Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Crimes and fines

A few sessions ago, I had do wing a trial for “unlawful spell dueling” because one of the players thought he’d run inside and sit around after said unlawful spell duel. When it came time for penalty, I had no frigging clue, and no guidelines, so I fined Caleb the Cost of Living for a month of high living at Status 0: $600. I didn’t want the game to slow down, and I didn’t want Caleb to admit to an airline pilot that he had been in a Turkish prison, so I made it a fine.

Thinking about it later, I made the right choice on many levels. Not only did a fine speed the game along, but it sapped a resource precious to the players. Still, I lacked guidelines beyond the Cost of Living, so I did some reading and googling.

First, I should say outright: I’m not a lawyer. My father is, and my mother was a librarian for a law firm, and I passed press law in college. I haven’t been in trouble with the law since the powers that be haven’t found out that I peddle hookers, blow, and guns. This is from looking through the legal codes of Minnesota, Google, and Wikipedia. I’m sure I fucked something up somewhere.

Anyways, the characters have committed a crime, and someone has found out and called for the police or Town Watch. To see if it comes, I roll 1d, and compare to the local Control Rating. If it gets below the Control Rating, the gendarmes come, but it takes long enough that the characters can think of something to try to flee. If it gets above the Control Rating, the authorities are too busy eating doughnuts. If it rolls the Control Rating exactly, the authorities come so fast that the characters don’t have a chance to flee.

EDIT (3nov2017): I realized that this always means you have a 1-in-6 chance of having the gendarmes come if you don't flee, regardless of CR, which, come to think of it, seems wrong. So instead, have the fuzz show up on a roll of half the CR, rounded down. A roll of the CR or less but more than half, means you can still get away.

Next, run the trial, per p. B508 in the Basic Set. Make the Reaction Roll, and the Quick Contest of Law (Criminal) for an adversarial trial. The result and the level of offense determine what happens. Apply a -3 to the Reaction Roll for Social Stigma (Criminal Record); once a crook, always a crook.

Good or better reaction: You’re walking.
Neutral: For a felony, you get off. For a lesser crime, you pay half the listed fine (see below), but serve no jail time or probation.
Poor: You lose. What you lose depends on the level of offense.

  • Petty misdemeanor: This is being caught speeding or smoking a joint. The fine is Cost of Living for a week, or $150.
  • Misdemeanor: First-time DWI, or fifth degree assault (scaring someone into thinking he’s gonna die, or giving him a good bop on the head). The fine is Cost of Living for a month, or $600.
  • Gross misdemeanor: This is second-time DWI, or prostitution. The fine is Cost of Living for three months, or $1,800.
  • Class D felony: The list of offenses here include possession of stolen property, false claim of crime, weapon possession violation, promoting child molesting, vehicular homicide, fraud, domestic violence, or unlawful firearms sale. At this point, you’re assured of doing some jail time. The fine is Cost of Living for five months, or $3,000, plus 1d-2 years of jail; treat a roll of 0 as 6 months, and a roll of -1 as 3 months.
  • Class C felony: You did something like kidnapping, arson, sexual assault, second degree murder, robbery, bribery, receiving stolen property, or forgery. Needless to say, you’ve been a bad boy, or somebody really doesn’t like you. The fine is Cost of Living for ten months, or $6,000, and 1d years of jail.
  • Class B felony: You’ve really been bad. You did something like attempted rape or attempted murder, aggravated sexual assault, reckless homicide, manslaughter, assault and battery, or heroin or cocaine possession. The fine is the same as a class C felony, and the least of your problems, as you’re also serving 2d years of jail. (An aside here. I try to keep politics off this blog. I don’t like it in gaming blogs since we’re not going to agree on this stuff, and it’s irrelevant to our elf games. But the idea possessing some blow can get you the same penalty as beating up someone or shoving your dick in someone’s face is truly fucked up to me.)
  • Class A felony: Rape, murder. It’s just a shot away. And you’ve been put away for life. I assume you don’t care about the fine anymore.

Bad: Twofold fines and jail terms. A gross misdemeanor also has 1d weeks of jail. Twofold the 1d-2 years of jail for a class D felony is 1d years of jail.
Very Bad: You likely drank Jobu's wine. Twofold fines and threefold jail terms. A gross misdemeanor has 1d months of jail, and a misdemeanor has 2d days of jail. Threefold of 1d-2 years is 1d+2 years. Class A felonies become death sentences in jurisdictions that have death penalties.
Disastrous: Twofold fines and fourfold jail terms. Gross misdemeanors serve 2d months of jail, misdemeanors serve 1d weeks of jail. Fourfold of 1d-2 years is 2d years. In CR 6 jurisdictions, lesser felonies get death at this level.

This is a quick generalization. Obviously, if you’re running a game in England in the 18th century or in Athens under Draco, the juries will react at a bonus, but anything worse than Neutral for a felony brings death.

If there is a jail term with a misdemeanor or a gross misdemeanor, after the offender gets out, he has probation for sixfold his jail term. Probation in game terms is having Social Stigma (Criminal Record) for this length of time. If you don't get in trouble again, the Social Stigma goes away once the time is up. Otherwise, you'll have to spend half the sentence in jail again. Felons have Social Stigma (Criminal Record) for the rest of their lives unless they can get the government to overturn or nullify this.

For civil cases, the base amount is the amount of damages sought. Each level of difference of reaction grows the payment by half as punitive damages. The government instead of the plaintiff might get the punitive award in some areas.

If an amount is needed for bail, use one tenth of the standard fine, or the standard fine for felonies. That’s the amount actually paid to the court or a bondsman, not the amount of bail. Caught skipping bail means you have to pay the full fine, or tenfold the full fine for a felony, and stand trial for the original offense, with a -3 penalty to the Reaction roll at trial. You’re also at -3 to future Reactions to whoever bonded you.


  1. I like that mechanic.

    And the Airplane reference. Lot of plane-related film references going around the DF blogs these days. By which I mean "two" and "our two blogs."

    1. Glad you like it.

      I deem that scene a gold standard of black comedy. It has great lines about molesting children, and we're rolling in the aisles. To tie it back to punishments, Americans often talk about how child molesters should all be class A felons so the other prisoners would rape and kill them, or kill and rape them, but yet we're laughing at a man who is trying to molest a kid. And it's otherwise the only real black comedy bit in Airplane! so if it weren't so goddamn funny it would be out of place. Of course, KFM has more dark comedy.

      And for the other movie reference which you didn't mention (it might not be up your alley), every time I hear an Allstate commercial on the television, I keep wanting Dennis Haysbert to say, "It's very bad to drink Jobu's wine. That's Allstate's stand."