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 The Bounty Hunters Creed!

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PostSubject: The Bounty Hunters Creed!   Tue Jan 06, 2009 10:12 am

The Bounty Hunters Creed

Contrary to popular belief, even the roughest, the seediest, and the most dispassionate of hunters are far from being the unprincipled villains many would make them out to be. Most hunters adhere, to some degree, to an unwritten code of ethics which, when spoken of at all, is referred to as the "bounty hunter's creed." While the exact wording of these tenants varies from planet to planet, the gist of this creed is summarized below.

While the average Imperial citizen may find the codes objectionable, and even morally offensive, they serve as a loosely defined set of enforceable principles by which hunters conduct their trade and live out their lives.

People Don't Have Bounties, Only Acquisitions Have Bounties.
This single, cardinal rule, more than any other, defines the way in which bounty hunters approach their chosen profession. It reflects the idea that sapient beings, to some degree, must be accorded respect. If, however, an individual has a bounty placed on them, he or she ceases to be an individual with rights. No longer a member of the galactic community, the "acquisition" becomes fair game. Tears should never be shed over the fate of someone that is, after all, only an "acquisition."

Capture By Design, Kill By Necessity.
In keeping with the loosely defined hunter code of ethics, killing is sometimes necessary. That's business, pure and simple. However, unnecessary killing is still murder. The hunter, unless otherwise directed by those leveling the bounty, must attempt to deliver the acquisition alive. Often, those leveling the bounty have a vested interest in a live target -- and the target might be better off getting killed by the hunter.

No Hunter Shall Slay Another Hunter.
Simply put, whatever their origin, bounty hunters see themselves as a special breed. They take their lives (and those of others) into their hands each time they hunt. One may agree with another hunter's motives or disagree with them for the manner in which they carry out their hunts, but no bounty hunter may ever take up arms against a fellow hunter. This law applies only to hunters who themselves follow the creed. Those who have broken the creed, or who themselves have a bounty posted on their head, are merely acquisitions. In such cases, the ex-hunter is no longer seen as a member of a common fellowship and old scores can now be settled with impunity. The hunter has become the hunted.

No Hunter Shall Interfere With Another's Hunt.
While it is not unheard of for hunters to work as a team, the hunt for a given acquisition is most often viewed as a form of personal duel between two sapient creatures. In such a duel, the hunter matches skill and courage against all the resources one's opponent can bring to bear. If the hunter wins, it is a personal triumph denoting superior skill and intellect, and not simply a question of luck. To interfere with another's hunt, unless first invited, is to leave the question of "who is better" open and, perhaps forever, unresolved. Of course, competition between hunters is often fierce and there is often a very thin line between "compensation" and "interference." This being true, while a hunter is constrained against taking direct action against another hunter, there is nothing to constrain a hunter from hiring other hunters to do the dirty work. Of course, if such an action, successful or not, can be traced back to the original perpetrator serious consequences inevitably follow.

In The Hunt One Captures Or Kills, Never Both.
In the case where the acquisition has been taken alive, that "choice" cannot be altered. To kill an acquisition in the course of the hunt is one thing, but to purposely kill an unarmed, helpless being already subdued and unable to resist is seen as simple slaughter and wanton butchery. An acquisition "killed while attempting escape" however, would be an entirely different matter altogether.

No Hunter Shall Refuse Aid to Another Hunter.
While no hunter has the right to interfere with another's hunt, there come times when even the best of master hunters require assistance. In extreme cases, any hunter may ask for and expect aid and assistance from another hunter, even if it means the latter must temporarily suspend his or her own hunt in the meantime to render such aid. Whatever personal grievances or animosities may be involved between the two parties, it is known and understood that hunters take care of their own. Of course, such assistance is not without its price tag, and the arbitration of payment after the fact can often put a substantial dent in the expected profit.

While the creed is "commonly accepted," there continue to exist more than a few hunters who have little regard for the creed. There are, for example, recorded instances of hunters who have slain other hunters, or instances where one hunter has deliberately and openly defied custom and courtesy and acted to hinder a hunter in the pursuit of a given quarry.

The bounty hunter creed remains, therefore, a reasonable attempt at regulating an often nasty business, one often far removed from the eyes of "civilized beings." It also remains a loose set of principles that can be, and often is, violated when no one is looking. Like Imperial laws, any code of ethics is only as good as the means to enforce them.

Enforcement of the hunter's creed is, in many ways, similar to procedures found aboard the interstellar pirate ships of the galactic frontier. Once the nature of an offence against the creed has been discovered, the charge is made known by a hunter who will then convene a "hunters' lodge." The term, in this context, has no connection to a physical structure, but refers to the conclave of hunters assembled to hear the "lodgement" of accusation by the sponsoring hunter. The lodge is normally only used by independent hunters; guild houses have their own procedures for dealing with problem situations and Imperial hunters typically only answer to Imperial officials.

There are no hard and fast rules governing the actions or sentences enacted by a given lodge, but there are some "customary procedures" that are more or less in common usage. Typically, the lodge must be convened within 30 standard days of the offense. Any number of hunters can attend, providing evidence for or against the accused, though only six hunters in attendance are required to enact summary justice. The accused may likewise attend a lodgement session, though no special guarantees of safety are implied should the decision go against the accused. Alternatively, the accused may a representative to plead on his behalf. Once the evidence has been presented (or manufactured), each of the assembled hunters casts a vote. In most cases, in the case of a tied vote, the sponsoring hunter may demand another vote to break the deadlock.

If the majority decides against the accused, the result is the imposition of an immediate "ban." The ban is effectively an informal injunction which, once leveled against a given hunter, acts to deny that person aid and support from all other hunters. While the ban stops short of allowing a hunter to kill another hunter, if the accused finds himself under the ban, any number of individual "sanctions," the nature of which will vary from lodge to lodge, can be imposed at will.

Bear in mind there are no set standards as to how certain infractions are punished by individual lodges. Each lodgement outcome depends on the various personalities involved and the degree to which hunters are willing to use personal resentments to take the law into their own hands.

In extreme cases, it is not unusual to find the guilty party facing off against anonymous assassins from the "private sector" soon after the passage of a ban. Likewise, it is not unheard of for actual bounties to be issued against the accused by various law-abiding citizens of the Empire come forth with "evidence" shedding light on old infractions against Imperial law.

Lodges may be convened against guild hunters, but this is rare and risky. Guilds protect their own, and do not take kindly to a "motley assortment of criminals" singling out one of their members for death. Often, the guild will "forcibly dissuade" independents from attempting to enforce sanctions while taking care of the issue "internally."
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