Country of Origin: Ussura (any member of a Fhideli clan, whether by birth or adoption, may learn Andrescu for 25 HP; any other Ussuran must pay 35 HP, as if this were a foreign school)
Salon: None (the style is taught exclusively by the wandering Vitzi Andrescu)
Description: Even to the people of Ussura, who are accustomed to strange, mystical events and the intervention of supernatural (and sometimes oppressive) forces, the land of Veche remains a dark, foreboding place. The average Ussuran goes out of his or her way to avoid traveling there, and even the inhabitants of the land seem eager to leave at any opportunity. The Tibesti who roam Ussura (and the rest of Théah), however, do not have that luxury. They go where the road takes them (or where Grandmother Winter sends them), and if that means their painted caravans will be making a stop in Veche, it cannot be avoided.
While they may be pragmatic about this aspect of their lives, the Tibesti are not a foolish people. They recognize that they may need to defend themselves, not just in Veche (though the dangers there are numerous), but in any unfriendly foreign land. Moreover, they seldom have the advantage of numbers or superior armaments to see them through a battle, so a select few have learned to fight with the items they know they will always have handy: their wits, their hunting knives, and their animal companions.
While every clan has stories of heroes who fought alongside savage wolves or powerful bears, the first formal style (if a collection of tricks taught from one wanderer to another can truly be called “formal”) was developed by a small family that found itself in Veche more often than they would have liked. With an affinity for birds and a handful of wicked knife fighters, the Andrescu clan began training their domesticated falcons to assist in the defense of their wagons, with no small amount of success. Over the next few years, visitors from other clans came to train with the Andrescu and spread their techniques throughout the loose network of families that comprise the Tibesti “nation.” No one doubts that Grandmother Winter has sent her share of students to the Andrescu family; it is said that wherever these skills are needed, she will find a way to deliver them.
The Andrescu school itself is a marvel to behold, consisting of a single Tibesti fighter and a trained falcon, attacking their enemies in concert. The bird’s shrill cries and darting attacks force an opponent to defend against strikes from above, allowing the Tibesti to dart in and attack with his knife. Likewise, an opponent who concentrates too intently on his human opponent may find his face, or worse, his eyes, torn open by the falcon’s rending talons. It is a deadly combination, and any attacker (human or otherwise) who has fallen victim to it once will not want to repeat that mistake, even if it means giving a Tibesti caravan a wide berth.
Against an opponent who knows what to look for, however, Andrescu becomes much less effective. Because a Tibesti’s knife does not have a long reach, he must step away from his opponent before the falcon can swoop down for an attack. Wise opponents will raise their defenses skyward when this separation occurs, and then launch a counterattack while the falcon is swooping upwards and the Tibesti has yet to regain his offensive stance after disengaging.
Basic Curriculum: Hunter, Knife
Knacks: Animal Training, Eye Gouge (Falcon), Exploit Weakness (Andrescu), Lunge (Knife), Throw (Knife)
New Swordsman Knack: Animal Training. This Knack allows you to domesticate animals and train them to perform tricks, or to attack on command. Suggested rules for Animal Training can be found in the GM’s Guide. This is the same as the Animal Training Knack found under the Hunter Skill, but it is considered a Basic Knack for students of Andrescu.
New Swordsman Knack: Eye Gouge (Falcon). This attack is designed to temporarily blind your opponent. In order to use it, you must be fighting alongside a trained falcon, and its talons must be empty and unfettered. You declare that your falcon is attempting an Eye Gouge, and then roll using your Rank in this Knack and the falcon’s Finesse. If the attack is successful, it inflicts the normal 1k1 Wounds (this roll is not adjusted for Brawn) and forces your target to increase his next Action die by 1, plus 1 for every Raise you make. If this increases that Action die higher than 10, the Action die is discarded. Because this Knack is the result of constant training drills with the falcon, it remains an Advanced Knack.
Apprentice: Even a beginner in the Andrescu fighting style learns to rely on his avian ally to keep an opponent off-balance and provide a little extra offensive support. So long as he is fighting alongside a trained falcon (or a transformed Pyeryem Sorcerer with a falcon spirit skin), the Apprentice may roll and keep one extra Action Die at the beginning of every Round of combat. This increases the Apprentice’s Initiative Total normally, but it can only be used for an attack, an Eye Gouge, or an Active Defense on behalf of his falcon. While he cannot use the falcon’s action for himself, the Apprentice may transfer his own actions to the falcon if he wishes.
Andrescu is not sanctioned by the Swordsman’s Guild, so its students do not receive Guild membership for free. Instead, a student of Andrescu receives a free Rank in one of his Swordsman Knacks. Note that Andrescu fighters treat the Throw (Knife) Knack as if it were a Basic Knack.
Journeyman: An Andrescu Journeyman has learned to time his attacks to coincide with the strikes of his falcon, making the two of them an effective (and deadly) fighting force. Any time the Journeyman’s falcon causes an opponent to lose an Action Die through use of the Eye Gouge (Falcon) Knack, the TN to hit that opponent drops to 5 for the Journeyman’s next attack. This attack must be made before the end of the Phase in which the die was lost, or the opponent’s TN to be hit returns to normal.
Master: An Andrescu Master has formed such a strong bond with his falcon that one would be willing to lay his life down for the other. Any time the Master is suffering the defensive penalties associated with a Lunge, his falcon will (at the Master’s option) swoop down to act as a bodyguard. Treat the falcon as having a Rank of 3 in the Interpose Knack for this purpose, giving the Master a TN to be hit of 20, or allowing the falcon to make a 4k3 Active Defenses on the Master’s behalf. Remember that any damage the Master might have suffered is likely to be inflicted on the falcon instead.
Game Master’s Notes
At the Game Master’s discretion, a student of Andrescu may already have a trained falcon at his or her disposal, or may have to train one over the course of the game. In the latter case—or if a falcon is injured or killed and needs to be replaced—it takes six months (and a series of Animal Training checks) to prepare a falcon to attack alongside an Andrescu fighter. The death of a trained falcon should be a very traumatic event for a student of Andrescu, perhaps leading to a Lost Relative Background.
In general, a falcon should be considered a Henchman with a Rank of 1 in all Traits. It has a Rank of 2 in Attack, a Rank of 2 in Footwork (Grounded), and a Rank of 4 in Footwork (Flying), giving it a TN to be hit of 15 or 25, respectively. Notwithstanding the Eye Gouge (Falcon) Knack, a falcon rolls 3k2 when attacking, and inflicts damage of 1k1 with its beak or claws. Disregard the contested Wits roll described in the Game Master’s Guide when dealing with a falcon trained to work alongside an Andrescu fighter.
A student of Andrescu may use the school without a falcon at his or her side, though its techniques will be completely ineffective, aside from the Lunge (Knife) and Throw (Knife) Knacks.