Clash of Cultures
Two neighboring worlds, Mintacca and Alkor, are both inhabited, and have been in contact for generations. Mintacca is the home of a human minor race with an elaborate legal code and a bureaucracy to enforce it. Alkor is the home of a race that resemble Ursa, but are unrelated. Alkorite culture is less regimented, and justice is generally enforced through social custom, including an honor code and a code duello. There are enclaves on each world where those from the other tend to gather, and in those enclaves, their own law tends to hold as long as it doesn't involve the majority culture.
When a cross-culture incident happens, it can usually be resolved peacefully. Unfortunately, 'usually' and 'always' are not synonymous.
During a tense night time security operation in a major Mintaccan city, a newly arrived Alkorite, Samayj, unfamiliar with the city, rounds a corner and walks into the operation. Constable Aureyon is abruptly confronted by a being half again his size, in the middle of a major operation against known, armed, organized criminals.
Constable Aureyon orders Samayj to lay face down. The Alkorite, surprised, confused, completely not expecting that anyone would be yelling at him to lay down, hesitates.
Constable Aureyon perceives the hesitation as refusal and the towering bulk of the Alkorite as threatening, so he empties his gun into Samayj until he does lay down, permanently.
The following investigation, while finding no criminal liability in Constable Aureyon's actions, does decide that his decision making ability isn't up to Metropolitan Security standards, and his actions were outside MS guidelines. Because of his failings and the stain on Metropolitan Security's image, Aureyon is required to resign and his license to carry a weapon revoked. All the future now holds for former Constable Aureyon is the hope for a job walking a mall after hours with a time clock and flash light checking for locked doors and smoldering trash cans - or other similarly limited positions.
As above, Mintacca is a world of carefully crafted laws, many volumes of them, and an extensive legal system to ensure they are enforced.
Alkor, however, is a simpler world. Law there is more a matter of assembled custom. Alkorite custom when someone accidentally kills another is for the perpetrator to face an designated member of the deceased's extended family in one-to-one battle. If the perpetrator survives, then the gods have forgiven them and the deceased family must also. If the perpetrator does not survive, well, the gods have made their judgment.
The Mintaccans consider the matter closed. Aureyon has been punished in the context of their laws for actions he took.
The Alkorites demand that Aureyon be sent to Alkor to participate in the duel. Aureyon isn't interested in going to Alkor to be beaten to a bloody, dead pulp. While there may be conciliatory members of the Mintaccan government, there are also conservative members who aren't about to allow an Mintaccan to be subjected to such barbarism. It is somewhat quaint when the Alkorites do that to each other, but not to a Mintaccan.
Alkorite custom holds that if the perpetrator refuses to appear for the duel, then they are declared dishonored and fair game for anyone who can hunt them down. With Aureyon firmly on Mintacca, the head of Samayj's extended family on Alkor declares Aureyon to be honorless, and further characterizes him in ways that even a Mintaccan would recognize as insulting. Samayj's family head also declares the traditional bounty in such cases; anyone killing Aureyon and proving it will receive the traditional payment from the deceased's extended family.
Involving the PCs
There are several ways that the PCs can be involved in this
- [METAGAME] One of the PCs may in fact be former Constable Aureyon; as the last thing in his character generation, he fails miserably on a roll and the event that costs him his original career is the accidental killing of Samayj. He gets to become a Traveller with a price on his head and many large, bear like creatures wanting to brutally kill him.
- The PCs are law enforcement on Mintacca (or contracted to assist them) and now find themselves having to deal with many attempts on Aureyon's life.
- The PCs may be bounty hunters who, with incomplete information, come looking for the 'murderer Aureyon' to take him to Alkor. They arrive expecting that the Mintaccan government will be cooperating with them in capturing the 'murderer'.
- The PCs may be diplomats attempting to defuse the situation -
The Situation Deteriorates
Assuming that Aureyon doesn't die quickly, Mintaccan constabulary agencies have had to deal with multiple attempts on his life by Alkorites. Alkorite tradition holds that anyone who attempts to protect a declared dishonored murderer as being viable targets as well.
Mintaccan constabulary have no way to tell if any given Alkorite they encounter is planning to attack. With several constables already injured or dead, they begin to treat all Alkorites as potentially hostile, which leads to additional confrontations.
The leadership of those Alkorites living on Mintacca raises political protests against the treatment. Where the Mintaccan constabulary see their actions as sound precautions, Alkorites on Mintacca see them as oppression and harassment. Some Alkorites begin to believe that the only way they can survive an encounter with the constabulary is to shoot first and more.
Further PC Involvement
- One place is again as Mintaccan constabulary, or contracted to them, this time dealing with a growing insurgency amongst the Alkorites.
- The PCs may be Mercs hired by Alkorites to help them throw off the oppression of the Mintaccans.
- The PCs may be hired to bring weapons in to the Alkorites
- The PCs may be hired to infiltrate smugglers bringing in weapons to the Alkorites.
At this point, whether Aureyon is alive or not is irrelevant. The attempts on his life cost more Mintaccans their lives, so they cracked down on the Alkorites, which cost Alkorite lives which lead to more Alkorite extended families declaring vendettas and outlawry against Mintaccans which cost more Mintaccan lives.
The Mintaccan government, now loaded with law and order conservatives because of the past violence, decides the only way to deal with the barbaric Alkorites is to herd them all into controlled areas from which they can be deported back to Alkor, once the criminal element as been isolated and properly punished.
The Alkorite government, now loaded with hard line conservative traditionalists because of what the Mintaccans have been doing to Alkorites on Mintacca and because the Mintaccans have repeatedly demonstrated that they have no sense of honor whatsoever, object to the what the Mintaccans are doing. Seeing that no Mintaccans have any honor, all Mintaccans living on Alkor are declared outlaw and viable targets for the vendettas. The Mintaccans on Alkor are rounded up for killing.
Mintacca promptly declares war on Alkor, who reciprocates.
More PC Involvement
- As Mintaccan or Alkorite military (or contracted to one or the other) confronting each other.
- If there is an interstellar government in the setting (e.g., the Imperium in the standard Traveller universe), perhaps as diplomats acting as mediators and trying to find a solution.
- If there is an interstellar government in the setting, perhaps as members of the interstellar government's armed forces, assigned to try to keep the two warring worlds apart.
- As weapons suppliers, selling to either or both sides.
- As Free Traders who walk into the midst of the situation with no idea of what happened, why it happened, or why they are being shot at.