A Trial by His Peers

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El Cid
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A Trial by His Peers

Postby El Cid » Sun Sep 05, 2004 4:11 am

I have recently run into a little situation in my PBEM game that I thought would be interesting for the B5 Forum. Below is the post to my PBEM group:

Overview: I am trying to run this campaign in a heroic fashion while
giving each player the freedom to make decisions for their PC.
Everyone must understand that for each action taken by their PC,
there may be consequences. Case in point, Max Wolf's killing on
Zar'Lorn.

Each player and Lurker on the list may provide the following:

1. Rational supporting their position. Max is guilty of murder or
Max is free because he acted in "self-defense".

2. Quotes from the rule books or the series supporting their
position.

Each player or lurker may vote for the findings of the Narn court as
to Max's guilt or innocence. Vote for the appropriate punishment.
Max's player will not be allowed to vote nor will I, except in the
case of a tie.

The Narns will have the physical evidence and any statements that
Max provides as well as the statements from Narn who witnessed the
two of them in the station including any conversation which they
overheard.

See The Narn Regime Fact Book page 52 and 53: ". . . Aliens are now
more frequent victims of a Chon'Kar; their relatives are not as
likely to come back after a Narn for the Oath and WILL NOT have the
protection of Narn law if they do so." Note: Emphasis added.

OVERVIEW of what happened per Sidney:

Zar'Lorn has sworn Chon'Kar against the Toth family. Mainly Je'Toth
and Gem'Toth.

In his view, his father was Je'Toth's first mate and Gem (the lying
human witch) poisoned Je'Toth against his father.

After that his family was destroyed. He's lost track of his sister
who is 16 years old and his mother and father were murdered by
Je'Toth's hired assassins. Je'Toth didn't even have the courage to
fight his father fairly.

Max's post:

They walk into the bathroom and stand at the sink waiting for the
last Narn in one of the stalls to finish and leave the bathrooms.
Max staying a distance from his captive, locks the door behind the
last Narn. He then proceeds to remove the PPG and sword from his
captive.

MaxWolf: "Nice Ka'Toc. Family heirloom?"

Narn: "Yes. What is this about?"

MaxWolf: "I think you know. There was no password. So, what is
your real name?"

Narn: "Why should I tell you?"

MaxWolf: "Here's the thing, I worked really hard in my youth to
empress my superiors, I was an interrogator. Specializing in the
art of pain. Now, I know Narns have a pain tolerance not matched by
many, but the task in making them scream was the most impressive to
my superiors. I learned allot about Narn Anatomy during that time.
For instance, did you know that Burnt Narn flesh smells nothing like
burnt Human flesh? Also, the heat produced by a PPG blast is hot
enough to kill any known pathogens, did you know that? Truly
awesome! But unfortunately, I have no time to waist." He pressed
the muzzle of the PPG to the back of his head. "Tell me what I want
to know, or you will die right now!"

Narn: "Zar'Lorn."

MaxWolf: "And who sent you?"

Zar: "No one sent me! I got word that you were connected to the
Human witch Gem'Toth, I am after her and Je'Toth."

MaxWolf: "Why?"

With hesitation, "I have sworn Chon'Kar against the Toth family.
Mainly Je'Toth and Gem'Toth."

MaxWolf: "Why? Did Gem cheat you out of some money or something?"

Zar: "Stupid human! You know nothing of our ways!"

MaxWolf: "Enlighten me then. What has made you swore the chon'kar
against their whole family?"

Zar: "My father was Je'Toth's first mate and Gem poisoned Je'Toth
against my father. Shortly after their separation, my family was
destroyed. I've lost track of my sister who is 16 years old and my
mother and father were murdered by Je'Toth's hired assassins.
Je'Toth didn't even have the courage to fight my father fairly."

MaxWolf: "Hmmm... That is too bad. But your fight is not with me.
I will give you your life for Gem's. I can careless what you do
with Je'Toth, but Gem is useful to me at this point in time. You
can choose, your life or Gem's. What is your answer?"

Sidney's Response:
Zar'Lorn: "Stupid human! Go ahead and kill me! I cannot take back my
blood oath even for the life of my family! She is responsible for
the
deaths of my parents and who knows what has happened to my sister!
She must die! Leave now and I will trouble you no more."

Max notes that a few people (Narns) have come in and out of the rest
room but no one seems to react to his little conversation. After the
blood oath was mentioned, the restroom became very quiet as no one
enters and those who were in it seem to have quietly left.

Max's conclusion:
MaxWolf: "Suite yourself."

With the muzzle of the PPG on the back of his neck, he slightly
compresses the trigger releasing the charge into the back of the
Narns upper neck. The Narn's knees tremble, then collapsed. He fell
forward hitting the sink, then rolled off onto the ground. Max
grabs him around the shoulders and drags him into the stall, sitting
him up on the toilet. He draws his Ka'Toc, and cuts his throat.
Max takes his finger and dips it into the blood on the Ka'Toc and
rights two words on the wall above the Narns head, "blood oath".
(NOTE: In Narn.) He cleans the Ka'Toc, sheaths it. Holsters his PPG
and puts the Narns PPG in his bag along with the Ka'Toc. He washes
the blood off of him, changes cloths and walks out like nothing
happened.

OK. Let the discussion begin.

Sidney
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frobisher
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Postby frobisher » Sun Sep 05, 2004 11:38 am

It's as clear a case of murder as you can get.

Now if Zar'loth had killed MaxWolf, that would have been self defense.
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lastbesthope
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Postby lastbesthope » Sun Sep 05, 2004 12:51 pm

frobisher wrote:It's as clear a case of murder as you can get.

Now if Zar'loth had killed MaxWolf, that would have been self defense.
I agree with frobisher, murder. No moral or legal ambiguity there. Only possible moral ambiguity would be that by killing Zar'Lorn Max saved Gem's life, albeit for his own purposes. Max has no recourse to the blood oath being non Narn.

However I disagree with frobisher in saying that if Zar'Loth had killed Max it would have been self defence. 'Necessary Force' and all that jazz? Had he overpowered him, knocked him unconscious (which could all be put down to self defence) killing him at that point would be murder as Max would no longer be a threat. Zar'Loth could disable Max and then call the authorities. Killing him in self defence would only be justifiable in certain circumstances where it would be impossible or very hard to put your opponent out of the fight without killing him.

Just my tuppence ha'peeny.

LBH
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B_Steele
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Chon Kar

Postby B_Steele » Mon Sep 06, 2004 3:08 pm

Then again, while it is a case of murder quite obviously...it might be better if one of Zar'Lorn's relatives call upon a Chon'Kar against Max after he is let off for technicality (possibly dirty politics by a player character or unseen benefactor).

Imagine the scene:
--------
"The court finds the evidence against you to be insufficient, and drops the charges. You are free to go"

Max leaves the courtroom only to be immediately confronted by a young Narn--who holds a written script shakingly in one hand.

"MaxWolf, this is for you."

Max takes the script and reads it aloud to his friends...

"The family of Zar'Lorn calls you out by the hands of fate and in the name of whom you have taken from us. Chon'Kar lies upon your head until it lies beside your lifeless corpse."

Then a sniper's bullet might fire into the crowd at him.
---------

Now your bloodthirsty PC has an unseen benefactor capable of steering the courts, a reputation as the criminal who "got off", and an unknown number of Narn assassins gunning for him. As a GM, you have just made yourself a dozen new plot ideas and maybe some new NPCs to mess with your game.

Good luck!

Bry
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Postby Dag'Nabbit » Mon Sep 06, 2004 5:19 pm

I'd convict him in a heart beat at this point.

Steele does make a good argument about how useful this could be used as a plot device. However, it works out to be more fun in my mind if one of Max's enemies held the conviciton up on a technicality in order to get him to do something they want him to do. You know, hold the evidence over his head as a way of getting him to do things for them. Little things at first then slowly increasing in scope. Similar to the way things worked with Molari. Maybe it's the same 'benefactors' as well....

Either that or just convict him and hang him. Depends on the point you want to make.
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Postby El Cid » Mon Sep 06, 2004 8:09 pm

I want to make sure I do the "correct thing".

The plot twists do sound appealing.

The plot line I had in mind had to do with Gem (NPC) discovering that when she shot the Narn's father ten years before, that she didn't think about the consiquences to any one other than herself and gaining her freedom.

Oh, she rationalized it as saving the lives of two other Narns (Je'Toth and his son) and gaining the freedom of the other slaves on the ship. But, she didn't think about the other consiquences of her actions.

I didn't want to just have a lynching with the evil human having "murderer" the Narn in cold blood.

There is no question the Max thought he was acting to save Gem's life from a Narn who would do anything to kill her for revenge under Chon'Kar.

But, I see a fine line thatn was crossed when Max shot the Narn rather than turn him over to the authorities.

The key here was the precieved threat and if that was sufficient justificatrion for shoting the Narn.

I would like to hear about other moral delimas in your games as well.

Sidney
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Guilty!

Postby Traveller-61 » Mon Sep 06, 2004 9:36 pm

Murder - no doubt. He intended to kill the Narn when at the time the Narn was no threat at all to him. Actus Reus and Mens Rea - guilty act and guilty mind, if I remember my law classes. He did it and he intended to do it!

Guilty of murder m'lord! :evil:

DW
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Postby shalazar_bation » Tue Sep 07, 2004 10:12 pm

8) As humorus as all these things you all are saying are.... I had no intentions of killing this Narn.... I gave him an opertunity to trade his life for Gems. I could care less what he did to Gems father. Just to give some insight to the charecter.

He is a "bad" man.... But I am leaving room that with alot of work with "good" NPC's and Charecters... he could see that its better to be "good". Kinda like... umm... well... like wolverine, he kills couse thats all he knows... but he only kills when its to save the "good" people. now this is just an example cause the charecter is much more complicated than this. as I stated in the conversation with the Narn, it wasn't my fight. it had nothing to do with killing him. Max is a very suspitous man. do to his up bringing and his military training as a infiltration spec. The Narn told him that he would not stop untill the oath was satisfied and that he had no family(there for no blood oath for Max) and he didn't care if he killed him. The way Max seen it, he gave the Narn a choice, release the oath on Gem or die. The Narn made the choice, Max complied.

If he gets off great, if not oww well those are the breaks. I'm sure he's not the first chercter I ever lost and probably won't be the last.

Shalazar
Max isn't a bad person, he's a product of his raising.... now if you only knew who raised him.....
El Cid
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Postby El Cid » Wed Sep 08, 2004 12:08 am

Two trials.

One on this list and one in the PBEM group.

Is that double jeopardy?

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Postby shalazar_bation » Wed Sep 08, 2004 12:11 am

Nahh! its fine with me, any way you want to do it....


Shalazar
not evil.... just realy misunderstood..... :twisted:
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Postby El Cid » Wed Sep 08, 2004 12:13 am

RPLE playing and having fun is the key.

Sidney
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Postby redlaco » Wed Sep 08, 2004 1:40 pm

shalazar_bation wrote:Max isn't a bad person, he's a product of his raising.... now if you only knew who raised him.....
I understand where you're coming from here, but that won't stand as a valid argument before the Narn court. Imagine if a foreigner tells the judge : "Hey, I had a really tough childhood and it's a wonder I only murder from time to time, and then only to help the good people. Although I could care less about the whole thing that started the blood oath in the first place."

It would only raise the judge's eyebrow before he condemn Max, IMHO.

Good luck Shalazar, your PC is going to need it. Although if I were ElCid, I'd give you a few extra points for your next character as a token for good roleplay. :wink:
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Postby Ross O'Gallagher » Wed Sep 08, 2004 2:48 pm

I can not imagine a better way to dispense justice than the method we have in this forum. We have what no other jury in the world has: we have the complete set of undeniable facts regarding this case. Because we have the gamemaster's transcript we know exactly what happened. It's like we were witness to everything that took place. It doesn't even matter that our defendant has apparently plead not guilty by reason of poor upbringing. He's guilty of murder beyond any doubt because doubt is impossible.
I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like his passengers.
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Postby PottsBr » Wed Sep 08, 2004 4:27 pm

Having all the facts is actually what invalidates this forum.

The court which is going to try him for murder will not have all the facts. First we need to know a few things about the court in question. How does the Narn legal system work. Who does the burdeon of proof fall upon? Does the prosecution have to prove his guilt or the defendant prove his innocence. Also, are they using the reasonable doubt standard, or some less strict measure of guilt.

Next, what case has the presecution set before the court. It sounds like the incident was pretty cut and dried, but what has actually benn presented. It sounds like most of the passer-bys wanted nothing to do with the event and probably would not come forward (if they cared, they would have called security or actively intervened). What evidence was left at the scene? Prints, video records, DNA, etc. Was the murder weapon(s) recovered, or did he ditch them before being arrested. What were the circumstances of the arrest itself?

Another piece is the defense. What story has the defense woven to either deny the event or justify the killing. Physical evidence looks pretty clear that it was a murder (shot in the back of the head and then had his throat cut), so they are going to have to lay the blame on someone else. What evidence have they interpretted or invented to back up their claim.

Is the defendant forced, or does he choose to testify in a Narn court, and if so, what does he say? Is a Narn court decision made by a jury, a judge, a tribunal, a priest? What is the standing of the victim in the eyes of the court. They may find this guy innocent just because they think the victim deserved it, or guilty because they need to blame it on someone.

Objectively, this is clearly murder with no rational justification. It won't even stop the Blood Oath as it will simply pass to another member of the family. If the Narn had committed a crime, turn him over to the authorities. If not, leave Narn space and wait for him to show up and have him arrested where the Blood Oath is illegal. Hire a non-Psycorp tepe to do something about his issues. There are lots of options, but shooting him in the back of the head while helpless in the bathroom is not justifiable.

The courts, however, may not have a complete or correct picture of events. To determine what they would decide, we need to know what they know and the environment under which their decision is to be made.
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Postby Ross O'Gallagher » Wed Sep 08, 2004 7:26 pm

PottsBr wrote:Having all the facts is actually what invalidates this forum.
Precisely.
I want to die peacefully in my sleep, like my grandfather. Not screaming in terror like his passengers.
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Postby El Cid » Wed Sep 08, 2004 9:44 pm

Perhaps but we can still lok at the facts and come up with what we think is the correct verdict.
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Postby psyclonejack » Thu Sep 09, 2004 3:29 am

What about space sickness, he did just land on the planet. Or better yet . . . INSANITY! His current mind set about, "I only kill the bad people to help the good people" would make him certifiable.

Wren . . . er . . . Tyle . . . er . . .
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Postby cordas » Thu Sep 09, 2004 11:17 am

I would say the guy is clearly guilty of murder and it should be easy to prove, given the fact that there are/were witnesses. (This is mentioned in the original post).

The question is more how do you want to handle this in game terms....

If the PC gets locked away for "years" or executed this could be very damaging to the game as in "upsetting" the player. However to let the PC get away with cold blooded murder could set an equally dangerous precedent in your game.

I hate these moral ambiguities in rpgs, as players can get very upset about their characters being punished for their crimes.
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Postby El Cid » Thu Sep 09, 2004 11:36 am

cordas wrote:I would say the guy is clearly guilty of murder and it should be easy to prove, given the fact that there are/were witnesses. (This is mentioned in the original post).

The question is more how do you want to handle this in game terms....

<SNIP>

I hate these moral ambiguities in rpgs, as players can get very upset about their characters being punished for their crimes.
I believe that players should expect the natural consequences to their actions. Otherwise, the game can become a shooting gallery type game rather than a role playing game.

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Postby Guest » Thu Sep 09, 2004 12:31 pm

quote]

I believe that players should expect the natural consequences to their actions. Otherwise, the game can become a shooting gallery type game rather than a role playing game.

Sidney[/quote]

I completely agree, just bit sickend at the moment as I have just seen a decent rpg campaign collapse because one player could not accept that his character was punished for unforgivable behaviour.

If your player will accept a harsh judgement on his characters behaviour then go for it, throw the whole weight of the law against him. I personaly feel he deserves it.

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