Truce Zone

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A place, be it a nation, colony, city, special district or the cafe on the border of gang territory, where neutrality is the operating principle. Unlike The Neutral Zone or a demilitarized zone where members of the opposing side risk being shot if they enter, the Truce Zone actively encourages people of all stripes to visit and do business. Having shooting break out in a truce zone between opposing sides is bad for business and is strictly discouraged, often forcefully by the local law. Or everyone else will just mob you.

Some Truce Zones refer to themselves as a "free city", a region not controlled by The Empire, The Federation or any other nation state. A frequently seen aspect of these places is that they are centers for trade and commerce and may have laws favoring businesses that might wish to establish themselves there. Such places often conveniently fail to have extradition agreements with the big players. Many free city Truce Zones take this further and allow businesses and people of questionable nature to exist there as long as they don't cause trouble for the place, making it a Wretched Hive attractive to criminal elements and bounty hunters as well as protagonists fleeing The Government for more heroic reasons. Anyone who enters the free city and obeys the truce rules can expect equal protection by local law enforcement, so this is a relatively safe place for fugitives.

Contrast The Neutral Zone, which despite sounding the same, is actually the opposite—instead of both sides coexisting, neither side is allowed entry. Often combined with City of Spies, Capital City, Vice City (in the seedier ones), and Good Guy Bar. Sometimes includes (or is) a Bazaar of the Bizarre or Inn Between the Worlds. May well include a Power Nullifier and/or Anti-Magic field for added security and deterrance; after all, Mr Joe Bulletproof is much less likely to start a fight if he's not so bulletproof after all.


Examples of Truce Zone include:

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]


Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • In the Marvel Universe there is a tailor who does costume work for both heroes and villains and his shop is something of a truce zone (he himself remains neutral, not divulging any information he hears).
  • The comic book Common Grounds was built around this. It was set at a coffee house that was considered neutral turf for both heroes and villains.
  • The Reef in Sinister Dexter is a massive casino floating in the Mediterranean, which welcomes members from gangs and cartels all around the world. Everybody who sets foot in it is armed, but they all have enough sense not to actually try to shoot anyone.
  • Fallen Angel. Furors bar is sort of a safe zone in Bete Noire. The proprietor does not tolerate violence in the bar. Of course, take one step out the door and you'll probably get mugged by Satan.
  • Time In a Bottle in The DCU London, where neutrality is enforced by Merlin's magic. It's where the Martians signed the non-agression pact with the UK Government, British agents made deals with Fu Manchu, and the Rattles had their last civil meeting, and is now My Local for heroes and villains from across the UK.
  • The DCU also has the Oblivion Bar, shown in Shadowpact to be a neutral ground for the magic-using heroes and villains.


Film[edit | hide]

  • Papa Midnite's bar in Constantine. Papa Midnite swore the Oath of Neutrality and set up his bar to be a place where half-angels and half-demons could meet and mix without violence, under his protection.
  • Casablanca is both a film and a Truth in Television example set in Vichy France.
  • Hong Kong is treated this way in some modern films such as The X-Files and The Dark Knight - "no guns, all business".
  • Holy ground in Highlander; no immortals fight on holy ground (of any religion), and even the Chaotic Evil Kurgan obeys this rule.
  • Earth as a whole is this in Men in Black.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • Mr. Lee's Greater Hong Kong in Snow Crash
  • Valdaire, called the "truce city" in The Deed of Paksenarrion, is the winter home of most of the northern mercenary companies, many whom may enter combat with each other outside the city depending on their contracts.
  • In P.C. Hodgell's Chronicles of the Kencyrath, the town of Peshtar is neutral and permits both the caravans that travel through the Blue Pass as well as the brigand bands that prey upon them to enter the city to trade. However, to avoid bloodshed, it permits only one group to enter the town at any one time.
  • The Andre Norton novel Moon of Three Rings. On the planet Yiktor, during trade fairs all violence is strictly prohibited within the area of the fair.
  • In Going Postal, Groat's and Stanley's room is bisected by a white line that distinguishes their respective properties, but there is a small "demilitarized zone" in place for the salt cellar.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, anyone shedding blood within the Dothraki city of Vaes Dothrak is put to death. Shopkeepers have found a loophole keep enforcers armed with silk scarves to punish thieves instead - if a person is strangled, no blood is spilt.
  • The Bazaar of the Bizarre in Mercedes Lackey's SERRAted Edge novels forbids fighting within, even if you meet your mortal enemy there.
  • In Joanne Bertin's Dragonlord series, most cultures have a tradition of an Amousal (also rendered as "a mouse hole" in Assantikan), which is a complex of guest houses where no one staying there can be offered any violence, either from the other guests or from their hosts.
  • McAnally's pub in The Dresden Files is neutral territory under the Unseelie Accords. The decor is low-tech and old-fashioned, because magic in the Dresden-verse tends to screw up technology. Most of the clientele are humans with very low-level gifts for magic, and when Harry or someone of his caliber walks in the regulars tend to get scared. However, the neutrality of the place seems to be pretty well observed, with only two violations, once by Harry himself and once by Murphy, protecting him. (Oddly, Mac lent Harry his car after the first time.)
    • It could be argued that since Harry is a wizard of the White Council, and he took offensive action towards a Warden of the White Council, the incident would constitute a matter of internal disciplinary action and thus not be a technical violation.
    • The second instance involved exploiting a loophole, as Murphy was acting in her authority as a Chicago police officer, which hadn't signed the Unseelie Accords that recognized Mac's as a truce zone. As a result, she can freely shoot at anyone in there who threatened anyone with physical violence in the protection of the city's laws.
      • The latter point was the specific reason why neither Harry nor the Billy Goat Gruff threatening him actively engaged in violence at the time. It's implied that Murphy's ingenuity and chutzpah through which she found this unique solution seemed to be the sole reason Mac rewarded them with free beer afterwards.
  • In Tamora Pierce's book Street Magic, the marketplaces, called souks, are free zones where the many and varied gangs in the city are under truce.
  • In Everworld, Fairy Land seems to function this way, because fairies like money and don't mind where it comes from. For an added bonus, the queen brags that not even Ka Anor's armies will attack them, since he needs their market to supply his troops.
  • The Star Wars Expanded Universe has Bothawui, home to the Bothans. During the war between The Empire and The Alliance, despite being technically an Imperial world, the planet was a center for intelligence-gathering by all sides in the war and had a reputation for being relatively safe for Imperials and Rebels alike. That is, until the Bothans supplied the Rebels with the plans for the second Death Star.
  • The Floating Market in Neverwhere acts as one. All hostilities are prohibited within the Market and the consequences for breaking this rule are implied to be dire.
  • Gringotts Bank in the Harry Potter books is a truce zone. The goblins have a policy of taking no sides on war between human factions. Because of that, they don't care which stance each client of their bank takes. Despite being a fugitive in Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, Sirius Black could order a Firebolt. The bank's truce zone status might have been lost during the events of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows.

Griphook: Gringotts is no longer under the sole control of my race. I recognize no wizard master.

  • On Gor the location of the Sardar Fair is a general place of truce. No fights to the death are allowed, and nobody may be made a slave. However people can sell & buy slaves there; and it is a cultural requirement of all Goreans to visit at least once before their 24th birthday, so many of the slaves available for sale were actually pilgrims making their way to the Fair.
  • In the Tom Clancy books, much is made about this status concerning Moscow and Washington D.C, where both the Russians and Americans observe a unwritten but commonly accepted rule that they can spy on each other all they want (at their own risk), but no one is to be killed by the intelligence agencies of the other, since that just distracts them from their actual jobs as intelligence agencies (though deniable attempts to have the occasional diplomat or reporter roughed up are the exception so long as the other side can't prove it). This later extends to officers of both sides so long as they are on cordial terms (post-Cold War) and neither side has an officer on their home turf. It's a major plot point when either side believes the other to have broken this rule.
  • The Captain's Table Inn Between the Worlds from the Star Trek Novel Verse is one of these, where anyone who is a captain of any sort is allowed to hang out so long as they don't cause trouble, even if outside the bar they want to blast each other's faces off.

Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • The Highlander franchise: anywhere considered holy ground, be it a church, synagogue, or Shinto temple, is deemed safe refuge for an immortal so long as he stays there. However, this only protects them from other immortals and mortals can still kill them on holy ground.
    • Immortal legend has it that the last time two immortals tried to fight on holy ground it was in Pompeii in 79 AD. Everyone knows how that ended.
  • Willy's Bar in Buffy the Vampire Slayer welcomes demons, vampires and humans alike.
  • Caritas, the karaoke bar run by The Host/Lorne on Angel was neutral ground, and via a spell demons were not able to use their powers there - but that didn't stop some humans from invading and killing a bunch of them with the non-supernatural power of Gun Violence. It was rebuilt with new wards to keep anyone from committing violent acts, but that didn't stop Daniel Holtz from throwing a firebomb in from outside.
  • The title space station Babylon 5 was built specifically to provide one of these. It didn't turn out too well in practice.
  • Mac's Pub in The Dresden Files.
  • V The (Original) Series turned Los Angeles into a Truce Zone, although fighters on both sides would circumvent the truce at every opportunity.
  • Deep Space Station K-7 in the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "The Trouble With Tribbles", where it appears both Starfleet officers and Klingons could hang out and get a drink. At least until the bar fights started...
    • The capital city of Qo'noS is used as one in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Redemption" between supporters of Gowron and supporters of the House of Duras in the midst of the Klingon Civil War. They still seem to be allowed to beat each other up and engage in various competitions, though for a Proud Warrior Race this might be largely indistinguishable from a typical Friday night.
    • To a point in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine before Cardassia allied with Dominion, the station itself became this trope due to the Federation presence there, which meant that Cardassians like Gul Dukat could pop on over to let their men get some shore leave and even hang out for awhile, but doing anything interpreted as a hostile act would risk a war neither side wanted. After Cardassia allied with Dominion, this trope ceased to be in effect.
  • A Red Dwarf episode featured a zone within a ship where criminal activity could not occur (as in, attempts to break the law would cause the lawbreaker to suffer the consequences he hoped to inflict on someone else). At first, this was played solely for laughs (for instance, Lister's attempted arson causing his own backside to combust), but when a deranged simulant attacked the crew, Lister soon realized how to game the system in his own defense.
  • Happy Days: Ralph and Potsie, in the middle of a This Is My Side plot, have put a line down the middle of their apartment and pretend not to hear each other on the "other" side. Richie makes them all stand like tightrope walkers on the line in order to talk to both of them.

Radio[edit | hide]

  • The planet Zenophon in The Space Gypsy Adventures is neutral territory, hence the reason why so many of the titular space gypsies like to hide out from the Federal Alliance there.


Tabletop Games[edit | hide]

  • In Vampire: The Masquerade, the Prince of a city can declare a specific place to be Elysium, which acts as a Truce Zone for the vampires of that city.
    • Every now and again, truly neutral cities would pop up. Cairo was known for being an independent city, and Vancouver refused entry to both the Camarilla and the Sabbat (enforced by werewolves, until a Revised splatbook suggested the arrangement had changed). For a while, Los Angeles was the "Anarch Free State," and declared free of sectarian concerns.
    • Vampire: The Requiem continues the tradition, allowing a Prince (or equivalent figure) to declare multiple areas of the city as Elysiums. The Prince of New Orleans uses this as an offensive tactic - his rival unofficially controls the French Quarter, so the Prince keeps declaring parts of it to be Elysium, meaning that every time something bad happens in one of them, his rival loses face for allowing Elysium to be violated.
  • The Champions supplement Neutral Ground. Sanctuary is a club for super-beings with a strict non-violence policy, where superheroes and supervillains can meet without fighting.
  • The Federation of Arden in Traveller.
  • Dragon magazine #71 adventure The Taming of Brimstone. In the title Wild West town, no crimes occur in Jason Scott's doctor's office: the local cutthroats have an unspoken agreement not to endanger Scott, whose medical skills are sorely needed and impossible to replace.
  • In Nomine
    • Supplement Revelations 1: Night Music. The city of Austin, Texas is neutral ground between angels and demons. They still carry out plots against each other to achieve their goals, but try to avoid the use of direct violence.
    • In the original French game In Nomine Satanis/Magna Veritas, in "Chez Régis" angels and demons can drink without fighting each other.
  • Shadowrun has Denver in North America and the Free City of Sekondi in Africa. The former is jointly run by the nations of North America as a treaty city, while the latter is an independent city-state with a zero-tolerance policy against violence, where bar fights are taken outside the city wall and any ship-to-ship fight entering the harbor will get both parties railgunned for their trouble.
  • Alpha Omega has several "open cities", where virtually anyone who isn't diseased can get in so long as they play nice.
  • Dungeons & Dragons
    • Sigil in Planescape. Angels, demons and devils rub shoulders alongside mortal races of all shapes and kinds in there without anyone causing overt trouble. While a certain level of 'mundane' criminal activity is to be expected, those who attempt to turn Sigil into an open battleground tend to discover the hard way why the local high-up is called The Lady of Pain.
    • On a greater scale, the Spire in the center of Outlands (and thus the whole Great Wheel). The closer one approaches, the more magic and other powers get suppressed. Deities who cannot agree on normal communication sometimes parley in the inner ring, where even they are weakened too much to play dirty tricks.
    • Fan expansion mimir.net introduces La Pax, a Sigil tavern for fiends and celestials. It's an Anti-Magic zone, so any Bar Brawls don't involve supernatural powers. Run, of course, by a rilmani.
  • DC Heroes RPG. In the Manchester district of Gotham City, the Manchester Viaduct race track was neutral ground for the street gangs of the district.

Theatre[edit | hide]

  • In West Side Story, the school gymnasium where the dance takes place is neutral ground for the Sharks and Jets.


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • STALKER has a version of this with the "Bar" area ... partly. While there is essentially a cease-fire in effect all the time (on threat of being shot), mercenaries and monsters will occasionally spawn and start wiping out the neutral and duty stalkers in the area and then disappearing, before the player arrives in the area. Meaning that a previously vibrant area (compared to the rest of the Zone at least) will slowly, over time, turn into a silent graveyard strewn with previously alive stalkers, with no sign of what killed people.
    • Stalker: Clear Sky on the other hand, has the more traditional approach with weapons-free zones in some areas (the Clear Sky Base, for instance), making them safe places to stay at whilst waiting for sunrise.
    • In Call of Pripyat, the neutral settlement of Yanov, formerly a train station, is one of these, with the center third of the main building acting as a neutral gathering place for stalkers from every faction, and the two wings of the building functioning as the area headquarters for detachments of Duty and Freedom forces (who are still officially at war when outside the settlement). The 'town' of Skadovsk, an old shipwreck converted into a fortress, acts as one as well, albeit on a lesser scale since there are no organized factions operating in that area of the Zone.
  • In World of Warcraft, the goblins are an independent race and in their cities Horde and Alliance players can trade with each other. Shattrath City houses refugees from both sides and Dalaran City is run by neutral mages; they qualify as well, even going so far as to have an aura forbidding Player Versus Player combat. The Druid enclave, Moonglade, is also a truce zone for Night Elf and Tauren Druids.
    • Note that in Shattrath and Dalaran, neutrality is enforced by the rules of the game itself; player vs. player combat is impossible barring one long-ago event or exploits or other glitches. This forms an interesting contrast with the Steamwheedle Cartel goblin cities, in which neutrality is enforced by NPCs. So you can fight with another player there all you want as long as you're prepared for the guards to come down hard on you (or on the other guy for fighting back). For low-level characters, the wrath of multiple city guards with abilities specifically tailored to protect their city basically means a One-Hit Kill. But for higher-level characters, killing another player of the opposing faction and then fleeing or even beating the guards is sometimes feasible. Then consider that some players actually want to kill the Steamwheedle Cartel guards for a certain achievement, and these goblin cities are much... rowdier than the average Truce Zone.
  • "Pocket D" in City of Heroes is a pan-dimensional no-fire zone open to both heroes and villains; party events are held here as are some quests that allow or require mixed hero/villain teams.
    • The Midnighter's Club also counts to a lesser extent, as it's basically Cimerora's Lobby. It is one of the two no-combat zones in the game that characters of all alignments can access, however.
    • Cimerora itself, while not "no-combat", was a co-operative zone where villains and heroes worked together against a third side.
      • Before the game was shut down in 2012, the devs were working on a zone that was to be called "Kallisti Wharf" which was supposed to be similar in execution.
  • Numerous examples are present in Star Trek Online: There's a Ferengi-operated bar in the Neutral zone, where Klingon and Federation players can both visit, and the entire Deferi Sector block and Borg Sectors are an Enemy Mine variation, where the two factions have set their differences aside to deal with a more important issue (The Deferi are allies of both sides, believing in "Balance", and naturally no one wants the Borg interfering.) All indications are that when the fourth story arc begins, Deep Space Nine will become one as well.
  • Manaan in Knights of the Old Republic is this due to its production of strategically vital medical supplies. Not that it stops violence from happening, mostly instigated by you.
  • The neutral zones in Bionic Commando.
  • The main towns in Far Cry 2.
  • Dogovor in Escape Velocity Override.
  • Jeuno in Final Fantasy XI is it's own independent nation of sorts and is a neutral area for the three nations of the Middle Lands. More proper to this trope is that it has the highest population of Beastmen than any other player-race city in the Middle Lands. Granted, all of them are Goblins, but still...
  • The Freeports in Freelancer (Freeport 1 in Omega-3, Freeport 2 in Bering, Freeport 4 in Magellan, Freeport 5 in Omega-41, Freeport 6 in Tau-29, Freeport 7 in Sigma-17... wait, scratch that, Freeport 9 in Omicron Theta and Freeport 10 in Tau-37. We're not sure where Freeport 3 and Freeport 8 are). Junker bases also serve as less lawful Freeports. In addition to those listed, Freistadt in Omega-7, Battleship Hood in Dublin and Ames Research Station in Kepler are also Freeports.
  • Little Lamplight in Fallout 3, no one in your party, not even Jericho, will dare draw weapons in the area.
  • In Fate/stay night, the local Church of the city is designated as a safe haven in the Holy Grail Wars. No one is allowed to attack another while there, and Masters whose Servants have been defeated can go there for protection if he's still to be targeted for his Command Spells. We never once get to see it played straight; the resident priest is the Big Bad in the first route and Caster attacks the church and takes it over in the second.
    • It held the same status in the prequel, Fate/Zero. And it was played just as straight there: Assassin's Master used it as his base of operations after claiming sanctuary on false grounds.
  • The Miko Institute in Sengoku Rance. However, you can actually declare war on it.
  • The War Room in Advance Wars: Days of Ruin. It's even pointed out during one mission by two COs from opposing sides.
  • In Suikoden III, Thomas decides to establish Budehuc Castle as a truce zone so that everyone can visit freely, revitalizing the neglected property. Eventually, it becomes the player's home base.
  • Every Trauma Inn is one of these in the original Majesty, but the in-game effect is minimal except in multiplayer.
  • The bars in each hub level of Kingpin: Life Of Crime are this, although this would have been far more significant had the game been released how the developers originally envisioned it, with multiple gangs fighting over turf and using the bars as places to hire grunts and enage in diplomacy.

Web Comics[edit | hide]

  • Standard operating procedure in Drowtales: when noble clans feud, they are not supposed to interfere with the economy of Chel or kill civilians or slaves. Thus supposedly, the whole market district, Orthorbbae (a Hogwarts - style elite school), the Black Dragon tavern, etc. are all safe, neutral territory. Needless to say, this rule has gone ignored on a number of occasions, especially by the Ax Crazy Nidraa'chal clan and the fanatical Kyorl'solenurn clan.
  • The Magic Kingdom from Erfworld.
  • Homestuck: The Veil is considered neutral territory between the warring Prospit and Derse in every session, so both kingdoms actively used it to house numerous laboratories in which to conduct genetic experiments to breed more chess piece soldiers for their perpetual war. When shit turns sour in the trolls' session, they hide out in one such laboratory which contains genetic experiments from both kingdoms.
  • Troops of Doom has the three factions of snowtroopers on the prison planet Rura Penthe. Granted, their truce is fueled largely by cowardice, laziness and lack of supervision, but it's no less touching for all that.
  • Girl Genius has Paris, as domain of Simon Voltaire, Mad Scientist and Living Legend. They have "orientation" for the arriving passengers, which is a marionette play introducing the concept of "it's a nice peaceful city, or else".

Web Original[edit | hide]

  • All of Whateley Academy in the Whateley Universe is considered a Truce Zone: its charter was put together by superheroes and supervillains and super-neutrals alike, and teenagers can attend high school there regardless of their intent or their sponsorship. There's even a recognized school club for children of supervillains, the Bad Seeds. There's also a school club called the Future Superheroes of America.


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Macadam's Old Oil House in Transformers.
  • The Neutral Planet on Futurama is a parody.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door has the mall, where children, teenagers, and adults alike are welcome usually with just a bad taste in their mouths. Only really mentioned once in the entire series when they had to trade captured members of opposing sides.
  • In Vor-Tech: Undercover Conversion Squad, The Hero Hudson Roarke and his older brother Lord Matrix use the park that was their childhood playground as a Truce Zone. In between their battles over technorganic dominance of the Earth, the brothers spend time in the park (while Matrix wears a human-looking hologram disguise). Hudson always tries to bring out his brother's lingering humanity in a bid to save him, and Matrix always denies him while trying to get Hudson to accept his vision of a technorganic paradise.


Real Life[edit | hide]

  • Switzerland. Neutral through two World Wars, destination of many refugees fleeing the Holocaust, home of the Geneva Convention and the International Red Cross/Red Crescent, and until recently, the place to bank large sums of money clandestinely.
  • The Free City of Danzig, located on the Baltic Sea and bordering on Poland and Germany, was formed in 1920 when the end of World War I saw many German territories broken off. It was recognized as independent by the League of Nations but fell to Hitler's invasion of Poland in 1939.
  • The Hanseatic League was a trading alliance dating back to the 1200s that controlled various free cities all over Europe. Some cities still retain the title although it is mostly honorary - the historical league partially fell apart in the 1600s and completely in 1862.
  • The Joint Security Area in the Korean Demilitarized Zone, shared between North and South Korea.
  • The Cayman Islands have gained a reputation as a haven for shady business and convenient lack of extradition treaties.
  • The Restaurant Karpics in Ankara during World War II was attended by diplomats, spies, and journalists of all sides.
    • All of Ankara and Istanbul was like this, really. But Karpics was the "Rick's Bar" of Ankara.
    • There were a number of neutral cities that were like this. And in them were often places where "everybody goes to". Refugees often clogged the into the city while they waited to be vetted for their next ticket by a tangle of Obstructive Bureaucracy, bigotry, and Proper Paranoia. Gaming halls were turned into a sort of Russian Roulette where the winner gets to go pay the bribe money to Mr. Slimy Guy. And in the meantime all the nations around are conducing their intrigues. In short not only were there many "Casablancas" each of them had a number of "Rick's".
  • The New York headquarters of the United Nations are autonomous such that anyone entering there has effective diplomatic immunity, even if they're on a country's most wanted war criminal/terrorist/dictator shitlist.
    • This includes all employees. Do not tick off the UN janitors.
  • Berlin was a bizarro version of this during the Cold War, as half of it was a Western city deep inside Eastern territory, and remained that way on the pretense that it was still one city occupied by the four Allies of World War II. As a result, military forces of the UK, France, the US, and USSR all remained in Berlin until the fall of the Wall... and besides becoming a City of Spies, commanders from opposing sides got to know each other a little. Particularly useful was the stipulation that Westerners could enter East Berlin on day passes.
  • Tangier—on the Moroccan side of the Strait of Gibraltar—was also this for the longest time, being disputed between various European powers for decades if not centuries before being declared an unfortified and more or less demilitarized international zone under Anglo-Franco-Spanish administration in 1929. It remained that way—with a five-year Spanish occupation during World War II—until Moroccan unification and independence in 1956.
  • Hong Kong had elements of this under the ninety-nine year lease. Technically, it was a British territory inside Communist China. In practice, it was an area with far less restrictive laws than the surrounding territories, which resulted in it gaining similar economic and criminal elements.