Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Uzite Law

Uzite law is primarily interested in the settlement of disputes.  While today the law extends to all social strata, it was originally meant to curtail violence between the cities noble houses, which still exert a great amount of power today.  In the days of Uz of Uz, First King of Uz, the other nobles who joined him in the founding of the city - guided by the Fuel-Less Fire of Moloch - did not always see eye to eye.  They and their families would often quarrel and commit horribly violent acts in response to perceived slights.  Those affiliated with the victim would then retaliate with even worse acts, and thus a blood-feud would threaten to tear the First City of Men apart.

At some point - Phutians claim that it was during the Phutian occupation, but Uzites vehemently dispute this - one of the kings decided to create a strict code of law for the purpose of adjudicating these disputes without the nead for a blood-feud.  This system worked so well - or at least it did in the eyes of the noble houses - that it has been extended to even cover disputes between slaves and foreigners.  In this system, the accuser must bring the accused before a judge.  The judge then hears both sides and finally rules in accordance with the byzantine case law that develops in a city that has existed for several thousand years.  Punishment is then executed by the accuser or the accuser's family - unless of course the accused is found innocent in which case the punishment is then turned on the accuser himself!

The instances of case law and the punishments that accompany them are based on a strict heirarchy.  Nobles are treated as superior to freemen and slaves, and thus punishments for crimes against them are more severe.  Typical crimes against nobles are punished on an "eye for an eye" basis, but disputes between nobles might change this if the nobles are practically of different ranks.  A lesser son of the house of Adompha would, for example, be punished quite severly for harming Mari-Adab, but the inverse would likely lead to only a public censure for the Prince of Pleasures.

Commoners and slaves are typically charged money for their offenses, unless they are against a noble of course.  This even includes crimes such as murder, as the nobles believe that allowing commoners - or worse, slaves - an outlet for sanctioned violence would put silly ideas in there heads. 

Foreigners are even lower in this heirarchy than slaves.  They are almost always convicted of crimes and regardless of the severity of their offense the punishment always involves mutilation if not downright execution.  Interestingly, this is not based onlong lines of lineage as it is often true that Phutians have lived in the city longer than some who would call themselves Uzites.  Instead, the accused or accuser must provide witnesses to their provinence, which is often difficult if one is dragged in bonds before a court.

This system results in some interesting peculiarities.  First, petty theft - while technically illegal - is allowed to occur since it would be a hassle to involve the king's court.  As such, one would do well to guard one's purse carefully while enjoying one of the vintages of Ilion in one of the city's many wine-houses or shopping for goods along the Street of Sins.  Second, mob violence is surprisingly common since the law does little to address Uz's underlying problems.  This is less true during the reign of a strong king, but Dagazar I has had a short reign by Uzite standards and sits rather precariously on his throne.  Finally, blasphemy and witchcraft are the only crimes not treated with this system because they are tried in special temple courts.  The nature of these courts is mysterious to most Uzites, and few that have ever stood before them have lived to discuss the proceedings.

1 comment:

  1. " mob violence is surprisingly common..."

    Not surprising to those of us who have played in your games. :)