Bribes are not illegal in Cheliax. In fact, the Disciplines specifically encourage it. The eponymous codex containing the nation’s laws lays out a specific formula for offering and accepting a bribe to avoid punishment for crime or infractions, and failing to follow the proper steps can result in a significantly worse punishment than failing to offer one at all. Ironically, the charge for this is “attempted corruption of a public official.” Officials taking bribes must pass a certain percentage to their superiors—withholding bribes results in serious disciplinary action.

The first step is determining how much the accused can pay. Certain crimes require a minimum payment to look the other way, and the most serious crimes—capital crimes, for the most part—are well beyond the reach of the lowest classes, though city guards may succumb to the temptation to take the highest inducement the accused can pay. Revolutionaries and radicals shriek that this system favors the rich and the powerful; ordinary citizens consider it the way things should be; after all, when they become wealthy, they want the perquisites that come with power (never mind that their chances of ever growing wealthy are slim to none).

The next calculation is how much to pay for the alleged offense, and to whom to pay it. Offering too little is insulting, though it can reduce the severity of the charges without making them disappear. Offering too much is considered a far graver insult to the officer or magistrate. Offering it to a Hellknight is an invitation to a beating. Next comes the offer. One cannot simply throw money at an officer and walk away; this is a careful dance, delicately negotiated without saying the word “bribe.” Offering to donate to the officer’s favorite charity or simply asking the amount of the fine and then offering to pay it on the spot are the customary methods. Be careful, though: some officers and magistrates find the offer of a bribe an insult to their integrity. Further, it is important to note that bribes are for crime and vice; offering an official a bribe to hurry government business implies that the government is lax and inefficient, and is a crime on par with blasphemy. Below are several common offenses and the recommended bribes associated with them.

Offense Bribe
Public Lewdness 5 cp–10 gp
Breaking the Peace 1 sp–25 gp
Larceny (depending on severity) 5 sp–100 gp
Assault 10 sp–50 gp
Murder (depending on victim) 200–20,000 gp
Blasphemy 1,000–10,000 gp

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Cheliax: In the shadow of Devils. Worgun