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So one of the members of my party lost a bet to a civilian at a bar and owed him 10 gp. He said he needed to stop by his bank to get it so he took the NPC down a dark alley and murdered/looted him. He wasn't very stealthy so another NPC started walking down the alley since they heard something. Another party member casted darkness and they simply walked away from the alley. When they left the area, darkness dispelled and they heard a scream in the distance as the other NPC found the body.

I'm trying to figure out how a town would respond to a murder. Within the next day I had the town's guard walking door to door asking people if they heard or saw anything suspicious. They also looked for the type of weapon that would make such a wound (a rapier was used so I feel like the puncture hole would be rather distinct). They have found 3 people so far (1 being the party member that killed the man) who were carrying rapiers and, after taking them to the morgue to make sure the weapon did fit the wound, escorted them to the guard's tower to interrogate. The guard captain interrogated everyone and then we called it a night.

I'm having a hard time trying to figure out what a town would actually do. I dont want them to be charged with murder, but I also want it to be semi-reasonable. I feel like a town wouldn't just go "oh Tom's dead? okay"

What would you guys do in my position?

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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Consider taking the tour to help realise what makes a more acceptable question for the site! (And score a free badge.) Unfortunately, this question currently comes across as asking for opinions, which is considered off-topic. If you can edit it so that there is a distinct solution that can be stated, then I think you will have a cracking question to start off with. \$\endgroup\$ – royalmurder May 25 '18 at 15:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ It would help a great deal to understand the demographics of the community as well as geographic location (frontier, central metro...). As this stands it is a bit broad and likely opinion-based. \$\endgroup\$ – Slagmoth May 25 '18 at 15:21
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    \$\begingroup\$ A more SE friendly question that is (to me) implied here is "What factors should be considered when determining how a town would respond to murder-hobos?" \$\endgroup\$ – rStyskel May 25 '18 at 15:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ As Slagmoth said, we need more information in order to answer this in a stack friendly way. Not just geographic and demographic information, but also details on that town's laws, codes, and mores ( as well as how that town communicates with the larger world.) \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch May 25 '18 at 15:31
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    \$\begingroup\$ I dont want them to be charged with murder Why not? Please explain why you don't want there to be a charge in this case given that the town guard has already become involved. That will help people answer the question; leaving that hanging makes it harder to answer. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast May 25 '18 at 17:45
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I am going to work to answer the question I see as the less opinion-based portion of this question that is friendly to this format.

What factors are important to determining how a settlement/community would respond to player's actions?

For the purpose of this answer, I'm going to focus on the murder. The framework outline is adaptable to other situations. You've already answered some of these, but I'm going to walk through the whole process.

The primary things that need to be considered are:

  1. How large is the community, and how easy would it be for someone to be unidentifiable?
  2. What is justice (as abstract and process) in this community? Who enforces this?
  3. What was the victim's place in the community? How was the victim perceived by the rest of the community?

These three points will inform what other questions you need to ask yourself to make a decision, and can sometimes be enough for you to have an answer.

I'll use an example from a setting I'm working on right now:

  1. The rapidly growing city of Northern Reach has a growing, though still small, city of about 8k. Many people in this town are newcomers, outcasts attracted by the resource boom (a mixture of lumber and mining), but if there is anything really distinct about the party this may not matter (such as strange races, which my players are generally really fond of).
  2. The administrative leadership is places value on lawfulness and goodness, but justice is determined primarily by the Captain of the Guard, who is less concerned about goodness and more concerned with everything running smoothly.
  3. The person killed is related to some of the higher-ups in town administration, but is not generally well liked and known to be something of a cheat.

From this basis how things proceed is easier to determine. The captain of the guard doesn't terribly want to fight the party, who we will assume for this exercise are reasonably well armed and appear to be competent in combat. He needs to do something, and the legal penalties have not been revealed to players prior to this point (so there's still flex room for adjustments if needed for the group)

The players appearing to have wealth gives him a way to keep things running that may be easier than other options, so I will have him approach the party with the accusations and judgement (as well as enough additional guards to back him up as are needed). I have a fondness for old Germanic/Scandinavian law, so what I will do is charge weregild for the deceased (proportionate to their social role, to appease the minimum legal requirements), as well as a fine (bribe) to let the matter be dropped on this first issue. The fines should be enough to make the players consider consequences in the future, but not so much they feel it's worth a (possible) TPK. I would also play it to communicate that if they are tied to further problems in town matters may be dealt with more harshly.

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