We stared at each other through the rain for what must have been ages, Horace and I. Our minds examining the possibilities of openings and counter openings. We stood there planning the final moves in a game of chess that had yet to begin. Horace tilted his sword a little. A nervous twitch? An opening? His mind is elsewhere. Thank you, Horace. I do believe it is my turn. Check.
Mankind, with its infinite capacity to creatively destroy, constantly produces new means by which to kill one another. There are no shortage of weapons in this world or ways to wield them. Across the Throne, advanced weapon forms have cropped up; methods that have been time tested in the crucible of war. Each of these styles contains three individual maneuvers and usually requires a specific weapon or condition with which to perform them with. Advanced Maneuvers must be used with the appropriate requirements.
Fighting Styles cost 10 Experience Points, and grant all 3 Maneuvers within.
Njordic Fighting Styles
Uses: Hatchet, Axe or Greataxe
Requirements: Sound Strength, Arming or Heavy Weapons 4
Harsh places produce harsh men, and the environs of Njordr are the harshest. The northmen expertly hew what trees there are into warm cabins and sturdy longships, but there are worse things that must be solved by an axe in the North. The bears, the orc, and sometimes even the svartalf are dangers that can kill you faster than the winter cold. The brave men of the North fear no battle, however, and will fell a foe like felling timber. In the North, thegns serve a similar role to the vested knights that serve noble houses. These brave champions of the ice-hardened Jarls of the north are trained in the ferocious arts of the northmen, and use it to protect the lands of the lords and destroy their enemies.
The Northman’s Axe style involves ferocious attacks from axes that take advantage of the natural heft of the axe head, using sweeping momentum and the natural ferocity of the glory-seeking Njordic warrior to fight like the terrible beasts of their homeland.
Wolverine’s Frenzy – If you attack and connect with your opponent’s weapon or shield three or more times in the same Beat, you may call Sunder, or Sunder 2 if you are Fresh.
Bear’s Mark – With a Sundering weapon, you may call Sunder against Shields after a single weapon Hit while Fresh.
Wolves’ Hunt – The fourth time you would call Stagger against the same opponent this fight, you may call Crash instead.
Requirement: Performance 3, Heavy Weapons 4
There is a song in Njordr, an epic tale of courage and battle called Jordermund’s Fist. In the tale, a legendary band of heroes must do battle against a black dragon called from the frozen north, who’s eyes could freeze a man’s blood and choke him to death with fear. Jordermund, the prince of the North, and his old mentor Bjorgir track the monster to an icy fortress in the Frozen Wastes, Jotunkoenig, home of the giant king. When they reach the inside, the giant king demands that they pay for trespassing in his hall, and Bjorgir gives himself as a prisoner. On the highest tower of the fortress, Jordermund and Skaedve, his one time enemy, now trusted friend, face the dragon. The beast carries them high into the sky, but Skaedve places the mask of rage on his face and drives his Frozen Slayer into the beast’s skull. The black dragon lands nearby, dead, but the Betrayer, He Who Lost His Name, kills Skaedve. Jordermund takes up Skaedve’s mask of rage, destroys the Betrayer with his mighty maul before dying himself of his wounds. Jordermund defeated Sveas in his final judgment, and his spirit lives on forever, coming to the aid warriors who call out his tale in battle.
Skalds, traveling warrior-singers of the northmen, consider this story a favorite among the people of Njordr. They learn its secret ways and demonstrate it for those they tell of tale, and though it is used ceremonially in this respect, the art is as deadly as the warrior for who it is named.
The Tale of Jordermund’s Fist can be found in the Scriptorium, here.
Wise was Bjorgir – You may recite a verse from the Jordermund’s Fist epic poem while fighting in true battle to become Inspired. You may not repeat the same verse and you may not be interrupted, including by making a Defense call.
Brutal was Skaedve – You may spend Inspired to call any Tier 2 Combat Condition on a limb Hit, or any Tier 3 Combat Condition on a torso Hit.
Broken was the Betrayer – Spend Inspired to add the Mighty Quality to any Combat Condition.
The Mighty Barsark
Uses: No Armor
Requirement: Impressive Fortitude, Grit 3
Red Lust – In a combat where you have already called Toughness, whenever you would suffer from a Stunning, Staggering, or Striking condition, you may instead suffer a Bleed Condition in order to call Parry.
Mad Dog – Whenever you call Toughness, lock eyes with an opponent and call Fear
Seeing Red – Whenever you take any combat condition, gain Power for your next call against that opponent this combat
Gothic Fighting Styles
Uses: Shield and Arming Weapon
Requirements: Shields 4, Courage 2
Combat is not a battle of bodies, but a battle of wills. It is fear that rules the battlefield, and the real battle is to convince the foe that they have lost. The Gothic Tower is the art of focus in battle, a towering will that cannot be assailed. One cannot defeat an opponent who will not admit defeat.
Turris – While Fresh, you may call Stun on anyone who Hits your shield.
Arx Fiducia – You may spend Discipline that could be used against Fear instead of Exerting.
Requirement: Arming or Heavy Weapons 4
The Templar Order has an ancient history, dating back even before the Throne and the Lion Age, it is the oldest human organization that exists today. Throughout their long history, their traditions have remained powerful and iron-clad to this day: Destroy the heretic. Direct or subtle, overt or covert, the Templar order is the renouncing word of humanity against the Anathema. It is their stern defiance, their absolute commitment to find, declare and destroy every last heretic in the Throne so that their ways and their lore will die forever, that gives them their dauntless power in battle. To become a Templar, each member of their Order must show these traits, in turn, the Order shares its traits with them – a communion of steel.
The Templar’s iron will is exemplified in their most common fighting style, the Langschwert. The Gothic Longsword is generally quite long, yet nimble and adaptable. The master of the longsword has answers to every attack, reacting with lightning speed to exploit the predicament their opponent has just exposed themselves to. Though every clash ends with the longsword buried in the foe, the exact path that is created begins all the way back at the guard the swordsman holds. The primary guards of the Langschwert each predispose their opponent to a given outcome. The Iron Gate, the blade held downward and to the side, lower than the hip, is surprisingly nimble at shooting up and past the opponent’s guard. The Window Guard, the blade held across the eye-level and pointed toward the opponent, can cause the opponent to engage their weapon and put it out of position, letting the swordsman strike through their guard. The Longtail guard, with the sword facing backward, allows the opponent’s weapon to become locked in place, giving the swordsman more control of it than its wielder, taking it from them before the kill. The outcome is specific, but the doom is the same – conducted with machine-like efficiency, pitiless, dauntless as a Templar Knight.
Eisentor – The swordsman holds a lower, side guard. Clean hits from this guard, those that don’t ever touch the weapon, Hit for Power.
Fenstergarde – The swordsman holds the blade in an eye-level pointing guard. If their swords lock, holding together and stopping, call Strike.
Hinterteil – The swordsman holds the blade at hip level, blade pointed backward. Upon a sword lock, holding together and stopping, touch the opponent’s weapon with your hand, call Disarm.
Requirement: Impressive Faith, Zeal 3
Fanatic Gleam – Spend Inspired to call Fear on one opponent
Hestralian Fighting Styles
Lucciavelli Fencing School
Uses: Masterwork Rapier, empty off-hand
Requirements: Arming Weapons or Light Weapons 4, Courage 2
Far away from the turbulent outer borders of the Throne, the well-protected region of Hestralia prospers in trade and art. Hestrali wishing not to dull their martial prowess on such leisure will often seek admission into a fencing academy to hone their skills to a razor edge. The Lucciavelli fencing school, founded by Anton Lucciavelli in Lion Age 430, was made to match the soul of Hestralia, combining quick, flamboyant attacks that demoralize their opponent and impress onlookers. Lucciavelli fighting masters beat their opponent and then take their companion to bed. Lessons at the elite fencing academy were extremely expensive, around 5 golden lions for the amount of time it took to learn a single technique, and so graduate swordsmen would learn their skill, then travel around teaching it to others to recoup the costs of their own training. Eventually, like those of the rival Stratovinci fighting school, the techniques became taught enough that the Lucciavelli style is now widely known.
Lucciavelli style fencing produces the fastest and most aggressive swordsmen in Hestralia. The goal is to force the opponent into a defensive posture, unable to keep disciplined footwork, and then overwhelm them with precision attacks.
Dance with Death – Enter a fencing stance and perform an excessive flourish with your rapier at a single opponent. As long as your feet never cross, you may become Fresh from Tired at will by calling out some even moderately clever insult or boasting of your own prowess compared to your foe.
Flick – Whenever you successfully deliver a Combat Condition while Fresh, gain Inspired.
Heart Thrust – You may spend Inspired on your forward step into melee range, and call Mighty Strike within weapon range.
Stratovinci Fencing School
Uses: Masterwork Rapier and Dagger
Requirements: Arming Weapons or Light Weapons 4, Courage 2
After the Lucciavelli fencing style became popular, Valentina Stratovinci criticized it as wasteful and excessive, relying on shock and surprise for its efficacy – that someone with nerve could exploit and defeat it every time. In what is often thought of as exemplifying the other half of Hestralian virtue, Stratovinci devised a counter style as an answer to Lucciavelli fencing, using careful attention to detail and applied exploited opportunity to win out over more eager opponents. Valentina Stratovinci offered to defeat any Lucciavelli fighter in public duels, wagering increasingly huge sums of money, which she would put as a growing pot toward her next duel, until Anton Lucciavelli finally agreed to duel her, though they never had their climactic final battle. The argument over who would have won remains hotly debated to this day.
Stratovinci fencing produces the most precise, calculating and patient fighters in Hestralia. When training, Stratovinci fighters stand on a chalked diagram of angles, perpendicular lines, and measurements that demonstrate every possible maneuver and attack that an opponent could attempt called the Face. The Stratovinci, holding a rapier in one hand and a dagger in the other, make attacks against them impossible with a series of movements that correspond to points on a clock. These cool and calculating fighters seem to have no fear of the danger of battle, confident that they can wait out their foe and strike at the perfect opportunity. Like the their rival school, the Lucciavelli, the Strativinci Fencing School has become widely known, practiced throughout Hestralia by skilled fencers.
The Face – Perform an excessive flourish to activate The Face. So long as you do not take more than one single step from this origin point (stepping forward, backward or sideways across the Face is acceptable), you may become Fresh from Tired immediately by taking one step across the Face.
Razor Wheel – You may Exert to call Parry, Dodge or Armor
Blade Turner – Whenever you successfully deliver a Combat Condition while Fresh, you become Inspired.
Uses: Light or No Armor
Requires: Impressive Speed, Light or Arming Weapons 3
The Hestralian navy, both its official one and its unofficial ones – pirates – have to master the art of fighting aboard ships. The natural chaos of shipboard combat and boarding action, a fight in close quarters, often where the floor is tossing about and hooks and lines are flying every which way, means that the one who can stay moving will be the last one standing. Corsairs use the natural pitch and roll of the ship in combat to their advantage, leaping and cutting and kicking their way to safety or danger, as the need of the combat takes them. Even on land, Corsairs are famous for outmaneuvering their opponents and able to use dramatic action to keep their guard and precision, even as their opponents are comparatively frozen in inaction.
Boarding Jump – Any Combat Condition you call while moving past your target gains Power
Sea Legs – After a successful Tumble, you may become Fresh if you were Tired
Come About – You may do a wall kick, which counts as a successful Tumble
Dunnick Fighting Styles
Requirements: Brawl 4
The Duns have less call for weapons than other folks might. Being on islands with controlled resources, an occupying military force, and holding a reputation with their nearest neighbors in Rogalia as maniacs and wildmen, invaders are few and far between. The Dunnick stick close with one another and form friendships and bonds strong enough to withstand a few punches and kicks, but likely not a sword thrust. Furthermore, the Duns are forbidden by Rogalian law to carry weapons of any kind. For this reason, the Dunnick rarely carry weapons, but fight all the same with their fists and knees. When things get ugly, the Dunnick don’t hesitate to dive in, elbow and knee. To a certain point, friendly violence is part of the Dunnick culture. People don’t usually get lastingly injured in these types of brawls, and a Dun who beats a person more badly than they meant to will often take the time to offer his defeated foe some pointers or technique over the next round of beers.
Shove – When you Grab someone, you may immediately call Slam on your opponent by suffering a Stagger. Doing so while Tired will make you Fresh.
Bob and Weave – When you Exert to call Dodge, you may also call Stagger on that opponent.
Tooth Collector – If you use a Punch on a Winded Opponent in the front torso, call Blackout.
Requirements: Brawl 2, Heavy Weapons 4
The moorsword is the traditional warrior’s weapon of Dunland. Very few are created today, as there is a ban on Duns carrying weapons of any kind, and fewer still know the secret techniques to forge them. The moorswords that one sees are usually ancestral weapons, handed down from father to son for generations. The moorsword is a long, thin-bladed, greatsword with large, angled quillions. The highland clans that holdout in the hills and bluffs of Dunland, living fugitive in defiance of the Rogalian occupation, train with them tirelessly, preparing for the time when they will throw their Rogalian oppressors from their islands and reclaim their home. The moorsword has become a symbol of a free Dunland. The highland warriors use them as a matter of coarse, and are willing to teach their arts to those who they believe worthy of the ideals that they fight for.
Knightslayer – If you perform a half-grip block with your moorsword then land a counter-attack Hit in the same Beat, you may call Knockdown. Doing so makes you Inspired.
Run Through – With a successful Grab, you may immediately call Driving Strike.
Carry Through – When you Hit an opponent you may Exert to call Strike on all other opponents in a 90 degree arc in front of you within weapon reach.
Requirements: Grit 4, Brawl 2, Alcoholic Trait
Duns have a reputation of being thieves, drunkards, liars, and charlatans. Those that live in Dunland under the yoke of their Rogalian oppressors have their will systematically beaten down in order to make them more docile and manageable, and are allowed, even supplied at times, with copious amounts of alcohol. Many Duns grow dependent on the stuff, finding their only joy in the bottom of a glass, yet still with unaddressed anger and shame eating them alive. At times, the alcohol and the anger mix as one, turning these desperate folk into something that feels worthwhile, at least as long as the alcohol and the violence continue. As long as the one lasts, so too can the other, and Duns have been known to belt down a few extra shots even in the middle of a fight to keep the hatred alive.
Just One More! – You may call Toughness against Stunning Conditions, including Blackout inflicted by alcohol at no cost.
Ah’ll Drink to That! – When Grabbed, you may headbutt an opponent, suffering a Knockdown to call Strike on your opponent. You may not use this on an opponent wearing a helmet.
Ah’ll Tell Ye When Ah’ve ‘ad Enough – May suffer the Stagger Condition instead of Exerting. You may not use this ability while already Staggered and may not resist this Stagger.
Capacian Fighting Styles
Art Du sabreur
Heartshot – Your pistol shot enters the heart. A target that you Down is immediately Dying instead. Call Deathblow.
Killer’s Eyes – When you point your gun at someone while using Posture, they know they are already dead. Call Fear.
Brigand Knife Fighting
Uses: Light blade and empty hand
Requires: Light Weapons 4, Brawl 3
The smallfolk of Capacionne have long feared to tread the king’s roads, day or night, for fear of brigand assault. There is good reason behind these fears. Highwaymen, dangerous rogues with more scars than scruples take what they please, disenfranchised from the taxes the King has levied on them to defend the eastern borders against the enemies of the Throne. When a man lives outside the law, he must learn to be remorseless, letting no opportunity slip past. The same holds true in combat, and the brigands know every trick in the book. Bandit lords only take the toughest and meanest of would-be robbers for their gangs. Developing a fighting style such as this among such esteemed company is a matter of coarse – the brigands fight with a ruthlessness even grim and salty soldiers and mercenaries would balk at.
Rogalian Fighting Styles
Uses: Tower or Kite Shield, an Arming Weapon, Suit of Medium or Heavy Armor
Requirement: Morale 2, Shields 4
If the Rogalians do one thing well, it is war. Rogalian battle tactics have been a part of all major battles since the formation of the Throne at the start of the Lion Age. Because of the high concentration of wealth and nobility in Rogalia, almost all those in important positions on the field are armored knights and lords who can afford the protection of steel plate and a large shield. Rogalian battle tactics involve standing shoulder to shoulder forming a shield wall while the line of heavy footmen advance, placing their large shields between their foe and themselves, and making precise attacks from behind a strong guard. They use their natural advantage to muscle their foes to the ground, slamming into them with their shields, executing them, and continuing the advance. For this tactic to work properly, all soldiers who function in a vanguard are drilled in these maneuvers, ready to lock together to form an unbreakable wall of steel and grit.
Armsman’s Advance – You may call Defenses for someone bearing a shield to your direct left or right, within one pace. Whenever you or someone to your immediate left or right Hits an opponent, you may become Fresh if you were Tired.
South Cross – While your weapon is physically under your shield, you may call Pain on Hit, or Pain 2 if you are Fresh. If your opponent is Knocked Down, South Cross instead grants Power.
North Cross – While your weapon is placed on top of your shield and you are Fresh, you may call Knockdown when someone makes weapon contact with your shield.
Requires: Vigilance 2, Archery 4
Not all warfare occurs on a battlefield, or rather some battlefields begin where others end. When a siege reaches that critical moment when the wall is breached and the fighting spills out into the streets, prudent generals dispatch special groups of short-range bow-fighters to take to the streets to hurry ahead of the carnage, the looting, and the plunder. These elite soldiers have to take positions in the city and immediately seek out and kill high value targets to break the interior resistance of the defending force. These soldiers train for exceptional accuracy in chaotic situations, often forced to fire into a situation where civilians are running panicked through the area and whether cynically not wanting to waste critical arrows on low value targets, or to save some lives with the rapidity of their death-dealing, these sharpshooters can make critical shots at the critical moment.
Bounding Overwatch – When you physically Hit a target with an arrow, you may become Fresh if you were Tired.
Deadeye – When you physically Hit a target with an arrow, you may make additional Condition calls: If you Hit a leg you may call Knockdown, if you Hit an arm call Disarm, if you hit the torso you may add Driving to the Hit.
Heraldic Shot – If a shot is stopped by a shield, call Arm Strike against that target.
Of those who hunt vampires, few stay in the profession for long. Most die quickly, ironically rarely to vampires, killed instead by misadventure or other Malificarum long before they find a vampire. More successful hunters quickly gain renown and legitimacy, earning a knighthood to some lord and entering their general service. Few indeed continue walking the path after their success earns them notoriety among the vampires themselves, once the path takes away everything, their families destroyed, their houses burned, shunned and mistrusted by those they once defended, but unable to look away from the night, having seen its horrors. Sleeping by daylight, they know that one dark night they will die on unholy fangs, but until that time, the hunt goes on.
Shariqyn Fighting Styles
Requires: Altariq Class, Brawl 4
Many different forms of the art exist, practiced and maintained as distinct schools of the art by those who practice it. The altariq are trained in Ramal’qital, “sand combat”, which emphasizes quick, brutal attacks that disable or kill their opponent in close quarters. Altariq warriors begin this training so early, that as adults, nearly all of them have mastered how to kill a man with their bare hands in seconds.
Requirements: Jharad or Asirim Class, Heavy Weapons 4
Scorpion – While Fresh, you may add Quick to Hits with your spear.
Beetle – If you have taken no steps for one full Beat, you may add Power to your Hit.
Asp – While holding your spear in a downward facing stance, you may Exert to call Block.