Elder Scrolls Online players will soon be allowed to commit crimes other than gold spamming and item duping. This weekend developer ZeniMax Online Studios discussed how players can become thieves and assassins and how the game will handle this unlawful behavior.
ZeniMax plans to add a justice system to the game. It enables players to break the law but also puts a system in place for punishing them.
"We have a prototype right now," creative director Paul Sage said during a Reddit AMA. "The very rough idea, and things might change, is that players will steal things from NPCs incurring a bounty if the theft is witnessed. Same with killing NPCs."
Bounties in Elder Scrolls Online will work similar to bounties in Skyrim. NPC guards will confront players and give them a chance to pay off their bounty. If their bounty is too high, though, guards may just attack on sight.
This feature might not sound too exciting to players who don't want to rob or kill. However, Sage says that players might be able to enforce laws as well.
"We are also looking at ways for players to be 'guards.' Obviously we want to take the best aspects of social interplay and put it into the system. That's probably all I can tell you for now."
That would be an interesting twist on the usual crime-and-punishment system from Elder Scrolls. Maybe players can become bounty hunters and attempt to bring law-breaking players to justice?
I'm wondering whether jail will be a part of this experience. In Skyrim and other single-player Elder Scrolls games, players could serve jail time instead of paying a bounty. They then had the opportunity to break out of prison with some careful lockpicking. If they didn't break out, some of their skills would decrease slightly.
Outlaw players will be able to join two of Tamriel's most infamous organizations: the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild. Like the Mages Guild and Fighters Guild in Elder Scrolls Online, these groups will offer players new quests as well as new abilities.
"Thieves Guild & Dark Brotherhood will indeed have their own skill lines," lead content designer Rich Lambert said during the same AMA. "As for how they will tie into the Justice...we're not quite ready to talk about that just yet."
In past Elder Scrolls games, the Dark Brotherhood and Thieves Guild tasked players with eliminating VIPs and stealing rare valuables, respectively. Players usually didn't earn a bounty from this, though; you only got in trouble with the law when the storyline demanded it. I'm not sure how these quests would work with the justice system, then, because that feature seems aimed toward everyday crimes targeting random NPC's.
It may be a long time before we get the justice system and these new quests. Elder Scrolls Online director Matt Firor said on Thursday that these features are planned for "throughout 2014 and beyond."