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Offline manfred

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Icathian Laws and Afterlife
« on: October 13, 2004, 07:48:45 AM »
Icathian Laws and Afterlife, and Philosophy, and other thoughts that show up besides that.

Nice thanks go to EchoMirage and Ancient Gamer for their ideas and remarks. Long live the chatroom.


Philosophy

It's all about freedom.

The known history of all mortal races begins with slavery. In the end, the very Gods are said to offer mortals a choice: a life of Servitude, but in comfort knowing someone else has Responsibility; or Freedom, and the hardships that come with it. As many know, Freedom was chosen. But some philosophers claim, that the Choice is not over, it is offered each day anew... and mortals have to choose again, and again.

What is the way of expressing freedom then? Some live for the freedom of earning money. Some for the freedom of personal growth (_physical_ growth, in some cases...). Some want a perfect political freedom, but have a tendency to get squashed by others, but that's life.

So while not far from feudalism, I want the thought of Freedom permeat the whole society. Guess it will look strange if I succeed...


Laws:

The peculiar system of laws in the former Icathian kingdom has many admirers, as opponents, and is still in effect despite of minor changes. While close to other legal systems, there is one main difference:

The sentence for any type of crime is set by the laws, and does not change.

Let's say that for example, Killing has (had) a penalty of 5 years, Murder 20 years. (Note however, that Killings are accepted only in extreme circumstances, the courts mostly vote on Murder.)

So once the type of crime is clear (the suspect is found guilty), the sentence is also clear. The form of the punishment is but the most argued part, and makes up the largest part of any trial. The lowest is Public Helper, where the convict can keep his original profession, but spends a part of his free time on community services. Public Servant means for most giving up the former life, as a large part of the convicts time is spent working for the public. The punishments then go up to Heavy Service in mines or quarries, that can shorten one's life significantly.

Of course, the whole sentence needs not to be of the same punishment! It is rather often composed from different degrees of punishment. 1 year of Heavy Service, and 19 years Public Service is very different from the opposite version.

In the original set of laws, Death is administered only for Treason. Some newer laws change this.

Other changes include physical maiming (loose a finger for thievery...). Repeated offenses, are now solved with longer sentences, and as before, harsher punishments.


So the Old Kingdom valued the health of its criminals... for forced labour at least. There were notoriously known Crime Runs, when the militia, in the interest of public projects, maximized its efforts, and caught also the petty criminals largely overlooked before. Along with great projects this ironically produced the first seeds of criminal organisations, that spied on the government and its plans.

---

Closing thoughts:

The law system represents an important value: everything has its price, and the price has to be payed. If murdering a tyran, one can still hope into public opinion reducing the punishment. But even the lowest punishment will impact one's life for long years.

(But note that kings are above law, except for treason, and regicide is _always_ punished by Death. Killing in "public interest" may apply to high-ranking nobles, that used to have much power in the Old Kingdom. Then again, that is another change to the laws of the past: the barons and earls are protected by a death penalty as well.)


Unfortunately, it happens that some devious minds manage to get away from serious crimes, with a mild punishment only. But this seems to be a problem of most law systems.


Crimes and Punishments notes (inspired by/looted from the respective Netbook)

Minor offences (improper insult, public drunkenness, ...)
 - fined, at most 3 days sentence
Major offences (vagrancy, trespassing, bothering a lady, assault, property damage...)
 - fined and short sentence (~weeks)
(Offences can now have alternative humiliating punishments.)

Minor crimes (evading justice, evading taxes, bothering nobles, theft, bandit, ...)
 - sentence (~months), possibly fined
Major crimes (murder, treason, climb city walls, rape, arson, kidnapping, extorion, violent assault, ...)
 - long sentence (~years), property may be confiscated

Punishments:
 - Fines
 - Humiliation
 - Public Helper
 - Public Servant (may be impressed into navy or similar)
 - Jail
 - Heavy Service
 - Death (extreme cases)

Note: excluded Torture, Flaying, whips, gauntlets, and other neat devices. Is it fine that way?


Note: different laws exist for the army (desertion, disobeying, etc.).


Religion

Gods do not need mortals, so much is clear. And mortals do not need gods in their day-to-day life. So why

should one worship them?

Respect:
 - they are d**n powerful, is there more to be said?

Gratitude:
 - besides the little thank for creating the world AND the mortals themselves, gods have saved them from slavery, thus one should be thankful

Pragmatism:
 - while mostly overlooking mortals, they can get angry sometimes, and can _seriously_ ruin a nice day. Thus it is wise to not get into their way. On the other hand, sometimes they can feel entertained, and reward or help the small mortal in small or big ways.

Pragmatism II.:
 - if one has a cause, it is d**n more impressive if it has the (seeming) support of a god.

Gifts:
 - it pays to be a good follower... the priests get mystical powers, the common people get blessings from them, for better harvest, etc, etc.

Wisdom:
 - gods know much more than mortals, and those close to them can get bits of that wisdom.
Do not correct me, I know I am wrong.

Offline manfred

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Icathian Laws and Afterlife
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2004, 05:43:27 AM »
Property rights in the Old Kingdom

Land was always thought to be very important, the only stable source of wealth and food. One rule was set into stone, and not broken until now: Land can never be sold, only given.

See, in the old days, land was given to heroes and mighty warriors, as a reward for their services. This land they shall protect, in the name of all people, and give it to others, when they loose their power. And so was, through inheritance, the nobility born. It is an ancient custom to never divide the lands into more than two parts, when giving it to the next generation of watchers.

People that settle on these lands, are expected to pay its protector a price they agree upon; the tenth part of all they produce is a common tax, other fees are used, too. If they sell land, they actually sell property rights bound to it, the tax and fees* to their protectors stay (but can be agreed upon anew). This is the common folk.

The ruler is the protector of all lands, and people living on them, entitled to lead war and (you surely guessed it) collect taxes in his own name.


Nobility
 - note the two marks of nobility - lands and heroic ancestry. The one is the source of their wealth, the latter the source of their pride. Even the poorer nobles keep memory of their lineage, the hero ancestor and his/her deeds. Nobles do not accept others into their ranks easily. Land can be acquired, if it is not claimed, but heroism is hard to prove. Some enterprising kings have granted lands and status of heroes to travellers and merchants, that have discovered new lands. But it is frowned upon, even by fat and lazy nobles, that could not defend themselves, much less their lands.** But such is the passage of time.

And time slowly reduces their role, as their lands diminish now and then. Some have become poor, hard to discern from common artisans. Merchants grow in wealth and status, and smarter nobles turn now to business, too.

---

*) It is an old custom to actually pay MORE in taxes, if the payers agree with the decisions of the nobility. Nobles do not only protect their lands, they often end up as those in charge, having a large impact on the lifes of everyone. If a particular noble ends a year with only the base tax from his subjects, he can expect that other nobles will despise him.

Note but that this nice custom is often translated in gentle (or not so gentle) pushing of nobles on their subjects, to pay more taxes.

**) These conflicts have actually spawned new countries, which differ now from these views...
Do not correct me, I know I am wrong.

Offline manfred

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Icathian Laws and Afterlife
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2004, 08:11:40 AM »
So who makes the rules?

The people of old considered freedom very important. These days the desire has lessened, but still continues to live. If a society is to get close to this ideal, the leaders(s) have to be chosen by the people themselves. A self-appointed leader is a tyran.

But voting is easy in small groups only. Larger groups create problems, because to collect the votes of all people is impossible (given technology), not to speak of counting them in a reliable way. And, the likely candidate is rarely known well to all people.

Thus, representatives must be appointed, that vote the new ruler. The king is (was) in theory little more than a president. But practically, he makes the laws, decides on war, and pretty much all the public interest is centered on his persona. The king of Icathia was something like a US president, that enjoyed hereditary status of a few hundred years.

The position is life-long, or to be precise, until one can't protect the people anymore. Noble kings of old are remembered to give up their crown before being too old. The later kings have somehow lost it. Note that a captured royal is less effective and killing the heirs avails nothing.

The elections were supposed to make the best man king, whether it is a noble, the current King's son, or John the Hero (John the Farmer before). But somehow, perhaps due to the heroic image (will be explained elsewhere) of the royal family, and due to their mastery of politicking, the country was for the most time in their hands. Why?


One step below

The barons and earls were and still are the dominant powers in their domains. They, along with advisory votes of the head figures of largest churches, vote the king. Once, they were voted directly by the people themselves, for a limited period only (around 5 years, the classical election). But as the number of people grew, voting grew more complicated, and the king intervened, to maintain order.

Now, guilds of various kinds vote the nobles. The position is usually held life-long, and often ends up in the same family. Normally, each guild has one vote.

Notable exceptions:
 - In Dorith, the number of votes one has depends on the number of soldiers put under the control of the barony. A self-limiting measure, as sending too many soldiers can leave the home base undefended.
 - The Manovs can gain more votes for donating money to the barony. As above, self-limiting.
 - In the elven domain of Calalad, a committee is voted for 5 years. The earl can decide on immediate and temporary measures, the committee can make permanent laws. However, the laws become valid AFTER the committee ends its period. The Elves are indeed crazy.


One more step below...

The guilds are voted by the people themselves, but the real right of vote is slowly dissolving... however one votes, the result can be easily foretold.


Freedom as a rule requires responsible, thinking people, which are hard to find in all ages. So the thought of general freedom mutated a bit, in that people are decently pushed into specific forms of being free: freedom to earn money in any way you desire, freedom to be as you are, and be tolerated, etc. At all times there was the freedom to choose a profession, even if most chose the one of their parents.

Note: so adventuring is relatively accepted as a job choice.
Do not correct me, I know I am wrong.

Offline manfred

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Icathian Laws and Afterlife
« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2004, 05:39:08 AM »
Icathian Afterlife

When the very Gods created the world, there was nothing that could be called Afteworld. And there was no Afterlife, when they created the first race to grace the world. The first Elves walked it, and many perished to its dangers. Too many fine souls have vanished without a trace, the moment their bodies have died.

The gift of immortality, and the ability to learn and achieve wisdom, have eventually made these beings free of most threats of Life. Alas, the gift turned sour. The unlimited span of life to learn and become more powerful has made them feel as if there was no limit. They started to ignore the Gods, and despise smaller things, knowing they will grow beyond everything sooner or later. In time, many died from the conflicts they themselves produced. Some ended their own lives, when their abilities failed to grow with their pride.



A failure is hard to accept, even for gods. New races had to be created, but what should they be like? Immortality is too large a burden, but without it new beings will be dieing, often before reaching their full age, a loss to their people and to themselves.

And so mortality became both a curse and a gift: the bodies of mortals are imperfect, and will fail eventually. Their soul, too, slowly grows weaker, and stops to support the body at some moment. But to the divine essence, that is part of it since the mortals' creation, the soul continues to exist, granted a part of the way Gods see the world; able to step from one mountain tip to another, and finding infinite amounts of beauty amongst two blades of grass.

Such is the Life after Death; close to the world of Living, and still too far. Prevented from too much interfering with Living (but limited contact is possible...) many spirits choose to study this new world. And they slowly fade, becoming mere shadows of shadows, ghosts of ghosts. Then they die their second, final Death.
Do not correct me, I know I am wrong.

Offline manfred

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« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2004, 05:51:34 AM »
Well, it is not perfect, but some important themes are covered.

Plus it is now really open to your comments, questions and critique. GO!
Do not correct me, I know I am wrong.

Offline manfred

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Icathian Laws and Afterlife
« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2005, 06:30:14 AM »
(Continuation on the Afterlife theme, the spirits talk with Strolen, and Echo's note in the Illusions thread.)


Why can ghosts kill people?


 Ghosts are spirits with a special attachment to our world. For some reason (mostly unfinished business, but also fear of the beyond) they refuse to depart. The will to stay is not enough, a spirit needs some "context", some anchor to reality. Thus the haunted mansion, and repeating of activities favoured in life.

 As Echo pointed out before, a ghost's form is created out of its mind and memories, to make the interaction with mortals easier. But a life-like form gives more support to its existence, especially if it is seen by mortals (and believed in, above all).

 Spooking people is almost mandatory for ghosts if they want to stay around - they _have_ to be seen and heard. On the other hand, a series of events that attracts a spirit otherwise not active in our world, is also possible.


 Ghosts are correctly percieved as dangerous, but it is not true that a mere touch could harm or kill. A spirit can't hurt your body, it is immaterial. But if it attacks, it hits your _own_ spirit. While the spirit itself is little harmed (the equivalent of subdual damage between mortals), the body is shocked: that which is supposed to be inside it, the very life's energy is violently removed. A weaker hit can cause inner bleeding, a concentrated attack can cause the whole organism collapse in disarray, cells out of control.

 So ghosts can kill.

 Spirits can't truly kill one another, but fights are common between the restless (and often unstable) ghosts, and some behave the same way to mortals. Many of them don't even realise they are this dangerous, some know and even prefer to do so.

 In theory, a well-trained martial artist with a strong spiritual side could defeat a ghost with bare hands. Trouble is, it will be only knocked out...
Do not correct me, I know I am wrong.