Americana (3.5e Campaign Setting)/Laws and Traditions
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As much as they may try to avoid it, the Americ nations are all deeply ingrained in the past. While you might not notice it on the surface, all you have to do to note one of the most glaring similarities is to get in trouble- in addition to all having pretty much the same horrid prisons, the nations all have highly similar rules of law, all based off some massive and ludicrously extensive ruleset since lost to time and revived in part by recall and hearsay in the modern books of law.
Which is not to say they are identical. Currency is a good example- though every nation stamps its own currency with its own markings, all the nations use the silver coin as the basic standard of wealth. The markings are just the area's individual flavor.
Generally applied laws basically amount to no stealing, killing, destruction of property, willful misuse of magic, various degrees of attempts to create harm (as in, doing no harm on your own but causing harm as a result- which can be anything from selling tainted fish to summoning a demon), impersonating a professional whatever, and the various smaller codes of respect and honesty that any good law officer will be eager to uphold.
Long story short, don't do anything stupid.
It varies widely where you go on how much you'll be looked down on--or up to--just for being a man or a woman. The various Nation-States hold a largely egalitarian view on gender politics--gender is less important than race, nationality, and ability. Seattle actually holds female mages in higher regard than male--their founder was a woman, after all, as is her current Mage-General, and many of her subsequent greatest mages have been women. Inversely, New Orleans invests virtually all the power of government in men and a patriarchal system--not for nothing is their leader named the Papa. Some societies will place some weight on gender, including some of the biggest such as Chicago and Dallas, but others such as Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and (ideally) Detroit do not. Atlanta is torn on the issue, as there has never been a female President named, but many women have served admirably and capably in the ranks of the priesthood. What this means is unclear.
Among the Natives, the view is once again broadly varied. The Eastern Lizardfolk have a thoroughly patriarchal culture and there has never been a female chief of a lizardfolk tribe in known history, but their shamans are almost universally medicine women. Some of the Northeast tribes were outright matriarchies, wherein a council of the eldest women could dethrone the chief at any time and dictated most of the machinery of the tribe (something which has carried over in a lesser extent to the Ohi, who absorbed many of them). Some of the younger crowd of the Nations people have taken dim views of Native culture, viewing the men as lazy and the women as doing all the work, but this reflects a misunderstanding of the division of work in Native culture and should be taken with a pound of salt.
The Meheek are a soundly patriarchal culture with an intense focus on the family structure--society places great importance on the family, and the oldest male relative is said to be the patriarch and responsible for the running of the household. Meheek families tend to live together as opposed to the children moving out immediately on maturity, and while this produces a tight-knit society that can easily support each other evne through their frequent times of strife, it also creates problems with human nature. A fallible or flawed patriarch can poison the well of the entire family system, with little or no recourse available.
Just because they're not effective everywhere doesn't make them any less important to know.
Alcatraz Law: The Pirate Code
Alcatraz, officially, has no written laws. In effect, however, those visiting the Rock or its outposts will want to pay attention to the local code of conduct, known as the Pirate Code. Any Alcatrazi "citizen" can recite this code in full if asked, and will usually do so to newcomers they like. Those they don't like but are willing to not kill on sight for some reason run the risk of getting false information.
Rule One: Don't steal from a pirate. While Alcatraz generally views property laws as suggestions, stealing from another pirate would dissolve what society they have into a free-for-all, and would likely inhibit the stealing of things belonging to other people. Breaking this rule has only one punishment: death, by keel-haul.
The Code's other laws vary somewhat from ship to ship, but generally speaking forbid gambling, smoking indoors, striking other crewmembers, betraying the crew to "foreign powers", keeping secrets from the Captain and officers, and "disrespecting women and children". They also provide provisions for the division of loot, the awarding of prizes, compensation for lost limbs or similarly grievous injuries, and retirement. Towns under Alcatrazi control usually operate under the laws they possessed before, which tend to be Los Angelan, San Franciscan, or Seattlite in nature, but always with Pirate Code to flavor.
In Alcatraz law, the Captain is the ultimate authority. Disputes are put to the Captain, who issues final judgement. For towns, the Mayor is treated as the Captain. The crew can vote out the Captain via a three-fifths majority vote if they so desire, and in Alcatraz's history several crews have done so; usually the Master, Quartermaster, or Boatswain replaces him, though a vote for a new Captain can also be taken. Alcatraz's law system has penalties which strongly lean towards the punitive; death, and often unpleasant death, is punishment for most severe crimes, with lashings being nextmost common and the restriction or paring back of prize money being a common nonviolent penalty. Other penalties, and those for outsiders, are usually developed on the spot by the Captain and his officers.
Alcatraz's ultimate legal authority, as it is, is the Warden of the Rock, a position previously held by Red Teeth and currently vacant.
|“||One must mind their manners when in another's house. It can often save you more than your dignity.||”|
|—Mayordomo Sigmund Rochester, Governing Officer of St. Paul|
The important thing to remember about the Native America is that they place a high value on life in general. While this does not mean that killing is forbidden, it also doesn't mean that rampant slaughter is acceptable. The principle cited is, "Take only what you need." If you shoot that buffalo, you find a use for every last part of it. The Natives frown upon anyone who indiscriminately takes life, and will likely exact a price if they catch you.
Salt Lake City
The Nation of Salt Lake is notable in that many of its laws pertain to religion. This is hardly surprising given that Salt Lake is a religious state, but the penalties are remarkably harsh and anyone passing through the territory should make note. Blaspheming, mocking religious beliefs, vandalizing or desecrating holy property, and being generally obnoxious to the religious will all earn penalties about three times higher than the norm, so irreverent characters can expect to lose their pocketbook fast if they aren't careful.
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