Duelling And The Law

Public duelling is present in the 'Verse, the biggest example is of course the sword duel at the end of "Shindig". And, in our campaign, the character Saxon Molyneux is a somewhat renowned and even infamous duellist. But what does the law say?

Well, first off, on the higher population worlds, duelling seems to be limited to swords. Taking "Shindig" and Saxon as examples, it seems that duelling to the death is a legal recourse as long as the proper codes are followed. Inara, as a Companion who moves through high society, is a skilled swordswoman and archer as part of her training.

But, when Mal realizes its a duel, his first response is to assume its a pistol duel. Therefore, pistol duelling must be accepted somewhere in the 'Verse. Mal grew up on the Rim, and is probably more used to the concept of a Western style quickdraw duel. And as we see in the Serenity movie, he is an accomplished quick draw shooter.

And then we have our campaign character Saxon, who is almost as good a pistol shot as he is a swordsman, which means he must have pistol duelled as well. So what that does mean? Well, I'm going to say that while sword duelling is legal on some worlds like Persephone and Ariel, pistol duelling is not legal on the Core worlds but does happen on the Border or Rim worlds. I'm also willing to say that pistol duelling does happen on some worlds where it is illegal. Since illegal pistol duelling might be regarded as manslaughter, that adds to Saxon's backstory as a troublemaker black sheep sent away from home by his respectable family.

I would go further and say that on the real Core worlds like Londinium, Sihnon and Osiris, weapon possession and all lethal duelling is illegal. Duelling there might be more like fencing, where victory is measured by points, not blood.

There is another possible interpretation, and that is that the high society of the 'Verse regards laws like this as ways to keep the lower classes in their place and they really don't apply to the high and mighty themselves. In "Shindig", one of the guests tries to carry a pistol into the ball room. When he is stopped by security, it is regarded as an embarrasing social blunder, not a crime. Perhaps all duelling is illegal, but overlooked as long as it takes place among the socially important or out on the Rim where law is scarce and uneven at best.