There are six Trials that the Clans use. They are:
Trial of Grievance (Honor Duel)
TRIAL OF GRIEVANCE (HONOR DUEL):
When disputes arise between individual warriors that neither they nor their immediate superiors can resolve, both warriors must petition to have their differences heard by the Clan Council (or the Grand Council if the opponents are Bloodnamed or hold important rank). Until the council rules, the disputants are bound by Clan law to avoid any unnecessary contact. This may be carried to the point of one transferring to another unit. If one takes aggressive action against the other before the council rules, or if he disagrees with the council's decision, he or she has committed a breach of Clan law punishable by expulsion into a lesser caste or out of Clan society entirely.
The parties may also call for a Trial of Grievance. The rules governing the trial are many and strict. If the combatants are MechWarriors or fighter pilots of different weight-class vehicles, the council must make the contest more even. Often, a vehicle type that is mid-way in size is chosen, and the disputants have several weeks to become accustomed to their new vehicles. If the disputants are from different branches of the warrior caste, then some kind of a middle ground, such as fencing with Medusa whips, is chosen.
The trial itself is judged by members of the council, who ensure that trial and combat etiquette is strictly heeded. A Circle of Equals is defined, anything from ten meters in diameter for a hand-to-hand trial to more than 100 kilometers wide for an air duel. No one but the combatants may enter the Circle of Equals unless invited, and leaving the Circle before the contest is ended is a shameful defeat. All trials are defined as to the death, but they usually end before either combatant is killed.
This system of decisions and regulations is designed to outlast the anger that sparked the trial, and that is usually the case. Some records indicate, however, that sometimes the anger between two warriors, or two sets of warriors, outlasts even the Trial of Grievance, degenerating into what we would call a feud. The most notorious and well-documented failure of the grievance trial system involved the Nicholas Pride sibko and the Blue Devil sibko of Clan Smoke Jaguar. The Blue Devil warriors maintained a grudge for several generations, based on an imagined slight during a Smoke Jaguar Council ceremony.
Other tales suggest that many Honor Duels are resolved less formally and more swiftly than official sources dictate. For example, a Trial of Grievance between two sibkin rarely draws the attention of the Clan Council. Instead, a Circle of Equals is drawn immediately and the two fight under the supervision of a superior officer until one is knocked from the circle.
Trials of Position determine rank and honors. The Trial of Position determines whether a cadet becomes a warrior as well as whether a warrior deserves a promotion to the next level of training. The trial is a combat situation in which the candidate usually faces selected superiors one at a time with live weapons. The candidate's success determines how far he advances in rank and responsibility.
The use of live weapons for what is essentially an examination seems barbaric and wasteful of human life to those outside the Clans. An accident can easily cut short a promising career or life. It is one of the best examples of how little regard the Clans have for individual life in their quest for social supremacy.
Even if the goal is worthy, is it worth the cost in suffering and human life? When asked this question, a Clansman most often reacts with a blank stare. The concept of individuality is as alien to the Clanspeople as they are to us. Those who understand that it is a question of balance can answer easily. The cause is worth everything, the individual, nothing. If a warrior is unwilling to risk his life for the good of the Clans, he cannot claim the status of warrior and is of no use to the Clans. His fellow Clansmen would prefer to discover this in a test than in the heat of battle. Therefore, they see no point in using powered-down weapons when a warrior is training to face real weapons.
Throughout a cadet's training and a warrior's career, he continually undergoes Trials of Position. From the sibko on, a warrior must face many trials. The early trials would be familiar to us in the Inner Sphere as simple exams. The trials grow progressively harder, however, and the cadet's attitude and mental endurance is tested as well as his knowledge of facts.
The Trial of Position is also a cadet's final trial. During this test, two cadets face six front-line warriors with weapons at full power. Each candidate faces three of the experienced warriors, who attack one at a time. If a candidate attacks any of the warriors assigned to another cadet, they are free to return fire, and the combat becomes a general melee. To pass the trial, a candidate must defeat at least one of his opponents. If he does so, he becomes a warrior and enters active service. Defeat of two opponents earns the rank of Star Commander. Defeat of three, a rare accomplishment, ranks the candidate as a Star Captain. Defeat of four requires cooperation between the two candidates, in that one surrenders a potential kill to the other. On only one occasion has a candidate defeated four opponents in a Trial of Position. Natasha Kerensky accomplished this feat and earned the rank of Star Colonel upon her recent return to the Clans. A warrior can be required to repeat the Trial of Position at any time in his career, especially when his continuing ability to perform is in question, as it was with Natasha Kerensky's, or when he is in line for a promotion.
TRIAL OF BLOODRIGHT:
The Clans have approximately 760 Bloodnames. The name of each of the 800 warriors who joined Nicholas Kerensky and refused to take part in the Exodus Civil War is considered a Bloodname, less the 40 names removed when the "Not-Named Clan" was annihilated. Clan tradition dictates that only 25 living Clan warriors may hold the same Bloodname, and each must have a direct matrilineal link to the original progenitor.
Each Clan originally claimed rights only to the Bloodnames of the 40 warriors Nicholas Kerensky assigned to that Clan. This organization gradually blurred as Clans fought each other in Trials of Possession for specific warriors' genes to enhance their individual Clan. Even if warriors became abtakha (captured by another Clan), they still retained the right to claim a Bloodname belonging to their former Clan. In this way, more than one Clan could claim the same Bloodname. Additional cross-naming took place when two Clans were disbanded and their Bloodnames spread among the other Clans. There are still some Bloodnames, however, that are the exclusive property of a Clan. The Kerensky and Ward Bloodnames, for example, are still held only by warriors of the Wolf Clan.
Winning a Bloodname is a warrior's guarantee of Clan immortality. Not only is he honored with the right to use the Bloodname as his own, but he becomes eligible for high military and political positions. Most important to Bloodnamed warriors is the fact that, barring any subsequent action that would bring them shame, their genes will contribute to the gene pool for the next generation. The remains of most Bloodnamed warriors are returned to one of the 800 memorial chapels built by Nicholas Kerensky on Strana Mechty to honor each of the original 800 warriors. There, the ashes of each Bloodnamed warrior lie with the ashes of the other warriors of the same Bloodname in the ornate tomb of their honored namesake.
When a Bloodnamed warrior dies, a Trial of Bloodright is declared. The current Bloodnamed warriors of that name each select one nominee from the pool of eligible candidates. The Bloodname's leader nominates additional warriors to bring the number to 31 candidates. The 32nd slot is reserved for all other eligible candidates, those who were not nominated but who still wish to compete for a Bloodname. This group engages in a Grand Bloodname Melee, with the survivor being awarded the 32nd slot. The 32 candidates then begin a series of one-on-one duels that eventually result in one victor, who is awarded the Bloodname. This fulfills Nicholas Kerensky's requirement that a Bloodname be won by defeating all others who make a claim to that name.
Though winning any Bloodname is significant, it is interesting to note that considerable prestige is attached to certain Bloodheritages. Because lineage is traced matrilineally, each warrior is only qualified to compete for one Bloodname. It is not uncommon for an ambitious warrior to decline nomination for what he considers an inferior BloodHeritage, in hopes of competing for a better BloodHeritage later on.
TRIAL OF POSSESSION:
The fourth type of combat trial is conducted when two or more Clans claim the rights to the same thing, be it territory, a warrior's genes, or even supremacy in a conflict of opinion. Nicholas Kerensky created this combat trial within a year of the end of the civil war. As a reward for their loyal support, Kerensky decided that each Clan should receive half of one of the colonized Clan worlds and small shares of the others. Strana Mechty would remain neutral. The Clans had to determine among themselves who would possess what area. If two or more Clans wanted the same piece of land, their claims were subject to a Trial of Possession. This policy resulted in many hard-fought battles to determine which Clans got the lion's share of the better worlds and how the remaining lands were to be divided.
A Trial of Possession is initiated when the attackers issue a formal challenge to the defenders. The attackers identify themselves, state their objective, and ask the defender what forces he will use. For example, Star Colonel Adler Malthus began the campaign against Twycross with this challenge: "I am Star Colonel Adler Malthus of the Falcon Guards. What forces defend this world?"
The challenge changes to fit the objective. If, for example, the challenge is over the rights to genetic material, part of the challenge might be stated in the following manner: "What forces defend the spawn of Dan Kryla?"
The defenders then state what forces they will place in defense of the objective. They also have the right to name the location of the trial. The defenders may increase the stakes by demanding a prize of equal or lesser value if they win. This option available to the defender is largely unknown in the Inner Sphere, but explains why Hohiro Kurita was able to bargain with the Clan commander at Wolcott.
The attacker's subcommanders then bid among themselves for the right to engage in the trial. The subcommander who bids to fight with the fewest forces wins the right and responsibility to make the attack.
Clans can keep prisoners taken during such trials to serve as "bondsmen" (laborers for the Clan), or else these individuals may be sent back to their original Clan, with little honor lost. Bondsmen must serve the Clan until the Clan Council decides to reinstate their rights as a warrior. A Clan can formally adopt captured warriors if the Clan Council considers them an asset to its forces. Once a warrior is officially adopted into a new Clan, he regains his warrior status.
Bidding and Trials of Possession both favor commanders who succeed using minimal forces. Nicholas used these methods to prevent all-out war and the catastrophic loss of industry and civilian life that inevitably accompanies it.
TRIAL OF REFUSAL:
The Clan Councils and the Grand Council, like any legislative bodies, vote on laws and actions that affect the community. Unlike Inner Sphere legislative bodies, however, any decision can be challenged and reversed by a Trial of Refusal. These trials afford the losing side the right to demand that the issue be settled by combat.
The forces used in a Trial of Refusal are determined on a prorated basis. The side rejecting the vote declares what forces they will use. The winning side can field a force equal to the ratio of winning votes to losing votes. If, for example, the contested vote carried by a three-to-one margin, those on the winning side of the issue can field a force three times the size of the force of those challenging the decision. The traditional bidding by subcommanders usually results in a smaller attacking force, however.
If this trial process is taken to its logical conclusion, it is possible that a subcommander might vote for a decision he actually opposed, and then bid so low that the decision could be overturned. My suggestion that a warrior might consider this course of action was met with shock and frozen silence. One Loremaster refused any further interviews, and another prohibited me from any contact with the warriors of his Clan. Such a breach of honor is clearly unthinkable.
An interesting variation of the Trial of Refusal is the Absorption Right. The Grand Council can vote to allow one Clan to absorb another, but only by a unanimous vote (excepting the Clan being absorbed). The council then determines which Clan will benefit from the Absorption. Naturally, the Clan to be absorbed would demand a Trial of Refusal. The Clan chosen to absorb the weaker Clan may also be challenged by others in a Trial of Refusal even before battling the Clan to be absorbed. The resulting trials can last for years. Wolf won the right to absorb Clan Widowmaker in 2825, for example, but had to defeat three other Clans for that right.
TRIAL OF ANNIHILATION:
A Trial of Annihilation is the most extreme punishment the Clans can declare. It goes beyond the question of right and wrong. A Trial of Annihilation virtually guarantees that the warrior will die and that his genes will be eliminated from the Clans' gene pool. This trial can only be invoked by a unanimous vote of the appropriate council, and only for the most heinous crimes against Clan society.
Trials of Annihilation have been declared against warriors, Stars, and even Clusters, but only once has an entire Clan suffered this ultimate punishment. Because any mention of the Clan involved in this Trial of Annihilation is punishable by a Trial of Grievance, no Clansman would reveal the name of the "Not-Named Clan." The details behind its annihilation were also impossible to discover. However, careful research into The Remembrance and artfully phrased questions point to the Clan Wolverine as the object of this Trial of Annihilation.
This data file was originally obtained from the BattleTech 3056 MUSE. It was originally converted to HTML by Michael J. Flynn of The Company Store and Team SPAM! who believe "Information is in the noise!"