WHO IS PROTECTED?
Breland adheres to the Galifar Code of Justice. Currently, the protection of the law is extended to all citizens of the 12 nations recognized by the Treaty of Thronehold and all members of the dragonmarked houses. This notably excludes Droaam and the Shadow Marches, although Marchers or Droaamites in the employ of House Tharashk are protected. As a result, creatures from Droaam are not protected by the law unless they are working for House Tharashk. All beings are expected to abide by the laws of the city, so while there is technically no legal penalty for killing a Droaamite gnoll, the gnoll is held accountable if he murders a Brelish citizen.
Undead are also excluded from the protection of the law, regardless of whether or not they are intelligent. Once a creature has died, he no longer has any status in the eyes of the law.
The warforged are protected due to rights granted them by the Treaty of Thronehold, but getting the representatives of the law to always enforce this protection is tricky.
Breaking the Law
As a civilized city bound to the basic tenets of the Brelish law and the Galifar Code of Justice, Sharn has a fairly typical set of laws. While many crimes are obvious, a character can always make a DC 10 Knowledge (local) check to establish the legal status of a specific action.
Common crimes are described below.
CRIMES OF AGGRESSION
Some of the most serious crimes under the law are those actions that bring direct, physical harm to another person.
Assault and Battery: The consequences of unarmed brawling depend on class. In lower class districts, the law completely ignores brawling. An innkeeper may throw a rowdy barbarian out of the inn, but the guards simply don’t have time to follow up on every bar fight.
In a middle-class neighborhood, the consequences depend on who is involved in the fight. If two laborers get into a fight, the guards don’t care—but if a seedy adventurer punches a respectable barrister, that’s another story. Officers of the Watch break up any fight involving respectable citizens. This is a minor offense that can be handled by a sergeant of the Watch. A mark is made on the identification papers of the guilty party. He is fined 5 sp for each assault charge shown on his papers. Finally he is escorted out of the district and ordered to stay away for at least one day. If the character doesn’t have gold or identification papers, he is taken to the local garrison and assigned to labor detail. Generally guards do not investigate any sort of assault that they did not personally observe.
An upper-class district follows the same guidelines as middle-class. There are more guards on the streets of an upper-class neighborhood, so a brawl is more likely to be spotted and stopped.
Armed Assault: Once people start inflicting lethal damage on one another, a brawl becomes more serious. Guards rarely investigate armed assault in lower-class areas, provided that both parties survived (if not, it’s murder). But they certainly do break up fights that they observe and fine the aggressors. The fine increases to 10 gp per offense, and a character with three or more marks on his record may be sent to the garrison and held for trial. It is also common policy to confiscate the weapon of the aggressor, which could be a far more serious loss to a high-level adventurer.
Assaulting an Officer: Attacking an agent of the law is always a bad idea, and anyone captured after such a battle is held for trial.
Murder: Murder—the theft of life—is a serious offense. A murderer who is taken by the Watch is held for trial, and execution is certainly a possible punishment. However, this assumes that anyone reports the crime, and that the guards consider it worth the time to investigate. Self-defense is a strong mitigating factor; if the party is attacked by a group of Daask gnolls and kills them, the Watch won’t try to track them down and hold them accountable. Likewise, the identity of the victim plays a major role in determining punishment. The murder of a city councilor likely results in execution; the death of a goblin gambler probably never reaches court.
Dueling: There is a long tradition of dueling in Khorvaire, especially in Karrnath and Thrane. In adventurers’ quarters, duels are taken quite seriously; people help the combatants find a safe place to duel, and people who refuse what is seen as a valid challenge suffer a significant loss of face in the district. Most duels are fought to first blood (10% of a duelist’s hit points) or until a combatant chooses to yield, but duels to the death are not unheard of.
However, the Galifar Code of Justice provides no exceptions for dueling. The Sharn Watch considers duels to be assault with two guilty parties, potentially armed assault or even murder depending on the nature of the duel and whether it is interrupted in time.
While most duels are centered on combat, duels based around displays of skill or magical prowess also occur. Thieves may select a single wealthy target and see who can steal the richest jewel without being noticed.
CRIMES OF DECEPTION
Deception is stock in trade for criminals, almost a prerequisite for any other sort of crime. In some cases, however, the deception itself is the crime.
Forgery: Counterfeit coins and false identification papers are the most common forms of forgery, but there are many others. For minor offenses, a guard simply confiscates the counterfeit goods and applies a fine with a value appropriate to the damage caused by the crime. Using forged identification papers carries a standard fee of 10 gp. Participation in a counterfeiting ring or forgery of a more serious nature results in the character being held for trial, with major fines, branding, and exile as possible punishments.
Fraud: Technically, fraud is “deliberate deception with the intent to cause injury to another.” This covers a wide array of crimes, from oath breaking to selling false goods to what the Galifar Code of Justice calls “Counterfeit of Identity with Criminal Intent”— a charge typically brought against changelings. There are a few factors that determine the degree to which the Sharn Watch pursues a fraud investigation. First, how much damage was done? The guards won’t bother with a charlatan selling supposed beholder eggs for 5 cp apiece, but a false alchemist selling worthless “healing potions” for 750 gp may run into trouble. If some form of concrete damage cannot be shown, the case certainly won’t be investigated.
The next questions that need to be answered are where the crime took place and who was involved. Scams that occur in the lower wards are rarely investigated; people who stay in Dragoneyes or Hostelhome are asking for trouble. And as is usually the case in Sharn, the guards typically protect the wealthy at the expense of the poor.
Cases of fraud generally need to be resolved in court; fines, branding, or exile are the usual punishments.
Slander: Currently, slander is not a crime under the Galifar Code of Justice. If a bard pens a satirical song about Kalphan Riak, he won’t have a lawsuit on his hands, though he might have to deal with the wrath of the merchant prince.
CRIMES OF PROPERTY
It is far more common for criminals to steal, harm, or smuggle property than people. Crimes of property are both more common in the city and less serious under the law.
Theft: Theft is the most common form of crime in Sharn. It’s said that every minute someone picks a pocket or cuts a purse, though this is undoubtedly an exaggeration. For minor offenses where the stolen property is returned, the thief must pay the victim twice the value of what he stole. If the item cannot be returned, the fine may rise as high as ten times the value of the item that was lost, with hard labor if the fine cannot be paid. Branding and exile are common punishments for repeat offenders.
Smuggling and Contraband: Characters who sell or possess prohibited goods can find themselves in trouble with the law. Typically, contraband goods are confiscated and the criminal is ordered to pay a fine of up to twice the value of the contraband. Large smuggling operations may result in greater fines, along with branding and exile.
Treasure Hunting: Under the Galifar Code of Justice, it is illegal to plunder and sell the relics of past civilizations for personal gain. So, treasures recovered from Xen’drik, the Depths, or similar locations are actually contraband goods, and the Wharf Watch searches all vessels returning from Xen’drik for treasures.
There are a few ways that adventurers can avoid having their hard-won treasures confiscated. If they wish to work within the law, they can purchase a letter of marque from the Wharf Watch. A letter of marque costs 500 gp and lasts for one year. A letter of marque covers a single region, such as Breland or Xen’drik.
When an adventurer attempts to sell recovered goods or passes through customs, he must produce a valid letter of marque for the region where he obtained the recovered goods. Characters who wish to keep these treasures must purchase a record of legal acquisition, a notarized resilient document that provides a brief description of the object and its owner; a single record can describe up to six different objects.
The need for letters of marque is one reason that adventurers may seek patrons to sponsor their expeditions; Morgrave University has standing letters of marque for almost anywhere adventurers might go. However, an adventurer could choose to avoid the law altogether. Fences throughout Cliffside and the city are happy to make contraband treasures go away, and a good forger can produce letters of marque at a far more reasonable price (typically 25 gp). An adventurer found using forged letters of marque is fined 1,000 gp and blacklisted by the Wharf Watch, which prevents him from acquiring letters of marque in the future.
MISUSE OF MAGIC
The Galifar Code of Justice includes strict guidelines for the use of magic, as laid down by the Arcane Congress in ages past. These include the following:
Use of any spell that can inflict physical harm on another being—from magic missile to finger of death—is considered to be armed assault. This includes spells that permanently incapacitate a target, such as flesh to stone. Careless use of fire magic is treated especially harshly, due to the significant threat of property damage. If a summon spell conjures a dangerous creature that harms another person, the conjurer is liable for the actions of the beast.
Spells that incapacitate a target—such as sleep— are treated as simple assault.
Spells that tamper with the thoughts of another being—charm person, suggestion, fear—are considered to be a form of fraud.
There are also a few more obscure laws. House Ghallanda has the sole right to make use of heroes’ feast or Leomund’s secure shelter within the city limits. Rope trick and Leomund’s tiny hut can only be used in private rooms. Knock can only be used by or on behalf of the legal owner of the locked item.
The problem with magical crimes is that the burden of proof falls on the accuser. Can she prove that she was charmed? The Blackened Book only investigates high-profile cases that have resulted in major damages. Otherwise, if spell use cannot be proven, the crime is not prosecuted. The forces of the law are authorized to use any form of magic in pursuit of their duties.
The accusation of treason against the Brelish Crown or the city of Sharn is a serious matter. The Guardians of the Gate handle the investigation of treason, and the King’s Citadel generally becomes involved if the accusation is serious. Treasonous behavior can include:
• Conspiracy to harm a city offi cial or member of the Brelish Parliament or Royal Court.
• Conspiracy to steal or damage property of the Crown or the government of Sharn.
• Espionage on behalf of a foreign government.
While these are the most common categories, the agents of the King’s Citadel can extend the umbrella of treason to cover any activity they see as threatening the security of Breland. Crimes of Treason are tried under the authority of the King’s Citadel, without access to a jury. Depending on the magnitude of the crime, treason can result in exile, indefinite imprisonment, or even execution.
Occasionally individual districts or wards have their
own laws. Upper Tavick’s Landing has a substantial
set of local laws, described below:
A character must obtain a license to carry a weapon within Upper Tavick’s Landing. This license can be obtained at the courthouse in Twelve Pillars, and costs 5 gp. However, the main purpose of the license is to keep armed undesirables out of the district. The typical adventurer must make a DC 25 Diplomacy check to convince the functionary to provide him with a license. He must be a Brelish citizen or a member of a dragonmarked house, and must provide a great deal of personal information, including a detailed description of the weapons he is licensed to carry. Any member of the Sharn City Watch or House Deneith can demand to see a license, and they will confiscate unauthorized weapons.
A different license is required to cast spells within the district; this costs 10 gp and requires the character to specify the spells he wishes to cast. Unauthorized spellcasting generally results in a fine of 50 gp times the level of the spell.
Upper Tavick’s Landing has a dress code. Inhabitants must dress “in a manner that upholds the solemn dignity of this proud ward,” and it is up to the individual Watch officer or Deneith guard to interpretwhat this means. Generally, an adventurer is safe if his clothes cost at least 5 gp, but this law provides an excellent excuse to harass undesirables. Armor is usually considered to be inappropriate unless the wearer is part of the Watch, House Deneith, or another branch of the city government or the crown. Anyone held to be in contempt of this law is escorted from the district and ordered to stay away until rectifying the situation.
Unruly conduct—fighting, shouting in the streets, and other forms of rude behavior—results in a fine of up to 5 gp and temporary expulsion from the ward (assuming that none of the other laws of the city were broken during the incident).
The Forces of the Law
Inevitably, adventurers who spend a significant amount of time in Sharn cross paths with the forces of the law. Heroic adventurers may be called upon to help in the pursuit of justice, while amoral or down-on-their-luck PCs may run afoul of the law. This section provides an overview of the organizations that enforce the law: the forces that adventurers may fight alongside of or against, depending on their motives.
THE SHARN WATCH
The Sharn Watch is the overarching organization that enforces the laws of the city. The sentinels of the Watch patrol the streets of Sharn, ever vigilant for signs of unrest. Unfortunately, the Sharn Watch is riddled with corruption, from the commanding officers down to the patrols. There are a few dedicated guards who truly want to protect the innocent. But bribery runs rampant, and the watch has a way of never showing up at the same time as Daask or the Boromar clan. And aside from the general problems of greed, cowardice, and corruption, the watch commanders focus their forces on protecting the wealthy and powerful citizens of the city. The lower levels of the towers are lightly patrolled, while the only guards seen in the Cogs are assigned to specific locations that are vital to the welfare of the city. So the streets of Skyway are quite safe—but the character who runs into a band of angry ogres in the Cogs shouldn’t expect to see any help from the Watch.
While the majority of the members of the Watch are simple street pounders, there are also a few elite divisions within the organization that have special duties. A few of these groups—such as the Blackened Book and the Guardians of the Gate—are described on their page. Other less interesting branches include the Wharf Watch, who oversee trade and taxation (despite the name, they operate throughout the city); the Cog Guards (who patrol the reservoirs and most critical areas of the sewer systems), and the Goldwings, an air cavalry unit who use Vadalis-trained hippogriffs to scout for trouble and to respond to mid-air crimes.
The central administration of the Sharn Watch is housed in the Citadel, the hulking fortress in Ambassador Towers that contains the Sharn Prison and the headquarters of the King’s Citadel. The bulk of the Watch is divided up between four garrison districts: Daggerwatch in Upper Dura, Warden Towers in Middle Menthis, Sword Point in Middle Central Plateau, and Black Arch in Lower Tavicks Landing. Each garrison has its own commander, and these officers have a considerable amount of leeway in how they interpret policy.
Any commander can call on the Blackened Book, the Sharn Guard, or the Goldwings for assistance. In dire situations, they can contact the Redcloaks or the King’s Citadel. But in practice, these elite units aren’t called into play that often.
As a general rule, the commanders of the Watch are only interested in maintaining the status quo and protecting the wealthy. As long as things are quiet on the surface, the Watch rarely goes searching for trouble. Even in times of crisis, most commanders prefer use personal agents to quietly resolve situations as opposed to bringing in the Redcloaks or the King’s Citadel.
Contraband in Sharn
The following items are considered to be contraband in Breland:
• Absentia (page 160)
• Dragon’s blood (page 161)
• Dreamlily (page 161)
• Most addictive substances (DM’s discretion)
• Blank pages notarized by House Sivis
• Any poison that can inflict more than 1 point of Constitution damage, permanent damage to any ability, or more than 1d6 damage to any ability.
Other items are not actually illegal, but are restricted. These items can only be sold to members of the royal military or the Sharn Watch. Possession of a restricted item is not illegal, but the Watch will want to know why the character has the item, and if the explanation is insufficient it may be confiscated.
Restricted items include:
• Any bane weapon that affects a humanoid creature type.
• Any type of poison that is not actually outlawed.
• Any magic item (including scrolls or wands) that reproduces the effects of any of the following spells: cloudkill, chain lightning, circle of death, cone of cold, contagion, delayed blast fireball, disintegrate, finger of death, feeblemind, fireball, flesh to stone, greater shout, horrid wilting, ice storm, imprisonment, incendiary cloud, insanity, invisibility (including greater invisibility), lightning bolt, meteor swarm, Mordenkainen’s disjunction, phantasmal killer, poison, polar ray, power word kill, soul bind, sunburst, or weird.
A wealthy nobleman starts a fight with one of the adventurers. After a few blows have been exchanged, a Watch patrol comes around the corner. The guards put a stop to the battle, and the sergeant asks for an explanation. What happens next?
Unfortunately, Sharn is a very corrupt city. The soldiers of the Watch and the Guard respect people who appear to be wealthy, and are happy to accept bribes. In any sort of “your word versus mine” situation, each side in the conflict should choose one member to make a Diplomacy or Bluff check; the guard accepts the word of the side that gets the better result. The modifiers below apply to a character’s check:
|Resident of upper ward||+6|
|Wearing royal outfit||+6|
|Wearing noble’s outfit||+4|
|Member of dragonmarked house||+3|
|Each impartial witness||+2|
|Wearing courtier’s outfit||+2|
|Shifter, half-orc, or goblinoid||–1|
|Wearing traveler’s outfit||–2|
|Warforged or changeling||–2|
|Wearing peasant outfit||–4|
|Resident of lower ward||–4|
|Not a citizen of Breland||–4|
Bribes also help. A character gets a +1 to the roll for every 2 gp he slips the guard up to 10 gp (for a +5 bonus). Each additional 10 gp adds another +1 to the roll, up to 50 gp (for a +9 bonus). Thereafter, every 25 gp adds another +1 to the roll. So a bribe of 125 gp provides a +12 bonus.
These are guidelines, and the DM can always adjust them based on the specific guard involved.
A sergeant who is a shifter, half-orc, warforged, or changeling usually gives a +2 bonus to members of his own race.
The guards of Tavick’s Landing do not accept bribes and are not positively influenced by clothing (the –4 penalty for wearing peasant clothing still applies).