Gor Information

Laws and Legal Principles of Gor
Music & Instruments
Myths and Legends
Time, Money, Measurement
FM2-Scribes, Builders, Physicians
Phys Info
Phys Info 2
Phys Info 3
Arms and Armor
FM4-Merchants, Slavers
Merchant Law
Economy and Pricing
FM5-Lower Castes
slave names
History (fictional)
Entertainment & Holidays
Misc. Info

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    There are two primary court systems in the cities of Gor, that of the civil government and that of the Initiate Caste. The areas of their jurisdiction are sometimes vague though the Initiates claim supreme authority in all matters. The amount of actual involvement of the Initiates in each city will vary depending on the Caste's power in that specific city. They obviously have a stronger hold in some areas than others. For the most part, they will definitely claim jurisdiction in any religious related matter. They will ignore petty matters that they feel are beneath their worry. On Gor, white is associated with impartiality and justice. That is part of the justification for the Caste color of the Inititates.

     In a city, you are most likely to encounter the legal officials of the civil government, be it the forces of the Ubar or Administrator. Though a Ubar and Ubara possesses the power to change any law by decree, they are still subject to their own laws. If they violate a law, they cannot retroactively change it to avoid the violation. An Administrator does not have absolute power. He must work closely with the High Council of the city.

     A city will have certain buildings set aside for legal functions. There might be a Cylinder of Documents where legal and offical documents are securely kept. There may also be a Cylinder of Justice where trials and punishments are conducted. The Cylinder of Justice in Ar is topped with a large impaling spear. Many of the legal offices may also be located within the Central Cylinder.

     There are a number of legal officials who help administer and enforce the laws. As attorneys are a subcaste of the Scribes, it stands to reason that other legal officials may also be part of the Caste of Scribes. There are magistrates, judges, who wear special robes and fillets to mark their office. They also carry a wand of their office and some of those wands carry concealed blades. Merchant magistrates wear white robes, trimmed with gold and purple, and they administer and enforce Merchant law. There are several other officers that are types of magistrates such as aediles, archons, praetors, quaestors and prefects. Those terms are ancient Roman terms though their meanings have changed some on Gor. An aedile is generally an official in charge of public buildings. An archon is an official in charge of identifying the owners of lost slaves. If no owner can be found, the archon will sell them. A praetor is a high ranking magistrate. A quaestor is a financial official. Prefects act similarly to the notary publics of Earth. They certify the validity of documents and signatures with a seal. They also have the power to enact some legal enslavements, such as when a female debtor cannot pay her debts.

    Little is said about the presumptions inherent in trials on Gor. There does not appear to be any bail and a defendant seems to be imprisoned until his trial. Though a High Caste person might be simply held within a well furnished and supplied room. From the scant information in the books on trials, it seems a person is presumed innocent until found guilty. It does not seem that the accused must prove his innocence but rather that the state must prove his guilt. This is only speculation though.

    Punishments on Gor can be quite severe. Capital punishment is common for a wide variety of offenses and some of those offenses are not what many on Earth would consider serious. Impalement is a common for both free men and women. Men would be bound but women are usually just set upon the spear. It is not necessary to bind them as they can't reach the spear or get the leverage to remove themselves. Such a fate gives people time to consider and repent their ways. Slaves though would not be impaled. They would more likely be thrown to a sleen as meat. In the northern forests, hanging and hamstringing are common punishments. Hamstrung people have the two large tendons behind each knee cut. The legs may then no longer be contracted and become basically useless. You can't even stand erect anymore. For particularly heinous offenses, torture may precede death. The Frame of Humiliation is a unique punishment. The Frame is a hollow floating, wooden frame to which the condemned person is tied. He is then set adrift on the Vosk River. He may then died of exposure, dehydration, or be eaten by tharlarion or other carnivorous reptiles. Custom dictates that you are spit upon before being placed into the water.

     The following laws and legal principles are common in many Gorean cities. This is not an exhaustive list but only a sampling of relevant ones listed in the books. Please remember that not all of these laws will be in force in every city. Cities may also have other laws that are not listed here. Please be aware of the laws in each city you visit as ignorance of the law is not a defense.

1. "…the laws of a city extend no further than its walls." (Outlaw of Gor, p.50) For the most part, once you step outside the walls of your city, the city laws no longer apply and the city cannot protect you. But, many cities claim sovereignty over the lands surrounding their city. They may try to enforce their will upon the surrounding terrain. That is only as effective as the strength of the city. There are also exceptions for certain locations outside a city such as a banner keep. In that establishment, the laws of the governing city are in force.

2. The theft of a Home Stone is punishable by extreme torture followed by death in boiling oil. It may be the most heinous crime that exists on Gor. But, it is also considered the greatest of glories to steal an enemy's Home Stone.

3. A person might be slain for not standing when speaking of his own Home Stone. Home Stones are vitally important to Goreans.

4. It is illegal to take any maps of a city out of that city or for someone outside of the city to make their own map of the city.

5. The nonperformance of the citizenship ceremony, within one year of reaching intellectual majority, is punishable by expulsion from the city. This applies only to those individuals born within the city or born to citizens of the city. There is no stated age for intellectual majority but from circumstantial evidence it appears that sixteen years old is a possibility. There might also be a requirement that some other citizens, non-blood relations, vouch for you. You may also be questioned by a committee of citizens to determine your worthiness for the city. The oath of allegiance involves the touching or kissing of the Home Stone, the swearing of oaths, and maybe the sharing of bread, fire and salt. A laurel wreath and mantle of citizenship are then conferred upon the new citizen.

6. Retaining your citizenship is contingent upon you attending certain public ceremonies and assemblies. Citizenship is a priviliege, not a right, and thus it must be earned. You are expected to owe your allegiance to the city and work at supporting that city.

7. Every citizen must journey, at least once, to the Sardar Mountains before they are twenty-five years old. The Initiates keep track of who goes and who doesn't. Initiates teach that misfortunes hit a city if their youth avoid this obligation. Sometimes the Initiates ask you to go at a certain time. In some cities and islands, such as Teletus, your family will receive a gold tarn disk if you go when the Initiates ask you.

8. Anyone who refuses to practice their livelihood or strives to alter their caste without the consent of the Ubar, Administrator or High Council is an outlaw and subject to impalement. All outlaws are forbidden entrance into the city and subject to impalement. Panther girls and talunas are considered outlaws.

9. Caste may be legally changed. In a Free Companionship, the woman can take the Caste of the man. Otherwise to change caste, the High Council of the city must approve the change, based on your qualifications for the new caste and the willingness of the new caste to accept you.

10. It is a capital offense for a locksmith to make an unauthorized copy of a key.

11. A Free Companionship lasts for a single year. If it is not renewed at the end of that time, it dissolves. Slavery and death of one of the parties will serve to dissolve the Companionship early than that. A woman does not change her name in a Free Companionship. The books do not say if the contract can be willingly dissolved prior to the year end if the parties so agree. It seems likely most Goreans would simply wait out the year.

12. Anyone who enters a city without permission is punishable by impalement.

13. Assassins, bearing the mark of the black dagger on their forehead, are permitted entrance into a city without interference.

14. Heralds are immune from interference by any within a city. Heralds bear a gold slash on the left temple of their helmet or headgear. Ambassadors possess this same immunity.

15. Players, Poets, Musicians and Singers may freely enter a city.

16. Thievery is illegal and harshly punished. The first offense is punished by an ear notching. For a second offense, the punishment depends on the sex of the offender. Males are punished by the loss of their left hand and both feet. Females are punished by enslavement.

17. There is a method of dispute resolution called the "rite of knives." Unfortunately, there is little information on its application. It is essentially a fight to the death and is used in place of a trial. The fight may be just with daggers. As it is called a "rite", it may not have any true legal effect but may instead be an ancient custom. This might even be a part of the Warrior Code.

18. To claim land outside of a city for your own, you must place a yellow stake of claimancy into the ground during the morning. You must then wait and protect that land until sunset. At that time then, the land becomes yours and you may lay your Home Stone there.

19. Merchant Law is the only common legal arrangement that exists between different cities. Gorean cities are fiercely independent. The Sardar Fairs help to standardize Merchant Law. Merchant magistrates help administer and enforce this law.

20. Patents and copyrights are available in a city but their power extends only as far as the city walls.

21. Forgery of a city seal on products is illegal.

22. Each city commonly holds a Merchant's Foot and Stone in the Chamber of the Council and are available for Merchants to verify their own personal measuring devices. Any Merchant found to be using a deceptive Foot or Stone will be punished.

23. Crests, signs and family emblems can be registered and their use legally restricted.

24. Women in the Physician's Caste cannot practice medicine until they have first bore two children. In many cities, at age fifteen, women place two bracelets on their left wrist. One is removed for each child that is born.

25. Robes of concealment and veils may or may not be required by law for free women. In some cities, it is only custom while in others it is actual law. Even where it is only custom, it is strongly recommended that all free women wear robes and veils in public. 26. Face stripping a free woman, forcefully removing her veils, is a serious crime.

27. Weapons are not permitted within a Temple.

28. Shaving or slicing off metal from any coin is considered to be theft and fraud. This debases the value of the coin.

Slavery Laws

29. By law, the Slavers' Caste is a subcaste of the Merchants' Caste. The Slavers though like to consider themselves a separate Caste.

30. Slaves are considered property, on the same level as animals. Their owner may do anything they wish to them without repercussion. An owner can even kill his own slave with impunity.

31. Slaves may not own anything, including a name. Even though they may use goods, they do not own them.

32. No Player, Musician, Poet or Singer Caste member may be enslaved within a city limits. Of course, they can still be arrested, imprisoned, tortured and executed. They are simply immune from enslavement.

33. It is illegal for slaves to play Kaissa. It is considered an insult to free men, not only for a slave to play but even to touch the pieces.

34. In any legal proceedings, the testimony of slaves may be taken by torture. This is solely in the discretion of the courts.

35. The property of one who becomes a slave is transferred to the nearest male relative or the nearest relative if no male exists, or to the city, or a guardian. Even if the slave is later freed, the property cannot ever be recovered.

36. If a slave owner dies, his slaves pass to his heirs or if he has no heirs, to the state.

37. Capture rights pertain to all property, including slaves. Active possession of a slave is regarded as crucial by the law. A slave must fully serve anyone who possesses her, even a thief. If the slave runs away from the thief, she is considered to be a runaway. Free women are permitted to escape from a captor as long as they have not yet been enslaved. The point of this law is to keep slaves in bondage and to make men bold. The institution of capture is honored by all cities, provided the females captured are those of an enemy.

38. If a lost, stolen or runaway slave is taken by another person, the original master has only one week to regain his property before legal title passes to the new master. The slave remains the property of the original master only for that one week if he does not regain possession.

39. For a slave to runaway from her owner is a serious offense. For the first offense, the penalty is commonly a severe beating. But she is only allowed that single mistake. The penalty for a second offense is usually ham stringing.

40. A free woman can sell herself into slavery. But, once completed, she cannot then revoke it.

41. If a free woman submits to be a slave to a specific man, and that man refuses the offer, she still shall become a slave, subject to capture by the first person to collar her.

42. Slaves are not permitted outside the city gates unless accompanied by a free person.

43. It is a capital offense for a slave to wield any weapon.

44. It is a capital offense for a slave to claim caste.

45. It is a capital offense for a female slave to wear the garment of a free woman.

46. It is illegal for a slave to wear veils.

47. A child, born of a slave, becomes a slave and belongs to the mother's owner.

48. Any free woman who couches with another's slave or even prepares to do so, becomes a slave herself and becomes the slave of the male slave's master. This is known as the "couching law."

49. Slaves are not allowed in temples. It is felt that they would defile it.

50. If a father cannot pay his debts, his daughter becomes a slave of the state. She will be put up for sale at public auction. The proceeds of her sale will be used to equitably satisfy the creditors.

51. A free woman who cannot pay her debts will be enslaved. Under the redemption laws, a man can pay her debts and thus will now own her. If no one redeems her within a certain period, she will be sold to slavers.

52. Earth girls do not have a Home Stone so there are no legalities that prevent their capture and enslavement.

53. A slave, on threat of torture and impalement, must endure whatever abuse a free person cares to inflict on him.

54. Any free person may discipline an insolent or errant slave, even one who is in the least bit displeasing. If the slave is killed or injured, the free person need only pay compensation to the master and only if the master requests such compensation.

55. The crime of false yielding is a capital offense. It is easy to detect, through infallible physiological signs.

56. If a slave strikes a free person, the penalty is commonly death by impalement, preceded by lengthy torture.

57. Freed slaves require explicit papers of manumission or they may be enslaved again without repercussion. Slaves who have been branded or had theirs ears pierced and later freed should definitely keep their papers handy at all times.

58. The principle of "conduct indicating suitability for the collar" deals with conduct by a free woman sufficient to warrant her reduction to slavery. It is commonly applied to fraud, theft, indigency, vagrancy, prostitution, and indulgence in sensuous dance. Other behavior which might trigger the principles includes attempting to spy on masters and slaves, disguising oneself as a slave, garbing oneself as a slave even in the supposed secrecy of one's own compartment, baring too much flesh, lingering about slave shelves and markets, and even exhibiting an interest in or fascination with bondage. The principle deals with overt behavior and not thoughts. Judges must decide if such behavior is sufficient to warrant a reduction to slavery. It is illegal for someone on their own to collar a free woman for this conduct without seeking legal action.

59. There is no law that states a man may enslave a free woman of his Home Stone because she has insulted or disrespected him.

60. Female slaves must wear a visible token of their slavery within the city limits. Male slaves are exempt from this law. It is not good for male slaves to understand their true numbers.

61. When a person is collared, it cancels their past. They begin a new life as a slave and may not be held accountable for any crimes that occurred while they were free.

62. It is illegal to sell a slave that is not your own, without the owner's permission. The penalty varies according to the sex of the seller. For a man, it is exile, and for a woman, it is enslavement.

63. It is illegal to offer an unbranded slave in a public sale.

64. By recommendation of Merchant Law, there are three standard marking places for brands, on the left thigh, right thigh, and lower left abdomen.

65. In some cities, a free woman that kneels before a man or addresses him as Master effects legal imbondment on herself. It is interpreted as a gesture of submission

66. It is illegal to sell a slave as auburn haired if she is truly not so.

67. It is a felony to forge or falsify pedigree papers on any slave.

68. A certification of a slave girl's heat may be given in certain cities. Her degree of heat will be listed on the sale documents. It is done in few cities though because of the potential for fraud on the part of the buyer. A buyer might use a girl for a month and then seek a refund based on the guarantee of her level of heat.

69. Slaves are not allowed to build anything. That right is reserved for free people only.

70. It is illegal for slaves to touch or handle legal documents.

71. Slaves may not teach free people. By teaching someone, they are placed in your debt and nothing can be owed to a slave.

72. A free woman may do a form of limited self-contracting where she legally becomes a slave for a specific time period, commonly ranging from one night to one year. She cannot end this contract earlier than the specified time period. Once the contract takes effect, she becomes a slave with no legal powers at all. This curious contractual arrangement is not described in great detail. It raises numerous legal dilemmas that can only be speculated about. The books do not state that the contract covers any contigencies or limits the slavery in any way. The woman becomes an actual slave. That would seem to mean she could be freely killed. What would happen is she was sold? Does the contract prevent that? Would the time period still apply if she was sold? What would happen if she was stolen? This passage seems to raise far more questions than it answers.

74. If a slave fails to kneel in the presence of a free person, it can be a capital offense, especially if the slave intentionally fails to do so. In that case, the slave may be tortured to death.