While most of the campaign will be theoretically outside of the country of Brevoy, the Associates may travel within it’s borders and may eventually find themselves writing laws for their own holdings. And so, here is a loose outline of official Brevoy law, as proclaimed and slowly tailored by House Rogarvia in the century after the forming of the country. These are the laws that the Associates are most familiar with, and thus they will be aware of anything in this article.
Generally, the kingdom of Brevoy is divided into duchies, and further into baronies. Throughout each Duchy are various settlements, including cities (> 5000 residents), towns (> 200 residents) and villages (< 200 residents).
(Note in advance: the term “Lord” is a loose term associated with anyone who has a large amount of landed property. In terms of large-scale land ownership, Barons and Dukes can both be referred to as the “Lord of the Land”, depending on whose asking. Local peasantry usually only confer with the local Baron, whereas dukes and wealthy travelers may have an audience with the local Duke. Also the term “Lord” may be added to an existing title, such as “Lord Mayor”, to distinguish it from similarly named roles of smaller importance.)
Every duchy is run by a Duke (or Duchess). There are seven duchies in Brevoy, each named after the Noble House that had been given the land by Choral the Conqueror; and so a duchy like Lebeda would be owned by House Lebeda. If land is ever exchanged between Houses, the duchy boundaries are adjusted to reflect this.
Every barony is run by a Baron (or Baroness). The amount of baronies in each duchy varies, depending primarily on the resources available. In the northern Issia, there are less baronies simply from the resources required to sustain each one. In the southern Rostland, the plentiful food supplies allow more baronies to exist. Generally, the amount of baronies in the Issian duchies ranges from four to six, whereas in the Rostlandic duchies it usually ranges from nine to eleven. Baronies are by no means uniform within a duchy, and historic infighting or preferential treatment by the duke has given some baronies more land, and power, than others. While most barons have large, mansion-like estates, the more powerful barons can afford fortified strongholds.
When settlements become too large to be properly accounted for by a single lord, local governments will have their power expanded and new positions are instituted:
Every town is run by a Mayor and it’s laws are enforced by a Sheriff. The sheriff, who is typically appointed by the mayor, will recruit and train subordinate Deputies, who oversee nightly patrols, and may have a local garrison, depending on the size of the town. When a sheriff retires or otherwise becomes unable to fulfill their duties, the mayor must a new one, usually from the pool of existing deputies.
Every city is run by a Lord Mayor and it’s laws are enforced by a Captain of the Guard. The City Guards follow a more formal, militaristic structure, with the captain having many subordinate Officers, each with their own unit of Guardsmen. The officers each have their own jurisdiction of responsibilities, which could either be overseeing a section of the city or attending to certain logistical duties or individuals (such as acting as bodyguards or monitoring trade shipments). (Note: within cities, while large decisions are decided by the Lord Mayor, most of the grunt work is actually performed by someone appointed by the Lord Mayor, called a Chancellor. While all Officers technically report to the Captain of the Guard, it is customary for the Officers overseeing more logistical jurisdictions, such as overseeing trade shipments and enforcing laws on guilds, to report to the Chancellor. In any conflict between the Chancellor and the Captain of the Guard, the Captain may revoke these Officers.)
Mayors and Lord Mayors are appointed by the local Baron to rule over a specific settlement in his name. Their appointment can change at any time on a whim, as they have no owned land, unlike a regular landed noble bannerman. Generally these Mayors and Lord Mayors are the final say in law in a settlement, and only send a judgment up to a lord if it is a complicated political situation.
Who handles Law Enforcement?
There is no judge, jury, or judicial system to speak of. Someone accused of a crime must attend a hearing, at which they have the right to be heard by whoever is holding the hearing, which is usually the sheriff, lord mayor, or local lord, depending. The holder of the hearing may call upon other witnesses, experts, or advisors for input into the situation, but only if the ruler chooses to do so.
- If you are a resident in a town and break a minor law, you answer to the Sheriff. The sheriff handles the drunk and disorderly, disputes between townsfolk, minor thefts, suspicious activity, the enforcement of fines, etc.
- If are a resident in a city and break a minor law, you answer to the Officer of your area of the city. They handle minor crimes, similar to the sheriff of a town.
- If you either a resident of a town or a city and commit a major offense, your case is first considered by the Captain of the Guard of the closest city, who will either consider it a minor case and keep it within the Sheriff/Officer hearings, or move it to a higher court in front of the Lord Mayor of the captain’s city. The Lord Mayor handles major crimes, such as murders, rapes, etc., or ones involving children or nobles.
- If you are a foreigner, traveler, important personage, such as a noble, priest or foreign dignitary, or live outside a town or a city and you break any law, you answer to the Local Lord. In most cases this is the local baron, but if you are an individual of international importance, the duke may preside over your hearing. Lords are more likely to throw people in the dungeons (while they figure out a way to leverage the case for more gold, power, favors, better trade agreements, etc.) than they are to see out justice fairly. They often hang commoners on a whim if it’s a case of a commoner committing a crime against a noble, and so the number of common appeals they receive is a manageable number.
- An accused coming before a Lord Mayor may appeal to the Local Lord that the town or city resides in, but realistically only nobles would do this; commoners are more likely to be looked upon favorably by their local ruler than a distant noble, and regional lords may inflict harsher punishments to dissuade the populace from ‘wasting their time’.
- An accused noble or foreign dignitary coming before a local baron can request an audience with the ruling duke instead, but doing so is a major slight against the baron, as it is considered a sign of weakness on the part of the baron if their case is taken from them and administered by the duke, implying that the baron was unable to handle it in whatever fashion it required. If the request is denied by the duke, one can expect a harsher sentence from the baron as punishment.
- If there is a dispute between two rulers, regardless of their respective statures, either can appeal to the King of Brevoy, or in the current case, the Regent. None of the parties that openly oppose the current Regent, like the Orlovsky, Medvyed, or Swordlord factions, are likely to respect or honor a ruling made by the Regent, as that would seemingly grant him too much authority.
Types of Offenses
Major offenses include torture and/or muder of a child or noble, treason, necromancy, or magical mind control. These crimes earn colourful, painful deaths, that vary by Duchy:
- in Orlovsky, you are dropped from a great height by a wyvern
- in Medvyed, you are staked out, covered with blood and left to the wolves or the Brotherhood of the Silver Orb (which are lycanthropic druids from the Gronzi Forest)
- in Garess, you are hung in cages from the city walls to slowly starve
- in Lebeda, you are torn in quarters by horses
- in Lobodka, you are crucified to the bow of a ship until you die
- in Surtova, you are subject to novel and cruel execution devices
- in Rogariva, you are tied to stake and lit aflame
Serious offenses, such as the rape or murder of a commoner, are punishable either by hanging or a life sentence in a harsh place like a mine, swamp or quarry pit.
Moderate offenses, such as theft, kidnapping, attempting to cheat a contract, blackmail, assault, etc. are usually punishable by maiming, imprisonment, enforced local work crews, humiliation in the town square, and/or heavy fines, depending on the severity and circumstances. Recreational beatings along the way sometimes occur for any of the above punishments, depending on the lawfulness of the enforcing agents.
Minor offenses are any crimes not listed above and usually just result in a beating and a fine.
Sentences, according to Status
Sentences vary drastically depending on the status of the accused:
- Foreigners: If you are a foreigner or travelling dignitary who is well connected, you are most likely to have your possessions taken, pay large fines, and be ejected from the kingdom, at least temporarily. If you are a foreigner who is no one special, you could end up paying huge fines or just disappearing into the dungeons forever.
- Local Nobles: If you are a local noble typically apologies and fines paid directly to the aggrieved are due. For example, a noble who wrecks the local tavern in a bar fight or who injures a commoner pays the fine directly to the commoner. Successful Lord Mayors like to make this happen as often as possible, to maintain the loyalty of the commoners and discourage bored nobles from stirring up trouble. If a noble commits a major crime or is important enough, the hearing is moved to the local lord.
- Distant Nobles: If you are a local from another region, chances are you will have to provide a major favor or pay a large fine. If you cannot personally pay the large fine, someone in your family will be expected to pay it or grant favors/concessions to the ruling lord. If you are extremely well connected, you are usually ejected from the region with no penalty or fine.
- Commoners: Those with money and standing are usually treated as minor nobility as far as the law is concerned. Wealthy merchants, longstanding key citizens and families, and military officers fall into this category. Typically, commoners are at the mercy of anyone in judgment, and they know this. Most will be supplicating, begging, and very humble. Fair hearings usually result in some modicum of justice, though if it involves anyone important or noble, they get preferential treatment. Most commoners have no real money or power, so judging parties have nothing to lose in ruling against them.
- In a dispute between equals of any level, you can expect a relatively fair hearing and judgment, since these are easy to mediate and help make the rulers look impartial. It is the only time most of them truly can be fair or just.
- In a dispute between nobles and commoners, nobles nearly always win. In disputes between citizens and a commoner, the commoners lose there too. Basically, if you are a commoner, you are screwed.
- If you are a noble and you or your family have money or power, typically the most you will get is a slap on the wrist. Only in the face of severe financial or military consequences is this not the case.