Further thoughts on TSR’s code of ethics. This particular bit strikes me as vastly more important than it first appears:
3: AGENTS OF LAW ENFORCEMENT
Agents of law enforcement (constables, policemen, judges, government officials, and respected institutions) should not be depicted in such a way as to create disrespect for current established authorities/social values. When such an agent is depicted as corrupt, the example must be expressed as an exception and the culprit should ultimately be brought to justice.
Town guards, in other words, are the good guys. They’re the voice of the designer, handing down moral judgement. That’s an idea that’s stuck with us: from Dungeons & Dragons to MUDs to World of Warcraft. And it came out of a conference room at TSR.
2 thoughts on “Guards! Guards!”
And yet it’s amazing how rarely the legitimate authorities are useful in most modern games. At best, the town guard is useless, and at worst it’s corrupt or stands in the PCs’ ways by well-meaning incompetence. The second problem – incompetent town guards – seems to rather old in gaming, probably because it’s not very fun to go to investigate a crime as a PC and find out that the town guard has already been there, tracked down the culprit, and put him in jail.
The town guard getting in the way of well-meaning heroics is as old as “Queen of the Black Coast,” where Conan finds out there’s some cursed law against killing guardsmen. And also, apparently, judges.