The Code Civil

by Scott Bonner

Being in a period of growth, having recently changed from "town" to "city", Arylon has only recently attempted to codify city laws. For most of its history, Arylon has relied on the wisdom of Judges and Magistrates to settle disputes and dispense justice, and let recent memory establish legal precedence in a highly informal system of common law. Thus, dispensers of justice would act independently of both legislative bodies and the Silver Crescents to come to legal decisions, and bound the Silver Crescents to enforce rulings. In the past 50 years, these administrators of justice, united by the judicial body, have begun recording their decisions and associated reasoning, to provide a written common law and strengthen the bind of precedent on judicial decisions. This was a disorderly process, resulting in rack upon rack of disused scrolls stored in the judicial building basement.

Approximately 5 years ago, the judicial body determined that the city should begin work on legal guidelines for Judges and Magistrates to use. The idea was to put together a document for reference, summarizing the precedent established in the scrolls for common crimes, and updated periodically by judicial body scribes. This would be non-binding, requiring nearly as little adherence to precedent as the informal common law so long practiced, but would hopefully strengthen the sway of precedent more than the failed process of recording decisions on scrolls. To this end, the city council contracted the consulting skills of one Altor Brand, a legal expert from the city of Waterdeep.

Now the council suspects they may have erred. Altor Brand was shocked at what he found in Arylon. He was amazed that the people and their leaders would put so much faith in the wisdom of mere Judges and Magistrates, that there was no codified law, and that there were so few safeguards against corruption and ignorance in the system. He immediately set out to reform the judicial body and bring Arylon into modern times. First, he helped draft the guidelines the judicial body originally wanted, organized after Waterdeep's system of legal division, and named them the Code Civil. He sneers at the results. Now, he has begun a campaign to develop a more complex and binding legal code and the bureaucracy needed to ensure compliance. He is also urging the city council to create a separate military unit to enforce judicial decisions and administer punishment, as he does not trust any standing military to dispense law. It terrifies Brand that in times of war most functions of government are to be taken over by the Silver Crescents.

Currently, the Code Civil stands as the law of Arylon and is used as a non-binding reference for Judges and Magistrates. It will be years before Altor Brand can bring about the changes he wants, if he can sway the judicial body at all. Some feel he has reached the end of his influence.

Altor Brand (hm, 0 lvl. legal expert, LN)

Brand is a 55 year old man whose girth is waxing and mirth is waning. Once a spirited, green-eyed youth committed to rescuing the people of Waterdeep from institutional corruption and greed, Brand is now a balding cynic determined to enforce law for law's sake. His transformation was slow, forced in stages by the complex and disheartening task he performed; he was a judicial secretary and a consultation legal expert. He was deemed too valuable in these positions to become a magistrate, and later too unwilling to yield to sense. Brand sees himself as a bearer of law to the unkempt, one who embodies the principals of codified law and structured society.

Two years ago, Brand was received by Arylon's judicial body with honor, and was given interpretive authority to make the Code Civil, as well as permission to organize and suggest the next stage in Arylon's legal development. Brand elicited high hopes that Arylon's law would soon become the envy of its neighbors. Now Brand breeds contempt and grudging respect.

He has proven to be an extremely critical and cynical man, and has made many personal enemies in the judicial body, yet is too much an expert to be ignored. He has accomplished the Code Civil, but it is unclear if he can bring about the changes required to fulfil his vision of Arylon's legal future. Despite his haughty disdain for the "backwater" of Arylon, Brand expects to stay here at least 5 more years developing his plan, and has recently brought his wife and third daughter from Waterdeep.

Here is the Code Civil, greatly pruned and simplified for the layman's consumption:

Brand has used the Waterdeep laws as an outline for organizing his interpretation of Arylon legal precedents. First he lists the Classes of Consequence, and then lists each crime and possible punishments by class of seriousness. This edit is not an exhaustive list.

Classes of Consequence:

  • Death -- Death, immediate without trial
  • Execution -- Death, following conviction by a Judge or Magistrate
  • Banishment -- permanent expulsion from city
  • Exile -- expulsion from city for a prescribed length of time
  • Mutilation -- loss of offending extremity or branding
  • Pillory -- public beating by whip or rod
  • Labor -- enforced hard labor with imprisonment
  • Imprisonment -- confining to dungeon for variable lengths of time
  • Stocking -- confining to public stocks for short times (up to 10 days), with Silver Crescents protecting convicted from serious harm
  • Service -- performing specific task, or working for the city or, rarely, a citizen for a specific amount of time
  • Fine -- payable to city
  • Damages -- payable to injured party, often through a city official
  • Edict -- public pronouncement forbidding convicted to do something
  • Censure -- public pronouncement of convict's actions, often with encouragement of shunning convict or their business

SEVERE OFFENSES

  • Treason or Spying -- Death or Execution
  • Murder -- Execution or Labor (20-40 years)
  • Impersonating Magistrate or Judge -- Execution or Banishment
  • Forgery of official document -- Death or Banishment plus Mutilation plus Fine (up to 1,000 gp)
  • Forgery of private document -- Banishment plus Mutilation or Damages
  • Assaulting Magistrate, Judge, or Council Member -- Execution or Imprisonment (10-20 years), plus Pillory
  • Assaulting Foreign Ambassador -- Execution or Imprisonment (10-20 years), plus Pillory
  • Slavery -- Banishment or Exile plus Pillory if violent to slaves
  • Poisoning city well (including limiting access or charging fee) -- Death, Execution, or Banishment
  • Sabotage of govt. property -- Labor or Imprisonment (20 years) plus Fine
  • Defiling of Holy Place (Burglary, Arson, Vandalism, or Re-consecration) -- Banishment or Exile plus Damages; or Labor or Imprisonment plus Damages
  • Rape -- Execution and Damages; or Banishment and Damages; or Mutilation and Damages
  • Mutilating or crippling assault -- Mutilation plus Damages; or Labor; or Pillory plus Damages
  • Magical assault -- Fine (up to 1,000gp) plus Damages (up to 1,500gp) plus Edict (no magic use up to 3 yr.) in addition to whatever other assault charges may apply
  • Necromancy resulting in/for purpose of injury or property destruction-- Execution or Imprisonment (up to life) or Banishment plus Damages
  • Tomb Robbing -- Imprisonment (up to life) or Banishment

SERIOUS OFFENSES

  • Murder with Justification (not self-defense) -- Exile or Imprisonment
  • Manslaughter -- Exile (up to 5 yr.) and Damages (to family, cost varies with deceased's expected worth) and Censure
  • Theft, Vandalism, or Arson against govt. building or city wall -- Labor or Service plus Fine (value plus up to 1500gp)
  • Theft, Vandalism, or Arson against private property -- Labor or Imprisonment or Exile or Pillory plus Damages (value and 100-500gp) **Note: varying sentences given make precedent difficult to set for
  • Impersonation of Silver Crescent -- Imprisonment plus Fine or Pillory
  • Necromancy (non-injurious) -- Edict (no magic use up to 3 yr.) plus Stocking or Service
  • Tomb Vandalism (no theft) -- Service plus Damages (value plus 500gp)
  • Willful disobedience of Edict -- Fine (up to 1,000gp) or Exile
  • Repetition of Lesser or Minor Offense against same victim -- Exile or Labor or Imprisonment or Service plus Fine plus Damages **Note: varying sentences given make precedent difficult to set for
  • Fraud -- Banishment plus Damages; or Imprisonment plus Damages plus Censure
  • Fencing stolen goods -- Imprisonment and Fine (double item values) plus Edict (cannot own or run a business for up to 3 yr.)
  • Bribery of city official or Silver Crescent -- Exile (up to 20 yr.) plus seizure of all belongings
  • Theft of temple goods or offerings -- Imprisonment (3 months) or Service (to temple) plus Damages (double value of goods) plus Censure
  • Assault of Silver Crescent doing duty -- Imprisonment (up to 6 months) or Service plus Fine or Pillory **Note: Crescent usually has discretion to respond violently at the time of assault

LESSER OFFENSES

  • Unlawful Dueling (with casualty) -- Service and Fine (up to 1,000gp)
  • Assault (wounding) -- Damages (cost of treatment plus up to 500gp) and Edict (stay away from victim)
  • Assault of priest or lay-worshiper at temple -- Damage (up to 500gp) in addition to assault penalty normally incurred
  • Assault of livestock (fatal) -- Damages (double value)
  • Assault of livestock (non-fatal) -- Damages (treatment cost plus up to 500gp plus extra penalties if livestock was for breeding)
  • Unlawful reading or copying of city document -- Imprisonment plus Fine
  • Unlawful entry into docks or flying over city -- Exile (sometimes) plus Fine (up to 500gp) plus Damages, if applicable **Note: in times of war; death is appropriate
  • Unlawful hindrance of business -- Damages (up to 500gp) and Edict (not allowed within 100 yards of business)

MINOR OFFENSES

  • Blasphemy against city officer or Silver Crescent -- Service plus Fine
  • Blasphemy against foreign ambassadors -- Service plus Fine plus Censure
  • Blasphemy, public, against a god or priesthood -- Damages (up to 100gp) plus Censure
  • Assault (no wounding or robbery) -- Imprisonment (1 night) or Damages (up to 50gp)
  • Brandishing a weapon foolishly -- Imprisonment (1 night) plus Damages
  • Dangerous operation of wagon, coach, litter, etc. -- Fine (up to 50gp)
  • Vagrancy -- Imprisonment (1 night)
  • Littering -- different for each city ward, maximum penalty in Inner Ward of Imprisonment (1 night) plus Fine (up to 5gp)
  • Excessive noise -- Damages (up to 25gp) plus Edict

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