Crime and Punishment

Investigations

Location, Location, Location

Crime and Punishment
Author Keith Baker
Series Campaign Style
Publisher Atlas Games
Publish date 2003
Pages 160
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You can’t do anything unless you find your opponent.

Tracking

Jakub Schikaneder, Murder in the House Date: 1890 Technique: Oil on canvas, 203 × 321 cm
Jakub Schikaneder, Murder in the House Date: 1890 Technique: Oil on canvas, 203 × 321 cm

So, you’re trying to track down your mark? Well, tracking is the logical place to start. If you’re serious about bounty hunting, you’re going to want a skilled tracker in your group – whether it’s a ranger, bounty hunter, or someone who has picked up the Track feat independent of class.

Gather Information

Along with Track, this is the other no-brainer. If your target is in an urban area, you’ll want to break out Gather Information right away. Even if it doesn’t help you find your prey, it may at least give you the name of someone you can talk to for specific information.

Contacts

If you’ve got an investigator in your group, she may be able to use her Networking ability to help obtain information about your prey. Even if you don’t have an honest-to-goodness investigator, you should think about the NPCs who you associate with on a regular basis. Perhaps the Innkeeper has information about your quarry. If your prey is a thief, do you know any other rogues who could dredge the grapevine in the local guild? A good GM will make sure that there are a few leads out there to be found. Further, if you come up with a logical source for information, she may reward your creativity even if it isn’t what she had planned.

Getting information from a contact may require bribery, an exchange of favors, or a show of force (if you don’t care about maintaining a good long-term relationship with the NPC). If you’re a smooth talker, you can use Gather Information to get your contact to talk.

Magic

There are many spells that can help you to locate your prey. Discern location is as good as it gets, but as an 8th level spell it’s out of reach of most characters. locate creature is an obvious choice, but it has a short range and requires a personal familiarity with the target. If you have an inquisitor on hand, follow the bloody trail has a longer range and requires no personal contact with your victim, provided that you have a bloodtrace to follow. If your target is out of range of these spells, scrying and Greater Scrying may give you enough clues to determine your target’s general location; if you ask the right questions, Augury or divination can also lend a hand.

Bloodhounds

William Holman Hunt: Study of a bloodhound
William Holman HuntStudy of a bloodhound

There are two types of bloodhounds – the living, breathing kind and those made of magic. Either one can fill gaps in your party. If you have an animal handler in your group, a living bloodhound can assist or replace a human tracker. A magical bloodhound can use follow the bloody trail for you – this is a handy tool if you don’t have an inquisitor at your beck and call.

Going Public

This is rarely the best idea and it may be something that your employer forbids, but in some circumstances you may want to take your quest to the public at large. Offer a reward for information about your target, and spread nasty rumors about what he’s been up to, so people will be more inclined to help. You’ll want to have a decent level of Sense Motive so you can tell if someone’s lying to try to claim your reward. Again, going public is rarely a good idea, since it will tip off your target; anonymity is a powerful defense. But when you’re completely out of ideas, this just might produce results.

Know Your Enemy, Know Yourself

Crime and Punishment
Author Keith Baker
Series Campaign Style
Publisher Atlas Games
Publish date 2003
Pages 160
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The role of the hunter is quite different from that of the typical dungeon crawler. You don’t need to kick the door in without knowing what you’re going to find, and if you’re wise you never will. If you’re dealing with an enemy who is stronger than you are – either through natural power or because you need to restrain yourself — you need every advantage you can get, and knowledge truly is power.

If you have been sent on a job, the odds are that you know something about your targets. Try to find out as much as you can before you leave. Name and appearance are vital for finding the target, but what about behavior?

Knowing a target’s alignment can help you to predict his movements and how he will react to situations and proposals. It also helps with spell selection — do you want protection from chaos or protection from law? Will detect evil let you spot your enemy? Will your holy sword inflict extra damage, or should you stick with the staff of thought disrupting?

If your enemy is a spellcaster, what are his favourite spells? Aside from knowing what to expect, this can also help you set up magical defenses like mystical opposition or protection from energy. Pay attention to saving throws – if you’re going up against an enchanter, you want the monk with the high Will save to take point; keep the barbarian with 6 Wisdom out of the way until you’re sure he won’t get charmed. If the target is a fighter, what are his preferred tactics? If he’s an expert archer, you’ll want to make sure you catch him face to face. If he’s a terror in melee, sniping may be a better alternative.

Does he use any magic items?If so, is there any way for you to counter these items? Can you steal them or catch your victim when he is separated from them?

Try to anticipate other weaknesses he may possess. If you can determine his class and guess at his statistics (Is he frail? Robust? Clumsy? Quick?), you can get a good sense of what his saves may be. If he’s a fighter, ranger, or barbarian, Fortitude will be high but he will be vulnerable on other fronts; consider using mind-altering magic. Effects like Hold Person also have the advantage of bypassing a fighter’s high hit points. A wizard or sorcerer will easily resist your enchantments, but will be vulnerable to poisons, thunderstones, and other physical effects. By planning in advance, you can make sure to hit your target with the attacks that will cause maximum damage.

If your employer can’t provide you with this information, you will have to turn to other sources. If the target is well-known in a particular area, you may be able to obtain useful data from Gather Information, Knowledge (local), or even Bardic Lore. detect magical residue can provide some sense of a target’s skills and power.
And if it comes to it, there is always personal observation. The bounty hunter
usually has the advantage that she knows her target’s face — but he
doesn’t know hers. Once you’ve located your enemy, don’t be in
a rush to attack him; observe him, see what you can find out about his patterns
and behavior. Get into a conversation — can you get him to tell you anything
by using Gather Information? Do you have access to detect thoughts? An investigator
with the Read Character ability? Can you Spot anything interesting? This isn’t
just limited to human opponents — you never know if that dragon you’re
after might have a chink in his armor.

It’s equally important to know your own abilities and those of your allies. If you’re facing multiple opponents, try to pick opponents ahead of time — maximize your strengths and hide your weaknesses. So the barbarian shouldn’t take on the enchanter — who would he be best suited to fight? If you set him against the rogue,
who is his secondary target once the rogue has been defeated?

Location: Choose Your Ground

Crime and Punishment
Author Keith Baker
Series Campaign Style
Publisher Atlas Games
Publish date 2003
Pages 160
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So, you’ve learned everything you can about your prey and tracked him down. The next question is the degree to which you can choose the battleground. If your target has gone to ground in some sort of stronghold, you may have to bring the battle to him; in this case, the best you can do is to thoroughly examine the safehouse. Do you need to cover multiple exits to prevent your quarry from escaping? Depending on your capabilities, this could involve spreading caltrops across an area or the use of spells like web or alarm, either to slow retreat or to alert you to possible flight.

 

Ideally, however, your
target will not be aware of your pursuit. In this case you have far more flexibility.
Using Stealth, Disguise, a familiar, or magical techniques of observation, and
take some time to watch your prey. If he’s in a city, does he have a pattern
of movement — and if so, where is he most vulnerable? If he’s traveling
through the wilds, will he be stopping at an inn or camping for the night? Again,
you’ll usually have the advantage of anonymity; your target may be generally
paranoid, but unless your cover has been blown, he won’t know you’re
after him. Look for ways to turn the ground against him. If he’s resting
at an inn, can you bribe the innkeeper to create a distraction or slip paralytic
poison into his drink? If he has servants, can you subvert one of the hirelings
— or even replace her, using illusion magics or the Disguise skill?

 

While this is advice for
the bounty hunter, it can apply to other types of adventure. If you’re
out to slay a dragon, can you draw it into a location that suits your needs
— where you have concealment from its breath? Can you identify its feeding
habits, and drug the beasts it preys upon to slow down the dragon itself? The
key is patience — taking the time to study your situation and pick the
perfect battleground.

 

In certain situations,
time of day can be just as important as location. If the fight will occur outdoors,
consider whether your group has the edge in terms of Low-Light
Vision
and Darkvision — either due to racial abilities or goggles of night. If so, a night attack
can be extremely effective; if not, you don’t want the enemy to have an
advantage over you.

 

The Art of
Ambush

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

Series Campaign Style

Publisher Atlas Games

Publish date 2003

Pages 160

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When you’re trying
to set up the perfect ambush, there are a number of things to consider.

 

ADVANCE PREPARATIONS

 

If you know you’re
going to get into a fight, you can do all your preparations ahead of time. Get
your protection spells up! Spells like mirror
image
may draw attention if used in a public place, but protection spells,
cat’s grace, bless, and the like can all help without making you stand
out to your target.

 

The next issue is positioning.
In an outdoor attack, you’ll want to look for concealment, especially for
your spellcasters. In an indoor battle you need to cover the escape routes,
and position your people close to their designated targets. And as mentioned
earlier, you should always look for other ways to skew the odds in your favor
— whether it’s poisoning the beer or setting up traps along likely
escape routes.

 

COMMUNICATION:
SOUND AND SILENCE

 

In the ideal ambush, you
want to be perfectly coordinated. You need to be able to quickly adjust your
battle plans based on unexpected surprises, like the sorcerer summoning a demon
to even the odds or suddenly flooding the area with darkness. At the same time,
the less your enemies know of your plans the harder it will be for them to react
effectively. If your GM allows open table talk, this isn’t an issue. If
she’s strict about it — only letting you discuss strategy if your
characters are actually talking — things are more difficult. The ideal
solution is Telepathic
Bond
or a set of circles of thought; both allow silent
telepathic communication. Unfortunately, Telepathic
Bond
is a highlevel spell
and circles of thought are very expensive. Lower-level hunters may have more
luck with the message spell or message stones, although these have a limited
range.

 

If you’re going to
rely on verbal communication, come up with abbreviated designations for each
target and each member of your party. If there are multiple areas that have
tactical significance — like doors to an inn — assign designations
to these points as well. Instead of saying “Jonath, Kayli, get the rogue
who’s headed for the back door,” you want to be able to say “Green,
black, coins at the bolt.” This leaves your enemies in the dark as to exactly
what you’re doing — and it gives you an excuse to come up with cool
code names. A slightly simpler alternative is for your entire party to learn
an obscure language, and hope that your enemies don’t know it. If you shout
all your commands in Ignan, odds are good that most of your foes won’t
know what you’re talking about.

 

If you’re operating
from a long distance and don’t have a method of magical communication, thunderstones or flashstones can be a useful
way to signal an attack (in addition to blinding or deafening your targets).
This brings up one last point — disrupting your opponent’s communications
is just as valuable as getting your own plans in order. If you can deafen your
enemies with a thunderstone, it will be even
more difficult for them to coordinate with one another. The silence spell can
be an invaluable tool for a surprise attack, especially if you’re making
a night attack on a camp; it has a long range, and if you hit a sentry with
the spell you can charge onto the scene and begin your work without waking any
sleepers. Of course, silence will affect you as well, so you’ll need to
make sure you’ve done your planning in advance! All of these techniques
can also interfere with enemy spellcasting, though again, silence will hinder
you as well as your enemies.

 

 

SPEAKING
OF FLASHSTONES …
Alchemical weapons
like thunderstones and flashstones
can provide you with a vital edge in combat; if you have to cover a significant
distance to reach your prey, a concealed archer providing flareshot covering
fire can be an excellent distraction. At close range, thunderstones can be problematic; there’s no way to spare your friends from the
effects of the stone. However, allies can shield their eyes to avoid the
effects of a flashstone or flareshot. The problem is one of communication.
If you can communicate telepathically, you can warn your allies of an
incoming flashstone without giving your enemies a chance to react. You
can use a verbal signal, but there’s the risk that your enemies will
come to recognize the signal. Alternately, you can come up with a code,
like counting in Ignan; any number means “flareshot!” but the
since each number is a different word, your opponents may assume that
the signal has a different meaning.
Flashstones, thunderstones,
and tanglefoot bags are all grenadelike
weapons. As a result, they make excellent back-up weapons for wizards, sorcerers, and
other characters with poor Base Attack Bonuses and low hit points. A wizard
should be staying off of the front lines anyway, and he’ll still
have a decent chance of hitting an area with a flashstone in spite of
his poor BAB.

THE SURPRISE
ROUND

 

If you’ve done your
job, you should get a surprise round at the start of an ambush. If you’re
out in the open, you may have to spend this round drawing a weapon — walking
around with drawn blades has a way of putting people on edge and spoiling surprise.
But even in public, Quick Draw or gloves of storing can let you produce a weapon
and still act — while a weapon like a quarterstaff can be carried in plain
sight without raising suspicions. It’s just a harmless walking stick, after
all.

 

While your enemy is flat-footed,
he does not receive his Dexterity bonus to his Armor Class. Aside from the obvious
advantage of making him easier to hit, this has two useful secondary effects.
First, rogues and bounty hunters will get bonus damage from Sneak Attack and
Painful Blow. In addition, a flat-footed opponent does not get to make attacks
of opportunity — so if you’re not in the right position, this is your
chance to move in! Get into flanking position. Grapple with a weak enemy. Get
close enough to threaten enemy spellcasters in upcoming rounds. And if you’re
right next to an opponent and you need to cast a spell or use a ranged weapon,
now is the time to do it!

 

The
Legal System – The King’s Justice

 

Law in Secular Society

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

Series Campaign Style

Publisher Atlas Games

Publish date 2003

Pages 160

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If you don’t like
to take chances, a few ranks of Knowledge (law) and Knowledge (local) may help you avoid a major
mistake.

 

Criminal Law

 

If you’re allowed
to speak in a legislative court, your goal is to sway the justice to leniency.
In general, the facts of the case and your status within the community will
determine the attitude of the judge. If you are accused of murder, there is
some evidence supporting the claim, and you are a stranger in the community,
the judge will undoubtedly have a hostile attitude towards you. If you have
some status in the community or if the evidence is flimsy, the judge may only
be unfriendly; if you are a renowned hero, the judge may even be indifferent.
If you or your advocate make a plea, you can make a single Diplomacy check to adjust the judge’s attitude; the GM may modify this roll if you
manage to produce strong (or flimsy) evidence of your innocence. This uses the
standard D20 System table for modifying NPC attitudes, which is provided at
the end of this section for reference. If you don’t have the Diplomacy skill, you should use a Charisma check for this purpose.

 

A judge with a final attitude
of helpful may choose to dismiss the case; otherwise, it is largely a question
of how severe the punishment will be. This varies by alignment. A chaotic justice
will be much more likely to dismiss the case because he has a good feeling about
you (or a friendly attitude); a lawful judge may cling to prior precedents no
matter what his personal opinion. Of course, a lawful evil judge may even be
happy to find a loophole for you — for the right price.

 

Speaking of bribery, there
are a few tricks to passing a bribe successfully. If you don’t know, you
may want to make a successful Knowledge (law) check (DC 15) to determine whether
attempted bribery is a crime in the nation; if you are in your homeland, you
may make this check untrained and you get a +5 to your roll. Next, a Sense Motive check (DC 20) will provide you with a general sense of your target and whether
she would be receptive to a bribe. If the target will take a bribe, a Gather Information check can be used to determine the lowest amount that you would
need to pay your target in order to sway her opinion; this is a directed conversation
action, as described in Chapter Two. Knowledge (local) or a similar skill would
also give you a general sense of the range of bribes used for certain activities;
the GM may also rule that this knowledge is commonplace for any sort of rogue,
merchant, or character in a position to bribe or be bribed.

 

Under normal circumstances,
pleading your case will be an instance of contested Diplomacy (or Charisma)
checks. Whoever wins the contested check should then make a second Diplomacy (or Charisma) check to influence the attitude of the judge, as described earlier.
Social standing can play a critical role in this contested check; a character
who is a respected and prominent member of the local community has a considerable
edge over the suspicious stranger, and this can modify your Diplomacy roll.
Possible modifiers are provided on the following table.

 

 

Status Diplomacy Modifier
Stranger
to the region
–3
Distrusted
race
–2
Distrusted
class
–2
Follower
of a distrusted religion
–2
From a
hostile nation
–2
History
of previous offenses
–2
Long-time
resident, no history of trouble
+2
Valuable
member of the community
+2
Community
leader
+4

These modifiers are cumulative.
A long-time resident who provides a valuable service to the community receives
a +4 bonus, while a stranger from a hostile nation receives a –5 penalty.
Distrusted class and religion penalties would only apply if these traits are
known to the justice; while few people will trust a rogue, it’s rarely
obvious that you are a rogue. On the other hand, if you’re a wizard and
were seen casting a spell in a culture that fears and hates magic, you’ll
take the penalty.

 

These penalties and bonuses
are merely guidelines; the GM should add additional modifiers as appropriate
to the local culture. Perhaps your gender will work for or against you. Maybe
membership in a particular guild or devotion to the local god will work in your
favor. Ultimately, it’s up to the GM to decide the factors that shape the
society!

 

INFLUENCING
NPC ATTITUDES

 

Most of the legal systems
presented in this book use the standard system for influencing NPC attitudes.
The following table determines the DC for using the Diplomacy skill (or a Charisma check) to influence the attitude of a nonplayer character. Note that you don’t
have to specify the final result that you hope to achieve. For example, if a
justice has an initial attitude of hostile, you must get a check result of at
least 20 to improve his attitude to 20. But if the result of the check is 25
to 34, his attitude improves to indifferent.

 

And if you manage to get
a result of 50 or higher, he goes all the way from hostile to helpful!

 

 

Initial
Attitude
New
Attitude (DC to Achieve)
Hostile Unfriendly Indifferent Friendly Helpful
Hostile Less than 20
20 25 35 50
Unfriendly Less than 5
5 15 25 40
Indifferent —
Less than 1 1 15 30
Friendly —
— Less than 1 1 20
Helpful —
— — Less than 1 1

 

Attitude Means Possible
Actions
Hostile
Will take
risks to hurt you
Attack,
interfere, berate, flee
Unfriendly Wishes
you ill
Mislead,
avoid, gossip, insult, watch suspiciously
Indifferent Doesn’t
much care
Socially
expected interaction
Friendly Wishes
you well
Chat,
advise, offer limited help
Helpful Will take
risks to help you
Protect,
back up, heal, aid

Court Rules

 

A plea in a court of common
law will also involve a Diplomacy roll to shift the opinion of the judge. If
you have at least five ranks in Knowledge (law) you get a +2 synergy bonus to
this check. The drawback is that no matter how friendly a judge is, she cannot
completely ignore the dictates of the law. Of course, in a lawful evil society
there may be a wide variety of precedents that a justice could choose to use
or to ignore — depending on whether you make it worth her while.

 

Jury

 

This practice is especially
common in lawful societies. In a lawful evil society, this is another way to
extort money from the downtrodden. In a lawful good society, it’s simply
a way to encourage citizens to work together — to look out for their neighbors
and be aware of any crimes that occur in their borough. Of course, this can
lead to a disturbing “spy on your neighbor” mentality.

 

Juries are also most common
in lawful societies. In a lawful evil society, the members of an inquest jury
may use the position to extort money from other members of the community. However,
inquest juries can also be found in neutral good nations, where the citizens
do what they can to take the burden of justice off of the government. Of course,
in a neutral good nation, the criminals identified by an inquest jury may also
be dealt with by the citizen militia instead of being reported to an official
justice.

 

Hue and Cry

 

This practice is generally
found in goodaligned societies, where it’s expected that citizens will
volunteer to help one another. It’s also common in lawful neutral societies,
where all citizens are expected to act in strict compliance with the law. It’s
virtually unknown in evil societies.

 

Political
Alignment

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

Series Campaign Style

Publisher Atlas Games

Publish date 2003

Pages 160

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One of the first things
to do upon entering a new nation is to try to identify the general outlook of
its systems — or, at least, its government. How strong is the power of
law? Is the law used to protect the citizens, or it is used to oppress them?

 

The alignment of a power
center should have a considerable impact on the laws of the land and how they
are enforced. The alignment of the majority of the citizens will also play a
role; many nations rely on the population to help the guard enforce the laws.
Most power centers with strong systems of law will be lawful, but this isn’t
always the case. This section assumes that the society has some level of laws
and structures; for ideas on life in a truly chaotic power center.

 

Lawful Good — In a typical lawful good society, the laws are designed to protect the citizenry
from crime and treachery. When possible, a justice will seek a wise solution
as opposed to a simple one; will executing a murderer actually heal the damage
he has caused in the community?

 

If the citizens of a lawful
good society share the alignment of their community, they will do their best
to abide by the rule of law, trusting in the government to protect them and
look out for their best interests. At its best, this results in citizens helping
one another, cooperating to prevent crime, and working together to strengthen
the community. Of course, while the citizens may protect one another, this does
not necessarily extend to outsiders; if anything, the community will unite to
keep an eye on suspicious travelers — including most adventurers. Likewise,
extreme lawful good societies are the sorts of places where a citizen might
turn in a friend or relative for a seemingly harmless crime — because the
informer believes that he’s acting in the best interests of the community
and, potentially, even the “criminal.”

 

Lawful Neutral — In a lawful neutral nation, justice truly is blind. The law is an impartial
force, and justices and nobles follow the precise letter of the law. Lawful
neutral states are especially well-suited to common law. If the nation uses
a legislative system, it is likely to build up a similar mass of precedents,
collecting the writs of kings back to the founding of the nation and following
each one as closely as possible.

 

In some cases this can
go to ridiculous extremes, with bizarre outdated laws that have long outlived
their intended purpose coming to the fore. Most of the time the laws will make
sense, but they may or may not have been designed with the best interests of
the community in mind — and justices will always choose the law over the
people. In some cases, the people of a lawful neutral society may be extremely
litigious — constantly debating slights based on violations of obscure
laws. In other societies, the citizens do their best to stay out of the way
of the lawkeepers, so as not to interfere with the process of justice.

 

A lawful neutral citizenry
will obey the law not because they believe that it has their best interests
at heart, but because it is the law. Traditions are very important to such a
society, and people are more likely to unquestioningly cling to the ways of
the past than to try to change the future.

 

Lawful Evil — In a lawful evil country, the law is a tool the rulers use to maintain their
power. Graft and corruption are extremely common in lawful evil cultures. Law
may provide a basic structure for a society, but it is something to be manipulated
and used for the benefit of the powerful, the wealthy, and the clever; the laws
oppress the masses, as opposed to protecting them. A lawful evil society is
far more likely to use a legislative system than common law, since those in
power will want to be in control of the law, not the other way around. In general,
the citizens of a lawful evil nation do their best to avoid the agents of the
law; the city guards are more likely to extort gold from you than to protect
you. The penalties for breaking the law will be extremely harsh — unless,
of course, you can afford to pay off the so-called justice.

 

Most nations that have
lawful evil power centers do not have a primarily lawful evil population. More
often than not, the evil forces in power use the law to oppress the more neutrally-aligned
masses. In a culture that is itself lawful evil, the citizens fully accept the
idea that law is just a tool to be used. These nations are extremely Machiavellian;
virtually all interactions and relationships are based around self-interest
and greed (whether a desire for gold or power). Lawful evil citizens will betray
one another at a moment’s notice — in accord with the proper forms,
of course. In comparison to a chaotic evil society, lawful evil citizens are
careful planners; they form highly structured guilds with their own laws and
bylaws.

 

Murder on the streets is
frowned upon, but subtle assassination, blackmail, a carefully arranged fall
from grace — these are all expected risks. And if you think it’s dangerous
to live in a lawful evil nation — well, it’s much worse if you’re
a stranger and don’t know the lay of the land!

 

Neutral Good — In a neutral good nation, the law is a relatively passive force. Whether it’s
based on the traditions of common law or the legislative decrees of a wise ruler,
the law is there to resolve conflicts and maintain order. However, the forces
of the law are less powerful than in a lawful society. The laws are simple and
designed with the best interests of the people in mind. As a result, most citizens
will solve their own problems in accordance with the law, without actually calling
upon the official representatives of justice.

 

The people are not afraid
to use the forces of the law; they just rarely see the need, and the government
prefers not to interfere unless it has to. Members of a neutral good population
will work together to create strong communities. Neutral good villages are likely
to form citizen militias and other informal groups — organizations that
serve the laws of the land, but that have no official connection to the government
itself.

 

True Neutral — A true neutral realm is a watered-down version of a lawful neutral society.
The laws are functional and sufficient to keep the nation running. The government
is not extremely strict about enforcing the laws; when they are enforced, it
is typically without regard to the circumstances of a situation. A true neutral
government may have no interest in interfering with the daily lives of its citizens,
or it may not have the power to enforce the law. A lawful neutral power center
that loses the support of its citizens may slowly drift toward true neutral,
as it loses its resources and control over the population. In such a situation
there may still be justices who are devoted to the law — they just don’t
have the influence to make much of an impact on their nation.

 

While a true neutral citizen
may be roused to action by a Charismatic local or national leader, left to his
own devices he will mind his own business and take care of his own property.

 

Neutral Evil — A neutral evil nation is similar to a lawful evil society, but worse. While
a lawful evil nation may use the law to oppress its citizens, at least the law
is a respected power. In a neutral evil society the rulers hold absolute power,
and there is rarely any pretense that the citizens have any rights. Slavery
is extremely common in neutral evil societies; members of the ruling class may
have certain privileges and a legal code, but the teeming masses have no rights
whatsoever, and no recourse to the law. In a nation where the majority of the
population is neutral evil, opportunism is the name of the game. If there’s
any way the lower classes can move up in the world, they will do anything to
do so. If not, they will stoop to any depths to gain a modicum of long-term
security and comfort.

 

Chaotic Good — Chaotic good countries can have laws. However, a chaotic country will tend to
have a very simple legal system, with as few laws as possible. A chaotic good
kingdom may use common law or legislative law, following ancient traditions
or the guidance of a wise king. The critical thing about a chaotic society is
that an individual justice is much more likely to ignore or reinterpret the
law in order to do what she considers to be the right thing. The laws are seen
as guidelines for proper behavior, not immutable rules that must be obeyed.

 

A chaotic good population
follows the same path as a chaotic good justice. As a rule, the citizens will
obey the laws, because the laws serve the common good. However, if an individual
feels that the law does not apply to his particular situation, he will break
it without a second thought. Where a lawful good citizen may place the law above
friendship, a chaotic good citizen will almost always shield an ally from persecution.

 

Of course, this isn’t
necessarily good for you; if the only way to save a local boy is to blame his
crime on a suspicious stranger — which is to say you, the wandering adventurer
— a group of chaotic good villagers may do just that.

 

Chaotic Neutral — Chaotic neutral nations vary tremendously. A chaotic neutral society may
be pure anarchy, with no central government or legal system whatsoever. Alternately,
it may have a legislative system that shifts on a daily basis. In any case,
life in a chaotic neutral society will be unpredictable at best.

 

Chaotic Evil — A chaotic evil realm may resemble a chaotic good or chaotic neutral nation.
It could have a basic structure that holds society together, or it may be complete
anarchy. Power is what matters in a chaotic evil society; the strong rule the
weak, and any rules created by the strong will generally disappear as soon as
someone stronger comes along.

 

Smuggling
and Treason

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

Series Campaign Style

Publisher Atlas Games

Publish date 2003

Pages 160

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A skirmish with smugglers from Finland at the Russian border, 1853, by Vasily Hudyakov (1826–1871).

A skirmish with smugglers from Finland at the Russian border, 1853,
by Vasily Hudyakov (1826–1871).

Smuggling

 

You can learn what substances
are illegal in the area you’re in with a successful check on any of the
following skills: Knowledge (law) (DC 15), Knowledge (local) (DC 10), Profession (merchant) (DC 18). If you’re in your homeland, you’re allowed to
make an untrained Knowledge (local) roll.

 

Treason

 

The best way to avoid committing
an act of treason is to be familiar with local politics. At least then, if you
commit treason it will be because you’re choosing to do so. Any of the
following skill or ability checks should help in this regard: Bardic Lore (DC
23), Knowledge (history)
(DC 22), Knowledge (local)
(DC 12), Knowledge (nobility) DC (17), or Knowledge (religion) (DC 17). History,
nobility, and religion will only provide you with information about treason
relating to that subject; for example, Knowledge (religion) will tell you what
would be considered an act of treason against the church.

 

The
Use of Magic

 

 

Painting on the outer wall of Rila Monastery church, Bulgaria Year first half of the 19th century; original photo by Nenko Lazarov 06/12/2005; adjusted by Martha Forsyth 4 April 2008Painting on the outer wall of Rila Monastery church, Bulgaria Year
first half of the 19th century; original photo by Nenko Lazarov 06/12/2005;
adjusted by Martha Forsyth 4 April 2008

 

Magicians and healers
are servants of the devil. That’s why the devil rejoices greatly, jumps
around, and dances in front of people who come to them. And what they [the
healers] give them to drink and eat is devils’ filth. Those who abandon
God, the laws, and the church, and go to the healers, are servants not of
God, but of the devil.

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

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Publish date 2003

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High Magic

 

There are a number of spells
that can be useful in determining the veracity of a statement, including detect
thoughts
, direct conversation, discern
lies
, light of truth, painful truth, read the guilty
face
, and zone
of truth
. However, the effects of these spells are either known only to
the caster (like discern lies) or can
be mimicked with illusion spells (such as light of truth). In some nations,
these spells are not used in open court. However, in most mystically advanced
nations, this has created the position of truthreader — an individual who
must go through intense tests to prove her honesty and loyalty, but who is then
trusted to provide honest mystical testimony to the court. An itinerant justice
will usually have a truthreader in his retinue, or else he will be a truthreader
himself. If the legal system is secular in nature, truthreaders will generally
be arcane spellcasters or inquisitors from mundane backgrounds; clerics may be considered to have conflicting loyalties that may influence their ability
to provide unbiased testimony. However, if church and state are intertwined
or if the cleric represents an impartial god of knowledge or justice, this concern
may be waived.

 

While truthreaders can
determine the truth of testimony, this doesn’t mean that a truthreader
will be used for every case. A justice may choose to rely on her own sense of
human nature. Perhaps the justice believes that the jury has provided her with
false information — but that their decision is the right one for the good
of the community. In such a case, she would choose not to call in a truthreader.

 

In suspicious or important
cases, a truthreader may be tasked to monitor the courtroom with Detect Magic,
to ensure that no one attempts to influence the justice or anyone else through
magical means — so no charming the judge or using Mass
suggestion
on the
jury. In the case of a particularly dangerous criminal, a spellbane or magehunter
might be called in to provide additional protection against mystical influences;
an inquisitor or other spellcaster would also be prepared to use mystical means
to restrain the prisoners or maintain order. If possible, dispel
magic
will
be cast on the defendant at the start of the trial, to remove Misdirection or
any similar effect that could block divinatory spells.

 

Typical Magic

 

An itinerant justice may
have inquisitor levels himself, or if there are close ties between church and
state he may be accompanied by a truthreader, but this would be a rarity. In
addition, the common people might mistrust evidence gathered through use of
magic. In short, it would be something that an individual justice might make
use of, but it would be unlikely to be the policy of the state — and the
justice would want to be careful not to rely on magic, lest he draw suspicion
upon his abilities and his rulings.

 

While sorcery might not
be common in the realm, if people are aware of magic they’re going to be
extremely alert for any use of magic to manipulate the process of justice. Even
if he doesn’t have a truthreader, an itinerant justice may at least have
a low-level wizard, sorcerer, or adept who has the ability to cast Detect Magic,
to monitor proceedings and watch for mystical manipulation. If this isn’t
possible, the guards will keep an extremely close eye on the accused and his
friends — especially if he’s one of those suspicious adventurer types.
Any attempt to use magic to modify the outcome of a trial will be severely punished.

 

Any sort of use of magic
against an unwilling victim might be designated under the crime of witchcraft;
there would be no distinction between using charm person on a guard or blasting
him with magic missile. On the other hand, the society would probably be enlightened
enough to realize that if magic is not used aggressively it presents no danger
— so there’s no harm in the use of floating disk.

 

Low Magic

 

An extremely important
question is whether a culture draws a distinction between arcane magic and divine
magic. Quite often, a nation that will hunt and persecute the wizard for consorting
with demons will revere the paladin or priest, and accept his powers as gifts
from the gods. This knowledge can be quite valuable if you happen to be a wizard
passing through hostile territory.

 

 

Hermann Stilke (1803–1860) Joan of Arc's Death at the Stake (Right-Hand Part of The Life of Joan of Arc Triptych)

Hermann Stilke (1803–1860) Joan of Arc’s Death at the Stake
(Right-Hand Part of The Life of Joan of Arc Triptych)

The Legal
System – Divine Law

 

Theocratic
Society

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

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Publisher Atlas Games

Publish date 2003

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The effect of alignment
on the shape of society has already been discussed. Most of these ideas carry
over into theocratic societies — with the exception that theocracies have
a tendency to be more zealous in their beliefs.

 

The citizens of a theocracy
are more likely to share the alignment of their power center than those of a
secular society — at least, assuming that the religion is a popular one,
as opposed to being the church of an oppressive minority. This can have a few
specific effects:

 

Good and Evil — Good and evil are serious concepts in a theocratic society, and their influence
is usually far more visible than in a purely secular nation. On a small scale,
good citizens may believe that they have a duty to help their neighbors, to
be generous to those in need, and so on. A good theocracy can be a very pleasant
place to live, if the citizens truly live up to these ideals. The down side
is that theocracies can easily fall into crusader zeal. A good theocracy may
feel obliged to spread the benevolent rule of its gods across the land (regardless
of the wishes of those to be ruled), while an evil nation might believe that
it has a divine right to take all that it can seize.

 

Lawful — Lawful
citizens are more likely to follow the rules of society than their secular counterparts.
After all, this is the will of the gods, not some king’s crazy idea! Break
the law and you could be looking at eternal damnation. A lawful evil theocracy
may still be riddled with graft and corruption, or it may be an extremely organized
society dedicated to the evil goals of its patron gods.

 

Chaotic — A
citizen of a chaotic theocracy will be dedicated to the traditions of her gods,
but she may feel that she is just as well suited to interpret the laws of the
gods as any ordained priest. A chaotic theocracy is likely to be more stable
than a secular chaotic society; at the very least, the people are bound together
by shared beliefs. But that won’t necessarily result in a stable government.
In a society dedicated to chaotic evil gods, the citizens may actually be encouraged
to fight amongst themselves and assassinate their superiors; this sort of behavior
is the way of determining who the gods wish to rule.

 

Society
Models

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

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Publish date 2003

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Monotheism

 

Needless to say, an omnipotent
god is difficult to reflect in game terms; you could choose to give the priests
of such a god access to all domains (as their god is all things) or you could
limit domains to the most abstract concepts, like Good and Law for a benevolent
divine overlord.

 

Society Models

 

A nation dedicated to the
god of Strength and War would be an aggressive and militaristic nation. Justice
would most likely involve trial by combat, and duels would be a common method
of resolving disputes. Any theocracy dedicated to a War god is likely to try
to spread its influence through conquest and crusade, to better display the
power of the god.

 

The goddess of Water and
Travel would inspire a nation to focus on trade and naval power. The people
of such a nation might spend much of their lives on giant houseboats, or even
create floating cities.

 

A god of Nature and Animals
would result in a strongly agricultural nation; such a country might avoid the
construction of large cities and other structures that come between the people
and the land.

 

A realm devoted to the
goddess of Knowledge and Magic would place a tremendous emphasis on education
and learning. Physical violence would be abhorred, and any sort of aggressive
behavior would be punished. Magic would be an integral part of law, both for
determining guilt and enacting punishments.

 

In a nation that revered
the god of Luck and Trickery, the only crime would be getting caught! A court
of justice might literally involve the roll of a die or spinning of a wheel
to determine the fate of the victim; alternately, the defendant might play a
game with his accuser, or get to engage in a bluffing contest.

 

The Nature of Crime

 

In a nation dedicated to
a goddess of War, murder may not be considered a crime as long as the target
has a chance to defend himself. If the goddess is of good alignment, this rule
may only apply to combat

between equals; however, an evil goddess may see the weak as being unfit to
live. In either nation, assassination would be considered a truly vile crime
as it denies the warrior the chance to die in battle.

 

On the other had, in the
nation of a god of Trickery and Evil, assassination may be perfectly acceptable;
it could be that if no one sees the crime, the guard won’t even investigate.
But outright street violence goes against the teachings of the god and must
be punished. Likewise, in the realm of a god of Trickery, crimes like fraud
and theft are unlikely to be investigated; however, a criminal caught in the
act will be punished for her incompetence.

 

The
Role of Magic

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

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Publisher Atlas Games

Publish date 2003

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In a high magic setting,
most representatives of the church will be clerics or paladins. An acolyte may
only have one or two levels, but nonetheless, the representatives of the gods
have the ability to use magic. If arcane magic is uncommon in the society, the
spellcasting power of the church may be one reason that it’s a theocratic
society in the first place; the mystical power of the clerics may give them
a stranglehold on society.

 

In a typical setting, only
high officials will be paladins or clerics. Divine magic is accepted and recognized
as the power of the gods, but it’s something that must be gained through
years of pious devotion. Other religious officials will simply be dedicated
experts with levels in Knowledge (religion).

 

In a low magic setting,
actual spellcasters are an anomaly — saints, avatars, or others who have
been touched by the gods in some way. Church officials are skilled orators and
dedicated to the teachings of their gods, but cannot call on magical powers.
An actual divine spellcaster would be seen as a miracle-worker — or a heretical
witch, depending on the circumstances.

 

Your GM will need to decide
how a society views arcane magic. As a general rule, you should be able to obtain
this information with a successful check with any of the following skills or
abilities: Bardic Lore (DC 10), Gather Information (DC 15), Knowledge (Geography)
(DC 20) Knowledge (local) (DC 10), Knowledge (religion) (DC 15). If the nation
in question is your homeland or if you are a follower of the god of the land,
you should be able to obtain this information without making a die roll.

 

High Magic

 

In a theocratic society,
magic is a gift from the gods. As a result, spells like zone of truth and light
of truth are almost always used during any sort of serious trial.

 

Typical Magic

 

A justice may still have
a few levels of cleric or inquisitor, and he only needs to be 3rd level to gain
access to zone of truth or painful truth. In a typical theocratic court, the
justice will reserve the more powerful spells of verification for difficult
cases; in most situations she will rely on her own instincts, possibly using read the guilty
face
to enhance her natural talents. With that said, if she
has any doubts, she will use truth-telling magic or call for a truthreader to
be brought in.

 

Low Magic

 

In a lawful evil society,
an inquisitor may use his powers and determine that a victim is innocent —
and lie about his findings in favour of his own personal agenda. A chaotic good
priest may choose to suppress the truth in order to protect a community from
emotional trauma.

 

Theocratic
Courts

 

Bernardino Lanino (1512-1583), Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, fresco in Saint Catherine of Alexandria chapel in San Nazaro Maggiore basilica in Milan. Detail from the left sloped side: the trial of Saint Catherine. Picture by Giovanni Dall'Orto, May 5 2007.

 

Bernardino Lanino (1512-1583), Martyrdom of Saint Catherine of Alexandria,
fresco in Saint Catherine of Alexandria chapel in San Nazaro Maggiore basilica
in Milan. Detail from the left sloped side: the trial of Saint Catherine. Picture
by Giovanni Dall’Orto, May 5 2007.

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

Series Campaign Style

Publisher Atlas Games

Publish date 2003

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At the GM’s discretion,
a justice who intentionally violates the precepts of his god may be stripped
of the ability to cast divine spells, or he may suffer the effects of one of
the curses described in Chapter Eight. The punishment will remain in effect
until the justice has performed an act of Atonement, either through the spell
or as dictated by his faith.

 

Of course, the actions
that will call for divine punishment will vary considerably based on the nature
of the god. A goddess of Evil and Trickery may actually encourage her justices
to take bribes, while a god of Law and Good would be sure to punish such an
act. A god of Death and Destruction might punish his justice for taking mercy
on someone who should by rights be sent to the gallows.

 

If you are allowed to speak,
you may make a Diplomacy (or Charisma) check to try to influence the justice,
as described in Law in Secular
Society. If you have at least five ranks in Knowledge (religion), you
get a +2 synergy bonus to your roll. Social standing is less important in the
theocratic court than in secular society, but the GM may choose to apply any
of the following bonuses or penalties to your roll.

 

 

Status Diplomacy Check Modifier
Follower
of a condemned religion
–10
Convicted
heretic
–8
Follower
of a foreign religion
–2
Stranger
to the region
–2
From a
hostile nation
–2
Distrusted
race
–2
Distrusted
class
–1
Follower
of the national religion
+2
Priest
of the national religion
+4
Respected
religious leader
+8

The religious penalties
do not stack — you’re only considered a heretic if you follow the
same religion as the justice. In addition, if you are a heretic, you do not
receive any of the usual bonuses for sharing the same religion as the judge.
The religious bonuses do not stack, either; if you are a priest of the national
religion, it is already assumed that you are a follower of it.

 

During testimony, the justice
will use Sense Motive to gauge the truth of the statements. He, or an attending
truthreader, will likely use one or more of the following spells: detect thoughts, discern lies, light of truth, painful truth, read the guilty
face
, or zone of
truth. At the GM’s discretion, a judge who finds that you honestly believe
that you are innocent may have his attitude improved by one category prior to
your Diplomacy check. Of course, if you’re found to be lying, this will
almost certainly cause the judge’s attitude to shift to hostile or unfriendly.

 

In this style of court,
defendants are rarely allowed to use advocates; the justice will wish to judge
the truth of your words, and an advocate could evade the effects of truth-telling
spells by simply being unaware of the facts of the case — as far as your
advocate is concerned, she isn’t lying if she says you’re innocent.

 

At the end of these statements,
you may make an opposed Diplomacy (or Charisma) check to influence the attitude
of the justice, with the same modifiers given in “The Voice of God.”
Of course, the judge’s attitude may not matter, if divine law is clear
on how your case should be resolved.

 

The GM will decide if you
are offered this opportunity. If so, you must first make up a myth that you
feel supports your actions. You don’t have to go into detail, and you don’t
have to worry about matching your story to historical names — but you need
a simple fable, moral, or myth that you feel justifies your actions (whether
you are innocent or guilty) and fits within the basic precepts of the religion.
Once you’ve done this, you and your accuser must make opposed Knowledge (religion) checks; the GM will modify your roll based on the strength and plausibility
of your myth. This acts just like a Diplomacy (or Charisma) check, and is used
to influence the attitude of the justice.

 

You can have an advocate
stand in for you to make the rolls — but you still need to come up with
the story.

 

Once the justice has heard
these pleas, she will reflect on the matter. Ultimately, she must choose a religious
text that applies to the situation and provides a punishment or a reason to
release the defendant. The judge has a limited set of options; unlike the justice
in “The Voice of God,” her decisions can be questioned by the church,
and she may lose her position if she makes questionable rulings, not to mention
risk divine displeasure. Ultimately it’s up to the GM to decide what options
the religion would present and how the judge can interpret the scripture. You
cannot question the decisions of the justice — but if there is sufficient
time before you suffer the consequences of judgment, a higher ranking member
of the church could question the application of scripture — assuming, of
course, she had some reason to intervene on your behalf.

 

Punishment

 

The level of punishment
would depend on the nature of the crime. Here are a few possibilities, ranging
from minor to severe. These can be considered the result of a scourge spell
with a caster level of 26.

 

• Warts, boils, or
discolored skin on the face. This results in a general –1 penalty to Charisma.
However, people belonging to the local religion will recognize it as a sign
of the divine punishment; this results in a –4 to any Charisma-based skill
checks and a basic attitude of unfriendly when dealing with religious NPCs.

 

• A –2 penalty
to any one ability score, representing weakness, general confusion, or a repellent
aura.

 

• Nightmares give
you a 50% chance each that you will suffer effects identical to the nightmare
spell every time you try to sleep.

 

• Any sort of disease.
Such an affliction would not be contagious, even if the disease normally is.

 

• A 50% chance that
any spell you cast will backfire, having the reverse effect or striking you
instead of your target.

 

• Loss of voice is
a fitting punishment for a Constitution artist or someone who used magic to commit a
crime.

 

• Loss of sight or
hearing, as the blindness/deafness spell.

 

• Any of the effects
of bestow curse.

 

• A repellent aura
causes all creatures — both animals and sentient beings — to have
a hostile attitude towards you. This also lowers your effective Charisma by
6 points.

 

• Any of the curse
effects provided in Chapter Eight. See scourge and malediction for ideas.

 

Getting a divine punishment
removed is no simple matter. You can have it removed using the standard techniques
for breaking a scourge, but the high caster level makes this extremely difficult.
However, a priest of the same religion as the god who laid the punishment upon
you can absolve you of your guilt by setting a mundane form of punishment. Once
you complete your sentence, the gods will be satisfied and the curse will be
removed. However, the punishment does have to be appropriate to the crime; if
you just happen to have a priest of Khesh in your party, she can’t let
you off the hook every time Khesh gets mad at you.

 

In addition to these techniques,
a cleric can use Atonement to intercede with the gods. But in the case of a
major transgression a god may not be willing to interfere with the actions of
another deity, especially if the afflicted individual is not a follower of the
god providing the Atonement. This may result in an increased XP cost to the
priest, or an outright failure of the ritual. And while Atonement, wish, or miracle can remove the scourge, if you have not truly atoned for your sin there
is nothing to prevent the god from revisiting his anger upon you the next time
you enter his earthly domain.

Trial By Ordeal

 

Theocratic courts will
often turn to trial by ordeal. The concept of the ordeal is that the fate of
the accused is placed in the hands of the gods themselves — either literally,
as in the case of a combat to the death, or figuratively, if the accused is
asked to perform a miracle. The idea is that the gods will protect the innocent
from harm, and ensure that the guilty are punished.

 

In some societies —
especially chaotic ones — trial by ordeal could be the only form of law.
A chaotic evil nation dedicated to a god of War and Strength could easily make
trial by combat the basis for any sort of dispute. In lawful societies, it’s
more likely to be a supplemental form of trial. Under the voice of god system,
a justice could choose to set an ordeal instead of making a ruling himself.
Under a system of divine interpretation, the scriptures could insist on ordeals
for specific types of crimes.

 

Trial By Combat

 

Gerichtskampf / judicial combat. Darstellung des Zweikampfes zwischen Wilhelm Marschalk von Dornsberg und Theodor Haschenacker in Augsburg, Weinmarkt (1409). Marschalks Schwert zerbrach zu Beginn des Kampfes, aber er vermochte Haschenacker mit dessen eigenem Schwert zu töten. Die Schilde der beiden Kämpfer wurden in der Leonardskirche ausserhalb Augsburgs aufbewahrt bis zu deren Abriss 1542.

 

Gerichtskampf / judicial combat. Darstellung des Zweikampfes zwischen Wilhelm
Marschalk von Dornsberg und Theodor Haschenacker in Augsburg, Weinmarkt (1409).
Marschalks Schwert zerbrach zu Beginn des Kampfes, aber er vermochte Haschenacker
mit dessen eigenem Schwert zu töten. Die Schilde der beiden Kämpfer
wurden in der Leonardskirche ausserhalb Augsburgs aufbewahrt bis zu deren Abriss
1542.

 

Trial by combat is one
of the most common forms of ordeal. While it’s especially appropriate for
gods of War or Strength, many domains can fit within this form of trial. With
Luck or Protection, will the god shield you from your enemy or grant you the
luck you need? With Death or Destruction, can you prove yourself to be the vessel
of the god’s power? The principle is that if the deity is on your side,
you can’t possibly lose.

 

At the GM’s discretion,
you may gain a sacred (or profane) bonus of +1 to +5 to AC, saves, and attack
and damage rolls. On the other hand, if the god is not on your side, your opponent
could receive this bonus.

 

The GM always has the final
say in this matter; more often than not, the gods will leave the matter to your
skill, wits, and the luck of your dice.

 

Trial by Element

 

Deutsch: Die Probe des glühenden Eisens vor Kaiser Otto III., ein Tafelbild von Dirk Bouts, gemalt 1470/75 (Musée Royal des Beaux-Arts, Brüssel). Das Bild zeigt eine sagenhafte Überlieferung um Otto III. (980 — 1002): Ein Mann soll mit der Frau Ottos die Ehe gebrochen haben, weshalb ihn der Herrscher enthaupten ließ. Die Witwe bewies das Gegenteil: In der einen Hand hielt sie das abgetrennte Haupt ihres Mannes, in der anderen ein glühendes Eisen English: The Ordeal by Fire

 

Deutsch: Die Probe des glühenden Eisens vor Kaiser Otto III., ein Tafelbild
von Dirk Bouts, gemalt 1470/75 (Musée Royal des Beaux-Arts, Brüssel).
Das Bild zeigt eine sagenhafte Überlieferung um Otto III. (980 — 1002):
Ein Mann soll mit der Frau Ottos die Ehe gebrochen haben, weshalb ihn der Herrscher
enthaupten ließ. Die Witwe bewies das Gegenteil: In der einen Hand hielt
sie das abgetrennte Haupt ihres Mannes, in der anderen ein glühendes Eisen
English: The Ordeal by Fire

 

Assuming that you’re
dealing with still water and just have to keep afloat, this only requires a Swim check with a DC of 5. If your modified Swim score (combining Strength modifier,
encumbrance or armor penalties, and ranks in the skill) is at least +4, you
shouldn’t have to make regular per-round rolls. However, for every hour
you need to stay afloat you must make a Swim check (DC 20) or suffer 1d6 points
of nonlethal damage and become fatigued. In addition, if you’re af loat
in salt water or otherwise tainted liquid, after a day has passed you will begin
to suffer from dehydration. This requires you to make a Constitution check (DC
10, +1 for each previous check) once per hour, suffering 1d6 nonlethal damage
for each failed check.

 

This requires you to make
a Fortitude save (DC 15, +1 for each previous check) every 10 minutes; failure
results in 1d4 points of nonlethal damage. If you become unconscious, you suffer
1d4 points of normal damage every 10 minutes, with no saving throw.

 

These are just a few examples.
As with trial by combat, the GM may decide to give you a sacred bonus to checks
or saves if the gods truly are on your side.

 

Trial by Skill

 

Using opposed Diplomacy checks, can you convince the jury of your innocence? In many ways, this is not
unlike a traditional modern trial.

 

A god of Trickery or Luck
could use a game like poker; a goddess of Knowledge would be more likely to
use Chess, or a similar game of strategy and skill.

 

Tug-of-war could be resolved
as an extended grapple. Holding weights could require a Strength check (DC 10,
+1 per previous check) every minute, with the first to drop the weights being
the loser.

 

The Lawless
Lands

 

Carl Gustaf Hellqvist (1851–1890) Title: Valdemar Atterdag holding Visby to ransom, 1361 Date 1882

 

Carl Gustaf Hellqvist (1851–1890) Title: Valdemar Atterdag holding
Visby to ransom, 1361 Date 1882

 

Alignment
in Warlord Societies

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

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The vast majority of warlord
states are chaotic in nature. A nation ruled purely by military power is inherently
unstable; if a powerful leader manages to establish a successful dynasty, the
society will shift towards a lawful alignment. Warlords rarely have any interest
in managing the daily affairs of a nation; the common folk are usually left
to produce crops and keep the society afloat. Depending on the alignment of
the lord, his warriors may be revered or feared as they are either the protectors
of the people or a scourge on the land.

 

Chaotic Evil — In a chaotic evil society, the common folk live in constant fear of the lords
who rule the land. Warbands take whatever they want, pillaging and killing those
who interfere. A warlord rules through fear, and typically holds power only
as long as he can hold a blade.

 

Chaotic Good — Chaotic good warlords are more likely to have the support of the people; the
warlord may not have any sort of traditional claim to the land, but she’s
seen as a protector of the realm. The warlord typically has no patience for
complex systems of law, but she will try to do what’s best for her people
and see that justice is done. In a chaotic good society, a warlord is unlikely
to be assassinated by her allies. But the loyalty of her subjects does not extend
to her children, and her death may trigger a vicious war of succession.

 

Neutral — Neutral
and chaotic neutral warlords stand between these two extremes. A neutral warlord
will expect tribute from the commoners who share his territory. If he doesn’t
receive his due, he’ll take it by force, but he will not be as wantonly
cruel as his evil counterpart. Chaotic neutral warlords are often driven by
impulse and the thirst for glory, and are given to extravagant gestures of generosity
or rage.

 

Alignment
in Collapsing Societies

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

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Typically, this sort of
society appears when a formerly lawful society slips into chaos. The power center
itself is chaotic, but the populace is largely lawful or neutral; thus they
continue to obey the laws of the land even as those laws become increasingly
more erratic and illogical. Alternately, the society itself could be lawful,
but simply burdened with bizarre laws due to the decrees of past emperors. By
tradition, a law cannot be removed or changed once it has been made, so the
insane laws have remained even though leveler heads now prevail.

 

A chaotic good leader may
actually be trying to do what’s best for his people — he’s just
having trouble determining the proper course of action. Perhaps he’s trying
to create the perfect civilization, one law at a time; he has a vision in his
mind, and the trip there is just a very strange one. Such a ruler probably won’t
condemn people to death for failing to cut their hair or follow the daily dress
code, but failure to conform to the current laws could certainly result in fines
or public humiliation.

 

A chaotic evil ruler could
be insane, or she could simply be drunk with power; she has no long-term goals,
and is simply playing with the laws of her ancient kingdom like a child with
blocks. She might sentence people to death for wearing white or speaking elven.
Once she tires of playing with her citizens, such a ruler could easily start
a war or take other dangerous actions.

 

Alignment
in Traditional Societies

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

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A society that’s held
together by traditions will lean towards lawful or neutral alignments. Chaotic
nations are more likely to fall back to the rule of warlords or into total anarchy;
a chaotic population lacks the respect for the law that a traditional society
needs to survive. Likewise, evil nations rarely hold onto this style of government
for long; an evil family will generally desire more power and control, and attempt
to seize it through force or guile. With that said, it is possible that you
will encounter a realm in the midst of this process. An evil clan may be searching
for a way to seize power, but at the moment it lacks the strength to challenge
the other families in the region.

 

In a lawful nation, respect
for tradition means everything; the citizens consider the laws to be what holds
their society together. In a neutral nation, the traditions are seen more as
guidelines; they provide a framework, but it is up to the citizens to use Wisdom to fill in the gaps, and to create new traditions in situations where the old
laws no longer apply.

 

Traditional Courts

 

Typically, you will be
allowed to speak in your own defense in a system of traditional justice. Advocates,
however, are rarely allowed. A Diplomacy roll can be used to influence the opinion
of your judges, as outlined in previous chapters. However, in the less-structured
traditional system, Bluff can also play a roll. A successful Bluff check —
opposed by your judges’ Sense Motive rolls and modified based on the strength
of the evidence against you — will shift the judges’ attitudes towards
you up by one category.

Adventures

 

You can pick up the local
customs with any of the following skills or abilities: Bardic Lore (DC 20), Knowledge (Geography) (DC 20), Knowledge (law) (DC 15), Knowledge (local) (DC
10).

 

Alignment
in Ruined Nations

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

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A ruined nation has no
organized leadership. It could best be called chaotic neutral, as each different
band of refugees will have a different attitude. Good survivors may hope to
recreate the former civilization, and are more likely to provide shelter to
the weak or helpless. Evil refugees may seek to build a tyrannical powerbase
in order to become warlords. Or they may simply be driven by fear and selfish
greed, taking whatever they need to survive with no thought for the needs of
others.

 

There’s no way to
predict what you’ll run into. And in many ruined civilizations the refugees
will need to keep moving in order to survive, constantly fleeing from the force
that devastated the realm. As a result, even if you find trustworthy allies,
you may not be able to locate them the next time you pass through the region.

 

Law

 

If a refuge community does
call for a trial, it will typically use some simple form of trial by ordeal,
or the leader of the community will hear pleas. As with a traditional society,
both Diplomacy and Bluff can be employed in this situation; the leader has ultimate authority, and if
you manage to shift his attitude to helpful, odds are that he’ll let you
go regardless of evidence.

 

Sorcerer Societies

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

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If the talent for sorcery
passes through the blood, then each clan could have certain specialties; one
village might have a knack for necromancy, another talent for enchantment or
divination. These specialties might form the basis for arranged marriages, as
the elders try to bring new talents into their community. Certain clans might
consider marriage to foreigners — or even members of other clans —
to be a serious crime, potentially weakening the divine blood.

 

If a village does have
a range of talents, then an individual’s magical abilities could determine
his role within the community, as well. A villager who can cast mount might
serve as a farrier; magic missile and acid arrow would be the tools of hunters
and soldiers, while illusionists could serve as spies or entertainers.

 

Alignment

 

A society of sorcerers
does not have an inherent bent to any particular alignment. An evil society
might lean more towards the attitude of a warlord state; instead of ruling by
the sword, a sorcerer-warlord could dominate a region with her band of mystical
warriors. An alliance of peaceful clans would have more in common with a traditional
society; as such, the inhabitants would lean more towards lawful and neutral
alignments.

 

While it would be a very
different sort of society, it’s easy to imagine a neutral evil monarchy
in which the sorcerer elite maintain a tyrannical rule over a population of
powerless slaves. Or a theocracy dedicated to a goddess of magic might see sorcerers
as the blessed children of the goddess. Or perhaps a ruined society collapsed
due to a magical catastrophe; now horrible aberrations roam the blighted landscape,
but those refugees who survived the disaster have begun to develop mystical
powers.

 

Law

 

One critical difference
is that whatever its system of law, a sorcerous society will use magic in its
trials. detect thoughts, charm person, read the guilty
face
, detect magical
residue
, and agony will all be brought into play as the elders search for the
truth.

 

Sever from the source would
be a common punishment for members of the sorcerous community; the duration
of this magical “imprisonment” would vary based on the nature of the
crime. The loss of her mystical powers would be a terrible blow to any sorcerer.

 

Against the
Law

 

Ignorance
of the Law

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

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Publish date 2003

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As a general rule, you
can pick up the basic taboos of a society with any of the following checks:
Bardic Lore (DC 20), Knowledge (Geography) (DC 20), Knowledge (local) (DC 10), Knowledge (law) (DC 15). If you are in your homeland, you receive a +5 to all
of these checks except for Knowledge (local). Knowledge (law) will give you
the most specific information about the legal ramifications of an action, possible
punishments, systems of trial, and the like; the other skills simply help you
to determine “Is this a crime?”

 

You can also use Gather Information to pick up the general customs. The DC of the check is only 10,
but it takes the standard amount of time (a few hours) to perform the check.
In addition, if you’re in a backwater village, the local inhabitants may
not know all the laws of the land. Of course, if they don’t know their
own laws, hopefully you won’t get in trouble for breaking them.

 

In addition to these skills, Augury or divination can both help you determine whether an action is a bad
idea. With Augury, you may not be able to tell if fighting those orcs is unwise
because it’s against the law or because your group is hopelessly outnumbered
— but in either case, a bad idea is a bad idea.

 

Witchcraft/Criminal
Casting

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

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Another question is the
role played by magical items. If a nation fears arcane magic, its people probably
won’t see much of a difference between using a wand of fire or casting
a spell yourself. On the other hand, magic items with subtle effects may go
unnoticed. You probably won’t have customs agents checking every sack to
see if you’ve got a bag of
holding
. But dramatic items — like a brilliant
energy weapon — may draw unwanted attention. And in extreme cases, the
locals may use magehounds to sniff
out any object or individual bearing the taint of supernatural forces.

 

If a nation fears magic
enough, it may not have access to spells that detect spells; after all, these
are themselves spells. However, there are a few mundane tools that can be used
to spot the activity of those nefarious sorcerers. Spell Sense allows a character to recognize
the emanations of magic — just the thing for your paranoid witchfinder
general. The magehound is a dog with
the ability to sniff out spells and magic items. Both should be relatively rare;
you shouldn’t be bumping into magehounds on every corner throughout the continent. But if you are dealing with a serious
Inquisition, be prepared to have these tricks used against you.

 

New Feat

 

Spell
Sense
(General)

 

New magical
beast

 

Magehound

 

Secret
Magic

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

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If you’re playing
a wizard or a sorcerer and you’re passing through a superstitious nation or a restrictive theocracy,
you’re going to need to hide your abilities — but you probably want
to find a way to use your powers. One of the first questions is what you have
to worry about from the opposition. Is it simply a matter of not being seen
casting a spell, or do you have to worry about inquisitors or magehounds picking up your scent and tracking you down?

 

Magehounds and other foes using Detect Magic present
a difficult challenge for any spellcaster. Your best friend in this situation
is Misdirection; cast this spell on your
friend the fighter,
and suddenly you don’t radiate magic at all. Other options include nondetection, mystical void, and magic
aura
(if you’re just trying to hide magic items). In addition to these
spells, there are a variety of magic items that can help to conceal your activities
from Detect Magic; these are provided
at the end of this chapter.

 

If your problem is one
of physical observation, there are two primary issues: components and effects.
The feats Still
Spell
and Silent Spell are invaluable for concealing your activities,
but even if you don’t utter an incantation the appearance of a huge ball
of fire may draw unwanted attention.

 

In a theocratic society
where the worship of “false” gods or use of arcane magic is suppressed,
you can always try to trick your opponents into thinking you’re calling
on the local gods to produce your magical effects. If you’re casting a
spell that has no verbal component, you can chant whatever invocation you want.
With a successful Knowledge (religion) check (DC 10) you can make up an incantation
that at least sounds plausible; remember that the average guardsman can’t
check the rulebooks and say “Hey! clerics can’t cast fireball
If one of the observers also has Knowledge (religion), he can make a check opposing
your roll; if his score is higher than yours, he recognizes that your invocation
is a Bluff. In addition, if you’re casting an arcane spell with somatic
components, an observer can make a Knowledge (Arcana) check (DC 10) or Spellcraft check (DC 10) to recognize the gestures as being associated with wizardry. If
the situation is reversed, you can disguise a divine spell as arcane; follow
the same procedure, but switch Knowledge (religion) and Knowledge (Arcana).

 

You can also use a Knowledge (religion) check (DC 10) to try
to disguise a divine spell by pretending to invoke a different god than you
actually are; you might recite a prayer to the moon goddess while actually drawing
on the power of the sun, for instance. Of course, spells that require a divine
focus are a bit problematic; it’s hard to appear to be invoking the Lady
of the Moon with a sunburst in your hand.
However, many useful clerical spells don’t require a divine focus, including bestow curse, blindness/deafness, cause fear, command,
contagion, all cure spells, Detect Magic, Detect Poison, dispel
magic
, geas, harm, heal, all inflict spells, lesser
geas
, and silence.

 

One drawback with this
trick is that if the gods are really paying attention, you may find that you’ll
have a little explaining to do somewhere down the line. If you’re truly
acting in the interests of your god, he’ll probably overlook this minor
transgression — but what about the deity whose name you’re taking
in vain?

 

Of course, if you don’t
have the Silent Spell feat, this strategy won’t be of much use. Another
alternative is the cloak of silence spell, which allows you to cast a spell
with a verbal component without being heard. This won’t help you explain
how a lightning bolt appeared when you gestured — but it can keep people
from starting a witchhunt at the first sound of an incantation.

 

If you’ve managed
to find some way to cast your spell in silence, an ally can attempt to draw
other eyes in the room away from you for long enough for you to perform your
ritual. This requires a Bluff check opposed by the Sense Motive checks of the
other people in the room; if successful, the people will glance over at the
character instigating the distraction. This trick only works if you don’t
appear to be a threat, though; people will rarely look away from you in the
midst of battle because a half ling is jumping up and down. It should also be
noted that only hostile actions disrupt an invisibility spell; as a result,
if you’re invisible and able to cast silently, you can sneak around healing
your friends or casting spells like bless or protection
from evil
.

 

In peaceful situations,
a Perform check (DC 20) will also tend to draw the eyes of the audience. A lesser
score may or may not attract attention, at the GM’s discretion; but a truly
masterful performance is hard to ignore.

 

If you can cast without
being seen, another alternative to silent casting is to drown out the sound
of the incantation with other activities. If you really need to cast divination
and you don’t want the people in the next room to hear, get your bard to
sing a song, or have the dwarf recite an epic tale. Just because your god has
to hear your voice doesn’t mean that anyone else does.

 

If you can’t disguise
your spells, your best answer is probably to rely on subtle long-term effects
like darkvision, bull’s strength, cat’s grace, Disguise Self, bear’s
endurance, invisibility, mage armor, magic vestment, mislead, and mount. The
long durations of these spells allows you to cast the spell when the opportunity
presents itself, and continue to benefit from it for hours to come.

 

Hiding
in Plain Sight

 

It’s hard to beat Still
Spell
and Silent Spell when it comes to hiding magic from the masses,
but here are a few more tricks for your repertoire. Suppress Spell Energy is
a metamagic feat that helps you to conceal your actions from Detect Magic and Detect Magic residue. Cloak of silence is a new spell that allows you to maintain
a bubble of silence around you — so you can incant as loudly as you want,
and no one can hear you. Combine it with invisibility and you can cast all the
spells you please, as long as you don’t actually attack anyone. Finally, mystical void conceals the auras of ongoing enchantments and magic items on
your person — which can be invaluable when you need to sneak past that
pack of magehounds.

 

New Feat: Suppress Spell Energy (Metamagic)

 

New Spells:

 

Cloak
of Silence

 

Mystical
Void

 

Within
the Evil Empire

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

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Lawful evil tyrants tax
the lifesblood from the citizens. Neutral evil sorcerer-princes rule over an
oppressed mass of powerless slaves. Chaotic evil warlords pillage the farmers who are merely trying to survive. Against these powerful forces, the people
have only one hope — you.

 

For an interesting challenge,
you could use NPC classes instead of core classes; as courtiers and guardsmen,
you’ll have to use aristocrats and warriors instead of fighters,
rogues, and wizards.

 

Hiding You Trail

 

So you and your band of
jolly outlaws are setting up shop in the Dark Woods, and you don’t want
the earl’s men tracking you to your hideout. Or perhaps you’re plotting
a magical attack against the Church of Pain and you’re worried about the
mystical senses of the Church inquisitors. Well, there are a number of tricks
you can use to help to throw off pursuit.

 

If you’re in the wilds, pass without trace is the obvious spell of choice — although, if you’ve
got the spellpower, flight will certainly do the trick, too. control
weather
can also be quite useful when it comes to covering tracks. If you don’t
have magic at your disposal, you can increase the DC of Survival checks used
to track you if you cover your trail.

 

In an urban community,
the most important element in avoiding discovery is to get the local population
on your side. Performing heroic deeds and spreading a little money around the
community can both help to throw off pursuit; see Chapter Two for complete information
on Gather Information and urban tracking. However, sometimes you just don’t
have the time to earn the friendship of the townsfolk through noble action.
If you know how to canvas an area and have a charismatic tongue, you may be
able to convince the locals to lend you a hand.

 

Finally, in this age of
inquisitors, you may have to worry about being tracked down by magical means.
The spells Misdirection and nondetection are two highly effective techniques for avoiding unwanted divination. In addition,
wizards and sorcerers have developed a wide variety of tools to help them evade mystical detection.
While most of these are fairly simple to produce, they will probably be rarely
seen in nations that do not deal with inquisitors on a regular basis; if you’re
not worried about people using detect magical
residue
, you don’t really
need powder of power. And, of course, if they are too easy to come by, what’s
the point of having inquisitors in the first place?

 

Survival (Wisdom)

 

Diplomacy (Charisma)

 

Punishments

 

Punishment using Magic

 

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and Punishment

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Other options depend on
the level of magic that’s available to the court. lesser geas and geas/quest are both highly effective short-term solutions, but the effects may not last
long enough to handle a pilgrimage or an extended quest. mark of justice, greater
mark of justice, and sentinel stones can all enforce a particular type of behavior
for an extended period of time.

 

When dealing with geas/quest, mark of justice, and sentinel
stones, be aware that the caster can either demand a course of action (“Return
with the Crown of Gol within six days’ time”), command that you refrain
from a specific action (“Cause no harm to any human being”), or both
at once (“You will leave this land as quickly as possible, and then never
return”). Taboo — only allows you to forbid a course of action, but
it has more powerful short-term effects than geas. While geas and taboo spells
have a limited duration, part of a geas could involve returning on a regular
basis to have the spell refreshed; in a sense, this would be a form of mystical
probation.

 

New Spell:

 

Greater
Mark of Justice

 

New Wondrous Items:

 

Greater Sentinel Stone

 

Sentinel
Stone

 

Knowledge (Arcana orReligion)
(Charisma)

 

 

Vincent van Gogh, The Prison Courtyard Date: 1890Vincent van Gogh, The Prison Courtyard Date: 1890

Imprisonment
and Other Punishments

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

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Imprisonment

 

As a general rule, you
must make a Fortitude save (DC 10) for every week that you spend in a hostile
prison. Failure — and a roll of 1 is always a failure — results in
the loss of one point of Constitution. This is temporary ability score damage,
but you cannot recover the lost points while you remain in the same conditions.
If you are released or receive medical attention and better nutrition, you can
recover the lost points at the usual rate of one point per day.

 

Beatings

 

Judicial beating does not
translate well into a “damage per stroke” system. Consider it to be
a form of coup de grace; when you’re being beaten you are typically restrained
and helpless, so it’s really a question of the level of damage your tormenter
wants to inflict.

 

Being beaten has two effects.
The first is loss of hit points; the second is temporary ability damage to your Dexterity score. A successful Fortitude save can reduce or negate these effects.
The damage and DC of the saving throw is based on the level of the beating,
as indicated below:

 

Light — 20%
hit point loss (Fortitude DC 13 halves), 1d4–1 Dexterity loss (Fortitude
DC 13 negates)

 

Moderate — 40% hit point loss (Fortitude DC 15 halves), 1d4 Dexterity loss (Fortitude DC
14 halves)

 

Heavy — 60%
hit point loss (Fortitude DC 16 halves), 1d6 Dexterity loss (Fortitude DC 15
halves)

 

This assumes that you’re
being beaten with a cane, scourge, or similar weapon. If your tormentor is unarmed
you suffer nonlethal damage instead of normal damage, and the DC of the save
against loss of Dexterity is reduced by 3.

 

Disfigurement

 

The standard form of disfigurement
is branding. A hot iron is used to sear a mark onto your flesh; this inflicts
3 points of damage and leaves a distinctive scar. A brand is usually put in
on a prominent location — the face, a hand, the neck, etc. — so that
it will be seen by others. A brand is rarely disturbing enough to affect your Charisma score, but depending on the nature of the crime of which it accuses
you, it may affect the attitudes of NPCs you interact with. If the crime is
serious, the attitude of most honest NPCs will be reduced by at least one category
(indifferent to unfriendly, for example). On the other hand, a fellow criminal
might actually respond to you more favorably; this could result in an attitude
shift in your favor.

 

In addition to any attitude
shift, depending on the situation and nature of your brand you may suffer a
circumstance penalty of –1 to –3 on any Bluff, Diplomacy, or Sleight
of Hand checks that you make; the exact level of the penalty should be determined
by the GM based on your audience.

 

It’s harder to fast-talk
someone when you’ve got “Constitution Artist” stamped on your forehead,
after all.

 

You can remove a brand
using heal, lesser
wish
, miracle, regeneration,
or wish. You can also simply burn the skin around the brand or cut it away;
doing this to yourself requires a Will save (DC 15), so you may need a friend
to help you out. This causes you to take 1d6+2 points of damage, but you’re
free of the brand — though without regeneration or heal you’ll still
end up with an unsightly scar. Because a brand can be removed in this manner,
mystically advanced societies prefer to use the spell indelible mark.

 

New Spell:

 

Indelible
Mark

 

Mutilation

 

Mutilation as a form of
punishment is almost unheard of in good-aligned societies, but can be quite
common in evil nations; the tyrant appreciates its value as a deterrent, while
the warlord simply enjoys causing pain. In neutral- aligned societies specific
types of mutilation may be viewed as a form of just revenge — taking the
“an eye for an eye” approach.

 

Here are a few forms of
mutilation. The effects are permanent unless the limb is restored, which can
be accomplished through use of miracle, regeneration, or wish.

 

Ears — Gives
–1 drain to Charisma score, –2 circumstance penalty to all Listen checks.

 

Eyes — Gives
–1 drain to Charisma score; you suffer all the penalties of the blinded
condition.

 

Hand — You
have a 50% chance to miscast any spell requiring somatic components, in which
case the spell is lost. You also have the obvious disadvantage of only having
one hand to hold objects. You can get a prosthetic (such as the traditional
pirate’s hook), but unless it’s magically animated you’ll take
a –4 circumstance penalty on any action involving the hand.

 

Fingers — Sometimes
fingers or finger joints are removed in place of an entire hand. In this case
you only have a 25% chance of miscasting a spell with somatic components, and
you take a –2 circumstance penalty to any action involving use of the hand.

 

Genitals — A
common punishment for rape, this has no quantifiable game effects, but it’s
really not a lot of fun. Some societies also use this as a penalty for treason,
ensuring that you will not propagate your traitorous blood.

 

Nose — Gives
–3 drain to Charisma score.

 

Tongue — You
cannot speak or cast spells with verbal components.

 

If a society practices
mutilation as a standard form of punishment, then members of the society will
know the crimes associated with each form of injury; this has the same social
effect as having a brand.

 

Capital Punishment

 

 

Paul Delaroche (1797–1859) The execution of Lady Jane Grey in the Tower of London in the year 1554.

 

Paul Delaroche (1797–1859) The execution of Lady Jane Grey in the Tower
of London in the year 1554.

In a good-aligned society,
execution will be saved for the most serious crimes — premeditated murder
or serious acts of treason — and will generally be as quick and painless
as possible. As you slide down the scale of alignment, execution becomes increasingly
more common; in a chaotic evil nation, it may be the standard form of punishment
for challenging the warlord. In addition, the methods of execution will become
increasingly more horrific — instead of being hanged or beheaded, you may
find that you are scheduled to be drawn and quartered, stoned to death by the
public, burned or buried alive, slowly crushed, have your flesh eaten away by
slow-acting acid, or condemned to some other charming way passing into the next
world. Such executions will generally be public spectacles, emphasizing both
the power of the state and the price of challenging the laws of the land. As
always, neutral nations tend to stand between the two, although there are always
strange extremes. A lawful neutral nation might impose the death sentence for
every crime, in an attempt to create a utopian society where no one dares to
break the law.

 

Most of the time, if you’re
going to be executed you’re completely helpless and it’s considered
a coup de grace. In the case of being burned alive, you might be able to forestall
death by using a spell like protection
from energy
; but assuming that you’re
chained, the executioners will probably notice that you aren’t burning
and try an alternate tactic (say, shooting you with arrows). If you’re
being stoned to death — that is, a crowd is pummelling you with rocks until
you die — you will take 3d4 points of damage per round; it’s possible
your friends will be able to rescue you before the mob finishes its work. But
as a general rule, the best way to survive an execution is to not be the one
with your head on the chopping block.

 

In a nation where magic
is common, the victim’s remains may be stored in a reliquary ward to prevent resurrection. Even if the executioners
don’t have the means or desire to ever resurrect the victim, they’ll
want to make sure that no one else can dig him up and bring him back (although true resurrection will still work).
In truly vile nations, the corpse of a criminal may be animated as a zombie and set to work in the community as a guard or laborer — a sinister reminder
that the state holds the power of life and death over its subjects.

 

Magical Retribution

 

In a society where magic
is part of everyday life, it’s only natural to assume that spells will
be used to punish criminals. Earlier sections have already discussed the value
of geas/quest, taboo or mark of justice in enforcing punishments. Here are a
few more examples of mystical retribution:

 

Bestow
curse
could be used as a form of punishment; this could be intended to be
a permanent affliction, or else the law may intend to use remove
curse
after a certain period of time.

 

Blindness/deafness would be a more humane way to punish an offender than physical mutilation —
not to mention being easier to reverse.

 

Energy
drain
— carrying the potential of permanent level loss — could
be used as punishment by powerful wizards or clerics.

 

Feeblemind could be seen as a fitting punishment for certain crimes. Insanity is also an
option, but someone afflicted with insanity can pose a considerable threat to
those around him.

 

Forget (from another book)
can be used to strip the knowledge of criminal skills from the mind of an offender.

 

Plane
shift
allows a nation to exile a condemned criminal from the world itself;
in a theocracy that uses the voice of god system, the justice may believe that
it is his divine right to banish the guilty to the abyss.

 

Baleful
polymorph
is a highly effective punishment; the form that the victim is
given may be determined by the crime that he has committed. For example, a bandit
judged to be a wolf in human form might be given the body of a hart and released
into the wild, so he might suffer at the jaws of the wolves. Baleful
polymorph
, flesh to stone, trap the soul, and imprison can also all be used to create magical prisons.

 

Judicial
Curses

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

Series Campaign Style

Publisher Atlas Games

Publish date 2003

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There are times when a
criminal cannot be brought to justice, or when she is simply too powerful for
the forces of the law to overcome. But where an evil archmage may be able to
resist any minor spell a crusading cleric has in her repertoire, the church
can call on the power of the faithful to overcome his resistance. If a spell
is identified as a judicial curse, it has the following benefits and restrictions:

 

Ceremonial Force: You
can increase the power of the spell by taking additional time to perform the
ritual and by receiving support from assistants. This increased effect is measured
in ceremonial force.

 

For every two hours you
add to the casting time of the spell, you receive 1 point of ceremonial force.
You can receive a total of 3 points of ceremonial force by increasing casting
time.

 

For every two assistants
you have helping you with the ritual, you receive 1 point of ceremonial force,
to a maximum bonus of 3. Assistants must be of at least 2nd level in a class
that has the potential to cast the spell in question. To provide you with this
benefit, an assistant must perform the verbal and somatic components required
by the spell, and he must participate for the full casting time of the spell.

 

If the spell is divine
in nature, you can increase its power further through use of a sacred relic
of your deity. The nature of the deity will determine the nature of her relics;
a goddess of knowledge might have spread the pages of the first book across
the world, while a war god would treasure the weapons of his sacred champions.
You cannot create a relic, and it’s ultimately up to the GM to decide if
your god even has relics. Depending on the holiness of the object, you will
gain 1 to 3 points of ceremonial force from its presence. Even if you have multiple
relics, you cannot gain more that 3 points of ceremonial force. Arcane casters
may be able to mimic this effect by creating esoteric spell amplifiers; this
is left up to the GM. Ceremonial force has the following effects:

 

• Spell formulas (such
as spell range) may be modified by the number of points of ceremonial force
in the spell. These effects vary, and details can be found in the description
of a specific judicial curse. For example, steal the painful memory uses ceremonial
force to determine both the range of the spell and the number of people that
it can affect.

 

• The ceremonial force
is added to the DC of the spell’s saving throw. This cannot increase the
DC by more than 5 points.

 

• If the spell effect
can be removed with break enchantment, the ceremonial force is added to your
level to determine the effective caster level of the spell.

 

• Unless otherwise
specified, the effects of a judicial curse can be broken with remove
curse
.
Add the ceremonial force of the spell to your caster level; the character attempting
to break the curse must be of equal or higher level or remove
curse
will fail.

 

Example: You’re
a level 15 cleric casting scourge. You take two hours (+1 CF), you have two
assistants, (+1 CF) and a minor relic (+1 CF), for a total of three points of
ceremonial force. This increases the saving throw DC by 3 and adds 15 (3 x 5)
miles to the range of the spell. If someone uses break enchantment to try to
remove the curse, the DC of the check is 29 (11+15+3).

 

Restrictions: A
judicial curse can only be used on a creature who could normally fall under
the jurisdiction of your justice system. Nationality is not an issue, so most
societies could target any human; but you can’t excommunicate a dragon.
As an optional rule, the GM may decide that judicial curses cannot be used unless
the target has actually been convicted of a crime (even if she was tried in
absentia); alternately, he could receive a +5 bonus to his saving throw if he
is innocent of any wrongdoing.

 

These benefits and restrictions
only apply to spells that are clearly designated as judicial curses! You can’t
increase the power of a fireball just because you have a few friends working
with you.

 

Spells of Judgment

 

The following section presents
a few new spells designed to punish the guilty. Anathema, Ban, and Excommunicate are tools that a theocracy can use to mark its enemies, while sever from the
source is a severe punishment for an arcane caster. Malediction and scourge are more powerful forms of bestow
curse
; scourge is a particularly flexible
spell that can be tailored to produce especially appropriate punishments.

 

Anathema

 

Ban

 

Excommunicate

 

Malediction

 

Scourge

 

Sever
from the Source

 

Public View
of Justice

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

Series Campaign Style

Publisher Atlas Games

Publish date 2003

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Stocks

 

(1842) Observations on popular antiquities: chiefly illustrating the origin of our vulgar customs, ceremonies, and supersititions , Charles Knight and Co. , p. 55

 

(1842) Observations on popular antiquities: chiefly illustrating the origin
of our vulgar customs, ceremonies, and supersititions , Charles Knight and Co.
, p. 55

 

While in stocks, your movement
rate is reduced to zero. You lose your Dexterity bonus to AC and take an additional
–7 penalty to your Armor Class, and you’re effectively flat-footed.
If your hands are left free you can perform any action that you could do while
sitting. You take a –2 circumstance penalty on any melee attack roll due
to your limited ability to move, however. Wooden stocks have a Hardness value
of 5 and 30 hit points; you can break free of the stocks with a Strength check
(DC 24). Iron stocks have a Hardness value of 10 and 60 hit points, and require
a Strength check of DC 27 in order to break free. The stocks are held closed
by a lock. Depending on the number of people the stocks are designed to hold,
you may not be close enough to reach the lock; even if you are, you’ll
take a –5 circumstance penalty on any Open
Lock
checks due to your awkward position. If you make a successful Escape
Artist
check (DC 30) you can slip your legs free.

Pillory

 

If you’re trapped
in a pillory, your movement rate and AC are both reduced to zero. You lose your Dexterity bonus to your AC and are
considered to be a helpless opponent. You cannot cast spells requiring somatic
components. You cannot use skills involving any sort of physical motion, but
you can still use Bluff, Diplomacy, Knowledge, or similar skills — although
you get a –3 circumstance penalty on any use of Intimidate.

 

A wooden pillory has a
Hardness value of 5 and 30 hit points, but it is extremely difficulty to force
your way free from it; this requires a successful Strength check (DC 27). An
iron pillory has a Hardness value of 10, 60 hit points, and a Strength check
DC of 30. Like the stocks, a pillory is held closed by a lock. However, it’s
impossible to reach this lock while you’re actually in the pillory. It’s
also difficult to squeeze your head out using Escape Artist (DC 35).

 

If you’re left in
the stocks or a pillory for an extended period of time, you may have to worry
about starvation, dehydration, or exposure. But in the short term, the greater
danger is the crowd. If your crime is minor, you may simply be subjected to
ridicule; people may pelt you with rotten vegetables or other refuse. But if
the public wants blood, there’s nothing to stop them from taking it, whether
this means stoning you to death or getting in close and slitting your throat.
Generally, you won’t be placed in the stocks if the justice truly believes
that the crowd wants you dead; in such a case, you’re far more likely to
be beheaded. It’s quicker for you, and it lets the people have a show.

 

Healing
the Guilty

 

For more extreme situations
— crimes where there is no way to punish the criminal without causing more
death, or horrors have been committed that shock a community to its core —
there is always the potential for magic to solve the problem. The spell steal
the painful memory allows a priest to wipe the knowledge of an event from the
minds of an entire community. This may mean that a criminal actually escapes
justice. But sometimes being able to set aside the past and move forward with
the future is more important than the need for vengeance.

 

New Spell:

 

Steal
the Painful Memory

 

Dungeons

 

Dedicated
Prison

 

Fortress
of Justice

 

Prison

 

Tools
for the Warden

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

Series Campaign Style

Publisher Atlas Games

Publish date 2003

Pages 160

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There are many useful devices
for a prison warden, ranging from the old ball and chain to mana manacles and
the orb of silence. Here are a few more magic items designed specifically with
the fortress of justice in mind.

 

Key
Talisman

 

Rod
of Containment

 

Island
Castaways

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

Series Campaign Style

Publisher Atlas Games

Publish date 2003

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Howard Pyle (1853–1911) Title Marooned Date1909
Howard Pyle (1853–1911) Title Marooned Date1909

The Survival skill can be used to provide food and water, or to help to find shelter against
the weather and the elements; refer to the skill description for full details.
If the island is especially desolate, the GM may increase the DC of these checks
by 5 points; if it’s a sheet of bare rock or ice, the DC may be increased
by 10.

 

If you fail these checks,
you’ll start to take damage due to starvation, dehydration, and exposure.

 

If you don’t have
any skilled woodsmen, hopefully you have a cleric on hand to cast create
water
or create food and
water
.

 

If your island is home
to hostile animals, beasts, or humanoids, weapons may be the first order of
business. If there is wood on the island, it is a fairly simple matter to make clubs, halfspears, or quarterstaffs. You can also gather rocks to throw (1d4,
x2 crit, 7-foot range increment, 1 pound, bludgeoning). If you have a party
member with Craft (leatherworking) and access to animal hides, she may be able
to Craft slings (DC 15), leather armor (DC 18) or hide armor (DC 22). All of
this equipment will be crude, and liable to need constant maintenance or replacement
— but it may be enough to keep you alive.

 

In an ideal world, one
of you will have polymorph, alter
self
, fly, lesser
planar ally
, teleport, sending,
or some similar spell. These allow you to simply go for help or contact an ally.
On the other hand, if your enemy knows you’re a spellcaster, he’ll
almost certainly have deprived you of your spellbook and any spell components,
focuses, or divine focuses; he may even remove a few fingers or your tongue
to be safe (see Chapter Eight for the effects of such mutilation). Even if you
can cast without any of these, there’s still the matter of distance and
direction — it’s not good to be over deep water when your fly spell
wears off!

 

If magic isn’t an
option, you can build signal fires and hope that a nearby ship comes to investigate
(and that a nearby dragon doesn’t). If you come up with some sort of cutting
tools you can attempt to build a raft; this requires a successful check with
one of the following skills: Craft (carpentry)
(DC 20), Craft (shipmaking) (DC 15), or Survival (DC 20); you may make a check once per day. However, unless you have Profession (sailor) — not to mention some way to acquire food and water — you
could easily drift at sea until you starve to death. And that’s not even
addressing the possibility of hungry sea creatures looking for snacks!

 

Extraplanar
Cell

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

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Publish date 2003

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What’s worse than
being stranded on a desert island? How about being stranded in a pocket dimension
the size of a large walk-in closet? A mystically advanced society could use plane shift to store dangerous prisoners
in small inter-dimensional spaces, similar to those used in portable
holes
or bags of holding. This is the principle behind the portable cell.
While these items are useful for bounty hunters looking to transport troublesome
captives, there’s no reason that an entire portable prison couldn’t
be built using these items; you could have a hundred portable cells folded up
in a footlocker.

 

So, if you’re trapped
in a portable cell, what are your options? The first problem you may need to
deal with is food and water. Needless to say, Survival won’t help. If you
can cast create food and
water
you’re all set. Otherwise, unless your captor
provides you with supplies, you’ll begin to suffer from dehydration and
starvation. With that said, this may actually be your best chance of escape.
A smart bounty hunter will simply throw rations in when he first drops you in
the cell. If your captors instead open the cell on a regular basis, you may
be able to make a break for it during one of these interludes.

 

A portable cell is ten
feet deep. A jump spell, ring
of jumping
, or boots
of striding and springing
may let you leap out when the cell is opened.

 

If you can fly, or if you
can cast dimension
door
, teleport, or any similar spell, you can use this ability
to escape as soon as the door is opened. You cannot use dimension
door
or any
other form of teleportation while the cell is closed.

 

A Medium creature standing
on the shoulders of another Medium creature will be able to reach the top of
the cell. This can allow you to try to attack the person who opens the cell,
or to simply Climb out as quick as you can.
To make an attack, you must first make a Balance check (DC 14) — if you fail, you fall off of your friend’s shoulders.
Otherwise, the attack proceeds as normal. If you want to Climb out, make a Climb check (DC
15).

 

If you’re on your
own, you can try to Climb up the side of the
portable cell. However, the walls are extremely slick and hard to keep hold
of; this requires a Climb check (DC 30), and you must repeat the check every ten minutes that you stay
braced near the top of the cell.

 

If you can cast gate or plane
shift
, you can leave whenever you want to — unless, of course, your
captor took your plane
shift
spell focus when he put you in the cell. If you
can’t cast gate or plane
shift
and your captor doesn’t plan on opening
the cell, things are fairly grim. The only other option is to try to cut your
way out. The walls of a portable cell have a Hardness value of 8; it takes 30
points of damage to create a hole large enough for a Small creature, and 60
points of damage to open a gap wide enough for a Medium creature. The cell repairs
itself at a rate of 5 hit points per round. In addition, the walls of a portable
cell have an inherent Spell
Resistance
rating of 20 — and don’t forget,
casting a fireball in an enclosed space is not a good idea. Even if you can
open a gap, the fun is just beginning — the hole will open into a random
spot on one of the planes, but who knows which one?

 

A cautious captor may put
you in some form of restraints before placing you in the portable cell; this
can make life even more difficult for you. In addition, while the cell is closed
there is no light inside; unless you have Darkvision you will be at a considerable
disadvantage. In other words, don’t get stuck in a portable cell!

 

Unusual
Forms of Imprisonment

 

Crime
and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

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Publish date 2003

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The fortress of justice
is an example of how magic could be merged with mundane defenses to create a
heavily secured dungeon. But a theocracy, church court, or land ruled by wizards
or sorcerers could create magical jails that are far more imaginative and effective
than simple arcane
lock
s. Here are a few ideas based around the judicial applications
of particular spells. Any of these concepts could also be combined with a prison
fortress; perhaps the most dangerous prisoners are kept in the reliquary ward
located beneath the warden’s chambers.

 

EMPTY PRISON

 

Mihály Zichy (1827–1906) Title: Captive in the Prison Date1850s

 

Mihály Zichy (1827–1906) Title: Captive in the Prison Date1850s

 

Provided that he possesses
the required level of mystical power, a tyrannical lich or sorcerer-king
can simply imprison his enemies, using freedom to release them should the need arise.
Imagine a central chamber with six cells. The lich can use one of the cells
when he wants to interrogate a prisoner, and then he simply banishes her beneath
the earth. If his memory is good and the cells are distinctive, he can just
remember which victims have been bound beneath each cell; as a result, there
are no markers to guide would-be rescuers — who would, in any case, have
to be able to cast freedom themselves. Meanwhile,
the prisoner herself can’t escape on her own, can’t cause any sort
of trouble, and can’t be contacted by sending or located with scrying.
As prisons go, it’s hard to beat.

 

Menagerie

 

Paul Friedrich Meyerheim: Dressur im Nebenzelt Date 1891

 

Paul Friedrich Meyerheim: Dressur im Nebenzelt Date 1891

 

To all appearances, a menagerie
is a traditional zoo or aviary; a plethora of colorful birds or other exotic
creatures are kept in gilded cages. In point of fact, these are prisoners who
have been transformed into animal shape with baleful
polymorph
. The exotic appearance
of the animals makes it easier for the jailer to remember the true identity
of each creature (“The princess is the peacock, and the bandit king is
the gold-furred fox”), and may help to locate any prisoner who somehow
manages to escape. A menagerie can pose a real problem for would-be rescuers
unless they can reverse the spell; after all, should the animals realize that
you’re going to rescue someone from the prison, many will try to trick
you into rescuing them instead of your friend.

 

At its core, a menagerie
is a lower-level alternative to the empty prison. It’s not as secure, but
it’s still difficult for the prisoners to cause trouble or escape on their
own. However, some societies may use it as a means of rehabilitation, trying
to select a form that will teach the prisoner a moral lesson about the crime
that he committed. So you poisoned your brother? Well, why don’t you spend
the next ten years as a snake, and see how it really feels!

 

Reliquary ward

 

The reliquary ward is a
bizarre prison sometimes used by churches that have access to resurrection.
In these societies, a prisoner may be killed and cremated, after which his ashes
are stored in a heavily secured vault — along with the remains of dozens
or hundreds of other prisoners. In principle, this is very similar to the empty
prison; you don’t have to care for the physical needs of the prisoners,
you don’t have to worry about riots or escape attempts, and the ward takes
up very little space. This is especially useful for hostages or prisoners or
war; they’re kept safely out of the way until it’s time to make an
exchange, and then resurrected and returned to their people.

 

A reliquary ward could
also be used as an unusual form of exile. Instead of being banished from a particular
nation, the prisoner is banished from a particular time — reduced to ashes
and kept in storage for years or decades, and then eventually restored. The
criminal suffers the loss of her friends and family; meanwhile, the community
has time to heal and forget the harm that she has caused. Needless to say, this
is just as applicable to an empty prison, soul vault, or stone garden.

 

Soul Vault

 

If the sorcerer-king
can’t cast imprison, he may compromise with Trap the Soul. Instead of a
dank dungeon, he will have a fabulous vault of gems — many of which contain
the minds and bodies of criminals or enemies of the realm. The soul vault has
the advantage that prisoners can be easily transported in gem form; anyone can
release the trapped soul by shattering the gem. The ash prisoners in a reliquary
ward are also easy to transport, but you still need resurrection when you want to restore the prisoner.

 

Stone garden

 

The stone garden is a lower-level
arcane alternative to the soul vault and the empty prison. Instead of baleful
polymorph
, flesh
to stone
is used to preserve prisoners and prevent escapes.
This takes up a little more space than the other alternatives, but it is at
least decorative. And if you want to rescue a friend and don’t have a flesh
to stone
spell available — well, it can be quite a challenge to break out
of a royal palace while lugging around a life-sized statue!

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