5 Laws to Make Your PCs Flinch

My Waterdeep campaign was the first time I applied a law to weapons.

I believe this law came from the Waterdeep supplement. No one could enter the city without “peace bonding” or tying their weapons up to prevent quick draws in the heat of a moment. Further, there was a 1 gold piece tax per weapon brought into the city, worn or not.

This ended up in some great gameplay as players did various things to circumvent the law or deal with the consequences of not having weapons instantly readied.

At one point in the campaign, the characters were granted the privilege by the Council of Masks of not having to pay the weapon tax or peace bond their weapons. A much welcomed boon around the table! Alas, this was because the villain was secretly on the council, the PCs were unknowingly working for him, and he wanted the PCs’ to be able to hack and slash unencumbered while doing his evil bidding.

Inspired by this memory that resurfaced recently, here are five ideas on “local” laws that could make gameplay interesting for your group.

1. Mandatory Weapons

It’s usually the other way around: GMs making a grab for the party’s offense. We tax weapons at the gate or door, confiscate them, or forbid their use else be punished.

In this twist, however, everyone old enough to swing a sword is required by law to carry one. It’s tough country, enemies lurk all about, and the ruler believes it better if every citizen raises arms against threats.

On the surface, this seems pretty innocuous. However, we choose the weapons or requirements. For example, tradition makes it a hammer, which does less than sword damage. But it’s the law. Every person must bear a war hammer and pitch in when needed. What does Arvindh’s jealous sword, Nuji, think of this?

Alternatively, what if it is a blade and the priest PC isn’t too happy about that? Or a cumbersome weapon to make the wee folk groan and the stealthy thief bemoan.

Or maybe only weapons stamped with the King’s seal are allowed? And corrupt royal smiths have been cheapening the weapons and pocketing the unused true ore for their Secret Project(tm).

2. Wood For Sheep?

Coinage is outlawed. Only barter and favours are permitted because the peasants can’t own anything. Nobles can own what they like, including peasants.

So the PCs only have a couple of choices if they need something from this place. They can either brush off those dump stats and be useful for awhile, or they conduct their business with the corrupt nobility.

3. To Be Honest…

The locals have a large supply of truth spells. Perhaps they support or venerate a large order of monks who are trained to cast this spell specifically. Or maybe it’s a magic fountain. Or at the centre of an ancient henge.

The law is, everyone must have a truth spell cast upon them when engaging in trade, transaction, or agreement.

This could be the bard’s worst day ever.

4. The Silent Treatment

It’s customary to remain silent during a certain time every day. Those who utter a word are arrested, exiled, or worse.

If you want to put players on hard mode, have this time change every day according to a simple pattern the locals all know. This becomes a puzzle with urgent consequences….

5. Mana Tax

Rather than coin, the currency here is something a vampire or lich would approve.

Entering (and leaving) costs blood vials, spell slots, or temporary intelligence drains.

Perhaps certain services take these forms of payment. Or maybe it’s a tyrannical monster class who impose such misery.

How about you? Have you created an interesting local laws that made the characters’ lives interesting?

Have more fun at every game!

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