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Laws of the Silver Marches

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Contents

The Code

The following consists of a Lawful Good view on justice, considering that the Confederation of the Silver Marches is a Lawful Good institution:

Justice is the set and constant purpose by which every being is given their due under the law. Conformity to the principles of righteousness and honesty, strict performance of moral obligations, practical conformity to the laws both divine and common in origin, rectitude, equity, uprightness; these are the qualities of a just society and should be reflected within their laws.

The law is divided into two branches, law public and law private, separated yet dependent upon one another. Law Public refers to the set of legislative rules required to operate and maintain the welfare of the lawful cities of the Silver Marches and their duly appointed governors; Law Private is then to be considered to the advantage of the individual citizen and therefore our prime concern in this document. Private law is threefold in origin, being collected from the precepts of nature, from those of the law of nations or from those of the civil laws which govern the people of the Silver Marches.

The law of nature is that which has been taught to all animals; a law not peculiar to the civilized races but shared by all living creatures, whether denizens of the air, the dry land, or the sea. The laws of nature, which all nations observe alike, being established by a divine providence, remains ever fixed and immutable. Sustaining ones life, procreation, pursuit of knowledge, civil society, reasonable conduct and the search for that which is deemed good define these common yet fundamental rights.

The civil law of the Silver Marches and the law of nations, differ from each other thus. The laws of every people governed by statutes and customs are partly peculiar to itself, partly common to all civilized lawful beings. Those rules which a state enacts for its own citizens are peculiar to itself, and are called civil law: those rules prescribed by natural reason for all beings are observed by all peoples alike and are called the law of nations. Thus the laws of the people of the Silver Marches are partly peculiar to themselves, partly common to all nations. These common laws are derived from non-statutory means and rely upon precedent and judicial interpretation, as such civil law is not immutable but instead an evolving work reflecting both the historical and modern conventions of the people.

The law of nations is laws common to all civilized beings. Nations have established certain laws as occasion and the necessities of life required. Wars arose, and in their wake followed captivity and then slavery, which is contrary to the law of nature for by that law all sentient beings are originally born free. By the law of nations almost all contracts were at first introduced. For instance, buying and selling, letting and hiring, partnership, deposits, loans returnable in kind, and very many others.

From these precepts common to all citizens of the North we derive our guiding principals, a set of codes from which all law within the Silver Marches shall be drawn. Let no law be set down in opposition of or that in any way diminishes the significance of these codes.

  1. These codes shall be applied equally to all present within the lawful cities of the Silver Marches and within clear sight of their walls or common boundaries. This binds everyone in buildings, on the ground or below it, in the air or waters both inside the walls and within any ward or district outside the walls.
  2. Kill not what is not thine. An owned or summoned beast can be slain without penalty.
  3. Take not what is not thine. Thievery, burglary and pick pocketing are all illegal as is the willful looting of sanctified tombs.
  4. Damage, or destroy not what is not thine. Arson, vandalism, physical or magical assaults resulting in wounds or maiming, attacks on property resulting in damage are all illegal.
  5. Compel not that which you have no right to. Don't force anyone to do something by physical or magical means, armed threat, or menace. Including frauds, misrepresentations and slavery.

This is a condensed version, that would be known by the common folk:

  1. These codes shall be applied equally to all.
  2. Kill not what is not thine.
  3. Take not what is not thine.
  4. Damage, or destroy not what is not thine.
  5. Compel not that which you have no right to.


Laws of the Silver Marches

For the well-being of the citizens and to preserve order within the nation of the Silver Marches, consisting of Silverymoon, Everlund, Sundabar, Mithral Hall, Citadel Adbar, Citadel Felbarr and certain minor towns and villages, the following laws have been enacted by the High Lady and her Council. Any person within the realm who witnesses a crime may bring a charge against any other person under these laws. All charges will be adjudicated by a properly established court. Persons charged with crimes will not be presumed guilty until such has been established by a court.

Definitions

Authorities: Any officer of the court displaying proper identification including but not limited to the Knights in Silver, Spell Guard, City officials, Judges, Prosecutors or Officers of the Silver Marches.

City limits: The city’s limits include any area within the city either above or below or within the boundaries of city walls, or a line drawn between the outermost points of all buildings in the absence of city walls.

Person: Any being with the ability to communicate in language and to discern right from wrong. Younger beings of species which are normally expected to develop communication and discernment will be afforded all of the protections of persons.

Public: Any area within a city not enclosed by a privately owned structure, also excluding rented space such as a private room at an inn.

Areas designated for magical instruction: An area within the grounds of a magical school, guild or association which is expressly designated by a royal writ permitting the use of magic that is otherwise proscribed by law.

The Silver Marches: A nation occupying the territory bounded by Everlund in the South, Mithral Hall in the West, and Citadel Adbar in the North and East. This nation also includes Silverymoon, Sundabar and Quaervaar.


Crimes against Persons

Murder: Dealing a death blow to a person shall be a major offense.

Torture: To deliberately inflict lasting or extreme pain on a helpless living being shall be a major offense. Officials and agents of both the Silver Marches and local governments shall enjoy no special exemption under this law. No claim of acting under authority or duty will mitigate the offense.

Slavery: Keeping, using and/or trading any person as property shall be a major offense. There being no slavery within the realm, any person claimed as a slave is summarily declared to be free.

Assault: Any hostile action against a person that intends or results in physical damage or mental coercion shall be a moderate offense.


Crimes against Property

Theft: Taking the property of others valued under 1,000 gold pieces without permission shall be a minor offense. Taking property valued from 1,000 to 10,000 gold pieces shall be a moderate offense. Taking property valued over 10,000 gold pieces shall be a major offense.

Burglary: Opening the lock of a door or container without the owner’s permission, in conjunction with any crime shall be a moderate offense.

Destruction: Damaging or destroying of any object, including domesticated animals, owned by a person, a city or the nation. The degree of offense shall be based upon the value of the property as per theft.

Trespass: Entering any non-public area without the consent of the owner shall be a minor offense.


Crimes against Civil Order

Wielding Weapons in Town: Wielding within city limits any item that was modified or made for the purpose of causing harm to others shall be a minor offense. Officers of the court are exempted from this law. Crafting tools and staves are exempted from this law.

Untamed Animals: Bringing wild animals within the city limits without a secure cage or leash shall be a moderate offense.

Consorting with Monsters: Bringing any summoned, charmed or befriended creature or familiar into public areas within city limits shall be a moderate offense. Sentient, non-evil familiars and creatures are exempted because they qualify as persons. (Note: Pixies, ravens, mephits, pseudo-dragons, and faerie dragons are permitted in town.)

Shapechanging: Being in an assumed form in public within city limits, excluding areas designated for magical instruction, shall be a minor offense.

Performing Black Magic: Summoning of Undead and casting other harmful spells within city limits, excluding areas designated for magical instruction, shall be a moderate offense.

Performing Deceitful Magic: Performing any spell in a deceitful manner, as determined by a court, shall be a minor offense. This can include, but is not limited to, the use of invisibility, illusion, silence or darkness in a manner that is detrimental to any person.

Failure to Comply: Failing to comply with the reasonable and lawful directions of the High Lady, her Officers, her City officials or her Courts shall be a minor offense.

False Testimony: Deliberately misinforming or lying to the authorities shall be a moderate offense.

Public Nudity: Wearing mere underwear or no clothing at all in public within city limits or the outskirts of any city shall be a minor offense.

Improper Behavior: Any kind of behavior that goes against peace and minimal requested comportment shall be a minor offense.

Crimes against the Nation

Treason: Taking up arms or conspiring to take up arms against the lawful government of the Silver Marches shall be a major offense.

Consorting with Enemies: Providing aid or comfort to or doing business with known agents of declared enemies Of the Silver Marches shall be a major offense unless mitigating circumstances in service to the Silver Marches can be shown. (Note: The Zhentarim organization, the governing oligarchy of Thay, the orc horde calling itself the Nation of Dark Arrows, and the city-state of Menzoberranzan have shown themselves to be hostile to the Silver Marches and have been declared to be enemies by the High Lady.)


Mitigating and Aggravating Factors

Defenses and mitigating factors: At the discretion of the court the following factors may be considered a complete or partial defense: Defense of the city, defense of others, defense of self, magical compulsion, coercion, lack of intention, acting to prevent a crime, acting under the orders of authorities.

Aggravating factors: At the discretion of the court the following factors may be considered to increase the scale of the offense and thus the punishment: Rank or Office of the victim, vile conduct, peril to the soul of the victim, amount of harm done, amount of pain caused, and malice.


Penalties

The typical penalties for any crime may be added to, modified, combined or dismissed by the Court at the time of sentencing. It is possible for the accused to face several charges during one trial including capitol crimes.

Minor offenses: Fines of 25-125 gold pieces and 5-10 hours * in jail per season of training, immediate halting of the offense, restitution, public apologies.

Moderate offenses: Fines of 150-450 gold pieces and 10-50 hours * in jail per season of training, immediate halting of the offense, restitution, public apologies.

Major offenses: Fines of 500-1500 gold pieces and a month or more in jail per season of training, immediate halting of the offense, restitution, public apologies, banishment, death sentence.

* 1 hour of game time equals 2 minutes of real time

Post Scriptum: For matters of agility and economy, it is to be considered that other lawful cities have comparable but separate codes of law. Considering such, these laws are subject to interpretation by the Court Officers (read: DMs or DM-oriented players in case of an exceptional popular jury or a PC judge). Court Officers also have the jurisdiction to call upon other offenses of their own cities on judgements (i.e. bringing foul ale to a Dwarven city, starting fires in an Elven-controlled area, so forth)


A Guide for Trials

This is a simple guide for us players and/or DMs to know how should we handle the trials.

The Tribunal consists of three judges, the lead or High Judge, the Judge of the Sword and the Judge of the Shield. Each has a different role to play but by no means are you restrained by what is set down here. You are free to act as you think your character would in this circumstance. This is intended only as a framework and is open to interpretation or change, should the need arise.

The three judges will hold a quick poll before the start of the trial to elect a High Judge. The High Judge will then select which of the others will be the Judge of the Sword and which will be the Judge of the Shield. The High Judge will sit in the center with the Judge of the Sword to the right and Shield to the left. During the trial everyone should remain seated and silent (the tossing of rotted vegetable matter is prohibited, but particularly scathing insults may be admitted into evidence however) until recognized by the court (judge, prosecutor or defense when appropriate). The High Judge will call out first to the prosecution then to the defense (something along the lines of “We, the Tribunal are ready to hear this case. Who brings these charges? Who will answer for the charges?”). Each will rise in turn, introduce themselves, bow to the tribunal and then make a brief statement (prosecutor will state the charges and defense will state their plea, guilty/innocent), then return to their seat. The High Judge will call to the Judge of the Sword to begin with the prosecution (something like “Will the honorable Judge of the Sword begin these proceedings?”).

Prosecution:

The Judge of the Sword will handle the proceedings during this time, directing court officials (prosecutor and guards), maintaining order in the court, etc. Should they deem it necessary, at any time the Judges or prosecution may use magical means to divine a truthful statement from a witness. Magical coercion, however, is not permitted and is considered a crime.

The Judge of the Sword will call forth the prosecutor who will rise and come to stand before the Tribunal.

The Prosecutor may call witnesses or have sworn statements read (including testimony of the Prosecutor himself). Witnesses must rise and stand before the Tribunal introducing themselves with their formal title and a bow. Written statements will be allowed if the witness is unavailable at the time of the trial. Such statements alone cannot be the basis for a conviction - at least one eyewitness must be presented. If not, the case must be dismissed.

Social rank of the witness will be taken into account should the defense try to refute their testimony (not an absolute but a noble's word will have to count for more than a commoners or criminal).

Cross examination of witnesses by the defense is NOT allowed (the defense may re-call the same witness when they present their case).

When the prosecution finishes presenting their evidence, the judges must confer and the case may then be dismissed entirely, should they determine the charges to be unsubstantiated (this can be done through a quick tell between the judges or the Tribunal may withdraw to chambers to confer until a consensus is reached). The Judges will announce their vote (proceed or dismiss) beginning with the Judge of the Sword then the Shield and lastly the High Judge. If the charges are dismissed the High Judge will announce to all present that the accused is innocent of the charges and to be set free at once. If however the decision to proceed has been reached the High Judge will call to the Judge of the Shield to begin the defense.

Defense:

The Judge of the Shield will handle the proceedings during this time, directing court officials (prosecutor and guards), maintaining order in the court, etc. Should they deem it necessary at any time the Judges or defense may use magical means to divine a truthful statement from a witness. Magical coercion, however, is not permitted and is considered a crime.

The Judge of the Shield will call forth the Defense who will rise and come to stand before the Tribunal. If the accused plans to handle their own defense then they must be accompanied by a guard when standing before the Judges.

The Defense may call witnesses or have sworn statements read (including testimony of the defense themselves). Witnesses must rise and stand before the Tribunal, introducing themselves with formal title and a bow. Written statements will be allowed if the witness is unavailable at the time of the trial. Such statements alone cannot be the basis for an acquittal or dismissal.

Cross examination of witnesses by the Prosecutor is allowed at the Judge of the Shield's discretion, and any request to do so by the prosecutor must be directed to the Judge.

When the defense finishes presenting their case, the High Judge will make a call to all present (prosecutor, defense, judges and audience). This will be the final chance to present evidence or testimony before the Tribunal reaches a verdict. After everyone is finished or if no one comes forward, the Judges will withdraw to confer. The Judge of the Sword will begin with “guilty” or “innocent” and make a sentencing suggestion, the Judge of the Shield will then do the same. The High Judge may at this time question the other Judges but he will reserve his opinion. Once the High Judge is satisfied, the Tribunal will return to the courtroom and announce their verdicts starting with the Judge of the Sword followed by the Shield and then lastly by the High Judge. The High Judge will then pronounce sentence upon the accused or state to all that the accused is innocent of the charges and to be set free at once.



The credit of this Project goes to:

  • All of the DM team, both past and present, that this may make your work easier
  • Beans On'Toast
  • Chuckles
  • DestructoMan6000
  • Dragolen
  • Egrim Rockbrother
  • EndymyrBrand
  • Gladius Dei
  • Karissa
  • Luciano
  • Ordan Mardecoff
  • SteeleButterfly
  • SteeleViper