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Evie is reading a book, when L. runs into her house, smashes all the pots, rifles through her wardrobe and runs off with her life savings and a bottle of red liquid. She doesn't even look up.


Carl is playing with his turtle when R. enters his house, talks to him about his pet and then takes the training device he was planning to use on his companion. Carl just smiles and makes a mental note to pick up a new device at the local supermarket.


Igor and his family are eating, when G. blasts his door open, steals the flowers from the vase on his dresser, takes a bite from the drumstick on his plate and runs off with the spoons from his cupboard. When G. has left, Igor tells his son Piotr to give him his drumstick.


A common situation in video games is that NPCs do not act at all when the main character barges into their house, breaks stuff while rifling through their possessions, steals valuable stuff like money and magic items and then runs off again. And it's not just in 1 house or in 1 social class: whether they're a vagrant living under a bridge, a serf in a farm house or a nobleman in a mansion, they often don't even bat an eye at this random home invader. Weirdly enough though: it's just the main character that gets this treatment. Any regular bandits or drunkards just get the city watch called on them.

Why do these people ignore this? Like, some of them are armed to the teeth, but when it's a 10 year old boy? Or an innocuous orphan? What is so special about this situation that makes an entire country systematically ignore the theft and destruction of their property just from this person?

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    $\begingroup$ The world is a simulation and NPC's are simply programmed to ignore it? $\endgroup$ – Dragongeek Nov 24 '20 at 8:32
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    $\begingroup$ @Dragongeek Yeah, that's the easy way out. I'm trying to find a feasible in-universe explanation. $\endgroup$ – Nzall Nov 24 '20 at 8:33
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    $\begingroup$ Broken property tends to reappear magically when said person leaves, so why would they care? $\endgroup$ – val is still with Monica Nov 24 '20 at 11:23
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    $\begingroup$ @notovny R is Red, the official name of the protagonist of the Pokemon games (the turtle is a squirtle). G is Geralt of Rivia, of the Witcher series. $\endgroup$ – Nzall Nov 24 '20 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Nzall Welcome to the adult world, where there are rules and we're all expected to abide by them. SE is not a discussion forum and raw idea generation is a poor match for SE's usage model. What's amazing is that you're unwilling to understand the value of the rules. SE is a place where specific answers can be found to specific questions. If that's not your cup of tea, go to Quora or Reddit. $\endgroup$ – JBH Nov 25 '20 at 0:46

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The person is The Chosen One, and everyone in the country knows it.

This is also a pretty common situation in video games - for example, everyone in Legend of Zelda knows that Link is a constantly-reincarnating warrior destined to save Hyrule from the constantly-reincarnating Ganondorf.

I can think of three different ways in which this could manifest:

  1. The country's people decide that, since this person is going to save them/has already saved them from imminent destruction, they're entitled to take whatever they want as a reward/repayment. ("You're taking my potions? Go ahead! It's the least I can do to repay you for saving us all from Lord Evil!")
  2. The country's people decide that their constant theft and vandalism must, somehow, be part of some master plan that will ultimately help them defeat whatever evil they're fighting against. ("You're taking my potions? Well, if they'll help you defeat Lord Evil, then go ahead!")
  3. The country's people don't actually like what the Chosen One is up to, but they realise that they can't defeat Lord Evil if they're in jail, and they possibly won't defeat Lord Evil if they're angry at everyone for halting their rampages. So they force a smile, and bear with it, and make a second mental note to have the little kleptomaniac hauled off to the dungeons the second Lord Evil is defeated and their services are no longer required.
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    $\begingroup$ 4. An 800-pound gorilla sits where it wants. This person has travelled the world, arming themselves to the teeth with legendary magical weapons, and has proven themselves capable of defeating the most fearsome entities imaginable in single combat. If they want to smash up your pots, it's not like you can stop them. $\endgroup$ – Nuclear Hoagie Nov 24 '20 at 17:58
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    $\begingroup$ It's good luck, a public service, and an absolute necessity to provide heroes with what they need. $\endgroup$ – Mary Nov 24 '20 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ @NuclearHoagie: Also cf. the boy in the classic Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life". $\endgroup$ – Michael Seifert Nov 24 '20 at 22:38
  • $\begingroup$ To add to this, perhaps the person is so strong that everyone's afraid of them... i.e. Homelander in The Boys gets away with some horrific things because everyone knows he'll kill them if they speak up $\endgroup$ – Aaron Lavers Nov 25 '20 at 0:52
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The situation occurs quite regularly and is perfectly safe to react to, or not. So they just avoid interaction, and count on solidarity in the community to make up for the loss.

A limited amount of adventurers/wanderers explore cities, villages and isolated houses, and any given house is visited every 10 years or so. The thing is: the dangerosity of the individual is not correlated to its appearance so there is no way to know if it's safe to react or not. A crippled old man entering the house can be a powerful mage well trained to cast devastating spell. In fantasy setups, most people don't travel, and traveling merchants often visit the same places in cycles. This mean that people know at least the face of those they interact with. They pretty much know the whole village/neighborhood. Hence, when an unknown face enters the house and steal things, they know it must be a wanderer, potentially very dangerous, and it's not worth the risk to react because it's a rare occurrence. They will simply notify the authorities after they leave. This will activate some sort of insurance policy in the community to make up for the loss, either coordinated by local authorities, private company, or informally at the community level. Getting rid of thefts is the job of the city guards, or bounty hunters but villagers know they can't do much anyway. Wanderers know that if they don't stick around too much, they won't be bothered by anyone so they don't need to be threatening. Wanderers' number is low despite low level of enforcement from authorities because of the dangerous circumstances their occupation is tied to: weird and unknown creatures lurking offroad, other violent adventurers, spell-casting accidents, deadly cold night outdoor, hitmen hired by the family of rich victims, diseases far away from any medical help, simple foot injury slowing the progression and making them lack food and water before reaching their destination, etc.

To sum up, the risk of someone entering your home is considered an unavoidable trouble that happen from time to time, just like a weather hazard, a small accident while working, or a sheep dying: an inconvenience, but nothing too dramatic. Local solidarity and the low frequency of occurrence make it more of a slight annoyance than a life threatening problem.

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    $\begingroup$ Can you imagine trying to make a claim on that insurance policy?? Wowzers. $\endgroup$ – Joe Bloggs Nov 24 '20 at 11:32
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    $\begingroup$ Well, your house insurance policy is filled with very unlikely cases you will never have to claim for, and some are hard to prove or deny (like a home invasion and theft when you are away without breaking). Also, several claims would probably be made in a giver area at the same time, and the insurance issuer can make a short investigation to check that the description of the intruder matches with other victims' description, as well as witnesses in the street's. In our world, it's laughable. In a world where it's not unheard of and people are community-minded, then why not? $\endgroup$ – Akita Nov 24 '20 at 12:26
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    $\begingroup$ Also, some communities in Columbia and Central America have some form of informal insurance between inhabitants of a gang-infested poor neighborhood when they get robbed. It's informal and trust based, but it works because of the fact that everyone knows their neighboor and the police and other state authorities can't do anything in those areas. $\endgroup$ – Akita Nov 24 '20 at 12:38
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    $\begingroup$ The webcomic "Will Save World for Gold" had a story arc in which the main characters (a band of D&D-style adventurers) visit a quaint little village to fight a local threat. Ardon, leader of the band (and sometimes suspected of psychopathic tendencies) makes a little speech to the village headman. Something along the lines of: "Don't bother telling me your name; I don't care. Bring out any cash you have in the village; we'll take it with us. Ditto for any useful magic items. Feed us, but otherwise stay out of our way until we're done." (cont'd) $\endgroup$ – Lorendiac Nov 24 '20 at 19:48
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    $\begingroup$ Odivallus, one of the nicer members of the party, then starts trying to apologize for Ardon's bad manners, and the headman says patiently: "No, no, we're used to being treated that way by adventurers. In fact, his honesty about it is refreshing!" $\endgroup$ – Lorendiac Nov 24 '20 at 19:48
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The protagonist is the relative of [insert highly connected official and/or mob boss here].

Any action taken by law enforcement will be shot down at the highest level. Any action taken on a more vigilante basis will result in either the police arresting the victim or, if the mob is involved, broken kneecaps and a nice swim with the fishes. On the other hand if you play ball you’ll get a nice tax break, or suddenly find that all the rougher individuals in the area tip their hats to you and mind their manners.

Basically that ten year old/heavily armed psychopath is related (by blood or bond) to a highly feared and/or respected individual that nobody wants to incur the wrath of, and they provide shielding from the law and the locals.

Just don’t let the protagonist kill anybody’s dog.

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Because the entire world is a simulation and not enough art resources has gone to the NPCs.

This does feel a little bit tongue in cheek, but I feel it does need to be mentioned. Were I to observe masses of people not reacting as expected to stimulus, my first thought would be something wrong with reality.

If you break into someone's house, and they don't care when you expect them to - The world isn't real, you're trapped in a VR and have ventured off the expected path. Congratulations on finding a glitch in the matrix.


Programming these kinds of reactions in video games is extremely hard and time consuming. The developers often do not have time to test all the possible interactions, and voicing those NPCs saying specific things costs limited money during production. This is usually intentionally overlooked during a game development.

A compromise is the limit interaction with the world to ensure that the character enters one way and grabs one thing first - then you can prepare for that interaction and record some limited dialogue.

I can not for the life of me remember the game, but I found a realistic reaction in a game once, and it blew me away. My character was on a side quest and needed to break into a house. I broke a window late at night in a family home, heard screams, so I ran away and hide:

  • I hear them exclaiming,
  • They were searching and investigating and describing the damage amongst themselves.
  • I could hear them calling the cops and explaining it over the phone
  • I could hear them explaining to the cops in person,
  • I could hear them the cops searching and talking amongst themselves. "I wonder if these footprints are the guy", etc.
  • The cops followed my tracks in the snow for a while.
  • I could hear them the victims calling a glazer
  • I could hear them the glazier coming out and measuring, giving a quote, driving off, coming back, and installing it.
  • Then watching them clean up of the broken glass the next morning.
  • Then a change in behavior the next night as they're more alert.

It was astounding to see such a reaction - explaining just how rare such a thing is.

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    $\begingroup$ I think that game is called "Real Life". Stop breaking into people's houses! $\endgroup$ – T.J.L. Nov 24 '20 at 20:16
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It's the law

In some countries in real life, police can commandeer a vehicle if they need one. This happened recently in Canada - for need of a boat, the police of Victoria, BC commandeered one.

And in the United States, police once commandeered a whole house in order to catch a bandit hiding in it. They also blew the house up in the process (insert "murica" joke here). The family who used to live in the house sued the police, but lost:

In 2019, the three-judge panel of the 10th Cir. ruled against the Leches, saying unanimously that the destruction of the house fell under police power and that eminent domain was not undertaken. The court sympathized with the Leches, calling their circumstances "unfair", but ruling that police cannot be "burdened" with the consideration of collateral property damage when performing their duties.


In RPG's and such games, the protagonist may be an a******, but they are an a****** tasked with saving someone or something in the name of love and friendship (and probably also killing God if it's a japanese RPG). This gives them police powers. The NPC's know that they have to comply, OR ELSE.

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    $\begingroup$ "And in the United States, police once commandeered a whole house in order to catch a bandit hiding in it. They also blew the house up in the process (insert "murica" joke here). The family who used to live in the house sued the police, but lost" well that makes no sense. it sounds like we are living in a totalitarian police state. $\endgroup$ – Topcode Nov 24 '20 at 17:17
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    $\begingroup$ I had not heard about that case in Colorado. I followed your link to the Wikipedia page. On the positive side, I see that article mentions that other courts, in other states, have in fact agreed that the police incur liability for property damage under such circumstances. (Which is what I would have expected.) $\endgroup$ – Lorendiac Nov 24 '20 at 19:59
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What about a situation, when the whole world is a fundamentalist society and that particular person is announced to be a god-like prophet? And any damage caused by that person is refunded by government? There's still a question why does that person act like this, but it may be a special ritual made by purpose.

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  • $\begingroup$ Question? Who are you to question god? That's probably explanation enough for zealots. Ironically, that person could also probably be the devil and is being allowed to distract and occupy themselves with less damaging activities. $\endgroup$ – DKNguyen Nov 24 '20 at 19:30
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"The Country of the Kind" (Damon Knight). Society has matured to the point where it is convinced that miscreants are either ill or can be reasoned with. In addition it is convinced that the ill can only be confined for treatment if they are curable.

The protagonist is either incurably deranged, or refuses to listen to reason. So all people can do is ignore his behaviour.

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    $\begingroup$ I would have used Demolition Man as an example, but okay. $\endgroup$ – DKNguyen Nov 24 '20 at 19:33
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There is no concept of ownership.

People are required to share all possessions for the greater good of society. It is assumed that anyone who takes anything is simply doing it for the good of everyone. People can be trusted to judge what they may need to accomplish their (and by extension, the society's) goals and other citizens will be happy to offer up any resources due to their complete trust in people's good intentions.

This is essentially how a commune operates.

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    $\begingroup$ OP clearly states that the behavior is tolerated from a single person, not from anybody. $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Nov 24 '20 at 19:03
  • $\begingroup$ "Any regular bandits or drunkards just get the city watch called on them." - "Regular" as in known to be evil. $\endgroup$ – Cees Timmerman Nov 24 '20 at 19:43
  • $\begingroup$ Oops, no idea how I managed to miss that! I think I saw the different letters used in the examples and assumed it wasn't exclusive to one person. $\endgroup$ – benh Nov 24 '20 at 21:38
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Occurs every year on the same date.

Little Johnny and Susie are sleeping soundly (but anxiously). When an obese man in a red suit climbs down the chimney, eats all the milk and cookies, leaves a bunch of stuff behind and then leaves without a trace.

Oh wait...

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The person has Poor Impulse Control

As a counterpoint to F1Krazy's answer, They may be such a designated bad guy that you just don't mess with them.

The title, of course, refers to one of the more colorful villains I have seen, Raven. Raven was an antagonist in Snow Crash, and is immediately recognizable by his forehead, which was tattooed with "Poor Impulse Control" as a penalty for misbehaving in prison (such tattoos often became badges of honor). He is also recognizable for the nuclear warhead he has riding in the sidecar of his motorcycle, always in the armed state and tied to his heartbeat such that if he dies, the nuke goes off. The following quote can be read uncensored here. Some phrases do simply work better with curse words in them, unabashed:

Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherf---er in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. if my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.

Hiro used to feel that way, too, but then he ran into Raven. In a way, this is liberating. He no longer has to worry about trying to be the baddest motherf---er in the world. The position is taken. The crowning touch, the one thing that really puts true world-class badmotherf---erdom totally out of reach, of course, is the hydrogen bomb. If it wasn't for the hydrogen bomb, a man could still aspire. Maybe find Raven's Achilles' heel. Sneak up, get a drop, slip a mickey, pull a fast one. But Raven's nuclear umbrella kind of puts the world title out of reach. Which is okay. Sometimes it's all right just to be a little bad. To know your limitations. Make do with what you've got.

Quite the character. He literally gets paid by the major corporations to not be near their property, just in case something happens to him and they have to deal with the damage.

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It's Tony Stark, finally gone mad after the New York Incident. He saved the world, so everyone is fine with him running around even more weird than before. Also Happy cleans up after him and gives everyone a huge cheque covering their damages.

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In some societies if someone exhibits undesirable or criminal behaviour, then everyone is told or decides for themselves to not interact with this person and pretend that the person doesn't exist. This can be used as a form of punishment. They are Shunned. The purpose of this is that the psychological impact of being treated this way can cause them to reform.

See Shunning in Wikipedia

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    $\begingroup$ How would ignoring someone stealing in your house be a punishment? $\endgroup$ – L.Dutch - Reinstate Monica Nov 24 '20 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica Updated with "The psychological impact of being treated this way can cause them to reform." $\endgroup$ – Dijkgraaf Nov 24 '20 at 20:14
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    $\begingroup$ @L.Dutch-ReinstateMonica the punishment is that they are being ignored by the society. It's fun the first days, sure. But then (some people will take longer than others) you would crawl for a bit of attention, someone to recognise you as a human being, too. That's when they should realise that they need to play nice with the rest of the town if they want to be accepted. Breaking into other people's houses is a typical attention-seeking move by this people. It takes every ounce of self-control, but don't worry, they will end up returning those things. $\endgroup$ – Ángel Nov 24 '20 at 23:16
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From the main characters' perspective these people don't bat an eyelid, they don't outwardly appear bothered at all, but inside they are frozen in terror at the sight of this immortal, murderous villain. They know this person has complete control over life and death and can turn on them at any moment, they will do nothing to draw their attention.

They might continue about their daily chores as if the person were not there, but do it while sweating coldly and while their life flashes before their eyes; when they leave everyone collapses into tears and thanks their local deity for sparing them.

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They're already being punished.

In the story, society has matured to the point that villainy of any kind just doesn't happen; nobody thinks to do it. Like most post-scarcity "space communist" societies, your society is a bunch of actual pacifists.

Even if somebody is hurting others, that doesn't give society the right to hurt them in turn. Turnabout is not fair play.

Faced with this truly horrendous criminal, they are at a loss as to how to punish them. After deliberating for several months, they come to the perfect solution:

They'll leave him alone.

He will not be punished in any way, and will instead be left to his own devices. Everybody will leave him alone so long as he doesn't physically harm anybody. In fact, he will be left completely alone. Nobody is to react to him in any way, shape or form.

If he starts experiencing boredom, depression, and soul-crushing anxiety, that's his problem.

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