The Compact was at first a treaty imposed by the Hastur during the time of the Hundred Kingdoms. Its adoption marked the end of the Ages of Chaos (The Heritage of Hastur). It forbade the use of all weapons which could kill from a distance, including such "classic" weapons as cross-bow as well as the weapons invented during the Ages of Chaos which could be used with devastating consequences (comparable to our nuclear bombs). The Compact allowed only the use of weapons suited for hand-to-hand combat, such as a sword or a mace. The principle was that anyone wishing to kill an opponent must come within an equal risk death himself. The Compact forbade the use and possession of all weapons capable of striking beyond arm's length.
After its adoption, the Compact took on the force of law in the Domains. It seems that the Lord Aldaran of this period refused to sign the Compact, which would explain the exclusion of Aldaran from the rest of the Domains. Little by little, the Compact became the ethical foundation of Darkovan society - outside of the Aldaran Domain, at least. Moreover, weapons which killed over a distance were considered cowardly (The Heritage of Hastur, p. 14). In The Heritage of Hastur, Callina Aillard points out that the Compact is not a law but that it "has been the ethical basis of Darkovan culture and history for hundreds of years" (p.89).
During the time of Regis Hastur, the Compact created problems in the relations between the Comyn and the Terran Empire. The treaty between the Empire and the Comyn for the establishment of spaceports and the Trade City wisely involved a strict enforcement of the Compact outside the Trade City and strict control on contraband weapons (op. cit.). But to the Terran Legate Donnell Ramsay, the Compact was a Comyn law, and therefore did not apply outside of the six Domains, which meant that it did not apply at Caer Donn, in the Aldaran Domain. The Lords of Aldaran had rejected the Compact (as their ancestors did, it would seem) as a custom worthy of barbarians (op. cit.). The lack of real control on the part of the Terrans and the lack of respect for the Compact on the part of the Aldaran allowed a contraband weapons trade to flourish. Such contraband was among the causes of death of the father of Regis Hastur.
After the Sharra awakening (related in The Heritage of Hastur), the Terrans understood that the Compact was primarily intended to protect society from Darkovan laran-based weapons, not just to prohibit Darkovans from obtaining Terran weapons. Thus they agreed to a sign a restrictive treaty, which banned the possessions of weapons forbidden by the Compact throughout all of Darkover (and, thus, in Caer Donn). Furthermore, any such weapon arriving on Darkover for legal use by the Terrans would be marked with a radioactive tracer, in order to limit and control the number of potentially contraband weapons (op. cit., p. 366-367).
source file (Last modification: Wed Apr 21 17:21:45 1999)