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Mystara (5e Glantri Campaign): Duels

by Caius of Glantri


Fighting is for fools, the disciplined duel - Belcadiz saying.
Glantri is a civilised society - they kill one another in a cultivated way - Sire Galladin, the Alfheim Ambassador.
With so many different cultures living side by side and each one populated by ambitious schemers, its hardly surprising that misunderstandings happen in Glantri. The mundane classes may resolve their disputes through brutish brawls, but the ruling arcana and those who aspire to join them settle their differences through the duel. These range from simple affairs in a forest clearing between two swordsmen to epic magical battles between nobles in the Great School's courtyard with illusions, monsters and spectator fees reaching 500 ducats. However, all these duels are governed by a code of conduct first formalised by the legendary duelist, Don Diego de BelCadiz.
The Code
1. After an offence, whether it is intentional, unintentional or completely imaginary, one party demands satisfaction from the offender. They traditionally do this by a ritual slap to the face or by throwing down the gauntlet(typically a riding glove). A challenge can only be properly issued between equals: A mundaner cannot challenge an arcana, a student cannot challenge a master and a baron cannot challenge a prince, etc. The two parties then seperate and choose seconds to arrange the duel.
2. The seconds meet to bring about a reconciliation or agree the time, field of honour and means of the duel. A reconcilation can occur if either side apologises for their action - but this will bring loss of face if the two parties are of a similar power, regardless of the right or wrong of the offence. If no reconciliation occurs, the one who was challenged my choose the time (usually the earliest convenient dawn, though in Boldavia dusk is more fashionable), the place and the means. If either party is engaged in magical research, on active war-time service in the military or on a quest from a prince, they must postpone the duel until their current activity is finished.
The three most common means of combat are:
a). Combat with melee weapons but no offensive spells. Light armour can be worn. The two combatants arrive with no magic active (detect magic is used) but may cast up to three spells on themselves before starting. They start 20 feet apart.
b). Combat with cantrips. Similar to the weapon duel, the duelists arrive with no spells active but may cast upto 3 spells before starting. They start 60 feet apart and there cannot be any cover on the field of honour.
c). Full Combat. Anything goes (except teleportation and non-magical poison). The combatants must arrive with no magic active but can spend upto an hour readying spells before combat. To protect innocents, these duels must be fought in specially designated areas far from habitation - usually on a remote hill top or deep in a forest, but the most famous field of honour is the Great School's Courtyard. The seconds prepare the battlefield and, with the agreement of the duelists, may litter it with monsters, illusions and pits. If the fight is in the Great School the battlefield is always littered for it is the masters who prepare the ground there. They start 30 feet apart.
It is up to the combatants to decide when to finish the duel - its generally honourable to offer and accept apologies after first blood, though many think unconsciousness is necessary. Deaths may occur, but its thought bad form to kill deliberately. Occasionally a duel ends with the death of both combatants.
Anyone straying from this code forfeits all honour and the protection of the law. They would be guilty of assault and possibly murder.