On the impossibility of fatal muggings

Apologies for this, I was in a randomly aggresive and paranoid mood when this conundrum arrived…

Under current rules, as I understand them, you can’t be grappled unless you’ve given permission to a witnessing ref.

When taken to 0 hits, you enter Dying.

If you complete your bleed count, you become Terminal.

From the wiki: “A character who is dying can be executed, killing them immediately. To execute a character you should spend at least five seconds appropriate roleplaying delivering a fatal blow to execute your target and then call EXECUTE.”

You can scream like mad on Dying, and indeed on Terminal, as far as I know. Does an execute end Terminal?

So you can’t grapple someone to shut them up without their consent. And if you try it without consent, I for one would assume an OOC assault and either run away or try to bite their face off…

And if they aren’t forcibly shut up, the victim could be screaming like mad all through their attacks (max of 1 per second per person, although given that folk don’t tend to be armoured up in Anvil that’s not long). And then screaming like mad while on the floor. And then screaming like mad while you execute them. And then if execute does NOT forcibly end the character, they could still be screaming abuse at you while they run off…

Okay, not impossible, but on the one hand you have no real possibility of killing a character silently UNLESS they feel like going along with it. On the other hand, you could end up with a character who sticks on terminal and refuses to die for the rest of the event (if they’re on Terminal when the game ends, they’ll die in downtime before the next event major. Hey, does this mean they can be wheeled in to player events while Terminal?).

Heck, if they interpret the rules as “Execute = Terminal”, then there’s no way to kill a PC in uptime without their consent?

Worse, if they decide you can’t execute them without a ref about, and decide to not take the execute call and wander off, what do you do?

I’m sure I’ve gone wrong somewhere, please point out where.

I am not advocating murders in the dark. I’m more likely to be the guy getting up off the ground and saying “I think you’re cheating, and so so shall I. **** you and your immersion. I’m heading down the pub.”

I’m afraid I have no sympathy to those who find their fun by murdering random passers by. And I’d rather ruin their game then have them ruin mine.

I just want to know how to spoke their wheels within the rules, if possible…

Muggings probably happen, but you are right that they should be hard to achieved / get away with. Like you said, you get to scream and shout from the first hit to end of your bleed count and possibly beyond, not to mention fighting back. Even after you die, the militia can use ritual magic to bring you back and get your eye-witness testimony.

Some things do work in favour of a mugger though:

  • Cleave and impale to the chest will drop you to zero unless you have armour.
  • Venom reduces your bleed out time, potentially to as little as 30 seconds.
  • People who get murdered apparently seem to forget that they can scream and shout during the bleed-out period.
  • According to the militia person I spoke to, people should shout ‘I was just stabbed with a 36-inch sword by a gentleman of medium height wearing a blue cloak and a fancy hat’ and yet they tend to just shout incoherently or moan about having been stabbed.
  • Again, according to the militia person, people are really good at forgetting even simple details about the person who killed (or mortally-wounded) them. They could literally get stabbed by a person in a full orc mask and still vaguely suggest it might have been a merrow.
  • If nobody can hear you scream, three minutes is not a long time.
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AFAIK executing someone ends Terminal, stopping shouting.

But yes, stealth kills in Empire seem nigh-impossible, bar the shock of being attacked causing your victim to go silent (which I’ve seen happen more than once).

I can’t find my source to cite it right now, but I’m sure that one of the design principles going into Empire was that simply mugging your rival should not be the default easy option that it is in most LRPs. `The stock LRP answer of “just kill them” takes on more meaning if it is difficult and makes the game more interesting when there is more than just the one way of dealing with rivalry.

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Aaand I’m making more Surging Flame tonics first chance I get.

Fatal muggings aren’t impossible. Execute kills the target immediately - a quick killing could be over in less than 15, even 10 seconds, hypothetically. In the noise of Anvil, I wouldn’t be surprised if 15 seconds of screaming went more or less unnoticed. I’ve heard of killings happening on the field, after dark and with no-one around.

Which does not mean that killing someone on the field is easy. You still have to get the drop on them, possibly fight them if they’re armed, risk them calling for help if you don’t drop them quick enough, and since this is a mugging I presume you’re also gonna be hanging around their dead body for a little while to loot it. If you take a hit or two in the scuffle, and you’re not friends with a doctor, then whoever you do go to about that is probably gonna ask what happened. And that’s assuming you didn’t pick on a battlemage who happened to be using their rod as a walking stick and now you’re rooted to the ground while they go get help. Or maybe you accidentally kill someone important and earn a hefty bounty.

Ultimately I’d argue that the relative scarcity of on-field fatalities is less about violence being mechanically not empowered to deliver swift kills - a little cleave and execute will have most of us trudging our way to GOD. Instead murder is discouraged by other mechanisms, a lot of them social.

Not an answer but perhaps a couple of observations from a relatively new militia officer who has investigated a few murders may help.

  • Sometimes they scream and shout and either are not heard over the sound of navarri singing OR are heard but the individuals who hear it don’t bother to investigate
  • in many cases the individuals are so surprised in the moment they almost don’t engage that level of rational thinking - they tend to describe an almost ‘numbness’ in the shock, if they do shout they are being limited and half hearted.
  • multiple assailants doing combinations of impale + limiting movement attack/spell then wailing on them is quite efficient (some individuals tend to do that standard ‘this feels like enough hits to die’ thing which often happens when getting wailed on while disorientated) this is completely understandable.
  • many of those targeted are targeted for deliberate reasons, often due to things they do on the field - they tend (by all means not a rule by any stretch) to be more non-com in their xp spend etc meaning there are fewer outs/less hits. (They also tend to wear less armour on the field)
  • evil plot 101 don’t make your motive obvious, as it narrows the suspect list considerably. In fact a lot of the time (so far all the time in my cases) the mugging is a false lead hammed up to obsure the true motive. This is not to say they do not happen, just that they happen more rarely than they seem by the rumour mill.
  • in terms of ID-ing, (backed up by 6 years in the Met) generally people are pretty cr*ppy witnesses beyond race, age, gender, rough height and broad orientation of attire - not much to work on until you have suspects in mind. Combine this with the fact that many are at night, the tendency for victims to fall forward when impaled (and thus face down/not primarily orientated towards the attackers) and the speed/surprise explains the vagueness of description.
  • in terms of the execute/terminal thing, I don’t know for sure, however I always laboured under the assumption that execute did end terminal as well - though absolutely not a rules guy. However I imagine a number of victims assume the same, particularly with the speed/surprise of the moment.

None of this is condemnation of the victims, it’s all understandable given the circumstances. I suppose my overall theme is that it is very context led. Maybe I’m just rambling. Who knows.

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Having been murdered in other systems, I can absolutely vouch for forgetting I can scream, and for just dropping when it feels like I’ve taken enough hits. Even when I had about fifteen hits (racial bonus, fortitude, armour) I still quietly dropped to my knees. Had I been carrying a weapon I wouldn’t have had time to draw it before I went down; running is a far better defence but is something else you forget to do in shock.

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in terms of ID-ing, (backed up by 6 years in the Met) generally people are pretty cr*ppy witnesses beyond race, age, gender, rough height and broad orientation of attire - not much to work on until you have suspects in mind

With the extra bonus that if you do recognise the player, but they’re not playing someone you know, it can be hard to figure out how to describe them without being kinda dodgy about the shorthand. :slight_smile:

This happened to me last event and it was hilarious. Also, despite knowing that my character might be attacked at some point due to Life Choices, I was still startled enough in the moment to not see it coming and also to not scream or yell or anything.


Oooo I hadn’t thought of that - that must be a tightrope, I mean how much would you remember if you didn’t have the reference point/schema of seeing them before? I suppose it’s just a good faith recollection modified by what your minds eye’ saw? Either way more power to you!

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Couple of random musings:

  • if you really want to kill someone, get a ref. Nothing more annoying than your intended target not taking legitimate hits.
  • Paralysis/Weakness, strikedown, impales,cleaves etc are the go to tools of a killer. Nothing beats having another killer as well.
  • A ton of “killers” tend to just leave the body liying around, when for a relatively cheap spell you can turn them to mushrooms.
  • You would be surprised at the number of intended attacks that are just not quite thought through. For example, great the killer has brought a knife to a mage wielding rod party, or the “victim” is in fact wearing steel beneath their robes.
  • Victim’s recollections are awful, particularly if they assume it was their rival etc who did the killing. This happens on quite a few occasions where the dead/diying/spirit of the victim keeps repeating “it was that trash bravo Alastiar” when in actual fact they got killed by a random wintermarker collectively called wulfric…
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Execute kills a character. This ends the terminal state. Until they are dead there is no way to shut them up.

You can kill an average character in Empire in under ten seconds, maybe fifteen if they’re in heavy armour and pretty on the ball. That’s a fair amount of time to scream, but not insanely long.

As always, you should take a referee if you want to go shank someone up.

If you are the target of an IC assault and you believe the rules weren’t followed by your assailant, then you should also report it to a ref ASAP. Whatever your version of events is will be taken as canon, per the standard “PVP without a ref present” policy, but it’s really useful for us to get your version of the story nice and quick.


Also don’t forget to excommunicate them because that might stop them re-incarnating and so reduces the witnesses. Also really ups the ante, and if you’re going to murder someone you may as well mean it.

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Wow, that’s brutal. Don’t just murder them physically, do it spiritually as well!

By re-incarnating, I assume you mean Whispers Through the Black Gate?

Holy shit, that’s pretty dam harsh. I love it.

edit Reading the excommunicate skill, They could still be brought back with whispers’ but they will wander for ever…

Nope, from the wiki

The ceremony itself is used sparingly; there has been a significant amount of discussion in the Imperial Synod about the potential damage using this ceremony might do to the soul of the target. It is not Synod doctrine, but it is a common belief that anyone who dies while under the influence of the ceremony of excommunication is condemned to walk the Labyrinth for all eternity, cut off from the cycle of reincarnation.

Also, not very harsh.
OOC: If you’re going to murder someone’s character at least do it with style.
IC: It’s a very little bit harsh. You might have decided this Soul stands a better chance with a new Mind, which is a virtuous reason to slay someone. However if you’re already “fatal mugging” someone it is barely a hair’s breadth of a hop away from doing what you can to cover your tracks.

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Ah, you meant witnesses by means of True Liao vision then?

Excommunication does nothing to stop whispers. At least that was PD’s position last year.