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A Question of Martian Honour

My players yesterday seemed to get the idea of Martian honour, including the Earthborn who enjoyed subverting it. We came up with a couple of issues/questions though which I’d like to share.

It’s relatively easy to disarm someone in combat. Is it acceptable to then run them through as it obviously isn’t acceptable to draw on them if they’re unarmed.

Is it never acceptable to shoot someone with a sword?

If an enemy acts dishonourably, drawing on you while you’re unarmed for example, does that reduce the restrictions on your behaviour (my gut instinct is no).

If an enemy acts dishonourably, drawing on you while you’re unarmed for example, does that reduce the restrictions on your behaviour (my gut instinct is no).

In at least one of the novels, there’s a case where the hero remarks that he’s not too worried about attacking honorably after his enemy shoots at him dishonorably.

There are also multiple cases where the hero breaks one of the rules of honor, but justifies it because it’s necessary to rescue the princess.

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My feeling is that the novels tend to emphasize that “good guys” follow the code of honor while folks who don’t are clearly “bad guys,” so I would really encourage my PCs to follow the code. I would say that once a foe is disarmed it’s not sporting to run them through.

On the other hand, once the other guy acts dishonorably and proves himself to be a bad guy I would assume that the PCs get a bit more wiggle room, as long as what they do isn’t clearly dishonorable. Stabbing someone in the back, slaying an unarmed foe, attacking one who has surrendered … those seem dishonorable to me even if you are doing it to a bad guy.

Remember that the PCs are supposed to be HEROES and should act as such.

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Hullo, UncleRiotous,

Part of the question here pertains to which race of Martians is in question here. The codes of honour and behaviour on the part of the red Martians are such that I don’t think a red Martian (hero) would ever violate the the honour code in terms of the situations that you mention above. That said, when it comes to the other races, while I think the greens and the Okar would certainly honour the code, I definitely don’t think that the First Born or white Martians would, necessarily. Situation by situation.

The thing to remember here is that when one acts dishonourably because a foe does, that just makes one be thing he claims he’s not.

But here’s the (other) thing: From the pov of the player characters especially, acting dishonourably has consequences that will affect the character’s life in many different ways. And if a player character acts dishonourably often enough, when does their reputation for such heinous action catch up with them? And do they become villainous when they do so?

Btw, I’m not sure that I agree with you that it’s easy to disarm an opponent. Why do you find it so?

JohnK

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Hullo, Finarvyn,

What you said. 100%. :slight_smile:
JohnK

It’s a two Momentum spend to disarm an opponent and have the weapon fall at their feet and a three Momentum spend to have the weapon fly to where an ally can pick it up. This was where part of the problem came from in my game. Once you’re unarmed combat slows down considerably so disarming them may make them surrender (small spend for a big effect) or it loses a lot of its appeal.

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Hullo, UncleRiotous,

I can see where you feel that it’s easy to disarm opponents, and to some degree I agree with you. But let’s not forget that it’s a function of how much Momentum you have to spend at the time and whether you’re willing to use Threat to do it instead.

Why do you find that combat slows down considerably once you’re unarmed? Fighting unarmed means different tactics need to be used (and some of those unarmed combat Talents can be quite handy!), but it doesn’t need to slow the fight down. Surrendering, if nothing else, makes the combat end sooner.

JohnK

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Yeah, I don’t get what’s meant by being unarmed slowing the game down. Having a weapon is a very small impact on the stress that you inflict in combat. It’s a 1 die difference, and the occasional effect. Even yelling at somebody to intimidate them does the same amount of stress and the GM could add the fearsome quality to it–although I’d be inclined to require a talent for that.

Looking at Barsoomian honor, I’d say it’s probably a complex issue in settting. Is there a difference honor-wise between a personal duel between Martians, whether gun or blade, and an active military engagement between hundreds of ships and millions of troops? Does a commander consider the personal honor of each soldier under their command when autoguns are chattering and cannons are pounding away at their position from beyond the horizon? Or do they possibly offload the collective honor of their troops onto them-self, taking harsh punishment or disgrace for any major breach of honor their troops inflict on the enemy, allowing them the tactical and strategic possibilities they need to complete the mission?

Either way, I think it’s not what you’re armed with, but who draws what and who draws first, setting the tone for the fight, at least when it comes to personal combat.

If they’re coming at you with long sword drawn and you respond in kind, disarming them and running them through, I would say that would be entirely honorable. The enemy wasn’t coming at you with their fists, short sword, rifle or dagger but with their longsword, them being a poor enough swordsperson to lose their blade and die isn’t because you cheated.

Intentionally shooting someone armed with a sword depends on whether they were already armed or are responding to you. If they were already armed and you shoot them you’re being a dishonorable jerk, they’re armed and are presumably expecting an attack, you’re responding to their armed state by cheating. If they choose to respond with steel to your rifle it’s an honorable combat, one of you has set the tone of the fight by bringing out a rifle at the start of combat, if the other chooses to respond with steel it’s their problem for not drawing their own rifle.

If they draw steel before you can draw your rifle, you are honor bound to draw your sword, you are responding to them. If you’re able to draw your rifle before they can draw any weapons it doesn’t matter what weapon they draw when it comes to your honor, they are responding to you.

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