Since the majority of roleplaying will be done in the Shire Lands, the laws and legal system of the Shire should be looked at in detail. The following laws and regulations are important for those playing on FurryFaire.
The Shire's Legal System
The Shire originally had a very simple legal system - the Shire was ruled by the Blue Wizard, and the Peace Keepers were the tools to enforce her rules. Laws were not truly written out however until the Blue Wizard departed, and the position of Sheriff was created to oversee the day to day function of the region.
The Sheriff and the Mayors
Until 1003, the position of Sheriff was separate from the position of Mayor - a title given to those who looked after the various towns and villages that were scattered throughout the Shire Lands. In 1003, the Sheriff was granted the title of Mayor for both West Wood and the Shire itself, and since that time, the two positions have become melded. Since then, the position of Sheriff grants total control of the Shire Lands.
Once the position of Sheriff and Mayor were joined, the Sheriff was in charge of deciding the fate of anyone brought before them, and held the title of Judge. In 1025, the Sheriff (Arkloyd Duwier) created the position of Judge. In 1026, the new Sheriff (Amanda Dalton), under the suggestion of the current High Priestess to Sanguine, (Nizhoni Talma'ji), has created a Tribunal for complicated cases or to discuss policy, with representatives of the Shire and of key groups who hold positions of influence (The Solar Temple, The Joshuites, The Guardians, The Emerald Adepts, and the Arin Faith). For simple cases, Amanda Dalton has created a pool of judges.
In 1025, the position of Head Judge was created (by Arkloyd Duwier). The position is still held. Currently, most judges are chosen by the Sheriff.
In 1026, the position of Deputy was created (by Amanda Dalton). The Deputy assists the Sheriff in the smooth running of the Shire Lands, and answers only to the Sheriff. In the Sheriff's absense, the Deputy holds authority. For a time, Amanda departed the Shire, leaving Deputy Kaigen as de facto Sheriff, but she returned later and was accepted in her former post.
The central power of the Peace Keepers is within the Shire itself, though there are multiple outposts in each district within the Shire, and in any location within the Shire Lands larger than a hamlet. Each outpost holds at least thirty Peace Keepers, who are governed by a Captain.
In 1027, Sheriff Amanda Dalton ceded the position of Mayor to another. Sitt Miseo min Darkwing was appointed, taking control of the more civil aspects of running the Shire. Later in the year, mayors were also appointed in West Wood and Hawk's Freehold, dividing the Shirelands in to three jurisdictions answerable ultimately to the Sheriff.
Later in 1027, Amanda Dalton ascended to the position of the Blue Wizard. At this time she created the position of Regis, to replace the position of head Sheriff. Sitt Miseo min Darkwing currently holds the position of Regis. West Wood and Hawk's Freehold have a position of Governor to handle political matters, and Sheriff, to handle security. The Peace Keepers have been split between the Peace Keepers, who handle matters within their own province, and the Sapphire Guard, who handle matters crossing provincial borders. The position of Head Judge is still in charge of the courts.
Originally, the Blue Wizard would see each complaint and rule for themselves on a case-by-case basis. When the Blue Wizard departed, the Peace Keepers would bring cases before the Mayor in charge of the region the criminal was captured in, and the Mayor would judge the cases brought before them.
At any time, a Peace Keeper can bring a citizen in for questioning. This is usually done by sub poena, where a formal request is posted for the individual to report to one of the outposts or to the main Court House. A person usually has up to five days to appear for questioning.
If a person does not appear, or the Peace Keepers consider the matter serious, the person will be tracked down and brought before one of the upper ranks. If the person is considered to be dangerous, or is recalcitrant, a Warrant is issued or the person is arrested.
Questioning is done in the Court House. There is always an Oracle (of the Brotherhood) or a Templar (of the Joshuites, or both, to ensure the veracity of the answers given by the person questioned. A scribe records all questions and responses, to ensure proper record keeping.
Once questioning is finished, the person is free to leave unless it is shown they have broken Shire law, in which case the individual is arrested immediately.
A Warrant is a public declaration of someone wanted by the Peace Keepers, and is usually considered much more serious than a Supeona. A person with a warrant out for them is wanted for trial, and will be arrested of found. Warrants do not expire unless retracted by the Sheriff or Deputy. Aiding an individual who has a warrant is a criminal offence, and will result in a warrant for the offender.
Once arrested, the person is held until a judge can be selected for the trial. The Sheriff or Deputy chooses who will be the judge for the case, and the trial begins once the judge is available. If desired, either the Sheriff or Deputy can be the acting judge for the case. In rare cases, the Tribunal is called for the case.
A trial always has an Oracle, and/or a Templar to determine veracity during the case, and there is always an Empath or Clairsentient and a Mage present. These members are Peace Keepers and held to the Peace Keeper oath. A scribe records all events during the trial, and all statements made. (There is no such thing as 'stricken from the records' however). The usual tradition is for the Peace Keeper who made the arrest or who requested the warrant declares the crimes of the person brought to trial, and the prisoner speaks in their own defence. The judge may choose to take an active role, but their place is to ensure things are clear - it is the role of the prosecuting Peace Keeper to prove guilt, not the judge.
The Argus Problem
In 1005, a number of refugees entered the Shire Lands from the nation of Aranous, and the Argus District was created near the Shire. The Argus Nobles were often at odds with the Peace Keepers, who did not recognize the nobility of their guests. During the numerous court trials, the Argus citizens hired professional law keepers to speak on their behalf during the trial. These law keepers (lawyers) took the time to learn the legal system of the Shire and excelled at getting their clients released on technicalities or due to the Peace Keepers not following their own traditions to the letter. It was during this period that the Oracles of the Brotherhood volunteered to act on behalf of the Shire to ensure veracity and to prevent lawyers from using carefully chosen words to conceal the guilt of their clients. In 1025, the Templars began to appear to assist as well.
The use of Templars and Oracles during a trial has been met with stiff resistance by the Argus nobles, and this discontent has begun to spread to the merchant class within the Shire lands as well. A number of times, there have been petitions to the Sheriff to disallow the appearance of the Templars and Oracles, on the grounds that someone accused of the crime has the right to not be forced to admit to their own guilt, and that only their own words and the words of the prosecution should be considered during a trial. So far, these petitions have been struck down by the Sheriff.
In 1026, Argus ceased to be. After a push for independence that (however briefly) granted by then-Sheriff Kaigen, the mage Kyn'Elwynn laid waste to the infant city. While some details are sketchy, it appears the Shadow Mage himself perished in the rain of fire and destruction.
The most common punishment in the Shire is simple imprisonment. A person who is imprisoned remains in a warded and sealed cell, incapable of using their abilities. The place is under constant watch by at least two mages or psychics, and two warriors, sworn to the Peace Keepers.
Lesser punishments include fines or restitution made by the offending party. Community service, time in the stocks, or payments to the wronged parties are all acceptable punishments for lesser crimes, and may be added to a limited jail sentence.
Another punishment involves exile. A person who is exiled from the Shire is given an invisible brand on their forehead. To a Peace Keeper, the mark is visible as a blue glow, and can be sensed by any Peace Keeper within ten yards of the exile. When a person has been exiled, the Peace Keepers have two places they may bring the person to for release. If the Sheriff feels sympathetic, the exile is released in the north, on the border of Drachenkeep. Such exiles have a decent chance of reaching civilization and surviving. If the Sheriff has a particular dislike of the individual, they will be released to the south, along the woods which flank the Anaithan border. Such individuals have a significant chance of stumbling into the Anaithan Woods, and are never seen again. If they are fortunate, they will veer towards the road to Hawk's Freehold, and may survive.
For mages and psychics, a ritual can be performed by the more powerful mages within the Peace Keepers. The Rite of Gilgul strips the person of their magical or psionic talents, rendering them incapable of using Spell or Gift. This Rite is permanent, and seals the person's abilities.
Executions are kept for serious crimes. Such individuals are usually hung on the gallows in front of the Court House.
The Shire has accepted embassies from a number of other nations. The nations of Anaitha, Drachenkeep, Naipon, and Tarantis all have embassies which are used for visitors from these nations. The grounds used by the Embassy are considered to be under the rule of the nation the Embassy belongs to, and the laws of that nation are enforced within the Embassy. The Sheriff can revoke an Embassy's immunity at any time, but to date this has never happened.
If a diplomat or a member of the Embassy is arrested, the head of the Embassy is contacted, and the accused is brought to the Embassy. The person is placed under house arrest until negotiations with the Embassy are finalized. There are usually a limited number of options.
- Extradition: The accused is sent back to their nation with a formal letter of complaint, and are prevented from returning to the Shire Lands.
- Trial: The accused is released to the Shire for trial, and punished under Shire Law.
- Censure: The accused is confined to the Embassy, and may not leave the Embassy for any reason.
- Restitution: The Embassy makes reparations to the Shire, in exchange for any charges being dropped.
The Shire Lands are considered to be owned by the Blue Wizard, and the Peace Keeepers are considered to be the guardians of her territory. Land is assigned for specific building or lease upon request, and is approved by the Sheriff or the Deputy. A person who holds the lease pays a tithe to the Peace Keepers once a month. This lease can be revoked at any time by the Peace Keepers.
Building is done by need and permission. Originally, the Mayor and those under the Mayor's employ would take petitions for building and use of property, and would accept or deny any requests. Currently, this is done through a division within the Peace Keepers.
Anyone who wishes to use a piece of land brings a petition to the Peace Keepers. The proposal is looked at (is this building needed? Would it be used? Who is asking for it to be built and why?) and if it is approved, the person wanting to use the land pays a fee to the city and the land is marked out for their use. Use of the land is taxed yearly, and if the tax is not payed, the land is reclaimed by the Peace Keepers. If it is used for residents or provides a critical function, the Peace Keepers will ensure the continued operating of that portion of land (such as a housing complex, or a store which sells essentials), until they can find someone to take over. A section of land used for profit pays a portion of these profits to the Peace Keepers.
If someone is abusing their rights to the land (a land owner over-charging people to live there, or letting a place become run down), the land can be taken away from them, and reclaimed by the Peace Keepers. Eviction is possible, and by force if necessary. The land, after all, does belong to the Blue Wizard.
There is no such thing as a 'search warrant'. Property belongs to the Blue Wizard, and as such Peace Keepers are allowed anywhere within the Shire, permission not required. In Argus, this has been met with some resistance, and some Argus nobles have used Guardians to bar Peace Keepers from entrance (usually long enough to hide anything incriminating), while others have claimed territory with an intent to claim 'heredity' for their children.
The laws of the Shire will be updated as new information comes in. Below are the most common disputes and how they are handled within the Shire.
- Coming of Age
A person is considered to be an adult at the age of fourteen. A person may not be sexually active before the age of fourteen, and does not have the rights of an adult before the age of fourteen. An individual who is orphaned is placed under the protective care of either relatives, or is placed within an orphanage until their fourteenth year.
Slavery is illegal. Any slave who enters the Shire is automatically released. Anyone caught buying or selling slaves will be subject to Exile, and the slave will be released. In a number of cases, the slaves of the exiled individual are given the money and goods of the slave owner to compensate for their treatment and ensure they have money.
The Shire does not have a caste system. The merchant class is fairly powerful within the Shire, but there is no recognized titles of nobility or rank. No special allowances are made for an individual based on their rank or nation, though people employed by an Embassy are brought to the Embassy if laws are broken.
Unless employed by an Embassy or remaining in-residence at an Embassy, an individual is considered a citizen of the Shire. Anyone with a residence within the Shire is treated as a Shire citizen and subject to Shire Laws, and do not have protection from an Embassy unless they are recognized as a citizen of the nation the Embassy represents. Neither Aranous or Anansie have a form Embassy (and thus, citizens of New Anansie and Argus do not have diplomatic protection).
Peace Keepers are expected to be deferred to, and respect is expected to a member of the Peace Keepers. Obvious hostility or disrespect of a Peace Keeper, or obstruction of a Peace Keeper in pursuit of their duties, can be met with a warrant.
Conflicts within the Shire Lands are outlawed. Duels need to be approved by the Peace Keepers, though tournament-style competitions are allowed if the facility is approved by the Peace Keepers. Punishment is often fines and imprisonment.
Accidental Death is usually punished with a fine or short prison term. Murder is usually punished with execution or exile. If the person who was attacked is seriously injured or survives, imprisonment or exile is normal.
Deliberate use of infernal magic or contracts with true infernal powers is outlawed in the Shire. Punishment is usually execution or Gilgul.
- Magic and Supernatural Powers
The use of offensive magic or supernatural powers is forbidden, except in self-defence. Punishment is determined by what was used, why it was used, and the consequences of such actions.
- Disturbing the Peace
Public disobedience or being a disruptive force in the Shire Lands (including vandalism) is against the law. Punishment is usually a large fine, forced imprisonment, or exile in the most extreme cases.
Breakdown of the Peace Keeping Process
- Peace Keeper hears of disturbance or lawbreaking and investigates.
- Peace Keeper arrests or detains those involved for questioning and trial.
- Peace Keeper may use lethal force if necessary. Under normal circumstances a Peace Keeper uses force just above that of the opponent in an arrest. If it is felt the detainee may use extreme force (magic or gifts included), the Peace Keeper may use 'efficient' methods - immediate knockout if possible, or lethal force if necessary.
- Once the prisoner has been detained, the Peace Keeper registers the prisoner in the record books. (Post on Board 13). The arresting Peace Keeper can, if desired, look for evidence or question others in relation to the case.
- A judge should take the case to trial as quickly as possible. While there is no time limit associated with this, expedience is preferred. Alternatively, the head judge or the head Peace Keeper may assign a case to council instead.
- Each trial will have an Oracle or a Templar (or both) assigned to the trial. In the case of an Oracle, their role is to oversee the trial, informing the judge or council of any falsehoods, and answering questions in relation to the case concerning events or circumstances which are not clear. A Templar, if present, questions those who are presented for the trial, ensuring truth is told.
- The arresting Peace Keeper may choose to act as prosecution if desired, but this is not necessary. Prosecution is present to explain why the defendant should face punishment. The role of the Judge or Council is to determine the truth and give fair sentence. If desired by the defendant, a lawyer may act to speak on the defendant's behalf, offering reason or extrenuating circumstance.
- Once verdict is given, punishment may be decided upon by Council or Judge. Even if the defendant is found innocent of malicious wrongdoing, injured parties may be given restitution if necessary.
- Once trial is complete, the presiding judge or a member of the council should place the results in the log book. (Post on Board 19)
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