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Adanorcil
Developer Emeritus
22 Jan 2006



This is the result of a fruitful discussion and brainstorming session on IRC. I post it here for future reference.


Dunmer Justice


Crime and punishment in Morrowind are topics often settled discreetly within Great Houses, or otherwise by Morag Tong writ. In those rare cases where a conflict rages for a sufficiently long time to become a threat to regional stability, Temple officials may intervene and call for the case to be decided on legal grounds. These cases are generally heard at the [Almalexia Courthouse]. The courtroom's features three areas separated from the main floor by velk silk screens, from where three judges can consider pleas without showing themselves to the parties concerned. [This idea is subject of debate.] Before testifying, it is customary to splash one's face with water from a special font, in imitation of Vivec's “Water Face”, which is supposed to make lying impossible.

The identity of the judges depends on the jurisdictional level of the case. In broad terms, Morrowind's law has two distinct levels. Historically, every Great House has a set of traditional rules and values that it is allowed to enforce as it sees fit. As long as as a conflict does not involve members of a different House, procedure dictates that the defendant is tried under the law of the House concerned. These idiosyncratic regulations can vary immensely. The exhaustive regulations of the Indoril fill a library by themselves whereas the Telvanni have no written rules and few unwritten ones, and as result, never appear before court for such matters. (And in truth rarely do at all.) Redoran disputes are often settled with(the threat of) an honorary duel.

Conflicts that involve (members of) multiple Great Houses are delegated to the so-called tribunate level. Defendants here are judged by three specially appointed Temple representatives. Rulings at the tribunate level are based on a complex historical amalgam of Tribunal law, its countless exegetical treatises and legal precedents. Depending on the severity of the punishment associated with a given charge under a given system, skilled barristers will often try to manipulate the level at which a case is decided, by either minimizing or emphasizing the involvement of a second House.

Though the [Almalexia Courthouse] existed as an institute before the Armistice, its popularity has increased significantly since. This is in no small degree due to the increasing Imperial presence in Morrowind. Whereas Dunmeri conflicts rarely spiral out of control to a point where it would be worthwhile to call for Temple mediation, citizens of the Empire usually attempt to gain access to the tribunate level, where Imperial law and its representatives have at least a small foothold. The minute, but repetitive admissions to Imperial legislation that Morrowind law is forced to make provides a continuing source of frustration to the province's legal experts.

When a verdict is the subject of controversy, it is possible to appeal to the Temple, or in extreme cases, the Emperor. The latter option is of course rarely used by the native Dunmer. In theory, it is possible to appeal directly to ALMSIVI, but this is unheard of in practice.
Post Wed Dec 19, 2012 1:00 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Katze
Developer Emeritus
26 Feb 2009

Location: Behind you!

Just had a thought. Redoran often settle their major internal disputes with duels.

Are they always to the death as in the original game, or would it be considered acceptable for a participant to admit defeat and at least leave with his/her life?

_________________
"If a hermaphroditic, bug-armored, bipolar god-king existing in multiple universes who has his very own bible with *actual* magic strewn throughout it is your idea of a cliche, then I really would like to live in your world." -MK

"You say a lot of things. And how does that work? You're a bicycle"

Tea is important.
Post Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:27 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Adanorcil
Developer Emeritus
22 Jan 2006



Cathartis wrote:
Just had a thought. Redoran often settle their major internal disputes with duels.

Are they always to the death as in the original game, or would it be considered acceptable for a participant to admit defeat and at least leave with his/her life?

I reckon that would be acceptable, at the cost of losing the dispute, of course. The whole killing bit always struck me more as a gameplay thing. Doesn't make sense to be killing off valuable 300 year old House members left and right.
Post Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:11 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
gro-Dhal
Lead Developer
05 Nov 2006

Location: A charter'd street

That's why the threat of a duel is often used to resolve conflicts rather than the actual deed.

"Unless we decide who this land belongs to, we're both going to have to fight, possibly to the death"

"Er... can we talk about this some more maybe?"

"I was hoping you'd say that"

_________________
Test
Post Wed Dec 19, 2012 11:18 am Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
Katze
Developer Emeritus
26 Feb 2009

Location: Behind you!

I'm playing through the Redoran questline of the main game at the moment, and it seems you do participate in a non-lethal duel in at least one quest (as in, he surrenders when down to a low enough health level, I don't imagine he stops before he kills you). Oddly, it's between the player as a Redoran and a Hlaalu noble.
_________________
"If a hermaphroditic, bug-armored, bipolar god-king existing in multiple universes who has his very own bible with *actual* magic strewn throughout it is your idea of a cliche, then I really would like to live in your world." -MK

"You say a lot of things. And how does that work? You're a bicycle"

Tea is important.
Post Wed Dec 19, 2012 3:42 pm Send private message             Reply with quote                   up  
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