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 trial and technical loophole
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Carter7Gindenv
Acolyte

Switzerland
14 Posts

Posted - 24 Jun 2019 :  16:15:20  Show Profile Send Carter7Gindenv a Private Message  Reply with Quote  Delete Topic
Hi, my party will soon encounter a small mystery.
In a small town, a girl has been seen stealing food. (she is poor, had a bad life, the whole sad package ). But the local law call for something pretty harsh like cutting a hand.
I'd like to allow my party to set her free by using a technical loophole. Something like "a paper has not been signed during the procedure" or an obscure law that state "if she is blonde she can't be held accounted for that particular crime"
But my idea don't really convince me. Do you have some? or related loophole that could inspire me?

have a nice day

Kentinal
Great Reader

4373 Posts

Posted - 24 Jun 2019 :  18:24:04  Show Profile Send Kentinal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Oh something like paperwork would not tend to work in my opinion.

Justification loophole though might work.

Something like the "It was the community responsibility to provide food and shelter. That because the community failed the child should not be held guilty. It is called jury nullification should there be a jury trial.

You could substitute a church instead of the entire community. Oh course if the child a daughter of a defender of the community, there can be arguement that the local goverment had the duty for the welfare of the child.

Of course each community can have their own laws, however seeing that the theft law is so harsh I would not expect the code would contain many exceptions.

One other thing that might be tried is at trial a witness is needed, make sure no witness appears or does not recall that child was the thief and there can be no conviction.

Only other approach that I can think of right now is get the law declared unjust. That the law should not be part of the law.

All of these ideas of course depend on the Judge and rules of procedure.

Non of them might work.

"Small beings can have small wisdom," the dragon said. "And small wise beings are better than small fools. Listen: Wisdom is caring for afterwards."
"Caring for afterwards ...? Ker repeated this without understanding.
"After action, afterwards," the dragon said. "Choose the afterwards first, then the action. Fools choose action first."
"Judgement" copyright 2003 by Elizabeth Moon
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Ayrik
Great Reader

Canada
6824 Posts

Posted - 24 Jun 2019 :  19:38:19  Show Profile Send Ayrik a Private Message  Reply with Quote
There must be a valid reason the penalty is so harsh?

Perhaps there is just not enough food to go around - and an honest man should not starve while a lazy thief should eat.
Perhaps the local state or religion views theft as an intolerable and unforgivable crime - dogma can be fickle stuff, maybe they worship the immortal nemesis of Mask, God of Thieves, and view theft as worse than murder.
Perhaps it is a Lawful-aligned society which feels that breaking laws/rules is tantamount to chaos and anarchy - no individual should be above the law, and by refusing to enforce one law and you weaken the entire legal system.
Perhaps it is an Evil-aligned society which feels that harsh punishments are effective punishments - the girl probably wouldn't have survived the winter anyhow, at least this way she can serve as a public example/entertainment to deter other criminals.
Perhaps it is a LE-aligned society which uses laws as a method for the strong to rule the weak - the food's legal owner is more important and should be protected, the girl was an incompetent thief and by only losing one hand she's actually getting off lucky.
Perhaps it is a LG-aligned society which uses laws as a method for achieving "justice" - and can hold itself above the "extreme" viewpoints of Lawful, Evil, and Lawful Evil societies.
Perhaps this law is a legacy or an antique - needed a long time ago when times were harsher, but rarely invoked in recent times - and it's time for it to be challenged because stupid and obsolete laws can be abolished or revised with little debate.
Perhaps this law strictly applies to strangers, foreigners, or enemies - perhaps local village folk can be given punishments (like a fine, a period of indentured service or incarceration, public stocks or flogging, etc) which isn't pleasant but which also doesn't maim them for life.
Perhaps the owner of the stolen food can be "persuaded" to insist that no theft occurred and no crime existed - he'd already intended to offer food as a "gift" - the girl may have acted rudely or impatiently, she may have broken a promise/agreement, but she wasn't really "stealing".

Or perhaps you're looking at it wrongly ...
The girl might be a runaway slave or something, maiming her might cause much bigger problems if her Zhentish masters follow her trail to the village (and discover that their "property" has been damaged).
The girl might be a runaway from a minor noble house, maiming her might cause bigger problems if her enraged patriarch hires mercenaries or "adventurers" to exact his own justice/vengeance on her attackers.
The girl might simply be the first of the first wave of refugees from some not-too-far-away war, plague, famine, or disaster ... and does the village magistrate really want to cut off hands from the hundreds or thousands of hungry "thieves" who are sure to follow?

Remember that regeneration magics are always available to those who can pay the price (or perform the quest/task) to obtain them.

[/Ayrik]

Edited by - Ayrik on 24 Jun 2019 20:04:52
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
32219 Posts

Posted - 25 Jun 2019 :  02:09:04  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Go for a plot twist... She's been sharing the food with her pet whatever, another stray like herself.

When she is imprisoned, though, the stray is left to fend for itself -- and it's some sort of shapechanging monster. Her feeding it was keeping it under control.

Of course, no one connects the arrest of a poor homeless girl to this monster that just popped up and started eating the local livestock -- not until the PCs come in, track the beast to its lair, and discover some connection between the beast and a nearby little girl. When they come back to town, looking for the girl, they eventually find she's been arrested and is soon -- perhaps within minutes! -- to be sentenced for her crimes.

Further mystery could be some connection between the girl, the monster, and the local law. Maybe the monster is a person under some sort of curse, someone close to the little girl. And the mayor is connected to the curse, if not responsible it. He wants to maim the little girl so she and the monster will leave, or perhaps because she knows the truth about the monster, and he hopes maiming her will lead to a swift death for her, preserving his secret.

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Carter7Gindenv
Acolyte

Switzerland
14 Posts

Posted - 25 Jun 2019 :  14:09:26  Show Profile Send Carter7Gindenv a Private Message  Reply with Quote
The town is somewhere near waterdeep for geopolitical context.

quote:
There must be a valid reason the penalty is so harsh?

Well, I admit to have no idea what the level of punishment in feerune are. I was thinking of "cutting hand" because IRL it used to be a punishment for thief and if it's not in use in big city it could still be applied in small village.

Maybe there could be a law stating that the laws of the nearby city overpass the local law? Like a law against beggar which state that community must help them as you said? Or if the person steal food because she might die of hunger then it's not a crime?

quote:
Remember that regeneration magics are always available to those who can pay the price (or perform the quest/task) to obtain them.


Yes this has always bothered me in terms of world coherence. Magic appear to be so common that you wonder how some problem persist. Like with "Zone of truth".
Pretty funny to think that if you are rich, you can commit a crime and be sentenced to death. Then have a someone resurrect you and go on with your life ( I happen to have players really clever so I need to overthink everything )

quote:
Go for a plot twist... She's been sharing the food with her pet whatever, another stray like herself. ... and it's some sort of shapechanging monster.


that... is actually pretty good. But it actually increase her crime from "theft" to "helping something dangerous for the community" no? I fear it will become convoluted to justify her case. ( I will keep it in a corner of my mind )

i'm not really confident with RP-ing something not black-and-white enough. I'm not subtle enough
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TBeholder
Master of Realmslore

1835 Posts

Posted - 25 Jun 2019 :  16:43:46  Show Profile Send TBeholder a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Carter7Gindenv

I'd like to allow my party to set her free by using a technical loophole. Something like "a paper has not been signed during the procedure"

Why would the judge not throw out (or slap with some equivalent of "contempt to Court") someone trying to pull such casuistry?

Anyway, PCs would have bad chances (without blatant railroading or softballing) to prove that what happened was not what everyone have seen even if it was.
So they are down to negotiating reduced punishment.
For one, arguing that it would be better for everyone involved to replace with compensation and fine, and set the convict to work.
The victim of theft is unlikely to be a raging loon who wants blood rather than silver. And it's very unlikely there are no jobs at all to be found in a small town (and inns, temples, nearby farms) that require no skill or strength to speak of.
Watering plants, pulling weeds, cleaning, potato peeling low-level kitchen work, and so on.

quote:
Originally posted by Kentinal

Justification loophole though might work.
Depends on where and why, obviously.
quote:
Something like the "It was the community responsibility to provide food and shelter. That because the community failed the child should not be held guilty.

And then start a revolution for redistribution of goods that nefariously remain un-redistributed, for good measure, to avoid this in future. Everyone will go along with it.
Brilliant. Oh, wait, If GM was into that, they'd play Blue Rose already.

quote:
Originally posted by Carter7Gindenv

The town is somewhere near waterdeep for geopolitical context.

Cleaning fish, then.
quote:
Yes this has always bothered me in terms of world coherence. Magic appear to be so common that you wonder how some problem persist. Like with "Zone of truth".

That usually happens when someone confuses RPG with MMO.
Otherwise, thee are high-magic places, but there this works both ways, in that e.g. "Zone of truth" is not too useful when illusions and enchantments are common.

People never wonder How the world goes round -Helloween
And even I make no pretense Of having more than common sense -R.W.Wood
It's not good, Eric. It's a gazebo. -Ed Whitchurch
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Wooly Rupert
Master of Mischief
Moderator

USA
32219 Posts

Posted - 25 Jun 2019 :  17:09:25  Show Profile Send Wooly Rupert a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by Carter7Gindenv


quote:
Go for a plot twist... She's been sharing the food with her pet whatever, another stray like herself. ... and it's some sort of shapechanging monster.


that... is actually pretty good. But it actually increase her crime from "theft" to "helping something dangerous for the community" no? I fear it will become convoluted to justify her case. ( I will keep it in a corner of my mind )

i'm not really confident with RP-ing something not black-and-white enough. I'm not subtle enough



No, keep it simple. The mayor -- or other authority -- knows that the little girl and the monster are connected, but no one else does. So when he has her arrested, no one makes the connection between her and the later monster attacks. It's only when the PCs investigate that they find the connection between the two, and when the PCs speak with the girl later, then they find the connection between her, the monster, and the mayor.

The mayor would likely need to drum up additional charges against the girl, or at least inflate them. Maybe all she's stolen is food -- but he makes it out to be a huge some of money or some rare jewelry or something. (Maybe she does indeed have some near-priceless necklace or something, but it's not stolen, and it's in some way connected to the monster)

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Candlekeep - The Library of Forgotten Realms Lore
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xaeyruudh
Master of Realmslore

USA
1840 Posts

Posted - 26 Jun 2019 :  09:14:28  Show Profile  Visit xaeyruudh's Homepage Send xaeyruudh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I like Wooly's idea, but I feel like any good-aligned church (in addition to parents and adventurers) would try to intervene. Even if the law calls for an adult thief to lose a hand, it shouldn't logically follow that a child should be punished to the same extent. Maybe a LE barrister or judge wants to cut the girl's hand off, but this brings the community to the brink of revolt -- the PCs can be instrumental in bringing it to the wider population's attention, as well as getting audiences with higher authorities (national rulers, church leaders, and wealthy/influential patrons of the realm) who wouldn't normally hear about or take an interest in the rulings of a town magistrate. The PCs can help the girl in this way without killing the magistrate or directly encouraging rebellion (which would probably put a bounty on their heads).

One angle for arguing against punishing the girl "to the full extent of the law" is that cutting off hands prevents people from performing legitimate work in the future (turning them into welfare recipients), ostracizes them (removing their desire to become productive members of society), and causes deep bitterness/grudges (encouraging further criminal behavior), etc.
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Gelcur
Learned Scribe

326 Posts

Posted - 26 Jun 2019 :  20:05:05  Show Profile  Visit Gelcur's Homepage Send Gelcur a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If it was in my game the girl would have a blessing of X god, which is up the to party to figure out in some fun way. As mentioned maybe she's very good friends with a wild beast or she lives someplace that makes no survivable sense, in a volcano or bottom of the pond. You can pick your tell based on what god you pick, preferably one that has a tie to the town. Turns out there is a law that states anyone to inflict harm on someone who carries that blessing is to be put to death, not wanting to anger X god. Hard to find someone to cut off the girl's hand when they would then have to be put to death.

The party come to a town befallen by hysteria

Rogue: So what's in the general store?
DM: What are you looking for?
Rogue: Whatevers in the store.
DM: Like what?
Rogue: Everything.
DM: There is a lot of stuff.
Rogue: Is there a cart outside?
DM: (rolls) Yes.
Rogue: We'll take it all, we may need it for the greater good.
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Wenin
Senior Scribe

579 Posts

Posted - 28 Jun 2019 :  23:57:47  Show Profile Send Wenin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
PCs could declare that they represent a higher authority.
Waterdeep
Lords Alliance
A long lost local lord returned....

Under this higher authority the punishment is to be hard labor, rather than the cutting off of the hand.



Session Reports posted at RPG Geek.
Stem the Tide Takes place in Mistledale.
Dark Curtains - Takes place in the Savage North, starting in Nesmé. I wrapped my campaign into the Hoard of the Dragon Queen, but it takes place in 1372 DR.
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