[MUD-Dev] Player Justice (was: Character Restraint & Capture (bounty hunting))

Damion Schubert ubiq at zenofdesign.com
Sat Mar 6 09:52:47 New Zealand Daylight Time 2004

From: Matt Mihaly

>   1. What players sense as real 'justice' requires context and
>   intention to be taken into account.

>   2. Software does a terrible job of taking into account both of
>   those.  (Humans hardly do a perfect job but they are orders of
>   magnitude better at it.)

>   3. Unfortunately, having humans do it requires lots of time to
>   research the issue.

>   4. The solution? I have no idea. We have some pretty interesting
>   stabs at it in our games but they are all very far from being
>   great ones. The best that can be said for them is that they're
>   run by humans, and humans are, so far, the only things capable
>   of even approaching justice.  Fundamentally, this is why most
>   games either pitch themselves as PK games (Shadowbane) so as to
>   ensure its whole playerbase is essentially consenting or put
>   sweeping coded restrictions on PK (EQ, DAoC, SW:G, etc.) that
>   almost utterly obliterate context or force a limited context
>   (like DAoC's RvR stuff) on PK. Human judge admins don't scale so
>   easily.

I've written about Meridian's Justicar system in the past, but it
was a fairly simple and effective way to stop the problem.  In
essence, in Meridian you are Guilty until proven Innocent - i.e.  we
made the system flag you as an 'outlaw' as soon as you did anything
to harm a non-outlaw PC.  Being an outlaw changed your name orange,
and made you killable without penalty to the killer.

One person on the server was elected the Justicar, who had 6 pardons
per week.  If you felt you were unjustly accused, you could try to
convince the Justicar that your flag should be removed.

The primary downside of the system was that the Justicar really had
no evidence of what happened (i.e. no logs or anything else that
could tell you truthfully what happened), and as such, he really
could only base his decisions on what he knew about the individuals
involved.  However, since Meridian was such a small community, the
justicar usually knew the affected individuals, and could make those

There were no doubt abuses of the system, but they were mitigated by
the following factors: 1) Most 'outlaws' who were wrongly pardoned
usually went out and got themselves the outlaw flag again.  2) The
player base was remarkably canny at determining which Justicars were
good at sniffing out BS.  3) The lack of evidence meant that this
feature had a strong political element to it - if it's your word vs
theirs, then you can expect some interesting courtroom histrionics
(at least, that was our spin).

Again, I suspect that this system would have failed in a larger
world such as SWG, UO, SB.  But for a smaller MUD, it might work

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