Judicial Systems: Maintaining Order & Justice

J is for Judicial Systems...
J is for Judicial Systems…

Stopping by for the first time for the A-Z Challenge? Read a short intro to the A-Zs of Worldbuilding here!

I have a post up on the Ferret blog today – J.R.R. Tolkien: A Bit of Gratitude.

I’ll be honest – I never really thought much about judicial systems in fantasy until I started on my current work-in-progress, Catalyst. And suddenly two-thirds of the way through, I found myself writing a court room drama, and I needed to know a lot more about the laws and judicial processes of that world than I expected. 

My point? There’s a reason for all this worldbuilding – so that when you realize you need to know something, you don’t have to start completely from scratch. You’ll have, at the very least, a foundation laid that you can ground new things in.

Establishing Law & Order


Who is responsible for creating laws?

Who is responsible for enforcing them?

What sort of criminal justice system is in place, if any?


Are different parties responsible for different aspects of the law?
– One arm of the government may be responsible for crimes against the state, another for crimes against individuals, etc.

How much of the law is handled at the local (city) level, and how much at the a state/province and/or national level?

Maintaining Order

What are the most basic laws your society follows?

How long have those laws been around?

Are they still followed, or are they considered more archaic laws?

When laws are broken, who is responsible for the aftermath?

In Conclusion…

Have at least a minor understanding of how law and order is maintained in your world, and who is responsible for it at the different levels in society that your characters may encounter.

Original image used in header is by Vassilena, under a CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 license. The image has been cropped and edited.

My intention is to turn the A-Zs of Worldbuilding into a workbook after the Challenge is finished. If you’d like to stay notified about that, you can subscribe to my newsletter here. Please make sure and select the A-Zs of Worldbuilding option!

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About Rebekah

Rebekah Loper writes character-driven epic fantasy featuring resilient women in trying and impossible circumstances who just want to save themselves but usually end up saving the world, often while falling in love.
She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband, dog, two formerly feral cats, a small flock of feathered dragons (...chickens. They're chickens), and an extensive tea collection. When she's not writing, she battles the Oklahoma elements in an effort to create a productive, permaculture urban homestead.