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The Lord's Court was the highest court in the city of Waterdeep in the 14th century DR.[3][4][5][2]

LeadershipEdit

In the mid-to-late 14th century DR, the Lord's Court was chaired by Open Lord Piergeiron, and attended by two or more other Lords of Waterdeep (and no less than two) as well as two Magisters.[3][5][2] Although there were sixteen Lords (as of 1357 DR), it was very rare for more than seven to attend at the same time. They wore identical robes and masks to hide their identities,[3][6] the Open Lords like Piergeiron might show their faces.[7]

BaseEdit

The Lord's Court normally met in Piergeiron's Palace, in a large chamber on the second floor accessed via the grand staircase from the entry hall.[1][8]

ActivitiesEdit

The Lord's Court handled all the most severe crimes in Waterdeep's Code Legal, such as murders and suspicious deaths, rape, misuse of magic, and disputes over succession and inheritance.[3][4][5][2] A head of one of the city's noble families could only proclaim a chosen heir (if not their eldest child) in the Lord's Court, where it could be heard and confirmed by the Lords.[9][10]

In addition, citizens sentenced by a Magister in the Common Courts could appeal to the Lord's Court within two days, but appeals usually failed, with most judgements upheld or merely slightly rephrased, owing to the quality of the Magisters.[3][4][5][2] Persons bringing frivolous appeals typically received stiffer fines than they would have got from the Magisters.[4] Justice in the Lord's Court was said to be swift and sure.[7]

The Lord's Court formerly heard civil disputes around 1358 DR,[7] but by 1372 DR these and lesser crimes were handled by the Common Courts.[2]

In the time of Lord Baeron, a person was given the length of time it took for a short candle to burn down in which to speak.[11][12]

The Lord's Court was held around highsun each day.[3][5]

HistoryEdit

The Lord's Court was established by Lord Baeron after he took power in 1273 DR, with the function of correcting and overruling the judgements of the Magisters (whom he'd also instituted), and told the people this did not mean to doubt or dismiss the Magisters' rulings. He encouraged people to speak freely and honestly before the court, without fear of embarrassment or reprisal, and to answer questions or counterarguments put to them by anyone present. He desired that legitimate grievances would be heard, no matter minor the issue or how humble the claimant.[11][12]

On Alturiak 1 of the Year of the Bloodbird, 1346 DR, the Lord's Court heard the case of the Phyrgoth, who'd been charged with attempting to abduct a woman from the Copper Cup festhall. However, the woman in question supported the manipulative mage in her testimony, claiming she was going to marry him. Therefore, the apparently penitent Phyrgoth was only convicted of resisting arrest, fined for damages to the festhall made during the arrest, and imprisoned for a month in Castle Waterdeep. His crimes only grew thereafter.[13]

The growth of Waterdeep in the mid–1300s DR saw a burgeoning number of civil disputes, and hearing these took up increasing amounts of the Lord's Court's time. Therefore, in the Year of Shadows, 1358 DR, a band of lawyers approached Open Lord Piergeiron with an offer. They promised to streamline the handling of civil cases and pushed Piergeiron for an agreement. Unwisely, he quickly agreed, signing a contract between the lawyers and the city. Under it, the lawyers would handle civil disputes and enforce the judgements they secured. However, the lawyers proved to be more interested in the strict letter of the law than in its spirit or the circumstances of a case. They agreed with their fellow lawyers in cases, while Piergeiron simply made rulings based on their recommendations.[7]

Lord's Court 2

Khelben Arunsun addresses Lord Piergeiron in the judge's chair.

Khelben Arunsun, being no fan of lawyers, sought to evict them from the city. When the Lord's Court heard the case of a marriage contract signed by Onyx the Invincible under false pretenses (thinking he was signing an autograph) and extenuating circumstances (being drunk and distracted by Drusilla), his court-appointed counsel declined to argue and both lawyers cared only for the words on the contract. Piergeiron ruled in their favor, declaring the marriage contract valid and to be fulfilled to the letter. Khelben eventually forced the lawyers to renege on their contract by being unable to enforce the marriage, and evicted them from the city.[7] Indeed, by 1372 DR, barristers were banned from practicing in Waterdeep, but were reluctantly tolerated in the form of professional witnesses and counselors. Meanwhile, civic matters were heard in the Common Courts rather than the Lord's Court.[2]

At the Lord's Court on Nightal 15 in the Year of the Shield, 1367 DR, Khelben Arunsun publically revealed himself before the people (including five guild-masters and four noble patriarchs) to be one of the Masked Lords of Waterdeep, then immediately resigned. He was just as quickly replaced by a new (apparently) Masked Lord.[14][15]

In Uktar of the Year of the Tankard, 1370 DR, a group of Harpers and their supporters faced the Lord's Court and requested that Khelben Arunsun be forced to appear and explain himself over illicit dealings with the Zhentarim. However, unanimously and simultaneously, all five Lords present, as well as two Magisters, answered "No." Among them, Piergeiron affirmed his trust in the Blackstaff.[16]

CustomsEdit

The Lord's Court was customarily closed on Eleasis 1, which was the birthday of the city's first Lord, Ahghairon.[17][18]

In the week of Waukeentide in early Tarsakh, the day of Leiruin was the customary time for all guildmasters in Waterdeep to meet in the Lord's Court and renew their guild charters for another year. The Lords also raised misdeeds in commerce.[19]

On Shieldmeet every four years, all sixteen Lords gathered in the Lord's Court to reaffirm the Lords' Rule.[6]

ReputationEdit

A session of the Lord's Court was typically the only place and time in which the ordinary people of the city saw the Lords of Waterdeep.[3][6]

AppendixEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 96. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 14. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Ed Greenwood (1987). Waterdeep and the North. (TSR, Inc), pp. 15, 17. ISBN 0-88038-490-5.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), A Grand Tour of the Realms. (TSR, Inc), p. 105. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Campaign Guide”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 77. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Campaign Guide”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 68. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 Dan Mishkin (November 1990). “Lawyers!”. Advanced Dungeons & Dragons #23 (DC Comics), pp. 9–10,23.
  8. Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Campaign Guide”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 47. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
  9. Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 59. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
  10. Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Who's Who in Waterdeep”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 6. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Ed Greenwood (1987). Waterdeep and the North. (TSR, Inc), p. 14. ISBN 0-88038-490-5.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Campaign Guide”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 28. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
  13. Steven E. Schend (September 1996). Undermountain: Maddgoth's Castle. (TSR, Inc), p. 4. ISBN 0-7869-0423-2.
  14. slade, Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Steven E. Schend, Paul Jaquays, Steve Perrin (April 1996). The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (The Wilderness). (TSR, Inc), p. 12. ISBN 0-7869-0391-0.
  15. Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Campaign Guide”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 35. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
  16. Steven E. Schend, Sean K. Reynolds and Eric L. Boyd (June 2000). Cloak & Dagger. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 20, 22. ISBN 0-7869-1627-3.
  17. Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Adventurer's Guide to the City”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 27. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
  18. Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 15. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
  19. Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Adventurer's Guide to the City”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 29. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.

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