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Basic laws and ATC (Air Traffic Control) in a vaguely medieval fantasy setting.

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This is actually a two-pronged question.

 

First: What are a good general set of laws for your typical European medieval fantasy setting? I'm going to be running an adventure for a group of what I assume are all first-time tabletop RPGers and would like a rudimentary legal framework that not only helps them understand how to behave as their characters would, but also helps them more easily buy into the act of "adult make believe".

 

Secondly: Has anyone here ever had a city of theirs impose restrictions on who can or can't fly in the space above the buildings? When you've got balloons, airships, your garden variety mages, hotshot youths on magic carpets, winged elf tourists, ornery semi-corporeal undead, and druid pranksters dropping "bombs" as shapeshifted hawks on the urban expansionist oligarchs - all sharing the same stretch of aerial territory - even simply moving from Point A to Point B can quickly become an odyssey.

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In my Fantasy Hero campaign, winged mounts are common, as are skyships.  Most major cities require the mounts to be stabled outside the city. The skyships are also required to berth outside the cities.  Within the cities, thin steel wires are strung from the tops of the tallest buildings. This is to deter any aerial attacks.  Ballistae and crews are positioned throughout the cities as "anti-aircraft" defenses.  So far, the players haven't tried anything stupid...so far.

 

Messantia.jpg

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I think the laws you use should depend on the behaviours you wish to encourage in your players.

 

Don't want them to slaughter every NPC who look s at them sideways? Have a law against murder.  Also consider "peace bindings" on weapons or outright bans on weapons inside town limits.

 

Laws against arson are important. It's funny to watch but every new player goes through the phase where  "let's just burn the whole thing down" is their go to solution. At least in my experience.  With a whole table of new players I reckon you will have this in spades...

 

But more importantly be able to enforce the laws. If the PCs can easily slaughter the whole town guard the laws are irrelevant in any case.

 

re. air traffic control.

Maybe consider what sort of laws govern sea ports and apply them. Things like docking rights and fees. Ships standing off in the roads, out of the way, waiting for their turn to land. Requirements to the  use the city pilots for landing.

 

I can't see these rules being needed for individuals flying under their own power, no more than a farmer plodding into town with a sack over their shoulder would be subject to traffic regulation. Although there might be customs laws that are applied... in which case fliers would have to land at specific landing strips. How to distinguish between fliers from outside the city and those whose journeys are entirely within city limits then becomes an issue.

 

Another thing that occurs to me is that laws are probably not going to be applied with universal fairness. Let's face it, that doesn't happen in our modern, post-enlightenment world. Aint happening in middle ages land. So locals, who know the town guard, maybe childhood friends or even relatives, get a light hand. Out of towners face much more rigorous law enforcement. Certain types of foreigners, merchants really, may get special privileges if the local government is trying to encourage trade. Or discourage trade. And as always one law for the rich, another for the poor.

 

Just some random thoughts. 🙂

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31 minutes ago, drunkonduty said:

I think the laws you use should depend on the behaviours you wish to encourage in your players.

 

Don't want them to slaughter every NPC who look s at them sideways? Have a law against murder.  Also consider "peace bindings" on weapons or outright bans on weapons inside town limits.

 

Laws against arson are important. It's funny to watch but every new player goes through the phase where  "let's just burn the whole thing down" is their go to solution. At least in my experience.  With a whole table of new players I reckon you will have this in spades...

 

"Civil, but ready for violence." about sums up the atmosphere I want to encourage. On a scale of one to one-hundred, with "one" meaning "absolute evil" and "one-hundred" meaning "absolute good", the homebrewed kingdom I have rolling around my noggin ranks at about an eighty; stable, with a legacy of peace...yet not perfect.

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I'll add another random thought or two: 

  • Modern air traffic has routes regulated at different elevations to avoid mid-air mishaps. You may consider having low altitude "local" traffic, and mid-altitude personal flight devices (or any other sort of flight like wings, for that matter), and higher altitude international and trade routes. 
  • You may consider air ports outside of the city limits to cut down on the traffic, or you may have certain air traffic control towers where air travelers are required to check in. Again, at different altitudes to minimize traffic bottlenecks.
  • You may also consider having air ships dock at specific towers, to be offloaded and "parked" elsewhere by some sort of aviation enforcement agency. Air travel could check in at the city, and then have valets or some such folks place the vehicles in dedicated and protected port facilities. I'd think this would have to include pegasūs and dragons, etc., as well, since who wants a dragon hitched outside of the local tavern (see drunkonduty's observation about arson). 

That's all I've got on my mind for now. This is a great idea! I like the possibilities!

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Sharn: City of Towers (a supplement for 3.5 D&D you might be able to find online) explicitly discusses the issue of ATC because the city sits in a magical field that enhances flight magic, making it exceptionally common there (and also allowing the city to be built-up until its towers rose thousands of feet in the air). Eberron (the setting it comes from) has airships, many of which dock in Sharn.

It goes into lots of little details, like that wizards are paid a reward for casting Feather Fall on a someone falling.

There is also a world-building guide written by Gary Gygax that goes into the legal systems of a magical medieval society.

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City officials frown at excessively drunken nature priests who litter the central park with fully-grown redwoods during the Summer Fertility Festival.

 

How would you term a law that prohibits the conjuration of permanent objects or plants (they're not objects in the strictest sense, but they count for the purpose of this discussion) in a restricted area? This decree would include most public and private property.

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You could call it a "No Call Zone" (Calling being a common synonym for conjuring). Though most such urban locations are likely to restrict or prohibit the use of all sorts of spells.

 

Flight spells would be restricted to given airspaces to (hopefully) prevent crashes and dropped objects from causing excessive property damage. Fire and Illusion spells would almost universally be banned.

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