Estalia in Flames
You Sir Are A Cad!
Duelists basically come in two varieties, the formal duelist and the experienced Protagonist. The former has the weapons of arrogance, etiquette and floppy hats on his side whilst the later wears his sneer on his sleeve and will issue challenge at the slightest provocation. What all Duelists have in common, however, is their overwhelming competitiveness. They strive to be the best at what they do and defeat often becomes hard to take. A Duelist, who fights with self-doubt in his heart, is not often around for much longer.
Many Duelists earn a reputation over time and it is not too unusual to find an experienced Duelist to be attended by his own small retinue. Formal Duelists may have attendant Physicians, an official second who issues challenges on his behalf and for the truly self absorbed Duelists, even a biographer, whose job is to document the Duelist’s most famous bouts and immortalize him in print.
They are often proud and haughty, looking down on commoners and their own peers. The height of the profession is to be involved in a high profile dispute or to take part in the irregularly organized Estalian ‘Diestro, Buenos Diaz Carnival ’. Here Estalian Diestro’s cross swords with Duelists from far and wide for a coveted blade of Tobaro steel.
The Mask Of Sorrow
There are many types of bouts that the Duelists partake of, from fencing duels to pistols at dawn. But not all are a fight to the death; indeed many are to first blood only or finish when one party can no longer continue. A common approach to a duel is to have a circle drawn on the floor about ten paces in diameter which the Duelists must not exit, if he does, he forfeits the bout, an action that most Duelists will avoid at all costs. Alternatively, for a bout including pistols, the two Duelists stand fifteen paces apart and fire one at a time until a hit is scored. This requires nerves of steel and has caused the premature retirement of many an aspiring young Duelist.
In a more formal duel with legal legitimacy, it is common practice for the winning party to pay for the care or funeral arrangements of his beaten opponent. This fee is normally paid for by the Duelist’s sponsor or in a private duel, by the Duelist himself and is known professionally as ‘The Mask Of Sorrow’. In this way, the Duelist pays respect to his opponent in the safe knowledge that he himself is still the best; largesse is, after all, the realm of the worthy.
Scare A Mouse
Half of the battle takes place before the blades are drawn, any Duelist will tell you. If you have your opponent beaten in his mind, before the bout starts, then you will beat him ‘in the ring’. To this end, there is often a session of threats, counter threats and the relaying of accomplishments before a bout begins. This is a good opportunity for duelists with biographers to impress upon their opposition the futility of his chances. In Estalia, there is also sometimes a ritual dance performed which is called the ‘fan dango’, this is really for the ladies, but adds to the occasion immensely.
Often, the protagonists will play to the crowds that inevitably gather, gathering support and idolization. Some bouts draw as many fans as a game of Snotball and it’s not unusual for novelties to be sold at the sidelines and for a very busy trade in bets to be taken. The shrewd Duelist always bets on himself and has enough class to spread his winnings around at the local tavern, once his opponent is lying at his feet.
In this manner, the Duelist seeks to cow his opponent and successful intimidation at this stage can affect either party once the fight begins for real.
The Flashing Blade
His weapons are his livelihood, so the Duelists must take care of them, no matter what. He always has maintenance equipment to hand to make running repairs to his weapons and because of this high focus often takes little time on other things. Many are the tales of the Duelists manservant having to do everything for his master. Take a blade or pistol from the hand of some Duelists and they are lost and unable to properly look after themselves.
One area where he generally excels, however, is his flashing wit. As sharp as his rapier and nearly as quick, this gets him the girls and puts down the commoners.
The Three Pistoliers
Those Duelists of a more noble persuasion can find official employment in some areas of the old world, where dueling schools are often available to teach at or to learn from. These are often in Estalia, but The League of Gentlemen run a school in Talabheim for aspiring Duelists. Here, fencing masters, marksmen and court functionaries can be found who are willing to pass down their expertise for the right price. That price is high. The advantages of this college are that an affiliated Duelist can be specially referred to an existing client base, when an opportunity arises.
These schools often have listings of its top students that are updated as the most recent bouts are documented and heated rivalries can ensure amongst students. This rivalry is as nothing, however, when compared to rival schools.
The League of Gentlemen’s most famous students are the Three Pistoliers, pistols for hire to the highest bidders, who rarely miss. The Three Pistoliers normally only hire out their services to local people, however.
A Slap In The Face
The basest Duelists are generally nothing more than traveling thugs. They do not aspire to the courtly manners of the formal Duelist. The only thing that matters more than the fight to these cads is their pride. Any slight, from a spilt drink to a misjudged comment or strange facial expression is enough for them to remove their leather gloves and leave an imprint on their victims face and issue a challenge. If the challenge is not taken up, then the miscreant doesn’t deserve the honor of a fair fight and is fair game for whatever the Duelist thinks is appropriate. A challenge taken up, gives the base Duelist a chance to impress the locals and gain some fawning attention and free goods. Dead peasants tend to leave a trail behind these rogues.
Your Choice Of Weapons
It is normal practice for the person challenged to choose the manner of the duel. If the Duelist has one, his second approaches the person to be challenged and gives the challenge formally. The opponent is then asked to choose his weapon and the duel will take place with both protagonists using that weapon. In more heated duels, this generally goes out of the window however, and whatever is nearest to hand becomes the weapon of choice. The basest Duelists often don’t follow this ritual, but those who are affiliated to schools can be thrown out for not properly following this stricture.
The person challenged may decline the challenge altogether, but if he is another Duelist, he will certainly loose face and if he makes a habit of it, will get a reputation as a ‘mouse’.
In official bouts, it is commonly the plaintiff who chooses the weapon in response to his accusers challenge, then Duelists are employed and the duel takes place.
Dead Man’s Hand
The famous Duelist enjoys a reputation hard earned. He gains the respect of the upper classes and the fear of the lower; it’s an ideal situation. But his fame brings other dangers. He can become the target of every up and coming Duelist, every local rowdy and anyone wanting to prove a point or make themselves a reputation. In short, he attracts trouble and wherever he goes he finds himself challenged or ambushed. The Duelist, Scott Ridley Rosenkrantz was famously enjoying a game of cards in a rowdy tavern, when a local lad seeking fame and fortune shot him in the back.