Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 71
04-04-2010, 03:49 AM
As a budding Klingon warrior (in between my time as a Starfleet officer), I took the time to refresh myself on Klingon culture, from TOS through VOY. I also took the time to refresh myself on some real-world history, to remind myself of the parallels drawn by the Star Trek writers. (I also looked at various behind-the-scenes musings by the writers and producers, from various video tapes and DVDs.)

My response to the original post will be a combination of real-world concepts, with a brief discussion on the evolution (or devolution ) of the Klingon culture.

===

In TOS, the Klingon Empire was a unified culture of very strong beliefs, particularly a results-oriented, goal-oriented ethic. It believed in achieving its political goals through any means necessary, which is basically real-world realism (international relations theory), drawing particularly from Karl von Clausewitz. The cultural significance (and explanation) of their honour-bound ethics and beliefs derives further from Japanese Samurai (and Bushido), which is also used as the basis for Klingon warfare.

The most accurate analogy that I -- and Star Trek writers -- can give the TOS-era Klingon Empire is: Japanese Samurai in the modern nuclear world (Cold War).

To elaborate very slightly on the real-world culture of Samurai and Bushido, not only is it totally results-oriented, but -- as a result -- it is also centred on continually striving for perfection, in all things. Honour is found in perfection, dishonour in failure. Ritual suicide was the attempt to atone for failure.

To address the original post very specifically, there are no methods in this honour-system that cannot be justified, because all that matters is the end result. The ends always justify the means: cloak ambushes, civilian 'massacres', etc. The honour is in the victory. Failure means dishonour, whose only response is death: ramming attacks, self-destruction, etc.

It is important to note that they (both the Samurai and TOS Klingons) did not favour suicidal attack as a primary means of achieving victory. Remember that they believed in striving for perfection, and the perfect victory is the one in which the enemy is dead but you are not. Suicidal attack was reserved only for defeat in order to force stalemate; anything less than that was considered dishonourable.

It is also important to note that combat was -not- the sole motivation or raison d'etre, for either Samurai or TOS-era Klingons. They were equally devoted to perfection in all aspects of life. But during the struggle against modernisation (East-vs-West, Klingon-vs-Federation), they shifted focus to insulation and defense of their way of life, both physically and culturally.

They were strong because they believed strongly in their ideals. Not to mention that their culture was rich because of their unwillingness to modernise fully. They clung to tradition in order to preserve their heritage.

All of this is pretty much the opposite of the Federation in TOS.

TOS was truly a clash of ideologies, which is as representative of the early Cold War as it was of Japanese (and generally Asian) modernisation.

===

The films, TNG, and subsequent series sadly showed the devolution of this strong culture into a more feral and animalistic group, in favour of boosting the Federation's image as a more evolved ideal toward which to strive.

The core beliefs of Bushido -- Klingon honour -- became confused with acceptance of defeat, which is what many perceived in the alliance (again, East and West, Klingon and Federation). This was shown in Star Trek VI and throughout TNG.

TNG showed the struggle within the Klingon Empire between the old and new ways, and DS9 further developed this with an abortive return to the old ways. However, no subsequent development in Star Trek ever saw the return of the glory days of the Empire's culture, as described above.

===

Again, in answer to the original post:

Is cloak (and ambush) 'honourable'? Yes, if it can achieve victory.

Is asymmetric warfare (uneven odds, in our case) 'honourable'? Yes, if it can achieve victory.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 72
04-04-2010, 04:33 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lt. Commander Worf
In war there is nothing more honorable than victory.
To echo Matt's superb post above, the Klingon ethos is that you do what lets you win. It's the results that count. The ends do justify the means.

However, there is a little bit of a spin on this, to me. Shooting someone in the back would probably be dishonourable in single combat. Romulan sneakiness & betrayal would be considered dishonourable. Attacking a vastly weaker opponent who does not wish to face you, or worse, unarmed, is also dishonourable.

I liken it to the Predator adaptations in film & game (although strictly the Hirogen are closer there) - the goal is a worthy fight. You don't go out as a full adult and beat up children and then claim it was a worthy victory.

To operate under cloak and ambush a Federation vessel?
Honourable.

To fight under asymmetric odds?
Irrelevant. It's incredibly honourable to fight in odds that don't favour you, and irrelevant if the odds do favour you. Indeed our own warriors echo this: Quote from a Marine Colonel: if you find yourself in a fair fight, you didn't prepare properly.

To ambush a heavily damaged Federation vessel when there are worthy foes to fight?
Depends on the outcome. If by doing so, you lure other worthy foes to be attacked by your allies, and this yields victory, absolutely it's honourable. In pure RP terms I can see this going several ways in the abstract.

You might decloak and offer a choice of surrender or to die with honour.
You might let them alone and follow to locate a repair base, and a chance to strike multiple damaged vessels & the repair facility.
You might lie in wait for reinforcements to come help the damaged vessel, and thus again strike multiple targets.
You might just finish them off.

Bear in mind the Klingon culture & tradition has room in it for individual preference. There is a concept of honour, but equally not all Klingons are the same. Compare Gowron and Martok for just one example.

Synacus also correctly points out that not all KDF players are Klingon. I personally would expect someone playing a Klingon to 'get it right' and equally, I would expect a Nausicaan captain to not hesitate for a second in blowing someone up, damaged or not. I have high expectations though :p
Quote:
Originally Posted by TrickSh0t
My favorite part of Ker'rat is toying with Federation commanders. I like to wait for a straggler, uncloak, rip off a few shots, re-cloak and then start quoting General Chang from Star Trek VI.

"I see you, *captain name here*. Can you see me? Come now, captain. You do prefer it this way don't you? No peace in our time."
Hehe nice RP, love it. Might do some of that myself. I'd not call it terrorizing, I'd call it getting into character.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 73
04-04-2010, 04:41 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Askarr
However, there is a little bit of a spin on this, to me. Shooting someone in the back would probably be dishonourable in single combat. Romulan sneakiness & betrayal would be considered dishonourable. Attacking a vastly weaker opponent who does not wish to face you, or worse, unarmed, is also dishonourable.
Well, here is where I disagree, based on the standpoint of Bushido as well as TOS-era Klingon behaviour.

Shooting someone in the back, or defeating a weaker opponent, is not dishonourable under this honour-system. But it is -less- honourable than defeating an equal or stronger opponent.

Remember that the core belief of the honour-system was to strive for perfection, and -- more importantly -- actually achieve perfection, through the perfect victory. Or, the perfect death, which is philosophised to be the only way to attain the perfect victory; this explains the later confusion between suicide and victory.

Betrayal is more situational, because of the ends-means justification. Disloyalty is considered dishonourable, but betrayal in support of the greater good -- such as rebellion against corrupt leaders -- is very honourable.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 74
04-04-2010, 04:51 AM
I should qualify this further:

The goal of combat for Samurai and TOS-era Klingons was not to find worthy opponents, or combat for the sake of combat. (That was the goal of Klingons later on, when Star Trek begain diluting the culture.) The goal of combat was always victory.

Finding a worthy opponent along the way was an added bonus, defeating them an even bigger bonus. The key point here about the honour-system is that, win or lose, you -respect- your opponent, but only if they are worthy of your respect. This usually translated to combat prowess, but it does extend outside that sphere.

The ultimate sign of respect is the ritual suicide, if you lose to a worthy opponent. This is part of the concept of the perfect death.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 75
04-04-2010, 05:00 AM
The rage in spartal chat alone makes it worth doing honourable or not lol.
Besides I don't care about honour my toon is a lethean.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 76
04-04-2010, 08:25 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt_Dravis
Well, here is where I disagree, based on the standpoint of Bushido as well as TOS-era Klingon behaviour.

Shooting someone in the back, or defeating a weaker opponent, is not dishonourable under this honour-system. But it is -less- honourable than defeating an equal or stronger opponent.
Ah I take your point, if you're basing this on TOS Klingons. I was aiming for the TNG era - specifically:

Betrayal: Worf criticises the Romulans as being dishonourable for attacking their base whilst they were supposed to be allies.

Defeating a weaker opponent: Gowron discommending a Councillor when Quark (temporarily a member of the House of Quark) essentially offers himself to the other Klingon to attack freely as he can't possibly win. The Councillor attacks and Gowron exclaims that he has no honour, attacking someone defenseless.

I would imagine it's shades of grey, as you say, and more contextual than merely 'X is dishonourable' (particularly if seeking to strike a balance between TOS and later)
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 77
04-04-2010, 09:00 AM
It's also important to remember that, just because they believed in it, does not mean that they all followed it. In TOS it was less likely for a Klingon not to follow it, because the culture -- and the Empire -- was more unified then.

From the movies through TNG and subsequent series, however, it became clear that Klingons could be just as dishonourable as they perceived Romulans to be.

Within the context of 'modern' Star Trek, or STO's timeline, I personally have no idea what would be the current incarnation of this. I suspect that the Empire is attempting to return to its TOS roots, because that is the overall feeling I get from STO in general. But I also see resistance along the way, in the form of internal power struggles combined with the dilution of the KDF with non-Klingons.

In other words, the storyline seems to allow for total freedom of choice, which is a clever move (if planned) by Cryptic/CBS.

But, regardless of the timeline, blowing up an enemy, by any means, will always be considered honourable if it helps to achieve victory.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 78
04-04-2010, 09:12 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt_Dravis
In other words, the storyline seems to allow for total freedom of choice, which is a clever move (if planned) by Cryptic/CBS.

But, regardless of the timeline, blowing up an enemy, by any means, will always be considered honourable if it helps to achieve victory.
Agreed and great points. I guess this translates to whether or not one is playing a traditionalist Klingon, as to how tightly bound one would be to the old ways.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 79
04-04-2010, 09:16 AM
"Nothing is more honorable than victory." - Worf
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 80
04-04-2010, 09:22 AM
Fed ships should have to ability to fake being highly damaged/crippled.
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