What do you do with Law breakers?
My RPoL Players had trouble acknowledging that they "broke the law." They were certain that I was being an asshole. I was "mad" in real life and taking it out in the game.
I finally posted a thread detailing the laws of the City of Greyhawk that I use in the world at large. The City of Greyhawk boxed set – "Folk, Feuds and Factions," Chapter 2, page 11 (page 13 in PDF) – list the "Serious Crimes" for the City of Greyhawk, along with the prescribed Punishments. The Punishments vary, which is why I use it for the "whole world." Different places administer different Punishment for the various crimes. I feel that this Source also prevents my Players for thinking that I'm "making it up" as I go along.
Yet, in spite of this, my Players still felt that their characters had done nothing wrong. Here's what happened:
The townsfolk needed help. Citizens had gone missing in the Cemetery and there was talk of Undead. In this atmosphere – on the very first day – the Gnome Illusionist jumped up on the table after taking on the guise of a miniature Zombie. Panic ensued.
Townsfolk broke tables, chairs, windows and doors, in an effort to exit the Inn. The Inn happened to be owned by the Town Speaker (Mayor) and both he and the Town Council were present to witness all of this. They were outraged by the prank.
They threatened to arrest the persons responsible – the Gnome Illusionist – for Disturbing the Peace, Destruction of Private Property and Inciting a Riot. Each of these is a violation of the law in Greyhawk, thus in my world.
Two of the Players' characters then Threatened Government Officials, promising bodily harm in they dared try to arrest their friends. (A felony in the United States) The Town Guard was summoned and the Militia turned out. (These characters really suck at Diplomacy) I had to use an NPC to get the situation back under control. Once this was done, the Players sent their characters to see if there was anyone still alive in the Cemetery -- on with the mission!
After some adventure, they returned to town and – in their cups – they started joking about this and sort of "making fun" of the Town Speaker while back at the Inn. The Innkeeper (Town Speaker) was getting the idea that at least one – maybe two – of the characters were under the impression that they hadn't been arrested because the Town Council had been "cowed" by the PCs.
Needless to say, the Town Speaker wasn't about to let that slide . . . again. So, he was off to summon the Town Guard.
One of my Players wised up and asked me what could be done to prevent them having to go through all of this again. What was needed? Diplomacy.
I'm bending over backwards trying to keep the game going, instead of having it end in a fiasco. What do you do in these situations? Do you start throwing PCs into jail? Or do you pretend that they haven't broke the law, even though they have?
I'd be interested in hearing your take on this.