War is an ugly and brutal business at the best of times, and when enemies with a long and bloody history between them fight, it can be particularly gruesome.
Custom is not law, and though some lands do enshrine some customs into law, that is by no means universal. However, even in those lands where the law does not reflect these customs, it is accepted and expected that these customs be followed. Even ancient and hereditary enemies, like Dwarves and Goblins, accept (most) of these battlefield practices.
Throughout the civilized lands of Titan, even amongst the Barbarians and Goblins, holding a weapon by its point and raising it over your head is a near universal sign for parley. Whether it is an ax held by its head, a spear raised butt first or a sword by its tip, the intent is the same. ‘Stop, or delay, combat so that we can talk.’
Ignoring a request to parley and continuing to attack or fight is at the very least, bad form and regarded by most as reprehensible. Any victory achieved through disregarding a parley offer is considered tarnished.
Surrender, Prisoners, their treatment and fate.
War is ugly, but some aspects are particularly ugly. What transpires after a battle can sometimes be uglier then the actual battle.
Surrendering, rather then fighting to the death, is often problematical for a beaten foe. Dropping your weapon can be an invitation to be run through by the victor. And for the victor, caring for and watching over prisoners is often more trouble then it is worth.
What to do with prisoners?
In a protracted war, where both sides may have taken prisoners, the authorities have an incentive to collect and preserve prisoners for the purpose of exchanges. Consequently, planners make allowances for holding and caring for enemy prisoners. But much ofthe violence throughout Titan is irregular skirmishing and raiding that are often the result of racial hatreds. In such cases there is no mechanism for exchanges and rarely a desire to do so if there was a mechanism. Most of the time a captured enemy’s best hope is a quick and painless death. So what are the alternatives?
Wealthy prisoners, or those with sufficient family or related resources, can often negotiate a ransom. While this option is not usually open to the average commoner, it is not unheard of for a town or similar group to pay a collective ransom for a captive of value to the community, such as a smyth, or for a group of locals, for example from the town’s militia, who represent a significant portion of the population. In the case of an individual of wealth or means, the ransom is negotiated directly with the prisoner. When it is a family member or other type of prisoner, negotiations can take awhile with messages being exchanged. Any prisoner released by ransom also offers and accepts ‘parole’ which states that he or she, or they, will not bear arms against the victor personally or his/her King, etc either ever again or for a period to be determined. The only exception being in defense of themselves, their immediate family and personal estates/property. Parole can also be granted without ransom in the case of frenemies or a victor wishing to demonstrate mercy or perhaps curry favor with some other related faction.
Most nations, kingdoms and regions across Titan allow or accept some form of slavery. Commonly, enslavement can be a criminal penalty imposed by Magistrates either for a period of years or for life. Slavery can be a civil or debt resolution between a lender and defaulting borrower or as compensation for an adjudicated wrong. Such slavery is almost always for a period of time ranging from 7 to 21 years. It is also possible to sell oneself into slavery in exchange for suitable compensation. In this case the period of enslavement is negotiable but rarely exceeds 7 years. And slavery can be the fate of captives of war.
The barbarians and less civilized lands will take any captive, combatant or non combatant, young, old, male or female as booty from war. In most of Solista and Ilshar, war captives are commonly limited to active combatants. Though truthfully the lines get blurry in many cases.
In those situations where enemy prisoners have no prospect of being exchanged, or ransomed and the victor is disinclined to accept parole, the captive often faces death. The only option short of death is to offer and accept ‘voluntary’ enslavement. There is no gain to the slave, except continuing to exist, and the duration of such slavery is usually, life. Though in some areas, such as Ilshar, it is limited to 21 years, plus 1.
An ancient and common practice in many lands, most especially amongst the barbarians, is for individual heros and leaders to ‘call out’ particular members of the enemy’s force for single combat. The outcome of these fights does not usually impact the impending battle, though it may have an effect on morale. Emperor Korrilean was not a fan of this practice and usually discouraged it amongst his officers. though he was not above using the spectacle of the single combat battles as a distraction for moving troops and making last minute preparations.
Though officially outlawed and prohibited by both the Kostrin Church, the Balan faith and many (but not all) rulers, dueling is still a socially acceptable and widespread practice. It is most common with the nobility though all classes of society use it to some degree. Note: A noble will never duel with a commoner or any non-noble.
The rules of Dueling are fairly straightforward.
No magic of any kind may be employed by either of the principals. This means no magic items, magic weapons, magic armor, spell enhancements or spells. The only magic acceptable at the scene of a duel is healing magic.
All weapons and armor, if any, must be equal. This means that the same types, lengths and weights of weapons; the same shield sizes and armor types.
The challenger (the offended party usually) has choice of weapons and armor.
Seconds will meet to arrange a time and place for the fight, and if possible negotiate an acceptable apology or whatever is needed to avoid the duel entirely.
At least one Second and up to three friends may accompany the duelist, called a ‘First’ to the fight. A Second may act for, or instead of, the ‘First’ that they accompany. This can include actually fighting the duel for the First. The Friends may not participate in the combat, doing so will change the duel into an ambush and attempted murder! They are present to assist in bringing their injured or dead friend home!
Duels are fought to one of the following conclusions.
First Blood. Who ever draws blood first is the victor.
Serious Wound. This is a wound, or series of wounds equal
to 1/2 of total Hit Points.
Death. This is a very serious affair. If Dueling is illegal in the area, killing your opponent is murder. The victor generally must go into exile to avoid a hanging. Further, all other involved parties, seconds and friends on both sides are also guilty.
The Kostrin and Balan Temples will not perform services for the dead. Heal, bless or otherwise aid the winner (or the Second or Friends.) Excommunication for all parties is likely.