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    Canonfire :: View topic - Church of Cuthbert and Greyhawk Law
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    Church of Cuthbert and Greyhawk Law
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    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed Jul 12, 2023 11:09 am  
    Church of Cuthbert and Greyhawk Law

    ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS:
    1) To what extent does the Church of Saint Cuthbert in Greyhawk City obey Greyhawk city law when to do so is against the ethics and interests of the church itself?
    2) How should I handle the surrender of Pappy Dickens to church authority in a way that preserves the realism of the setting and the fun of the game?

    I’m running the Age of Worms campaign in CY 596, and, as a side trek in the wake of the Champion’s Games segment, I’ve plunged the party into Greyhawk’s political machinations.

    By this year, the Directing Oligarchy has crystallized into two viciously-opposed factions: the mayor’s faction, supported by the Thieves Guild, as well as many of the Guilds, middle-class business interests, and new money; and Eritai-Kaan’Ipzirel’s faction, the voice of the poor and the laborers, also supported by old money nobles, the Nightwatchmen, a sizable portion of the City Watch, many good-aligned religions, and a few guilds, such as those of the Lawyers.

    One of the PCs is Pappy Dickens, an elderly white-haired tinker from Diamond Lake, who’s been living a double-life as a Thieves Guildmember while also worshipping Saint Cuthbert. I had his superiors in the Guild charge him with using his membership in the church in order to learn Eritai’s political secrets (to help the mayor). Pappy figured out the Weisshunds guarding the church are the key to the omiscience the priests seem to have with regard to incursions or burglaries and drugged all of the dogs before breaking into Eritai’s private chambers and learning of her political scheme to force the Oligarchy into enacting a worker’s rights law during the upcoming Growfest council. Pappy subsequently turned this over to Thieves Guild so that the mayor was ready for Eritai’s machinations, and defeated the measure during the council. Pappy was promoted in the Thieves Guild and given an even more important mission (subterfuge to unseat Sir Anton Palmirien of the Lawyers Guild, ongoing).

    A month has passed and I determined that Eritai was eventually able to determine what happened, via commune and old-fashioned detective work, and so invited Pappy Dickens to be the guest of honor at a ceremony on Saint Cuthbert’s Day celebrating him for saving the city from the threat of the ulgurstasta during the Champion’s Games. Though a little wary, Pappy attended and found himself at the front of a congregation of thousands, flanked by Talasek Thraydin, other paladins, and several significant Cuthbertite wizards (I used those from the WGA Falcon series) when Eritai accused and denounced him from the pulpit. The player decided that Pappy would confess to being a thief and surrender in this situation, and I decided that he was stripped of his equipment and taken below into the church’s cells.

    Here’s where I need your help. Where does Greyhawk law stop and Church law begin? How should I handle this situation?

    If this were Veluna or Verbobonc, I have no doubt the church could arrest and detain malefactors who violate church law. But in Greyhawk?

    Can the church detain Pappy indefinitely? If not, might they not try to hold him anyway, even though such a thing can’t be considered strictly lawful?

    Everyone knows (including the Cuthbert-worshipping City Watchmen) that if Pappy is turned over to the City Watch as a thief, he’ll either be sprung by his Guild or a judge bribed to free him. So how would surrendering him further the interests of the church?

    Eritai also needs to know the details of how Pappy robbed the temple, who his superiors are in the Thieves Guild, and any other designs her political enemy Nerof has against her church and allies. Likely, she’d also crave Pappy’s confession and redemption, possibly involving an engregious amount of flagellation and other punishment. But, also, it's against the law to use spells like discern lie or zone of truth even in the course of law enforcement (old Zagyg law)—would Eritai use these spells on Pappy in violation of this?

    Finally, I want to resolve this situation in a way that’s fun for the game. Given the divine protection of the church vis-a-vis the weisshunds, I don’t think the Thieves Guild can just sneak into the temple and spring Pappy in gratitude for his prior service; nor do I think the rest of the party can accomplish this without a major pitched battle against the Church of Saint Cuthbert (and the PCs are good guys, for the most part).

    So how do you think this should play out? and how do I make this fun?
    Adept Greytalker

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    Wed Jul 12, 2023 1:09 pm  

    I did not realize that the Church of St. Cuthbert had cells in the basement... perhaps a converted room for an acolyte?

    I guess now the big question is, "does a church have legal authority to hold a prisoner who committed a secular crime against them, how long and under what conditions can they hold them, and can they try and punish such a prisoner."

    I opine that the short answer has to be "no" to the first part, invalidating all of the rest of the question. If it were yes, what would stop any temple from grabbing inconvenient people and locking them away? So the other characters can just go the lawyer's guild (yeah, awkward moment that considering Pappy's current mission) and get a writ of habeus corpus (or whatever in that obscure Suel dialect called legalese), and have the local watchman serve it on the Church and expect Pappy's release, forthwith.

    To make it a little more interesting, I propose that Pappy's real crime, besides being inconvenient, is that he committed blasphemy. He is, if I understand correctly, a professed member of the church, and as a professed member he may willingly give up some of his privileges or rights and subject himself to church justice if he commits blasphemy. If this is the case, the Oligarchy may feel that their hands are tied as a member of the Church of St Cuthbert has to face church justice for blasphemy... of course, that is only valid as long as Pappy wants to stay a member of the church. Of course, how would anyone know if he didn't want to... back to the writ of habeus corpus?

    So, this could play out with Pappy struggling with his conscience while the other characters try to get Pappy sprung legally. They go to the Lawyer's Guild and beg for help, and there is a star litigator who is an expert on church law... but, Sir Anton Palmirien sadly informs them, his docket is full, but perhaps, if the characters will do him a personal favor, he can clear it and set his best litigator on the case...
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Jun 29, 2001
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    Thu Jul 13, 2023 11:12 am  

    Anton Palmirian is thoroughly corrupt, and is a rather overbearing influence on Lawyers' (and Scribes' and Accountants') Guild, so any faction of them supporting Eritai will be small.

    Of course, some ne'er-do-well offed Anton in 597, and did some other rearranging of the Oligarchy for 598.
    For an overview of that, see:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20161031210109/http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=lg/lgpg/20080418a

    The factions shaping up there were:
    Thieves Faction
    Mayor Nerof Gasgal
    Tax Man Glodreddi Bakkanin
    Merchant Guildmaster Dernan Nathane
    Merchant Carman Halmaster
    Merchant Cariel Mansharn
    Thief Org Nenshen

    Effectively controlled by Nerof
    Merchant Stimtrin Cannasay
    Jeweler Guildmast Gerda Hollardel

    Allied to Nerof "but"
    Assassisin Guildmaster Vesparian Lafanel

    Religious Faction
    Cuthbert High Priestess Eritai Kaan-Ipzirel
    Nightwatch Guildmaster Gavin Ambus (a Cuthberran)
    Captain-General Tigran Gellner (a Pholtan)

    Allied but not Oligarchs
    Trithereon High Priestess Janziduur Euroz-Slayer
    Pholtus High Priest Arkady Benris

    Neutral Mages and Priests
    High Priest of Boccob Ravel Dasinder
    President of the Magi Torrentz Hebvard
    Guildmaster of Wizards Kieran Jalucian
    High Priest of Zilchus Stakaster Villaine

    The neutral faction sort of supports Nerof because he promotes peace, but Ravel and Kieran have connections to the Circle of Eight and support backing Furyondy and Nyrond.

    For the Cuthberrans being law abiding, we did an LG adventure involving Talasek or his son embezzling money to help the refugees from Iuz's takeover of the north who had settled around the city, so I would say they obey the laws as far as they do not require non-LG behavior, and then regard them as "advisory", especially if they get in the way of Lawful Gooding.

    The thing about no divinations applies to legal city trials. Whether Zagyg left something else to actively prevent its use in private interrogations would be something else. Evidence gained by that would not be useable in a city trial, but would the church even turn the PC over for such?

    Given that the PC confessed openly, the thieves may not be able to legal him out. He admitted to committing crimes against the Temple of Cuthbert, and they may be legally allowed to deal with it as they like. If it becomes official, they may be entitled to legal damages directly from the Thieves' Guild. Which may mean the Guild will do whatever it takes to keep him from testifying, however unpleasant that may be for the PC. He may really need to repent if he wants to stay alive long enough to finish the AP!
    Adept Greytalker

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    Thu Jul 13, 2023 7:19 pm  

    Thank you, Tarelton and Samwise,

    A few wrinkles/clarifications:

    Whether Pappy is technically guilty of burglary, I'm not sure. What he did was enter Eritai's private chambers and magically copy her personal notes, without actually removing any object from the premises.

    As for Sir Anton Palmirian, I'm actually foreshadowing his eventual death/removal by setting him up opposed to Nerof Gasgol. I'm using an excellent Canonfire postfest article on him (by IronGolem) which suggests his corruption stems from a childhood pact w/ Baalzebul; I'm also keeping said corruption and his true character more or less under wraps. To the city of Greyhawk he is a grandfatherly old judge. The Church of Cuthbert may suspect, but he acts as their ally against a known corruptive force (Thieves Guild) so they don't look into him too much.

    As for other balls in the air, I'm tugging at a thread from the Doomgrinder module, which states that Sir Anton Palmirian was responsible for appointing Lanod Neff as Governor-Mayor of Diamond Lake, after Lanod Neff threatened to expose him in some way. Palmirian has been looking for a stooge to kill Neff to keep himself safe.

    The Thieves Guild has caught wind of Palmirian's search for a stooge, but not why, and just a few days prior to Cuthbert's Day, sent Pappy Dickens into Sir Anton's path w/ the intention of him volunteering to be the stooge Sir Anton needs, so they can figure out what's going on. And this encounter went great, and Pappy learned, via innuendo, how happy Sir Anton would be if the Governor-Mayor of Diamond Lake were out-of-the-picture and how he could then appoint someone else to the post, and how very grateful he would be, etc.

    So Pappy insinuated that he'd assassinate the Governor-Mayor (not really knowing if he would or not), but was really intending to report everything to the Thieves Guild, when he ended up put on the spot in the Temple of Cuthbert and escorted, sans equipment, to the cells below. So the knowledge he has about Palmirian (as yet unrevealed) is very interesting to the Thieves Guild, but he's also very dangerous for them in Cuthbert's custody if Eritai can compel him to reveal what he knows of the Guild. His knowledge about Palmirian would also be very interesting, though unfortunate, to Eritai and the Cuthbert clerics, given their alliance.

    Obviously, Sir Anton's long-term plan was to kill whoever kills Lanod Neff to remove the threat of further extortion, so Pappy's capture by Cuthbert threatens him as well.

    Right now I'm guessing Pappy's options are—
    a) honestly repent, accept a quest spell from Eritai of some sort, flagellate himself perhaps into unconsciousness, whereupon I may visit him with a vision of Granny Mur, I think her name was, from the Dragon article on Cuthbert
    b) thief his way out with improvised tools
    c) get sprung via legal means likely via corrupt lawyers/judges in service to Thieves Guild
    d) get rescued some other way by his friends, who are all over the place right now pursuing their individual goals and don't yet know this happened
    e) be assassinated by the Thieves Guild to keep him from talking (likely the least likely to be fun at the table); or assassinated by Sir Anton for the same reason, but he'd need an agent to do so

    GTAB states "The faithful clerics apparently receive warnings from above of almost any plot being hatched against them or their temple, anywhere in the city; they have never been successfully robbed." I'm not sure if that precludes the assassination attempt or the PC rescue plans. I don't think this would give a warning about Pappy's escape.

    (Also, Samwise, what region were you in during LG days?)
    CF Admin

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    Thu Jul 13, 2023 8:05 pm  
    Re: Church of Cuthbert and Greyhawk Law

    First, your campaign sounds like great fun. Thanks for sharing your questions.

    edmundscott wrote:
    A month has passed and I determined that Eritai was eventually able to determine what happened, via commune and old-fashioned detective work, and so invited Pappy Dickens to be the guest of honor at a ceremony on Saint Cuthbert’s Day celebrating him for saving the city from the threat of the ulgurstasta during the Champion’s Games. Though a little wary, Pappy attended and found himself at the front of a congregation of thousands, flanked by Talasek Thraydin, other paladins, and several significant Cuthbertite wizards (I used those from the WGA Falcon series) when Eritai accused and denounced him from the pulpit. The player decided that Pappy would confess to being a thief and surrender in this situation, and I decided that he was stripped of his equipment and taken below into the church’s cells.

    Here’s where I need your help. Where does Greyhawk law stop and Church law begin? How should I handle this situation?

    I like how tarelton addressed it, but here's my addition. The context makes me wonder about the location of this ceremony. The size of the congregation suggests that it is not inside a church but rather on regular city property. Is that right? If so, then the city's secular jurisdiction seems to control. If the accusation and confession instead occurred on church property (perhaps outside a temple but still on church grounds), then the argument seems stronger for canon law to control the matter.

    Quote:
    Can the church detain Pappy indefinitely? If not, might they not try to hold him anyway, even though such a thing can’t be considered strictly lawful?

    On Earth, habeas corpus is typically traced to Magna Carta and its precedents in the English common law. I like tarelton's suggestion that something analogous may have existed in the Suloise Imperium, or if you prefer, perhaps it derives from the Great Kingdom of Aerdy? IIRC, the City of Greyhawk boxed set provided detailed rules (overly, imo) regarding city law.

    Given Oerth's medieval analogue, indefinite detention doesn't seem out of call, but ultimately, this feels like a decision you need to make based on what you think would be most engaging for your players. Perhaps city law provides for habeas corpus, but only people who can afford a lawyer know about and how to invoke it? Perhaps canon law does not provide for it, and the PCs need to obtain the services of lawyer (like Palmirien, as tarelton suggested), so they can make a choice of law argument? However, this might only appeal to the lawyers among your players, if any, or at least the lawyer genre fans, so to me this feels like a great set up for a jail break scene.

    Quote:
    Everyone knows (including the Cuthbert-worshipping City Watchmen) that if Pappy is turned over to the City Watch as a thief, he’ll either be sprung by his Guild or a judge bribed to free him. So how would surrendering him further the interests of the church?

    Given the city politics in your campaign, it sounds like Eritai, and the other church leaders, would only accept the ruling of a renowned judge with an impeccable reputation. Again, this suggests creating scenes where the PCs have to obtain the services of a highly persuasive lawyer or perhaps to find (or create) the judge's hidden laundry for blackmail!

    Quote:
    Eritai also needs to know the details of how Pappy robbed the temple, who his superiors are in the Thieves Guild, and any other designs her political enemy Nerof has against her church and allies. Likely, she’d also crave Pappy’s confession and redemption, possibly involving an engregious amount of flagellation and other punishment. But, also, it's against the law to use spells like discern lie or zone of truth even in the course of law enforcement (old Zagyg law)—would Eritai use these spells on Pappy in violation of this?

    Greyhawk has its Zagygian code. I doubt that Eritai would feel bound by it, especially if she sincerely believes that canon law controls. To me, this also raises the distinction between inquisitorial proceedings (often characterizing the civil law tradition) and the Anglo–American adversarial common law system. IIRC, the inquisitorial model also animates canon law. Very roughly, the inquisitorial system focuses on discerning the truth and doing justice based on what the judge finds, with the aid of the parties and their lawyers. The common law, adversarial, system, in contrast, presupposes that the parties' conflict, mediated through their lawyers and the rules of evidence, will lead to a legal conclusion about what happened, and that justice will flow from it.

    Quote:
    Finally, I want to resolve this situation in a way that’s fun for the game. Given the divine protection of the church vis-a-vis the weisshunds, I don’t think the Thieves Guild can just sneak into the temple and spring Pappy in gratitude for his prior service; nor do I think the rest of the party can accomplish this without a major pitched battle against the Church of Saint Cuthbert (and the PCs are good guys, for the most part).

    So how do you think this should play out? and how do I make this fun?

    I agree that the Guild would not want to directly violate the church property, but I think it would be more than happy to do so indirectly by encouraging the PCs to do it. Alternatively, perhaps the Thieves' Guild is willing to pay the Assassins' Guild to eliminate the potent liability that Pappy represents. Upon learning about it, the PCs have to rush to his rescue—dealing with an assassin disguised as a Cuthbertine and the temple guards?

    Alternatively, depending on their level and access to interplanar magic (e.g., the Ethereal or Shadow planes), perhaps they can rescue Pappy without a pitched battle. And if they don't presently have access to such magic, you might create the possibility for them to acquire it by becoming indebted to the source of the magic, which might relate back to the Thieves' Guild, another city faction, or a nefarious faction or individual in your Age of Worms campaign?

    So much depends on your players and the style of campaign that you've created together, but whatever you decide, and however it plays out, I hope you update us!

    A final thought: was Pappy's confession sincere? Did he convert to the faith while infiltrating the church? If so, is his faith stronger than his loyalty to the Guild? Either way, the tension between his religious belief and secular allegiance sounds like a great subject to explore, and it might raise similar questions for the other PCs. For example, if they're generally Good aligned, how do they feel about Pappy's involvement with the Guild? Perhaps it was fine when the consequences seemed minor, but now they feel differently about the mess in which he's involved them? Also, given how opposed you've made the city factions, Pappy's situation might be the "straw that breaks the camel's back" or "flame that lights the powder keg." You needn't blow up the city, but perhaps this catalyzes a fundamental realignment of power?
    CF Admin

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    Fri Jul 14, 2023 11:00 am  

    edmundscott wrote:
    Whether Pappy is technically guilty of burglary, I'm not sure. What he did was enter Eritai's private chambers and magically copy her personal notes, without actually removing any object from the premises.

    In Anglo–American legal terms, entering the private chambers sounds like trespass to real property (an unprivileged, intentional, intrusion, on another person's property, which could be prosecuted under civil or criminal law, and depending on how Pappy accessed the chambers, there might be additional civil liability or crime for picking a lock or disabling a trap (if any).

    Magically copying the high priestess's personal notes sounds like it involves trespass to tangible personal property (physically handling the notes) and various invasions of Eritai's rights to privacy (to keep her information secret) and publicity (to publish what she wants when she wants to, which might be considered analogous to a copyright violation, if that exists in your city of Greyhawk).
    Adept Greytalker

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    Fri Jul 14, 2023 3:30 pm  

    Thanks everyone for the legal particulars, adversarial vs. inquisitorial, and notes on habeas corpus—none of this stuff is my strong suit,

    1) The denunciation and confession scene took place within the Church, but with doors open to accommodate the crowd spilling into the Garden Quarter. So the whole scene definitely took place on church property.

    2) The crisis of conscience in Pappy Dickens has been a long running thread in our campaign. Pappy is a long, white-bearded tinker from Diamond Lake who until very recently believed himself human and his longevity due to his decades of service to Saint Cuthbert. However, he has also been a Thieves Guild member for at least as long, the Guild's lone agent in that backwater, and sorely neglected by his superiors. In the course of the adventures, in particular saving the city during the Champion's Games, the Guild has taken notice and been giving him greater and greater missions, which has allowed for rapid advancement. But the last of these involved stealing from his own church. So this character is deeply conflicted as to where his true loyalties lie, but perhaps leaning toward the Thieves Guild.

    3) One other member of the party, a witch, is also a (not-exactly-willing-or-enthusiastic) member of the Guild, so I think I'm going to have the Guild lean on her to either free Pappy or silence him before he says too much. I think I'm going to have Sir Anton Palmirian attempt to get him out of there legally, likewise before he says too much. Meanwhile, the church will be going hard for the repentance angle.
    Apprentice Greytalker

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    Sat Jul 15, 2023 4:31 am  

    Crime in Vatican City is managed in accordance with Article 22 of the Lateran Pacts between the Holy See and Italy, whereby the Italian government, when required by the Holy See, initiates prosecution and detention of suspects, at Vatican expense. The Vatican does not have a prison system. Those found guilty of crimes committed in the Vatican serve their sentences in Italian prisons (Polizia Penitenziaria), with the costs covered by the Vatican. The Vatican and its agencies, pursuant to Article 11, cannot be sued.

    There must be the same agreement between the churches and the council of Greyhawk:
    - no religious court and no detention on church premises
    - delivery of the defendant to the justice of Greyhawk
    - judgment and detention if necessary in the prison of the city
    Reading the story, it will be difficult for the church to evoke the copy of compromising documents where the machinations of the high priestess are written.
    The church is LG (LN). It cannot solve this problem through illegality and violence.
    At best, if the thief is repentant, make him his spy with perhaps a mission to steal documents from the Guild.
    CF Admin

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    Mon Jul 17, 2023 1:25 pm  

    Reviewing the responses, I increasingly favor the use of a geas by Eritai on a contrite Pappy, who must deal with incredulous Thieves' Guild colleagues (and possibly an attempted assassination).

    Regarding the Lateran Pacts, the little I gleaned online indicates that this was a modern, 1929, development. You certainly could hold such a pact exists between the City-state of Greyhawk and the various churches that it allows within its walls, but you could also hold that church grounds constitute their own jurisdiction, particularly for alleged violations of canon law by one of that church's faithful.

    Of course, most of the churches of Oerth, or at least the Flanaess, are much less powerful than the Catholic Church of medieval European kingdoms, so perhaps an analogue to the Lateran Pacts makes more sense for your campaign?
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