za3k > aldenmarsh > lore > law
Legally, the government of Aldenmarsh is a council of 15 members. Most citizens are aware that the council is a front, and all real power and the majority of council seats are controlled by the Church of Baneth.
Laws in Aldenmarsh are clearly written and collected in a single law book. (The party has learned Church law is in a second book.) Most laws are typical for the region, but some are specific to the theocracy.
- The most common primes are property crimes (theft, tax evasion, cheating customers, property damage), and minor fights (bar fights or street fights). Another common crime is not attending mandatory church service (attendence is informally and irregularly taken, and the penalty is a fine).
- Burglary and violence are common. The most frequent violence is highway robbery and piracy, followed by domestic violence and murder.
- Loans are typically not offered, so usury or defaulting on loans are uncommon.
- The church recently raised tax rates to a 10% mandatory tithe each year.
- Divination magic is an exclusive right of the Church. Possession or use of divination spells is punishable by death. Spell books can be spot-checked (but aren't, except at border crossings). The Steel and the clergy may turn a blind eye to common low-level spells like detect magic if not used directly in front of them, but mages have been executed for use of augury and the like.
Foreigners and Citizenship
Foreigners are required to have a visa to stay in Aldenmarsh. They must sleep in one quarter of Canyonport each night, or on water vessels. A travel visa is required even to travel down the King's Highway in and out of the country. Foreigners must carry identifying documents and visas with them at all times. Laws generally treat foreigners equally, but popular opinion treats them as second class citizens.
Citizens can move around freely. There are no identifying documents or citizenship papers.
To become a citizen of Aldenmarsh after birth is extremely rare. Less than ten people would become citizens a year, and only for extreme acts of national or religious service.
In Canyonport, law is enforced by the Steel Eye (the military of the Church of Baneth), and the city guard. In the rest of the country, each noble has house troops who arrest criminals.
- A criminal is arrested by the police (Steel Eye, noble troops, or city guard)
- The criminal is held in jail until their trial. Jails are not used for long-term imprisonment. Jails are generally somewhat nice (think bad motel room).
- Before the trial, an investigator (from the scriptoria) determines what happened. They investigates the accuse, along with any associated events, people, places, or items. The investigator finds and organizes all evidence and decides whether the criminal commited the acts they are accused of. In all by the smallest cases, the investigator puts together a team out other people to help them.
- At the trial, guilt is decided. A judge (from the gardeners) presents the charges and reviews what the investigator has found. They decide whether the accused is guilty, and sentences them. Guilt and sentencing is not based only on whether criminal acts have factually happened, but also takes into account the moral character of the accused, and any mitigating or aggravating circumstances. Nobles who are arrested give large bribes to judges and are found to have outstanding moral character.
- Most criminal acts, including all minor ones are punished by a fine and/or corporal punishment like a whipping.
- Fines are based on personal wealth--a commoner is fined less than a noble. Typically a fine will be something like "2 weeks' wages".
- Aldenmarsh does not have any form of long-term imprisonment. It's considered dangerous, soft, and expensive.
- Marks: Serious crimes are punished with a "mark", a permanent brand showing the nature of the crime. Anyone who would receive a third mark is executed. Marks are often accompanied by increasing corporal punishment. A first mark might be made painful and accompanied by a whipping. A second mark for theft might be accompanied by removal of the thieving hand, or a second mark for blasphemy by removal of the tongue.
- Other punishments could include public shaming, payment of recompense to an injured party, forced labor (typically out of the country), or banishment.