Ijma’urf: Concensus of the Common Law

We had a couple of requests after our podcast for a transcript of the piece. So here it is:

Ijma’urf One of the things I love about the setting of The Third Horizon is that it doesn’t have one overarching government, no Alliance, no Federation, no Empire, evil or otherwise. The clash of cultures, Firstcome and Zenithian, Dabaran and Zalosian, creates all sorts of story opportunities. If your players choose the role of lawmen of any sort, there is all sorts of story fun to be had when a case takes them out of their jurisdiction. But there maybe times when the bureaucracy of jurisdiction gets in the way of a good story, rather than adding fun complications.

When my players chose to become bounty hunters, I wanted a framework which would allow the story to take them across the horizon. Forgive my pronunciation, as I share it with you. The ijma’urf (consensus of the common law) is a Firstcome initiative, a complex web of treaties and agreements designed to protect local laws and customers from being superseded by Zenithian legal structures. It’s most tangible face is a system of licensing police, detectives, bounty-hunterskk and debt collectors to operate across jurisdictions.

It costs 100birr per Coriolis Cycle to maintain an Ijma’urf licence, but that also gives access to a database of bounties, private detective jobs, and appeals for pay-cops. The database is also meant to be an intelligence sharing network, but as might be expected, where lawmen are also competing for jobs, they are reluctant to share valuable information.

An Ijma’urf license does not by any means guarantee the co-operation of the local authorities, but it may delay arrest, or shorten jail terms if the holders manage to get themselves in trouble. What it allows is interpreted differently in different jurisdictions, but it does at least (in most places) identify the holder as an agent of the courts/law. Local law enforcement authorities usually resent Ijma’urf when off-worlders invoke it in their patch, but they are eager to demand it if a case takes them outside their jurisdiction.

Of the Factions, supporters of Ijma’urf include the Free League, The Legion, Ahlam’s Temple, the Church of the Icons and the Nomad Federation. It also has somewhat less enthusiastic support from the Consortium, who constantly seek to reform it. The Draconites and the Order of the Pariah ignore it. (Of course it has no influence over Zalos.) The Syndicate of course, are absolutely against it. And the Zenithian Hegemony recognise it for what it is, an attempt to thwart their ambitions. They seek to abolish it, but while it exists, begrudginglyq accept it in some places (for example, the monolith).

Despite their paymasters’ attitude towards it, the Judicators are enthusiastic signatories. The Weeping Matriarchy are also participants. The Coriolis Guard are less enthusiastic but see its benefits (Special Branch consider themselves above this particular law).

When I presented this on our podcast, Dave suggested that if players invested in an Ijma’urf license, then it would cost the GM Darkness points to put any burocratic obstacles in their way? But then I thought, in the spirt of the game, burocratic challenges should probably cost darkness points anyway. But how many? Looking at the list on page 345 of things you can spend darkness points on, the costs range between one and three points. Activating a ship problem for example, costs 2DP, while bringing a character’s problem into the story only costs 1DP. I like Dave’s idea that a licence would make the DP cost more expensive for the GM, so if I also want to define a cost for people without a licence then, within the range of three points, my options are limited, or should I say, made very simple.

At any spaceport, Emir’s palace, Coriolis Guard office or similar, there exist small-minded people, who delight in making things difficult for PCs. If the GM want’s to activate them, and make things more complicated the players, it costs just 1DP. PC’s can invoke Ijma’urf (with a paid for licence, or, if they fancy their bar-room lawyering skills, with a Manipulation roll) to overcome that difficulty. If the GM wants to raise the stakes, and persist with the burocracy despite the licence, then they will need to spend an additional 2DP. So how does that sound?


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