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Alexander Targaryen

Oberyn Martell vs Barristan Selmy

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Who would win in a battle between Ser Barristan Selmy and Prince Oberyn Martell? 

Location: The Trial of Combat arena in King's Landing
Mindset: In character
Knowledge: Average
Preparation: Limited

Starting distance: 10 m

Prince Oberyn Martell is 41, wears a leather tunic and copper scale armor, and is armed with a poisoned spear, an arming sword, a dagger and a steel shield.

-VS-

Ser Barristan Selmy is 62, wears his Kingsguard armor, and is armed with a longsword, a dagger, and a heater shield.

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On 2016-07-11 at 5:07 PM, Lady Blizzardborn said:

Barristan wins the fighting, but dies anyway because Oberyn nicked him with that poisoned spear.

I can also see this happening. Barristan is definitely one of the greatest fighters in Westeros, who can defeat nearly anyone in a duel of swords with his overwhelming skill - but against the Red Viper, his age puts him at a too great disadvantage. Oberyn is the most agile warrior we know of, fighting with impressive acrobatics and swiftness that Barristan simply can't keep up with, and his spear gives him a decisive advantage in range. Barristan will at the very least suffer a few glancing strikes - enough to lethally poison him - before he is able to hit Oberyn. However, he might still be able to kill his opponent before succumbing to the poison, as Oberyn must get close to deliver a decisive strike (or Barristan might simply be able to grab the spear and close the distance during the time it takes to pull it out of his armor).

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There are comments in the books that seem to indicate that Barristan's fighting abilities and speed have not diminished at all with his aging. He certainly took out that manticore quickly. Even at his age in tournaments he was still beating men twenty and thirty years younger. Only Jamie Lannister managed to take him out. Remember also that according to GRRM Barristan vs Arthur Dayne would be a draw if Art didn't have his magic sword. So we're talking one of the best fighters ever.

I can't recall...is Oberyn nearly as acrobatic in the books as he was in the show? I agree the spear gives him the range advantage but remember Barristan has his shield, full armor, and decades of experience fighting all kinds of warriors. I doubt Maelys the Monstrous only had armored knights with him on the Stepstones.

What do you think would be the chances of Barristan's pinning the spear between his sword and shield and wrenching it from Oberyn's grasp? That's a move I'd like to see.

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13 hours ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

according to GRRM Barristan vs Arthur Dayne would be a draw if Art didn't have his magic sword

Where's that mentioned?

 

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I recall that the poison that Oberyn used on the spear in his fight with Gregor was identified as Manticore venom. It is then discussed that Manticore venom would kill the victim in a short period of time (a manner of seconds), yet Gregor lasted for days. This leads to a discussion on if the venom was altered to prolong the death. 

My thought is that Oberyn only used the poison he did with Gregor in the event that he failed to kill Gregor during the fight, then Gregor would be assured an excruciating death.

I know that I am not the one who thought up this scenario, but Oberyn could use any poison he wished. What would stop him from using an unaltered manticore venom in this fight, then any nick would allow victory to Oberyn?

 

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1 hour ago, Raisin(g) Bran 2 Greenseer said:

I recall that the poison that Oberyn used on the spear in his fight with Gregor was identified as Manticore venom. It is then discussed that Manticore venom would kill the victim in a short period of time (a manner of seconds), yet Gregor lasted for days. This leads to a discussion on if the venom was altered to prolong the death. 

My thought is that Oberyn only used the poison he did with Gregor in the event that he failed to kill Gregor during the fight, then Gregor would be assured an excruciating death.

I know that I am not the one who thought up this scenario, but Oberyn could use any poison he wished. What would stop him from using an unaltered manticore venom in this fight, then any nick would allow victory to Oberyn?

 

The poison would still need time to work through the system, so unless Oberyn discovered nerve agents before anybody else did, likely he'd be dead by the time his opponent succumbed to whatever poison he'd used. There's also the possibility that a man with as acute a sense of justice as Oberyn has would choose not to use poison when fighting someone honorable like Barristan. It wasn't a shock that he used something for fighting Gregor to guarantee he not only died but suffered, but he's got no beef with Barry.

 

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18 hours ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

The poison would still need time to work through the system, so unless Oberyn discovered nerve agents before anybody else did, likely he'd be dead by the time his opponent succumbed to whatever poison he'd used. There's also the possibility that a man with as acute a sense of justice as Oberyn has would choose not to use poison when fighting someone honorable like Barristan. It wasn't a shock that he used something for fighting Gregor to guarantee he not only died but suffered, but he's got no beef with Barry.

 

I cannot speak for how he would deal with Ser Barristan Selmy as an opponent, but he did not refrain from using poison against Lord Edgar Yronwood. While Oberyn did sleep with Edgar's paramour, this doesn't imply that he had any dislike for the man, and it was clear from the start that it would only be a duel to first blood and not death. Yet Oberyn opted to use poison.

If I was Oberyn, I would definitely use poison in this scenario. Ser Barristan has superior skill and armor of the finest quality, so Oberyn's strategy should be to keep his distance with his spear and superior agility - which will only allow him to land non-lethal glancing cuts. And if he keeps it up for too long, the experienced Barristan will likely figure out his attack patterns and be able to counter with deadly force. So how do you swiftly defeat a more skilled opponent who you'll only be able to land glancing cuts on? I say poison.

But I am not Oberyn. As you say, he might choose not to use poison, and trust that he can simply tire the old man out by dancing around and keeping his distance until an opening presents itself. If Gregor Clegane could be bested with this strategy, I don't see why it wouldn't be useful against Barristan - who, for all his skill, experience and other well-earned praise, simply doesn't have enough stamina for long-lasting engagements. Of course he will be more careful and less aggressive than Gregor was, and he is likely swifter as well once the opponent is in range, but he should still tire much more quickly. Ser Barristan's combat prowess does not change the fact that he will likely end up as an exhausted 62-year old man, against an extremely swift and agile opponent who barely breaks a sweat with all those acrobatics.

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I allow for the possibility that in his 62 years Barristan has managed to build up and maintain a level of stamina that most men in Westeros and probably most fighters eve, rarely achieve. The idea that he might be able to beat or tie the rather younger Ser Arthur Dayne (if Dayne weren't using Dawn) does suggest stamina, as there's no way that would be a quick fight.

Is he older than Oberyn? Sure. But he could be one of those rare individuals who doesn't decline as quickly as we mere mortals outside of fiction do. I have occasionally met people who would generally be considered "old" who can still kick ass.

Not saying it's a given by any means, just that it's possible. 

Fair point about Oberyn using poison on Yronwood. However, while sleeping with the guy's wife doesn't tell us he disliked Yronwood, it sure doesn't tell us he liked or respected him either. If I recall correctly, that's the only married woman we are certain Oberyn slept with. And while Oberyn is rather liberal in some of his ideas, I think he has a decent streak to some extent. Maybe when he was younger he didn't care about whatever is the Dornish equivalent of the Bro Code, but by the time we meet him I can't imagine the Oberyn we know sleeping with the wife of a man he liked or respected.

So, maybe the fight is a toss-up.  

I'd be interested to know how you think an Oberyn vs Arthur Dayne (without Dawn) match might go. That would be one heck of a fight! They could sell tickets. :D

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1 hour ago, Lady Blizzardborn said:

I allow for the possibility that in his 62 years Barristan has managed to build up and maintain a level of stamina that most men in Westeros and probably most fighters eve, rarely achieve. The idea that he might be able to beat or tie the rather younger Ser Arthur Dayne (if Dayne weren't using Dawn) does suggest stamina, as there's no way that would be a quick fight.

Is he older than Oberyn? Sure. But he could be one of those rare individuals who doesn't decline as quickly as we mere mortals outside of fiction do. I have occasionally met people who would generally be considered "old" who can still kick ass.

Not saying it's a given by any means, just that it's possible. 

Fair point about Oberyn using poison on Yronwood. However, while sleeping with the guy's wife doesn't tell us he disliked Yronwood, it sure doesn't tell us he liked or respected him either. If I recall correctly, that's the only married woman we are certain Oberyn slept with. And while Oberyn is rather liberal in some of his ideas, I think he has a decent streak to some extent. Maybe when he was younger he didn't care about whatever is the Dornish equivalent of the Bro Code, but by the time we meet him I can't imagine the Oberyn we know sleeping with the wife of a man he liked or respected.

So, maybe the fight is a toss-up.  

I'd be interested to know how you think an Oberyn vs Arthur Dayne (without Dawn) match might go. That would be one heck of a fight! They could sell tickets. :D

While I agree with you that Barristan is definitely more physically capable than most (if not all) men his age in Westeros, I must correct an error in your Arthur Dayne argument. The question asked to George R. R. Martin was " Who would win in a fight, Barristan Selmy or Arthur Dayne (in their best days)". This clearly does not refer to Ser Barristan as a 62-year old man, but in his prime when age had not yet begun to diminish his physical capabilities (my guess would be around 40). I fear that the current Ser Barristan would not have much hope of defeating Arthur Dayne, with or without Dawn. Old Barristan may still be able to overcome any other swordsman, such as Jaime Lannister or Sandor Clegane, but I believe Oberyn's more unique fighting style can give him the upper hand.

I am curious to know why you regard Oberyn Martell during the timeline of the books as honorable, or at least "decent". Don't get me wrong, I do like the character - he was one of my favorites, in fact - but he never struck me as having a sense of honorable conduct. Justice and revenge, yes, but not chivalry. Since I can't remember the two ever interacting, Oberyn will only know Barristan from reputation. He will have no personal love or admiration for his opponent, only the knowledge that he is going up against one of the most skilled knights in Westeros. Would he truly discard poison in that scenario?

Yes, this fight may be very even. And having much room for debate is what makes a good match, in my opinion. Who would be interested in discussing Samwell Tarly against Gregor Clegane, for example? :D

A difficult fight, that's for sure. I do consider Oberyn Martell to be in the same tier as Jaime Lannister, as one of the greatest fighters in all of Westeros, capable of beating nearly anyone. However, against younger knights on his level, such as Jaime or Arthur Dayne, he will not have the advantage of youthful vigor (in fact being older than them). He is still swifter and more agile, of course, but not by such a huge margin as he was against the heavyweight Gregor Clegane or, in this case, the old Barristan Selmy. He might defeat Jaime Lannister with poison... but I honestly cannot see anyone defeating Arthur Dayne even without Dawn (except, as GRRM said, a young Barristan).

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I blanked on the parentheses. I saw them, but for some reason they did not compute. I blame my children. :D

Oberyn's honor/decency to me comes in with his sense of justice, but not just for his sister. His scene with Tyrion where he mentions what Cersei said about him when he was baby versus Oberyn's own thoughts of him. He's not overtly sympathetic or anything, but my read of that scene is that he is not only testing Tyrion but showing a bit of himself. He could have agreed that he was a monster, or made far more insulting comments than he did. He showed some restraint there. And when he volunteered to fight for Tyrion, that was noble even though it was against a guy he wanted dead anyway. Oberyn had to know there was a chance he'd be killed, even if he thought it was a remote one. He knew the trial had been rigged, he seemed to respect Tyrion for demanding trial-by-combat. 

He's also pretty good as a father, making sure all of his girls can protect themselves and have been kept safe and known their sisters.

There's probably something else too, but I can't think of it at the moment. Basically, I see him as a sort of on part with Sandor Clegane (without as much emotional damage) in that he may be mocking and act like he doesn't give a damn but he does have a sense of honor, and of right and wrong. It doesn't necessarily coincide with what the rest of the world thinks of those words, but it's there and it's strong.

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