In this 7th installment for the City of Rookroost we take look at the very unique system of laws in Rookroost and how they don't apply to everyone. Once again thanks to everyone that have given me inspiration from Nigel Findley, Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean K. Reynolds, Frederick Weining, Casey Brown, and all the fabulous BK authors and lastly Gygax himself.
The Rule of Guilded and Unguilded Law
The Bandit Kingdoms' lands are a chaotic place at best, and Rookroost is a prime example. While some places have a semblance of law and order, none would be your typical law and order found in other places of the Flanaess. Rookroost has plenty of laws and regulations, but none of them apply to everyone in the same fashion. There are two completely separate sets of laws: one for guilded citizens, and one for everyone else.
The laws passed by the Council of Lords are not designed to benefit ordinary citizens but the members of guilds instead. The guilds and factions want to ensure that no one can take their possessions or harm them without repercussion; they also don't want to include everyone in their little club. Robbers and thieves founded the city, and the idea of not being able to steal from someone legally was unappealing to the cities founders.
Anyone that steals from a guilded member, and gets caught, must return or reimburse the victim for the total amount of stolen or damaged property. In addition to the reimbursement, the magistrates of the Courts of Rookroost can levy a fine. Fines are determined by the magistrate, with half of the fine going to the city coffers, and a half to the victim of the crime. Those who cannot pay will either be sentenced to forced labor or, more likely, sold into slavery. At no time will a criminal be in danger of going to jail if they have the resources to pay everyone off. Even in death cases, the offender will be forced to pay the amount determined by the magistrate. With most minor crimes, the capture and payment of fines can all occur on the streets or where the crime occurred. Guilded members are only taken to jail when the crime is severe or do not have the coin to pay the fine. Guilded members are allowed to send a message to have the funds delivered to the jail so they can be released. When a crime is committed between a guilded member and an unguilded member, the punishment is usually the same, except there is typically a period of forced labor accompanying the fine for the unguilded.
Due to the unfairness of the system and the steep cost of seeking legal justice, assassins are in high demand for dispensing vengeance for those who feel the courts can not satisfy them.
Crime and Punishment
The courts of Rookroost are headed by magistrates appointed by the Council of Lords and are, of course, guilded citizens. Most cases rarely go to trial, having fines paid out instead. Magistrates cannot have membership in the same guild as the plaintiff or defendants in a trial they oversee. Magistrates are appointed to terms of three years, after which they must be reappointed. How much coin a magistrate generates for the city through their rulings has a direct influence on their being reappointed. Heavy-handed Judges generally don't work out as well as those that are willing to find common ground. The city has thirteen active magistrates at all times.
With the legal system being such a sham, there are no lawyers in Rookroost because there is no real litigation, only compromise. However, some legal scholars that can advise clients how best to bribe their way out of their charges do exist.
The following list of crimes are punishable when committed by either a guilded or unguilded citizen. Each offense has a fine connected to it, along with a possible work sentence and other punishments.
Arson – In arson cases, those charged with a crime are forced to pay for damages and a fine of 50 to 100gp. In arson cases with losses greater than 20gp a sentence of 1 to 4 years of forced labor, or a penalty of 100gp per year sentenced may be levied.
Assault – Assault is a common crime, especially in a city like Rookroost full of brigands and bandits. Most assaults will generally result in little more than a fine of 1 to 20gp and a night in jail, but for more serious assaults, which usually means influential people were hurt, the fine can be as much as 100 to 200gp and up to 1 to 2 years of forced labor.
Burglary and Theft – Crimes of burglary and theft are only enforced when the victims are guilded citizens. If convicted of this crime, the condemned must repay the stolen items' value, and any property damaged a result of the burglary or theft. Fines range from 50gp to 100gp, and forced labor is generally only enforced with the inability to pay fines. The minimum time sentenced is one year, with additional years added per 1,000 gp of value stolen.
Damaging Property – The crime of property damage is only enforced if the property is that of a guilded citizen. Those convicted of this crime must pay the cost of repairing or replacing said property and pay a fine of 50 to 100gp.
Importing of Controlled items – The term, controlled items, refers to things that cannot be imported into the city to resell. These items are the sole domain of guilds that have obtained a charter to do so. These items are as follows.
· Magical Items
· Consumables – Drink/Food/Spirits
· Weapons and armor
Anyone caught smuggling in these items without the proper authority will have all the items confiscated without compensation. A fine of 10gp per 100gp of value in goods smuggled into the city is also levied. Permission to deal in these goods is obtained through the Council of Lords in the form of a writ of import. A Writ of Import generally costs either 100gp per shipment or 1,000gp for a full year. A writ can be obtained through the offices of the Lord of Merchants.
Practicing Magic Within the city in public- The use of magic is controlled within the city since the time of Latavius. Public displays of magic are illegal without the Lord of Letters' permission in the form of a Writ of Practice. Getting a Writ of Practice is relatively easy, provided the magic performed is not dangerous and easily contained. A Writ of Practice is good for one day from sunup to sundown. The writ's cost depends on the type of magic performed; in other words, the level of the magic. The charge of the writ is 100gp per level. With 1st level magic being 100gp, 2nd level being 200gp, and so on. Purchasing a Writ of Practice at a third level will allow you to perform magic of lower levels on the same day as well. Performing cantrips has a cost of 50gp for the day.
Casting within the privacy of one’s own home is allowed provided that person is a member of the Guild of Wizardry.
Casting of magic that directly or indirectly affects others - If someone casts magic that directly affects another person, then the victim is entitled to a settlement of roughly 100gp per level of the spell provided they were not a willing participant. The caster will also suffer a fine of 100gp per level of the spell and pay for any damages. If a guilded citizen's death occurs from an unauthorized spell, the spell's caster will be hanged. The death of an ungilded citizen carries an additional fine of 500gp. These strict sentences, of course, depends on those involved. Members of the Guild of Wizardry have some leeway and are rarely held accountable for this behavior unless it is against other guilded citizens. If the caster is guilded and the victim an unguilded citizen, then only a fine is levied.
Magical Interference of Authority – Surprisingly, the use of magic to impede or interfere with the functions of the Rookroost government has a much stricter punishment leveled against it than the casting of magics in the city against citizens. The Council of Lords agrees that the greatest threat to it, at least after the hordes of Iuz, is allowing magic to go unchecked when it comes to the collection of taxes. There is a strict ban on glamours, illusions, and all mind-altering magic outside of spells sanctioned by the Lord of Letters.
The typical fine of 100gp per level of the spell still applies, but a minimum of one year of forced labor is attached to these fines per level of the spell. Thus a 3rd level spell would have a three-year sentence and a 4th level spell a four-year sentence.
Scrying, illusion, and non-detection spells are only permissible if authorized with a Writ of Practice. When petitioning for these spells the council will usually only permit the casting to be performed by a member of the Guild of Wizardry.
Murder – Murder is common in the Outer City and Outwall but uncommon in the Inner City and very rare in the Peak. Those guilded citizens, with membership in a well-established guild, expect a fair amount of protection for the coin, which translates into an increased presence of Talons in the Inner-City and The Peak.
Unsurprisingly, if a guilded citizen murders a non-guilded citizen, there is at best only a fine levied against them. This fine is usually no more than 50gp. However, it depends on where that murder occurred. While it’s harder for non-guilded citizens to gain access to the Inner City and the Peak, they are safer there regardless of their citizenship status. A murder carried out in the Outer-City would be 100gp fine while in the Inner-City, the fine would be 200gp and a year of forced labor. In the Peak, the fine jumps to 500gp and six years of forced labor. Non-guilded citizens sentenced with committing murder in the Inner-City and the Peak are hanged.
Incarceration – When charged with imprisonment, or forced labor, prisoners are taken to the Slab. Originally built to house Rookroost's army, the walled was eventually transformed into a prison as the army outgrew it. It’s a sturdy structure constructed out of large granite blocks shipped in from the Rift Canyon. It gets its nickname from the fact that it’s a rather plain-looking keep with no adornments or style to it. Located in Outwall, the Slab looms over the nicest neighborhoods of that district. The proximity to the prison and the comings and goings of the Talons stationed there makes this section of Outwall less chaotic than the rest. A detachment of Talons are stationed here as the guards of the prison.
If the convicted cannot pay off their fines at the time of their trial, they are taken to the Slab to work off their fines or serve their sentence. Even after entering the Slab to serve their sentence, a convict can still pay off any labor sentence.