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Ditching Law Levels?



Yes, I'm full of ideas this weekend... ;)

While pondering social stuff for worldbuilding, I find myself again thinking about governments and law levels. I asked about governments previously in the fixing the government UWP? thread, but a thought just occurred to me about law levels.

As they stand, I think law levels are damn useless. You can't tell anything about how a society works if all you have is something that tells you what weapons you're allowed to carry. Yet I've seen some homebrew systems where law of B+ is all broken down into 'freedoms' that are tolerated by government. That's more useful, but you're still left with 0-A being largely irrelevant.

So how about this: drop law levels as they stand, and replace them with a "Social UWP" that would define social freedoms. This would range from "complete anarchy" (i.e. no laws at all, complete freedom to do anything) at 0 through socially liberal (or "tolerant/permissive") to socially conservative (or "intolerant/static") to socially totalitarian (or "oppressive") at high numbers. I'm sure the scale could be broken down more finely than that based on specific freedoms - again, it would be determined by a straight 2d roll with small modifiers for government types.

True anarchies would be very rare. Democracies would be more likely to range between liberal and conservative. Dictatorships would be more likely to range between conservative and totalitarian.

This number could still be the roll needed to avoid harrassment by the local law agencies, since they'd be more likely to intervene and interfere in conservative or totalitarian cultures.

So, would this replace government as well? I've always thought law level and government were too interconnected to regard as seperate entities.
No, the gov digit would tell you the actual style of government - whether you had a democracy or dictatorship or anything else. The 'social UWP' would tell you how permissive the society was. Though maybe you're right, they could possibly be folded into one thing, though we'd lose information about the government then.

I don't recall how WBH did it... didn't they have lots and lots of numbers for various aspects of the law level (like the TL)? That'd just be too detailed I think - I just want one number to put in a UWP here.
WBH split the LL into weapons, trade, criminal law, civil law, and personal freedom.

They also added lots of social stuff, like progressiveness, aggressiveness, etc.

So yes, lots and lots of numbers.
I always preferred to look upon the law level as an indication of personal freedom and amount of bureaucracy a la WBH. The gun carrying thing was a big pile of pooh for saddoes that equate guns with personal freedom (oops watch the politics dave!). The idea of actually getting it down on paper as a single figure appeals though, WBH as Andrew says was numbers and more numbers. Good but it did take up pages.
I have always used LL as suggsted as the 2d check-throw for significant LE encounters, daily, success being 1 or more. Considering that I live 2 blocks from a police substation, I figure I get a DM-2 ;) And I have an encounter with LE about half of the days...

But that needs clarification of "Encounter"... A situation where both the LEO and I seem to me to be making visual contact with the other, and he seems to be looking at me, and making a decision as to whether to stop me, or talk to me. It also could mean instead I get woken up by a siren, or a bang upon my door, or the night shift driving around the park at 25mph in a 5mph zone at 0200....

Now, mind you the effective LL for the airport goes from about 6 (around the perimiter fence) to about 13 when I go inside...

It was suggested that way in the Traveller Book.
(aside to BR: Some of us do equate weapons with freedom...)
For prohibited weapons, I use the listed LL as a baseline for what is normal. (Then again, IMTU, on Regina, there are MANY arms dealers selling surplus to mercs... a unit with a HQ lease is allowed full armament on their base, and dress armament in uniform only of base...)

I also use it as the base likelihood a local will report a crime he sees.

And BR, don't even start on that political stuff....

I also use the LL to check for prohibition of
- Alcohol and other traditional intoxicants
- other minor intoxicants (at LL+4 if alcohol or tobacco banned)
- Tobacco and equivalents
- open display of firearms
- open display of blades
- concealed carry of weapons
- driving on off-world license
- non-starport use of non-local ID
- Non-starport use of non-local non-imperial monies
- non-starport use of CrImp (only checked if they don't take other planets, too.
- right to a lawyer during questioning
- right to a lawyer during trial
- right to present a defense at trial
- a diminished capacity defense

Of course, I check these only as I need them... If I were really up to speed, I'd have a notebook full of this stuff detailed out...
Replacing the single digit law level is a head scratcher. How does one go about it without adding line after line after line of information?

CT focussed on weapon possession because, as Loren Wiseman continually reminds us, that how RPGs were played back then. Players went around shooting things up just as D&D players went around slashing things up. Times have changed and so have RPG play styles.

Aramis is correct in pointing out that CT's LL was also used as a 'Daily Encounter With Law Enforcement Officials' roll; beat the LL on 2D6 and you won't see any cops. IMTU this was 'refined' somewhat into 'beat the LL on 2D6 and you won't see any cops IF you're not screwing around'.

All in all, the single digit LL was just like so many other parts of CT - just a starting point from which the GM can expand. As the final line in so many old Traveller adventures and amber zones reads; The GM should determine the subsequent course of events.


Have fun,
All in all, the single digit LL was just like so many other parts of CT - just a starting point from which the GM can expand.
if a referee is required to fully explicate each and every world then his job becomes difficult. one good point to a single digit (for any planetary characteristic) is that it allows a referee to handle dozens of worlds in a cursory manner as players casually pass through various systems.
Methinks Larsen O' the grand Boater hat has it aright.

All in all, the single digit LL was just like so many other parts of CT - just a starting point from which the GM can expand. As the final line in so many old Traveller adventures and amber zones reads; The GM should determine the subsequent course of events.

Strikes me as something a decent GM needs to have determined before he sits down with the players. And requires some imagination.

As I'm usually the "heretic" here, my take on this seems to my eyes and reading glasses a case of using your noggin & imagination less and relying on yet still more tables and charts.

So why reinvent the proverbial wheel?
That's my .000000125Mcr take, YMMV, as always aye.