Spot Design: Laying Down the Law (working on One Spot #3 and more)

Welcome to what I hope will only be the first of many design discussions right here on the blog concerning the next in the series of <em>One Spot</em> products and more! Let’s start this one off by talking about what I’m looking at next…

With One Spot #0: Hand’s Goods, we introduced a few key concepts around good old Mr. Hand:

  • Constables
  • Traveling Judges
  • and Punishable Offences

In this post, I want to ponder a few of these things in preparation for starting on the next One Spot.

First, let’s look at the constables

Depending on the size of a particular settlement, the number and quality of folks involved with law enforcement will vary widely. Handling that size difference will be a key. My gut is telling me that there will be a reeve (a medieval sheriff) helped by a set of 1-5 constables, with additional temporary help that can be called up from the general populace. Those temporary folks might be called upon to help with tracking criminals, beating the bushes to locate missing children or animals, or offer advice on any other subject.

So this book would focus largely on the reeve and his cast of characters, which will definitely need more room than a couple of pages.

Also mentioned in that first One Spot was the concept of a group of “traveling” judges. My thought on these folks is that they handle the cases local law enforcement needs extra help with due to extraordinary circumstances or being too closely involved with the guilty in a particular case. I might imagine that a local reeve might run afoul of local government officials from time to time and a third party might be needed.

These judges will come in a variety of shapes and sizes. I suspect some of them will travel with a horse and wagon as a sort of mobile office containing legal documents and such along with any official seals granted by the government. Most of these cart and buggy judges will likely need an armed escort by a guard or two. And one of the guards will likely act as an executioner when required.

This sounds more and more like it will be a separate product.

The whole concept of reeves, constables, and judges lends itself to a discussion of laws. I’m not quite sure how or where I’m going to fit them into either of the two products I’ve already mentioned. It may be spun off into a whole other product line offering details on side thoughts. However, for these supplements we’ll at the very least need a list of common crimes and punishments. A few things I’ve considered already might include:

  • Public drunkenness – a night in jail and community service
  • Brawling – a night in jail and community service
  • Minor theft (10 gp or less) – a night in jail and reparations
  • Medium theft (10-100 gp) – a night in jail and loss of a finger
  • Major Theft (100+ gp) – judge’s sentence (perhaps hard labor in a prison or loss of a hand or foot)
  • Breach of Contract – judge’s sentence (to be negotiated with the breached party)

Fines are going to have to be somewhat flexible for this to be truly system-neutral, but some guidelines would be provided. Perhaps using “a day’s pay” or “a month’s pay” would be enough here?

An obvious side effect of having a long arm of the law is the necessity for a criminal or two or even an entire criminal organization. Something tells me I should have plenty of things to cover in that one.

Feedback is ALWAYS appreciated. What do you think?


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