IFAQ: Treaties and Laws

My new book Exploring Eberron is available now on the DM’s Guild. You can find a FAQ about it here. I am currently working on a longer article about the Nobility of Khorvaire, but as time permits I like to answer interesting short questions from my Patreon supporters, so here’s one from Asmuz:

What’s the relationship between the Treaty of Thronehold and the laws of the Thronehold nations? Why is it called out that Darguun’s practices are against the Treaty of Thronehold, while Karrnath having the brutal Code of Kaius isn’t an issue?

The Treaty of Thronehold serves the following major purposes.

  • It ensures a state of peace between all signatories, and that no Thronehold nation will initiate an attack against any other signatory nation.
  • It includes the provision that while traveling within a Thronehold nation, any citizen of a Thronehold nation will have the same rights and protection under the law as a citizen of that nation.
  • It includes a number of lesser provisions banning the production or use of certain types of magical weapons and war rituals. It’s this section that bans the production of warforged and grants freedom to all warforged, who are to be considered citizens of the Thronehold nations whose citizens originally purchased them.
  • It defines the recognized borders and dealt with variations reparations and concessions, which, for example, confirmed Thaliost as a territory of Thrane.
  • It recognizes the rights of the Dragonmarked Houses to operate within all Thronehold nations, maintaining the established principles of the Korth Edicts. This also establishes that members of Dragonmarked Houses receive the same legal protections as Thronehold citizens. (This is why, notably, the Treaty can dictate things like “No building warforged.“)

This was a TREATY, not a CONSTITUTION. The Thronehold nations aren’t united kingdoms. They are NOT bound by the same laws—they are simply bound to treat all citizens of Thronehold nations with the same rights as their own people, and to obey the bans specifically laid out in the Treaty. A nation couldn’t, for example, make a law saying “We can sell warforged” without violating the Treaty.

Now, there’s a second thing that enters play, and that’s the Galifar Code of Justice. The Five Nations were all once united as Galifar, and remember, the Last War was fought because each wanted to reunite Galifar under their rule. Thus, it’s not surprising that they maintained the common laws, because maintaining those laws was evidence of their preservation of the ideals of Galifar. However, some of the Five Nations MODIFIED those laws. The original 3.5 ECS makes these observations…

  • Aundair. “Aundair adheres to the Galifar Code of Justice, an intricate system of laws and regulations that once helped maintain order throughout the united kingdom.”
  • Breland. “Breland makes use of the Galifar Code of Justice, and law enforcers can be found in every thorp, village, and city.”
  • Karrnath. “While the Galifar Code of Justice provides the basis for civil rights in Karrnath, the Code of Kaius that developed from it is more rigid and less forgiving. Indeed, the nation has labored under martial law since the earliest days of the Last War.”
  • Thrane. “As long as you do no obvious evil, you won’t find trouble in Thrane. However, Thrane’s laws tend to be more stringent than the Code of Galifar, and punishments more brutal.”

Sharn: City of Towers has an section that deals with law in Sharn—which, as noted above, is the Galifar Code of Justice. Here’s an important detail, with highlighting…

The mark of the outlaw is recognized in all of the Five Nations, and any nation that respects the Galifar Code of Justice looks suspiciously on exiled outlaws. As a result, outlaws usually congregate in Darguun, Droaam, the Shadow Marches, Xen’drik, the Lhazaar Principalities, and Q’barra—nations that either ignore the Galifar Code or that believe a convict can overcome a criminal past.

Sharn: City of towers, page 134

So: The Treaty of Thronehold does not require its signatory nations to make use of the Galifar Code of Justice. What I suggest here is that what it DOES require is for all citizens of Thronehold nations to be protected by local law. So as a Thrane in Darguun you are entitled to the same protection as one of the Ghaal’dar—even if that may not include all the protections you’re used to. The only nations that use the Galifar Code are the Five Nations and New Galifar in Q’barra (the mention of Q’barra in the quote above is referring to Hope). The other nations have their own systems of justice: Zilargo is far more restrictive than any of the Five Nations, while the Shadow Marches and Darguun are less structured. In the Lhazaar Principalities, princes have the right to set the laws of their domains. GENERALLY these agree on common, basic principles, but they are all unique.

So to get back to the basic question… Why are Darguun’s practices an issue when the Code of Kaius isn’t an issue? They aren’t an issue under the Treaty. Darguun isn’t REQUIRED to abide by the Galifar Code of Justice, and the proof of this is that it doesn’t. The issue is that Darguun was accepted as a Thronehold nation because of the desire for peace. Prince Oargev is very eager to have its status revoked, to have the region recognized as Cyre, and to get support to drive the Ghaal’dar from the region. Haruuc KNOWS that other nations consider their laws to be barbaric, and specifically, the practice of slavery to be an atrocity. It’s not that he HAS to change these traditions, it’s that he WANTS to change these traditions because he wants to maintain the support of the other Thronehold nations. But it’s an important point that there’s no “Army of Thronehold” that enforces these terms; the consequence of violating the Treaty is that the other nations may choose to expel you and then you’d lose the rights described above, IE, any nation could attack you and your citizens wouldn’t be protected by local laws.

Since I haven’t said this for a while, keep in mind that everything in this blog reflects how *I* do things in my campaign. I’ve quoted books that I’ve worked on, but it’s entirely possible I’ve contradicted something in Forge of War. This is how I see the Treaty, but as always, it’s up to you to decide how you use it in your game.

In Sharn: City of Towers the law seems to favour execution or monetary fines as punishment for crimes. Is this a quirk of Sharn (not a lot of prison space) or representative of the general pattern of the Galifar Code of Justice?
It’s a reflection of the Galifar Code, but it’s not quite as simple as “Fines or execution.” Pages 132-134 of Sharn: City of Towers also mentions hard labor, branding, mystical punishment, and exile. The main point is that EXTENDED INCARCERATION is very rare under the Galifar Code. You are expected to pay for your crime, with either money or labor. If you are deemed a threat you are forced to LEAVE the community (through exile) and may be forced to bear the ongoing burden of your crime through a brand. But Galifar doesn’t rely on lengthy incarceration, whether as a tool for punishment or redemption. Page 134 of S:CoT specifically states that “executions are rare.” But this is what makes Dreadhold so significant; there AREN’T a lot of major prisons designed for indefinite stays.

Was there an established system of international law/treaty making or was Thronehold something of a Peace of Westphalia sort of affair? Have nations made separate treaties with each other in addition to Thronehold or is everyone sort of waiting to see if it works?

Good questions. Consider the following points. Up until around a century ago, there was basically ONE NATION in Khorvaire (with a few minor side territories like Lhazaar). The war was being fought to restore that nation; the question was who would rule it. The Treaty of Thronehold is not a perfect solution and no one is happy with it. It’s not a carefully planned out utopian foundation for international law and relations; it’s a desperate tourniquet applied because people are terrified of the Mourning. It doesn’t settle the grievances that set the Last War in motion. It leaves in place nations like the Eldeen Reaches, Darguun, and Valenar that are STRONGLY contested by chunks of the population. The point is that people are terrified that if the war continued there could be a second Mourning. People believed that they HAD to stop the war at any cost, and the Treaty of Thronehold was the fastest solution they could find. But it’s not supposed to be perfect. There ARE elements of it that don’t make sense or that don’t go far enough. There is no body like the United Nations, no global peacekeeping force, and while they’ve established an international tribunal at Thronehold that’s very much an experiment that they are still figuring out. Looking to the signatory nations, the Eldeen Reaches and Talenta Plains are barely nations; Darguun and Valenar are contested by Cyre, though they were accepted because there is no more Cyre. But again, this isn’t a perfect system and there are many ways in which it has yet to be tested, because it’s only been in place for two years. So to me, some of these questions are questions that should come up IN A CAMPAIGN — as leaders TRY to strengthen the international community, as cases come up that test the concept of international law, and so on. This isn’t an ancient system that’s been perfected; it is very much a living thing that is still being put to the test.

An interesting aspect to consider is that when the Last War began, it was being fought by five nations that shared a common foundation of laws and that were ultimately seeking to renunite their nations, merely arguing over who would be in charge. The Treaty of Thronehold represents the death of that dream, not only accepting that Galifar will not be restored, but acknowledging nations that do NOT share the common laws or traditions of Galifar. The Five Nations were at least cousins; Valenar, Darguun, and the Eldeen Reaches all come from entirely different families with little in common. People believed they HAD to make a solution as quickly as possible, because in light of the Mourning, it was literally about preventing an apocalypse. But no one is entirely HAPPY with the Treaty of Thronehold.

Thanks to my Patreon supporters for keeping this site going, and to all of you who’ve been reading Exploring Eberron, I hope you’re enjoying it!