We’ve got law and order on the menu this week. Whether formally written, through a religious rule book, or an understood cultural moral code, most civilized societies will have some kind of rule system in place, including levels of responsibilities and consequences for violations.
When building the world of your story you must decide who is responsible for the law and order. Who or what decides and sets the rules? You must also decide who enforces the rules. This can be formal (i.e. police, courts, judges, prisons, etc.) or informal where the citizens police themselves and are subject to retaliation from those they wrong.
If your world covers more than one country, then you will need to be prepared to create a system for each, as well as considering the implications for any characters as they travel throughout your world.
You will need to decide how innocence or guilt is decided: Do the accused get to defend themselves? Is there a trial? If so, is it presided by a judge? Is it open to the public or conducted behind closed doors? Does a monarch decide guilt? A council? Perhaps the accused must endure a challenge or physical trial to prove innocence. Regardless of what you choose, you must decide whether the law and order in your world is fair for everyone or biased. Of course, I’m of the opinion that the more conflict there is, the better.
Be sure to consider how punishments are carried out. Do they focus on rehabilitation or forgiveness? Justice? Vengeance? None of the above? Do magical or paranormal beings need special punishments? Do different species have separate justice systems? What is the hierarchy of the police force? How does one move up the ranks? Who has the final say in the decisions?
Make a list and be specific about who sets the laws, the police force hierarchy, how trials are conducted, how punishments are carried out and for which crimes. You’ll be surprised to see just how deep law and order permeates within every aspect of society within your story’s world. (Source: 30 Days of Worldbuilding, 2nd Edition by A. Trevena)