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Old 03-27-2021, 06:43 AM   #4
Michael Cule
Join Date: Jul 2005
Default Re: [Basic] Advantage of the Week: Legal Enforcement Powers

My current campaign has run into this issue. It may run into more.

The player characters are Lictors: the agents of an Imperial Magistrate: a new office whose holders are the direct deputies for justice of the Emperor in his efforts to clear up the mess left by his predecessor while at the same time juggling factions and enemies so things don't turn into an all out civil war.

The PCs are sent on ahead of the Magistrate as he progresses on his pre-announced 'circuit' of the Northern part of Megalos. One is his Marshal, a young lawyer whose job it is to see to the housing of the Magistrate and entourage, ensure that they will be secure, look up the law and dig out authorititative texts. One is an ex street cop who can openly go out and ask questions about the up-coming cases on appeal to the local Watch and the Michaelites. The other three are covert operatives who go out and gather evidence in manners that might not be entirely legal sometimes: they have badges but are expected to display them as little as possible.

Now their patron has an effective Legal Enforcement Power 15: he is the Emperor's personal deputy and within his area of responsibility he Speaks With The Emperor's Voice. He can and has said: "You have the right to appeal above my head if you think annoying him while he's busy negotiating the fate of the Realm will make him more merciful than me." He couldn't (well, probably couldn't) order the launching of a war but anything he says about the cases and justice generally in his circuit goes.

They probably have no more than Legal Enforcement 10. But they have the Magistrate as backup and so far he has always backed their play.

However... In their first stop they unfolded What Happened To The Vile Old Vicechancellor. At their second they showed that the local law enforcement had failed to notice a conspiracy by a local nobleman to Pervert The Course Of Justice and that the Michaelites in the capital had failed to do a simple trace on a person's identity properly.

The waves of warning messages went out in front of them from Watch Captain to Watch Captain, from Michaelite Commandant to Michaelite Commandant.

At their third stop they have found a vampire entrenched in the local power structure. They have evidence of what was arguably treason. And remember that I said the Magistrate probably couldn't get the Empire embroiled in a war? The traitors were planning to stage a Northlander invasion to cover their planned annexation of the Duchy to the north of them. It has gone off too early and the Magistrate may have to take control of the illegally raised troops to save the situation.

Sometimes soon the local power structure is going to decide that either them or their Patron are too dangerous to allow to continue. Legal Enforcement Power will clash with Legal Enforcement Power. There may be assasination attempts. There may be accusations of abuse of office.


I started to write this partly to make what was going on clear in my own mind and to map out my plans for the future but I hope it's a good illustration of what can happen when legal authority is nominally in a far-away central authority but has always been handled mostly by local Powers That Be. Things have been A Little Fuzzy for centuries. The new Emperor is a reformer (he'll be called The Great if he survives: the Ill-Counseled if he doesn't) and the PCs are at the cutting edge of the changes he is going to bring.

The one legal authority that Just Won't Care is the Ministry Of Serendipity. Unfortunately, they may be the only ones with the capacity to solve some of the problems the PCs poking may cause.
Michael Cule,
Genius for Hire,
Gaming Dinosaur Second Class
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