Saturday, January 12, 2019

Greyhawk Justice



Well met Greyhawkers! It's interesting to me that since I dual-classed away from 20th level innkeeper to last year become a 1st level minion for the Guild of Lawyers and Scribes, that I know way more about our criminal code than back when I was a young gamer putting my friends through hell by invoking the criminal codes of the City of Greyhawk boxed set, one of my favorite sources of all time. I'm getting pretty good at knowing the charges and sentences for felonies, misdemeanors and the common petty crimes one may commit in the real world. 

In the City of Greyhawk boxed set's Folks, Fueds and Factions book, the criminal code is covers serious (felony) and minor (misdemeanor) offenses, tried by judges and magistrates from the Guild, and in rare high profile cases a trio of ruling Directors of the city. Then there is the petty offenses handled by the People's Constables.created in 575 CY as a way to shake down poor citizens for even more money by using the nearly 100 zany by-laws created by mad Zagig Yragerne centuries ago.

Here is some laws you won't find at your local court house or city watch station (with my own special touches):

Genocide (Felony) Sentence, Death. No exile, banishment, mutilation or prison may be imposed. Conspiracy or Attempted Genocide carries the same severity of sentence.
This is a very rare crime, dating from a time when racial killing of half-elves by a secret gang of half-orc assassins was rife.

Importation of Controlled Magic Items (Felony) (evil relics and artifacts or dangerous magic items like a Sphere of Annihilation) Sentence, permanent exile and banishment (either voluntary or forced), enormous fine may be imposed, 90-95% of defendant's wealth and assets, including forfeiture of citizenship rights in the Domain of Greyhawk.

Magical Interference With the Integrity of the Person (Felony) (this includes the use of spells such as magic jar, polymorph other, hold, charm and other magic which causes the affected person to lose volitional control of his mind and/or body.) Sentence, permanent exile and banishment (either voluntary or forced), mutilation may be imposed (in a fashion befitting the crime such as severing the tongue of a spellcaster.)

Possession of an Unlicensed Monster (Felony) (such as otyughs and black puddings kept as status symbols) Sentence, heavy fine, 60-80% of defendant's wealth and assets, prison may be imposed if minimum fine cannot be paid.


Blasphemy Against a Priest (Misdemeanor) Sentence, 14 days to 2 years hard labor, fine of 1-20% of wealth up to 1000 gp may be imposed.

In a city full of many diverse and rival religions this code is likely to keep the peace between temples and ensure profane cults remain in hiding.

Use of Magic in a Public Place Without Due Cause (Misdemeanor) Sentence, 14 days to 2 years hard labor, fine of 1-20% of wealth up to 1000 gp may be imposed.
In a city full of wizard guilds, divine temples and foreign adventurers this law is likely meant to keep magic use from interfering with mundane city life (such as casting stone shape on city walls, or entangle in a crowded market.

Fondling a Waterfowl on the Processional (Petty) Sentence, fine of 1 cp to 10 sp.
This law is interpreted as carrying, but Zagig preferred the word "fondling". 

Helping a Halfling Across the Road (Petty) Sentence, fine 1 cp to 10 sp.
This can be construed as occurring when-ever one merely accompanies such a halfling.

Conspiring to Belch in the Direction of a Scribe/Sage/Learned Gentleman in a Public Place (Petty) Sentence, fine 1 cp to 10 sp.
Not the act of belching, just conspiring. How does one conspire to belch?

I'll have to remember that one at work next time. That's all, I hope this inspires you to come up with your own criminal code offenses!

7 comments:

Mystic Scholar said...

These are very nice, Mike. Some here I'm not familiar with, others I've used. But I've just got to insert the "new" ones into my campaign. The "boys" can get kind of wild. LOL

Scott Anderson said...

I’m reading in a public place and people are looking at me for laughing so loud.

Mike Bridges said...

Mystic: I'd love to know if anyone wrote out the rest of the 100 Zagig by-laws. I imagine it would make a good random table.

Scott: Article success!

Mike Bridges said...

*checks again* By-law #65, No laughing like a lunatic in a public place on Godsday. Okay Scott, you're safe this time...

Icarus said...

You know, Mike, I have always loved the Criminal Code of Greyhawk section!!

One thing I find incredibly interesting is the exception to magical interference with the Integrity of a Person. " … in the case of an accusation of perjury, when the charged person has no right to silence and when a priest […] will cast Detect Lie as the defendant speaks."

It fascinates me, because it is often the case that many people see the ability of spell-casters to use things like Zone of Truth or even Speak with Dead and assume that courts would allow magical testimony because we know the mechanics behind the spells. And there's none of it which is allowed in court. Even if people know the person to be guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt. They still have to prove his guilt by normal (i.e.- "mundane") means.

Another thing I'm curious about, though … the (Petty) offenses; did those come from a book somewhere that I'm missing?

Mike Bridges said...

Yeah they say you can't use magic, but you know damn well if the Guildmasters want to know they'd find a loophole.

There is a 4-5 examples of by-laws in that same yellow book in the city boxed set. It's after the criminal codes, taxes and yes, laws on using magic in court, in the section on People's Constables.

Scott Anderson said...

Selective prosecution is a textbook practice for Lawful Evils.