Most local laws make sense to locals and visitors alike. However, some locals laws are odd, nonsensical or just downright weird.
Such odd local laws provide a nice change of pace and possibly even good roleplaying opportunities if the PCs should fall foul of the law in question. They add flavour and colour to settlement and also challenge the GM to determine exactly why the law was enacted in the first place!
Use the table below, to determine which odd local laws the PCs may encounter in a settlement:
- It is forbidden to wear the colour blue, during daylight hours.
- It is illegal to die on the streets. Anyone doing so, is prosecuted and if found guilty their family must pay a hefty fine.
- The locals are extremely religious. Three times a day, the populace must make their way to the nearest local church to pray. Failure to participate leads to fines.
- It is legal to shoot a half-orc with a crossbow in the village or town limits only if the half-orc is judged to be acting aggressively by three witnesses.
- Silence is golden. The local lord requires his subjects to be well rested. Singing and the playing of music is forbidden between dusk and dawn.
- Every local is directly responsible for the stretch of road outside their house. They must keep it clean, tidy and in good repair. Thus, most houses are narrow and either very long or very tall.
- Livestock and horses are not permitted to foul the streets. Owners are responsible for their animals’ excrement. If the owner does not clean up after their animals, onlookers may pelt them with the aforementioned excretions.
- It is illegal to sing profane songs or rhymes in the street. The local clergy decide what is and isn’t profane and they keep any fines they levy. Consequently, there is not much singing in town.
- It is illegal to be drunk in charge of sheep within the settlement. The law was enacted several years ago after an infamous event that locals will refer to, but not describe.
- Locals may only pluck two fish from the local river a day but may not handle fish “in a suspicious fashion” near or on the local river. (This law was enacted to stop the river being over-fished).
- Tavern landlords and innkeepers must not allow their customers to get drunk on the premises and they cannot serve drunk customers in their establishments. Most landlords ignore this rule and the local Watch do not enforce it—except in extreme circumstances—in case a riot breaks out.
- The local carters are a powerful faction in society. They paid the local lord to enact a law that states it is illegal to carry anything through town that requires more than one man to carry. In this way, they intended to make extra money transporting and delivering goods, but their plan backfired when an all-women porters guild sprung up and stole much of their supposed extra business.
- It is illegal to knock on someone’s front door and then leave before they answer it. (This in theory means, that if no one was in, the visitor would have to wait until someone returned).
- If you come to town while suffering a disease, you must immediately visit a local church to declare your ailment to the clergy therein.
- It is illegal to enter any church while wearing armour, but it is not technically illegal to wear armour while in a church.
- Every adult must carry a dagger or knife with them at all times.
- Men must secure permission from the local lord if they wish to wear a “head covering” in town. Women must likewise secure permission from the lord’s wife. (The lord enacted this law to increase tax revenues and was deliberately vague with the phrase “head covering” which he interprets to include all hats and helmets along with any article of clothing which has a hood—whether or not the hood is actually covering the wearer’s head).
- It is illegal—without special permission from the church—to marry a dead person.
- It is illegal to tell anyone about your dreams, but it is not illegal to relate your nightmares.
- An animal may not be in charge of a horse and cart.
This article will appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017.
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