94 World Building Questions for Creating Legal Systems

These world building prompts come from 3000 World Building Prompts, which you can get at Amazon. This section is focused on creating legal systems.

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  1. What is the name of this legal system?
  2. Is this a civil, common, or religious system?
  3. If the latter, what god(s) inform it?
  4. In what kind of sovereign power does this system exist?
  5. In what kind of sovereign power does this system seldom exist?
  6. Who presides over the court?
  7. Who can be a judge?
  8. Are judges respected?
  9. Who decides innocence or guilt?
  10. Are there lawyers?
  11. Are people expected to speak on their own behalf?
  12. Are witnesses allowed?
  13. Is any sort of video testimony or evidence allowed?
  14. Is there any supernatural evidence or witness allowed?
  15. Are duels allowed to determine the innocent?
  16. What rules govern a duel?
  17. Must duels be sanctioned by an official body or person to be lawful?
  18. Is trial by combat allowed?
  19. Are people allowed to choose a champion to fight on their behalf?
  20. What are the rules governing trial by combat?
  21. Where and when do duels and trials by combat take place?
  22. Is trial by ordeal an option?
  23. If so, what is the ordeal and how is innocent or guilt determined?
  24. Are there any weird ways in which innocence or guilt is established?
  25. Is evidence gathered and used? What helps determine the veracity of that evidence?
  26. Can magic or technology be used to determine guilt or veracity of evidence?
  27. Are people allowed to observe any of this as if it’s entertainment?
  28. Is justice carried out immediately?
  29. Are appeals allowed?
  30. How long do appeals take?
  31. Is the legal process considered cumbersome?
  32. Are lawyers or other professionals cheap or expensive?
  33. Do “public defenders” exist and what is their reputation?
  34. Are the identities of jurors protected?
  35. Is the legal system corrupt? How much so?
  36. Do judges honor or violate precedence?
  37. Are judges required to have an ability like magic, or is that forbidden?
  38. Are there separate legal systems for different species?
  39. Or different jurisdictions like magic?
  40. If so, how are these courts different?
  41. Who catches criminals?
  42. Who investigates crimes? Do they need any special training in magic or technology?
  43. Who pays those who investigate?
  44. Are there multiple jurisdictions and what are they? How are conflicts handled?
  45. Are people considered innocent until proven guilty?
  46. How are apprehended people treated throughout their incarceration?


These prompts can help us invent specific laws.

  1. What is a common nickname for this law?
  2. What is the law?
  3. Does the law apply equally or discriminate?
  4. Whom does it discriminate against?
  5. What is the source of this law?
  6. Are you creating a law based on a moral or incident?
  7. What incident led to the law? Why was it bad?
  8. What moral has led to the law?
  9. In what jurisdiction does this law exist (local, state, federal)?
  10. Is this law enforced?
  11. Is the law draconian?
  12. How likely are lawbreakers to be let off with a warning?
  13. Are perpetrators considered dangerous?
  14. Is the law unjust?
  15. Is it considered harsh, lenient, or about right?
  16. Does it come from a different time in society?
  17. How old is the law?
  18. Is the law outdated? Why and what should change?
  19. What justifications, excuses, or arguments can allow one to escape or lesson conviction or punishments?
  20. Is paying a fine or doing a quest an option to escape punishment?
  21. If so, does the court appointment someone to join the quest as a witness?
  22. Is the law the subject of protests?


  1. If inventing a punishment, does it have a name?
  2. What is done to the guilty? For how long?
  3. Where is it done?
  4. Are people jailed?
  5. What are the conditions of jails and prisons?
  6. How hard are they to escape?
  7. Where are they usually located?
  8. Have there been famous escapes? By whom and from where?
  9. Are people executed?
  10. If so, what forms of execution exist?
  11. Are executions private or public events?
  12. Are any forms of punishment considered barbaric?
  13. Is that okay to the society?
  14. Is death peaceful or violent?
  15. Is exile an option?
  16. What unique punishments exist using animals of the setting?
  17. What punishments exist using magic or technology?
  18. Are some criminals physically marked upon conviction and in what way?
  19. Can the mark be removed? Fully?
  20. Can marks be placed on people who are not criminals?
  21. Are criminals allowed to reenter society upon serving of a sentence? Or they allowed to be but considered second class now?
  22. Is being forced to work a menial job a punishment?
  23. Is restitution to victims expected?
  24. Can people be banished?
  25. Can people bribe their way out of punishment?
  26. Are there societal classes that have traditionally evaded punishment or been given light sentences?
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