Holy trials

Every investigation must always lead to a trial, no matter the circumstances and no matter how old the crimes uncovered are. The trials do not judge only the living, but as well the dead, for they are trials for their souls. This means that the trials could be theoretically held even for crimes centuries old. One investigation can cause multiple trials, if several different crimes are found.

Lesser crimes are judged by a tribunal of local clergy. Large or serious cases are judged by a tribunal consisting of an Archshepherd, a local bishop and a senior monk of St. Pruflas. In Lunarus and Golden Dome the crimes are judged by a secular court with the Shepherds acting as prosecutors. These courts tend to be more lenient towards the accused.

The Techmancers and the employees of Techmancers and the Gloomwalkers are immune to prosecution. In the case of Techmancers, the Shepherds can petition Ordo Rimore to prosecute the offenders on their behalf. The Gloomwalkers can be petitioned to deliver the offending employee for prosecution. Such petitions are usually ignored by the Gloomwalkers, while Ordo Rimore is more recepient.

The Followers of Eserhaus are a point of contention between the Rimore and the Shepherds. First claim them as Techmantic heretics, while some of the latter claim they are no longer Techmancers due to their rejection of the Order. Arrest and Imprisonment

The Shepherds have the right to arrest anyone, although higher nobility require an Archshepherd to be present. The arrest itself should be something happening inside the game and could involve chases, subterfuge and other interesting encounters. Sometimes the Shepherds prefer abducting the suspect in the middle of night, while other cases are handled publicly as a warning. In major cities the imprisoned are taken to a Shepherd monastery with proper dungeons and security. In the countryside no such facilities are available and the Shepherds must improvise. If the suspect is dead, the cadaver can be buried before the trial; the soul will be judged regardless.

The subject must be put on trial or let go within three weeks of the arrest, if a tribunal of judges are available in location. In a far-away places the prisoners must usually be transported to the closest town or monastery. Trials and punishments are usually public. The Shepherds can let a suspect go within three weeks and then arrest him again; while such abuse is technically unlawful, most people do not know it or have the resources to do anything about it.

Influence and social skills can be used to increase or shorten the imprisonment or make the trial a secret one. Other parties – such as the suspect and his allies – can use skills and influence in the same manner.

Trial changeSkill checkInfluence
Secret trial5D Diplomacy/Law3 tokens
Three month arrest5D Diplomacy/Law3 tokens
Immediate trial6D Diplomacy/Law4 tokens

In extreme cases, there might be attempts to free or lynch the suspect before the trial.

It is typical for Shepherds to pressure a suspect to confess in exchange for a lighter charge and sentence; especially if the suspect then testifies against someone else. Even in the case of a confession, the tribunal must examine and accept it. If the tribunal suspects the confession was forced or otherwise untrue, it only counts as a testimony and the trial commences normally. If the confession is accepted, the trial phases below can be ignored and punishment applied directly as demanded by the Shepherds.

Structure of Trials

Trials are set in three phases: setting of charges, determination of guilt and declaration of judgement. Skill checks are made only in the beginning of these phases. Other skill checks can be made during the trial - such as observing the audience for reactions etc - but only these checks have an effect on the trial itself.

All check difficulties assume the tribunal is neutral towards the case as a whole. A biased or corrupt tribunal has +-1D on all checks. Most trials are done during one day, but major and complicated cases might drag on for several days, especially if there are several defendants.

Setting of charges is the phase where the Shepherds declare what crimes they charge the defendant with. Setting charges requires a Law/Religion check that can be assisted with other skills. The difficulty of the check depends on the seriousness of the crime and the prime evidence used as its support.

If the prime evidence of a crime presented is at least the level shown in the table, the difficult of the prosecution check is 4D. Every level under the required evidence strength adds +1D while every level over adds -1D. For example, accusing someone of worshipping false gods (crime of darkness) based on hearsay (minor evidence) would be a 6D Law/Religion check.

CrimeEvidence
MinorMinor
MoralIncriminating
DarknessMajor
DamnationMajor

If the setting of charges fails, the Shepherds must enter another charge based on another piece of evidence. Patience of the tribunal is limited; after a second attempt the third charge receives +1D, the fourth +2D and so forth. Once a charge is accepted, a couple of lesser charges can be attached if the evidence supports it. For example, a priest who turned a church into a demonic temple could be additionally charged for breaking holy vows and subverting the word of Arius.

Critical success in the check upgrades the charge severity by one; critical failure means the subject is released immediately.

Determination of guilt is based on examining the weight of evidence for guilt against the weight of evidence for innocence. The phase begins with oral arguments by the prosecution; this requires a Leadership/Diplomacy check. The speech can be assisted by other skills as fits to the evidence at hand. The starting statement counts as evidence (see blow) worth half the dice rolled. Thus a 6D speech check would, if successful, count as evidence worth three influence against the accused. (See below.) A critical success will provide evidence worth the dice while a critical failure will provide counter-evidence for the defendant.

Declaration of judgment is the last phase that only happens if the defendant is found guilty. The tribunal deliberates on the judgment and can be petitioned for strict or lenient punishment by the Shepherds. This requires a 4D Law/Religion check modified by up to +3D for extreme suggestions.

Crimes & punishments

Shepherds are not responsible for upholding secular laws, their interest is in the souls of the people and the purity of the world. Even if the suspect is found innocent by Shepherds, he might be convicted in a secular court for the same crimes later. Fines are often turned into slavery should the condemned be unable to pay. This varies from temporary bonded service to permanent slavery. In many realms it is legal for a parent to sell their children to pay their debts.

If the punishment is not carried out, the convicts soul is at risk. If the convict is dead, relatives usually take care of the punishment to avoid his damnation. Multitude of crimes is punished harsher than a single deed, while confessing freely will reduce the punishment. Ordinary clergy can investigate and prosecute minor infraction and crimes of morality. However the prosecuted (or, if dead, the next of kin) may always demand an investigation by the Shepherds. Such request must always be granted.

While people of a higher position are harder to convict, they will be punished more severely. The birth position of a person indicates the purity of his/her soul. Thus a person born higher has fallen lower when committing fell deeds compared to a peasant. (Incidentally, this practice maintains the Church's superiority over the nobility and popularity among the commoners as a result.)

Individual Shepherds have a large leeway in the details on what a specific crime entails. For example, adultery is often treated as a minor infraction, but could be seen as breaking of a holy vow. Some Shepherds pursue even the slightest infringment with merciless zeal, while others are willing to forgive lesser mishaps. Some ignore secular crimes, while others find ways to judge them through holy laws.

Minor infractions:

Curiosity about the Pre-Burning past, possession of immoral materials, sexual escapades, failing religious/family duties, harmful gossip, possessing unlicensed Techmancery.

Usual punishment: Light fines (10 – 50 omns), public shaming, mild physical punishment (caning or whipping) and/or temporary penance (mild self-harm, punitive labor and/or daily religious rites)

 

Crimes of morality:

 Lying to clergy or Shepherds, sexual perversion, producing immoral materials, producing unlicensed Techmancery, abusing the word of Arius for personal gain, possessing Forbidden Knowledge.

Usual punishment: Fines (100 – 500 omns), permanent public shaming (physical marking, newspaper notifications etc), serious physical punishment (torture or forced starvation), heavy temporary penance (heavy labor or pilgrimage) and/or temporary monastic vows (1-10 years).

 

Crimes of darkness:

 Harming the Church and the Holy Word, seeking or possessing Pre-Burning knowledge, seeking or spreading Forbidden Knowledge, possessing forbidden Techmancery, worshiping false gods, breaking holy vows.

 Usual punishment: Heavy fines (1000 – 5000 omns), permanent physical punishment (amputation, blinding or mutilation), permanent penance (exile, regular charity or pilgrimages), permanent monastic vows, execution and/or damnation for 50-100 years. 

 

Crimes of damnation:

Spreading Pre-Burning knowledge, possessing Pre-Burning artifacts, creating forbidden Techmancery, spreading false faiths, conspiring against the holy order of the world, communing with Gloom Devils.

Usual punishment: Confiscation of all property, execution and/or permanent damnation.

Guilt and innocence

The trials require both sides to present evidence for the guilt or the innocence of the suspect. The weight of the evidence varies as shown below. Slaves are considered property and usually not allowed to testify. Witnesses must make a sacred vow to only speak the truth at a trial and can be prosecuted if found lying.

Prosecuting characters must show evidence in front of the tribunal on the guilt of the subject. The evidence must be found, produced or fabricated during the game before the trial. While influence can be used to help investigations, it will never produce evidence directly. For example, influence could hint that a local priest is a heretic, but the proof for it must still be found.

The defence of the accused is abstracted by adding together every point of influence he has; including covert influence. This abstracts alibis, defensive witnesses and so forth. Each piece of evidence is equal to a certain amount of influence. Evidence required for a conviction is greater in value than the suspects influence. For example, to convict a local farmer with three points of Rabblerousing influence would take testimonies from two different Shepherds (worth four influence).

The overt influence level of a character can be usually found out in advance through social skills, investigation and influence usage. While the exact number is not usually found, a rough estimate within a couple of points can be determined. Covert influence, on the other hand, is secretive by nature and can't be found out under ordinary circumstances. If the weight of the evidence fails to surpass the defendants total influence, he is found not guilty. No legal principle prevents the Shepherds from charging the same defendant again for the same crime, as long as their initial evidence in the setting of charges is a new one. The Shepherds can, in principle, abuse powerless people and convict them at will through their own testimonies. If the abuse is systematic with no plausible excuse, it will lead into internal investigations.

Trials in Lunarus and the Golden Dome require twice the usual evidence for a conviction. The public courts of the Golden Dome give more weight to dramatic speeches and flashy shows than scholastic arguments; all Law/Religion checks are replaced by Leadership/Diplomacy.

  

Minor evidence (worth 1 inf)

Hearsay and rumors, testimonies from disreputable source (commoners, peasants and slumdwellers), religious visions, indirect proof of Forbidden Knowledge, incriminating confessions from others gained under duress.

Incriminating evidence (worth 2 inf)

Testimonies from a reputable source (respected subjects, clergy and Shepherds), incriminating materials (forbidden books, Techmantic tools or occult paraphelia), material evidence of crimes, incriminating confessions from others, well-known public events, major sign(s) of Blight.

Major evidence (worth 5 inf)

Testimonies from a noteworthy source (reputable nobility, senior clergy and Techmancers), extraordinary proof (photographs, audio recordings or personal mail), extreme acts of public wickedness, damning materials (forbidden Technomancy, shrine of devil worship or hidden corpses), demonstrations of Pre-Burning knowledge.  

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