Crime and Punishment

Law is enforced by the clans, guilds and temples. There is neither a city guard nor a state sanctioned judiciary. However, the principles of Kandar common law, including the list of crimes and appropriate punishments, are accepted by all parties.

Common Laws

  • Assault: This is any attack on someone, regardless of whether and damage was caused. Since Kalyr is a status-ridden society, the severity of any crime against the person is proportional to the status of the victim.
  • Murder: This is causing death by any means, including failing to prevent a death when it was possible to do so. Thus a bodyguard who failed to prevent an assassination is theoretically guilty of murder. Perjury which results in the execution of an innocent person is also treated as murder.
  • Robbery: This includes such things as fraud, tax evasion, blackmail as well as theft of physical property.
  • Arson: This is actually defined to include any damage caused to property by any means, not specifically by fire
  • Affray: Defined as causing any disturbance, fights, drunkenness or disorderly conduct. It will get upgraded to assault if anyone actually gets badly hurt.
  • Treason: Attempting to overthrow the legitimate government of the city.
  • Blasphemy: This vaguely-defined law can be summed up as anything that upsets the Guardians, which in practice tends to mean anything that upsets the priests. Unfortunately this is very vaguely defined. Fortunately disputes between different Guardians mean that convictions are very rare.

The legal process

All legal actions are initiated by the clan or guild of the victim. If both the victim and the perpetrator of the crime are members of the same guild, the whole thing, from investigation to punishment, is handled as an internal matter within the guild. A senior official within the guild heads the investigation, determines guilt, and rules on appropriate punishment. Quite often the task doesn’t fall to a single individual but to a committee.

Something similar happens in a dispute by nobles within the same clan, in which case it falls to a higher-ranking clan elder or council of elders to resolve the issue.

It gets a little more complicated when the two parties are from different clans or guilds. Here, the dispute is arbitrated by a senior figure from neutral third guild or clan, chosen by mutual agreement. The neutral arbitrator is in overall charge of the investigation, but the other two groups often carry out their own investigations and present evidence to the arbitrator.

In a dispute between a clan noble who’s not a member of a guild, and a guild member who’s not a noble, the arbitrator must be a noble from a different clan who’s also a member of a different guild. For example, a dispute between a noble of Clan Tyr and a common member of the Academy of The Mind might be arbitrated by a noble of Clan Zalyn who’s also in The Academy of Knowledge.

The temples of The Guardians also have a role in law enforcement; they tend to restrict themselves to crimes against priests or temple property, or private disputes between worshippers at the same temple.

Each guild has it’s own security force, both protect guild property and members, and to enforce the judgements of the arbitrators. In the case of the nobles and temples, this role falls to the knights.

If you’re not a noble, and aren’t a member of any guild or temple, you don’t really have much in the way of legal rights or recourse to law at all. In a dispute with a guild or clan it will be treated as if it’s an internal matter, no independent arbitrator for you. And they tend to protect their own. If you commit a crime against a guild, they might carry out a formal investigation and apply the appropriate punishment. But equally well they might just apply some arbitrary ‘instant justice’. And if a guildsman or noble commits a crime against someone with no connections, then all you or your surviving relatives can do is hope the guild has a collective conscience. And when neither party has any connections, the only recourse is private revenge.

Slaves have no rights at all, and are considered property. However, most guilds do have rules regarding ill-treatment of slaves.

The Role of Government

All this doesn’t mean the government of the city has no part to play. While most Tharns tend to take a hands-off role and let the clans and guilds manage things themselves, the city ruler is the arbitrator of final appeal, at least in theory, and quite often in practice. Since the city ruler is always a noble, they will often be called upon to resolve disputes within their own clan, although a wise ruler of a big city will usually delegate things to a trusted clan elder.

Regional Variations

In many cities in The Great Kandar Empire, each guild has it’s own quarter of the city, and the guild militias take responsibility for patrolling the streets. Each guild quarter becomes a city within a city, with it’s own rulers and it’s own laws (No two guilds seem to interpret kandar common law in exactly the same way). In some cities guilds co-operate closely, but in a few places there’s a lot of antagonism and conflict, especially under a weak Tharn.

There are a few cities where a single guild is disproportionately powerful, to the point where the guild are effective rulers of the city. This means the guild has a lot of leverage when it comes to choosing the supposedly neutral arbitrators, who often tend not to be quite as neutral as they’re supposed to be. Much the same applies to the imperial capital of Vohrleyn, except in this case it’s the imperial clan that rules the roost, and the Knights of Clan Ardreyr are all-powerful

In the northwest, the whole system has started to break down due to the large human population, many not members of any guild, and therefore outside the law, and kept down only by force. In response, the northern cities of Calbeyn and Filgeth have formed city guards, answerable to the Tharn and Sarkan of the city.

In Filgeth they merely supplement the guild militias in patrolling the streets and maintaining order, although the traditional guild/clan/temple methods of arbitration and justice remain intact. If the guard arrest a miscreant, he or she will be handed over to the relevant guild for punishment.

Calbeyn has taken things a stage further. The city guard has largely replaced the guild militias, and judges appointed by the Tharn replace the neutral arbitrators.

Karmork maintains the traditional forms, but the totalitarian rule of Sarkan Vorsath means the practice is very different. The real powers are the guild militia of The Academy of the Mind and the knights of Clan Tasaan, both of whom are totally controlled by the Sarkan. The other guild militias are much reduced in status, and no independent arbitrators will ever be appointed that aren’t ultimately sanctioned by Vorsath himself.

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