While law enforcement roleplay, in my opinion, is one of the many amazing fields of interest that can be indulged in SWTOR, the subject is often riddled with stigma: players abusing the theoretical positions of power, conflict of lore interpretation, failures of OOC communication, etcetera. For those who are new to law enforcement roleplay, it can be a bit of a minefield when trying to navigate through it's mixed reputation. Finding the perfect balance between In-Character and Out-of-Character conduct can, at times, be difficult due to the wide spectrum of situations and possibilities that RP in SWTOR provides us! Therefore, I'd like to present my own personal handbook that I try to abide and follow.
1. The Right Motivations:
- Have Fun: Law enforcement RP should not be considered a responsibility. Such a mindset can easily cripple the personal enjoyment one could receive. The intent should be to simply have fun with other like-minded writers.
- The Mission is Not to Stop Crime: The mission is to write a collaborative story with others. This means that your character may not always succeed at capturing all the bad guys. That's okay. Everyone is fallible. Be ready to accept character failure when its appropriate and understand that each character you meet is independently owned and controlled by another human being.
- Facilitate RP:The product of one's efforts should result in the facilitation of RP. Reach out, interact with others, get involved, become apart of a wider community and add your story to the collective.
2. The Do's:
- Consent and OOC Communication: Talking with others on an Out-of-Character level is outright necessary for mutual storytelling. Your character only has authority if other players are willing to grace it to you. Therefore, it is appropriate to talk with other players and ask consent before doing anything that could drastically impact their own characters, such as arresting them, using a force power against them, or charging them with crimes that would result in extended punishments. ***The owner of a character should always be involved and comfortable in the decision making processes that could drastically impact their characters.*** Thus, during any form of sentencing, also work with the player on finding appropriate repercussions that fit the situation.
- Be Respectful: Regardless of how your own character behaves, one must do their best to remain polite and respectful of others on an Out-of-Character level. Common courtesy and kindness are goals that we should really all strive for in our interactions with others. We're all here for the same reason of simply having fun and enjoying ourselves. Therefore, it is best to avoid unnecessary out-of-character conflicts. The galaxy is big enough for everyone.
- Indulge Realism and Lore: The best way for one's character to be received positively is for them to be organic as possible. If other players/characters don't believe your character is 'real,' they won't believe their authority, position, or abilities to enforce are 'real' either. Thus, it is paramount to understand the lore of the universe and ensure one's character is viable within the realm that they're operating in.
- Know When to Walk Away: Not everyone will have the same lore interpretation as you. Not everyone will respect your character, their authority, or even you, the player. Not everyone will want a law enforcer character involved in their criminal plot, and not everyone will want to go through with consequences for character action. That's okay. You must know when and how to walk away. You cannot force a certain play-style on others. Instead, let them play how they wish to play and move on.
- Add Limitations: An aspect of realism is to ensure reasonable limitations are placed upon one's character. This can be done in the form of personal character deficits and/or through restrictions placed by bureaucracy, protocol, and the very law that one's character serves. Make sure that your character has someone that they, too, must answer to ( NPC or otherwise) within a hierarchy or command structure. Law enforcement in advanced societies are often moderately regulated, and these regulations can ensure that your character doesn't have too much unquestionable power.
Ex: Darth Seraph has no law enforcement authority outside of imperial borders. She cannot infringe upon the work of other Spheres of Influence without probable cause. Under appropriate circumstances, she is required to abide by the requests of other government offices. If she were to arrest a rogue Imperial Science Bureau officer, she would have to turn over stolen research immediately to the Sphere of Biotic Science. She is horrible at slicing/technological things, etcetera.
3. The Do Nots:
- Say is for RP - Don't Engage in OOC Arguments: While it may be tempting to try and address OOC disagreements in say, it often escalates current tensions and draws unnecessary attention to the situation. Instead, if a disagreement must be discussed, politely invite the involved parties into an Ops Group and try to resolve the situation there. If there is obvious signs that a resolution won't be found, disengage from the situation. There is no point in dragging out a conflict that won't bode well for anyone involved.
- Avoid Unnecessary Violent Force: While such a guideline may be more difficult to abide by for those who are playing law enforcement characters in the Empire, a fascist military police state, the active attempt to minimize unnecessary violence aides in validating the character's authority and preventing dramatized escalation. If a character used unnecessary violent force in every situation, their attempts may accidentally be perceived as OOC power-playing, abusing character authority to bully other players. Instead, attempt to utilize tactics of deescalation first, be it in the form of formal warnings, charisma and persuasion, classic intimidation, or using moderated force; such as unarmed techniques, the use of tasers, stun-batons, or shockstun mist. Force powers that do not cause permanent damage are also viable options.
- Do Not Engage In Blatant Corruption: While characters have the potential for being corrupt, flagrant displays of unlawful activity while in a position of regulated authority will often be negatively received. It has the potential to come off as power-gaming, since the character can become exempt from appropriate consequences. Law enforcement positions are often monitored, so obvious criminal actions would be realistically investigated and quelled to the best of the department's abilities. Thus, if corruption is being indulged, it should be done discretely and with the knowledge that they may be arrested and discharged from service if discovered.
- Minimize Over-Dramatization: As a law enforcement character, one's focus should be on bringing an end to civil disturbances, not creating them. A character priority should be directed at providing quick and pragmatic solutions that dissolve the problems at hand. Therefore, it is best to mitigate, or outright avoid, situations that would cause intensified social tensions and, as a result, interfere with law enforcement endeavors.
Ex: Attempting to arrest a person at a crowded bar could be substituted with requesting they follow you to speak about a possible fine that was attached to their account, and then arrest them away from the general public.