Dueling

Dueling is a rather common occurrence on the Maw.
It was how grievances between people or families were often resolved in order to minimize poor feelings over long periods of times, or to help resolve disputes. It doesn’t always work.

A morally acceptable duel would start with the challenger issuing a traditional, public, personal grievance, based on an insult, directly to the single person who offended the challenger.

The challenged person had the choice of a public apology or other restitution, or choosing the weapons for the duel. The challenger would then propose a place for the “field of honour”. The challenged man had to either accept the site or propose an alternative. The location had to be a place where the opponents could duel with permission from the city. Many major families had locations built for honor or for minor benefits to their home duelist.

In some cases, a stand in can be used in place of the challenged. Often times this is done when a woman was challenged due to some grievance, and her suitor or a family member would duel in her place. However, now it is often used in the case of owed favors or some other prior arrangement. Occasionally there are even people who will hire themselves out as expert duelists in order to gain prestige and coin.
If a stand in is used, the act as the challenged person, so any fault or success ends up going to the person they have stood in for.

At the field of honor, each side would bring a doctor and a second. The seconds would try to reconcile the parties by acting as go-betweens to attempt to settle the dispute with an apology or restitution. If reconciliation succeeded, all parties considered the dispute to be honorably settled, and went home.

If one party failed to appear, he was accounted a coward. The appearing party would win by default. The seconds and sometimes the doctor would bear witness of the cowardice.

Dueling weapons can come in all varieties, however, it is common for the parties to have to duel with somewhat similar weapons. Swords vs swords, dagger vs dagger, pistol vs pistol. Occasionally some brave (or foolish) duelists would allow their opponent any weapon while they restricted themselves. It didn’t always work out well.

When using melee weapons, the two parties would start on opposite sides of a square fifty feet wide. Duels with pistols were fought along a 50 foot long ‘corridor’ that was only 10 feet wide. Usually the field was marked at the corners or had some form of decoration to mark the field of battle. Leaving the square was accounted cowardice.

The opponents agreed to duel to an agreed condition. The most common is a duel until either one party was physically unable to fight or the physician calles a halt. While explicit duels to the death are rare, many duels ended in death of one or both combatants because of the wounds sustained.

When the condition was achieved, the matter was considered settled with the winner proving his point and the loser keeping his reputation for courage.

Dueling

Gothic Steampunk BrentRevello