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Punishing the players for stealing?


Advice

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Speaking strictly from my own experience, with my players, that campaign would end right there. They would not hand over the gear, they would get into a fight, and they would go down fighting. Now, if you have informed before they went after the bounty, it might be different. But this has a good chance of ending the campaign right here, right now, if you decide you want to take the stuff they earned.

Master Arminas

Silver Crusade

master arminas wrote:

Speaking strictly from my own experience, with my players, that campaign would end right there. They would not hand over the gear, they would get into a fight, and they would go down fighting. Now, if you have informed before they went after the bounty, it might be different. But this has a good chance of ending the campaign right here, right now, if you decide you want to take the stuff they earned.

Master Arminas

Different strokes for different folks.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
master arminas wrote:

Speaking strictly from my own experience, with my players, that campaign would end right there. They would not hand over the gear, they would get into a fight, and they would go down fighting. Now, if you have informed before they went after the bounty, it might be different. But this has a good chance of ending the campaign right here, right now, if you decide you want to take the stuff they earned.

Master Arminas

I will refrain from offering my opinion on your players except to say if that happened and the campaign ended over something as trivial as this then it would probably be a good thing because I obviously have an incompatible playstyle.


Franko a wrote:
Xexyz wrote:
Franko a wrote:

Quick question to the DM:

Can you explain how you are approaching this?
Are their bounties on people? OR are you having the players issued leders of Marque (sp)?

DO the characters have the right to negotiate for expenses?

The players saw the wanted poster when they were going about their business in town. Since two rewards were being offered they spoke with the victim, who was offering a reward for the return of the stolen sword, and the authorities, who were offering a bounty on the fugitive since he fled. When the PCs spoke to the authorities (in this case the captain of the city guard and one of the baron's castle officers) they were given a writ of arrest and told to make sure they had that with them when they pursued the fugitive so that authorities in other towns knew the capture of the fugitive was legitimate. Writs of arrest are specific to each bounty; they're definitely NOT letters of marque. For the most part the bounties aren't negotiable - at least for small fry like this guy - but individual rewards of course are.

Thanks for the response.

I admit, i feel a little disconnect with the senario. I dont know if i expressing this well.

First off, it just seems like somthing is missing with an elaborate legal system without an inhouse enforcement mechanism.
Example:
As part of the capture mecahnism, the party accidnently sets a house on fire. THe fire destroys the building.
Woud the party be immune from civil damages?

The party is interrogating a barkeep. The barkeep lies. Did he break the law?

Finally lets say the party looses 2 members, as they were "on duty" will the legal authority that send the people on the job pay for reserection? Why or why not?

The connection between the civil authority and the party seems to be......missing something.

shameless self bump.


Xexyz wrote:
master arminas wrote:

Speaking strictly from my own experience, with my players, that campaign would end right there. They would not hand over the gear, they would get into a fight, and they would go down fighting. Now, if you have informed before they went after the bounty, it might be different. But this has a good chance of ending the campaign right here, right now, if you decide you want to take the stuff they earned.

Master Arminas

I will refrain from offering my opinion on your players except to say if that happened and the campaign ended over something as trivial as this then it would probably be a good thing because I obviously have an incompatible playstyle.

OR, you have a communication disconnect. The street runs both ways. Would you let something as trivial as that ruin your game with your friends when they had no clue before hand of what kind of game you were going to run?

Silver Crusade

Jarl wrote:
Xexyz wrote:
master arminas wrote:

Speaking strictly from my own experience, with my players, that campaign would end right there. They would not hand over the gear, they would get into a fight, and they would go down fighting. Now, if you have informed before they went after the bounty, it might be different. But this has a good chance of ending the campaign right here, right now, if you decide you want to take the stuff they earned.

Master Arminas

I will refrain from offering my opinion on your players except to say if that happened and the campaign ended over something as trivial as this then it would probably be a good thing because I obviously have an incompatible playstyle.
OR, you have a communication disconnect. The street runs both ways. Would you let something as trivial as that ruin your game with your friends when they had no clue before hand of what kind of game you were going to run?

Oh here we go. Basically "take it away from us and we quit" tactic.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Franko a wrote:
shameless self bump.

I'm still thinking of the stuff you said. I haven't made up my mind, but I'm leaning toward playing it as a case-by-case basis. It's a lawful GOOD society, not a lawful NEUTRAL one, I'm not so concerned with creating reams of law since it goes against the feel of the society. So just to answer your two examples:

Quote:
As part of the capture mecahnism, the party accidnently sets a house on fire. THe fire destroys the building.

Depends on how the fire started. If the players were negligent (such as someone casting a fireball or similar magic) then they could be held responsible. Otherwise if it seemed that the fire was started due to the fugitive/criminal resisting arrest and starting a fight, then they could be held responsible.

Quote:
The party is interrogating a barkeep. The barkeep lies. Did he break the law?

I'm assuming you're asking if the party broke the law. Again, what are the circumstances in particular? Did the party's interrogation include torture? Was the barkeep a suspect in a crime? All that would be taken into consideration in making the determination of the PCs liability.

Shadow Lodge

I'm really beginning to wonder if this is even worth the drama.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Don't give NPC's magic items that you don't want falling into the pc's hands if they are expected to get into combat with that NPC.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
TOZ wrote:
I'm really beginning to wonder if this is even worth the drama.

Probably not. I've already decided what I'm going to do (and posted it back on page two of this thread) and will update the results after my next session on the 20th. Franko asked some good questions though so I felt obligated to answer them.


Xexyz wrote:
Franko a wrote:
shameless self bump.

I'm still thinking of the stuff you said. I haven't made up my mind, but I'm leaning toward playing it as a case-by-case basis. It's a lawful GOOD society, not a lawful NEUTRAL one, I'm not so concerned with creating reams of law since it goes against the feel of the society. So just to answer your two examples:

Quote:
As part of the capture mecahnism, the party accidnently sets a house on fire. THe fire destroys the building.

Depends on how the fire started. If the players were negligent (such as someone casting a fireball or similar magic) then they could be held responsible. Otherwise if it seemed that the fire was started due to the fugitive/criminal resisting arrest and starting a fight, then they could be held responsible.

Quote:
The party is interrogating a barkeep. The barkeep lies. Did he break the law?
I'm assuming you're asking if the party broke the law. Again, what are the circumstances in particular? Did the party's interrogation include torture? Was the barkeep a suspect in a crime? All that would be taken into consideration in making the determination of the PCs liability.

nope, not party.

Barkeep


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
Franko a wrote:

nope, not party.

Barkeep

Hmm, I guess I'm a little confused then. Are you asking if whether or not the barkeep broke the law determines if the PCs are criminally responsible for him dying if he dies during an interrogation?


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber

He was asking:

If the party asks the barkeep questions and the barkeep lies to them (thus keeping them from being able to fulfill the job they are doing for the city) did the barkeep commit a crime by lying to the party?


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
chavamana wrote:

He was asking:

If the party asks the barkeep questions and the barkeep lies to them (thus keeping them from being able to fulfill the job they are doing to the city) did the barkeep commit a crime by lying to the party?

Oh my god I fail at reading comprehension. Somehow I got it in my mind that he said the barkeep died. Anyway to answer the question, no, lying isn't against the law. That would be way too zealous for what I'm trying to go for here.


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber
master arminas wrote:

Speaking strictly from my own experience, with my players, that campaign would end right there. They would not hand over the gear, they would get into a fight, and they would go down fighting. Now, if you have informed before they went after the bounty, it might be different. But this has a good chance of ending the campaign right here, right now, if you decide you want to take the stuff they earned.

Master Arminas

Hey, some parties are comprised of psychopaths. That's fine too. : D


What is their alignment? Is this action outside that alignment? Do they have a specific code of conduct they should follow?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Xexyz wrote:
Last session the PCs apprehended a fugitive and returned him to the seeking authorities. However they also took the fugitive's magic items.

Sounds like the grand old tradition of Dnd to me!


master arminas wrote:

Followed by a quick and bloody battle. Yeah, that is how it would go in game in my experience. HINT: Major changes to player expections should always be talked out beforehand and out of game, otherwise you won't have a game.

Master Arminas

Just a quick question, in your game, would the PCs still be welcomed to shop, rest, get quests, etc. in this town ever again?

Edit: Disregard. :)

Further reading reveled you campaign would have ended by this point so the question is moot.


DrDeth wrote:

No, that's not what I mean. Like I said, if a Game is going to deviate sharply from the norm, the players need to be warned. A very-low magic game is a great example. Not that those can;t be OK, but the players need to be told about it beforehand. A game where the PC's can only be human, or where they start as NPC classes, or at zero level- all those are unusual and the players have to be told.

Certainly the game must remain a mystery and there must be things behind the screen. But the players have the right to certain assumptions- like for example, no saying "Hey guys, I said Pathfinder, but instead we're playing Bunnies & Burrows!"

To me this didn't sound like "In this campaign, thou shalt not loot anything, ever" rather, it sounded like, in this situation, the guards wanted the fugitive's stuff.

To use your example of a low magic campaign, what if the party entered a realm where magic didn't work right? Rest of the world, fine; here, not so much. Or they came to a town where overt displays of magic were illegal. Would you set the players aside and explain it to them, or let them find out about the peculiarities of area this when their characters do?

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

If the characters had never heard or seen that area, then they would find out in character. If one PC was native to that area, it would be out of character.


TriOmegaZero wrote:
If the characters had never heard or seen that area, then they would find out in character. If one PC was native to that area, it would be out of character.

I can get behind that.

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

*fist bump*


I can agree that quiting over this would be a bit much. But it certainly could cause hard feelings. Worse, the players may misunderstand like Master Arminas sez, and think that they are supposed to fight the guards. It's not a stretch.


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
DrDeth wrote:
I can agree that quiting over this would be a bit much. But it certainly could cause hard feelings. Worse, the players may misunderstand like Master Arminas sez, and think that they are supposed to fight the guards. It's not a stretch.

Thankfully my players are smarter than that.


Quantum Steve wrote:
DrDeth wrote:

No, that's not what I mean. Like I said, if a Game is going to deviate sharply from the norm, the players need to be warned. A very-low magic game is a great example. Not that those can;t be OK, but the players need to be told about it beforehand. A game where the PC's can only be human, or where they start as NPC classes, or at zero level- all those are unusual and the players have to be told.

Certainly the game must remain a mystery and there must be things behind the screen. But the players have the right to certain assumptions- like for example, no saying "Hey guys, I said Pathfinder, but instead we're playing Bunnies & Burrows!"

To me this didn't sound like "In this campaign, thou shalt not loot anything, ever" rather, it sounded like, in this situation, the guards wanted the fugitive's stuff.

To use your example of a low magic campaign, what if the party entered a realm where magic didn't work right? Rest of the world, fine; here, not so much. Or they came to a town where overt displays of magic were illegal. Would you set the players aside and explain it to them, or let them find out about the peculiarities of area this when their characters do?

Well, the Constables certainly have Ks Local. And thus they know their local laws are different. And they can tell the PC's are from "not around here". So yes, in this case, and in the case of magic being illegal, I'd expect that when the Coppers hired the party to catch a thief, they'd say "Word to the wise, friends, I can tell you are not natives. Let me explain a few things about our local laws to you first". I mean, the Constables are trying to get the PC's aid right? What kind of Lawful Good society would knowingly and willfully let these guys violate the law, if they really want their help? It would sound to me like it's a trap: "Ha, ha, we hired you to help us, but since you were from out of town we expected you to violated the local laws that you didn't know - and now we can fine you more than the reward, take all your gear, and make you work in the fields for 20 years. Ha ha, joke's on you!"


Xexyz wrote:
DrDeth wrote:
I can agree that quiting over this would be a bit much. But it certainly could cause hard feelings. Worse, the players may misunderstand like Master Arminas sez, and think that they are supposed to fight the guards. It's not a stretch.
Thankfully my players are smarter than that.

So, what did they do?


Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber
DrDeth wrote:
So, what did they do?

Nothing yet, as my next session isn't until the 20th. But they're not going to interpret the guards asking for the return of the fugitive's gear as the GM intending them to fight the guards.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Quantum Steve wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
If the characters had never heard or seen that area, then they would find out in character. If one PC was native to that area, it would be out of character.
I can get behind that.

+1


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
DrDeth wrote:


Well, the Constables certainly have Ks Local. And thus they know their local laws are different.

Why would they? Seriously?

I know people who have never been more than 10 miles from where they were born. Nowdays, people have television and internet to learn about other places.

In a low-tech society, you learn about other places by people who went there coming around and telling you. How do you know every guard (or even any specific guard) would know about other lands and their laws? For that matter, how do you know they have KS (Local)? Maybe they only have "Profession : Constable", which can be used for doing their job of being a Constable (knowing the local laws, the local criminal hangouts, etc)?

I think you assume way too much. I've traveled from Singapore to Hong Kong to Canada to Mexico to London, and I have only the most basic of ideas how the laws in other countries differ from US law. And even then, it's more from internet searches. Assuming the local Constables are going to know that their laws are different from other countries laws is a huge stretch.


mdt wrote:
DrDeth wrote:


Well, the Constables certainly have Ks Local. And thus they know their local laws are different.

Why would they? Seriously?

I know people who have never been more than 10 miles from where they were born. Nowdays, people have television and internet to learn about other places.

In a low-tech society, you learn about other places by people who went there coming around and telling you. How do you know every guard (or even any specific guard) would know about other lands and their laws? For that matter, how do you know they have KS (Local)? Maybe they only have "Profession : Constable", which can be used for doing their job of being a Constable (knowing the local laws, the local criminal hangouts, etc)?

I think you assume way too much. I've traveled from Singapore to Hong Kong to Canada to Mexico to London, and I have only the most basic of ideas how the laws in other countries differ from US law. And even then, it's more from internet searches. Assuming the local Constables are going to know that their laws are different from other countries laws is a huge stretch.

Ah but those constables assuming that other people know their laws should be just as large a stretch shouldn't it?


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
gnomersy wrote:


Ah but those constables assuming that other people know their laws should be just as large a stretch shouldn't it?

Nope, not at all.

Ask any cop on the street today. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Try walking out of a Best Buy with a $3000 tv without paying for it, and see how far 'I didn't know I had to pay for it' gets you.

Go back 2000 years and try to tell a king's guard you didn't know you weren't supposed to kill the tax collectors, see how far that gets you.

Constables always assume everyone knows every law as well as they do.


mdt wrote:
gnomersy wrote:


Ah but those constables assuming that other people know their laws should be just as large a stretch shouldn't it?

Nope, not at all.

Ask any cop on the street today. Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Try walking out of a Best Buy with a $3000 tv without paying for it, and see how far 'I didn't know I had to pay for it' gets you.

Go back 2000 years and try to tell a king's guard you didn't know you weren't supposed to kill the tax collectors, see how far that gets you.

Constables always assume everyone knows every law as well as they do.

Constables NOW always assume everyone knows the law as well as they do.

I'd dare you to provide proof of legal precedent from 2000 years ago to support your claim. Now given that you can't I'll kindly ask you to not make baseless claims.

That being said there are many cases in which ignorance of the law can be used as an excuse when the issue in question is petty crime and not murder or grand theft.

Also if your constables get hired guns to hunt down rogues and don't inform them of the pertinent laws then your constables are pretty f@@~ing stupid and I'm shocked the society hasn't collapsed from sheer inept governance already.


To top it off, the PC's are locals. One would reasonably expect them to already know the basic laws and not even need a knowledge check.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
gnomersy wrote:


Constables NOW always assume everyone knows the law as well as they do.

I'd dare you to provide proof of legal precedent from 2000 years ago to support your claim. Now given that you can't I'll kindly ask you to not make baseless claims.

That being said there are many cases in which ignorance of the law can be used as an excuse when the issue in question is petty crime and not murder or grand theft.

Also if your constables get hired guns to hunt down rogues and don't inform them of the pertinent laws then your constables are pretty f+@+ing stupid and I'm shocked the society hasn't collapsed from sheer inept governance already.

You should probably do some research before you fire off your footgun and blow your feet off.

Modern law is you are innocent until you are proven guilty. Historically, in the dark ages you were guilty until proven innocent. You were tortured until you either admitted guilt, or they decided you were innocent. There was no 'I did not know it was against the law', it was just 'it is against the law, you are guilty, torture begins and continues until you admit it'. City guards just arrested you, told the court you were guilty (whether you knew about a local law or not, and each county could have it's own laws, which weren't posted or anything).

Here's a few sites you might want to go read, which took me all of 2 minutes to go find, and about 10 minutes to read each.

Medieval Law & Order

Law & Disorder in the Dark Ages


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Jarl wrote:
To top it off, the PC's are locals. One would reasonably expect them to already know the basic laws and not even need a knowledge check.

I've actually said, several times, although people ignore it, that if someone was local, they should have just been told about this when they took the items off the guy in the first place, out of character.

Andoran

1. I know it's been said but this kinda how adventure's get their stuff. It's part of the adventures' mantra.

2. Many law agencies in the world actually do this. They will seize funds from various criminal activities, such as drugs, and put it into their budgets for use.

Is it something that is a tried and true staple of gaming (and of the real world) be punishable when players perform it? I think not.

Now, if they were to break into some random NPC's house and begin to loot the place I might say something.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Madclaw wrote:


2. Many law agencies in the world actually do this. They will seize funds from various criminal activities, such as drugs, and put it into their budgets for use.

Several have had officers put in jail by the FBI for doing it too. Specifically, in Eastern Texas, and several in Louisiana. Missouri had to pass a law that cities couldn't get more than 25% of their annual revenue from tickets and seized property (cars) due to abuse.

In general, what you are talking about is things like law enforcement impounding cars, tvs, money, etc. They then turn around and sell the property, and put that money into their budgets for the next year. What you don't have is police officers seizing watches and keeping them for personal use (well, outside of the deputies in Eastern Texas who ended up going to jail for it).

Your argument actually works against the PCs, as under the seizure ideal, what should happen is the BBEGs belongings should be seized by law enforcement (the Constables, not the PCs), sold at public auction, and the proceeds used to hire new guards, perform equipment upgrades, repair offices, etc. It shouldn't be seized and kept by the arresting officers.


mdt wrote:


You should probably do some research before you fire off your footgun and blow your feet off.

Modern law is you are innocent until you are proven guilty. Historically, in the dark ages you were guilty until proven innocent. You were tortured until you either admitted guilt, or they decided you were innocent. There was no 'I did not know it was against the law', it was just 'it is against the law, you are guilty, torture begins and continues until you admit it'. City guards just arrested you, told the court you were guilty (whether you knew about a local law or not, and each county could have it's own laws, which weren't posted or anything).

Here's a few sites you might want to go read, which took me all of 2 minutes to go find, and about 10 minutes to read each.

Medieval Law & Order

Law & Disorder in the Dark Ages

Last time I checked the difference between 2012 and 1200 wasn't 2000 so thanks for invalidating your own statement?

As far as the medieval law is concerned you could just be pulled off the street tortured and killed on a statement no need for evidence proof or anything of the like as long as someone with enough power agreed with you. Hell most of the time it didn't even matter if you were breaking the law.

Buuuut that again isn't relevant to this society which the OP insists is modeled moreso on a modern legal system and follows the principle of innocent until proven guilty (hence why he wants them to hand over the stuff because he isn't technically guilty yet).

Now if you follow that policy then it's your duty to tell people about the laws particularly before you make them the enforcers of the law. For example would you let someone join the police force and send him out that day to arrest a thief without making sure he knows the laws and how he's supposed to act within them?


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Since the advancement of law enforcement didn't really change from 3000 years ago (where the chief decided who broke his law and who didn't) and 800 years ago (where the local noble decided who broke the law and who didn't), I'd say the point is valid and made.

As to the OPs society, since it's his society, any argument you make that it's flawed in any way, or that anything should be done differently is moot, as it is his society and it works however he imagines it.

Now that you've moved the goalposts back to modern law enforcement (which you moved it away from originally, to bolster your argument), I'll reiterate my statement that modern law enforcement doesn't bother telling you what the laws are before you break them, because you are assumed to know them. If you don't, you still have to prove your innocence. Even if an ignorance excuse is allowed, it's just that, an excuse. It's extenuating circumstances. It doesn't mean you didn't break the law, it just means they decided not to punish you for it.

Your analogy about 'hiring someone to be a cop' is a flawed analogy. A better one would be a bounty is offered by a private citizen as well as a reward for information leading to the capture of person by the governor. A bounty hunter then takes up that offer and goes off to arrest the miscreant.

Under your position, the bounty hunter is justified to steal from the felon. But he's not. And, if he breaks laws getting the guy, he gets arrested by the Constables, who actually hold him to a higher standard, since they are supposed to know the laws before they go off chasing bounties.


mdt wrote:

Since the advancement of law enforcement didn't really change from 3000 years ago (where the chief decided who broke his law and who didn't) and 800 years ago (where the local noble decided who broke the law and who didn't), I'd say the point is valid and made.

As to the OPs society, since it's his society, any argument you make that it's flawed in any way, or that anything should be done differently is moot, as it is his society and it works however he imagines it.

Now that you've moved the goalposts back to modern law enforcement (which you moved it away from originally, to bolster your argument), I'll reiterate my statement that modern law enforcement doesn't bother telling you what the laws are before you break them, because you are assumed to know them. If you don't, you still have to prove your innocence. Even if an ignorance excuse is allowed, it's just that, an excuse. It's extenuating circumstances. It doesn't mean you didn't break the law, it just means they decided not to punish you for it.

Your analogy about 'hiring someone to be a cop' is a flawed analogy. A better one would be a bounty is offered by a private citizen as well as a reward for information leading to the capture of person by the governor. A bounty hunter then takes up that offer and goes off to arrest the miscreant.

Under your position, the bounty hunter is justified to steal from the felon. But he's not. And, if he breaks laws getting the guy, he gets arrested by the Constables, who actually hold him to a higher standard, since they are supposed to know the laws before they go off chasing bounties.

I didn't move the goal posts you did MDT I just said that its easy to assume that nobody tells you the law now because it's easy to find but the less available the information becomes the more important for an orderly society to disseminate that information. Also you can't make random assumptions about legal code through generalizations for a 2000+ year span of time and use that as a valid argument but whatever I don't honestly care.

I agree completely it's the OPs society but the more he does to make it make sense the more likely he and his players would get along right? If he didn't want opinions then the whole posting thing is sort of pointless.

As for your bounty hunter example I disagree because the OP stated his nation has no regular law enforcement so bounty hunters are essentially the cops and they had to go to a court to get letters of marque to arrest the guy. In that case it seems fairly asinine to believe that there would be no effort taken to ensure the people you send out to enforce the law know or will follow the law.

As for the ignorance being an excuse thing I agree it's an excuse which is why I specifically stated I wouldn't punish the players for it(although taking away their gear is usually considered punishment) not that they should have free reign to murder and pillage as they please since you forgot to tell them something.

And under your position you send out random shlubs with zero oversight or guidance to enforce your laws and then you punish them for doing it wrong I don't really think that makes sense and it wouldn't take long for somebody in a decently organized society to figure out "Oh hey maybe we should figure out a licensing program for these bounty hunters so they don't keep making horribly costly mistakes like stabbing the guy to death before bringing him in for trial ..."


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

No, I didn't say send out random shlubs. What I said was, bounty hunters find out about a reward/bounty and pursue it. That was my example. Note that most LE considers bounty hunters to be one step up from a criminal, and they don't particularly like them in general.

If he has constables, then he has law enforcement. What he said he didn't have was the equivalent of US Marshals. City Police don't chase felons from one state to another, neither do state police. US Marshals are charged with chasing down fugitives (Tommy Lee Jones jumps to mind).

So, the country is basically putting up bounties and letting bounty hunters pursue the felons for a specific reward. It's the bounty hunters responsibility to make sure they know what's required of them before they take a bounty.

Let me ask you, who's fault would it be if you walked in and signed a contract and didn't read it? Yours, or the guy who handed you the contract while you were all fat dumb and happy? Yours. You should have read the contract. If you're going to risk your life for 250gp, you better darn well make sure you know what you're risking, shouldn't you? If not, you're a pretty stupid schlub, aren't you?


How would you possibly force them to "return" the items if not by metagaming if there is no proof that the items were ever the criminals.
I would say just move on lesson learned and slow down on the loot until you think character wealth is where it should be.
dont get me wrong you can have them fight tooth and nail to keep the items it could be an adventure of its own maybe the criminal was a rich debutante who stole for the thrill and payed his bail soon after, now he is furious about how the party treated him and he hired some goonies to accompany him for a stroll to the parties hangout.

Osirion

Ignoring all the debates, I have one suggestion for you to help you make this work.

Send out an email to your players with what the guard says to them about returning the goods, and do so at least a few days before the game.

If any of them are going to get upset over the fact that they don't get to keep the gear, giving them a few days will let them calm down and approach it more reasonably.


mdt wrote:


So, the country is basically putting up bounties and letting bounty hunters pursue the felons for a specific reward. It's the bounty hunters responsibility to make sure they know what's required of them before they take a bounty.

Let me ask you, who's fault would it be if you walked in and signed a contract and didn't read it? Yours, or the guy who handed you the contract while you were all fat dumb and happy? Yours. You should have read the contract. If you're going to risk your life for 250gp, you better darn well make sure you know what you're risking, shouldn't you? If not, you're a pretty stupid schlub, aren't you?

Sure, except that as the OP makes very clear, the PC's never got to see the contract in the first place.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So... you're saying it's not their fault that they didn't even try to find out about the contract, they just went out and did the job without ever reading the contract or even seeing it, doing the job on faith 'cause that is how it works' rather than confirming their understanding?

What if there was a local law that said 'You must register for a bounty before you go after it, or you are not paid for it', would they be any less responsible for not checking that out first because they didn't bother to look up the contract they were going after?


AFAIK, there wasn't even a contract to start with. Both sides seemed to simply assume. In the PC's case, the assumption was reasonable.


mdt wrote:

No, I didn't say send out random shlubs. What I said was, bounty hunters find out about a reward/bounty and pursue it. That was my example. Note that most LE considers bounty hunters to be one step up from a criminal, and they don't particularly like them in general.

If he has constables, then he has law enforcement. What he said he didn't have was the equivalent of US Marshals. City Police don't chase felons from one state to another, neither do state police. US Marshals are charged with chasing down fugitives (Tommy Lee Jones jumps to mind).

So, the country is basically putting up bounties and letting bounty hunters pursue the felons for a specific reward. It's the bounty hunters responsibility to make sure they know what's required of them before they take a bounty.

Let me ask you, who's fault would it be if you walked in and signed a contract and didn't read it? Yours, or the guy who handed you the contract while you were all fat dumb and happy? Yours. You should have read the contract. If you're going to risk your life for 250gp, you better darn well make sure you know what you're risking, shouldn't you? If not, you're a pretty stupid schlub, aren't you?

Except these are random schlubs the US Marshals are trained and federally licensed while random bounty hunters aren't.

LG societies generally don't tolerate mercenaries or bounty hunters at all and LE would probably just consider them a pest or a public menace unless they were an organized guild or something.

And I disagree entirely on who's fault it is, it's like I showed up to buy a house and then they gave me the first page of the contract and kept the remainder in a cabinet and they insisted that those rules were still applicable even though I never signed those pages or for that matter ever saw them. Is that fair? No, of course not.


Pathfinder Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thanks for making my point. You just said, you'd never sign a contract without reading it, because it would be stupid. But you'd run off an risk your life for a gold reward without asking about what the rules are for collecting it? I don't think so. :)


Jarl wrote:
To top it off, the PC's are locals. One would reasonably expect them to already know the basic laws and not even need a knowledge check.

Really? Off the top of your head, what are the laws in your city about bounty hunting? How do you get a license? What are the rules for treatment of fugitives? What constitutes excessive force in the pursuit of a fugitive? If a fugitive gets on the highway going over the speed limit, are you allowed to break the speed limit to pursue?


mdt wrote:
Thanks for making my point. You just said, you'd never sign a contract without reading it, because it would be stupid. But you'd run off an risk your life for a gold reward without asking about what the rules are for collecting it? I don't think so. :)

You'd hire some out of towners without telling them what the rules are? remember the locals are lawful, not the party.

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