Laws of the Lands

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Amnian & Muranni Laws


Introduction

In Amn, the laws have always been harsh, essential for maintaining order in regions fraught with danger and conflict. The Winter of Teeth has made these laws even more unforgiving. Murann, a city that normally houses between 80,000 and 100,000 people, now struggles with an overwhelming influx of refugees, turning it into a crowded, volatile environment brimming with desperation.

The refugee crisis has exacerbated resource strain, creating a volatile environment where chaos looms. To prevent disorder, Amnian law has become exceptionally punitive, instilling respect through fear. The local Muranni government pays the wages of the Harbor Guard, who enforce the laws and maintain order. Central to this enforcement is the Harbor King, Degos Angerdboar, whose word is law. His elite guards, known as the King's Own, act as his sword within the city, ensuring his will is executed with unwavering loyalty. The Harbor King and his King's Own are a law unto themselves, their authority arguably even superseding that of the local government.

Magic in Murann is viewed with suspicion and fear. The common person sees a stranger's incantations and hand movements as potential threats, unsure if they will be struck down by divine wrath or incinerated by a fireball. Magic is also extremely unstable, adding to the terror it inspires among the populace. This pervasive fear of magic has led to stringent regulations and severe punishments for unauthorized magical acts.

Moreover, it should always be assumed that someone is watching you in Murann. The city is filled with eyes and ears everywhere, from watchmen in guard towers along the battlements to informants in the streets. There are hundreds of sets of eyes immediately on any kind of public disturbance or disruption in most areas of the city. Guard towers are constantly manned, ready to sound alarms at the first sign of crime, especially those involving magic.
Muranni law is designed to protect the city from imploding under the weight of its own population and the constant threat of invasion.

The following sections detail the various categories of crimes and their corresponding punishments, reflecting the city's need for stringent control in these perilous times:

Legal Implications of Social Rank

In Amn, while the law applies to all, social standing significantly influences legal outcomes. Higher social ranks enjoy the benefit of the doubt when accused of crimes, and their grievances are addressed more swiftly. Wealth and status are critical in determining how justice is served, particularly in Murann, where the current crisis necessitates harsher measures. A short rundown of the social classes is available below, but more details may be found here:

Social Classes

Serf: The vast majority of the population, serfs have minimal rights and endure harsh living conditions. They typically reside in city slums or work under nobility as overworked laborers. Despite their low status, serfs can blend into crowds and communicate effectively with other common folk, making them less noticeable in the bustling city environment. Their lack of wealth heavily influences their daily struggles and opportunities.

Commoner: Slightly better off than serfs, commoners occupy the lower echelons of society with middling rights and worth. They usually live in modest conditions, either renting or owning property and generally lead stable lives. Commoners are the backbone of urban and rural communities, blending into crowds and communicating well with the masses. Wealth plays a significant role in their ability to improve their living conditions and social standing.

Citizen: This middle echelon enjoys greater benefits and rights, perceived as having considerable value and worth. Citizens are typically from respected or wealthy backgrounds, such as merchants, accomplished priests, or skilled artisans. They own property and enjoy a higher standard of living. While they blend into crowds and communicate effectively, their status makes them slightly more noticeable than commoners or serfs. Achieving the status of a citizen often requires significant merit or connections, with wealth sometimes, but not always, contributing to elevated status.

Noble: The upper echelons of society, enjoying the highest benefits, rights, and significant power. They are influential and respected, often controlling large swaths of land and numerous resources. Nobility is rare and difficult to attain, typically requiring a combination of merit, politics, and legacy. While nobles can blend into day-to-day crowds, their status and wealth make them more conspicuous. Their complaints and legal issues are taken very seriously, and the justice system tends to favor them, reflecting their societal importance. Wealth reinforces their influence and authority in their worth to the country, but wealth alone is rarely enough by itself to be granted nobility. Nobles include patriarchs or matriarchs of a distinguished family, their spouses, direct descendants, and heirs. Settlement reeves (mayors) of hamlets, villages, etc., other members of a major family house, guard captains, and magistrates.

High Noble: Individuals who hold significant power and influence within the societal hierarchy. In Amn, it encompasses city reeves (rulers of individual cities like the Harbor King of Murann), patriarchs or matriarchs of major families, members of the Swordbelt Council, the Seneschal (high justice of Southern Amn), the Grand Master of the King's Own (captain of the king's guard), high magistrates, and senior military officers. They wield considerable authority and their actions and well-being are of utmost importance to the realm


The Legality of Magic

Despite common public misconceptions, almost all magic is legal magic. It is not the magic itself that is illegal, but rather how, when, where, and why it is cast. Magic, in reality, is simply very heavily sanctioned by Amnian law, making legal magic illegal to cast anywhere without a license for the type of magic an individual is casting, with licenses offering minimal areas to legally practice legal magic, depending on the type of license (more information on licensees can be found here).

Clerical licenses allow for divine spellcasting in sanctioned temples within settlements. Arcanist licenses allow for arcane spellcasting in designated properties within settlements - currently, the only property designated in this way is the domain of the Alchemists' Guild. They also allow spellcasting outside of settlements and their near vicinity as long as no other laws are broken in the process, making sure that there are no signs of civilization nearby and that everyone accompanying a magically gifted individual is properly aware of the danger involved in their spellcasting.

When the law refers to ‘legal magic’, it is referring to any magic which hasn’t been made outright illegal. The most widely known example of illegal magic is commonly known as ‘necromancy’ in layman’s terms; referring specifically to the act of animating and controlling undead, rather than the overarching spell school itself.

Note that magic is an extremely unknown quantity in this setting. There is little discrimination between different types of magic (arcane, divine, or any of the more obscure subtypes of magic that may exist). They are, for the most part, all viewed equally in the eyes of both the general public and the law.

An officer of the realm (such as a guardsman) may temporarily grant permission to a spellcaster to be exempt from the magical sanctions for a duration no longer than that of a specific task. Such exemptions must be thoroughly documented and reported by the officer in question, and they may even be held accountable for any damage caused by said spellcaster, depending on the circumstances, often leading to reluctance to grant such authorization.

In the rare circumstance that an officer of the realm has access to magical ability themselves, they may utilize their powers to assist them in the line of duty, but only under extreme conditions, such as ensuring the preservation of life, and when risking endangerment to their own lives.


Use of Alchemical Concoctions, Potions, and Magical Tools

Generally, alchemical concoctions and extracts are legal in Amn, as long as they are stable, for primarily medicinal purposes, and do not leave lingering effects after use which may disturb the peace. The possession of volatile admixtures with destructive qualities is not something that the government is experienced in handling within settlements as knowledge of such things is, at best, a rarity in Amn. Although there are no direct laws surrounding such things, it is likely that the possession of bomb-like concoctions would not be taken lightly should an officer of the realm realize what such a thing is.

Magical wands and scrolls follow the same laws that incanting magic does, and brandishing such a tool is considered to be every bit as much of a threat as conjuring a spell. They are, however, not illegal to carry on an individual's person, and may only be bought and sold under the purview of the Alchemists' Guild with a valid economical license.


Use of Supernatural Abilities

In some rare cases, ordinary humanoids have been known to train their bodies, or to draw upon power sourced from some form of magic, heritage or faith, to perform feats that exceed normal mortal boundaries with no obvious incantations and without tapping into the Weave. These abilities are something that are expected to only be utilized in matters of life and death, to ensure the safety of oneself and any bystanders. Especially if these effects have pronounced visual qualities, it is possible that they may be interpreted as magic by officers of the realm, and treated as such in the eyes of the law, regardless of whether they are or not. This is generally decided on a case-by-case basis, so great caution should be taken in what an individual does, and who they might be panicking or endangering by using such abilities in the vicinity of.


Jurisdiction of the Law

Amnian laws apply everywhere in Amn. However, in practice, the laws are exceedingly difficult to action outside of established settlements and their near vicinities.

If an individual reports a crime that occurred in the wilderness or in a dungeon, for example, unless it is an extremely serious accusation such as the animating and controlling of undead, or a criminal act against a noble, it will likely go uninvestigated. Local governments simply cannot afford to expend precious and limited resources dealing with hearsay accusations, as they need to be using those resources to protect their settlements more directly.

Similarly, in the Lower Boroughs of Murann (slums), the Harbor Guard has little jurisdiction except under extreme circumstances, due to the government not deeming the area worthy of the allocation of resources necessary to police it given the current state of the city. Because of this, the area is relatively lawless, and the chances of getting away with shady, and even downright illegal activity, are increased manyfold (as well as the inherent danger of being within such an area).

That said, the law is still the law, and the only way to be relatively sure of not receiving legal repercussions for one’s actions is never to break it in the first place.


Sentencing

Lesser officers of the realm, such as guardsmen, have the authority to issue punishments for minor and lesser offenses. These punishments typically involve fines or short-term imprisonment and are designed to be easily actionable without the need for intervention from higher levels of authority.

For offenses beyond the minor and lesser categories, sentencing must be handled by greater officers of the realms. This includes the captain of the guard, or through direct orders to his subordinates, high magistrates, or the King's Own. These higher authorities are responsible for issuing sentences for serious, severe, and capital offenses, ensuring that due process is followed and that the punishments are commensurate with the gravity of the crime. Despite the authority needed to issue these sentences, they are still often physically actioned by lesser realm officers, following the direct orders of their superiors.

In the case that a criminal has committed multiple crimes, the penalties are cumulative.


Outlawed Faiths

While there is no risk of the gods directly intervening in mortal matters after The Longest Year, some faiths are still considered far too dangerous to be allowed for legal worship, due to what they stand for, as well as the generally associated predilections of the majority of their followers. Worship of the following deities is outlawed:

Cyric: The Prince of Lies embodies deception, murder, and chaos. His followers are notorious for inciting betrayal and unrest, destabilizing communities with their manipulative schemes. In a city already struggling with overpopulation and resource strain, the influence of Cyric's cultists threatens to ignite further discord and violence. The teachings of Cyric encourage deceit and treachery, making his worship highly dangerous and wholly incompatible with the fragile order Murann strives to maintain. As a result, worship of Cyric is strictly forbidden.

Talos: The Storm Lord represents the raw, destructive power of nature. His followers seek to unleash storms, earthquakes, and other natural disasters, reveling in the chaos and devastation they cause. In a densely populated and resource-strained city like Murann, the threat posed by Talos worshipers is immense. The potential for catastrophic destruction makes the presence of Talos cultists intolerable. Their devotion to chaos and ruin is a direct threat to the city's survival, leading to an outright ban on the worship of Talos.


Legal Subjugation

In Amn, servitude manifests in two primary forms:

Indentured Servant: This lesser form of servitude involves individuals willingly becoming temporary servants in exchange for significant benefits, such as earning Amnian nationality or securing passage to distant lands. While they are bound by their contracts, indentured servants are expected to be freed eventually.

Drudge: This severe form of servitude involves permanent bondage, often due to unpayable debts or crimes, and can be either willing or unwilling. Drudges remain in lifelong servitude with no expectation of release. Generally, drudges are kept for a reason, due to being high-value individuals with impressive physical, mental, magical, or societal capabilities who the government wishes to exercise permanent control over.

Servitude is a normalized and protected aspect of Amnian society. Publicly referring to it as slavery is not only socially unacceptable but also legally risky, as it is considered, at minimum, a disturbance of the peace and can result in harsh repercussions from local authorities.


Self-Defense

In Amnian law, self-defense is recognized as a legitimate defense against charges of assault or murder, provided certain conditions are met. The use of force in self-defense must be proportionate to the threat faced and is only justified if the individual reasonably believes they are in imminent danger of harm or death. However, the illegal use of legal magic, even in self-defense, is strictly prohibited, regardless of whether the assailant is illegally utilizing legal or illegal magic themselves.

Conditions for Legal Self-Defense:

  • Prioritization of Retreat: If possible, the individual must attempt to avoid confrontation before resorting to force, unless retreat would pose additional danger.
  • Imminent Threat: The danger must be immediate and unavoidable.
  • Proportional Response: The force used must not exceed what is necessary to neutralize the threat. Lethal force is only justified if an assault is deemed to be murderous in nature.
  • Restricted Magic Use: The normal laws against magic apply, even in the case of self-defense.
  • Alerting Authorities: It is the victim's civic duty to contact an officer of the realm at the earliest possible moment after, or preferably during, the assault.

Examples of Self-Defense

  • Defending Against Assault: If attacked, an individual may use reasonable non-magical force to protect themselves.
  • Defense of Others: Intervening non-magically to protect another person from imminent harm.
  • Defense of Property: Using non-magical force to prevent theft or damage to property, though lethal force is rarely, if ever, justified.

Reporting a Crime

If an individual witnesses a crime, it is their civic duty to come forward and immediately report it to an officer of the realm (such as a guardsman). Failure to do so can be considered to be a crime in itself.

If an individual commits a crime, it is in their best interest to turn themselves in immediately to an officer of the realm and throw themselves at the mercy of the law. Doing so will offer the best chances at leniency for their transgressions.



Crime and Punishment under Amnian Law

Minor Offenses

  • Disturbance of the Peace: Causing public disturbances or disruption. This can include the brandishing or display of weapons, making excessive noise, creating a spectacle (e.g. street performances) that disrupts the traversal of public streets or thoroughfares, protesting without authorization, unlawful gatherings in large crowds, harassment including begging, solicitation, public intoxication, goading aggression, displaying open wounds without immediately seeking medical aid, and a host of other potential offenses. Disturbance of the peace can take practically any form in the eyes of an officer of the realm and is a compelling reason to keep one’s head down and stay respectful around them.
Default Punishment:
  • If the criminal caused damages to a person, property, or possessions, they are required to pay reparations equal to the cost of medical attention, repair, or replacement, before the payment of the fine. Should this not be possible, the offense is treated as a lesser offense instead.
  • A fine of 50 silver pieces for each offense.
  • If the criminal (or their associates) is unable to pay this fine, they will be, instead, jailed for 2 days.
  • Further minor offenses committed by the criminal after the issuing of this sentence may be treated as lesser offenses in the future.
Alternative Punishments:
  • Fines can legally range from 50-500 silver pieces based on the severity of the crime, remorse shown by the criminal, etc.
  • The jail term can be reduced if the offense is very minor or there are extenuating circumstances.
  • Longer jail terms are possible, but not encouraged, since they provide little benefit to the government other than as a deterrent to the criminal for future crimes.

Lesser Offenses

  • Damage to Property or Possessions: Purposely, or accidentally, causing damage to another individual's property or possessions.
  • Theft: Stealing from another without attempted inflicted physical harm or forced entry.
  • Assault: Attacking an individual with or without a weapon in a relatively closed setting such as underground, or a private tavern room.
  • Slander or Defamation of Lesser Realm Officers: Speaking sacrilegiously at the expense of a guardsman while on active duty.
  • Obstructing Duty of a Realm Officer: Any kind of attempt to prevent a guardsman from carrying out their lawful duty.
  • Failure to Report a Crime: Reporting a lesser offense is a witness' civic duty. To not report it shows complicity.
  • Wrongful Accusation: Wrongfully claiming that another is guilty of a lesser offense.
Default Punishment:
  • If the criminal caused damages to a person, property, or possessions, they are required to pay reparations equal to the cost of medical attention, repair, or replacement, before the payment of the fine. Should this not be possible, the offense is treated as a serious offense instead.
  • A fine of 150 silver pieces for each offense.
  • If the criminal (or their associates) is unable to pay this fine, they will instead be jailed for 5 days.
  • Further lesser offenses committed by the criminal after the issuing of this sentence may be treated as serious offenses in the future.
Alternative Punishments:
  • Fines can legally range from 150-2,000 silver pieces based on the severity of the crime, the remorse shown by the criminal, etc.
  • The jail term can be reduced if the offense is very minor or there are extenuating circumstances.
  • Longer jail terms are possible, but not encouraged, since they provide little benefit to the government other than as a deterrent to the criminal for future crimes.

Serious Offenses

  • Magical Negligence: Using legal magic illegally in a relatively closed setting such as underground, a private tavern room, or in your own home.
  • Defiling Holy Places: Vandalizing, damaging, or robbing temples, sacred sites, and sanctified tombs.
  • Civic Disobedience: Willfully disobeying official edicts or criminal sentences.
  • Fraud, Unlawful Impersonation & Breach of Contract: Requires substantial evidence, likely provided by the aggrieved party, for successful conviction.
  • Assault on Lesser Realm Officers: Attacking law enforcement, such as guardsmen, generally below the rank of captain (who class as nobility) while on active duty.
  • Slander or Defamation of Nobility: Speaking sacrilegiously at the expense of nobility
  • Assault with Endangerment: Causing physical harm with, or without, a weapon in a public place, endangering and scaring onlookers.
  • Reckless Animal Handling: All wild animals and combat-trained animals larger than a dog may not be brought within city limits or will be treated as an immediate threat. Animals dog-sized or smaller that are deemed to be a threat or a disturbance to the peace may be ordered to be removed, or even put down by officers of the realm. The animal in question’s owner or tamer is culpable for its presence.
  • Failure to Report a Crime: Reporting a serious offense is a witness' civic duty. To not report it shows complicity.
  • Wrongful Accusation: Knowingly wrongfully claiming that another is guilty of a serious offense.
Default Punishment:
  • If the criminal caused damages to a person, property, or possessions, they are required to pay reparations equal to the cost of medical attention, repair, or replacement, before the payment of the fine. Should this not be possible, the offense is treated as a severe offense instead.
  • A fine of 1,500 silver pieces for each offense at the time of sentencing.
  • If the criminal (or their associates) is unable to pay this fine, the government will confiscate all the criminal’s assets, and a fitting form of public humiliation and/or non-lethal physical punishment will be inflicted upon the criminal, based on nature of the crime.
  • Further serious offenses committed by the criminal after the issuing of this sentence may be treated as severe offenses in the future.
Alternative Punishments:
  • Fines can legally range from 1,000-10,000 silver pieces based on the severity of the crime, remorse shown by the criminal, etc.
  • Jail sentences are not commonly issued for this type of offense. This is largely due to the drain it puts on governmental resources. Generally, this punishment is reserved for citizens and nobility, and typically lasts for 50 days to 5 years, with a heavy emphasis placed on the circumstances of the crime, and the criminal’s place in the social hierarchy.

Severe Offenses

  • Use of illegal magic: This is almost exclusively the act of animating or controlling undead. All realm officers are offered leniency in resolving situations through whatever means necessary involving individuals wielding illegal magic, due to the immediate threat it presents to the preservation of life.
  • Petty Treason: Disobeying a high noble’s command, or rebellion against a high noble.
  • Crimes against Nobility or their Property/Land: These can include theft, assault, bribery, vandalism, arson, impersonation, fraud, forgery, wrongful accusation, and many more.
  • Worship of Outlawed Faiths: Showing veneration or devotion towards a deity whose worship is outlawed.
  • Robbery: Stealing by force.
  • Burglary: Breaking and entering with intent to steal.
  • Murder: Killing a non-monstrous humanoid in anything other than self-defense against a potentially lethal assault.
  • Magical Assault: Using legal magic illegally with harmful intent. The intended harm can be physical, mental, or emotional - the punishment is consistent regardless.
  • Magical Recklessness: Using legal magic illegally in public places, especially around crowds of people or residential areas. Also, maintaining visible magical effects within those settings.
  • (OOC NOTE: Accidents happen! If a situation occurs where a character clearly has absentmindedly left effects active on themselves, other players, including player guards, are expected to rationalize this as lingering magic faintly following them (remember that spells can be cast on people by other individuals, as well - !removemagic is your friend), which they should be encouraged to remove immediately. Should they choose not to follow these directives, that is the point that they should be treated as a criminal. Likewise, if someone accidentally clicks a spell on their bar, they should be given the opportunity to explain their actions before the matter is escalated further, potentially handwaving the cast spell as poorly chosen words and hand motions that momentarily resembled an incantation. However, should the accidental casting of a spell lead to consequences that result in Magical Assault (see above), have unexpected consequences due to the instability of magic, the individual in question refuses to comply with clear directives to cease and desist, or the individual in question be involved in these scenarios repeatedly, they should be punished to the full extent of the law. Players are advised to be vigilant of this law at all times, as it is pivotal to the setting, but to try to use OOC common sense in regards to it where there is narrative room to do so. Losing a PC over an honest mistake is not a good way to go, and creates a lot of unnecessary work for the staff without much upside in terms of storytelling.)
  • Slavery: Engaging in or facilitating slavery.
  • Unlawful Abolition of Subjugation: Illegally freeing those under legal subjugation.
  • Failure to Report a Crime: Reporting a severe or capital offense is a witness' civic duty. To not report it shows complicity.
  • Wrongful Accusation: Knowingly wrongfully claiming that another is guilty of a severe or capital offense.
Default Punishment:
  • Execution (private or public).
  • Confiscation of all the criminal’s assets by the government.
  • Reparations to any aggrieved parties will be made by the government using these assets at a future date.
  • If such criminals are deemed to be sufficiently dangerous by them, greater realm officers (such as the captain of the guard, or the King’s Own) may legally exercise lethal force to subdue offenders on the spot, with no arrest, detainment, or further justification necessary.
Alternative Punishments:
  • Citizens and nobles deemed to be guilty of severe offenses may, instead, find themselves facing a fine of 10,000-50,000 silver pieces depending on the severity of the crime, and the social standing of their victim.
  • If this fine cannot be paid in full within a short period, all of their assets are seized by the government and they will be forced into 5-20 years of imprisonment and/or drudgery depending on the usefulness of the criminal to the prosperity of Amn.


Capital Offenses

  • High Treason: Includes plotting, or attempting, to assault a Council member or High Noble; attempting to illegitimately replace a Council member or High Noble; publishing that they are heretics, tyrants, infidels, or usurpers; supporting war-time enemies of Amn; rebelliously withholding from the Council or High Noble their fortresses, ships, army, etc; exposing the identity of a Council member.
  • Forgery of an Official Crown or Council Document: The very thought of this shows the willful attempt to politically undermine and sabotage the entire country.
  • Spying or Sabotage for a Foreign Power: Undertaking any kind of reconnaissance on, or disruption against Amn at the behest of a country, government, or organization.
Default Punishment:
  • Regionally, or even nationally in extraordinary circumstances, organized and advertised public execution.
  • Confiscation of all the criminal’s assets by the government, as well as those of all direct family and possibly other associates.
Alternative Punishments:
  • Capital offenses are extremely rare, and so, when they do occur, it is even rarer that a grand public example isn’t made of the criminal. In such an uncommon occurrence, such as the individual being of more use to the government alive, the punishment is life imprisonment with the expectation of doing everything the government asks of them for the rest of their life lest they face consequences potentially even worse than death.