Each of the five nations that are part of the Federated Nations council maintains their own legal and judicial system. This article lays out the common elements and discusses each nation separately. This is mainly done for the protection of adventurers who may travel between nations. Not all crimes are listed here, but most of the commonly-violated laws are, as well as attitudes toward law enforcement.
Categories of Criminal Acts
For the purposes of this article, there are a few general categories of crimes. Note: a Council Mark is commonly called a gold piece, even if it isn't made of gold.
Minor crimes tend to have punishments ranging from a small fine (up to 1 Council Mark) to minor corporal punishment (a few lashes, some time in the stocks). Examples of such crimes are
- Petty theft (of goods worth less than 1 Mark or the equivalent coinage).
- Public intoxication
- Brawling (violence not causing permanent damage). The punishment for this usually involves restitution for any broken items as well as compensation for lost labor time.
Serious crimes tend to result in significant fines (more than 1 Mark) or penalties ranging from banishment to forced labor for a term. Major corporal punishment (loss of limbs, maiming, blindness, etc) is possible. These crimes do not include capital crimes. Examples include
- Pre-meditated violence involving permanent injury or impairment but not death. Self-defense is a justification for this. For adventurers, the penalty is usually a fine equal to the cost of hiring a priest to mend the injury if possible, or a fine of a number of years pay for the injured one.
- Grand theft (more than 1 Mark value). The common punishment is recompense of 3x the value of the stolen goods. What happens if you can't pay depends on the nation.
- Petit treason (disobedience of lawful command of a superior).
- Misuse of magic. Definitions vary, but magical compulsions or fraud by magic are almost everywhere in this category.
- Reckless endangerment. An example might be angering a major beast and leading it back to a town. Rises to capital status if anyone is killed by the creature.
These are punished by death or magical exile (geas-enforced). Examples:
- Willing blood sacrifice to demonic powers or making willing contracts with such.
- Pre-meditated murder.
- Grand treason (conspiracy or action to overthrow the government).
- Persistent necromancy (specifically raising and maintaining undead for more than one day).
- Repeated serious crimes.
The Council Lands
The Council Lands has a multi-part justice system. Non-human/halfling races deal with crimes committed by their members if they only affect that race; otherwise inter-racial crimes are handled by the Thieves Guild system or by the Scale Bearers. Humans and halflings that are accused of crimes are usually dealt with by their guild--in the country-side this is handled at the village level. Serious/capital crimes are referred to the Thieves Guild or the Scale Bearers. Political crimes may get handled by the Council itself--this is very rare since the transfer of the Adventurer's Guild to the Federated Nations.
Three such courts exist--the Speaking Stone (dwarves), the Arcanum (high elves) and the Green Lady's Court (wood elves). Since these are only very rarely involved with adventurers, not much more is said here. The Speaking Stone is the only court in the Council Lands that punishes heresy and infidelity. The Arcanum uses magical truth verification and specializes in crimes involving mages. It is sometimes used for crimes involving non-high-elf mages, as they have the relevant expertise. The Green Lady's Court handles inter-tribal crimes that might cause political difficulties between the tribes. Common crimes are handled by tribal leaders.
Each of the guilds maintains a court consisting of the master-level members in a particular area. They handle concerns including fraud, theft, and other such non-political crimes. This is an inquisitorial system. Accused can hire advisers from the Thieves Guild, but must make their own statements to the Court. In cases implicating a master, an outside adjudicator may be hired.
The Thieves Guild handles all inter-guild minor and serious crime in Kaelthia, and roving judges handle the larger towns on a circuit basis. The accuser hires an investigative team (the accused can do like-wise) and the evidence is brought to a Judge (master-level Thieves Guild member). Loser pays court costs (which can be substantial). Magical truth detection can be employed, but must be hired from a pool of Thieves Guild members.
In cases of demon worshiping, necromancy, or crimes by people with significant power (political or personal), as well as by appeal by the accused, the Scale Balancers take jurisdiction of a criminal case. This is a last resort appeal--the only possible sentence if found guilty is death, carried out immediately. In exceptional cases, the Fulcrum intervenes and channels an avatar of Ytra. Once summoned to an area, the Scale Balancers tend to stay to root out any other evil found, usually with significant collateral consequences.
The Remnant Dynasty
Every crime is handled by the ruling Clan in the area (with political crimes handled by the royal Clan). Hard labor is a common sentence. Crimes involving the Frost or reckless endangerment are considered capital; sentences to the Wall are the default for capital crimes rather than execution. Magical crimes are especially frowned upon. Accused usually have strong protections such as the ability to summon hostile witnesses and appeals to higher authorities/recusal of judges with conflicts of interest.
Byssian courts are unique in that they're hierarchical and community based. The death penalty is almost never applied--instead those that merit death are sent out either east (to reclaim the Twisted Lands) or west (in exile). Each community elects a judge--the judges in a region elect a superior judge, and these answer to the Tribunal. Appeals are rare, as are serious crimes. One crime that is serious in Byssia but not elsewhere is grave desecration--destruction or misconduct around marked graves/shrines is a serious crime punishable by exile.
Each tribe's leadership handles criminal acts (rare as those are). Goblins judged dangerous are cut off from their tribe and exiled or killed. Those that have potential, but are malcontent are often seconded to the Federated Nations organizational structure as workers or adventurers.
The Stone Throne
Justice in the Stone Throne depends on a few factors: location, type of crime, and social status. Religious crimes (especially necromancy and demon worship) are handled by the ecclesiastical court of the Queen Ascendant. Landed nobles have the right of lesser justice (for non-capital crimes), and crimes against them are automatically serious in nature. Ba generally have few rights--crimes against them are only punished if the local noble feels like it. Tradesmen are protected more than commoners. Generally, the Northern District is more even-handed (but harsher) in judicial affairs. The Central District is uneven--mercy is more common, but many criminals are known to simply disappear. The rumor is that the Lord of the Central District uses them as experimental subjects. The Southern District is highly variable--more power is given to the local lords who might wield the greater justice (capital crimes).
Political and religious crimes (or those by nobles) are investigated by the Handmaidens and prosecuted before the Queen's Fang. He is known for being extremely harsh but fair, especially to lower-rank people. Nobles that draw his ire are in serious trouble.