Laws and Customs

Necromancy

In most of the world, the practice of necromancy is illegal. The following spells are considered necromancy for these purposes:

  • Animate Dead
  • Bestow Curse
  • Blight
  • Circle of Death
  • Contagion
  • Create Undead
  • Finger of Death
  • Harm
  • Vampiric Touch

Note that this does not include many spells of the necromancy school, including Chill Touch. The spells Speak With Dead and Clone are often considered suspicious, but they are not currently illegal anywhere.

The Three Kingdoms

Having a mutual legal heritage means that the laws regarding necromancy are the same in all three Kingdoms. Possession of a spell book containing any of the above spells is grounds for imprisonment, and automatic destruction of the spell book. Proof (i.e., testimony of a noble, paladin or accepted cleric) of casting one of these spells is punishable by death.

Kingdom of Norlan

As with the Three Kingdoms, possession of a spell book with one of these spells is grounds for imprisonment, and automatic destruction of the spell book. Proof of casting one of the spells will result in a harsher prison term.

Kef Sirran and Buyuk Tekis

Although neither of the nomad cultures has specific laws forbidding these spells, the practice of necromancy (as defined above) is traditionally considered ample proof of consorting with undead and/or demons. The penalty for that is usually death, at the discretion of the local Khan or Emir.

Oestreich and Wenegbund

Possessing one of these spells is illegal in Oestreich, and usually results in a fine and the destruction of the spell book page on which the proscribed spells are written. Being convicted of casting one of these spells usually adds a prison term and confiscation of the spell book.

As with much of their culture, the city-states of the Wenegbund look to Oestreich to model their legal system. Consequently, the punishment for possessing or casting one of these spells is the same in the Wenegbund as it is in Oestreich.

Jangu

Possession of a spell book containing any of the above laws is grounds for imprisonment, and automatic destruction of the spell book. Conviction of casting one of these spells is punishable by death.

Charm

In most jurisdictions, subverting a person’s will is illegal, often with penalties as harsh (or harsher!) than those for creating undead or summoning demons. It reflects the deep-rooted fear that many people have about the potential of magic to control a person, bringing into doubt the reasonableness of power and suggesting a need for oversight. (After all, how can we trust a Baron to rule his Barony un-checked if someone could be pulling his strings from the shadows?)

Any spell that causes a person to unknowingly act in a manner other than they would otherwise is illegal almost anywhere. So, Hold Person is not illegal, nor is Zone of Truth, because while they control a person, neither do so without the knowledge of the victim. Calm Emotions and Charm Person are sort of the prototypical “subversion of will” spells, but there are many others.

Note that on occasion, particularly in Oestreich, spell casters have successfully argued their way out of prosecution or punishment by pointing to the utility of such spells against foes of civilization.

Divination

Divination spells are often viewed suspiciously by authorities, both because of the criminal potential (“just where is that guard standing on the other side of the door?”) and probably because of the creep-factor. Law makers and judges are no less subject to the fear of being watched when they don’t know that it’s going on.

Slavery

The practice of keeping demi-human slaves is wide-spread in Zerith, with only the Kingdom of Norlan banning it outright. While attitudes towards the practice of slavery varies somewhat, there is almost universal repugnance for the way in which the two nomad cultures treat their slaves. In many ways, those in Eastern and Western Zerith see the treatment of slaves in Central Zerith as proof of their barbarism and primitiveness.

Vastmark

There is a long tradition of capturing slaves in the endless raids that made the Kustmann infamous, but that ended with the subjugation of the Vastmark by the Kingdom of Zerithia. In modern times, it is very rare to encounter slaves in the Vastmark, and those are usually purchased in Zerithian lands. Although it is theoretically possible under Zerithia-imposed law for Kustmann to be sentenced to slavery by their Jarls, it is unheard of for such a sentence to be pronounced. Traditionally, slaves could have possessions and own property but were completely subject to the whims of their owners; they could be raped, branded, maimed or killed without repercussions. Of course, with the imposition of Royal law, those rights are essentially reversed.

The Three Kingdoms

Slavery is a relatively common form of punishment for property crimes in the Three Kingdoms. There are traditional sentences of five, 10 and 25 years depending on the severity of the crime (how much was stolen/destroyed and who the victim was), but a life sentence is also possible for very serious crimes. Each Kingdom has a Royal officer (usually a Sheriff) who is responsible for recording and tracking those condemned to slavery, ensuring that they are not unduly mistreated or sold outside of the jurisdiction of the Three Kingdoms, and are released at the end of their sentence. Mistreatment of slaves includes any permanent injury or disfigurement, rape and murder. Owners are responsible for feeding and appropriately clothing slaves at all times. Under Grenmark law (only), slaves cannot give consent under any circumstances, so sex with a slave is always rape in that Kingdom. In Zerithia and Westen, however, whorehouses are mostly staffed with slaves.

Kef Sirran

Almost all slaves in the Southern Desert are foreigners, and almost all foreigners in the Southern Desert are slaves. Every clan has at least a few slaves, usually menials relegated to distasteful jobs such as collecting and drying dung for fuel. Slaves are sometimes captured wanderers, but are most often purchased in Eastern Zerithian slave markets. Slaves have no rights or protections beyond any pronouncements of the Emir of the clan to which they belong, and generally have fairly short lifespans. Living conditions are harsh, and slaves are the first to suffer when hardships befall a clan.

Buyuk Tekis

The notion of a male slave is repugnant to the Akamkap, but female slaves are quite common in the Steppes. Outsiders might be hard-pressed to distinguish the free from slaves, given the harsh restrictions that even “free” women live under in Buyuk Tekis, but there are differences in law: slaves cannot own property, cannot demand justice from the local Khan and are not counted for bloodlines. As well, while a man might lawfully kill his wife as punishment, if the manner in which she dies is felt to be gruesome or torture, the clan’s Khan might well have him executed. Slave women, on the other hand, might be tortured to death as a lesson to other slaves or simply because her owner wishes it.

Oestreich

Chattel slavery is widespread in Eastern Zerith, and Oestreich is central to the slave trade. Criminals can be condemned to slavery for a wide variety of crimes, and it is almost always for life. Any child who has a slave as a parent is automatically a slave (although, it’s suspected that many more children are fathered by slaves on free women than the almost insignificant number that officially occur). The vast majority of slaves in Oestreich are Reisen, although foreign or non-human slaves are highly valued. Generally speaking, slaves can’t own property, have family names or have rights to the necessities of life. The Kingdom, however, does require that slaves be clothed in public and be kept healthy enough to not pose a health hazard. (So, you can beat or starve your slave to death, but woe betide you if you let them die of disease!) Slaves can be, and frequently are if they become too old or infirm, freed by petitioning a judge to issue a proclamation. Former slaves start with a “clean slate,” which is to say that they are officially innocent of anything that they might have done before or while they were enslaved. Criminals sometimes try to exploit this loophole to evade punishment, but judges have learned to be on the lookout for such perfidy.

It has been estimated that as much as one fifth, or even one quarter, of the population of Oestreich are slaves. They definitely dominate certain undesirable professions, such as tanners, night soil collectors and prostitutes. The military makes extensive use of slave labourers, mostly for building and maintaining the extensive road network within the Kingdom.

Jangu

The island nation allows slavery as a punishment or for debts in law, but it’s not a very widespread practice because the cost of keeping a slave is high. Every village has a slave or two, usually owned by a craftsman or wealthy farmer. However, a Jangu slave is not that much worse off than most peasants, and sometimes even a little better. The chances of a slave freezing to death or starving in a harsh winter, for instance, is probably lower than that of a poor farmer. Jangu law does not allow slaves to be killed or maimed, and slaves can be freed by proclamation. Slaves cannot testify in court, inherit or have a family name, but they may own property given to them (technically, they can’t “earn” anything so they are never “owed” anything).

Laws and Customs

Zerith HuwAJ