Friday, 26 May 2017

Encountering the Wapentake

The original, and oldest court in Wir-Heal is the Court of the Wapentake, from which all other legal rights descend.

Horribly, the documents of ownership and rights of the court have been bought by an evil solicitor; Mister Samuel Moreton (a wolf), assisted by the sinister Mister Grace (a fat pig, ten feet tall). No legal authority can overrule this court and no weapon can be wielded against it.

Mister Moreton claims to be 'Lord of the Waste Lands' and the rule of his court is one of bitterness, resentment, greed and small claims.

They charge about the countryside in an omnibus pulled by whipped Woodwose, full of pigs, boars, bears, wolves, jackals and snarling apes in pot masks like toby jugs wearing shabby black tails and top hats or frock coats and scratch-wigs. They crash through the hedgerows and snatch people out of their homes, press ganging them as jurors, witnesses or even court functionaries, then sit in state, feasting on fine food and ale with the greasy food running down the back of their masks, fining everyone for everything and holding every man and action in contempt.

The Court of the Wapentake claims lordship of any 'Waste Land' in Wir-Heal and they make sure there is as much of this as possible by tearing down walls, buildings, bridges and anything else they can find on the slightest excuse.


They also claim ownership of any ‘wreck’ left on the shore and of any stolen goods of any kind (which they certainly do not give back but rather keep).

The Court of the Wapentake is encountered either 'in the wild' as its Omnibus crashes through the countryside, or 'in session', in which case Mister Moreton has already set up his court in some building or location.

Obviously, it’s completely and overwhelmingly reasonable for you to just make up anything to do with the trial, from the roles to the crimes to the timing to the actions of the court, based purely on stuff you half remember from old TV episodes and youtube clips. You might not know what you are doing, but neither does Mr Moreton necessarily know what he is doing. What is important is that he, and you, have the authority to do it. ALL RISE!


The Power Of The Court


- Universal Authority, all NPCs (even the Devil and the Ouzel) agree on the validity of the documents of the Wapentake and will not countermand their authority.

- Compellment. Individuals are compelled to conduct themselves in their court-appointed role. PCs are unusually strong willed and may break away from this compellment with periodic WIL tests, but may then be held in contempt.

- Contempt. The Judge can inflict a range of bizarre punishments upon anyone he holds in contempt or anyone found guilty by the Court. These effects apply to anyone within sight and cannot be saved against.



Roles In The Court

 Two roles are always held by the same people.

Judge - "Lord of the Waste Lands, Master of the Wapentake, the Right Honourable Mister Samuel Moreton Esquire. ALL RISE!"

Clerk of the Court - Mister Grace.

Obviously, if any PC has actually committed a crime of any kind in Wir-Heal, and there is even the slightest chance that someone knows about it, then they are the accused.

Otherwise, for every PC present, and for notable NPCs if you like, roll a d10 on the table below to see what role they must adopt.

2d6
Court Role
What they do
1.
Council for the Prosecution.
Usually one of Moretons cronies but it may amuse him to appoint a PC.
2-3
Council for the Defence.
A thankless, and probably pointless task.
4
Usher
Announces people. Informs the Judge of who everyone is, who is representing who, repeats every order the judge makes, essentially in charge of getting people in and out.
5
Bailiff
Keeps order in the court, with violence if necessary. Can also be sent off to grab witnesses, the accused or anyone else Moreton thinks should be there.
6-7
Juror

8-9
Witness
It doesn't really matter whether the PC saw or didn't see anything, they better act like they did.
10
The Accused
Even if a PC is clean as new snow, they can always be accused of something.




Timeline Of A Trial


1
Identifying the Accused and the Charge - Clerk reads the charge.
2
“HOW DO YOU PLEAD?"
Accused enters a plea.
3
Opening Statements from prosecution and defence.
4
Prosecution states case, enters evidence into court, brings forth Witnesses.
Defence may cross-examine each witness and query each piece of evidence.
5
The Defence states its case, enters evidence into court, brings forth Witnesses.
Prosecution may cross-examine each witness and query each piece of evidence.
6
Prosecution makes their closing statements.
7
Defence makes their closing statements.
8
Judge advises jury from a position of maximum hypocrisy.
9
Jury adjourns.
10
Jury returns with guilty verdict.
11
Judge sentences Accused.
12
Judge takes property of the guilty party (all property of all outlaws in Wir-Heal may be claimed by the Lord of the Wapentake.)




CRIMES!


Of course the most important crime is whatever the PCs have actually done, but if another is needed you may choose or roll below.

D50
Charge
1-2
Unpaid Debts
3-4
Gambling
5-6
Bet-Welshing - i.e. behaving as a Welshman in a bet and not paying, or paying in sheep.
7-8
Smuggling
9-10
Theft
11-12
Wrecking
13-14
Making Mock
15-16
Oath Breaking
17-18
Travelling at Night
19-20
Sharp Practice - being too effective or deceitful in business.
21-22
Building an Illegal Wall
23-24
Making an Illegal path.
25-26
Abduction of Woodwose.
27-28
Fraternisation with Woodwose - i.e. contact unbecoming.
29-30
Perversity.
31-32
Acting as a Wreaca - (not a 'Wrecker'.) Being alone or being seen to be alone too much. Behaving as an exile.
33-34
Unlicensed Wassail - drinking and singing but any improvised merry-making.
35-36
Unreasonable Gurning - this is, the making of ridiculous faces in an ill-chosen manner or time.
37-38
Becoming Invisible
39-40
Becoming Other - that is, other to yourself.
41-42
Summoning the Devil. Not that hard to do as he lives over the water.
43-44
Mask-Breaking - a much hated crime in Wir-Heal.
45-46
Observing Birds - a crime of unknown provenance and reasoning yet hallowed by time and ritual.
47-48
Occlusion - Doing something but whatever it was was not seen. Behaving in an occluded manner.
49-50
Grievance - An indistinct charge, yet a serious one




PUNISHMENT!

Moretons judgements are sometimes related to the charge in question, sometimes a matter of idle whim.

The punishments for contempt are the same as those for a guilty verdict, but usually expressed for shorter periods, hours, days or weeks rather than months, years or lifetimes. You can and should choose, but here are some numbers in case you want to roll.

Sentences are usually either in days, for contempt, or years, for a guilty verdict.

D20
Sentence
Effect
1
Gaol
Usually in Legions Fort.
2
Were-gilt
A fine. Usually a significant one of at least ¾ of the persons wealth.
3
Dunce
Magical white cap appears on head causing intelligence to drop by two-thirds. Cannot be removed.
4
Foolery
Fools cap appears on head. Accused cannot walk without capering or speak unless it is part of a joke.
5
Mischance
High Misfortune
Rolls d20 with disadvantage.
Auto-fails any dice roll.
6
Muteness
7
Blindness
8
Murmuration
On any sharp shock or surprise the target bursts apart into a flock of birds and must re-assemble themselves.
9
'Thy Shape be Amended'
Polymorph. Usually into a pig, or into a horse to pull the Omnibus, but the target maintains their wits and it not automatically the property of the court.

10
Woodwosification

Can be sentenced in ‘degrees; with First Degree being immediate transformation into a full Woodwose with one automatic stage every day until full transformation complete.
11
Misfortune

Rolls d20 with disadvantage and must re-roll any other successful die roll.
12
Shivering Hands
Hands won't stop shaking, minuses or disadvantage to any dexterous work.
13
Coldness
Target can never be warm again. Suffers all fatigue effects as if in a cold environment. Must pass tests to sleep, and that fitfully.
14
Impoverishment
Cannot own more than a minimal amount of wealth (usually 40 shillings worth of objects). Any more than this will simply disappear or roll of its own volition towards others.
15
To Be Besmirched
Appears as a dirty, filthy, low-class, possibly-leprous vagabond at all times. Assumed by all reasonable people to be a Vile Creature.
16
Dexterectiomy
Can't use right hand, see through right eye, or turn right.
17
Crawling
Must go about on hands and knees.
18
Slithering
Must go about on their belly.
19
The Gibbet
Enclosure in a hanging iron cage.
20
Hanging!





Stealing The Documents

To make someone the true lord of the Wapentake, the documents must change hands legally, without threat of force and without deceit. Stealing them and burning them or selling them off will not amend or change any already created judgements.

However, they will prevent Mr Moreton from making any new judgements and will rob his court of its powers of compellment and contempt. He will pursue the documents madly, even to the death.

7 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. In only three ways may that mystery be solved;

      The first - to await the Conclave of Skarlax and its news of the Wrecked Heptarchy, then to purchase a copy and peruse it for yourself.

      The second - this mystery may be unveild on this very blog.

      The third - the oracle called 'google' may provide part of an answer.

      Delete
  2. Jebus. Moreton is acting in a thoroughly unwholesome manner. It's as if he's gone mad with power, abusing those of lesser power than him simply because he can. It's almost as if he's acting... like... a normal player.

    Hm. The doctor is in session, and he prescribes: "A taste of their own medicine".

    ReplyDelete
  3. I don't think it has to be universally accepted, like it's supernatural. I think it can be strongly customary. So the PCs will try to buck the law and everyone in the land will chase them down as scofflaws. That's funnier.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Reminds me of the power of "pit and gallows, sake and soke, toll, team, and infangthief."

    ReplyDelete
  5. Replies
    1. _You're_ good Mateo. When are you bringing out something new in hardcopy?

      Also if you look in the back of VotE you are in the glossary.

      Delete

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