Kozachi Sud

Kozachi Sud aka Trial By Goat

"Some people say is torture, I say Kozachi Sud is noble battle of strength and will, like gladiators in your Grand Arena. I have meet many people in City of Many Knives who do not have real strength because they have never see true face of death. Make someone like that spend week in hole with hungry goat, it will build up their character. This is of course if goat does not eat them, you see." 
--Borys the Hegyem, on use of carnivorous goats in the settling of disputes 


It is very important to be clear that the alleged history of the Hegyembi tradition of "kozachi sud"--which the Hegyem usually translate as "Court of the Goat" but outsiders have streamlined to "Trial by Goat"--is based entirely on the word of the Hegyem themselves, and most of what we know comes from the Foreign Ward crime boss Borys Neschadymenko. Many believe that the kozachi sud is not actually an ancient ritual, but rather a bizarre and deadly practical joke that the Hegyem have developed for use with outsiders who they've decided deserve to be taken down a peg and/or eaten by a goat. This seems consistent with the morose and often abstract sense of humor that prevails among the Hegyem, but the Hegyem are unanimous in their insistence that trial by goat is an ancient and sacred tradition of their people.


The kozachi sud is always preceded by a one-week "cooling-off" period called kozachyhaty, which can be roughly translated as "a time to look into your heart and deeply consider whether there is an amicable resolution to the current dispute that does not involve spending a week in a pit with a goat who wants to eat you." During this time, the only responsibility of the Wronged (the accuser who has demanded the trial by goat) is to make preparations for the trial. Meanwhile, the Accused (the person guilty of wrongdoing) is supposed to look for a peaceful solution to the dispute. At the end of this time, the Accused presents their proposal (if they have one; in many cases, the accused would rather go into the pit than admit wrongdoing) to the Wronged. The Wronged is expected to seriously consider the proposal, and it's generally considered quite honorable to accept any reasonable resolution that is sincerely offered by the Accused. If the Wronged accepts the proposal, the kozachi sud is called off and the two parties seal their agreement with a toast.  

If no agreement is reached, the Accused is thrown into the pit with a Sin-Eater Goat. The Accused goes into to the pit completely naked but, as the Hegyem are quick to point out, "so does the goat." Each day, the Wronged delivers (usually by simply dropping it into the shaft) a small quantity of meat and another item prescribed by the rules of the ritual. These are called myrpropzyts, which means approximately "a gift given freely to the one who has wronged me in the sincere hope that if they do not get eaten by my goat, we may once again greet one another as friends" (the Hegyembi language is very dense). 

There are three generally recognized outcomes for the kozachi sud

  1. The Accused is killed and eaten by the goat: The Accused has paid for their transgression with their life, and the issue is considered resolved. The Wronged is expected to let the matter drop; for example, the Wronged cannot attempt to collect a debt from next of kin. 
  2. The Accused kills the goat: The Accused is vindicated. It is traditional, however, for the Accused to replace the Wronged's goat as a gesture of goodwill. 
  3. Both the goat and the Accused survive: This is considered a draw, and the two parties in the dispute are expected to come up with a compromise in which both parties accept some culpability and some of the repercussions of whatever set this series of events into motion. In the case of a dispute involving money or something that can be assigned a fair monetary value, the Accused is generally expected to pay the Wronged half of that value. If the two parties cannot reach an agreement themselves, they may ask for a ruling from a mutually agreed-upon third party. In any case, the Accused--who, remember, has just spent a very traumatic week trying to avoid being eaten by a starving, flesh-eating goat--is typically too traumatized to put up much argument regarding the terms. 

Components and tools

The Wronged is responsible for securing the Sin-Eater Goat to be used in the trial, preparing the location, and providing the meat and myrpropzyts for the trial. The traditional setting for the trial is a shallow vertical mine shaft, but any small enclosed space can be used provided it allows for the Accused and the goat to be locked in and the Wronged to deliver the daily meat and gifts. In Khezvaros, "Borys the Headsman" uses a small stone shed with a heavily reinforced door and a trapdoor in the roof for making the daily delivery. The Wronged stops feeding the goat as soon as it is place in the pit. Since the length of time since the goat has eaten has a measurable impact on the Accused's chances of survival, the Wronged is best served by having a pit and goat at the ready before formally demanding the kozachi sud.   The daily meat delivery provides just enough to sustain either the Accused or the goat. If either eats less than the full quantity provided, it does them minimal good. The Accused will continue to get weaker, the goat will get more aggressive. If the location of the trial does not have its own water source, it's traditional (though not technically required) that the Wronged provide enough water to sustain both the goat and the Accused. The first delivery takes place about 12 hours after the Accused goes into the pit and subsequent deliveries occur around the same time each day thereafter. In addition to meat and water, the Wronged provides a different ritually-specified mypropzyt each day, which are outlined below. Allegedly, these are the items that allowed some great Hegyem hero to survive the first Trial by Goat. Unfortunately, however, the way in which he used these items to survive the trial has been lost to the ages. Only the list of items remains.  
  • Day 1: Bedclothes Spoiler: Bedclothes
    This traditional nightgown and cap keeps the Accused from having to be naked, but is also a clue that today's meat has been tainted with a powerful sleeping drug. If the goat eats the meat, it will fall into a deep sleep for 3d4 hours. If the human eats the meat, they must roll each hour to stay awake. If they fall asleep, the goat will eventually think they're dead and try to eat them. The goat gets 2 free attacks before the pain overpowers the effect of the drug sufficiently for the character to defend themself.
  • Day 2: Cudgel Spoiler: Cudgel
    The cudgel, obviously, can be used for clubbing the goat. By the second day of the trial, the goat will be hungry enough that kicks and punches will not keep it at bay, so this gift really just prolongs the Accused's suffering.
  • Day 3: 5' Rope Spoiler: Rope
    A clever Accused can probably find several uses for this item, but the most common is to restrain the goat (usually by hog-tying it, unless the pit provides something to tie one end of the rope to). This will not last, of course. The goat gets a chance to break free every hour and gets a bonus to the roll that increases by +1 for every 3 attempts.
  • Day 4: Lantern Spoiler: Lantern
    The lantern obviously provides light, but a perceptive Accused will notice that the goat tends to avoid the lantern when it is lit. This is because the lantern oil is mixed with Spite Bat venom, which is poisonous to Sin-Eaters. If the lamp is used for more than an hour at a time, the Accused will suffer from mild auditory and visual hallucinations. If the accused realizes why the goat is avoiding the lamp (or why they're hallucinating), coating their body with the lamp oil will keep the goat from trying to eat them for a while. The lamp contains 6 units of oil, each of which will power the lamp for 1 hour or keep the goat at bay for 4 hours.
  • Day 5: Bandages Spoiler: Bandages]
    This delivery is a bag containing some bandage materials and a small jar of healing salve. Its use is self-explanatory, and it will likely be sorely needed by this point in the trial.
  • Day 6: Lockbox Spoiler: Lockbox]
    Today's delivery is a small locked box. The key was fed to the goat before it was placed in the pit and can be found somewhere among the animal's droppings. The box contains 2 vials of bat venom lamp oil, each with 6 units of oil.
  • Day 7: Feast Spoiler: Feast]
    On the final day, the Wronged delivers enough meat for both man and goat and often includes additional foodstuffs and perhaps even a flask of spirits. This is seen as an acknowledgement that the accused will likely survive the trial and a tribute to their strength and resourcefulness.


Only three participants are strictly necessary for the kozachi sud: The Wronged, The Accused, and the Goat. However, most goat courts (especially those held in open pits) attract a number of spectators who stop by to insult or offer encouragement to the Accused, check in on the progress of the trial, and make bets about how things will turn out. To prevent these people from interfering with the trial, guards are sometimes employed by the Wronged to keep watch over events at the pit.


The kozachi sud is something like a trial by combat that is used to settle disputes. It is invoked whenever an agreement cannot be reached through more peaceful means.
Related Ethnicities

Cover image: Main Header Banner City of Ten Thousand Daggers by Steve Johnson


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