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I'm wanting to run an email RPG with my family based on Highlander the Series. I haven't watched it since I was a kid though so I'm searching through online resources to refresh my memories of the series' universe. In doing so, I encountered something that conflicted significantly with my memories.

I recalled that the "rules of the game" prohibited guns, but I can't find where that is stated.

Wikipedia does not include it as one of the 'rules', which makes sense, given 'the rules' would predate firearms by thousands of years. However, Wikipedia does describe characters who use guns to soften up their opponents as 'cheating', as if it somehow violates one of the named rules, but I can't see how that's the case.

In the TV series, guns would clearly be useful, as shooting an Immortal will temporarily pseudo-kill them, so it's not a matter of impracticality.

Immortals readily use guns (and other ranged weapons) to kill mortals - even heroic characters like Duncan have carried a firearm when it was contextually appropriate (e.g., war, the Old West).

So the choice to not use firearms (or other ranged weapons) in duels seems to only be an ettiquette-within-the-club sort of thing. I could imagine that would matter if dishonorable conduct carried some sort of negative consequences, like making you a target for Immortals bent on enforcing civility, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

So it really strains belief that so many people (within a disjointed, scattered population) would agree to abide by unenforced guidelines for polite killing - in some cases in bold contradiction to the norms of the culture they were raised in.

So, for an in-universe explanation, all I've got is convenience. It would already be a pain in the shebs to have a discrete swordfight (with lightning) and then dispose of a decapitated body - add noisy gunshots and traceable bullets and it all gets more complicated.

However, if you're an Immortal who doesn't feel the need to accummulate heads, drawing the attention of cops would be a plus: Put a couple of rounds in a guy's chest, wait for the cops to show up, give them your story about how you were forced to defend yourself from a psychotic visigoth with a bastard sword, and then go home and pack your bags while he sits in a coroner's office waiting to respawn.

Has any other in-universe explanation been offered? Because, if not, my wife's Viking Immortal will probably end up packing heat.

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    A few of them do. It's not very effective and they always end up dying by the end of the episode. A few of the watchers and hunters do as well.
    – Valorum
    Jul 13 '20 at 21:30
  • Connor MacLeod gets shot repeatedly in the original film and it has next to no effect on him. Why bother wasting the bullets if the only way to kill your opponent is to lop off his/her head? Jul 14 '20 at 1:01
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    @SpaceWolf1701 That makes sense for the movie, but the TV series handles it completely differently. A wound that would be immediately fatal for a mortal also kills an Immortal, but they revive after a while. Jul 14 '20 at 1:25
  • Just for framing possible answers, is your position that immortals generally do follow their rules, for whatever reason, or that they generally do not follow their rules? It would make a difference to answering the question, including in-show (but indirect) examples as well as for making inferences (where needed).
    – Upper_Case
    Jul 14 '20 at 2:50
  • My observation is that Immortals generally follow the unspoken no-firearms rule, with the exceptions to that rule standing as evidence that there are no direct consequences for those who break the rule. So, where (in universe) did this rule come from and why do most Immortals seem to abide by it? Jul 14 '20 at 3:58
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In universe if you do not want to play The Game you live on hallowed ground of some kind, shooting a challenger and involving the cops would be a serious no for several reasons not least of which is your going to have to burn an identity and those things don't just grow on trees plus guns are not the easiest things to get in a lot of the world.

While I do have vague recollections or certain immortals "cheating" in various ways I do not recall if there was ever a head taken while an immortal was temporarily dead it could be possible that a "dead" immortal does not produce a quickening.

Ultimately though as far as canon goes I do not believe there is really a reason not to use guns except that its hard to take a head with a gun and its just not seen as "honorable"

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  • "plus guns are not the easiest things to get in a lot of the world." Ah. I grew up in Missouri, so I tend to take it for granted that a person can buy a gun at Walmart and wear it into Lens Crafters. Jul 14 '20 at 4:02
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    "it could be possible that a "dead" immortal does not produce a quickening." This is a really interesting theory. Jul 14 '20 at 4:04
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I don't think that even "the rules" are in anyway enforceable over everyone just agreeing to them.

No Immortal may fight on Holy Ground, no matter who regards it as Holy. But how is someone to know if the someone they never met considers the ground they walk/fight on holy? And I'm sure there are some religious beliefs that would include the whole Earth to be holy.

Immortal combat is one on one only — no outside interference. Yet Amanda took the head of Duncan's opponent in the episode "Reunion". If you want to include the subsequent films, then Immortals ganging up on other Immortals is quite common place in Endgame.

Mortals must not learn about Immortals. Yet Tessa knew of Duncan's immortality. Even if you excuse lovers from the rule, I don't remember Duncan going on a killing spree after learning about the existence of the Watchers.

Everything seems to rest on Immortals being (at least in some way) honourable. Shooting other Immortals or setting your dogs on them is just considered poor form.

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  • "I'm sure there are some religious beliefs that would include the whole Earth to be holy." My wife caught that one too. I thought maybe there was an important distinction between the notion of hround being 'sanctuary' and the notion of it being 'holy', but I realized I was straining to make the argument. I'm also confused about whether the Catacombs of Paris count as 'holy ground' and how far the boundary extends vertically. Jul 14 '20 at 19:44

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