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Old 03-26-2021, 03:37 AM   #1
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Cambridge, UK
Default [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Legal Enforcement Powers

Legal Enforcement Powers [5, 10 or 15] is a mundane social advantage, allowing you to enforce laws. It belongs in the “privilege” sub-category, since it allows you to do things that aren’t permitted for most people, and can be lost if abused. This advantage appeared at or before GURPS 3e, possibly in the first version of GURPS Horror.

The three levels of this advantage roughly correspond to “local uniformed police”, “FBI agent” and “Top international agent.” An appropriate Duty disadvantage usually comes bundled with the powers, and many police forces have well-known Reputations. Having this advantage is normally a prerequisite for Police Rank, and often for a legal Alternate Identity.

Of course, many real-world countries and game settings have police whose powers don’t fit neatly into the [5] and [10] levels, or where the descriptions of those levels don’t quite fit the legal system. Discworld handles this for the Ankh-Morpork City Watch by having the powers depend on Police Rank, but they could also depend on the branch of the force a copper serves in, or many other things. Banestorm points out that historical monarchs usually had the [15] level of LEP, by virtue of having absolute power, while action-movie cops with this advantage can get heavy weapons permits in Gun-Fu. Infinite Worlds explains how the various polities of the setting use this trait, and Powers points out that special abilities, such as mind-reading, can raise the value of this advantage, to the limit of [15].

This is a prime case of an advantage that doesn’t need to be on character sheets if all the PCs have it, which was the case for the psionic and magical MI5 employees of two campaigns that I’ve played. The Laundry campaign I ran charged did have it on character sheets, because it was a little odd: [10], for the [15] level, but missing much of the [5] level powers, mostly because the characters lacked the power of arrest.

Getting NPCs to submit to arrest is an interesting question in GURPS. Intimidation is my usual method, not with the message “You’ll get beaten up” but more “You’re spotted, and if you don’t come quietly, there’ll be loads of people hunting you.” Situational modifiers can be very important: the German agent in late 1940 London who’d just finished his radio transmission when he felt a gun muzzle on the back of his neck did not resist, at all.

How much have PCs in your games used Legal Enforcement Powers, as opposed to being their victim?
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