There are three kinds of organized policing that are designated as Police within the Empire, and all the realms still follow this because the funding for two of them appears to be derived from the God’s themselves, and so no one worries much.
Of note is that none of the groups of police here make decisions on guilt or innocence, and do not engage with the doling of punishments. They leave that up to the nearest court, though they will testify (especially the Police). One exception to all of that is Reeves. Reeves have a special license to judge guilt, but if they do so they must provide proof supported by the word of many others, and they must also sit in judgment of other cases. Reeves are often used for exactly that by that Nobility.
The one exception to this is when the accused requests an Ordeal. Then they will haul the individual off to a place of Worship and let the Ordeal happen under their ever-watchful eye.
The first and most basic are the local settlement watches. Watches are organized and overseen by the local Nobility and can vary widely in structure and nature. They are tasked with enforcing the local rules and policies within settlements and have a roughly half day boundary beyond the settlement as part of their jurisdiction. The Knights of Eld, charged with law keeping in Dorado, are an example of this, albeit a unique one, being hereditary and especially dangerous.
Watches include patrols, beyond the walls and within the Boonies, and are separated from the Military in chain and function. They do not share the same barracks, for example, and Watches to not report to any military commander, having their own chain of command.
At the base level are Guards and Patrollers. Each unit of four is overseen by a fifth member called a Deputy. Every five units are overseen by a Sheriff, and every five sheriffs report to a Bailiff, who is generally linked to the courts and appointed by the local nobility.
The next is chartered through the Grand Council and the Convocation, known as the Imperial Enforcers, and is charged with enforcing the Imperial laws throughout the Empire, outside of the settled areas. They are often given to the protection of villages of importance, and also often considered part of the Liege Debt from a greater noble to a lesser.
This is an immense area to cover, and there are not a lot of them, but they do their best, focusing on banditry and the like. They are also charged with keeping an eye on Powers that may be in their region. Enforcers are usually assigned to a Fort or a Hold and assigned to command of the local Noble closest to that location.
Enforcers report to a Deputy. Deputies oversee Patrols, which are eight-hour shifts of Enforces under the command of the Deputy, and there will usually be nine Deputies in a given Fort or Hold, rotating out each Watchnight.
These units are headed by a Sheriff, who has a designated area that they are charged with, and who is the Commander of a Guard Garrison – typically a small, tight wooden fort built in a defensible location.
Commandants must report to the convocation yearly, and so have an Undersheriff whose task is to step in for them when they are absent and serve as second.
A Fort or Hold is led by a Commandant, who has a team of four Sheriffs and an Undersheriff who fills in when they have to attend the Convocation yearly. There are additional assorted logistics staff to support these activities, but not much.
All prisons and jails are assigned to Imperial Enforcers, regardless of where they may be, as officially and formally it is the Empire which is in charge of such.
The last and final group is the Agency. The simplicity of their title aside, they act as wards of and are charged with the previously mentioned Crimes and the Charter. They follow no jurisdiction, answer only to the Convocation, are some of the toughest people around; mostly Elfin, easily identified by the strange, all black clothing they wear.
Investigative work is often done by Reeves, who are generally outside the normal reporting framework, and act as both a check and balance to the rest, as well as providing essential knowledge to ensure they do their jobs properly. Reeves are independents, solo operators, often recruited from Envoy and Messenger guilds.
Most folks encounter a Constable. Considered akin to a one-person army, a constable must be able to handle a great many duties in the course of their work – investigating, gathering evidence, arresting, detaining, and so forth. They operate in groups of three and are accompanied by a large wagon with bars over the cabin to hold prisoners and other miscreants.
Constables report to a Bailiff. Bailiffs, and their team of clerks, keep records based on the reports of Constables.
Bailiffs report to Marshals. Marshals are charged to a given region, and while their exact number is unknown even to the Convocation, it is believed there are twenty-five of them. A Marshall has earned their position through both reputation and seniority, and both are significant.
Marshalls in turn report to the Agency, which is run by Agents, who have some arcane process by which they gather in The Directorate and make decisions collectively. No one knows who the Directorate is run by, or what the history of it is beyond that the Directorate is entirely subject to the Convocation, and only the convocation as a whole.
It is known there are factions within the Agency, but the nature and divisions remain a mystery.
Most disagreements are of a more business or personal nature, and those are overseen by the same Courts that handle the more serious actions of criminals and ne’er-do-wells.
These Courts vary by region and settlement – some are overseen by the local Nobility, others are charged to designated people assigned by the Nobility, but in the end, Nobility is the final arbiter and is subject to their will. In general, the local head of a community is the final appeal, with most courts being presided over by a judge of some sort, and the specifics of each court vary from realm to realm.
All sentences must bear the mark of a “responsible” Noble, and this matters because the Police have nobility within their purview; as a look at the common crimes of the world will reveal, even nobles are not safe from them.
Nobles will often employ Imperial Justicars to perform roaming duties as judge. Justicars receive extensive training and are hand selected by the Emperor.
The Agency once deposed a Crown Prince of the Empire. He now spends his time trapped in a mine in the Golden range, and his sentence was life, with his Father, the Emperor, being forced to abstain. Among his crimes was an attempt on the life of his sister, the Princessa Himesama.
Although most will not openly state so, all realms allow for the personal Defense of Ordeal. Part of the reason for this is the presence of the Powers That Be themselves, who do take an active interest and participate in the daily affairs of the people. The problem is that they do not always work together, and sometimes work at cross purposes – a particular person undergoing trial may be fiercely loyal to a particular deity but have angered a different one.
During the ordeal, the opposing deity may act to harm the individual with intent, while the supportive one may simply not be paying full attention.
Nevertheless, there is usually someone who requests it. Often the young, who are beginning to lose the fear of the Powers That Be and the anger towards them. An interesting thing about Trials by Ordeal involving magic comes to mind. Some have figured on using magic to escape the effects of an ordeal. The spell is cast, and for all intents appears to work perfectly, except if it goes against a God’s Will, nothing happens.
Ordeals are overseen by the Temple and replace a standard trial for that region unless the realm has a formal declaration of Trial by Ordeal. The outcome of a trial is absolute – it is as the God’s desire, and only a damn fool argues with a God.
Ordeals can only be called for by the Accused, and while they can demand it beneath any Power they are consecrated by, it may be done under the power of the Accuser’s Power.
While it is not perfect, for the most part the Powers That Be do, in fact, pay attention and intervene. The possible Ordeals are as follows:
Accused faces the trials designed for the Grand Games
Accused must submit to being branded
Accused must place hand in a fire or grasp a hot stone
As above, but each side selects a Champion
Individual fights Accuser in a one-on-one battle. First blood, usually, death for high crimes
Accused and Accuser must stand with arms raised parallel to ground. First to drop
Accused is buried except their face for a specified period of time
Accused is tossed into water – if they sink, they are innocent if they float, they are guilty
Accused is submerged in frigid water for five minutes
Accused must ingest sacred items (such as holy water)
Accused must endure having molten metal poured on their body
Accused must retrieve a stone from the bottom of a cauldron full of boiling oil
Accused must sit within a pyre for five minutes
Accused must endure without food or water, unclothed, in a chamber, for a set time
Accused must drink a concoction of some sort (traditionally Sulphur)
Accused must walk three paces (9 feet or so) across burning hot coals
Accused must retrieve a stone from the bottom of a cauldron full of boiling water
Accused has stones equal to the weight of themselves/ their accuser placed on top of them for a variable amount of time
For the most part, the Realms avoid the use of death as a punishment except in cases of the murder of five or more people. When death is called for, it is always seven days out, and the executed are left to stay for seven days.
Fines are common, in some form the guilty can pay, and fines are always in percentages, tracked by the Fodge based on taxes. For a large business, this can be significant. A criminal fine can be as low as 1% or as high as 40% for significantly harmful crimes.
Corporal punishments used are common, and considered to start with forfeiture of Estate, there is also whipping, stocks, pillory, branding, and amputation of a body part as sentences.
Flogging is a public whipping. Whipping stands are a common feature of Court squares, and usually carried out in the afternoons.
Stocks are a public display where ethe sentenced are locked into an uncomfortable semi-seated position, legs spread and held fast by wooden braces, head and hands firmly seated in similar, and open to the view of all, allowed on water and a crust of bread twice a day.
Pillory is the lashing of an individual to a post, typically in a cage, for all to see, for at least three days and not more than a fortnight. Those in a pillory are allowed only water, and only one cup each day.
Branding is fairly common, usually on the forehead, neck, or hands, but sometimes on the chest or back.
Amputation, usually a foot or hand, very rarely elbow or knee, is considered a “third strike” option.
Indenturing is a sentence, and some jurisdictions will impose stripping of name, status, wealth, and similar effects. An indenture is always for a set time in the Empire. The length of that time is always five years. No person may be indentured for longer than nine years, even one day. Indenture is recorded before the Trusty of the region itself, witnessed by at least two Imperial Enforcers, and often with some part of the person’s Clergy and possibly even an Agency representative. On the flip side, those charged with holding such Liens are responsible for the well-being of the enslaved. A meager ration, a place to sleep out of the elements, and clothing (including, explicitly, shoes) are required, and should a person die while under sentence, the holder of a lien is required to fulfill the time remaining on that person’s sentence. This does not mean that death of the indentured is uncommon. Merely that there is strong encouragement not to do so.
Lastly, for Sibola, Durango, Lyonese, Dorado, and Akadia, there is also Conscription. It is considered a death sentence for many, and it is not used unless there is a good reason, for they do not want unskilled or untrained bodies to serve in the Crusades.
Enslavement is not used anywhere within the Empire, the Sea Realms, or the Savage lands. It is used extensively in Lemuria, Duat, and Thule.
Prisons exist, and are used, but they are dark pits of despair where people who have no value or purpose to society are sent to die for the most part. The most famous prison is Tarterus, located in a hollowed-out mountain in Durango. It is overseen by a very cruel Warden and is said to be able to house as many as five thousand.
There is usually one Prison in each Realm – even Antilia has one. Prisons are used only when there is no other option and are not pleasant places. Inmates must not only provide everything for themselves, but they must also provide often unreasonable burdens to the Wardens, who in turn must send that to the government. It requires extreme criminality or violence to be sent to a Prison, and Prison terms have only one length: until death.
Jails are always used as short-term detainment, and a standard jail cell has a cot, a desk, a chair, facilities, fresh water brought in daily, at least three meals, and is usually a two-room space about 10 by 10 in total. Cells are typically located below ground, with no outside visibility or access. Common jail terms are either in days or months, and rarely longer than a year and a day.
Confinement is considered a chore, a bother, an inconvenience, and most of the Jails can hold no more than a dozen prisoners, though in the cities there are some that can hold up to several hundred. Jails involve chains, weights, and work parties that are charged with such activities as settlement sanitation and other things, because no one will let people just sit around.
All of this might lead one to suspect that Wyrlde’s people are lenient. They would be in error. Fines may be the most common form of punishment, but indenture is the preferred model for those crimes which may not deserve exile or death but are more serious than common crimes. There are no petty crimes on Wyrlde, however – theft is treated harshly.
There are secret Prisons, of course. Filthy pits where people are placed, usually via a sliding tube that is the only access point besides a lift for food delivered once every three days.