The Chronicles of Erdon
“Justice never sleeps,” so the old saying goes. Virtually every human community holds at least some basic portion of the law (at least the local regent’s laws and the core of Archon Law), and most sizeable communities have at least most of the books of the law (mostly involving case studies); the most complete collections of legal writings can only be found in cities with libraries devoted to the subject, sometimes only found in schools. This ‘ease’ of access to the law is part of the reason that few people are well versed in it. In many places, bards will recite local law when they have no other news or stories, or none other are requested.
The code of laws in Archlond is quite complex and convoluted in it’s entirety; if one finds themselves at odds with it, one is strongly advised to visit the local Barrister’s Guild. Punishment for breaking the King’s Law is generally stricter than for breaking common law – the general body of local laws which vary among the principalities (more often in the details than in the content), many of which are customs of the keep. For example, the King’s Fine is typically twice the estimated worth of the item in question, on top of whatever local punishments may be prescribed and whatever restitution may be required by the owner. However, many communities do not add punishments or laws that may overlap with the King’s Law, looking upon such a prospect as being corrupt and overly arduous in nature. Other communities, however, exact at least a token fine for breaking the King’s Law, to fund their enforcement of justice (i.e. the court fees). Also, the more severe punishments are more often exacted by the King for breaking the law; many breaches proscribe death. For example, the Law of Punishment inherently justifies excessive retribution against those who break it (e.g. if one man tortures another for stealing, he himself can be tortured, or worse).
Knowledge of the Law:
Many citizens find it useful to know a bit about the law themselves, and anyone who’s had significant access to the legal libraries in Archlond – and is up to the task – may study “knowledge [law]” to garner some understanding of the codex. The greatest legal sages and scholars devote their lives to master this subject, and still don’t know it all (though some have come notably close). Any class that gets many knowledge skills as class skills (e.g. wizards, rogues) should be able to consider this a class skill, or at least exchange it for one they already have – though many simply don’t have time for the added burden. Most good barristers are experts by class, and as such have this skill as a class skill. Many sages, scribes, and other such folk often delve into this study as well; even merchants (especially international ones) will take the time to study the law. Aristocrats should also consider this a class skill. Good and Lawful aligned warriors, fighters, and similar classes will study the law so as not to overstep their authority; especially when there are many laws that need to be known. Other times such people will merely rely on their liege or magistrate to sort out “the technicalities”; there is notably no law in the King’s code that requires anything akin to a warrant before an arrest is made, nor any (King’s) law that requires provision for release before trial.
Even without the time taken to study the law extensively, most people – even commoners – know a few of the less obvious laws. If a character can read, then he can recite (verbatim) a number of commonly known laws (see below) equal to his intelligence score minus ten; at the GM’s discretion, highly intelligent, but illiterate characters may also be able to recite a few such laws. Characters may make intelligence checks – or closely related knowledge checks (e.g. history, nobility) – to recollect laws they may know of, albeit at a -5 penalty. Using knowledge [law] for this purpose invokes no penalty, and a bard can use his bardic knowledge ability for this purpose without penalty. All characters are familiar with the obvious laws (no murder, theft, rape, etc.) and unless they are particularly stupid (i.e. Int: 4) should know all of these basic laws. Practically everyone is generally familiar with “how things work” and have a fair idea of how the hierarchy works, even if they don’t know the exact legal process for getting things done. The GM has information on exactly how to handle what a character knows about a specific law.
Important Archon Laws are as follow:
The Custom of the Castle: states that “the master of a keep may institute any not unjust custom seemly unto him that pertaineth to the laundes and peoples over which he hath dominion, insofar that such manners be inkeeping with the laws and customs of his liege.”
The Law of Virtuous Customs: provides that “niether no unjust law, nor unseemly custom, shall be declared or enacted within the lands of Archlond, and that no evil decree must be made.”
The Guild Law: decrees that “the various guilds shall have charge over the economies of their trades, as permitted by the Lords (local rulers), and in keeping with The King’s Law (Archon Law).”
The Law of Justice: declares that “Justice must be pursued until it is serviced by the keeper of the Law (local lord or magistrate).”
The Temple Law: holds that “no unprofane temple, niether any shrine to an holy god, shall be proscribed nor prohibited.”
The Slaves Law: states that “no man shall be unjustly imprisoned nor enslaved against his will.”
The Law of Conviction: provides that “An accuser’s testimony may only be admitted wherein the gods maketh the veracity of his words a certainty. On such testimony alone may a man be convicted, unless he challenge.”
The Law of Virtuous Proof: allows that “a man may have ado in holy combat whereupon the victor is proved the worthy and just; a damosel must name for her a champion to contest on her behalf. Furthermore there shall be none arcane enchantments, devices, or trickery established to sway the pure combat in any way – for the result doth declare the just by ordinance from Above. Also the champions must be similarly armed and horsed, unless they cannot agree to arms and the Justice doth permit.”
The Witch’s Fate: holds that “any discovered to be in league with the dark powers must be put to an ordeal by fire or water.”
The Law of Life: declares that “no man’s life shall be required of him, nor taken, unjustly.”
The Law of Supramacy: requires that “every subordinate person must cooperate with the mission or purpose of their betters.”
The Law of Compensation: decrees that “no service shall be required without just compensation, unless indentured or critical for the survival of king or country, whereafter due honors must also be granted.”
The Law of Courtesy: holds that “a man must conduct himself at all times the which he be in the company of an honorable noble or gentleman, or a lady, with all due courtesy and respect.”
The Law of Punishment: states “no punishment shall be ordained that is severely in excess of such as is justly warranted.”
The Law of Chivalry: requires that “a man behave in all conditions at least in accordance with his station, particularly that he conduct himself honorably and virtuously.”
The Law of Heraldry: declares that “no man shall bear the arms or devices of another falsely.”
The Law of Special Property: decrees that “no registered work of art, which is lawfully possessed by one man, shall by another be defaced, destroyed, transmuted, or otherwise altered once its originator has passed.”
The Law of Courtly Love: states “no knight may champion more than one lady, and no mortal lady shall retain more than one champion.”
The Law of Taxation: stipulates a tax on all wealth gained in a tax period equal to 5% for the poor, commoners, peasants, and lower class; 15% for local merchants, artisans, craftsfolk, businessmen, and other middle class; 20% for nobles, guild masters, merchant lords, master craftsmen, bankers, knights, arcanists, other upper classmen, and those of similar wealth. (Lawful) Churches, orphanages, places of healing, and other charitable enterprises are not mentioned.
The Law of Inter-racial Commerce: In accordance with the Treaty of the Five Peoples, “the High King of Archlond in his sole discretion shall appoint a Minister of Inter-racial Commerce, whose office shall be responsible for the orderly and lawful exchange of goods and services between the Peoples who reside in Archlond . . .” is the law that (upon the King’s subsequent selection) has given Lord Flihjelglirwykn his position and status.
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