Superheroic Law

   Since some legal questions have come up in the Champions campaign, here are a few notes on some of the relevant laws.  

   Ghosts are quite common, especially if someone feels that they have unfinished business in the mortal world. They may testify in court, but have limited legal rights otherwise. You cannot deprive your heirs of assets to leave them in trust for the use of your ghost – although rules on corporeal undead are still under debate. On the other hand, binding ghosts without their consent is definitely illegal. While ghosts don’t necessarily know anything they didn’t know while they were alive – and so generally can’t effectively identify snipers and masked assailants – serial killers and such are usually much easier to find: murder victims, the insane, and suicides are far more inclined to hang around as ghosts than most people are. Most ghosts are fairly powerless (many cannot even make normal people aware of their presence), but psychics and the magically-trained may manage a bit more. A very few seem to break the normal boundaries, but this is as rare as any other form of major superhuman powers.

   Duels to the death are generally illegal, but lesser variations – such as boxing, wrestling, and contests of magic – are acceptable methods of settling your differences. Personal bets on the outcome are also acceptable, but any form of organized or commercial combat – ultimate fighting leagues and so on – is strictly regulated, in part due to the need to separate human and superhuman combatants.

   “Super-heroes” are encouraged to register, if only because the official insurance/compensation funds will cover incidental damages resulting from battles with super-villains. “Secret identities” are permissible, but contact information is required – if only by being given an appropriate securely-linked (and officially untraceable) beeper.

   Age of majority is variable, depending on subspecies. Feyblooded and changelings – both rare, but hardly unknown – are usually treated as children (and look and act it) until they’re at least forty. Werecreatures and Anthromorphs are usually considered adult at fourteen or so, since they mature considerably faster than normal humans do.

   Nonhuman sentients, including cetacea and various aliens (intelligent corporeal undead are still under debate), have fairly extensive rights UNLESS they’re a demonstrated danger to other people. The self-defense/defense of others argument carries a good deal of weight in doubtful cases.

   Contract Law is – given the existence of mind control, transformation effects, and beings from magical realms who actually strike mystical bargains for souls or other services – a lot odder. In general, bargaining for someone’s life or soul is illegal and such contracts are legally unenforceable (demons and such use them anyway). Almost any voluntary relationship is legal. Things get fuzzy when you enter the realms of transformations (very rare and rather difficult to detect anyway) or mind control (usually short term) used to prevent someone from withdrawing their consent or to enforce a relationship. It’s generally been held to be legal if it was applied with the informed consent of the recipient and if the recipient was relatively sane and past the age of majority at the time. Otherwise its involuntary servitude, and throughly illegal.

   Lycanthropes, thanks to their animalistic nature, the unique dangers they present with their ability to transform other people into lesser lycanthropes – and in several types, effectively enslave them – and the difficulty in controlling them thanks to their various superhuman powers, have a dual legal status. If they’re judged to be animal-mind or instinct-dominated, they’re considered enhanced animals, have extremely limited legal rights, and need an owner. Said owner is responsible for keeping them under control and – when they hit adolescence – for confining or controlling them to keep them from presenting a danger to any human adolescents in the area. Their owner can even have them put to sleep, although this usually requires that a licensed veterinarian and a judge sign off on it. Those judged to be rational – or automatically presumed to be rational due to being transformed humans – have most of the rights of a normal human (protection against assault and such is reduced, since – for a were – a few blasts from a normal shotgun are little more than “light discipline”), but turning people into subordinate lycanthropes without prior informed consent (normally from them, from a guardian with a damned good reason if they’re underage or incompetent) will often lead to the death penalty in the types that dominate lesser lycanthropes, since that’s the only known way to reliably break the submission-bond. Lesser lycanthropes are safe from this, since they lack that power anyway. In either case, their status can be judicially reviewed and changed. Of course, most of the current precedents in the field go back to the late 1800’s. Lycanthropes are normally fairly rare.

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