Maplewood owes its existence to a mysterious effect known as The Helix. No one knows what it is, exactly, but it is highly beneficial for the residents of Maplewood - in fact, the town was built here because of it. The townsfolk erected a simple flagpole to represent it, but the flagpole is but a physical monument, not The Helix itself - although scholars who studied it say they believe the effect to be the strongest where the flagpole is, and that whatever causes the effect is somewhere beneath the ground in that area.
The Helix has the following effects:
1. It emanates a kind of repulsion field that affects evil beings, dangerous creatures, and malevolent entities (hereafter "monsters"). This is not a physical barrier or fence or forcefield that physically keeps monsters out, but a sort of subconscious effect that causes them to be distinctly uncomfortable, including but not limited to any (or all) of the following: mild itching, headache, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite, night blindness/sunlight sensitivity, mental befuddlement, apathy, or depression. This is coupled with a distinct feeling of pressure away from the center of town. This effect is subtle, but increases both over time and with increased proximity to the center of town (as marked by the flagpole).
Unintelligent and less-intelligent monsters, such as oozes, orcs, or most lesser undead, will simply and unconsciously avoid the area, going around it. If they are driven in, or ordered/controlled in, they will go, but they will be harder and harder to keep there. After about six hours, they're experiencing the equivalent of severe migraines, uncontrollable itching, mild dizziness, blindness, dementia, or vomiting. After twelve hours, these symptoms can become debilitating, and the pressure to leave feels almost physical. After twenty-four hours, they are usually completely incapacitated.
Intelligent monsters, such as Dark Fae or Nosferatu, also feel this, however, they often have the mental fortitude to withstand it for a greater time - perhaps because they understand that it has an external cause, because they are simply more powerful entities, or some other reason. Essentially, everything the less powerful monsters feel is halved in effect and they can withstand it twice as long. Upon entry, they simply feel a pressure to leave. After six hours, mild itching, headaches, etc. After twelve hours, severe migraines, vomiting, etc. After twenty-four hours, the symptoms are debilitating, and after another day they're incapacitated.
2. It can create a magical bond with sentient creatures of good nature and benevolence (hereafter "people"). The effects of this bond include a general resistance to illness and disease, slightly extended lifespan (approximately 10% - 25% longer than average, perhaps as a result of the first effect), and healing of physical injuries and internal ailments, including poisons and mind-affecting effects. People so bonded are called Citizens of Maplewood, and often this is done in a ceremony with a Town Elderman and witnesses, however the children of Citizens born in Maplewood are usually bonded at birth, with no ceremony needed at all; they are simply born that way. These children will go through a formal Citizenship ceremony upon reaching their majority, however this is but a formality. To be healed by The Helix, Citizens go to the flagpole at the center of town and wait a short time (usually about one minute), then are affected as if by a Panacea spell.
3. It can create a more significant bond with certain Citizens it chooses to allow authority in Maplewood. These people are called Eldermen, Elderwomen, or simply Elders. These Elders are able to "speak" with The Helix (if you ask an Elder about this, they'll tell you it's not so much "speech" as images and sensations, but the effect is the same. They'll also tell you that this communication is decidedly one-sided - The Helix doesn't often answer back.). Elders are the ones who adjudicate major disputes within Maplewood and perform Citizenship ceremonies.
Constables, the Citizens hired as peacekeepers, investigators, and mediators of minor disputes by Maplewood, have no special bond other than Citizenship. It is possible for an Elder to also work as a Constable.
4. It can create what is, essentially, the opposite of the Citizenship bond: Shunning. People who are Shunned are affected by The Helix in the same way monsters are. If they were a Citizen, that bond is replaced with Shunning. If you draw some lines, you can show this graphically on them:
Shunned people are generally treated as if they were monsters by Citizens, but pitied rather than hated. Shunned people will be asked to leave Maplewood if seen by a Constable or Elder. Citizens will find an Elder or Constable and report seeing Shunned people to them. If a Shunned person was known to be volatile or violent, the Constables will usually form a posse to eject the monster, physically if necessary. If a particularly dangerous monster entered Maplewood, it would not be unusual for The Helix to report this directly to the Elders for action. This can happen because...
5. The Helix is omniscient, at least within its area of effect. It is all-knowing and all-seeing. It knows what you have done, and it knows what you're thinking about, and it knows when you intend to do something. This is how it knows who to extend Citizenship to, and who to Shun.
Now, this last one seems to be the bit that's giving people the hardest time. Let me explain why it needs to be like this.
How else does it know monsters are evil? As a rule, in Kingdoms of Novitas, monsters are evil by nature. If this wasn't the case, players would be allowed to PC as orcs or dark fae or even Grave Spawn. Evil and good are not grey areas at KoN. Orcs don't rescue babies, and Light Fae don't kill people and take their stuff. Sure, we've all seen the "tame" kazvacs in the traveling carnivals, and we've all seen the occasional ogre try to get a drink and a meal at the Inn. Once I saw killer whales swimming with divers at Sea World. That doesn't mean I'm gonna dive off a boat in the ocean into a pod of them. Monsters simply do not adhere to the same code of morality that people do - at least good people do. This is why The Helix shuns monsters. If a person does enough evil/bad/immoral/unethical/pick-your-adjective acts, The Helix knows, and that person gets treated like a monster.
Some players have historically taken advantage of the "on-camera, off-camera" nature of a LARP. There's always been a conception that if no one sees something, it didn't happen. Now, in the real world, people see things. You might think no one saw you murder that traveling merchant out in the woods and take all his coin, but in reality, there was probably someone hunting nearby, or a child in the bushes picking berries, or a woman with indigestion and a dark cloak walking to the outhouse at 2 AM, or someone heard a noise and looked out their windows at just the wrong time for you, or someone simply noticed you walked out into the woods with someone and came back with some blood on your pants. Any one of an infinite number of little things could give you away. This has been abused for far too long. The Helix's omniscience is a way to check this abuse.
"But why can't we just allow that? What's wrong with it?" What's wrong with it is that it's an inherently selfish and masturbatory style of play that gives nothing to the game. You're not crafting some grand story, you're not giving quality interactions to the other PCs or NPCs, you're simply being, what we've taken to calling, a "murder-hobo". It's unrealistic and trite and lots of people got to do it for over a decade, but now we're discouraging that playstyle. Note I didn't say "forbidding", I said, "discouraging". If you're a person who likes that style of character, then by all means, continue. Just understand that you can no longer continue without consequences.
"But these consequences feel like railroading or deus ex machina!" First, we should probably discuss what the consequences actually are for acting like a monster in Maplewood. 1. You'll be Shunned. 2. There is no #2. That's right, all that's gonna happen to you if you continue to murderhobo in and around Maplewood is that you'll be Shunned, that is, The Helix, and probably all the Citizens of Maplewood, will start to treat you like a monster (as already detailed above). You can still come into town, but Citizen merchants in the Bazaar won't do business with you, servers in The Jenny won't serve you, and if you're seen by Citizens you'll be asked (with varying degrees of politeness) to leave, or they'll go run and get a Constable, who will tell you to leave. You don't have to do what the Constable says, either, if you don't want to - but again, there'll be consequences. If you stay in The Helix's area of effect for too long (as detailed for intelligent monsters previously) you should start to exhibit the effects of long-term exposure - headaches, shakes, etc. But you can still play the entire game with no consequences or differences on the other 399 acres of Camp Kingsley. So, no, it's not railroading. It's just that actions have consequences, and you're not used to these particular actions having any - even though these actions should probably carry the MOST consequences of any action in-game.
"But why can't we just let the PCs deal with punishing bad people? Why do we need Big Brother's all-seeing eye now?" We had twelve years of games where this almost never happened. It's an open secret that certain PCs are evil (literally worshiping evil deities), that certain PCs rob and steal (ninja-looting falls into this category), and that certain PCs will murder any NPC they're alone with simply for the chance at looking through their pockets. I believe that other players have a bias against action that would harm another PC. Kingdoms of Novitas has a strong culture of avoiding PvP violence. There are many reasons for this:
some players spend a lot of money on PC garb and props and others feel bad wasting that money by killing them
some players feel like others should be able to play the game any way they want to as long as they're not hurting other PCs
some players have a misguided sense of "community" where anyone who lives with them in town should be given the unlimited benefit of the doubt
some players are afraid that their own misdeeds will come to light if they act against another PC
some players are afraid to take action against the PCs of veteran players or staff (this one's untrue, but some still think it)
some players simply don't want to interject real morality into their fantasy game
Ultimately, the other players cannot be depended to even agree on a code of morality, let alone enforce one. And if some ever ARE willing to do so, there are others who would rally against them just for the entertainment value of it.
[*]"But why can't we just have the Constables do their job as cops and track down the evildoers?" Because we don't have the manpower for that, and it doesn't make sense mechanically. What is the difference between thee two things?
1. Bob commits a murder + robbery. Constable Joe (NPC #1)gets a complaint of a missing person (this probably comes from Plot). Constable Joe "investigates", that is, the NPC goes away and comes back next month with "evidence" (which came from Plot). Constable Joe tells the Elders (NPCs #2 & #3) he has evidence of Bob's crime. Bob hears of this, or sees the Constables coming for him, and either books it into the woods, or kills the Constable, or goes along to the trial. If he kills the Constable or runs, now we need either a posse (more NPCs) or another Constable (NPC #4). During the trial, witnesses must be called (more NPCs). He's found guilty, Bob loses his ill-gotten gains, is Shunned, and ejected from Maplewood. Bob did a bad thing, and there was a consequence, but it took a long time and involved a lot of manpower. Maybe Bob even got to have a lot of fun being chased around by NPCs.
2. Bob commits a murder. The Helix knows, issues a Shunning, and tells an Elder (NPC #1) that Bob is now Shunned. Maybe there's a little ceremony to announce it for some hot RP action, maybe his name is just given to all the Citizen NPCs and posted on some posters. Bob can still have his fun being chased by NPCs if he wants, but now it doesn't involve 5-10 NPCs to deal with one shithead who wanted to be a murderhobo.
Plus, being cops isn't the job of the Constables, not in the "catching bad guys" sense. No one wants that job as an NPC, it's shitty. Constables are mediators and investigators, adjudicators of small disputes. Maplewood simply doesn't need a police force because it has The Helix, and they don't care about catching monsters, they just want them gone. Until all these Pinedale scumbags got there, at least.
However, making The Helix work requires everyone to play along, in the same way that you're playing along when someone throws a beanbag at you and you pretend to be Stunned, or hits you with a rubber sword and you pretend to die, or that when you "die" you can be healed by magic, or we pretend that there are huge kingdoms containing millions of inhabitants surrounding us, or that we pretend there are a thousand residents in Maplewood.
That's the game.
So, now, part of the game is that when your PC does something bad, you need to "self-report" to Plot. But wait! What if my PC doesn't think what she did is bad?! It doesn't matter what your PC would think, every single one of you knows wrong from right as a real-life person, a functioning member of human society. We're not talking about societal or cultural values here, we're talking about basic, bedrock principles of human morality that have been acknowledged for over 5000 years in stuff like Hammurabi's Code, the Draconian Constitution, and the Torah. All it boils down to is two things:
1. Don't steal. Don't take things you reasonably should know belong to another person. Don't take things you're not entitled to (ninja looting) or that someone else might have a claim on until you're sure you're entitled to take it. Don't pick up unattended items that aren't yours unless your honest intent is to safeguard it or return it to it's owner (finders-keepers). If you kill a monster, sure, loot it and keep the stuff (unless you should be sharing it with others who participated in the encounter). If you find a sword leaning against a tree in the woods, sure, take it - but you should also return it if someone claims it as their lost property (this would be a great time to involve a Constable).
2. Don't assault. Don't strike people except in self-defense (fighting monsters is always self-defense). Don't rape. Don't murder. Don't detain people against their will unless they've committed a crime.
If your PC commits one of these crimes, you need to let Plot know!
You can let them know immediately by, say, a note or message sent in with an NPC or told to a Constable or Elder NPC. You should also include such actions in your PEL. But you MUST let the Plot Staff know within a week of the event's end, or as soon as you get a chance after that.
"But what do I have to report?"
All you need to report is if you assaulted someone (monsters don't count) or stole from someone (monsters don't count) including ninja looting and finders-keepers kinds of situations.
Please do not think that your PC is going to be turbo-screwed by the invisible hand of god the first, or even the fifth, time you report that you did something bad. As with anything else in life, there are mitigating factors, explanations, and good reasons for some things. It's also likely that if you offer to make restitution and seem genuinely remorseful for your wrongdoing, that'll be accepted. However, the Constables and Elders (and the players playing those NPCs) are people, and people can make mistakes, be capricious, be inconsistent, misunderstand, and just generally be human. Just like real life, if you get pulled over for speeding, maybe you'll get a warning, maybe you'll get a ticket, or maybe the cop brings in a sniffer dog who falsely alerts to drugs in your car, they arrest you, tear your car apart and impound it, forensically examine your phone for evidence, and seize all the cash you had on you through civil forfeiture. But you could avoid all that if, you know... you weren't speeding. And, as I said above, no one's going to be put to death or imprisoned or something. You'll just have to get your drinks in the Slap & Tickle, and be sneaky when you DO come into town.
For the time being, if someone feels like they've been wronged in the application of The Helix's powers, I'd like you to come directly to me. Open door, I'll hear you out and take your complaint seriously. Over time, I believe we'll see that this mechanism works great, but I understand that some people are nervous about it.