The laws of Nimbral, known as "the Tellings," are, simply put, the wills and decrees of the mysterious, seldom-seen ruling Nimbral Lords. They are codified and posted (with updates) at all inns and port offices of the realm.
The Tellings include voluminous Lords' judgments on individual matters (for example, "Thaldon Immertree shall touch or cause to be moved no boundary post of Faerond Mallow, or suffer the breaking of a finger and the payment of forty silver coins or more, per marker shifted"), but follow these general principles: instantly and utterly obey any Knight, Herald, or Lord or face a period of imprisonment; give (if one is a Knight or Herald) no overly ruthless, foolish, or needlessly tyrannical orders or face prison time; steal not, attack not, despoil not (trees and crops as well as citizens); and set no fires or perform other destruction -- or face both fines and longer imprisonment (depending on the degree of damage done).
Prison time in Nimbral is spent gardening or, for the worst prisoners, mining for copper and gems (mainly emeralds, but moonstones and sapphires also come to light) in mountain mines. The mines tend to be narrow, dangerous shafts and crawl-tunnels down which lone miscreants in harnesses are lowered on ropes to work with prybars and picks, in the light of enspelled glowstones.
Murderers (of Nimbrese citizens) are either slain or set to mining until they die or survive twenty summers. Folk who maim others often find themselves treated to the same disability they visited upon a victim. Those deemed to have slain or maimed whilst defending children, the wounded or sick, or in desperate self-defense, are usually given lighter sentences (often four or five years of mining, or service on a long and perilous Nimbrese naval journey). The Tellings place a high value on leaving alone growing things, and not harming or causing fear in any Nimbran, and a lower value on property -- and include many instances of "punishments fitting crimes." (A Nimbran who liked to beat his wife, for instance, was beaten in like manner by a larger woman, to collapse, every day for nine days; a Nimbran who continually stole from her neighbors had all of her belongings seized and distributed freely among folk of a distant port, and so on.)
It may take a visitor to Nimbral some time to notice that Nimbrese continually tell little lies (especially about their own pasts and deeds); this is a legacy of the realm's longtime state worship of Leira, as is the love of tale-spinning. Since the fall of the goddess in the Time of Troubles, the Nimbral Lords have sought to remove all power of illusions from the general populace, and to make lying about "things that matter" (current behavior, items and their amounts and whereabouts, things and events observed) extremely frowned upon. The Lords promote the idea that all organized worship is founded in deceit, and is therefore a bad and self-limiting thing. Therefore, no state religion or organized priesthoods are allowed in the realm, only small shrines and individual priests (whose doings must never offend against the Tellings, upon risk of exile after more usual punishments are administered). No law deems lying a crime, but all Nimbrese know that Heralds (and presumably the Lords) can tell truth from falsehood. Most don't know that this ability is conferred by rings of truth telling all Heralds wear.
Ring of Truth Telling: This ring provides its wearer with the combined effects of a detect thoughts spell and a zone of truth spell. The ring has 50 charges. One charge powers either detect thoughts or zone of truth function for 5 minutes.
Faint divination and enchantment;CL 5th; Forge Ring, detect thoughts, zone of truth; Price 15,750 gp.
Heralds of Nimbral do not discuss their specific duties, numbers, and orders with non-Heralds, but they seem to number sixteen or so. They deliver warnings and guidance (based on their exhaustive knowledge of the Tellings and the intent of the Lords), decide what matters to take to the Lords for judgment; deliver Lords' judgments to others; and can command all Knights as enforcers, bodyguards, and peacemakers.
Every Herald receives ongoing, specific operational orders as "voices in their minds" directly from the Lords, in a mental contact they have no control over (they can mentally "speak back" to a Lord when in contact, but can't "call" a Lord).
Read more about the Heralds and learn of the Nimbrese character in the next article.
About the Author
Ed Greenwood is the man who unleashed the Forgotten Realms on an unsuspecting world. He works in libraries, writes fantasy, sf, horror, mystery, and even romance stories (sometimes all in the same novel), but he is still happiest churning out Realmslore, Realmslore, and more Realmslore. There are still a few rooms in his house with space left to pile up papers in . . .