Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Alliance Constabulary

The Alliance expects each planet to govern itself, which means it expects each planet to have its own laws and to enforce them.  That seems simple enough, until one crashes headlong into the fact that alliance members regularly intermingle and each has their own law.  What happens when a nobleman and members of an independent corporation run afoul of the law on their planet?  How do the locals handle that arrest?  How do they handle people who have fled justice on their world and have tried to find sanctuary on some other world?

Where the Empire allows its law enforcement to be judge, jury and executioner, the Alliance most definitely does not. It demands rule of law, not just out of sheer righteousness, but also out of the necessity of so many different legal systems rubbing elbows with one another.  If you're going to accuse a nobleman of breaking the law, you must present evidence to the House that governs him if you want to see justice done!

The result of this is a wild variety of law enforcement systems and approaches to the law meant to deal with the veritable chaos of the Alliance legal system.  I offer a few ideas below.

The Alliance Constabulary

The Alliance does not have an explicit interstellar law enforcement agency. If the Senate suspects non-compliance or treachery from one of their own, they’ll send an inspector whose job it is to investigate, and that alone. He can report his findings back to the Senate, and he has the authority to arrest people on the behalf of the Senate, but he lacks the authority to deploy serious firepower on his own.

Instead, the Alliance typically relies on local law enforcement to protect the peace on its worlds, typically called a Constabulary. More than that, it allows each world to decide how law enforcement is handled on their own world. Each world is independently sovereign, after all, and thus may have its own laws (which typically vary from CR 2 to CR 4), and their own form of enforcement. However, the Alliance does demand certain considerations. The Alliance demands rule of law, that each sovereign member be allowed to be sovereign, and that one can only be judged by one’s peers. This means that houses worry about the law enforcement of houses, that planetary governments worry about the law enforcement of their citizens, etc. One can arrest someone belonging to another Alliance member, but doing so involves navigating treacherous waters and demands very tight evidence. Thus, most law enforcement in the Alliance has high requirements for proof of guilt, and focuses intently on collecting evidence to prove guilt.

Each Alliance member has their own form of law enforcement, but in practice, when discussing law enforcement in the Alliance, we discuss the law enforcement found on planetary governments, as organizations typically deal with them with internal audits and then punitive dismissals, while Houses have an entirely different form of justice and honor. When we discuss arrest, trials, prison and so on, our focus is on how planets within the Alliance handle these things.

Each world has its own form of justice and its primary concerns, and each planet’s code of justice is pulled between various poles, such as the need for actual justice or the control of the populace, as well as to fulfill their requirements to the Alliance, or their handling of criminal violators from other Alliance members in their local jurisdiction. Broadly, these can be broken down into a few categories:

Common Law: Common Law enforcement concerns itself less with law and more with justice. Their judiciary tends to use Trial by Judge, where the judge has considerable leeway to decide what needs to be done for himself and tends to be guided more by precedent and popular opinion than by strict reading of the legal code. Meanwhile, their constabularies tend to be deeply tied to the local populace; they tend to react to problems to neighborhoods and individuals and usually look first for impromptu solutions to crises and disputes before bringing the full force of the law. These tend to be the most common law enforcement systems on low CR worlds, Republics, or worlds far from the Senate with low populations and low law-enforcement budgets.

Procedural Law: Procedural laws focus on an extremely strict reading of the law as written. If a law turns out to be unjust, then it must still be enacted, but the populace should take this as a sign that they need to revisit the law! The law tends to be written to be carefully kept in accordance with the Alliance Concord. The judiciary tends to use Adversarial trials, but might use Trial By Judge. They take the need for evidence, the proper reading of rights and paperwork very seriously, which means that if they need to justify their actions before the senate, they can easily do so. These tend to be common law enforcement systems on high CR worlds, Corporate worlds, or worlds with enormous populations where you need a strict system to keep all of your constabulary in line.

Diplomatic Law: While the Alliance demands that all of its members must adhere equally to the rule of law, in practice, the law is more equal for some than for others. Diplomatic law enforcement tends to concern itself more with the practicalities of law enforcement, which means it must acknowledge the desires of the powerful elites in their midst more than they must acknowledge the demands of some abstract justice or true equality under the law. Their judiciaries tend to use Adversarial trials, but the trial itself is a technicality that rarely happens (and if it does, they’re usually sensational). Instead, the decision tends to be made by negotiation behind closed doors as both sides come to an agreement about matters of guilt and punishment. The Constabulary itself focuses on non-lethal means of defusing a crisis, and tends to be more concerned with the politics of an arrest than the procedure or the justice of it. As a result, while some law enforcement actions might be very questionable, they rarely get questioned by the Alliance, because such law enforcement inevitably subordinates itself to the will of the Alliance itself, rather than to the will of the people. These tend to be most common in Feudal or Monarchical worlds, where the will of the ruling class matters more than anything else, or on worlds that by their very nature, must integrate very carefully with Alliance will, such as trade worlds.

Constabulary Agendas

The Constabulary seek, first and foremost, to enforce the rule of law. They must walk within the lines laid out for them by the Senate and their alliance membership. This isn’t a particularly onerous burden, but it creates a culture that seeks high standards of proof, and demands honor from law enforcement. One corrupt cop might not cause a great issue, but a culture of corruption threatens to call a Senatorial inspector to see what’s going on with the local law enforcement, and if he can bring evidence of widespread corruption, this might result in sanctions or, worse, expulsion from the Alliance.

At the same time, Constabularies answer to local authorities, enforce local laws, and deal with local culture. As such, each planet has its own distinct flavor of law enforcement, with its own considerations. Fundamentally, law enforcement agencies in the Alliance seek to enforce local law and ensure local stability.

This can create conflicts with other Alliance members, especially in complex situations that involve numerous members in a single location, or when a criminal flees his world and takes shelter in another. As each member answers to their own laws, when a member violates the laws of another, careful diplomacy typically follows. The most common recourse is either to signal the problem to another member or expel the offender from the world before he causes too much of a problem. In cases where an offender has gone off world, the planetary government must attempt to persuade the allied member to extradite the criminal, or send in an agent (typically a marshal) to extract the offender. In all cases, high level constables must carefully engage in polite diplomacy and have a mountain of evidence to show to others, should they find themselves dragged before the Senate to explain why they’re going beyond their jurisdiction.

Because of the complexities of dealing with multiple members, the Right of Defense, and the strict requirements of evidence, the Alliance frowns on policemen who shoot first and ask questions later. The role of law enforcement in the Alliance is to investigate, report and arrest. While they certainly arm themselves and can fight when their lives or the lives of others are on the line, when it comes to real, large scale violence (such as invading a gangster den, or dealing with a hostage crisis), the Senate expects law enforcement to involve their local militia or, better, the aristocracy and their knights and regulars!

A serial killer stalks a downtrodden neighborhood in a bustling starport. The constabulary has uncovered evidence pointing to a recently arrived nobleman who has predatory predilictions and has evidently chosen to exercise them on the local poor. The noble’s House and his rivals both have a strong presence in the starport. Thus, the constabulary must investigate quietly, and they must gather enough evidence to bring it up to the noble’s house, or convince the government to expel the noble. Moreover, the constabulary must carefully ensure that this noble did the deed, and not that his enemies have planted evidence simply to discredit him. Finally, once he has this proof, he must present it before the noble’s house and persuade them to allow him to extradite him.

The local planet has their own way of doing things, which includes turning a blind eye to the actions of a powerful band of criminals and pirates who often engage in awful things, such as slavery. The local government tolerates this because the alternative would be a full blown war against the pirate nest, a war they honestly fear they would lose. However, after the kidnapping of a lady of a minor house, the Senate has caught wind of the piracy and has assigned an Inspector to investigate claims that they’ve corrupted the local government. The constabulary need to decide how they want to handle cooperation with the inspector: revealing their complicity may result in the sanctioning of their world, but it might also mean they can draw enough attention to the pirates to bring down the Houses and their military might to bear against the problem.

An interstellar corporation has a mining operation on the planet, and they work their laborers to the bone. They move within the law, especially their own law, and they have powerful allies in the Senate that prevent scrutiny. However, after safety disaster after safety disaster, or the disappearance of labor reformers on a planet, some of the locals have had enough, and have begun to attack corporate representatives. Local law enforcement must move to put down these riots and restore control, while the local authorities, equally incensed

A notorious criminal has escaped prison, stolen a freighter and fled off-world. The local constabulary must uncover the whereabouts of the criminal, and then find a way to retrieve him. They might attempt negotiation, to see if they can persuade the allied member to extradite the criminal, but failing that, they’ll need to handpick a marshal who is diplomatic enough to extract the criminal without causing an interstellar incident!

The Alliance Constabulary as Opposition

Local Alliance law enforcement tends to have decent security protocols, though they often rely on informal, rather than deeply technical, means of keeping their own safe. Thus, they tend to be BAD -2.

Common Law constabularies tend to have very modest offices, and might even have small, local offices that double as modest armories and small jails, enough for temporary holding of a few suspects for questioning, at least. They rarely have surveillance or complex locks. As such, they tend to rely on less formal means of security: a local sheriff might keep particularly sensitive documents at their home, or in some isolated location known only to them. Likewise, they’ll often disseminate information in informal discussions among themselves, which means one can rarely tap remote channels or hack into their systems for their files (which might be scattered on disorganized data pads, if they exist at all!). Typically, the best approach to uncovering vital information is to infiltrate the group, have a good understanding of the members, or find some way to eaves drop. While security is easy to break into (typically BAD -0), there’s often few rewards for those who succeed.

Diplomatic Law: Diplomatic constabularies pride themselves on discretion. They make embarrassing files quietly disappear, and they often negotiate the sensitive details of a case between one another. The only time files or documents get created is when they are strictly necessary, and when they do, the constabulary creates those documents to tell the story they (or their superiors) want them to tell. As a result, even if one gains illicit access to a diplomatic constabulary, they often cannot trust what they find. Accessing a diplomatic constabulary is often harder than it first seems. A focus on secrecy often means the diplomatic constabulary offices serve as a front, with real action taking place elsewhere (a local, discrete restaurant or in a secret facility), and some diplomatic constabulary offices even have “secret” passages, or simply hard-to-navigate corridors. Security, thus, tends to be light (BAD -0, usually), but navigating the labyrinthine traditions of the constabulary tends to be far more difficult!

Diplomatic constabularies, with their carefully massaged truths, tend to be uniquely well-suited to dealing with psions. Consider giving them a BAD -0 for apparent security, BAD -2 to -5 for their “secret” security and PSI-BAD of -2.

Procedural Law: Procedural constabularies record everything. Every warrant, arrest, budgetary concern, interrogation and prisoner transfer has proper paperwork filed on a system maintained somewhere on the constabulary premise. They also have extensive surveillance of their own offices: they monitor every visitor, every interrogation and, if possible, every arrest. All of this is evidence, both to keep local constables honest, and to convince the rest of the Alliance that their procedures are just! They lock all doors and have careful procedures about who may or may not access their armories, prisons, garages, etc. The excellent security protocols mean that a Procedural constabulary is at least BAD -2 when it comes to security, and often BAD -5 if well-financed. The downfall of a procedural constabulary is that one may “hack” the procedures using forged credentials or forged holocam footage, as superiors are more likely to rely on their security procedures rather than their instincts or personal knowledge. This also creates an enormous “weak point” vulnerability, as someone who has broken into a local constabulary has access to a wealth of files, credentials, weapons and secrets!

Serving in a Constabulary

Law Enforcement Ranks






Deputy Commissioner


Marshal, Sheriff, Chief Constable


Deputy, Chief Inspector


Sergeant, Inspector


Senior Constable, Senior Watchman


Constable, Watchman

The Constabulary serve only local planetary governments, so never exceed rank 6. A commissioner and his deputies govern an entire planet’s constabulary. Beneath them, the names vary, but typically, a Marshal is an agent that is familiar with off-world travel, and can be sent to provisionally to represent the planetary government in off-world investigations. Sheriffs and Chief Constables tend to remain local, and run municipal investigations. Some worlds have only Sheriffs and Chief Constables with no overarching structure beyond the laws passed by the government and the oversight provided by Senatorial inspectors! “Deputies” directly answer to their superiors and represent them in the field. Their titles always associate with their superior’s title (“Deputy Chief Constable” or “Deputy Sheriff” or “Deputy Marshal”) but most people simply call them “Deputy” for ease. An inspector (distinct from a Senatorial Inspector) is a detective, who might answer to a Chief Inspector, if enough exist on a force. Finally, all the actual policing on the ground is done by constables, who answer to senior constables, who answer to sergeants.

All Allied Law Enforcement characters have Legal Enforcement Powers (Constable) [5], which grants them local jurisdiction, the right to carry arms, to make arrests and to search with a warrant. Marshals may have Legal Enforcement Powers (Marshal) [10] which allows interstellar jurisdiction, but only in regards to crimes committed on their own worlds. They have the full backing of the government of their world, should the matter come before the Senate.

Favors of the Alliance Military

Entry Clearance (Pulling Rank p 13): A member of a Constabulary can petition for access to a local prison, or to precinct houses, or to armouries, etc.

Warrant (Pulling Rank p 14): The Alliance holds the rule of law to be sacred. Thus, any arrest or search must come with a warrant!

Consultation and Specialists (Pulling Rank p 15): Alliance Constabularies have experts in Area Knowledge (Local), Current Affairs (Local), Criminology, Forensics and Streetwise and, in some cases, even in Tracking!

Files and Record Searches (Pulling Rank p 15): All Constabularies must keep case files that they can present to the authorities to justify a warrant or to help with a conviction. As a result, most Constabularies have extensive records of crimes committed on their world, mountains of evidence one can sift through, and detailed files on every convict on hand.

Gear (Pulling Rank 16): Many (but not all!) constabularies arm their constables with standard gear. Constables can petition for an upgrade, superior vehicles, and so on.

Facilities (Pulling Rank 18): Not every constabulary can afford to have top-of-the-line forensics facilities, but each world tries to have at least one and, if they cannot, try to have access to an off-world one that will help prove a crime beyond a shadow of a doubt.

Muscle (Pulling Rank 19): All constabularies can at least put together some well-armed constables armed with neurolash batons if you need some help dealing with trouble.

The Cavalry (Pulling Rank 19): If necessary, a Constabulary can send out a posse of well-armed constables to help put down trouble, but no Constabulary in the Alliance has paramilitary constables. They’ll need to contact the local militia if military-scale hardware or air-support is necessary. Fortunately, many Constabularies keep contact with local militias for just this scenario!

Character Considerations

Requirements: Characters serving in a Constabulary must have a minimum of Wealth (Struggling) [-5], Law Enforcement Rank 0 [0], Legal Enforcement Powers (Constable) [5], and Duty (12 or less or 15 or less, Extremely Hazardous) [-15 to -20]. Marshals (Law Enforcement Rank 4) have Legal Enforcement Powers (Marshal) [10].

A local constabulary as a patron is worth 20 points, and -20 points as an enemy.

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