IFAQ: Breaking The Law

I’m busy working on my next Eberron product for the DM’s Guild, and I’ll share more information about that when it’s further along. I’ve also just released a new short product— Magic Sword: An Eberron Story Seed — on the DM’s Guild. You can find more information about it in this article or watch my last session with Magic Sword in Eberron. But as time allows, I like to answer interesting questions posed by my Patreon supporters. Today’s questions deal with breaking the law in Upper Sharn and the relationship between the Church of the Silver Flame and the Daughters of Sora Kell.

Inquisitives and the Law

How would you handle players doing overtly illegal things like physically roughing someone up in a place like Upper Menthis? To what extent would the law try to apprehend them?

As a general rule, Upper Sharn is a dangerous place to break the law. Even if the Watch doesn’t care about justice, they are well paid to protect the people of the district… and the sort of people you find in Upper Sharn can afford to hire Medani, Tharashk, Deneith, or even Thuranni. Keep in mind that wealthy people may have a wide range of defenses that aren’t automatically obvious. The coward’s pearl was a consumable item in 3.5 that allowed a quick escape; in fifth edition, a similar item might combine the effects of misty step and invisibility, allowing the user to disappear and flee. Another simple object would be an amulet that can trigger an alarm, alerting a security team or the watch. This latter approach would work like a silent alarm in a bank; the victim would trigger it at the first sign of trouble, and then try to delay and get the criminals talking long enough for assistance to respond. Looking to other types of crime, homes and businesses in Upper Sharn may well be equipped with arcane locks, glyphs of warding, alarms, and other magical defenses; here’s an article I wrote on that topic.

Now, it’s POSSIBLE to get away with crimes in Upper Sharn. It’s just not EASY. The Watch WILL actually do their job, and even if you get away initially, Medani, Tharashk, and the Blackened Book could all be deployed to track you down. Part of the question is who was targeted. Robbing a minor merchant might not have major consequences, but if you steal from the ir’Tains, they will spare no expense to track you down—and that means Medani, Tharashk, Sentinel Marshals. Again, I’m not saying it’s impossible to get away with it, but it should be EXTREMELY DIFFICULT: this is the stuff of heist movies, not random smash and grab.

But the key is that your players need to understand that. If they’re used to solving their problems with random violence, they need to know that they’ve moved into new territory—that you’re in Ocean’s Eleven now, and Danny can’t get what he wants by walking into the casino and beating people up. Personally, if the players have never been to Upper Sharn before, I’d start the session with something like this.

Before you begin, there’s something you need to know. Up to this point, you’ve been able to do a lot of bad and frankly stupid things and get away with them. That’s all about to change. Upper Sharn is the domain of some of the richest and most powerful people in Khorvaire. They aren’t powerful in the same way you are; you could easily beat them in a fight. But if you annoy them—worse yet, if you kill them—you won’t get away with it, not unless you have done some VERY careful planning. Gold buys services. Medani will find out who you are. The Sentinel Marshals will track you down. You might evade them for a while, but they WILL find a way to bring you to justice. I don’t want to waste the next three sessions dealing with you being fugitives, so if you commit a stupid, obvious crime in this adventure, I’m going to let each of you tell me one cool thing you do while you’re on the run and one thing that leads to your capture, and then we’ll cut straight to your trial and punishment. So. Unless you WANT to be branded as outlaws—literally—don’t do something stupid while you’re in Upper Sharn. You’re in deep waters now and you’d better learn to swim.

Then, when someone DOES suggest a really stupid course of action, I’ll say “Remember that conversation we had earlier? This is you doing that stupid thing. Do you really want to do this? Because I’ve told you what happens next.”

The important thing is that this should never be the DM against the players. You’re working together to create a story you’ll all enjoy. The players just need to understand the rules of the scene: that this is not a place where you can get away with that. If you make this clear ahead of time—if you establish that this is Ocean’s Eleven, not Reservoir Dogs—you can hopefully avoid problems. Alternately, you can let the players do their stupid thing, and have them NOT suffer any consequences… and then have the powerful person who pulled strings on their behalf show up and explain why they aren’t standing on an Eye of Aureon and what they need to do now to repay the favor. Again, at the end of the day, we’re all supposed to be creating a story we enjoy. If people aren’t going to enjoy being exiled or imprisoned (because hey, this COULD be your chance to switch to an escape-from-Dreadhold campaign arc!) then either warn them away from foolish courses of action or make their getting away with it a compelling part of the story.

Do inquisitives and agents of House Medani and House Tharashk have any ability to enforce the law? Or are they just gathering information for the forces of the law to act upon?

House Medani and House Tharashk don’t have any special dispensation to enforce the law. They are, essentially, licensed private investigators and bounty hunters. Agents of the law understand the role that they play, and may either welcome their help or dismiss it. But Medani and Tharashk inquisitives have no legal authority of their own. The Sentinel Marshals of House Deneith are authorized to enforce the law, but this is very closely monitored and a marshal who abuses this authority will be stripped of rank.

I’m running a campaign where the players are using the Inquisitive Agency group patron. It seems anticlimactic if they can’t actually enforce the law, and have to rely on the Watch to resolve things.

If you look to the genre, there’s a vast array of stories about private investigators. Sherlock Holmes is a “consulting detective” with no legal authority; he works with Scotland Yard, not for them. The Maltese Falcon, The Big Sleep, Stumptown, HBO’s new Perry Mason… part of the point of these stories is that these people are PRIVATE detectives, working on the edge of the law. Sometimes they have a good relationship with the law, as with Sherlock Holmes. In other cases, the forces of the law are corrupt and part of the problem; it’s because the detective is on the outside that they can get things done. Because they’re not officers of the law, detectives aren’t always as bound by rules and regulations, and they can deal with people who might not interact with an agent of the law. In developing the campaign, a crucial question is whether the adventurers are close allies of the law—in which case you could even choose to make them deputies with limited powers of their own—or if the local watch is part of the problem, with only a few people they can truly trust.

Looking to the question of whether the story will be anticlimactic if the adventurers turn it over to the forces of the law… just because the job of the detective is to gather information as opposed to catch the villain doesn’t mean that YOUR ADVENTURE should involve them gathering information, reporting it to the authorities, and then going home while the law deals with it. The adventurers solve a mystery and identify the villain. Yes, they SHOULD let the Watch handle it. But perhaps they don’t because…

  • … There’s no time! The villain is about to flee, and if the adventurers don’t act immediately they’ll get away with it.
  • … The adventurers have caught the villain red-handed, but now they have to deal with them immediately.
  • … The villain trusts the adventurers, or they’ve got an inside ally—they can get close enough to the villain to strike, while the city watch never could.
  • … The adventurers know that the watch will bungle the capture. If they want the job done right, they’ll have to do it themselves.
  • … The city watch won’t take the adventurers seriously. Or perhaps the villain has an agent or allies within the watch; they’ll either warn the villain or keep the watch from acting altogether.
  • … The villain hasn’t actually committed a crime. They’ve done something terrible, but somehow, legally, they are going to get away with it. Will the adventurers allow it?

There’s nothing stopping the adventurers from defeating the villain themselves and delivering them to the forces of the law. They just shouldn’t MURDER them in the process. Yes, they may have to break a law or to themselves in the process, but if they’ve exposed a terrible crime the watch might not ask too many questions about their breaking and entering to pull it off. So it’s not that the adventurers need to let the law do the takedown of the villain; it’s that they should deliver the villain to justice, not execute them. And yes, this means that there’s a chance the villain WILL evade justice and return to threaten them again. Which is, after all, the plot of every Batman story ever (movies aside): Vigilante detective unravels crime, beats up criminal and turns them over to the law, villain eventually escapes to cause more trouble, rinse and repeat.

So Medani and Tharashk can’t enforce the law, but what about House Deneith?

There is inconsistent canon regarding the role of House Deneith. Notably, Dragonmarked contradicts Sharn: City of Towers. I wrote the section in Sharn, and it’s what *I* do. Here’s the critical piece.

During the reign of King Galifar III, House Deneith was granted the right to enforce the laws of the kingdom, bringing fugitives to justice and enforcing punishments in exchange for gold. Originally, this was a largely honorary role that allowed House Deneith to assist the Galifar Guard in an official capacity. With the Last War and the formation of the Five Kingdoms, these Sentinel Marshals have become far more important. The Sharn Watch, the Blackened Book, and the King’s Citadel are all agents of the Brelish crown, and they cannot pursue fugitives into Aundair or Thrane. The Sentinel Marshals of House Deneith can. These elite agents are authorized to enforce the law in all five kingdoms—although they are not authorized to break the law in pursuit of justice! Sentinel Marshals are usually employed as auxiliaries by regional authorities, but they are occasionally hired by private individuals when the local justices lack the resources to pursue a case.
A Sentinel Marshal holds the honor of House Deneith in his hand, and only the most trusted members of the house are granted this authority. A Sentinel Marshal must possess exceptional skills and knowledge of the laws of all of the kingdoms of Khorvaire, and it is rare for an heir to even be considered for this honor unless he has served with both the Blademark and the Defender’s Guild. It is possible that a player character would be granted the title of Sentinel Marshal after performing an exceptional service for the house, but a DM should always remember that this position does not place the character above the law—and should he ever abuse his authority, it will be stripped from him and he will in all likelihood be expelled from the house.

So, Sentinel Marshals enforce the law for gold. They are freelancers hired as auxiliaries by local authorities, not champions of justice expected to be fightin’ crime pro bono. Their most valuable attribute is the fact that they are recognized as neutral and extranational, able to enforce the laws across the Thronehold nations and pursue fugitives across borders.

Just to give a sense of how rare and special Sentinel Marshals are, according the Sharn: City of Towers there are NINE of them in Sharn… And Sharn is the largest city in Khorvaire! Sentinel Marshals aren’t supposed to take the place of the Watch; they are elite specialists called in for jobs that require their skills and ability to cross borders. With that said, the watch can also just hire standard Deneith mercenaries to help out with a rough situation; but that doesn’t grant the Blademarks the authority of Sentinel Marshals.

Are the brands used to mark criminals in Sharn recognizable in most of the Five (Four) Nations? Are the brands simply physical brands? If not, what kind(s) of enchantment are involved?

The brands are standardized under the Galifar Code of Justice and would be recognized in all of the Five Nations. There would be a few new nation-specific ones (“Exiled from Nation X”) but any agent of the law will recognize them. These details are discussed in Sharn: City of Towers:

Repeat offenders are often marked with a symbol that warns others about their criminal tendencies. In the past, these marks were made with branding irons. In this more civilized age, a House Sivis heir inscribes the mark using a pen of the living parchment (see page 169). Marks are either placed on the forehead or on the back of the right hand, and guards often demand that suspicious strangers remove their gloves and show the backs of their hands.

The section on the pen of the living parchment adds the following information.

A character who possesses the arcane mark ability of the Least Mark of Scribing can use the pen to inscribe permanent arcane marks onto the flesh of living creatures. These are commonly used by the courts of Khorvaire to mark criminals and exiles, warning all observers about the nature of the character’s offense… Removing such a mark is extremely difficult, and requires the use of break enchantment, limited wish, miracle, or wish; the DC for a break enchantment check is 18. Removing a criminal’s mark is a crime under the Galifar Code of Justice, so it may be difficult to find someone to break the enchantment. The character who inscribed the mark can also remove it, using the same pen they used to create it in the first place… Placing a criminal’s mark upon an innocent victim is a serious crime under Galifar law, and the Blackened Book is assigned to track down anyone believed to be performing this form of forgery.

The Silver Flame and Droaam

What would Jaela Daran’s official position, as Keeper of the Flame, be concerning the tier of evil that the Daughters of Sora Kell are classified under?

In the past, the Church of the Silver Flame cast most “monsters” under the umbrella of Innate Evil. This is called out clearly in Exploring Eberron:

Entities of innate evil. This is the most contentious category on the list, and it is the idea of monsters—that there are creatures native to Eberron who are evil by nature. In the past, the church has placed medusas, harpies, trolls, and similar creatures into this category, asserting that through no fault of their own, these creatures are vessels for supernatural evil and pose a threat to the innocent.

It’s this principle that justified the actions of templars raiding the Barrens in the past, protecting the innocent people of the Five Nations by killing these monsters. Of course, that’s what’s been done in the past. Jaela Daran embodies the compassionate principles of the faith, and in my Eberron I could easily see her asserting that the denizens of Droaam—from the Daughters to the harpy to the gnoll—are no different than any human, and pose a threat only if they choose evil. However, in doing this, she would be fighting against tradition; the Pure Flame in particular might rebel against the idea of treating MONSTERS as innocents instead of threats to the innocent. But in MY Eberron, I’d have her make that pronouncement NOW—so the player characters are actively caught in the middle of it and could play a role in what happens next—as opposed to it just being something that happened a few years ago and has largely been settled.

But aren’t the Daughters of Sora Kell half-fiends?

Maybe, but what does that even mean? Normally, immortal entities don’t reproduce. We don’t even know with certainty HOW the Daughters were born. While they are long-lived, in my opinion they are mortal and can be killed. They are capable of CHOICE… just like tieflings, and consider that the Church of the Silver Flame established Rellekor as a place for tieflings to reproduce. The Daughters of Sora Kell are evil beings of great power, but are they FORCED to do evil or do they choose it? The critical point here is that this defines the interpretation of Droaam itself. If you classify the Daughters of Sora Kell as immortal evils they must be opposed and are seen as incapable of doing anything good; thus, Droaam MUST serve an evil purpose. On the other hand, if the Daughters are capable of choice, they are capable of change; while they’ve done evil things in the past, Droaam COULD be a good thing. I prefer to have Jaela open to the concept that Droaam may actually serve a noble purpose as opposed to definitively condemning it.

How willing is Jaela Daran to accept monsters as “peers”?

While it doesn’t have close ties to them, the church has known about the Ghaash’kala for ages. The modern church accepts orcs, goblins, changelings, and shifters (despite the troubles around the Purge) as equals in the eyes of the Flame. What makes an ogre so different from an orc? The question is solely does this creature have the capacity to choose to do good? Can they touch the Flame? Or, like lycanthropes, are they compelled to harm innocents by a power beyond their control? I think that many “monsters” suffered by virtue of being UNKNOWN; no one had SEEN an ogre in any context other than “This is a monster that will try to kill my friends,” whereas now it’s a laborer working in Sharn for an honest wage. I think the VOICE of the Silver Flame would encourage compassion in this case; the question is whether mortals will listen to the Voice of the Flame, or whether the Shadow in the Flame can play on their fears.

Are the generally traditionalist Thranes willing to entertain such equivalence or would Jaela esposing such beliefs be a possible weak point for Cardinal Krozen or Blood Regent Diani to capitalize on? Or that would inflame tensions with Solgar Dariznu of Thaliost?

The Silver Flame is based on principles of compassion: on the idea that those who can choose the light should be guided toward it, and only those who are irredeemably evil need to be destroyed for the greater good. In my opinion, the people of Thrane are the people who hew most clearly to those core principles of the faith. In Aundair, the Silver Crusade created the Pure Flame, whose adherents see the Flame as a weapon; in Breland, it suffers from the general cynicism and pragmatism of the Brelish character. But if there’s a place where people will TRY to follow the core tenets of the faith, it’s Thrane. So, PERSONALLY, I believe that there are many who would follow her, or who have already come to such conclusions on their own. In my novel The Queen of Stone, Minister Luala of Thrane is diplomatic in her interactions with the creatures of Droaam, notably discussing her regrets with the Silver Crusade and the ‘madness of the zealots’ that it spawned. As I said, I think the adherents of the Pure Flame would disagree, and say that the medusa and the harpy are clearly twisted creatures of innate evil that should be destroyed; so such a ruling by Jaela would surely reate a rift with Dariznu. With Diani or Krozen? It’s a plot you could certainly explore if you want to. But I’ll call out Rellekor; where many fear tieflings, Thrane has created a haven for them. I think if you WANTED to make it an issue, the key thing would be to have a major tragedy instigated by Droaamites—a pack of war trolls slaughtering people in Flamekeep—that Diani or Krozen could use as a rallying point for fear. But again, in my opinion Thrane is the nation whose faithful are MOST likely to embrace compassion, because that is the core of the faith.

That’s all for now! I draw IFAQ topics from my Patreon supporters, as well as polling them to determine the subject of the major article for the month. There’s four days left in the current poll, and it’s currently a tight race between The Library of Korranberg and The Fey of Aundair—but there’s still time for another topic to pull ahead!

35 thoughts on “IFAQ: Breaking The Law

  1. I can completely understand Jaela’s tolerant view of trolls, harpies, minotaurs, etc, as they are mortals with free will. But would she also be as tolerant on the topic “half-fiends”? Is it widely known that the Daughters of Sora Kell are the literal offspring of an ancient fiend night hag, right? Does Jaela personally belief that the “half-mortal” outweighs the “half-fiend”?

    • “Half-fiend” is a nebulous category. Most immortals don’t reproduce in any way. The fact that Sora Kell HAS daughters is extremely unusual, and who can say exactly what it means? And with that in mind, what is a “half-fiend”? Is a tiefling a half-fiend? Yes, 3.5 had a clear category for it and I used it for them with an article, but what does it MEAN? The critical point is that I DON’T THINK ANYONE KNOWS. I, personally, believe that while the Daughters are long-lived they ARE NOT IMMORTAL. They may be influenced by forces we don’t understand (Sora Teraza especially), they may be immensely long-lived, they may not have been killed YET… but I believe that they CAN be killed, and that even if they aren’t killed, they would EVENTUALLY die of old age.

      A demon truly has no choice; it’s a physical expression of an idea. A lycanthrope is driven by its curse. The Daughters of Sora Kell? We don’t KNOW why they are doing what they’re doing, and we don’t know if it’s evil. Jaela could look at the situation and see that they are giving a voice to a people who never had one, that they have stopped the casual, endless violence that defined the Barrens. The fact that they are doing it NOW suggests that they are making a CHOICE—and it remains to be seen if they are choosing to do evil, or if this could actually be serving a greater good.

      Essentially, I see this as the question of Droaam as a whole. If you condemn the Daughters as a force of supernatural evil, you are inherently condemning their work as an act of evil forces and thus something that should be opposed. And I think the majority of templars would assume that’s what it IS, because again, it’s a nation of creatures traditionally seen as beings of innate evil. I feel that if Jaela is willing to reconsider the classification of the harpy and the troll, she would also be willing to reconsider the motivations of the three who have brought them together. But I also think that this is a case where she’s not certain, because again, WE DON’T KNOW what the Daughters’ endgame is.

      • With that said, Sora Katra and Sora Maenya are both literally legendary monsters. Sora Maenya is known for having a collection of the skulls of her victims with the souls still trapped in them. So there is no question that in the past they have, at the very least, CHOSEN EVIL IN A BIG WAY. The question is if it was a choice, and thus if they COULD be good. And I think even in the stories, Sora Katra’s actions aren’t ALWAYS evil. And I think Jaela might be willing to entertain that concept—which in turn means that Droaam COULD be an example of them doing something that, in the long run, could be good.

      • You’ve suggested in the past that non-night hags could be seen as native fey, similar to night hags being native fiends. Would native fey not have an immortal essence that reincarnates them somewhere on Eberron after death?

        • Consider your varying degrees of fey immortality. The common Eladrin of the Feyspires are long-lived but entirely mortal; they die and reproduce like other mortal creatures. The typical sprite is replaced when it dies, but it’s not THE SAME SPRITE. Protagonists or fey with a specific role in a story are truly immortal and return after death.

          Which of those categories do you WANT your hag to fall into? A key point is that immortals don’t reproduce. They don’t have parents or children. This is why I personally see the Daughters of Sora Kell as being mortal… because they are DAUGHTERS. If they were born, then they can die; and also, in theory, they can have children of their own.

          Personally, I don’t want to overuse truly immortal villains, so even as native fey, I’d say that the typical hag falls into the same category as the lesser eladrin; fey, long-lived, but still entirely mortal. If I didn’t do that, I’d probably either go with the “I keep my life in a duck egg, inside a duck” sort of puzzle… or say that if the hag is killed, a new one will eventually take its place, but THAT hag is gone.

          • Hmmm… Thinking about this more, maybe I’ll do something where hags are “talemongers” – creatures that devote their lives to collecting and hoarding the ambient narrative essence in Eberron, such that it suffuses their bodies and makes them fey creatures. The weird magic they wield stems from their connection to a source of faerie tale logic that defies conventional wisdom about how magic can work. The most powerful hags – ones that have amassed a huge amount of fey essence – can do things like make themselves immortal or spend some of it to create new hags.

            Night hags are especially scary because they can ALSO gather nightmare essence from Dal Quor.

  2. Are the brands used on (repeat) criminals in Sharn recognizable in most of the Fovr
    Nations? Is it similar to Jack’s pirate brand?

    • Absolutely. There would be a standard series of brands that would have been established under the Galifar Code of Justice and thus recognized in all of the Five Nations. Nations might create their own specific brands—one that immediately comes to mind is “Exiled from Breland”—which would definitely be recognized by most people from that nation and law enforcement in neighboring nations.

      • Are the brands simply physical brands? If not, what kind(s) of enchantment are involved? What would be required to remove one? To hide one or alter one? Do the Marshals have spells/items to detect them?

        • This is covered in Sharn: City of Towers, but I’ve added information to the crime section of the main article.

  3. One question that came in my mind is about relationship of policy and Medani or Tharashk House.

    For instance, if I am a rich guy, I can contract a investigative agency to discover who stolen my …I don’t know…my cloak of invisibility and track it for me. Or who kills my daughter. But what can they do after discover it? They can enforce the law or they need go to the city watch and tell all about what they discover and ask for action from them? They have legal autority or if they punch some dark cultist they are breaking the law?

    Where is the line here if they can? I thought about it because my group choice is to be a Investigative Agency (Tharashk House), but I really don’t have sure about the limits. The consequences of being wrong are like policy when is wrong? Or things that… I don’t know… a Citadel agent can say “hey Tharashk agent, you cannot investigate this, it is mine jurisdiction!”

    In same way, all nations have its own organizations that can make investigations, this is not against the right of monopolies that dragonmarked houses have? Or this is only for private services? If Aundair want makes a state organization about healing or entertainment, is it ok?

    • House Medani and House Tharashk have no authority to enforce the law. The Watch officer or Citadel agent can definitely tell the Tharashk inquisitive “Get lost, this is my jurisdiction.” Both Tharashk and Medani essentially occupy the same place as a licensed private investigator does in our world: they are recognized as professionals, but they are NOT officers of the law.

      If by “organizations that can make investigations” you mean organizations such as the Royal Eyes, the King’s Citadel, or even the Sharn Watch, those aren’t BUSINESSES. They don’t sell their services, and they are not considered to be in competition with the houses. It’s the same way that Deneith’s mercenary services don’t prevent nations from maintaining their own armies. Likewise, the Arcane Congress directly overlaps with a lot of work that’s done by House Cannith, but it’s not a BUSINESS; it is engaging in arcane research and development on behalf of the Aundairian crown.

      • Yes, I think you understand well my question. But still I have some doubts about gray area here and trying think how use a Agency as patron of group and don’t let things …boring. Because besides resolve a mistery is excelent for a session and for me…sometimes players want a good fight and without the execution can me more difficult make this element of dungeons and dragons shine if them cannot act executing any aspect of “officer of law”.

        I think there is some easy solutions:

        -> Sometimes the client wants something beyond the law. For instance, they want his object back, not know only where is it. Maybe the Tharashk agent don’t care of act beyond the law for the right price, or if there is a strong garantee that the object was steal.
        -> When a authority give a mission, as for instance a City Watch contract investigators for a case, this came with a autorization with some powers.

        I just think in this because I feel that can be a little frustranting you know, after resolve a mistery they just go to city watch and not finish themselves this. Or if always they try finish, they are breaking the law and now will face the law. It’s about this part of the game that I not sure how make using a Investigation Agency as patron.

        Do you think I am worry to much?

        Anyway, thanks for the answer Keith!

        • There’s a few aspects to this. Your players want to be detectives, not police officers. Are you familiar with the detective genre? Do you have a favorite story, show, or movie? Because there’s countless stories that are about private investigators who are not officers of the law, from The Maltese Falcon or The Big Sleep to Stumptown. Heck, Sherlock Holmes couldn’t arrest people; he’s a consulting detective, presenting the facts to Scotland Yard. The fact that the detectives aren’t authorized agents is often a primary part of the story. It’s a balancing act because it means that they can’t COMPEL obedience from people, but they also aren’t bound to follow the same rules that officers of the law are held to. Half the point of many detective stories IS the characters getting in over their heads or having to do things they don’t have the legal authority to do; will they cross those lines?

          I get the sense that you’re thinking that the players solve the mystery, report it to the watch, and then the watch arrests the villain — you don’t like it because it means the adventurers don’t get to confront the villain at the end. But there’s no reason that has to be the case. Yes, once the adventurers have solved the crime they COULD report it to the Watch and let them bring in the villain. UNLESS THEY CAN’T. Because there’s no time—the villain will escape if they don’t act immediately. Or because the villain trusts the adventurers, and only they can get close enough. Or because the watch won’t believe the adventurers for some reason, or because there’s a mole in the watch—a corrupt officer who will warn the villain and help them escape. In any of these situations, the adventurers HAVE to confront the villain themselves. They get the final fight scene. The only thing is that they should CAPTURE the villain instead of KILLING them. They don’t have the authority to arrest them, but they can still apprehend them and turn the villain over to the legitimate authorities; it just means that they won’t personally prosecute them in court, and I can’t imagine you were planning to get into that anyways. It means that the adventurers shouldn’t KILL the villains, and it means the villains could escape and cause more trouble, but welcome to every Batman story ever (except the movies, of course).

          With that said, both of the ideas you suggest are entirely plausible. They COULD be deputized. With that said, if they ARE working as agents of the law, that generally means they are supposed to FOLLOW the laws. Is that actually a help? Your other idea is also very logical. The client can’t go to the authorities if they want something illegal, but will the adventurers do the right thing in the end, or will they just take the money and do the wrong thing?

        • Many published adventures have the party start on a trail in the city, then track their quarry to a place beyond the watch’s jurisidiction (such as a “lawless” district or out of the city entirely)

          • Certainly. And likewise, lots of stories deal with a patron who for some reason or another can’t take their problem to the authorities (The watch is compromised! If the scandal got out, they’d be ruined!).

  4. How willing is Jaela Daran to accept monsters as “peers”? There’s a big leap between “they are people worthy of innate respect, tolerance and compassion” and “we are alike” and it might be especially strained by revelations about the shulassakar, ghaash’kala, Cold Sun Federation and other groups who worship the Silver Flame and are not humanoids.

    Are the generally traditionalist Thranes willing to entertain such equivalence (the other Nations are obviously their own flavours of faith) or would Jaela esposing such beliefs be a possible weak point for Cardinal Krozen or Blood Regent Diani to capitalize on? Or that would inflame tensions with Solgar Dariznu of Thaliost?

    And would Jaela ever go so far as to suggest in the face of learning about the source of these group’s powers?

    • I’ve updated the post with answers to these questions. However, I don’t understand this one:

      And would Jaela ever go so far as to suggest in the face of learning about the source of these group’s powers?

      To suggest what? Which source of which group’s powers? Diani’s? Dariznu’s? Droaam?

      • Very sorry, I was referring to the “monstrous” silver flame groups, the question is answered mostly in the response to the rest.

        Totally forgot about Rellekor!

      • I know you didn’t work on these books, but I really like the examples of non-humanoids who willingly chose to follow the Silver Flame with the wingwyrd gargoyles from Five Nations and the good merchurion named Silverfist who emigrated from Xen’drik to Thrane from Monster Manual IV. That a huge living construct of flowing silver could serve as a religious icon for some clergy of the Church of the Silver Flame (maybe some warforged followers?) helps make up for the human-centric view on Thrane views introduced by the other books.

        • It’s actually MM5, not 4.

          Frankly, I think the biggest influence Silverfist would have is on historians. Going by the (generic setting) lore, he’s ancient if not particularlly intelligent.

          • Whoops, my bad for assuming there was anything particularly memorable form MMIV at all. How a huge-sized T-1000 proclaiming itself a follower of the Silver Flame and assumed to be connected to the creation forges of Xen’drik got to Thrane in the first place is a fun story to develop.

  5. The bit on the Flame’s position on if Gnolls are innately evil or not reminds me of the 9th century monk Ratramnus’s letter on if dog headed men had souls.

  6. What is House Deneith’s relationship to law and enforcement through the Kingdom of Galifar and has that changed now after the Treaty?

    I ask because Dragonmarked says “From the founding of Karrnath, House Deneith served as both defender of the realm and enforcer of laws. When Galifar grew to adulthood and set out to create his empire, Deneith served him as well. After his kingdom was forged, Galifar I gave House Deneith the duty of defending the entire realm, increasing its jurisdiction fivefold.”

    This makes it sound like Deneith had the duty, at least before the Last War, to enforce the laws of Galifar. Does this refer only to Sentinel Marshals being able to pursue criminals, or something on a wider scale than that? The Marshals are more like Bounty Hunters at this point, whereas enforcing the laws of Karrnath (before Galifar) sounds different than that.

    I know that each nation/city has its own border security, guards, police force, etc. How much use do they make of House Deneith in these capacities (as an example, Deneith is called out as securing borders, but presumably nations have their own forces protecting the borders as well). And did this change fundamentally between Galifar, and post-Treaty Khorvaire?

    Thanks, as always, Keith!

    • I’d presume Deneith securing borders would refer to fortification planning, teaching guards how to spot smuggling compartments ect. than actually be the guards themselves.

    • This makes it sound like Deneith had the duty, at least before the Last War, to enforce the laws of Galifar.
      I didn’t write that section of Dragonmarked, and this is a case of inconsistent canon. I wrote the section in Sharn: City of Towers (which came first) and it’s what I use when I run them. I’ve added the quote and more detailed answer to the main point, but the key is that the Sentinel Marshals don’t have a DUTY to uphold the law, they have the AUTHORITY to do so and can be hired to do it. But Deneith is all pay-for-play. If a Sentinel Marshal isn’t being paid to apprehend a specific criminal, their crimes aren’t the marshal’s problem.

      The Marshals are more like Bounty Hunters at this point, whereas enforcing the laws of Karrnath (before Galifar) sounds different than that.

      It does. I didn’t write that section and I can’t tell you what that author intended. But the houses are BUSINESSES. We’ve called out Deneith as MERCENARIES, and you can see more of my thoughts on the matter here: http://keith-baker.com/ifaq-dm-war/ But no, I’ve never seen Deneith as universal champions of the law; your problems aren’t their problems until you start paying them.

      I know that each nation/city has its own border security, guards, police force, etc. How much use do they make of House Deneith in these capacities (as an example, Deneith is called out as securing borders, but presumably nations have their own forces protecting the borders as well).

      House Deneith are mercenaries who can be employed any time a nation has a need for their expertise or simply needs a sudden increase in forces. Consider the way that the US and its contractors employ private security firms like Blackwater in the Middle East. They’re more EXPENSIVE than the regular army, so you don’t want to rely on them as your primary force. But if you need specific expertise, if you need a sudden surge in a particular place right now, or if you’re a civilian operating in a dangerous region and you want your own security, Deneith is there.

      • Thank you Keith. I had been wondering if perhaps in the time of Karrn and beyond, House Deneith held some sort of duty to enforce the laws of Karrnath (something agreed to between the Sentinel families and Karrn). But when Galifar rose and put into place the Korth Edicts, Deneith agreed to make the switch fully from duty-bound House that brokers mercenaries to the full-on business model that we see today.

        In Dragonmarked, a Favored in House Deneith can be sneaked through a border as a privilege of their standing in the House, so I assumed that Deneith has some influence at the borders.

        It is interesting to note that there are so few Sentinel Marshals.

        This makes me wonder… no one will pay a Marshal to enforce the Treaty and bring in a Tharashk Bounty Hunter that is working across national borders (because, why would they?). But could a Marshal do it for the sake of their own House and business? So let’s take, for the sake of discussion, a Sentinel Marshal and a Tharashk Hunter both going after the same bounty and they cross paths (the person is wanted in Thrane, but they’re all in Aundair right now). Could the Marshal bring the hunter in on behalf of House Deneith for enforcing the law without the authority to do so? Since anyone can pay to have Deneith enforce the laws, presumably House Deneith can “pay” to enforce laws as well. What would the outcome be in such a case, as I doubt a regular jail would hold the hunter (didn’t break any law important to them, don’t want to upset House Tharashk). (Brings another question to mind… does Kundarak operate any private prisons other than Dreadhold?)

        • So let’s take, for the sake of discussion, a Sentinel Marshal and a Tharashk Hunter both going after the same bounty and they cross paths (the person is wanted in Thrane, but they’re all in Aundair right now). Could the Marshal bring the hunter in on behalf of House Deneith for enforcing the law without the authority to do so?

          The bounty hunter ISN’T enforcing the law. A Sentinel Marshal could place someone under arrest, compelling them under the law to comply with their orders. A Tharashk bounty hunter can’t do that; they’ll have to incapacitate their target, or trick them, or find another way. A bounty hunter isn’t breaking the law simply by pursuing a bounty. The point is that having legal authority provides the Marshal with a lot of options that the bounty hunter doesn’t have, and it’s possible that the bounty hunter WILL break the law to get the job done. But they aren’t automatically breaking the law just by being a bounty hunter, especially if they are licensed by Tharashk.

          Brings another question to mind… does Kundarak operate any private prisons other than Dreadhold?

          None that have been mentioned in canon, but do you WANT Kundarak to operate private prisons other than Dreadhold? If so, then make it so.

        • One very important point in this conversation. If someone has been declared an outlaw, they are literally OUTSIDE THE PROTECTION OF THE LAW. Which means that the Tharashk bounty hunter ISN’T GUILTY OF ASSAULT if they beat up an outlaw and drag them back to justice; technically, if you kill an outlaw, it isn’t murder. So when the Tharashk bounty hunter shows up dragging a former noble in chains, they aren’t committing a crime that the Sentinel Marshal can enforce—provided the prisoner is, indeed, a declared outlaw.

  7. So thinking about how Thrane is ruled by the Church of the Silver Flame, how did that work with people of other nations that were part of the Church during the Last War?

    Great post as always!

    • What do you mean by “How did it work”?

      Keep in mind that nothing in the faith of the Silver Flame requires you to be loyal to the Theocracy of Thrane. We’ve called out that there are many faithful — some even in Thrane — who actively oppose the theocracy because it mires the church in temporal affairs, invites corruption, and distracts from its mission. We’ve also called out that templars of different nations fought one another during the Last War—that if a supernatural threat appeared they would set aside their differences to fight that, putting their faith before their nations, but
      that once that was resolved, they’d return to their national allegiances and fight one another again.

      So being a follower of the Silver Flame and being a citizen of Thrane are two concretely different things, and you can be devoted to the Silver Flame without pledging loyalty to the theocracy of Thrane.

      • That more or less covered what I was wondering about, thanks. My impression was that the leaders of the theocracy are also the leaders of the church, therefore being part of the church, your leaders would be the leaders of the theocracy. But I see that it doesn’t quite shake out like that.

        • Indeed. Thrane decided that the leaders of the church would also be the leaders of their country, but there’s nothing about the core faith of the Silver Flame that suggests that the leaders of the church SHOULD be political leaders. Tira Miron never sought political power, and established the mission of the church as protecting the innocent from evil. The people of THRANE concluded that they wanted the church to guide all aspects of their life, but it is entirely possible to be devoted to the Silver Flame and to believe that the theocracy is a mistake that distracts the Church from its true purpose. You can respect the Keeper as your spiritual leader and still believe that she shouldn’t be a political leader.

          IIRC, canon has mentioned a faction of the Pure Flame who actually want to “free the Keeper”, believing that the Council of Cardinals has gained too much power as a result of the theocracy and should be taken down a peg (… By whatever means necessary).

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