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Author Topic: Savage Age: Argyrian Empire  (Read 107243 times)
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« Reply #60 on: January 23, 2011, 03:31:23 PM »

I love the detail of this setting.  It feels "authentic."
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« Reply #61 on: January 23, 2011, 04:19:26 PM »

Not sure what you mean by authentic, but I'm glad you like the detail-ness. I felt rather unsure about dabbling with the subject of law, which is not commonly given much attention in fantasy. It also seems a subject difficult to write about without getting long winded & boring.
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« Reply #62 on: January 23, 2011, 04:41:27 PM »

Quote

All are not equal before Argyrian law. The social status of the parties involved influences how much weight is put on each side's claims (and whether a trial can even be held in the first place), and the status of witnesses determines the worth of their testimony.

    * A slave is not considered a person, and therefore cannot commit crimes, only 'cause them to happen'. A slave's master may be prosecuted if his servile causes crimes to happen. A slave can never press charges against anyone. A testimony given by a slave may be deemed legally valid only if it has been obtained via torture.
    * A non-citizen cannot press charges nor give testimony against a citizen. However, another citizen may press charges on behalf of the non-citizen.
    * A commoner cannot press charges nor give testimony against a nobleman. However, his (noble) patron may do so on his behalf.
    * A client cannot be compelled to give testimony against his patron.
    * A dependant (a direct descendant, a younger sibling, a wife) cannot press charges nor be compelled to give testimony against the head of their family (the eldest male).
    * Nobody can press charges nor give testimony against the Emperor. Ever. This immunity can be extended to any other member of the Imperial family at the Emperor's behest.


I agree, it's a good idea to have a detailed system of law- for that is what makes real societies function. My Gloria setting had a similar problem to confront in structuring how evidence can be weighted, so you are not alone in addressing this issue.
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« Reply #63 on: January 27, 2011, 05:10:34 PM »

The Anatomy of a Trial
Trials are often the culmination points for stories about crime and punishment. In the Argyrian Empire, a trial is as much a battlefield as any blood-soaked plain on the savage frontier: an arena of intrigue and manipulation, where the lives of powerful men can be cut short and the glorious names of ancient lineages shamed for eternity with but a few well-phrased words of a skilled rhetor. The course of justice presents a drama of veiled intentions and scandalous revelations, unfolding over three stages: the summons, the preliminary hearing, and the trial itself.

The Stages of a Trial
Continued in: Punishments & Example Laws.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2011, 01:09:22 PM by Ghostman » Logged

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« Reply #64 on: February 01, 2011, 10:28:05 PM »

Good work, very detailed.

I am myself designing a campaign setting and the first part of the world, from where the story and content will evolve, is alot like Greek-Romanish times.

This inspires me
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« Reply #65 on: February 01, 2011, 11:47:57 PM »

Quote

Particularly difficult or politically charged cases may be brought before a council of 100 judges, available only in provincial capitals. Such scandalous trials always attract large crowds of spectators, rouse up furious gossip, and may even trigger riots and public unrest.


Sounds like a particularly good adventure seed. Trial of Socrates, for e.g. (!)
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« Reply #66 on: February 02, 2011, 10:08:17 AM »

Welcome to the CGB Magnus Pym! Good to hear that someone has found my ramblings inspiring. smile

Light Dragon: One of the reasons why I decided to tackle laws & trials in the first place was to make it easy to create such adventures.
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« Reply #67 on: February 24, 2011, 12:26:44 PM »

Punishments
The judgements of Argyrian courts tend to be harsh, especially toward those who stand lowest in the social order. As with all civilizations of the Savage Age, imprisonment is completely absent from the list of punishments - without the advantages of mechanized industry and machinery, societies simply cannot afford to keep large numbers of people fed and housed for long. The incarceration facilities that exist are thus used only for short-term detention; to hold those deemed too dangerous to be left free while waiting for their trial, and for the execution of those sentenced to death by starvation.

List of common punishments:
  • Monetary fines, generally paid as compensation to the victim or his inheritors. The sum settled on is based on the estimated loss of property suffered by the victim, but may be multiplied manyfold if the victim is of noble status. The wealthiness of the perpetrator is not given any consideration whatsoever.
  • Enslavement deprives the criminal of all social status and rights, and he becomes either private property of the victim of the crime, or collective property of the Empire. The latter case generally means being sent to waste away in heavy labour in some quarry or mines, which is practically a death sentence.
  • Indentured servitude is superficially similar to slavery, but not nearly as severe. It is a temporal sentence; the convict's social status is merely suspended rather than lost, and the master does not hold the power of life and death over the indentured servant.
  • Exile is inflicted only upon the nobility, generally for crimes that would cost a commoner his life or freedom.
  • Corporal punishments include lashings with a leather whip and beatings with a wooden rod. Such punishments are administered in the public to set an example, and for the added humiliation of the criminal.
  • Mutilations include blinding by removal of the eyes, deafening by rupturing of the eardrums, muting by cutting off the tongue, dismemberment and castration.
  • Capital punishments come in many forms, some of which are considered much more severe than others. They are executed in the public to set an example. In order from the most dignified to the most ignominious:
    • Death by poisoned drink (generally hemlock)
    • Death by beheading (by the axe)
    • Death by strangulation
    • Death by starvation
    • Death by drowning (in a river, lake or the sea)
    • Death by boiling (in a cauldron of water or oil)
    • Death by stoning
    • Death by impalement (a pike inserted through anus, exits from the chest)
    • Death by wild beasts (anything from wolves to crocodiles may be used)
    • Death by the sack of snakes (executed is put into the sack, which is then sewn shut and rolled down a cliff)
The Effect of Status
The status of the criminal (citizenship and nobility) effects what sort of punishments he can be sentenced to:

  • A citizen cannot be sentenced to suffer more than 20 lashes, or more than 15 beatings, from any single crime. A non-citizen can be sentenced to any number of either kind, even to such numbers that are likely to result in death, though this does not qualify as a capital punishment in the eyes of the law.
  • Corporal and capital punishments inflicted on those of noble birth are always administered discreetly, rather than in the public, unless their crime was against the Emperor or the Empire.
  • A citizen cannot be sentenced to death by the means of stoning, impalement, wild beasts, or the sack of snakes. The Emperor may still authorize such punishment.
  • Those of noble blood cannot be sentenced to death by any means other than poisoned drink, beheading or strangulation. The Emperor may still authorize greater punishment.
  • Those of noble birth can never be reduced to slavery.


Example Laws
It would be futile to try to list all the hundreds of laws. Instead, a few example codes are provided here, to give Game Masters a general idea of the language and nature of Argyrian laws. New codes should be thought up ad hoc as a plot warrants.

  • "He who in anger strikes a free citizen, so that injury is brought upon the one struck, shall render onto his victim 45 asteres."
  • "If a man steals from another man's house, and he is caught in the act, and the act is taking place after dark but before the sunrise, and the man so caught is struck where he is met, so that he dies, then this slaying shall be deemed lawful and just, and no restitution shall be required of he who struck the blow."
  • "He who steals from a temple or holy place shall be flogged, and his arms shall be broken, and he shall be put to death. And those who possess the things he stole shall also be put to death."
  • "If a man wishes to divorce his wife, and his wife has not been found barren, and neither has she been found adulterous, then shall he return in full measure the dowry that this wife brought to his house, or else compensate it's value in silver."
  • "If man who holds a public office accepts a gift of money, or of property, and out of gratitude or in conspiracy with the gift-giver renders onto him such favours as are commanded by the office held, then that man shall be put to death. And the gift-giver shall be given lashes of the whip, and then he shall be put to death."
  • "When a man has become indebted to another, and has not made good on it, then the one to whom the debt is owed shall take from his house, and from his garden, and from his fields, and from his cattle, and from his slaves, any such portion as is deemed good and just to satisfy the debt.
    • Should this not be enough, then the one being indebted to may seize the debtor, and put him in chains, and he shall be made his slave.
    • Should this also not be enough, then the one being indebted to may seize the debtor's wives, and his children, and his children's children, and put them in chains, and they shall be made his slaves."
  • "He who slanders the Most August Name of the Emperor, present or past, shall be put to death by the sack of snakes, and his immediate kin shall be put to death, and his house shall be reduced to rubble, so that not a stone is left to stand."
  • "If a man looks maliciously upon another, and willfully casts upon him the evil eye, then that man shall be deprived of his eyes."
  • "If a man places ignoble writings upon a hex-tablet, and in so doing causes failure of crops upon another man's fields, or disease upon his livestock, then that man shall be flogged and then beaten and then castrated, and he shall be put to death by drowning."

GMs should not fear coming up with overlapping, contradictory or confusing laws. After all, the realm of Argyrian legislation is supposed to be a convoluted web full of intricacies and nuances, with room for creative interpretations and cunning manipulation by jurists. In addition to the corpus of Imperial laws that (at least in theory) are applied across the Empire, each province enforces it's own set of supplemental rulings, adding to the complexity. It is not at all uncommon for the plaintiffs to press their accusations based on one law while the defendants cite another law that addresses the same issue, arguing why it should take priority over the other one.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2011, 01:16:19 PM by Ghostman » Logged

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« Reply #68 on: April 01, 2011, 11:05:14 AM »

Andauria

Resting atop a dismal plateau high above sea level, nestled betwixt formidable walls of snow-capped mountains, Andauria presents a stark contrast to other regions of the Empire. Due to it's elevation and northerly latitude, it's climate is harsh by Argyrian standards. The winters there are viciously cold, with howling winds of glacial air blowing down from the mountains, sweeping mercilessly across the plateau. The native air draws thin to the breath while the soil beneath is poor and rocky, the very earth rent and torn with perilous cliffs and bottomless chasms. The forests are dark and impassable tangles, the rivers fast-flowing rapids rushing their way through deep-cut gorges.

Andauria is a bleak, brutal and inhospitable land, beset by savage tribes of ever-rebellious natives. It is the very image of an untamed frontier, and can only be held onto through rigorous military power and relentless vigilance. And it is a land of utmost importance to the Empire. Shipments of silk, a source of fabulous wealth for the Argyrians, must cross the isthmus of Euria on their way to the distant markets of the Sea of Blood, where the precious fabrics command a king's ransom in gold. As it happens, the primary route across this stretch of land passes through the Andaurian plateau. He who controls Andauria controls the flow of silk.

Andauria is bordered to the south by Therania, the edge of the plateau marked with steep cliffs and waterwalls. Northwards the elevation drops somewhat more gradually, descending near sea level at the shores of the Gulf of Aundauria, the westernmost arm of the Sea of Blood. The east and west sides are blocked by mountain ranges, but to the northwest opens the way to the Endless Plains where savage horse-tribes ride.

« Last Edit: June 29, 2013, 11:47:59 AM by Ghostman » Logged

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« Reply #69 on: April 08, 2011, 02:28:50 PM »

Out of Character


One might not think that education would be worth covering in much detail, since it isn't likely to be given much "screen time" in any story - not least due to the fact that most characters would be well past their school days. My opinion is that it is a subject that shouldn't be glossed over so easily. A character is very much a product of his past, and education received during childhood forms a major component of those past experiences.

And much as the state of education within a setting informs the creation of individual characters, it can also shed a great deal of light on a society at large. The questions of what is being taught, to whom, and how, help paint a clearer picture of life in a fictional world.


Education

Education in the Argyrian world is divided to two tiers: primary and academic. Both are fairly formalized, taking place in schools and academies under the tutelage of professional teachers. There is no public school system found anywhere within the Empire; all schools are private institutions that charge fees for entry. Thus education is available only to the children of such families that are able to afford it.

Opportunities for formal education are mostly present in cities and towns. Rural population (except for the landed aristocracy, who send their sons to be schooled in urban centers) remains largely uneducated. Male and female students are taught in separate schools, and receive very different kind of education.

Proper education is highly valued within the Argyrian society. However, it is viewed not so much as a means to learn any kind of practical trade, but chiefly as a way to refine and cultivate the character of the youths. To shape them into civilized and sophisticated citizens, equally capable and appreciative of the pursuits of the mind and the pursuits of the body; on all occasions conducting themselves with dignity and honor.

Primary Education

Those who have the fortune of receiving formal education usually begin with their schooling some time after their seventh birthday. Schools tend to be small and austere businesses, located in the private homes of the teachers. A child is typically placed in the charge of a dedicated caretaker, usually a trusted household slave, who will escort them to the schools and back to home, carry their possessions, keep them out of any kind of mischief, and punish them when necessary. The teachers are lower-class citizens, a poorly paid and unrespected profession. Discipline in their schools is very strict and ruthlessly enforced by caning and flogging. Schooldays begin shortly after dawn and end before dusk, the time between filled with arduous studying.

Boys are from the beginning taught reading and writing skills, using wax tablets and stylus. They are also taught some basic arithmetic using the abacus, and to recite poetry from memory. When they get a bit older, they will divide their schooldays in three parts: They'll continue to attend the literary and arithmetic class by the morning; then they move on to another school where they spend the noon learning to sing, dance and play the flute and the lyre; the rest of the day passes in the excercise grounds of the gymnasium, practicing various athletics and martial skills.

Girls attend separate schools, where such are available and if their parents are willing to pay the entrance fees. Their education consists of reading, writing, poetry, singing, dancing, playing the lyre, etiquette, and weaving. In some cities, athletics may be taught to girls also, but this is rarer.

Primary education is often the only level of education within the grasp of the poorer citizenry. It is also the only type of formal education that may be available for girls.

Academia

More sophisticated (and expensive) avenues of learning are open for the sons of powerful wealthy Argyrian families, once these youths are done with their primary education. This transition usually occurs at age of fifteen. Every major town bears at least one academy, hosting lectures in philosophy, rhetoric, advanced mathematics, geometry, astrology, medicine, politics, history, literature, calligraphy and etiquette - in addition to further studies in the common curricula of primary education.

Unlike school teachers, academic instructors are notable and respected citizens, drawn almost without exception from aristocratic background. They are accomplished scholars and sages, teaching more out of a love for the arts and sciences than any need to earn a living. A few academia have become particularly famous and prominent centers of learning, amassing great collections of written-down wisdom in their libraries and gathering the sharpest minds of the Empire within their vaunted halls.
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« Reply #70 on: April 17, 2011, 10:07:11 AM »

Philosophy: The Mountain of Wisdom

A widespread school of philosophy originating from Epimetrias, the city of marble. The school's teachings concern the nature of the universe and the inherent flawedness of human perception.

Teachings

The cornerstone of the Mountain of Wisdom's philosophy is the assertion that a true and objective form of the universe exists, but that it cannot be directly observed by mankind due to the limits and biases of mortal faculties. Disciples of the school propose that glimpses of this platonic actuality - what they've termed true wisdom - might be caught by looking past the readily apparent, by reading between the lines of the cosmic manuscript and thereby seeing the forest for the trees, even if within a limited scope and context.

In their quest for greater apprehension these philosophers have developed and perfected techniques to more acutely recognize such obscure patterns and associations lost amidst the cacophony of everyday phenomena. They are quite notorious for displaying quaint and unconventional points of view on the most mundane of subjects, and of being adept at seeing through expertly crafted deceptions and hidden agendas.

Behind the Name

The proverbial "mountain of wisdom", whence the school takes it's name, is not an actual mountain but a metaphor that illustrates the paradox of the mortal philosopher: Imagine an infinitely tall mountain, with a lone philosopher climbing it's side. His ascent represents accumulation of wisdom; each step and clambering resulting in ever greater understanding and clarity. Yet, to reach the summit - to achieve paramount wisdom - is impossible, as the mountain is infinitely tall. It is thus an unachievable objective, a hopeless task, to attempt to grasp the true nature of the universe. And yet the philosopher continues his ascent undaunted, for he has realized that it is the journey, not the destination, that actually matters.

Public Perception

The school primarily attracts upper-class intellectuals and retired academics; people with the leisure and interest to pursue such eccentric knowledge. As the Mountain of Wisdom tends to disregard common worldly matters as unimportant and focus on seeking the esoteric true wisdom, it is largely seen as an aloof and apolitical movement. This has enabled the school to spread and grow unimpeded, as the powers-that-be see no threat in it's activities. Students of the Mountain of Wisdom often take to the road, traveling far and wide, driven by desire to discover new ideas and perspectives with which to challenge their perceptions about all things.
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« Reply #71 on: April 17, 2011, 10:50:41 AM »

I like what I'm seeing.
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« Reply #72 on: May 30, 2011, 02:22:51 PM »

Character Names

Although the Empire is host to a wide array of local traditions, most Argyrian peoples have come to observe similar naming conventions.

Structure of Common Names

Only the aristocracy uses family names; common people simply go by their personal name, supplemented by a patronym (refering to their father) and/or a toponym (refering either to their place of birth, their current hometown, or their family's place of origin) to distinguish them from others bearing the same name.

For example, a man named Phanias who hails from the city of Ilissa might alternatively introduce himself as "Phanias of Ilissa, son of Androcles", or as "Phanias son of Androcles", or as "Phanias of Ilissa" - or even simply as "Phanias", depending on how formal and informative he wishes to be.

The string of patronyms may be extended to include grandfathers, great-grandfathers, great-great-grandfathers and so on, thus announcing the character's paternal lineage. For example: "Phanias son of Androcles son of Timaeus son of Artemon son of Timaeus son of Xenion". Of corse, such meticulous listing is rarely needed, and most people will never continue beyond their grandfathers. A proud warrior boasting of his glorious ancestry (for example, when issuing a challenge) may well be quite thorough in listing his forefathers, though.

It is a fairly common tradition to name first-born sons after their paternal grandfather, but this is not a hard and fast rule. Even traditionalist families might swerve from it if the grandfather in question was disgraced; the naming of children is considered to be an act of ominous power that can potentially doom the progeny with ill fortune or endow it with an auspicious destiny.

The Naming of Slaves

Slaves, being objects rather than people, have no proper names at all. They are called whatever their master decides to call them, which he may change on a whim. When a slave is manumitted (freed), he acquires his current slave-name as a proper personal name and usually also a patronym refering to his former master, regardless of whether the master actually adopts the freedman.

Example Names

The example personal names listed below are suitable not only for Argyrian characters, but also for many other Eurian peoples, such as Minarians, Valarians and Erytanians.

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« Reply #73 on: May 30, 2011, 06:01:42 PM »

This setting is getting very detailed!  Great sense of verisimilitude.

EDIT: ha, I totally made the same comment earlier...
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« Reply #74 on: June 30, 2011, 06:55:55 AM »

This setting is very well done! I do hope we will see more of it?
Btw, any news on the worldmap? I remember you saying that you were in the progress of "finding the version" you wanted. How is the status on that front?
Oh and how about a detail map of Brond (like the one for Euria)?
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I\'m trapped in Darkness<br />Still I reach out for the Stars

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