In the Stenza legal code, enshrined on the Twin Pillars, the "right of retaliation" refers to the right of an individual who has suffered a wrong to address that wrong appropriately. There are two checks on this, chiefly designed to prevent civil war from tearing apart the Unified Stenza Clans/The Nine Systems. The first is that the individual who has been wronged may only answer the wrong proportionally, and the second is that the victim of an act of retaliation cannot, in turn, retaliate. (Furthermore, all these rules only apply to adults, and while it is good and necessary for children and young people to learn them, they are not as bound by them as their older counterparts.)
Proportionality of Answer
The Stenza who has a wrong done against them may and must answer in kind. Do not call for blood if someone lightly struck you.In reality, Stenza have two options if they are faced with insults or offensive behavior: ignore it (the path taken in a statistically significant proportion of mild cases), or respond appropriately. When one chooses the latter, one must then assess the behavior to determine an appropriate response (and this is where consulting with Blood Siblings or Litter Mates can be incredibly useful). For instance: vile rumors can be met with equally vile rumors or an open but playful challenge of the gossip's mettle (i.e. calling the offender a weak fighter or ignorant about whatever their job requires them to know). A blow can be met with a blow in kind, but any actions following this enter muddy territory quickly (see below). The notoriously murky area in this regard is the bar fight. Ale adds confusion to any situation no matter who drinks it, and it is very common to see two (more rarely more than that) very drunk individuals erupting into an all-out brawl that frequently breaks out into the street. The legality of this is always questionable, but the sorting of who said and did what and when is too difficult to manage after the initial encounter. Very frequently the solution is to let the two drunks knock themselves out, dry up, and see if they remember anything in the morning.
Limits on Retaliation
The Stenza who retaliates has not made an enemy; rather, they have restored social order. Those who see this as an act worthy of retaliation must be denied.A key concern following the Battle with the Stone Menace was the prospect of civil war. Stenza have been known to start bloody conflicts over virtually nothing both before and after the establishment of the Unified Stenza Clans (with one notable example being a confusion over color vision that some historians speculate involve principals with Red-Green Vision). To attempt to mitigate this, limits have been placed on who has the right of retaliation. Most frequently, it is limited to the original victim, and very often the two parties are pulled apart before a fight can begin (as mentioned above, bar fights are notorious for this not happening, and very few being sober enough to know who did what to whom).