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Old 04-01-2021, 01:13 PM   #1
Night Watchman
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Legal Immunity

Legal Immunity [5, 10, 15 or 20] is a mundane social advantage, providing you with some degree of exemption from laws, and thus their enforcement. Like Legal Enforcement Powers, it is in the “privilege” sub-category, and can be lost if abused. This advantage appeared in this form in GURPS Religion for 3e, with a precursor in International Super Teams.

You aren’t immune to laws with this advantage, but the laws and enforcement that apply to you are different from those that apply to most people in the setting. At [5], the laws that apply to you are approximately as restrictive as the normal ones, just different. For example, a medieval abbot is not subject to local law, but the bishop who can hold him to account will normally want to ensure that his conduct is creditable.

At [10], the laws that apply to you are significantly less restrictive. The canonical example is a medieval bard, who cannot be seriously punished for anything he sings, even if it’s libellous or insulting to the local ruler. He can be excluded from court, or even banished, but not fined, imprisoned or physically punished. This immunity has prerequisites, in that you need actual skill as a bard. You also need the good opinion of your fellow-bards, who provide enforcement by being cruel in their performances about anyone who breaches your immunity.

At [15], you can do pretty much as you like, provided you don’t harm the interests of whoever granted you Legal Immunity. Monarchs traditionally have this, but the canonical example is modern Diplomatic Immunity [20], where you are only subject to the laws of your own country and can’t be punished for anything by other countries. Local police can arrest you, but can’t hold or prosecute you. The only thing a country can do is expel you, by declaring you persona non grata. This requires a Duty to your own country or government, and often some kind of Rank. The extra [5] cost is because you also have “Diplomatic pouch” privileges, allowing you to send and receive physical messages that other countries aren’t allowed to intercept or read. That privilege is possible for lesser levels of Legal Immunity, if the setting allows it.

Various GURPS supplements add new forms of Legal Immunity, including “Answerable only to other Gods,” “De facto government in his own tower,” “Igor Immunity,” “Represents the Patrician,” “Subject to Guild Discipline” and “Trial by His Peers” all [5] from Discworld, while Banestorm limits Bardic Immunity fairly strictly, in favour of “Skaldic Immunity” [10] and “The King is the law” [15]. Boardroom and Curia has organisations where some members have this advantage, and City Stats has “free cities,” whose populations have it in the surrounding area. DF17 Guilds provides it as a benefit for members of the right organisations, while Horror offers it for children and Men in Black. Locations: Hellsgate’s rulers have the [20] version, while students and teachers at Worminghall have to settle for [10]. Power-Ups 8 has the “Informal, -50%” limitation, which works, but can be lost easily, and Social Engineering: Keeping in Contact has “freedom of the press” extending to that level, and Pulling Rank can have it as a prerequisite for all kinds of Rank.

My personal experience with this advantage is with full Diplomatic Immunity [20] in a THS game where the PCs were a group of consular services troubleshooters for the EU on Mars. One PC was an SAI, and another an under-age cat-girl bioroid, so having a human with Legal Immunity who was a director of the SAI’s holding company, and the cat-girl’s legal guardian made travel between different polities a lot easier. I never actually had to invoke Diplomatic Immunity, but having the ability to do so was an effective way of keeping confrontations from escalating.

Has Legal Immunity been important in your games?

Last edited by johndallman; 09-17-2021 at 03:43 PM. Reason: Spelling
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