Shattered Swords of Hyboria
Time, Travel, and Identity
(or…yes you just killed the Captain of the Guard in Yamman and are hunted like a dog…but do they know you in Messantia?)
This particular topic is always a difficult one to deal with in a fantasy game.
Because players (and yes, GMs as well) tend to forget that methods of communication in a fantasy setting (especially one like the Hyborean Age) are nowhere near modern methods. In other words, making a name for yourself in one place does not necessarily mean you are (in)famous everywhere else, savvy? Reputation plays into this and is discussed under a seperate posting, but the particulars listed below need to be addressed and understood.
So, say you did just kill the Captain of the Guard. In the local area, they will be hunting you down mercilessly, hounding your every step…until you reach the limits of their authority. After that,well….meh. If the murdering dog dares come back, his (or her) days are numbered. Two or three towns down the road, nobody has ever heard of you, and you are back a-thieving in the night (or whatever it is you do in town).
Don’t get a swelled head over this and start cutting throats, running, and thinking there are no reprecussions. Reputation starts to sneak up on you sooner or later. For example:
Say that was not the Captain of the Guard you killed but the Prince (or the Captain of the Guard was part of a highly placed family). You still escape…but things are going to be happening around you. The city of Yamman may place a bounty on you, the family may hire out assasins to track you down, either way, your reputation is now in play.
Travel and Communications
Communications in the Hyborean Age travels at the speed of foot, swift horse, or ship. News and information can be anywhere from hours to days to weeks old, depending on origin and method of coumminication (yes, there are magical means, but sorcerors are a stingy lot and tend to not play well with others…so do not count on them to ‘pass the word’ unless it directly effects them.)
Given that the relative interest of the news dictates how quickly (or slowly) it travels, it can be days to years before word of a particular deed reaches to where the characters are at.
Identity (and reputation)
So, after slaughtering the Captain of the Guard and his entire family at a peaceful banquet (wow…stories do get bigger in the retelling!) you have decided to change your identity.
The Hyborean Age does not exactly have its own CSI tracking down DNA, nicks on swords that made a unique cut, etc. Most descriptions are somewhat vague (ask five different people what a suspect looks like and you will probably get five different answers).
You have something unique about you that cannot be hidden (e.g. Your ears were cut off, missing a limb, or you have a huge scar across your face)….
…or you just can’t keep your characters yapper shut about their incredible deeds. Let’s face it, some characters like to boast about how super-awesome they are.
No problem, just do not be suprised if the town guard is trying to arrest you for murdering half the nobility in Yamman (remember how stories seem to stretch??? Just kidding)
Bottom line, I will be modifying reputation checks based on how far away\how long ago a certain event has happened.