by Andy Peloquin
As a fantasy author, I have the joy of being able to create my own worlds, societies, and environments for the characters and stories I write. As a DARK fantasy author, it’s a thrill to delve into the underside of human nature and see just how low people can stoop—as well as how high they can rise.
My latest novel, Child of the Night Guild, follows a girl sold to and raised by a Thieves’ Guild. In researching the novel, I spent hours poring over criminology, the art of thieving, burglary, and more. One fascinating article I came across in Psychology Today looked at the environment that led to crime.
In the article, it talked about a Caribbean island that had a very high crime rate. Not only were there unsanitary and unsafe environments, but the police paid little attention to reports. Some tourists and locals even said that “calling the police is usually a waste of time”. Despite all the “unsavory” elements, the police did little to prevent or deal with the problems.
It seems odd that such a potentially idyllic, “perfect” place could have such a high crime rate. And yet it all comes down to a simple formula: “It is the criminal who commits the crime. It is the responsibility of public officials to deter criminals. Crime flourishes in areas that tolerate it!”
Modern law enforcement organizations have established not only ways to deal with criminals, but even ways to DETER crimes from occurring in the first place. The modern judicial systems are equally equipped to deal with lawbreakers. But the laws that govern a fantasy world are often lacking. Not only are the laws less comprehensive than modern laws, but the organizations that enforce the laws are often less vigilant than modern law enforcement.
A common fantasy trope is a “crooked guard or soldier”, someone who could be easily bribed to look the other way. In a society like that, it’s no surprise that crime flourishes.
But even in fantasy worlds where there are strict laws and law enforcement agencies (city guard, Palace Guard, etc.) to enforce it, the lack of modern technology often makes finding perpetrators more challenging. Crime is able to flourish even in these lawful environments because law enforcement is unable to deter it.
In a fantasy world where law enforcement is too lazy or unethical to prevent crime, it’s to be understood that crime will flourish. But even if the law enforcement bodies are willing to stop crime, the lack of resources (manpower and technology) is often the main thing that prevents them from being truly efficient. This is the main reason that crime is such a common element in fantasy worlds—for better and for worse.
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