Law Enforcement

Enforcement of the law in Ud games (Arnhack, Arnspiel, Forgotten Songs, Meskellian, aka most of of my settings) is a pretty decentralized affair, and is mostly handled by the guilds.


Enforcers are how various legal entities ensure the smooth operation of settlements. They can work for guilds, nobles, land owners, warlords… anyone with resources and/or property that they’d like to protect. Enforcers typically wear a cloak and clasp that identify them, and are often unarmed though cudgels or iron knuckles aren’t uncommon. They are skilled in intimidation and persuasion and each maintains a handful of contacts relevant to their work.

An enforcer’s day is usually comprised of wandering around their jurisdiction, keeping an eye out, and maintaining their ties with the community.


There are five main crimes: property damage, theft, mutilation, agitation, and encroachment.

Property damage and theft are dealt with first by beating the perpetrator, then by collecting restitution. This can be replacement or return of the item, or paying its value (determined by guild trade standards). Belongings may be offered up for their value. If restitution cannot be made, a more thorough beating takes place, usually involving a broken bone or two. The offended party almost always takes the offending party on as a servant (to be housed and fed in professional apprentice-standard living quarters) until the debt is paid, but in rare cases where they do not accept this, they may call for amputation. If requisite restitution is in the order of silver, a finger, ear, or nose is removed. If gold, a hand or foot. If platinum, an arm or leg. If ten platinum or more, death is usually called for. Throat-slitting is the standard execution method, the body disposed of however that settlement handles its refuse.

Mutilation is damage to a person outside of self-defense which could not reasonably be expected from a fist fight. Its punishment is a thorough beating and the amputation of both legs. In cases of irreversible damage, execution may be called for.

Agitation is causing a public disturbance, and all involved can expected a thorough beating.

Encroachment is the practicing of a trade that one is not licensed for through guild channels. The general approach to this is a thorough beating and confiscation of all goods involved in the crime.

Punishment of crime is usually carried out on the spot, and all enforcers are licensed for beating and confiscation/collection. One in ten enforcers are licensed for amputation, and carry handaxes for this purpose. One in a hundred are licensed for execution and carry a razor sharp steel knife. Punishment is quite unceremonious; carried out immediately in any location, and then everyone goes about their day. Amputations are done roughly by the axe, and no medical assistance is provided after.


Mutual unarmed combat is not a crime. Enforcers will keep an eye on it from the sidelines, but unless it threatens to damage property, someone draws a weapon, someone is being maimed, it’s too one-sided, or a crowd is forming (agitation), they’ll keep back. If it gets out of hand, enforcers will storm in breaking it up and beating anyone who gets in their way.


Guilds are expected to maintain order within their professions, and some overlap does occur. Assassin’s guilds crack down on cutthroats and alchemist’s guilds keep the drug trade under control, for example. There are guilds for every trade. If things get out of hand, guilds can expect the nobility (who control the military) to pick up the slack, and this is not desirable. Guilds want to keep their power, so they have gotten very efficient at regulating their domains.

Every noble house controls its own land and military force and like the guilds are considered to be more or less sovereign in their own walls. Different cities have varying dynamics on how they resolve conflicts, but most comfortably settled into utilizing house assassins to keep their squabbles deniable (which keeps dinner parties more or less pleasant) and out of the streets.