CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Long Arm of the Law

 Sheriff of Nestletop

This week we are going to continue with our slow building of the town of Nestletop. We’ve taken a look at one of the five founding families, the blacksmith, the tradepost, and the local tavern. Today I want to explore the role of law and order within the community. We’re going to look into how law worked in a medieval village and who represents the law in our small town.

The person who oversaw keeping the king’s peace in the time of the Normans was called a sheriff, a term we use to this day. But this came from an official position of the Saxons called a reeve, which was a senior official with local responsibilities under the crown. The reeve could be just about an official under the crown but was often a town or district magistrate. After the Norman conquest a reeve was appointed to every shire, and thus it was a “shire reeve”, which eventually got turned into sheriff.

During the reign of the Saxons, reeves were higher level court officials. When the Normans took to appointing their shire reeves they generally choose men from non-noble stock because they didn’t want to create an official with so much power they would become unaccountable to the king. They did, however, have to balance this by appointing men with sufficient standing as to allow them authority over local landed and military aristocracy.

While the shire reeves could have authority over a few counties, the Normans used lesser reeves which they called bailiffs for the feudal manor. Basically, while the sheriff oversaw the county’s needs, the bailiff had the equivalent role for feudal landlords. The sheriff would take care of administrative as well as judicial functions, and on the manorial level bailiff would make decisions that could concern mundane field management and not just legal disputes.

But where does that leave us with our town? How can we apply this knowledge to Nestletop?

First, we have to take into account that, although Nestletop may be an official part of the large Theocratic nation – which I haven’t really outlined at all yet – they are so far away from any part of that civilization as to be pretty much independent. The town also doesn’t really have nobility. The founding families were rich but they were not actually noble houses. At best they are non-noble aristocracy, but for all intents and purposes the rulers of the town.

Even though Nestletop is small it does have laws as created by the town’s council. These laws in some way need to be enforced and so – in my mind at least – Nestletop needs a law man, or in this case a law woman. The position shall be elected by the council which has representatives of the five noble families, the townsfolk themselves -- in this case the blacksmith AbletonRedrun -- and a representative from the elvish community as well. It is the belief that since no one person, and not just the founding families choose the sheriff that she will be beholden to the law and not just to a single group. Sheriff is a lifetime appointment in Nestletop, or until the current sheriff seeks to retire.

Sheriff’s Office/Jail

The Sheriff’s office is situated on the same side of Nestletop’s dirt road as the Cracked Anvil tavern. It is the only two story building on the street as the top floor is actually the apartment in which the sheriff lives. The bottom floor is made up of one large room that houses both the actual office of the lawwoman and the two small jail cells against the back wall.

Being as small as it is Nestletop doesn’t see a lot of crime, and the cells themselves are usually empty. Occasionally a rough night of drinking will see one of the cells occupied by one of the townsfolk who needs to sleep it off. Sometimes if things come to blows between folk they’ll need to be separated, hence the reason for two cells even if they’re rarely both in use.

The main office is little more than an open space with a desk and a few chairs. There is a bench along one wall with iron rings bolted into the sturdy wooden walls to attach manacles. A large locked chest contains a few sets of leather armor and some weapons – mainly short swords and light crossbows – on the incredibly infrequent occasion the sheriff needs to deputize some folks.

Katryn Windthistle

When the position of sheriff was created as a life time appointment most folks expected it to be a human lifetime. The elves keep mainly to themselves as long as the townsfolk to break any of their taboos. Katryn Windthistle is one of only a handful of half-elves born to the intermarriage between the local tribe of elves and the people of Nestletop. Most half-elves prefer to spend their lives with their elven side of the family but Katryn has always felt more comfortable with the human side.

Katryn’s father was a well-respected foreman in the mines of the Merrick family, Her mother found the human village far more interesting than the forest in which she was raised. She fell in love and even married the human man living with him on the Urduth estate. Idrin, Katryn’s father, was not a young man and died of old age before his daughter even reached what constitutes adulthood for a half-elf. Katryn’s mother elected to return to her people but the young half-elf stayed in town with her father’s kin.

Katryn was never the miner her father was and did odd jobs around the various estates and even for the dwarven couple who ran the tavern and the owner of the tradepost. When the dust-up from the arrival of the smith AbletonRedrun happened she help talk down the Urduths, who were quite unhappy at the time. In her many years she had become friendly with the young members of all the households who were now coming of age and taking over for their parents.

When the old sheriff retired and a new one needed to be elected Katryn’s name was at the top of the list. Well-liked by all, the then-current heads of the families as well as the general populace, she was an obvious choice. The elves thought she would make an excellent liaison between their tribe and the humans, especially since the last sheriff always seemed to side with townsfolk in matters of law.

Katryn’s time as sheriff has so far had little in the way of incident, which is more a testament to her good nature and even hand than a lack of possible trouble. She takes it as a matter of pride that she’s never had to deputize any of the townsfolk for any reason. Beyond her duties as enforcer of the law, she also trains the militiamen that guard the pass in case of wandering monster or barbarian attack from the Great Plains the people of Nestletop once traversed.

Who in your town defends law and order? Do the local nobles deal with their own legal issues? Or do they hire a bailiff to oversee them? Is your town part of a larger county or shire where a true sheriff presides over matters of law? Or is your town like mine,  small and out of the way with its own system of laws outside the greater nation, with its own sheriff to deal with infrequent infractions of jurisprudence?

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