

When the players go 'bad', that just means they're facing different monsters (teams of Paladins, creatures sent by high-level wizards pissed off at the players making trouble near their towers, agents of whatever the local power or authorities are); the overall effect should be the same.

Let the players do whatever they want in that regard. The important part is to ensure that they keep meeting appropriate challenges on the route to their goals. Whether that goal is grabbing loot from the depths of the dungeon or grabbing loot from the king's treasury doesn't make any difference at all... you just need a slightly different mindset.

However, if the players are behaving like outlaws, it's important to give them the feel of being outlaws; your world will start to feel fake without it anyway. As they become more famous, people should run on sight, towns should close their gates and hire help whenever they hear they're in the neighborhood, etc, etc, etc.

I don't think you need a specific swat team (although that can work, too). Just think things through to the logical conclusion. Who are the 'higher-up' powers in your world? Who stands to lose if the players cause problems, disrupt trade, ruin harvests by killing commoners, etc? Does your world have religious authorities that are going to object?

You should start on a local scale and work your way up, making it clear that there's always someone one level higher. If the players rob one merchant and beat up a few guards, it isn't likely to be a big deal; but if they're making a lot of fuss regularly, the local administrators (local priests, mayors, local lords, etc) are going to object and call on their resources to stop them. Even those resources aren't probably going to be too much... but here's the important part. In my experience, many DMs make the mistake of turning every town into an isolated island, where what you do in that town, stays in that town. Don't do that. It's not realistic anyway, unless the players are on the frontier or something (where some lawlessness is expected).

The local lords and mayors have superiors. If they can't pay taxes, those superiors will be upset and ask what's wrong. If even a mere parish priest or cleric gets killed, there's going to be people higher-up in the faith who are going to have to send a replacement, and they'll want to know what's up. If they keep getting the same answers about the same people, they're going to want to deal with the problem. This chain just keeps going up until you get to the highest-level people in your world (if the PCs are the highest level people in your world, put some other high-level people in your world or throw high-ranking religious opponents at the PCs until they've done enough damage and killed enough important priests to realistically warrant some degree of divine intervention.)

Also: The OP mentioned something about the players complaining about evidence and trials. Don't do those. Make it clear that while there might be local justice, once you've pissed off someone important evidence doesn't matter anymore. Unless you're in Eberron or someplace similar, most D&D worlds are places where those in power make their own justice. This is another reason to get religion involved, too; they can speak to the dead, consult their god, or or even resurrect that priest the PCs just killed, if they want. Major religions aren't going to have much trouble accessing divinations, so if you put those in the PCs path then they're not going to have many excuses to avoid getting caught eventually.

Yahzi
2008-03-25, 11:13 PM
I'm a firm believer in the "If the PC's can do it, so can anyone else." PC's causing havok in a town, well, then eventually good aligned NPC's are coming for them.
Exactly. When the PCs start killing the townsfolk, they're doing more damage than the ogres out in the woods. So they become somebody else's adventure.

In my world the local ruler is the highest level person around (6th-9th PC class). He has an army of mooks. He lets the PCs go after the ogres because if he goes after them, it could be a trap - there could be something hiding behind the ogres. High-level people are worth a lot of XP, so they have to worry about other high-level monsters coming after them. Instead, he sends out appropriate level people to beat up the ogres, because it's not worth any other high-level's time to jump them (and besides, they could be a trap!). Only when the dragon shows up does the ruler come out to play - and the dragon is playing the same game, sending in his mooks to try and flush the ruler out.

Caewil
2008-03-26, 01:58 AM
The police don't have to be powerful. Just make them wanted men so that nobody will want to buy their loot. Or sell them magical items. Then where is their adventuring gear going to come from? They'll either have to shape up or join team evil.

Number 6
2008-03-26, 02:11 AM
How would you suggest handling it if the PCs break some minor laws? For example, most cities ban armor and weapons larger than a rapier inside city limits. Are they going to call out the SWAT Team because this obnoxoius fighter won't check his +4 Great Sword at the door?

Frosty
2008-03-26, 02:13 AM
They'll either have to shape up or join team evil.

Probably the 2nd choice, if they're slaughtering towns. At team evil, they'll have the support of an evil deity, so if they're doing enough evil, the evil deity will protect them from a good deity's horrific vengeance, and hell, even reward them with extra abilities, equipment, concubines, etc. Just because good towns will stop selling to you doesn't mean you're cut off. you just gotta go to a different town.

Or, attack and loot the town. You're evil, and you possibly have the support of an evil religion/organization behind you. Go do some pillaging and slaughtering! How else will we have Blood for the Blood God?

Rutee
2008-03-26, 02:25 AM
How would you suggest handling it if the PCs break some minor laws? For example, most cities ban armor and weapons larger than a rapier inside city limits. Are they going to call out the SWAT Team because this obnoxoius fighter won't check his +4 Great Sword at the door?

Just.. don't have that law. Honestly in a setting where a Fighter can reasonably walk around in a +4 (AKA beings of power exist high enough that make them and sell them), and can reasonably be challenged, the cops probably /want/ the PCs to keep their equipment; First there's the good sense of appeasing people who can smack you down militarily, but there's also the problem of "What if, as unlikely as it is, an Uber-monster that they normally fight shows up here?"

There's also the fact that such a law, to me, only seems likely to cause problems in the first place. It may enrich the experience, I suppose, but given how your group seems to behave, it's really just asking for trouble without making the game feel better. So just.. don't have those laws. Even if it makes sense IC, if it's much OOC trouble it's not worth it (probably).

Talic
2008-03-26, 02:27 AM
Simple. Apathy.

Town guards can be seen to protect towns... because it's THEIR town.

Investigating the cave over yonder? Psh, you gotta be boopin' me.

Town guards may be familiar with their town, the streets, the tactics... But not tactics for the crazy stuff. Oh yes, they can handle most flavors of humanoid. But they're not equipped to handle a trog's stench, of an elemental's earthglide, or what have you. And they're not brave enough to risk it when there's a very good chance of seein' problems.

After all, a guard may go two years, and see nothing more than a few dozen tickets and a couple drunks.

He goes to the cave? He's probably gonna see some boop hit the fan.

Aquillion
2008-03-26, 03:10 AM
How would you suggest handling it if the PCs break some minor laws? For example, most cities ban armor and weapons larger than a rapier inside city limits. Are they going to call out the SWAT Team because this obnoxoius fighter won't check his +4 Great Sword at the door?Honestly? Who cares. One thing the guards are not going to do (unless they're really stupid) is pick an unnecessary fight with high-level adventurers over misdemeanors; even if there are people in your game world who could smack the players down, they're probably not going to want to waste their time doing it over something so stupid.

What you can do, though, is make it clear that the guards are distressed. You could have them ask the players to stow their weapons nicely, and maybe make diplomacy in town more touchy for the players. If the players are worried about letting their weapons out of their hands (and come on, what player wouldn't be--they have a valid concern when the weapon is probably worth more than most of the town), you could have the guards suggest an alternative solution, like tying the weapon in its sheath or whatever with silk so it can't be easily drawn in anger.

Basically, play the guards as really, really unwilling to have a fight over this, because that's probably the way they would be (if anything, it'd probably be the guards who'd get in trouble with the brass for causing fights with big-shot adventurers.) You should make it (politely) clear to the players that they're breaking the law, and that this might make things more touchy diplomatically, but it doesn't make sense from either a gameplay or realism perspective for the guards to push harder than that when dealing with normally helpful and profitable adventurers who could, nonetheless, likely flatten the whole town without breaking a sweat if antagonized.

Behold_the_Void
2008-03-26, 03:16 AM
I've found the best place to use the "no weapons" rule is in large cities where they can enforce it. The suggestion about making the guards edgy around heavily armed PCs in smaller towns makes sense.

I made a large metropolis based on Rome once, and the legions patrolled the entire city and had an excellent communication network. The standard rank-and-file themselves were generally well-trained (2nd level warriors at least) and could fight well in numbers (Heroes of Battle has some good stuff on this), and could deal with most threats. For bigger threats, however, the crack troops could be called in, since the army employed "specialists" (essentially adventurers) for larger threats both at home and abroad. Not to mention the setting's Mordenkainen-equivalent lived in the city and was the headmaster of the Mage Academy.

In this setting I had a no weapons without a permit and no drawn weapons law in place, the permits were generally easy to get but the laws were strictly enforced (I let all my PCs start with most of the permits since they'd have it through their mercenary guild). I also had tiers of permits for spells, as the city was highly bureaucratic all of it was strictly legislated. Since the city had the power to enforce it though, they could do that. When the PCs when to a little hamlet in the middle of nowhere, their weapons were generally ignored (especially since if something was taking them to such a hamlet, it was generally some kind of threat).

Khanderas
2008-03-26, 03:16 AM
First of all, the PC's should know that killing a police on duty will result in expulsion from civilised society. Outlaws if you will. When police Level 3 comes to arrest you Archmage level 19, don't kill them "for fun", in a world where you can do the things one can do in DnD this rule would be very enforced. Police officers are not for xp, killing one will not be glossed over and will not be forgiven easily.

Obvioulsly most town guards will be more or less helpless to deal with you after a certain point. Does that mean the level 3 constable has to leave you be ?
Certainly not ! If there is ANY kind of civilisation (and there must be if that +4 sword can be made and universities that teach level 6+ spells) there will be a network of law enforcement, including (but not limited to) paladin orders, bounty hunters and the possibility to call in private and kingdom armies.

Cross a point and like the stars in Grand Theft Auto, stronger countermeasures will be applied. Teams of TRAINED bountyhunters (means classlevels) with a very very high chance of success to take the PCs down. Those bounty hunters in turn can call in favors from the local militia, army or archmage.
Add and include the Paladin orders who would mesh quite well in capture attempts... lay on hands, auras, good saves.
Noone wants a mass murderer loose in the city (and if your PC's are collecting police badges, that is what they are, even if I look at it leniently) so there will not be a shortage of willing NPC's to bring your guys down.


So why are those teams not taking care of the Ogre problem ?
Out of juristiction. You dont see police officers crossing borders to vigilante justice around in other countries / counties. Trekking for days or weeks though the wilderness to investigate a possible band of orcs ?
Thats adventurer work, or possibly bounty hunters.

The police keep the peace in town, they stick to the town.


PS. If poisons didnt suck so hard its pointless in DnD, a healthy dose of sleeping poison would be in the next tavern inn stew. But poisons in DnD... worthless at best ranging up to worthless AND expensive.

Ryusacerdos
2008-03-26, 03:19 AM
Cross a point and like the stars in Grand Theft Auto, stronger countermeasures will be applied. Teams of TRAINED bountyhunters (means classlevels) with a very very high chance of success to take the PCs down. Those bounty hunters in turn can call in favors from the local militia, army or archmage.

...thats pretty awesome.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-03-26, 04:02 AM
How would you suggest handling it if the PCs break some minor laws? For example, most cities ban armor and weapons larger than a rapier inside city limits. Are they going to call out the SWAT Team because this obnoxoius fighter won't check his +4 Great Sword at the door?

The watchmen are going to take it away. If the fighter escalates the situation by resisting physically, support will be called in.

Resisting? The watchmen at the gate get involved.
Causing a disruption? The guys inside the gatehouse come out.
Attacking a watchman? Whistles are blown, every watchman in the block is aware that there's trouble.
Killing a watchman? The guys at the watch barracks are going to be called in.
Being too tough for the Watch? Resident adventurers and city heroes are going to get involved.
If there's nobody in the city or state tough enough to deal with the PCs, then you have to wonder why the heck the PCs are bothering to pick fights with watchmen, or are being stopped at the gate anyway. Aren't they heroes already? (Or if they are, in fact, villains, then there's bound to be some heroes looking for them, adding the razing of a city to their list of crimes.)

For instance, if a 15th-level character starts trouble with the Waterdeep Watch, the city will keep increasing their level of response until the Grey Hand enforcerers (high-level adventurers working as a SWAT team) or Khelben Blackstaff are involved, and the PCs are pissing their pants (with good reason).

I don't see what the problem is. A big bunch of characters 4 or 6 levels below the PCs, supported by spellcasters 2 or 4 levels below the PCs, and fighting smart, can be a pretty good threat.


'couse, consequences don't have to be physical, direct, or immediate. Maybe the watchman does decide it's not worth the trouble to enforce the rules for these guys; but you can bet he'll make all the trouble a person working for a powerful office and bureaucracy of the city can. That can be a lot. The captain probably won't like to hear that a powerful adventurer is pushing his men around, and will keep an eye on them. If the PCs need to deal with the city itself - which high-level adventurers probably do - they may find this more difficult.

Sebastian
2008-03-26, 06:12 AM
Okay, but then why not send this swat team to kill the ogre instead of the PCs?

Because they are city guards, and the ogres are in the wilderness, they don't have the necessary skills. (i.e. survival) also their strength is in numbers, if you send enough guards to kill the ogre they'll hear them arrive and just hide/move elsewhere for a while. Adventurers are faster and sneakier and resorceful enough to find the ogre before they can go away.

Sebastian
2008-03-26, 06:14 AM
Finally, in any D&D world, adventurers themselves are going to be a significant portion of any civilized nation's security forces. Your PCs are disturbing the peace of the city too much? Then the duke hires some other band of adventurers to take out the menace. And the more trouble you cause, the more the duke will be willing to pay the heroes, so the more powerful heroes he'll get. They don't just happen by; they're there precisely because they're getting paid to be, because of what you're doing.

That could be a good idea for an adventure, send the PCs against a band of unruly adventurers. It works even better if you use previous PCs that were created by the same players in a previous campaign. :)

GammaPaladin
2008-03-26, 06:24 AM
I deal with this simply. The Guard is not made up of powerful individuals. But it is made up of a LOT of level 1 warriors.

With crossbows.

And they hit on natural 20s.

Remember kids, ranged weapons are not restricted to the number of people that can surround you at once. ALL 10,000 guards can shoot you at the same time. Even if only natural 20s hit (1 in 20 chance), and they only do 1 point of damage each, you have still taken 500 damage, and are quite dead.

Fitz
2008-03-26, 06:28 AM
try Cityscape for some ideas, i think it has some rules for things like mobs of watchmen (fight as a swarm!) and the waterdeep supplement has the previously mentioned anti-pc options if they get too out of hand.

also it might be worth having a chat with the players ooc and find out what they expect from the game, evil as a fasion choice is out of favor with my groups so only so much i can offer to help. we like to play heros, even the dark heros go fight the ogres rather than rob the town.

Fitz

Sebastian
2008-03-26, 06:34 AM
Just.. don't have that law. Honestly in a setting where a Fighter can reasonably walk around in a +4 (AKA beings of power exist high enough that make them and sell them), and can reasonably be challenged, the cops probably /want/ the PCs to keep their equipment; First there's the good sense of appeasing people who can smack you down militarily, but there's also the problem of "What if, as unlikely as it is, an Uber-monster that they normally fight shows up here?"

There's also the fact that such a law, to me, only seems likely to cause problems in the first place. It may enrich the experience, I suppose, but given how your group seems to behave, it's really just asking for trouble without making the game feel better. So just.. don't have those laws. Even if it makes sense IC, if it's much OOC trouble it's not worth it (probably).


A better idea is to make the law but create a loophole, for example you can bear weapons and armor into the city if you have a patron that vouch for you, a noble house, a merchant guild, a wizard accademy, something like that. Of course the moment you do something that piss off your patron is either give up on wearing weapons and armors while into the city or leave the city.

I did something like that for casters in one of my worlds, to enter into a city an arcane caster had either to wear a bracelet that shocked him every time they try to cast a spell or work for someone that garantue that you won't start throwing fireballs in the middle of the city plaza. It was the only way I found to explain why a city should leave someone with the destructive power of a wizard wandering its streets :)

Ascension
2008-03-26, 06:35 AM
If your players are overwhelmingly unruly on a regular basis, the way to cure them of it is to run a planescape campaign. Oh sure, they can still get away with a lot of stuff... but the moment they go over the line...

I think after being mazed a time or two they should get the hint.

EvilRoeSlade
2008-03-26, 07:40 AM
Make the police weaklings. The Captain of the guard is maybe only a 3rd level warrior. All of his subordinates are 1st level. If the PCs get out of hand, they have no recourse. If they want to steal, murder, and conquer, then make that the adventure. Don't create a bunch of powerful NPCs that exist solely to tell them what they can and cannot do. There's enough of those in real life.

Of course, if giving them that much freedom means that they're going to behave like jackasses and not take your game seriously, then you probably shouldn't take my advice. But I wouldn't play with those sorts anyway.

Stiz
2008-03-26, 08:56 AM
I agree that evil can be a campaign, but what is a good campaign with out challenges! There should always be consciences to everything the PC's do. Good or bad actions, nothing is more enjoyable then a reactive storyline. It makes the players feel like they are making a mark on the world.

Weapon laws- If you feel it fits the city for them to have such laws but cant justify them being able to mobilize the national guard for every tough neck that feels it should apply to them then make sure there are other consciences.
Maybe if they feel that strongly about keeping their weapons then they can as long as they make other arrangements with the guard. After all, nothing earns special treatment like spreading the wealth.
If you are unwilling to surrender your weapons then you are required to....
1. Tie your weapons to their sheaths with ribbon to show they have no intent to use them.
2. Hire a group of off duty town guards to escort them around. (very not cheep!)
3. You must leave town by dusk. (Unless your willing to pay even more for 24 escort service!)
and then their are the social repercussions of making that choice. Some business wont deal with them, and the ones that will deal with them will have a hefty mark up!

while any city that they come across will have rules, always remember the golden rule: He who has the gold, makes the rules.

And if your players make it a habit of destroying towns... then it's only a matter of time before they come to the town where some old adventure decides it's time to come out of retirement to maintain the peace. And god forbid if you actually manage to kill him... because his old pals would consider that one hell of a good reason to also come out of retirement.

horseboy
2008-03-26, 09:16 AM
What you can do, though, is make it clear that the guards are distressed. You could have them ask the players to stow their weapons nicely, and maybe make diplomacy in town more touchy for the players. If the players are worried about letting their weapons out of their hands (and come on, what player wouldn't be--they have a valid concern when the weapon is probably worth more than most of the town), you could have the guards suggest an alternative solution, like tying the weapon in its sheath or whatever with silk so it can't be easily drawn in anger.Yay peace-knots! A use for use rope. Alternately, just make the the punishment for brandishing a weapon (and wearing it openly counts as brandishing) be a fine of like 10gp, payable every time a guard group goes by. Just nickel and dime the party to death with fines and minor punishments until they behave like civilized people.

Person_Man
2008-03-26, 10:21 AM
Police? Evidence?

Unless a town is particularly large and/or part of a constitutional government, laws are enforced by the military, which is under the direct command of the monarch/sovereign. If the military catches you doing something they dislike, you're executed or thrown in jail until someone buys you out. (Of course, it doesn't matter how much money you have on you, the guards take that and split it among themselves). The only thing that holds them in line is your influence (if any) with their superiors. It's important to remember that the majority of the people on the world right now, and the vast majority of people in human history, have few or no civil rights. [/sociology]


Anywho, the mechanism that I use in my campaigns is that each town has a single high level officer or constable responsible for protecting things and enforcing the law, and a large number of low level town guards.

The town guard are there pretty much to fight off invaders, watch the walls, and walk around town so that people aren't rioting in the streets. If they see a crime, the criminal is pretty much screwed. They blow an alarm, and all of the town guard swarm on the location. If they don't see a crime, there's really no one to investigate it, because modern investigation techniques and organizations haven't been invented yet.

But if there's a real threat out there or if the aggrieved party has money, they'll hire bounty hunters. For example, if there's an ogre, the high level officer isn't going to risk the lives of his low level town guards to kill them, even though they could probably do it if they formed a posse and attacked en masse. A merchant who's been robbed (by players or NPCs) can hire people as well. Although law enforcement itself is quite easy to elude as long as you don't commit crimes in front of them, the more you commit crimes, the more you have hired swords hunting after you, and the more likely it is that the officer will impress townsfolk into the guard to increase patrols.

This pretty much solves the imbalance problem. Getting away with crime is easy if you're not stupid. Getting away with crimes repeatedly in the same area is phenomenally difficult under any circumstances. So Evil PCs have to move from town to town or come up with different tactics, and Good PCs will always have a supply of paid work hunting criminals.

elliott20
2008-03-26, 10:34 AM
I would just like to point out that IN GAME CHARACTERS DO NOT THINK IN TERMS OF LEVELS! Seriously, while a PC can, with an initimidation check or some other display, convince a posse of law enforcers that they are indeed way in over their heads, reasonably most law enforcements are not going to think, "hmm... he's level 12, that's 9 levels above me" and back down.

They are going to try to do their job. And if the PCs give them trouble for this kind of thing? Apply Person_Man's advice, and stick people after them.

In a small place with little to no funds, chances are, there won't be much law enforcement. And in those situations, yeah, PCs will pretty much get free reign of the place. But even then, you don't have to make it easy for them. Being a outright mindless thug to everyone you encounter is a one ticket of not having anyone ever help you out with anything you might need. And guess what, at some point, your reputation will precede you.

While this behavior is antagonistic and not conducive for any long term heroic play, sometimes, some people will just want to play that way. If you can't roll with that, get rid of them and play a different campaign.

Fact is, if you GM fiat too much, and you're gonna end up looking too heavy handed. You need to make sure whatever consequence you plan for them is a reasonable one. it doesn't necessarily have to be level appropriate, but it does need to make sense.

Frosty
2008-03-26, 10:43 AM
True true, but if the town's level 4 wizard casts detect magic and gets blinded from the overwhelming aura of blue from the magic items on the PCs, he'll probably figure out that the PCs are not people to mess up.

elliott20
2008-03-26, 10:57 AM
yeah, when the character in question has the power to actually estimate their chances and their relative strengths, he of course would do so if he's the prudent kind. That is completely reasonable.

This, however, should not be automatic. most townguards are not going to come equiped with a nifty detect magic rod on their hands, and they should react accordingly to their personality.

Chances are, most guards do not like to have their authority mocked and completely ignored. And when that happens, they will take action.

Now, if the PCs have a reputation for being extremely violent, and unflenchingly cruel to those who stand in their way, or they just have a rep that makes them fearsome in some way, then it's a bit more justified.

Indon
2008-03-26, 11:07 AM
If the town's police are too weak, evil player characters can get away with anything and their players start acting immature. I think it's necessary that the town guards, militia, whatever are stronger than the party.

When evil PC's are a problem, they're worse than the ogres - the solution is obviously for another group of adventurers to be hired to deal with the problem.

elliott20
2008-03-26, 11:09 AM
When evil PC's are a problem, they're worse than the ogres - the solution is obviously for another group of adventurers to be hired to deal with the problem.

or better yet, hire the ogres to take out the adventurers.

Thinker
2008-03-26, 11:22 AM
yeah, when the character in question has the power to actually estimate their chances and their relative strengths, he of course would do so if he's the prudent kind. That is completely reasonable.
I agree.

This, however, should not be automatic. most townguards are not going to come equiped with a nifty detect magic rod on their hands, and they should react accordingly to their personality.
Why not? Many towns can be expected to have plenty of magic users with either Arcane Sight or Detect Magic. Even warlocks could help while on patrol.


Chances are, most guards do not like to have their authority mocked and completely ignored. And when that happens, they will take action.
I doubt ignoring the guards is a crime. Even if it is, the guards are not going to do much. They will call in other people to handle it after seeing how powerful the people are.



Now, if the PCs have a reputation for being extremely violent, and unflenchingly cruel to those who stand in their way, or they just have a rep that makes them fearsome in some way, then it's a bit more justified.

If they're feared they probably won't be welcome in the city unless they conquer it.

hamishspence
2008-03-26, 11:35 AM
reputation can be on the small scale (in the bars he visits, PC is known as a being to avoid fighting) medium scale (everyone in the district has heard of him) and huge or larger scale (known nationwide)

4th ed goes with: police stay in town and avoid dangerous locations. 3.5 ed Cityscape reminds us that police in D&D tend to be at the level of City watch, (only suited to small scale incidents, possibly corrupt or ineffectual, etc)

it is generally up to DM how much to penalize players for misbehaving in cities. Notoriety is a good reason to adjust various social modifiers.

in less urban environments, there is the sheriff, who should typically be mid level, maybe a retired soldier or adventurer. If players misbehave, he can sumon a posse to run them out of town.

elliott20
2008-03-26, 11:36 AM
Why not? Many towns can be expected to have plenty of magic users with either Arcane Sight or Detect Magic. Even warlocks could help while on patrol.

And hey, if that's the flavor of your town, where every patrol squad has a guy with some kind of magical power to do so, go for it. I'm just saying that there needs to be justification for the guards to be that way.



I doubt ignoring the guards is a crime. Even if it is, the guards are not going to do much. They will call in other people to handle it after seeing how powerful the people are.

Well, ignoring them is not a crime. I meant that in the context of basically treating them like they're not even there. kinda like speeding in front of a traffic cop and then getting into a fight with the cop about it afterwards.



If they're feared they probably won't be welcome in the city unless they conquer it.
Unless we're talking about a small enough city with a large enough security force, I don't see how it is reasonable to control who comes in and out of the city. Just think of it like how mobsters are in big cities. They do exist, and chances are, the cops are aware of their reputation. But also just as likely, the cops realize that for whatever reason, they can't touch him. (Be it insufficient proof of a crime, political influence, raw might, etc)

valadil
2008-03-26, 11:49 AM
How strong the police should be depends on your setting and what story you're trying to tell. It shouldn't even be constant throughout the world. As players visit new towns, police strength and saturation should vary.

Extremely potent police can work if done right. I ran a thieves guild game about a year ago. I wanted there to be chase and getaway scenes in the game. What I did was make the police stupid powerful, but their numbers were low. Most of the time the players would encounter thugs and bodyguards long before the police could show up. I explained to them out of game that encounters with the police were not fair fights. Escape wasn't a slightly less painful defeat - escape was victory. I even told the players that the police were a minimum of two levels above them and gestalt, just to put the fear in them. It worked very well and the players enjoyed it quite a bit, but it would have been a disaster if they didn't realize that police encounters weren't like every other encounter they faced.

Fitz
2008-03-26, 11:51 AM
ok after reflecting on this, why do the police or equivalent need evidence, unless this is a strong legal backgrounded state they don't need it.

the local lord (assuming he is the power) can arrest them and imprison them because he feels like it!

there doesn't even need to be a charge, unless there is another power holding him in check. and if the players are making themselves unpopular with the populace the lord gets a boost in popularity.


Fitz

hewhosaysfish
2008-03-26, 12:34 PM
Unless we're talking about a small enough city with a large enough security force, I don't see how it is reasonable to control who comes in and out of the city.

Big posters saying "Want'd: For Murder Moste Foule. Rewarde Offer'd" with semi-recognisable pictures of the PCs and, maybe, better spelling.
If it's a walled city, as most will be, you'll need to make a Disguise check to get through the gates without a confrontation. Even if you can get in without passing through a gate, you'd better be careful about just strolling down the street.


Just think of it like how mobsters are in big cities. They do exist, and chances are, the cops are aware of their reputation. But also just as likely, the cops realize that for whatever reason, they can't touch him. (Be it insufficient proof of a crime, political influence, raw might, etc)

If the player's want to set up a wide-scale system of witness-intimidation, pay regular bribes to key law-enforcement officials and black-mail city officials, then good luck to them. Organising and funding that is pretty much a campaign in it's own right.

Frosty
2008-03-26, 12:41 PM
If the player's want to set up a wide-scale system of witness-intimidation, pay regular bribes to key law-enforcement officials and black-mail city officials, then good luck to them. Organising and funding that is pretty much a campaign in it's own right.

Basically start a crime syndicate? Sounds fun.

Aquillion
2008-03-26, 12:42 PM
[QUOTE=Khanderas;4105383]First of all, the PC's should know that killing a police on duty will result in expulsion from civilised society. Outlaws if you will. When police Level 3 comes to arrest you Archmage level 19, don't kill them "for fun", in a world where you can do the things one can do in DnD this rule would be very enforced. Police officers are not for xp, killing one will not be glossed over and will not be forgiven easily.That depends on the world, I think. In Eberron or someplace civilized, with good communications and record-keeping, sure. On the 'frontier', though, it'd probably be much easier to get away with murder if you keep moving.


I would just like to point out that IN GAME CHARACTERS DO NOT THINK IN TERMS OF LEVELS! Seriously, while a PC can, with an initimidation check or some other display, convince a posse of law enforcers that they are indeed way in over their heads, reasonably most law enforcements are not going to think, "hmm... he's level 12, that's 9 levels above me" and back down. Oh? Have you looked at the typical adventuring party from the outside recently?

Let's see, you'll probably have multiple plainly exotic people -- strange subraces of elves, say, and often normally hostile races working together. Almost every single person in the group is going to be carrying weapons, often multiple ones, often with visible magical markings. Most of them are likely to be wearing armor and, again, most of that isn't just going to look generic. They'll all have rings and amulets that will look strange. The wizard (even if the guards don't know its a wizard at first glance) probably has an ioun stone orbiting him, at least, and a headband covered with strange runes; he's probably also flying all the time, at higher levels. If they have a druid or ranger, he'll be accompanied by a vicious-looking wild animal that nonetheless obeys him completely. These people regularly pull strange objects out of plainly magical bags that are far larger on the inside than the outside. Any psions in the party are likely to be covered with strange runes. Barbarians are usually pretty easy to spot, too. And the status and standing of a cleric is often visible from the way they dress or their holy symbol (we're assuming the PCs aren't trying to hide themselves, of course.) Some or all of the party may be using plainly magical, phantasmal, or exotic mounts. The entire party also pays for almost everything in solid gold, while wanting to trade in or sell absurdly valuable gemstones, magical items, and other things you normally would only see once in a lifetime. And don't forget, things like 18+ str and 18+ charisma are usually going to have an obvious mark -- the party sorcerer or bard is going to be the most breathtaking person you ever saw, with a raw presence that leaves the guards weak in the knees, while the barbarian is quite likely to look like the biggest steroid freak our world ever produced. The Paladin radiates a sense of comfort and protection that everyone is going to notice, and is likely to be another class whose status is plainly-visible in most campaigns. (Although, granted, if the group has a paladin this thread shouldn't even come up... But maybe they decide the local lord is evil or whatever and needs to be fought.) And this is on top of other little quirks players like to give their characters, like scars, oddly-colored eyes or hair, unusual heights, etc...

Don't you think at least a few of these things say "do not mess with" to your typical guard?

hamishspence
2008-03-26, 12:43 PM
i think it might have been Terry Pratchett who mentioned Heroes and "Wanted: Dedd" posters.

cityscape and DMG 2 both have a lot of suggestions for handling high level characters in cities.

try and get feedback as to what sort of game the players want. I thought city Guard in Cliffport were done pretty well.

elliott20
2008-03-26, 12:55 PM
Big posters saying "Want'd: For Murder Moste Foule. Rewarde Offer'd" with semi-recognisable pictures of the PCs and, maybe, better spelling.
If it's a walled city, as most will be, you'll need to make a Disguise check to get through the gates without a confrontation. Even if you can get in without passing through a gate, you'd better be careful about just strolling down the street.

If the player's want to set up a wide-scale system of witness-intimidation, pay regular bribes to key law-enforcement officials and black-mail city officials, then good luck to them. Organising and funding that is pretty much a campaign in it's own right.
Well, I just think that in a city with a large enough population, where there are other checks and balances beyond the local law enforcement, it is entirely possible for criminal elements to thrive, and in some cases in broad daylight. i'm just saying, reputation, in a place that allows for it and doesn't have the man power to enforce the law upon effectively it COULD be a factor. The scenarios you're talking about assumes that the law has a pretty good and total grasp over the populace and what goes on there. It's a reasonable assumption in many cases, I think. Having players set up a mob network WOULD be tough. actually, it could make for an interesting game...


Don't you think at least a few of these things say "do not mess with" to your typical guard?
hmm... I guess it depends on the setting we're talking about. If the setting assumes that such an eclectic collection of people is rare, yeah, I can go with that. But if it's like say, walking down St. Marks street in NYC on a saturday night where you see all sorts of freakshows on the street, it might not phase people as much.

d-dave
2008-03-26, 12:59 PM
Here's how I handled it on a recent adventure.

A local guardsman in a town might be a level 1 warrior when everything is all said in done after training (or commoner if you want). A few level 1 NPCs is a joke. But what about 30 of these 1st level warrior guardsmen led by a 6th level wizard/cleric/whatever other class of a leader. Oh, then they are a much bigger problem.

Kings and Nobels have money to hire adventurers and investigators. My PCs burnt an inn down in a small town in Breland. In Eberron, if a building is burned by foreign nationals (mostly Thranes in the group), don't you think that someone is paying attention. They got tailed by an inquisitive, a ranger, and a wizard until the fire starter was captured.

A group of 20th level PCs can easily go about destroying cities and what not, but when faced with an army of 1,000 foot soldiers supported by some other types of troops, they just can't stand a chance toe to toe. As a DM, you have to invent something to keep the PCs in line.

Frosty
2008-03-26, 01:10 PM
A group of 20th level PCs can easily go about destroying cities and what not, but when faced with an army of 1,000 foot soldiers supported by some other types of troops, they just can't stand a chance toe to toe. As a DM, you have to invent something to keep the PCs in line.

They're not supposed to stand toe to toe. Level 9 spells are that ridiculous. An army of 1000 or even 10,000 foot-soldiers is nothing. One Tsunami spell will end the battle. Summoning a few undead (remember, these PCs are most likely evil) that create more undead when they kill someone will utterly destroy a low-level army. There's also poison, Prismatic walls, or just good ol Enlarged Fireballs. There are too many ways to defeat a low level army I can't even count them all.

elliott20
2008-03-26, 01:11 PM
Here's how I handled it on a recent adventure.

A local guardsman in a town might be a level 1 warrior when everything is all said in done after training (or commoner if you want). A few level 1 NPCs is a joke. But what about 30 of these 1st level warrior guardsmen led by a 6th level wizard/cleric/whatever other class of a leader. Oh, then they are a much bigger problem.

Kings and Nobels have money to hire adventurers and investigators. My PCs burnt an inn down in a small town in Breland. In Eberron, if a building is burned by foreign nationals (mostly Thranes in the group), don't you think that someone is paying attention. They got tailed by an inquisitive, a ranger, and a wizard until the fire starter was captured.

A group of 20th level PCs can easily go about destroying cities and what not, but when faced with an army of 1,000 foot soldiers supported by some other types of troops, they just can't stand a chance toe to toe. As a DM, you have to invent something to keep the PCs in line.

*silently waits for Emperor Tippy to turn this thread into another "level 20 wizard versus 50000 lvl 1 mooks" thread*

Aquillion
2008-03-26, 02:11 PM
That's why I keep saying: Throw religion at the PCs. Don't just have gods come in out of nowhere and smite them, that's unfair and unfun -- but have major religious figures call crusades against them, have high bishops try to negotiate with them, etc, etc. Eventually, the PCs will either have to give in to the religious establishment or kill so many important priests that it becomes quite believable for the deity to get involved.

Try to make the entire religion into the PCs enemy, and bait them into attacking, robbing, looting, and burning temples, too. That will dramatically justify any indirect divine intervention you throw at them down the road.

(Even then, of course, don't make them fight gods before they're really ready... but a deity can send all sorts of nasty things that even an epic or nearly-epic party will have trouble with.)

Anon-a-mouse
2008-03-26, 02:19 PM
You've really highlighted a problem with 'save the world/country/town' plots in general. Unless your PCs are stronger than the whole town, then why do they have to save it?
One solution would be to make plots based around the PCs rather than saving the world. To take examples from computer games, Baldur's Gate, why don't the city guard solve the problem? Because you are the one being hunted by your fellow illegitimate offspring of the god of death. The city guard are just there to keep you in line. Planescape: Torment (heh heh, colon torment), why doesn't the lady of pain solve the problem? Because you are the one who's mortality has been torn from your body. In short it's your problem.
So the way to have a city guard that can keep the PCs in line but won't do the PCs task for them is invent a threat that is more the PCs problem than the towns.
Another solution would be a covert threat. The city guard don't do anything about, for example, the evil vizier because they don't think he's a threat.

gm_rand
2008-03-26, 02:23 PM
I tend to have my “police” be warriors 1-2 levels higher then the party and largely outnumber the PC party. Most of the people I run for are smart enough to not start trouble with peace abiding townsfolk but in a few instances I’ve had to put the smack down on some unwise and Stupid Evil characters. I’d go off on how so many players play evil badly but I’m going to try and stay on topic.

Player: “Well if the guards are so high level why don’t they just kill the ogre themselves?”

Here are some suggested answers for what I consider a lame ass player question.

1. To the town you’re expendable and they figure if you make it back the problem is solved for some coin with out the loss of soldiers they’ve put substantial money into training, equipping and keeping on payroll. Also they don’t really like you that much so if you don’t make it back it’s still a bonus.
2. “The Cpt. of the guard take you up on your suggestion and takes a squad to kill the ogre and returns victorious. He and his men gain a level , get promotions and are able to keep the magical loot. You guys get 0 exp and no loot. So what do your characters do for the next few days?”
3. They are busy keeping the town safe from adventures and don’t have the resources to go after the ogre.


Another solution is to have another adventuring party in town. I was in a game where the DM had another party that we were in competition with. The rivalry never came to blows (everyone in party was good on both sides) but added a nice touch. Such a party of NPC adventurers would easily keep a rowdy PC group in line if you want to keep the level of the “police” down to try and help keep a feel of realism. Having the NPC party a few levels higher will help as well.

Player: “I’m gonna stab the guy in the bar that made fun of me.”

DM: “Okay roll initiative”

Player: “Don’t I get a surprise round?”

DM: “Oh yeah I forgot. Make your attack.”

Player: Sweet I crited and with my sneak attack he takes 22 points of damage.”

DM: “Okay he’s dead. Take 42 points of damage and give me two fort saves vs poison.”

Player: “What?”

DM: “Oh I’m sorry you failed to notice the other party’s good aligned rogue hanging out at the bar. He didn’t like that you killed a 3rd level commoner.”

But that’s just my way of doing things and a reason many people don’t play in my games.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-03-26, 04:40 PM
You've really highlighted a problem with 'save the world/country/town' plots in general. Unless your PCs are stronger than the whole town, then why do they have to save it?

Yeah, a stupid cliche plot has a problem. Whoda thunk?

Most well-written versions do involve a special hook. Maybe the heroes are the only ones who know of the danger, but they have no evidence. Maybe they have a grudge with the bad guy. Maybe any of a million reasons for it to make more sense.

That, and the obvious one: the people watching the city streets are busy watching the city streets. This applies across the board. If Khelben Blackstaff decided to run off to defeat a dragon rampaging out at sea, all the enemies his personal power is holding off from attacking Waterdeep would attack Waterdeep. PCs are pretty much by definition "the right people in the right place at the right time."

Frosty
2008-03-26, 04:52 PM
The captain of the guard is asking you to deal with the ogre chiefstan because he and his men are busy dealing with the impending Orc invasion. There's more than one threat, and they can only be at so many places at once. They're short on men, and that's why they pay YOU to fight things.

GammaPaladin
2008-03-26, 04:56 PM
"Ah, today is your eleventh birthday and you're a man of the kingdom! As you know, there's a horrible evil threat that all my armies full of men with armor and swords are unable to defend us against. But YOU are the great great great great great great grand-nephew of our greatest historical warrior, so we know you can save us!

Here, take this pointy stick and 6 copper pieces.

We have faith in you!"

Prometheus
2008-03-26, 05:20 PM
It makes sense that the Evil PCs main rivals against looting and pillaging are other Evil NPCs, who also loot and pillage. The guard then, remains out of it for the most part, except to cut them both down or level the playing field. In this scenario, the town guard are the PCs best friends in the beginning.

CountD
2008-03-26, 05:22 PM
Some background info: My group takes turns DMing and playing based on whatever we want. I decided to try my hand at DMing a couple of times, and when we decided to do a short evil-party campaign with me DMing, I picked out some strategies to make short work of the party if they ever decided to try to slaughter a town.

Depending on the type of town, this may not always work, but in a well funded Lawful Good town/city, the guard should be about level 5, mostly Warrior levels and maybe a rank or two in fighter. Whatever suits your fancy. Give them equipment to make fights against them difficult for the average adventuring party. Equip them with nets, ranged weapons, and be generous with the grapple ability and such. For a party with an average level of 10, I had elite troops introduced to combat more powerful foes. Generally, these were NPC's maybe slightly weaker individually than the party but capable of halting them in numbers. Finally, if the party seems adept at taking out these NPCs, introduce bounty hunters higher leveled than the party or even good aligned parties that have come to bring an end to the evil party.

Hope it helps

Fiery Diamond
2008-03-26, 05:27 PM
A lot of what has been said I agree with. One thing that's been ignored by most posters, though, is that different campaigns have different power levels. For example, in my campaign that I'm running, your average (trained, mind you) soldier is going to be a 2nd level fighter. Inexperienced but still trained is 1st level. Warriors are reserved for untrained people. The captain of the guard of a town is likely to be 3-4 level, while a medium to large city might have a captain of 5-7 level.
Since my party is 7th level right now, this means that they would find a large city police force a formidable challenge- a bunch of second level characters and a few mid-level ones.

So really, I'd make the capabilities of your police based on what an acceptable character level is for non-adventuring NPCs who have experience. It's a good idea to give your players an indication of the expected power level, though.

-Fiery Diamond

expirement10K14
2008-03-26, 05:32 PM
If things get out of hand try using inevitables, they are there for a reason. Pick the one that best fits the PC's crime, give it Class levels or HD- whatever is appropriate- and send it after them. Believe me, a properly played inevitable can wreak havoc on an unsuspecting party.

TheCountAlucard
2008-03-26, 05:51 PM
In one of my cities, I replaced the highest-level Fighter (Fighter 15) recommended by the DMG for law enforcement with an elven Rogue 5/Watch Detective 10 (from Masters of the Wild, I think). With a couple of really lucky rolls for ability scores, he's got 20 Int and 18 Dex, so I equipped him with a Merciful Keen +1 Rapier. If he can flank with another guardsman, he deals 5d6+6 damage, and has a 25% chance of threatening a critical. It's subdual damage, but still...

Plus, thanks to the Improved Disarm feat stacking with the natural ability of the Watch Detective, he gets a +8 to disarm attempt, incurs no attacks of opportunity for trying, and is always treated as armed for the purposes of his disarm attempts.

This sounds more in line with a police officer than a level-15 Fighter, in my mind. Plus, there's always the fact that three times per day, he can basically point the finger and say, "It was YOU!!!"

RyanM
2008-03-26, 06:05 PM
Main thing is that police are just regular people, not adventurers. A cop's goal in life is to make a living, which includes going home to his/her family at the end of every day. Each cop will probably thus be a pretty competent fighter, but they'll also have discretion about when, where, and who they fight. Defending the town from direct attacks from bandits, roving monsters, criminals, etc., helps ensure that he has a home to go back to. But galavanting about slaying monsters and brigands really isn't what your average joe is willing to do, even in the name of keeping the peace.

You also have to take into account the role of the police force itself. In a modern type of society anyway, the police are essentially a detective force. They react to crimes and try to hunt down those responsible, to bring them to justice. They may try to prevent crimes from happening in the first place, but that's really a losing battle. 9 times out of 10, the most the police will be able to do is help pick up the pieces after a crime has occurred. The police department's primary purpose is to detain suspected criminals and see to it that they stand trial. Then the jury (or a magistrate or whatever in a fantasy setting) decides innocence or guilt. The police can testify and present evidence in court like any other witness, but that's all the influence they can have over the actual ruling.

Proactively removing threats, like ogres and bandits in the wild, is contrary to this approach as well. And as has been mentioned, if the police are off roving the countryside, who's left to keep the peace?

In terms of gameplay mechanics, you may want to create a class for the police. Something that's quite effective at fighting and nonlethally subduing a small party or an individual within a city, and at tracking down villians (good Spot, Listen, and Search scores, ability to Track very well but only within their home city), but not that great at general combat or adventuring.

They should also get synergistic bonuseses when working and fighting together, since police forces are typically trained to operate as a group. Multiple officers searching for a criminal have collective Spot, Listen, and Search scores better than any individual officer, an officer with others nearby cannot be flanked, etc. Also realistic in that, when dealing with a major threat (whether it's the players, or something the players have to deal with), the police have a very real reason to wait for backup rather than charging right in (other than having families to go home to).

Maybe arm all the officers with compact hand crossbows and very potent strength poisoned darts, in addition to normal weapons. The fantasy equivalent of a tazer.

Uncle Festy
2008-03-26, 07:45 PM
... and beteor swarms.

Great. Now I have the urge to make a banner with a wizard destroying his foes with flaming beets from the sky. :smallwink:

Emperor Tippy
2008-03-26, 08:11 PM
*silently waits for Emperor Tippy to turn this thread into another "level 20 wizard versus 50000 lvl 1 mooks" thread*

Not worth the trouble. All I will say is that a level 20 wizard can kill an arbitrarily large number of ECL 1-5 character of any race or class without any chance of dieing or loosing.

---
Now as for how strong the police should be, it depends on the town and the game. If your talking about a city like Sigil or Union (or any other planar metropolis) your talking about Advanced Golems at a minimum for the enforcement branch, with multiple epic casters on call.

If your talking a small town with 10-20 families then there is a retired solider or 2, level 5 fighters most likely. Maybe a local wizard or cleric or druid instead.
-----
What you have to realize about laws and police in real life is that the police can't prevent a lot of crimes. If you are willing to you can get a gun, walk up to a house, knock on the door, kill the homeowner, grab everything of value in the house, and leave with little risk of actually getting caught if your half way smart about it.

If someone is willing to just kill people for stuff then very little can be done to prevent them from doing it in this day and age, much less in your average D&D setting.

Yahzi
2008-03-26, 08:24 PM
the cops probably /want/ the PCs to keep their equipment;.
And if they do check it at the door, what stops a thief from stealing it? Who's going to insure +4 swords?

Aquillion
2008-03-26, 09:51 PM
In one of my cities, I replaced the highest-level Fighter (Fighter 15) recommended by the DMG for law enforcement with an elven Rogue 5/Watch Detective 10 (from Masters of the Wild, I think). With a couple of really lucky rolls for ability scores, he's got 20 Int and 18 Dex, so I equipped him with a Merciful Keen +1 Rapier. If he can flank with another guardsman, he deals 5d6+6 damage, and has a 25% chance of threatening a critical. It's subdual damage, but still...

Plus, thanks to the Improved Disarm feat stacking with the natural ability of the Watch Detective, he gets a +8 to disarm attempt, incurs no attacks of opportunity for trying, and is always treated as armed for the purposes of his disarm attempts.

This sounds more in line with a police officer than a level-15 Fighter, in my mind. Plus, there's always the fact that three times per day, he can basically point the finger and say, "It was YOU!!!"You know what the weird thing is? The more I think about it, the more "rogue with nonlethal damage" seems appropriate for a town guard. (Well, full casters would be best, of course -- nothing like sleep for arresting low-level criminals -- but assuming they're not available...) After all, you'd expect them to have many skills -- spot, search, sense motive, diplomacy, use rope -- that fighter-types and warriors don't. You'd expect them to train at working together and surrounding opponents rather than rushing them all at once. They don't need full BAB or heavy armor, since they're mostly not going to be fighting big scary monsters... what they want to be able to do is knock potentially violent people out quickly with a minimum of fuss, and to be alert enough to detect trouble. All of that points to a type of rogue, not a warrior.

Sstoopidtallkid
2008-03-26, 09:56 PM
Sap. Nonlethal Sneak Attack FTW.

Aquillion
2008-03-26, 09:57 PM
A few adepts would make sense in any guard force, too. They have sleep, command, and web, which are all very useful for making arrests; all of the alignment-detecting spells, to give the fellow guards an idea of what sort of people they're dealing with; and a bit of healing to ensure that guards can get back on their feet quickly after a scuffle. They do lack a few obvious spells -- Speak with Dead comes to mind -- but when those come up they can call in specialists.

Tsotha-lanti
2008-03-27, 01:43 AM
You know what the weird thing is? The more I think about it, the more "rogue with nonlethal damage" seems appropriate for a town guard.

Watchmen are just rogues on the right side of the law. (I'd class Commander Vimes of the Discworld books as a rogue/fighter, for instance, and he uses those rogue abilities a lot. Saps and knuckle-dusters, hiding and sneaking, Bluff and Sense Motive...)

The Watch in Waterdeep, City of Splendors are expert/warriors (patrolmen) and rogue/fighters (sergeants and above). The class skills are not just exceptionally useful but absolutely necessary for them.

Ascension
2008-03-27, 02:01 AM
If you have a high-level guard, it might be interesting for them to be led by/include in their ranks Vigilantes and/or Bloodhounds (PrCs from Complete Adventurer). They're not optimal classes, but they do get abilities that would aid them considerably in hunting down criminals in urban and rural environments, respectively. The bloodhound is better at tracking down a single foe, who he can then subdue easily, while the vigilante can smite criminals if he catches them in the act (regardless of alignment). Both have good class skills.

They're bad for PCs because their abilities are situational, but this seems to be the proper situation.

random11
2008-03-27, 02:20 AM
The police force can remain weak, there are other ways to deal with it.
Especially if the players repeat the same things many times.

Phase 1: Levels come with reputation.

If the deeds are good, as the levels go up, it is more likely they will be recognized as saviors in various places in the world.
But if their reputation is based on killing ogres and being just as bad toward the civilians...

Phase 2: Wanted posters.

The players went too far, and now they are wanted.
No, the police will probably not be able to stop them, but traders will refuse to buy or sell them anything, innkeepers will not allow them in, and they might even not be allowed in the city.
Of course they can steal from the trader, force the innkeeper to let them in and kill the guards at the gate, but that might get them into more problems.

Phase 3: Dangerous criminals.

The players now reached the same status as the NPCs they were sent to kill.
The police is no longer their problem. Assassins, heroes and high level NPCs should now continually annoy or pose real danger to the players (who will stil have problems getting any help from cities).

Dervag
2008-03-27, 02:43 AM
I doubt ignoring the guards is a crime. Even if it is, the guards are not going to do much. They will call in other people to handle it after seeing how powerful the people are.Actually, it often is a crime. Any society that has officers of the law (even if it's just the Prince's brute squad) will have laws against ignoring the officers. Even without laws, ignoring the leader's picked men is a good way to make him angry.


How would you suggest handling it if the PCs break some minor laws? For example, most cities ban armor and weapons larger than a rapier inside city limits. Are they going to call out the SWAT Team because this obnoxoius fighter won't check his +4 Great Sword at the door?You'd be surprised. This issue is exactly what led to the legendary Gunfight at the OK Corral. Dodge City law required that everyone turn in their guns at the city limit. Several outlaw types refused.


I favor having a city watch that's individually weaker than the PCs, but there are a heck of a lot more of them, enough to swarm the party under if need be.There are limits.

I mean, in a preindustrial city you can't get dozens of cops onto a crime scene in a matter of a few minutes unless there are several policemen on every city block. And in that situation, the police are so numerous that a large fraction of the city's resources are dedicated to the care and feeding of policemen. That's not a stable situation, and nobody profits except the doughnut shops.

I think it makes more sense for the immediate police response to be light, but with the threat of overwhelming force held in reserve. That's the way real police work. The violent types in even a mildly rough neighborhood could easily overpower one policeman. But they know that if they do such a thing they will get swarmed by half the city police force and the SWAT units and the helicopters and the tear gas and the whatnot.

The street policeman doesn't do his job by being able to flatten any and all possible opponents. He does it by acting as a symbol of an authoritative institution that can beat you down if it has to, but isn't going to do so as long as you keep the peace.

For the core idea behind a modern police force (as opposed to the medieval city watch, which was basically the 'brute squad' as seen in the Princess Bride), see the Peelian Principles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peelian_Principles).


Okay, but then why not send this swat team to kill the ogre instead of the PCs?Because the ogre may be an illusion created by a powerful wizard to draw off the SWAT team precisely so he can rampage through the town in true Emirikol the Chaotic fashion?

Now, if a powerful necromancer sneaks into the crypts and starts animating undead, the SWAT team may get called up. Of course, it's easy to set up the plot so that the police force heavies are busy containing the undead while the adventurers bust in, with the police watching their backs. That's exactly the kind of thing you hire mercenaries for if you can get them.


Not really. It's exactly the same, when you get down to it... you're looking at the model the wrong way.

The model is more appropriately: Players have goals, there are monsters between them and the goals, they slaughter the monsters and win.

When the players go 'bad', that just means they're facing different monsters (teams of Paladins, creatures sent by high-level wizards pissed off at the players making trouble near their towers, agents of whatever the local power or authorities are); the overall effect should be the same.That said, there are two critical differences.

One is that 'evil' players are generally fighting against a civilization as outlaws, while 'good' players are generally fighting on behalf of a civilization as soldiers or conquistadors or explorers (the three roles occupy a sliding scale) in its name. Note that 'evil' and 'good' here are not strictly the same as D&D alignment- a Chaotic Good resistance movement against the Vast Necromantic Empire is 'evil' by this standard, and so is a Lawful Neutral monk who has sworn a mighty oath to bring down the kingdom that destroyed his order.

Civilizations are usually better organized than their foes- that's what makes them a civilization. Therefore, their response to attackers will be similarly well organized. Instead of facing clusters of (relatively) weak enemies backed by a powerful boss, 'evil' characters should expect to fave enemies of wildly variable power at unpredictable intervals. The sheriff will not wait for them to wake up before having his men seize them and tie them up. On the other hand, the sheriff and his posse may be a CR 5 encounter for an ECL 10 party. But then, the king's champion may be a CR 15 encounter. 'Evil' PCs should learn when to run away, because the forces of their enemies will often have them outgunned. That's part of the allure of being the outlaw after all.

'Good' PCs don't have to deal with this so much because they're usually fighting an enemy that is less tightly organized. Killing a barbarian chieftain doesn't normally guarantee that every barbarian chieftan within two hundred miles puts a bounty on your head; killing a king sometimes does.

The second key difference is that the DM should have fun too. If the 'evil' PCs are wrecking all attempts by the DM to construct even small scale plot, there is a problem. It's OK for the PCs to undermine the grand story arc by picking the 'wrong' side in a war or something. The DM doesn't have a right to expect the PCs to be sock puppets after all. But he does have a right to expect that he can design adventures featuring cool things like towns and NPCs without having them set on fire or chopped to pieces on sight simply because the players enjoy pretending to be sociopathic demigods. If he can't get that joy of adventure design and roleplaying NPCs, he has no reason to play his side of the game. Games that always turn into instant battles with the only choice being 'who to kill' and 'what to blow up' will have this problem a lot.


Also: The OP mentioned something about the players complaining about evidence and trials. Don't do those. Make it clear that while there might be local justice, once you've pissed off someone important evidence doesn't matter anymore. Unless you're in Eberron or someplace similar, most D&D worlds are places where those in power make their own justice. This is another reason to get religion involved, too; they can speak to the dead, consult their god, or or even resurrect that priest the PCs just killed, if they want. Major religions aren't going to have much trouble accessing divinations, so if you put those in the PCs path then they're not going to have many excuses to avoid getting caught eventually.Good point.


hmm... I guess it depends on the setting we're talking about. If the setting assumes that such an eclectic collection of people is rare, yeah, I can go with that. But if it's like say, walking down St. Marks street in NYC on a saturday night where you see all sorts of freakshows on the street, it might not phase people as much.If eclectic people with obvious power are common, then PCs will have trouble getting away with much before they run into their NPC party counterparts.

CockroachTeaParty
2008-03-27, 02:46 AM
If things get out of hand try using inevitables, they are there for a reason. Pick the one that best fits the PC's crime, give it Class levels or HD- whatever is appropriate- and send it after them. Believe me, a properly played inevitable can wreak havoc on an unsuspecting party.

Oh, man, Inevitables rock. Especially if you start playing the Terminator theme.

In my Eberron campaign, the PCs have gotten raised from the dead a few times too many, and now a Marut is walking along the bottom of the ocean, slowly but surely getting closer to its targets.

Inevitables were what made me buy the 3.5 monster manual. I love them so.

And for extraplanar law enforcement, angels, archons, and even devils can make interesting opponents for law-breaking PCs.

Khanderas
2008-03-27, 04:23 AM
I tend to have my “police” be warriors 1-2 levels higher then the party and largely outnumber the PC party.

<snip>
Player: “Well if the guards are so high level why don’t they just kill the ogre themselves?”

Here are some suggested answers for what I consider a lame ass player question.

1. To the town you’re expendable and they figure if you make it back the problem is solved for some coin with out the loss of soldiers they’ve put substantial money into training, equipping and keeping on payroll. Also they don’t really like you that much so if you don’t make it back it’s still a bonus.

<snip>
But that’s just my way of doing things and a reason many people don’t play in my games.
I think you got it right.
Hired mercenaries are just that to the town. Expendable suckers who can do a dirty job done. If they succeed the price was worth it. If they fail, they dont get paid. No need to train some sucker for a few years and send him out just to see him get killed when there are already trained schmoes who are willing to give it a go at a fraction of the price.

Not to mention the policemen often have families and don't really like the idea of packing their gear and trek off for weeks for possible death.

I also agree with the "show of authority" mentioned a few posts up. Adventurers provoke violence, police keeps it down.

Roderick_BR
2008-03-27, 05:38 AM
One thing I did, that my players enjoyed was an effective guard squadron in the town, but unable to leave the city, as it was pointed out. In the first encounter, they got impressed that the guard actually helped them out during a zombie attack (granted, they needed a larger number of soldier to wipe out the same number of monsters the players killed themselves). And they would often find higher level people in charge.
Just make it like that:
*In town, the guard is strong in numbers, but they can't leave the town unprotected.
*High level elite troops will keep watch for bigger threats, and WILL intervene. Often.
*Make the authorities show up from time to time, doing important things. It'll make them feel that the cops are not there only to get them.
*Make the important battles happen off town, or in places where no high level guard can get in time.

Using the ogres (or any monster) as an example: When the ogres try to attack the town, the guard will repel it, but can't pursue them back to their base. The ogres will then attack smaller villages. The town's elite watch will patrol for those, but can't hunt down the ogres' lair to stop the source of attacks, since they'll be busy helping their people. There come in the players.

Frosty
2008-03-27, 10:40 AM
Phase 2: Wanted posters.

The players went too far, and now they are wanted.
No, the police will probably not be able to stop them, but traders will refuse to buy or sell them anything, innkeepers will not allow them in, and they might even not be allowed in the city.
Of course they can steal from the trader, force the innkeeper to let them in and kill the guards at the gate, but that might get them into more problems.

Phase 3: Dangerous criminals.

The players now reached the same status as the NPCs they were sent to kill.
The police is no longer their problem. Assassins, heroes and high level NPCs should now continually annoy or pose real danger to the players (who will stil have problems getting any help from cities).

Again. they're just looking in the wrong cities. Plenty of evil (but ot necessary psychotic murder machines) adventurers find patrons in evil cities.

And yeah, teleporation will be *really* popular spell. Proper warding of campsites, Craft Contingency, using MMMs, Rope Tricks, Heward's Fortifying Bedrolls, Foresight, Celerity...all these will be needed, but it can be done.