A Manticoran duel

A duel was a prearranged fight with deadly weapons by two people (accompanied by seconds) in order to settle a quarrel over a point of honor.

Duels were usually legal in the Star Kingdom of Manticore, although they were frowned upon. Duels used chemically-propelled dueling pistols.

Manticoran duel[]

Duels were usually legal in the Star Kingdom of Manticore, although they were frowned upon.[1] Being hired to duel someone (essentially as a paid assassination) was outlawed, although it was usually very hard to prove as long as there was still a matter of honor to settle.[2] Challenging an opposing party in an existing litigation matter was also illegal. Royal Manticoran Navy ships carried chemically-propelled dueling pistols in their armories so that crew could practice for duels, although duels between military members were forbidden unless a superior officer approved. Military officers could not forbid duels between officers and civilians. (HH4)

Journalists could not be challenged to a duel regardless of what they wrote, however they could be sued in court.[3] (HH10)

Dueling Field[]

A Dueling Field was a fenced-in, grass-covered field, dedicated to pistol duels. Two small circles for the duelists to stand in were separated by a distance of forty meters, for use in the Ellington Protocol. (HH4)

Master of the Field[]

The Master of the Field was charged with enforcing the law in a duel, as well as directing the sequence of events. First and foremost he was required to make a last-ditch offer that the parties reconcile their differences off the field in a non-violent manner. He was also required to examine both duelists pistols for their legality. He was in charge of convincing both parties that honor had been satisfied, as well as rigidly enforcing the rules of the chosen protocol. His neutrality was required by law. He was armed with a military-grade pulser and authorized to use deadly force to enforce the protocol if necessary.[4]

The Master of the Field on Manticore was frequently a Landing City Police Department officer. (HH5)


A Second was a companion to a duelist, charged with accompanying them onto the dueling field, carrying the dueling pistol for presentation to the Master of the Field, loading the magazine in front of the Master of the Field, and to assist with removing the duelist after the completion of the duel. (HH5)

Dreyfus Protocol[]

The Dreyfus Protocol was the more commonly set of rules, and standard challenges were usually expected to adhere to it unless certain circumstances justified that the Ellington Protocol was to be used in its stead.

Under Dreyfus, magazines were limited to five rounds apiece, duelists were limited to single round exchanges, and the duel ended when the first blood was drawn.

Duelists began at the centre of the field, facing away from each other.

On the command "Walk", duelists were to walk 30 paces each, at which point the command "Stop" would be given. On the command "Turn", duelists were to turn to face each other and fire one round each. If neither was hit, duelists would be ordered "Walk" and would take two paces forward. At the command "Fire" both would fire again. The process would be repeated until someone was wounded, either party declared that honor had been satisfied, or magazines were empty. (HH5)

Ellington Protocol[]

The Ellington Protocol was a rarer version of duel rules, which required extraneous circumstances in order to invoke, such as grievous rebukes of honor.[5]

Under Ellington, magazines were a full ten rounds, and duelists were not limited by how many rounds they could shoot at once. The duel ended when one duelist either surrendered by dropping their weapon, or was dead.

Duelists stood in two circles forty meters apart.

The signal to begin firing was the dropping of a handkerchief. (HH5)

Sequence of events[]

  1. Arrival at the field
  2. Final plea for non-violent resolution
  3. Examination of weapons
  4. Loading of magazines by seconds
  5. Loading of weapons
  6. Chambering of weapons
  7. Confirmation of protocol agreed upon
  8. Taking of positions as per the specific protocol
  9. Commencement of firing as per the specific protocol

Grayson duel[]

Pistol duels were illegal in the Protectorate of Grayson. The only sword duels that were permitted was when a Steadholder challenged a Protector's decree. The Steadholder was then allowed to duel the Protector's Champion. Victory against the Protector’s Champion was the equivalent of an innocent verdict and dismissal of all charges.[6] (HH5)


  1. Craig Warner and Hamish Alexander
  2. Denver Summervale was accused of being a paid duelist, though it was never proven. The accusation and number of duels, though, was enough to get him dishonorably discharged from the Royal Manticoran Marine Corps.
  3. Solomon Hayes of the Landing Tattler was one such journalist protected by this rule.
  4. Such as when one duelist deliberately shoots early.
  5. Such as when Honor Harrington publicly accused Denver Summervale of being a murderer for hire lying in wait for her and began slapping him silly. She also insisted on the use of the Ellington Protocol.
  6. Before Steadholder Burdette challenged the decree that his life was forfeit, no Steadholder had challenged a Protector's decree in over three hundred years. (HH5)