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Old 07-12-2019, 10:56 AM   #11
jason taylor
 
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Default Re: The rights and consequences to bear arms in RPGs

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Originally Posted by khorboth View Post
In general, I think it goes like this...

Where I live, there's a weird loophole in the law which says I may carry a blade of any length, but not concealed. A sheath then was ruled to count as concealment. A friend, knowing this, was walking a few blocks home with a sword he just bought and was carrying it openly. He was stopped by the police and questioned at gunpoint. He was ultimately let go as they couldn't rule he was threatening anybody in particular. He didn't have a visible reason.
Different things have different connotations. In modern times a sword carries the message of "geek" not "thug". When worn with a uniform, it means, "Guy going to a military wedding." The cop probably accepted your friends explanation because-why else would he have a sword?

Modern knives often look like something an orc would carry. The fashion often leans toward the rather ugly. I'm glad I still like Victorinox; everyone knows what it is. It is not really a weapon but it is reassuring to have on hand (my personal weapon is a brace of kubatons that can brain any burglar that climbs through my window and by-the-way over my bed).
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Old 07-12-2019, 10:59 AM   #12
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Default Re: The rights and consequences to bear arms in RPGs

The question of sumptuary laws can be applied on other settings as well, for what might feel like a jarring (yet logical) result.

A postapocalyptic setting, for instance, in which a local warlord has decreed that anyone carrying a firearm above a given caliber or capable of full-auto fire must pay a tax of (fairly large amount of local currency) or face arrest by his extremely well-armed constabulary. (They might even have been provisioned from folks who tried to fight back when the tax was demanded!) There's a lesser tax for carrying semi-auto, or swords/axes above a certain size. The custom may have originated as a matter of sheer practicality, as the warlord sought to disarm any possible opposition to his/her reign, but become (as it did in the real world) a status symbol - "I'm so rich, I can afford to carry around this hundred-year-old M-4!"
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Old 07-12-2019, 11:34 AM   #13
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Default Re: The rights and consequences to bear arms in RPGs

There also might be something that isn't exactly the same as a sumptuary law. Suppose the military gave out swords as a decoration or a symbol of rank? Perhaps in that case the generic "sword" might not be forbidden (because to do so would be a sumptuary law) but a sword identified in a particular way (because it is trademarked).
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Old 07-12-2019, 04:55 PM   #14
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Default Re: The rights and consequences to bear arms in RPGs

Social status can be important. We played a GURPS campaign set in 1930 England, when the weapon laws were theoretically fairly loose, but it depended in practice who you were.

Only one character, the only one with Status above 0, had a gun, and she only carried it occasionally. Another had Social Stigma (Second-Class Citizen), and while she carried a knife, it was well-concealed, and she took great care not to be near anything that might be considered illegal.

There were only two fights that left evidence afterwards IIRC, one against monsters so horrific-looking that the police didn't ask awkward questions, and the other which resulted in us calling the police to hand over someone who'd clearly been trying to murder us (set fire to the house, lurk down the road with a rifle) but had acquired two broken legs.
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Old 07-12-2019, 10:58 PM   #15
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Default Re: The rights and consequences to bear arms in RPGs

In a more "gamey" section of my fantasy world I've been running things with "How good an impression did you make with the guards".

If the PCs offend the guards in any way (social disadvantges or their own actions etc) the guards tend to exclude the character(s) in question from the town/city. There are no fixed societal rules either way, the decision is left to the guards for good or ill.

Heros with a good reputation can swagger about armed to the teeth but shadey types get harassed by the powers that be. Given that in most cases the communities are small enough that word about a particular guard's decision will get about.
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Old 07-12-2019, 11:19 PM   #16
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Default Re: The rights and consequences to bear arms in RPGs

In some mediaeval times and places peasants were forbidden to own weapons and armour. In others, they were required by law to own them.

One can imagine a setting of Kafkaesque satire in which people are required to bear arms at all times, and liable to be shot by the police if they believe that you are unarmed. People of high status would be able to get away with discreet pocket pistols, but anyone with a social stigma would have to carry a longarm to make it obvious that they were armed.
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Old 07-12-2019, 11:23 PM   #17
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Default Re: The rights and consequences to bear arms in RPGs

One detail that may escape American audiences is that carrying a weapon is almost never a *right*. Pretty much every prince ever would claim the authority to regulate or forbid weapons to anybody if they wanted to, and few political theorists would disagree. If they are not doing so, it's a liberty they are allowing, not a right inherent to you.
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Old 07-15-2019, 04:40 AM   #18
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Default Re: The rights and consequences to bear arms in RPGs

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One detail that may escape American audiences is that carrying a weapon is almost never a *right*. Pretty much every prince ever would claim the authority to regulate or forbid weapons to anybody if they wanted to, and few political theorists would disagree. If they are not doing so, it's a liberty they are allowing, not a right inherent to you.
Of course, as Agemegos noted, it may also be a duty - at least to have arms, if not to carry them about with you. And in a medieval setting you are most unlikely to have one law universally applied - for example, you may be permitted to travel armed on the King's Highway, but step off it onto the estates of the noble whose land borders it and you are engaged in armed trespass (also, if you are of too low status, or just unknown in the area and not obviously on legitimate business, you may be challenged as a bandit). Likewise, a resident of a city may be permitted to go armed, whereas a stranger may not, a freeman might be permitted (and even expected) to own weapons whilst a serf may be forbidden - but if that freeman takes his warbow into the royal forest, the foresters are liable to take him up as a poacher... the answer is likely to be "it's complicated, how immersive do you like your setting".
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Old 07-15-2019, 09:54 AM   #19
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Default Re: The rights and consequences to bear arms in RPGs

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Likewise, a resident of a city may be permitted to go armed, whereas a stranger may not
I actually like this idea a lot. I think next time I run a Fantasy or foggy-historical game I'll have a law that citizens that live within city walls be able to get an "Armsman's badge" for a nominal expense. It has to be worn on the breast when you're carrying a weapon to show the guard that you're approved. It allows wealthy merchants and their men to carry smallswords or maybe smaller crossbows, and non-plate armor, whatever the limit of the law is. Part of being issued the badge is an oath to defend the Count (Or whomever runs the show) and the city.

This sort of limits weapons to the wealthy citizens that will complain the most about being unarmed and who are less likely to engage in criminal acts. It puts strangers and ne'er-do-wells at a disadvantage against tax payers. And it creates a small obligation to the most wealthy and independent citizens in the realm. If it means they stab a few peasants in bar fights or occasionally kill someone they thought was a robber, it seems like a small price.
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Old 07-15-2019, 11:03 AM   #20
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Default Re: The rights and consequences to bear arms in RPGs

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And in a medieval setting you are most unlikely to have one law universally applied
And in a particularly grim setting, you could be required to present your weapons upon request. Any refusal to do so is seen as unreadiness to defend the territory, and thus treason. Any attempt to do so is seen as brandishing a weapon in the presence of a civil authority, and thus treason.
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