Fate's Tangled Weave
The Swordsman's Guild
Over the last twenty years, dueling became a source of great controversy. Some nations were beginning to take steps toward outlawing it altogether. But in the winter of 1644, three men, each the owner of a fencing academy, met in a dark room and signed a pact in their own blood. They approached the kings of their respective countries and shared their vision. The monarchs approved the agreement, and the Swordsman’s Guild was born.
A Swordsman Guildhouse doubles as a fencing academy. Creation of the Guild has changed formal dueling in Théah: only a Swordsman may initiate a duel. Most countries haven’t bothered to make dueling laws, but leave such matters to the Guild. One last important note: It is forbidden for a Swordsman to take a contract on another Swordsman. The penalty for such is death.
Since its inception the Guild has commissioned the creation of Swordsman’s Guild pins through the Blacksmith’s Guild, and pays them well to make sure that the pins cannot be readily duplicated. Each pin is numbered, and consists of a unique ore which only handful of Blacksmiths know how to smelt.
Five types of pins exist: bronze, silver, gold, platinum, and iron. The Guild issues bronze pins to members who have only achieved Apprentice rank in one or more sanctioned Schools. It issues silver pins to Journeyman members and gold pins to members who have achieved Master rank in at least one School.
The Guild’s fourth rank uses a platinum pin, representing Grand Masters. The Guild gives out a very limited number of such pins, less than 1% of the total Guild membership to date. Tp earn a Grand Master pin, a Swordsman must prove he has Mastered at least two schools, and combined his knowledge of those to create a unique fighting style.
The Guild issues the fifth and final pin, iron, to “Unranked” Swordsmen. These members have not joined any School, and use simple fencing, heavy weapon, or other attack and parry tactics. These members suffer something of a disadvantage since they can demand no set minimum fee. On the other hand, they have the advantage of being an unknown quality.
The Guild has created a unique branch of enforcers to make sure that all swordsmen follow its dueling laws – the Razors. The Razors have sanction to track down any individual who violates Guild bylaws and bring them in. The Razors are all Masters of at least one School, and learn specifically to exploit the weaknesses of a wide range of Schools. Few Swordsmen are foolish enough to fight back, but a few guilty parties invariably go down swinging.
- Swordsmen may never accept a commission on another Guild member.
- You may not duel a fellow Guild member outside of a commissioned arrangement.
- You must check with the local Chapterhouse when you enter and leave a city.
- You must report to the Guild yearly for testing.
- You must wear a proper Guild Pin in public.
- You must pay 10% of your commissions to the Guild.
- You cannot use a pistol in a duel.
- You cannot defraud a Guild customer.
- No refunds.
The basic rate for a Swordsman’s services is determined by what it would cost him to offer a challenge and duel against a Swordsman of equal rank. After the Guild’s 10% deduction, the basic fee for a Swordsman’s services runs as follows:
- Unranked: No set rate
- Apprentice: 20 guilders
- Journeyman: 40 guilders
- Master: 80 guilders
- Grand Master: 200 guilders
If the Swordsman must face an opponent one rank higher, the fee is doubled. If he must face an opponent two ranks higher, the fee is tripled. And if he must face a Swordsman three levels higher (i.e., an Apprentice vs. a Grand Master), the fee is tripled. Unranked Swordsmen are typically considered Journeymen.
The Guild charges a fee of 10 guilders to offer challenge and then let an employee take over and fight, regardless of the Swordsman’s rank. It costs the same amount to hire a Swordsman for one week’s services. This does not include room and board, or other expenses. Swordsmen often negotiate a “hazard fee” on top of their basic fee.
Individual Swordsman can always negotiate a higher fee if they wish. Depending on the economy of the area, they may not be able to demand the fees above and might have to accept lower rates (or alternative currencies).
There are two types of duels in Théah: those to first blood, and those to the death. A duel to the first blood continues only until one of the duelists has been hit and has suffered a wound. Most duels are to first blood. Only a very serious offense justifies a duel to the death.
When a challenge is issued, it must be accepted or declined on the spot, either by the person challenged, or by someone else present. For this reason, nobles often hire a Swordsman if they expect to receive a challenge. That way, the Swordsman can accept for the noble, who keeps himself out of harm’s way for a small fee. Anyone is entitled to accept a challenge, even if they are not a Swordsman.
Duelsits may legally use any non-ranged weapon. The only limitation is that they must be agreed-upon and revealed at the beginning of the duel. Using a previously hidden weapon is illegal and disreputable.
Usually, a legal duel must be held on “neutral ground,” unless the participants both agree to some other setting. The Guild defines “neutral ground” as flat terrain, both duelists on foot, and normal levels of illumination.
If the participants follow all Guild laws, then they become immune to any legal repercussions from their actions; if a duelist kills his opponent in a legal duel abiding by the Guild’s terms, then the local law authorities cannot prosecute him for murder. Nor can they charge either or both parties with assault, the use of deadly weapons, or any other related crime. If one duelist breaks the rules above, then he or she can be prosecuted.
The following are recognized as legitimate schools by the Swordsman’s Guild.
|Aldana||Castille||Feint (Fencing), Riposte (Fencing), Tagging (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Aldana)|
|Ambrogia||Vodacce||Feint (Fencing), Pommel Strike (Fencing), Riposte (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Ambrogia)|
|Andrews||Avalon||Lunge (Fencing), Feint (Fencing), Riposte (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Andrews)|
|Bernoulli||Vodacce||Beat (Fencing), Corps-á-Corps, Lunge (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Bernoulli)|
|Bogatyr||Ussura||Lunge (Heavy Weapon), Pommel Strike (Heavy Weapon), Throw (Heavy Weapon: Axe), Exploit Weakness (Bogatyr)|
|Donovan||Avalon||Bind (Buckler), Disarm (Fencing), Riposte (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Donovan)|
|Drexel||Eisen||Disarm (Heavy Weapon), Lunge (Heavy Weapon), Pommel Strike (Heavy Weapon), Exploit Weakness (Drexel)|
|Durchsetzungburg||Eisen||Riposte (Fencing), Tagging (Fencing), Wall of Steel (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Duschsetzungburg)|
|Gallegos||Castille||Beat (Heavy Weapon), Bind (Panzerhand), Disarm (Panzerhand), Exploit Weakness (Eisenfaust)|
|Gaulle||Montaigne||Double-Parry (Fencing/Knife), Bind (Knife) Disarm (Knife), Exploit Weakness (Gaulle)|
|Kjemper||Vesten||Attack (Shield), Corps-a- Corps, Wall of Steel (Shield), Exploit Weakness (Kjemper)|
|Larsen||Vendel||Ambush, Feint (Fencing), Parry (Lantern), Exploit Weakness (Larsen)|
|Leegstra||Vesten||Beat (Heavy Weapon), Corps-á-corps, Lunge (Heavy Weapon), Exploit Weakness (Leegstra)|
|Lucani||Vocacce||Beat (Heavy Weapon), Pommel Strike (Heavy Weapon), Corps-a-Corps, Exploit Weakness (Lucani)|
|MacDonald||Avalon||Beat (Heavy Weapon), Lunge (Heavy Weapon), Pommel Strike, Exploit Weakness (MacDonald)|
|Pösen||Eisen||Beat (Polearm), Charge (Polearm), Lance (Polearm), Exploit Weakness (Polearm)|
|Robertson||Avalon||Double-Parry (Cloak/Fencing), Entangle (Cloak), Feint (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Robertson)|
|Snedig||Vendel||Beat (Fencing), Feint (Fencing), Lunge (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Snedig)|
|Soldano||Castille||Double-parry (Fencing/Fencing), Tagging (Fencing), Whirl (Fencing/Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Soldano)|
|Swanson||Vendel||Conceal, Double-Parry (Swordcane/Sheath), Pommel Strike (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Swanson)|
|Torres||Castille||Double-Parry (Cloak/Fencing), Tagging (Fencing), Side-Step, Exploit Weakness (Torres)|
|Urostifer||Vesten||Beat (Heavy Weapon), Double-Parry (Heavy Weapon), Feint (Heavy Weapon), Exploit Weakness (Urostifter)|
|Valroux||Montaigne||Double-parry (Fencing/Knife), Feint (Fencing), Tagging (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Valroux)|
The following fighting styles are not recognized as legitimate Swordsman Schools by the Guild (and practitioners do not receive the free Guild membership Advantage for taking the School).
|Boucher||Montaigne||Double-attack (Knife), Double-parry (Knife), Riposte (Knife), Exploit Weakness (Boucher)|
|Buslayevich Bowman||Ussura||Charge (Bow), Horse Archery, Trick Riding, Exploit Weakness (Buslayevich)|
|Cappuntina||Vodacce||Pin (Knife), Throw (Knife), Trick Shooting (Knife), Exploit Weakness (Cappuntina)|
|Dobrynya Wrestling||Ussura||Bear Hug, Disarm (Wrestling), Fortitude, Exploit Weakness (Dobrynya)|
|Finnegan||Avalon||Bob ‘n’ Weave, Corps-á-corps, Disarm (Barehanded), Exploit Weakness (Finnegan)|
|Gelingen||Eisen||Exploit Weakness (Monster)|
|Goodfellow||Avalon||Arc, Disarm (Bow), Tagging (Bow), Exploit Weakness (Goodfellow)|
|Halfdansson Harpoon||Vesten||Disarm (Polearm), Lunge (Polearm), Pommel Strike (Polearm), Exploit Weakness (Halfdansson)|
|Höpken||Vendel||Arc (Crossbow), Reload (Crossbow), Trick Shooting (Crossbow), Exploit Weakness (Höpken)|
|Rasmussen Pistol||Vendel||Pommel Strike (Pistol), Reload (Firearm), Trick Shooting (Pistol), Exploit Weakness (Rasmussen)|
|Rogers||Pirate Nations||Bind (Fencing), Corps-á-Corps, Disarm (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Rogers)|
|Rois et Reines||Montaigne||Beat (Heavy Weapon), Lunge (Heavy Weapon), Pommel Strike, Exploit Weakness (Rois et Reines)|
|Siggursdottir Axeman||Vesten||Double Attack (Hand Axes), Throw (Hand Axe), Whirl (Hand Axe), Exploit Weakness (Siggursdottir)|
|Tout Près||Montagine||Corps-à-Corps, Double-parry (Fencing/Improvised Weapon), Tagging (Improvised Weapon), Exploit Weakness (Tout Près)|
|Villanova||Vodacce||Double-parry (Fencing/Knife), Feint (Fencing), Stop-thrust (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Villanova)|
|Zepeda||Castille||Bind (Whip), Disarm (Whip), Tagging (Whip), Exploit Weakness (Zepeda)|
The following schools of command deal with mass combat, and are not considered Swordsman Schools (and practitioners do not receive the free Guild membership Advantage for taking the School).
|Steil||Eisen||Orders (Advance, Charge,Envelop, Flank, Hold Ground, Regroup, Scout, Set vs. Charge, Trim Line, Withdraw)|
|Unabwendbar||Eisen||Orders (Advance, Charge, Envelop, Flank, Hold Ground, Regroup, Scout, Set vs. Charge, Trim Line, Withdraw)|