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The Petal Throne • View topic - Legal Question


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 Post subject: Legal Question
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 1:28 pm 
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I'm not sure which Forum this should go under, but as the two are often closely related, I've chosen "Politics" for my Legal question.
Consider a hypothetical situation:
The party of adventurers have discovered a small underground complex of some sort, investigated it, defeated the treasure guardian and bagged themselves some loot.
Does the owner of the land on which this mini-dungeon is situated have any claim on the treasure found there?

And to add some further complications... We know that a lot of the land around the cities (the "open" hexes on the map) is mostly farmland and is owned by various institiutions like Temples or even the Imperium itself. In fact most of the population are farmers of one sort or another and vast tracts of land are needed to grow the food for all the city people.
So, what if in this hypothetical underground complex the party discover evidence that it used to be something to do with one of the Temples, say Ksarul but the land is currently owned by the Imperium. As the Temple of Ksarul pre-dates the Empire, would they have a claim on treasure as well?
Obviously you can extend this to other situations. For instance, the most interesting magical scrolls will be Engsvanyali or earlier, obviously pre-dating the current Empire, as do some of the Clans. Who has claim on a scroll dating from the middle Engsvanyali period, written on (to pick a silly example) Clan of the Joyous of Vra headed vellum found in a dungeon on Imperial land?
I think you get the idea here and I think it will be mostly dependent on who actually knows about it. But that itself can present plot hooks if someone else finds out about it later on.
The players think it's a simple treasure grab expedition, loot some old underworld place, do the right thing and donate some of the money and magical items to their respective Clans and Temples. They think that's the end of it only to be hassled a few months later by a representative from a rival Clan/Temple or an Imperial messenger claiming prior ownership based on the fact that the characters didn't ask permission from the land owner before slaughtering the Zrne and stealing every last qirgal in the place.
Any opinions?

Gizmo

PS Sorry about not putting in the correct accented characters, I'm new at this. How do you put accents in?
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 08, 2007 11:55 pm 
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Sounds like good solid Tekumel play to me. :)
I don't think there's anything official on the "mineral rights" that come with land-ownership. In theory no one owns land except the Emperor, all land is held as leases or fiefs of some kind by the grace of the Petal Throne. Whether a lease-holder has rights to what is found below the surface may depend on the lease. Of course there are plenty of holdings that have not changed hands since before the founding of the Empire, the terms here are likely to be less formalized, but more strongly enforced...
One factor that might arise is who owns the surface access to the underground complex.

You're right: much depends on who finds out about the loot, and how badly they want it.

One fundamental principle of the Empire of the Petal Throne is that the Emperor owns everything. Everything. An Imperial official could, at least in theory, confiscate the entire haul, every last corroded qirgal, no matter who owns the land it is on (or under). If he thought he was getting insufficient cooperation from the clan he was dealing with, and he had sufficient authority, he could confiscate the entire contents of the clanhouse, revoke their leases, and sell them all into slavery "for failure to cooperate in an Imperial investigation."

It is the influence of clans and temples that (at least sometimes) prevents greedy officials from doing just that. I think it is also true that Imperial law requires that finders of any artifacts of the Ancients must give their finds to the Palace of the Realm without delay. So depending on what they found, there would be more or less Imperial interest. At the very least, the taxman cares.

Any temple (except maybe Dra) would be interested in news of a lost underground complex that was associated with their deity or their rites. How strong their legal claim would be in court might have little to do with points of law, and more to do with the relationship between the clans involved, the temples involved, and if/when the Palace of the Realm became involved. The Imperial Civil Courts are very slow, the legal system is complex, and the judges are usually quite amenable to bri-, er, inducements. Much might also depend on the monetary and ritual value of the items in question. A few old kaitars here and there might not be a big deal, but ancient blessed statuettes, or scrolls of old prayers, or even mundane ornaments owned by a famed holy person, might be cause for strong and immediate action.

Of course not all temples would move in the open on something like this. The Temple of Ksarul in particular is prone to extreme subtlety. The local high priest who learns of it might keep it under his hat, preferring to assign some junior priests and temple guards to investigate and then claim credit himself for the find.

Several temples, notably the Dark Trinity, Dlamelish, Qon, and Thumis, might be interested even if the complex wasn't one of theirs, because the have more general interest in what goes on in the Underworlds. They might even be willing to intercede on behalf of explorers, if there was something of enough interest down there. Consider the fate of the artifacts in Man of Gold, with half a dozen temples squabbling over them. This doesn't have to be a matter of high temple policy though. Maybe the local administrative priest of Thumis is looking to marry a clan elder and would do a favor, or the high ritual priest of Sarku at the local temple has a brother whose investment scheme was spoiled by a tricky Ksarulite, and he holds a grudge.

Of course yielding gracefully, and surrendering nearly all the loot, could be far more profitable. One might earn the favor of power people in one's clan, in the Palace of the Realm, or in a Temple...

Bottom line is that it is totally plausible for this to get just as complex as you'd like it to be. :)
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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 10, 2007 11:56 am 
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So I was right to post this under "Politics" then. :)
I wasn't aware that the power of an Imperial administrator could be so all-encompassing and arbitrary. I suppose there are some checks and balances in the system to prevent abuse by greedy officials. Like the fact that they don't get to keep the things they confiscate, for one.
I get the impression that the whole bureaucratic system is corrupt by our 21st Century Western standards but because "inducements" are endemic in Tsolyani society it's regarded as normal.
Well, i'm never going to have the problem of characters having too much money, am i? There'll always be some Imperial tax official nosing around if a character starts attracting attention by spending real money.

From the viewpoint of a game referee it's a good thing to be able to have the Palace of the Realm in the background and deploy the force of the Imperial bureaucracy when it's most inconvenient for the players... :twisted:

Gizmo
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 11, 2007 2:49 am 
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