Another post just to put up something I wrote down a while back. This one is about how to handle stolen property using semi-emergent tools. It would take a decent amount of processing power, but these days we’ve got the hardware for it.
Each person has a internal list of everything they own and keeps track of where they put them last. They can reconize their own property and whether or not it is missing. If this happens it is marked as stolen. If stolen they have a chance to reconize it when they see it again. Modified by the item’s percieved value and the time since it was discovered stolen. The higher the value of the item the better chance a person will have to reconize it. The longer since the crime happened the chance of reconition goes down. Also a much smaller chance to mistake a similar item.
The second part is sharing this information. When something is stolen the person goes to the nearest town guard and transfers the reconition of the item to the guard. Then the guard spreads that bit of information to all the other town guards. They now all have a chance to reconize that stolen item if they see it. Based on their perceived value of the item and the time since they were first told about it.
The chance of reconition is a piece of information that can be passed to others from anyone who has it. Guards will always share the information with other guards as long as they have it. Each person that the holder of that information passes close by someone else and talks to them. The chance they will pass along the information is roughly equal to the chance of reconition (perceived value / time passed) with the victim most likely telling people more often. Then each of those people have a chance to tell others, and so on. Each one having a new percieved value while time passes constantly. But that bit of information doesn’t pass without a person to carry it. Plus if it wasn’t valuable it won’t get passed between people very much. Even if a worthless item was highly valued by the orginal victim and he tells everyone he meets, it won’t be told to anyone else by those people.
Examples: A worthless family heirloom gets stolen. The information to reconize it will travel to the guards and probably to the victim’s friends who he meets alot, but probably not further then that. While the priceless soild-gold hammer of the city temple will spread to everyone in the city and most likely beyond via travelling merchants.
This method also allows someone to steal an item and travel to a shop on the other side of the city to sell it. If you can outrun the gossip you won’t have any trouble selling stolen merchandise.
A limited factor would be required to stop people from carrying around useless old data about stolen items for the entire game. A good way to do it is people forget about stolen items based on the percieved value. Then time passed should be based on time since they found out about it. Because someone will be more alert for something they were told was stolen, but if it was worthless they won’t be alert for it for very long. Yet they will be alert once again if told about the item again. So the result is an item will be talked about less and less as time passes, especially if worthless. As time passes the chance of telling someone else goes down and people will keep forgetting about it after a time.
All bluff and other skills to fake out someone who would give you trouble over a stolen item would work by modifying the target’s chance of recognition.
Various classes, jobs, etc. would also modify reconition and telling others. Guards would nearly always be told, but rarely tell others. News (or whatever) people would almost always tell, be told about stolen items but only have a normal chance of reconizing the item if they see it. You could even have objects be told and tell about things. Like scrolls or public notices, but only if the stolen item’s value was high enough.
To simulate a crime spree have the various bits of reconition data enhance each other. Each bit of recognition is increased by a small percentage for every other bit of recognition data a person has. Which would make guards very good at reconizing things since they would have lots of that type of data. In a busy city anyway, in a quiet town with little or no crime the guards would only be a little better then a average person. Note this effect gives them a good ability to detect stolen items without ever coding a specific skill.
Another way is have someone go through and check your items (that they can see) again if a stolen item is stolen. If you have a lot of stolen property you are more likely to get found out, in more then one way. Each time a person discovers you have something stolen they check all the other items they can see. If a second stolen item is found, a third check happens. And so on until a check doesn’t reconize any stolen property.