View Full Version : Law and Order and Wizards

06-13-2011, 06:58 PM
I have recently been working on developing a few countries for a game I plan to run (I'm building the world from the ground up) and have run into a bit of issue. How does one handle wizards and other magic users when it comes to things like crime and politics. Arresting and containing a magic user would not work the same as for a non-magic user. And how would you ensure a wizard with political standing would not be magically manipulating the other members of court? I was hoping for some fresh thoughts on the issue.

06-13-2011, 07:55 PM
It would make a big difference depending on your world - high or low magic? What country and where in each country?

In most worlds the local constable of a small village will be hard pressed to do anything other than the normal, take their items and restrict their movement. Now the capitol city of a Magocracy in a high magic world will have anti-magic cells/manacles, permanent zones of truth, anti-teleportation magics, dimensional anchors, consecrated areas, etc. everywhere.

06-13-2011, 09:06 PM
I have recently been working on developing a few countries for a game I plan to run (I'm building the world from the ground up) and have run into a bit of issue.
Don't know how fresh these ideas are (likely not very), but let's see ...

And how would you ensure a wizard with political standing would not be magically manipulating the other members of court? I was hoping for some fresh thoughts on the issue.
* Visible tattoos that react to certain schools of magic, with an immediate effect and a warning to the home office. Part car alarm, part 911 call.

* Nonexistence (or close to it) of any sort of mind-control/manipulation magics. Don't need to regulate what doesn't exist. (Which then leads to clear evidence to the contrary ... Also, adventure~)

* Important People get their own Wizard Bodyguards to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the first place. (Which doesn't answer the question for the audience, but for the characters. By design. So again, when it happens, there's scandal. Also, adventure~)

* Skirt the spirit of the law and stick to the letter. Mind control magics do, in fact, let you do all those wonderful things. But they ain't subtle; it's quite literally mind control - the mage's psyche is the driving personality, not the target's. Normal idiosyncrasies are warped or missing, or new, strange ones take their place. People will know, and it's only a matter of time before the mage is discovered. (But by then, they should already have their Nefarious Scheme in full swing ;))

That last one's less likely to be noticed in cultures with trance and spirit possession mechanisms. So, maybe plot point there. Especially if the suspect is a spiritual leader.

06-14-2011, 04:14 AM
Make high level wizards rare and uninterested in the day to day business of politics and business, less it is for their own immediate interest.

Wizards who misbehave are policed by other wizards/ spell users. The common folk don't deal with them; adventures and other spell casters do. Their is no prison for a wizards/spell casters. Only death or banishment.

Wizards who use their powers to manipulate politics (and are caught)are doing an act of treason, and are dealt with accordingly.

Wizards who use their powers to manipulate business run the risk of policing by other wizards/adventurers/Mage-slayers.

Wizards who commit crimes using magic are hunted by other wizards/adventurers/mageslayers.

Do you see a trend here? You have a flurry of potential adventures just by NOT having a way to deal with wizards muddling in those areas. Have the players do it!

06-14-2011, 08:47 AM
I've dealt with this in the past... it isn't all that hard.

Guards have noise-makers (whistles, clackers, whatever) to alert other guard patrols. All guard patrols have some sort of Detect Magic ability/device. ALL guards have both missile weapons and "tear-gas" bombs that provoke FORTITUDE saves or lose consciousness (for 60 minutes minimum), then any suspected mages are gagged, stripped TOTALLY naked, bound, AND wrapped in metal that raises their spell failure checks to OMG levels. Suspected casters are kept drugged (think: sodium pentathol, aka "truth drug") which makes casting impossible AND lowers WILL saves by (insert horrible number here) or they'll tell the truth.

Then it comes down to the law of the land.

Depending on where the scenario is located, they may have some, all or none of the above capabilities. If guilty, there may be a fine, penance (make us a magical device/potions/whatever), branding, or even up to maiming or death... and in some areas, THEN they'll have a trial (yes, even AFTER the death penalty!! That area is uber-paranoid about magic).

06-18-2011, 01:52 AM
i've always been a fan of cold iron disrupting/negating magic and magically based abilities. it has a long tradition in various stories.

d&d is not very well thought out as to the actual social and cultural effects of a high magic society, though the eberron setting does make some effort to do so. a lot will depend upon the exact mechanics of your cosmology and chillicosm. if magical ability is rare, but once you have it, achieving great power is not so tough, that will produce one result, but if magical ability is common but usually weak, that will be a completely different kind of societal mix. likewise with component availability or scarcity.

if we use the default high-magic society, then low level stuff will be relatively common in densely populated areas and even in a number less populated areas. way out in the boondocks anything that a hedge-type can't produce might be really rare...

the point is that societal needs will shape magical research. it will become a bit of an arms race between any opposing views with access to magic.

after all, crime investigation doesn't end with death when you can speak with dead and get the truth. lost and found is the person who can cast locate object. ability to communicate with plants and animals could yield better crops and happier well trained animals. unseen servants could do a lot of dirty work that no one else wants to do. cantrips might mean that kids resist learning basic skills in crafting or professions. hunger and injury are only a cleric or magic item away.

06-23-2011, 12:12 AM
Dead men do tell tales. The best defense I have found is to have law enforcement equally invested in the "latest technologies". Constables if not casters themselves have them on call. The government will have a magical task force of truly scary high level adventuring types that hate to be called out to handle some magical twerp, so are very hard on said twerps.

Prisons are either built to hold casters or have cells that are. Stripping and binding them is a good idea too.

An example of the magical consultant.. An excerpt for the Story "Return (http://phoenixinn.iwarp.com/fantasy/return.html)" by your's truly.


Maggie the witch came quickly, she was soon seated at a table with the Capitan, Steward, Shandis and the officers of the law. She looked to be a slip of a girl. Shandis knew that such looks were often deceiving. Those that practice the Craft were often much older than they looked. Maggie laid out the painted cloth she used for her divinations. "So we need the cause of death for a dead man."

"Reason for death, and if it was foul play or not." Fellon was direct.

"We have the man himself, or his remains, a name he was traveling under and certain of his possessions to aid your work." Added Shandis.

Maggie nodded. "Then you know something of the process. Why do you say, 'name he traveled under'? A curious way to cast the matter."

Shandis' ears twitched. "Because I do not know if that was indeed his birth name. It is bad to assume."

"Yes, that would be the Healer way. Let us begin then."

The witch took the offered items and begin her ritual. Maggie took each item proffered and placed it on the mandela painted on her cloth. She gathered her sticks in hand. Shandis didn't catch any of the words used, the Craft rituals were different than his own. At last she cast the sticks down. They bounced in a shower of light and landed about the cloth and the objects on it. She took a deep breath and started to examine the relationships. "The man we speak of is dead, this we know. He traveled far to get here, again we know this. His most precious possession was stolen from him...not...a material thing. The taker was a woman. She is not done with the company of this room. I....No, that is all I can read in this."

Galt looked across the table with stormy eyes. "Ominous."

Fellon was rising from the table. "What say you now Healer?"

Shandis turned to Maggie. "Thank you for your time at this late hour Lady. Do you wish an escort home?"

Fellon glowered. "I meant on the death in question."

Shandis twitched a cat smile. "Politeness always first Magistrate. Death, cause undetermined, possible murder."

Dalden nodded. "Then I will make it so."

07-06-2011, 03:39 AM
I've always been a fan of giving my City Watchmen easy little tricks to help them out against magic users. I've used Feather Tokens: Bird to great effect. http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicItems/wondrousItems.htm#featherToken An instant carrier pigeon that quickly carries a message to the "Mage on shift" who could teleport in with backup if necessary, or send out other messages to those who can help out.

You could also use social stigmas against the mage. He's a mage, ok, cool. He's a mage that casts fireballs at random, or enthralls people? Run away! Shop keepers wouldn't want the guy in their places of business, people wouldn't talk to him on the street, stuff like that. Even though he's a wizard, if no one will sell him food, or give him shelter, he won't be living a very good life. Sure there are tons of spells that would help him out with those things, but the more a wizard uses them, the more he seems like an outcast/hermit to me. If at every village you came to, the people hid, and every city large enough to force you out did so, you'd either live a very lonely life, or change your ways to a more sociable manner. Sure a wizard can do tons of great things, but they're limited by their spells per day, and once they're through with them, they're very vulnerable, so wizards have to learn to live within a society usually.

The country might also have Elven advisers, due to their bonus saves towards enchantment, Dwarves could work the same way. They could be a neutral voice in the political arena that could notice when an outsider is playing people, and intercede. Also since elves are favored class wizard, they could easily be justified as being a large anti abuse of magic force in the world/realm. You might also have houses/royalty that interbreed with the elves to use their half elf kin as buffers against magical meddling in their politics. Think about it, Half Elves live much longer lives than Humans, they'd make great advisers. The guy couldn't inherit the throne, but he could live for years as an adviser to the head of the family.

If it's a high magic world, maybe people would have items that would emit an anti magic field in their offices/homes. That way if they are magically enchanted, the effect would be lifted once they entered the field, they'd realize what was going on, and do something about it, while still remaining in the field so as not to let the spell take effect again.

Just a couple of ideas, hope they help.

07-16-2011, 04:28 PM
I find that when dealing with Anti Mage organizations its best to do it in tiers, based simply on who could afford it(Magic items are expensive, and most tiny villages couldn't afford one unless they all chipped in, can anyone say Taxes?)

T1 is mostly mundane stuff, as mentioned above its noise makers, quick responses and social stigma, if the the Baron has a mage he lends out for these situations(Last thing any ruler wants in a new ruler...) s/he mostly would provide potions and maybe some detect magic, and the like.

T2 adds in constructs(Nothing says behave like a near magic immune killing machine, especially if it has a alarm tied to it...), mage task forces(some patrolling places were the elite live), and areas of high risk under constant magical protection(dispelling charm in the market for example). Evil nations might also employ in there prisons creatures like beholder's, after all nothing says your screwed then anti magic...

T3+ this is the omg level, like bands of grafted super hero's that go around killing everything that T2 couldn't handle, minor gods for the more religious nations, or even bizarre magics out of this world, like a whole nation under an Anti magic field, that only those with the kings brand can use magic. If theres any T3 in your world, I recommend not having too much of it, unless the players create it (Keep draining children of there life force and the mage army might come from the capital and get you!)

Any way heres some rough ideas, thats all

10-30-2011, 08:55 AM
It should always be the mages or the realm has equal and more powerful strength to keep every thing in balance.

11-01-2011, 01:18 AM
Play it out, without the players. If you're worried about how to treat misbehaving mages, set them loose. Once they go and do the things that can cause problems, decide how the authorities would react.

Sweep it under the rug. Place a bounty. Or call in the army.

No matter what happens, the authorities will gather to decide how to react to the next event, or prevent it from happening. So, you're the DM: what gets discussed at that gathering?

My more direct answer(s):
Imprisoning casters: take his goods, clasp his wrists, and put a muzzle on him. Problem solved.
Manipulating the court: don't allow dudes in robes to hang out in the shadows of the congress. And if that doesn't work, give each authority a periapt of mental freedom.

11-03-2011, 11:53 AM
I'm not going to lie, I'd love to see a TV series about criminal mages. It'll probably have to stay a wistful desire, though.