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Crime and Punishment



A compilation of some crimes often committed throughout the empire.

[top]Imperial Law

Written down first in the Annarian Code and later in the Articles of Imperium, imperial law is the principle that every citizen of the Aelyrian Empire is held to, excepting only the Emperor. It is known as a strict, but fair, set of rules. Unfortunately it is in many cases only words written on paper and there are places where it carries little to no sway.

[top]Local laws

While many might believe that laws are the same across the entirety of the Aelyrian Empire, the truth of the matter is that local laws and customs will generally have a greater say in what constitutes a crime and what punishment is received for it. In places such as Sacrum, preaching heresy or anything similar carries a much harsher punishment than doing so in Ziel Aerca. Some places, such as Aslangrad and Vortex, even seem to have legal systems that have little but a passing resemblance with the rest of the empire.

No matter where you are in the empire you can generally count on laws favouring those in power being the ones most heavily enforced. Whether it be the lavish sumptuary laws of Nexus Prime or the ban on political parties in the empire as a whole. Most cities and provinces have their own legal codes and customs that carry just as much weight as imperial law and while there is generally a lot of overlap, the two often do not see eye to eye. In such cases it is often the local laws that win out even if all claim to actually be adhering to imperial law.
Further Reading: A Primer to Geography, A Primer to Religion


In any town or city throughout the empire you can find people conducting illegal operations. It would be a mistake to think that there is only one type of criminal capable of conducting all manner of terrible crimes. In many cases you find people such as mercenaries who often operate legally but turn to banditry when they do not find enough jobs. Many operate alone, whereas others see the benefit of working together, whether it be as part of a small crew or a major criminal organisation. Some are simply guilty of doing the wrong thing at the wrong place.
Further Reading: Criminal Organisations

[top]Illegal Goods

There are only a very few substances across the empire that are considered outright illegal. While some places may ban drugs such as kattanip and qaifa on moral grounds it is just as often to see it used legally. Often the distribution and use of such substances is left to the Church of Faith as part of their rituals. Harder and more destructive drugs, such as mageburn and kero, will more often find themselves being banned once introduced.

Aside from recreational drugs there are not many substances that are outright banned. The Imperial Navy reserves the right to produce black powder for their cannons and anyone producing it or possessing it without their say so may find themselves quickly on the wrong side of the law.
Further Reading: The Church of Faith, Imperial Navy

[top]Illegal Crafts, Magics, and Services

For a very long time the practise of necromancy has been outlawed throughout the Empire. There are only a very few places where admitting to being a necromancer is a thing you can get away with. Everywhere else it is considered a serious crime and will have serious repercussions for anyone using it publicly. Though there has been some scholarly debate that necromancy has no actual Aeternian ties, its constant use by Aeternian sects and ability to draw upon unholy energies has ensured that the practise of necromancy has continued to be banned by the empire.

There are other magics that take up more of a grey area, such as the practise of adjuration that often bears enough of a resemblance to necromancy that the two are thought of as one. In many places adjuration is thought of as little better than necromancy and its use is punished accordingly.

The practise of grafting also takes up a similar legal position. Its practise of using dead limbs and body parts is considered heresy by the Church of Faith and as such is often lumped in with necromancy.
Further Reading: Necromancy, Adjuration, Grafting

[top]Illegal Organisations

Not to be confused with criminal organisations, illegal organisations are organisations whose existence are in contradiction to the law, but whose purpose is not necessarily to break the law.

Any cult or sect worshipping Aeternian deities can be considered to be a de facto illegal organisation and as such they only very rarely operate out in the open. Sects worshipping Planetars or unaligned deities may also fall into this category depending on how zealous the local authorities choose to be, they are often given a greater deal of leeway however.

In addition political organisations intended to cause changes to the political system of the empire are considered to be illegal. As this is part of imperial law it is often treated as a carte blanche by local authorities to get rid of any organisations that work to oppose them.
Further Reading: Religious Cults


In most cases smuggling will be more about avoiding taxes and tariffs rather than shipping illegal goods. There are a great deal of riverside warehouses, hidden stashes and even tunnels under cities intended to avoid the scrutiny of the guards just so as to avoid having to pay to get certain goods into or out of cities.

Smuggling is generally considered to be relatively common and can be considered a somewhat low impact crime. Everyone knows it happens and the punishments are generally not as strict for smuggling as for other crimes.


Heresy is often considered one of the less important crimes and while they may often ignite the fervour of the masses they generally see very varied reactions from the legal system. Heresy is usually punished severely in strongholds of the Church of Faith and generally not considered terribly important elsewhere. It can include everything from straight blasphemy and the preaching of Aeternian faiths to the claiming that the Church of Faith is wrong about how the world operates or simply criticising the Church of Faith or the gods.
Further Reading: The Church of Faith


Prostitution is legal in most places in the empire, there are a few glaring omissions, such as Sacrum, but for the most part prostitution is a considered a legal, if shameful, occupation. Whether it is a case of ostentatious bordellos, prostitutes selling themselves on the street, or a subtly clad mistress in an inn will depend on local conditions.

[top]Violent Crime

Violent crime covers everything from mugging to murder, where the threat or use of violence is central to the crime itself. In places where there are few guards and little respect for the law such crimes are commonplace. It would be a mistake to think that violent crime is the purview of the alley thug as it can also be an assassination carried out by highly skilled specialists, or armed and trained mercenaries having turned to banditry because they need the money.

Violent crimes generally carry heavy penalties and will often end in executions for those caught by the law.

[top]Counterfeiting & Cons

In cities where the guards are more vigilant, crime will often take on more subtle forms. This is where the con artists and the forgers of the empire thrive. Often their victims are hesitant to alert the authorities or they may remain entirely unaware that they have been swindled for years after the crime has taken place. As such forgeries and confidence tricksters generally get off easy when the law comes calling. The exception to this rule is those counterfeiting money or official documents, those crimes will generally carry very heavy penalties as they directly undermine the authority of the empire.

Operating in an area somewhere between the violent crime and the slick con is the ever present protection racket that can often be found in areas with a large presence of organised crime. These operations are generally hard to crack down on and while the penalty they carry for anyone caught up in it may vary very much depending on who gets caught up in it.


Stealing other people's property is perhaps one of the oldest crimes in existence. Those who are skilled at it can do it without anyone noticing, others use the threat of violence or perhaps a heavy crowbar to get away with the goods. The punishment for theft is widely variable seeing as it will depend what's being stolen, who it is being stolen from, and who got hurt in the process. Simple pickpocketing or taking an apple to so you can eat might just earn you a little time in the stocks whereas sneaking into some duke's household to steal a priceless diamond may very well cost someone their hand or even their head.


Kidnappings and abductions are relatively commonplace. Often criminal organizations will demand some manner of ransom for the person they have abducted or the abductee is moved to another part of the empire and illegally sold as a slave. Those who have connections or rich and powerful families can generally get away with paying a ransom to get their family members back, but for most individuals abductions have less pleasant outcomes. It can take the form of anything from a single person being abducted to an entire village being taken under threat of violence. Sometimes it is even as simple as a ship captain promising to keep visas and documentation safe during a voyage and then keeping the documents and selling the unfortunate souls when they arrive on shore. Those unfortunate enough to end up as slaves will often see their documentation as citizens of the empire being taken from them before they are sold to someone far enough away that no one will likely ever recognise them.
Further Reading: Slavery


A compilation of some of the punishments found throughout the empire.


For those who break the law, there is usually a trial to determine their guilt and their punishment. In most towns and cities there are magistrates and prefects whose job it is, as an impartial party, to decide the scope of the punishment. There are smaller villages that rely instead on infrequent visits from magistrates from larger settlements and thus often end up deciding guilt through whatever means is most convenient, whether this is a village council, a local lord's court, or a lynch mob.
Further Reading: A Primer to Politics, Imperial Law
It is worth noting that in the Aelyrian legal system, it is up to the accused to prove their innocence when cases are brought before the court. For instance, in some places this can be done by picking a black stone out of a roaring fire without getting harmed, as proof that the gods believe your innocence. In other places it may require more precise evidence and character witnesses.

In cases where magic users are tried, imperial law says they must be bound. Since finding another magic user to aid with this process is often difficult, it is commonplace for magic users to be rendered insensate for the duration of the trial using whatever concoction of drugs the court can get their hands on.
Further Reading: A Primer to Magic, A Primer to Arcana


Incarceration in one of the local gaols or noble's dungeon is rarely a punishment in and of itself. In most cases it is a precursor to either trial or interrogation. Incarceration is expensive and is generally reserved for the higher echelons of society where public spectacle and punishment is better avoided.


For many smaller crimes, fines are usually enough of a punishment to avoid going through an entire trial. Some towns even finance their legal bureaucracy almost entirely on fines collected through various sham trials. Whether the fine is to be paid to the offended party or to the authorities will depend entirely on the nature of the crime and local customs.

[top]Hard labour

Should a convict fail to be capable of paying their fines, hard labour is often a useful alternative allowing them to work off their debt. It is also used as a punishment for crimes of a slightly more serious nature. Often these labour camps will take the shape of working in a mine or construction project of some kind.

For the more problematic prisoner there is also the prison island of Terramarique, where the inmates work in the salt mines. The isolated nature of the island, its anti-arcane field and its unforgiving conditions make it a good place to put prisoners who might otherwise be capable of using magic to escape or get out their punishment.
Further Reading: Terramarique

[top]Humiliation and the Stocks

Another relatively common punishment for lesser crimes is time spent in the stocks, or public humiliation. This is a generally reserved for relatively petty crimes, although spending several days in the stocks with the crowds jeering and cheering is not by any means a light punishment.

[top]Mutilation and Torture

For more serious criminals there is a need for more serious punishments. Thieves and bandits may wind up being branded for their crimes. For this very reason it is generally considered a serious crime to try to remove someone's brand either through some manner of magic or other forms of healing. In cases where the crimes are particularly egregious the criminal may even lose fingers or an entire hand as their punishment.

Torture is also used as a form of punishment. Some think it is used to interrogate criminals as well but most will agree that torture does not help you interrogate someone. Whether they are tortured or mutilated the sentence is generally carried out in full view of the public so that they both see the consequences of crime and that the justice system works.


Execution is another common punishment for more serious crimes. Like mutilation and torture, it is often a public spectacle. The form of execution will vary somewhat with hanging being more common in the southern parts of the empire whereas Arium and Northumbria has generally favoured the headsman's axe.


Written by Grim

Created by Grim, March 28, 2016 at 04:49 AM
Last edited by Grim, May 17, 2016 at 08:10 AM
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