Country of Origin: Montaigne
Salon: Echine (Small)
Description: The Swordsman Schools of Condorcet and Bonacci share the distinction of being the only schools to receive the sanction of the Swordsman’s Guild, only to have that sanction revoked due to repeated, schoolwide violations of Guild rules (specifically, the bloody rivalry between them that led to countless deaths as Swordsmen of one School engaged members of the other in unlawful duels). The rivalry between the Schools can be traced back to their founders: one-time friends who turned against one another over the most likely of prizes (love) in the least likely of places (Vodacce).
The founders of the styles are negative images of one another. Jean Marie Condorcet was a minor Montaigne noble who supported the people’s claims of oppression and worked in subtle ways to alleviate their hunger and suffering. Leonardo Bonacci was a commoner, trained in a Castillian military academy, who served in the army of Donello Falisci. His unshakable loyalty and expertise as a warrior came to the attention of the Prince himself, who rewarded his loyal service by appointing him a “Lord’s Hand” of the Falisci lands. Favors were called in on behalf of both men, one string pulled after another until each was admitted into the Villanova academy to learn that prestigious School. They began their studies within days of each other, and despite their differences, became fast friends.
Unfortunately, both men aroused the suspicion of Giovanni Villanova, who wanted them investigated thoroughly. Even if their motives for studying swordplay in his domain extended no further than their desire to learn the School, he reasoned that they might make valuable spies if they could be brought into his camp. To that end, he allowed a cousin born without Sorte Sorcery (and otherwise fated for a political marriage somewhere down the road) to study at the school and worm her way into their good graces. She succeeded beyond her cousin’s wildest dreams, capturing the hearts of both men and determining that neither of them was anything more than he appeared.
By that time, however, the damage had been done. The men discovered that they had been pursuing the same woman, and neither was prepared to back down. The situation culminated in a violent brawl that left both men physically scarred and inflicted serious damage on the fencing school’s common room. They were thrown out of the academy (having achieved only Journeyman status) and returned home in disgrace to create their own fighting schools.
In 1664, they had the misfortune of applying for Guild sanction at the same time, only to be turned away after they came to blows at a wine-tasting hosted by Linnae Knute. They were not allowed to apply until two years later (their testing was deliberately scheduled for different months), and each succeeded in impressing the Guildmasters sufficiently to see their Schools welcomed into the Guild. Unfortunately, alongside the basic curriculum of their Schools, each Master also taught an abiding hatred for the followers of the other, leading inevitably to a series of increasingly violent confrontations and the simultaneous expulsion of both Schools from the Guild for at least five years.
At least that was the plan.
In Nonus 1669, the Guild sponsored a tournament among representatives of unsanctioned fencing styles,with Guild approval as the grand prize. A Montaigne soldier named Benoit Lafontaine, representing his fencing master Jean Marie Condorcet, won this tournament and earned Guild endorsement of his master’s School. Pleased beyond words by his prize student, Jean Marie retired to his home in Coteau and charged Lafontaine with the management of the School he founded. Linnae Knute was not pleased with this turn of events, but bound by honor, there was nothing he could do. Nevertheless, Razors were assigned to keep an eye on each of the more noteworthy Condorcet students, looking for the first opportunity to have them drummed out of the Guild. That opportunity came in 1670, when a student of Bonacci won the second Founder’s Day Tournament, and in the process, earned a favor that she used to have the sanction of Condorcet rescinded.
Condorcet is a versatile School, designed for use with a rapier and allowing, but not mandating, a main gauche in the off-hand for defense. Students of Condorcet used to train in the defensive use of a number of other items as well, but new Master Benoit Lafontaine has standardized the regimen to include only single-sword and sword-and-knife stances. In addition, Condorcet Swordsmen learn military history and tactics, applying elements of military strategy (e.g., attacking from higher ground) to their individual battles. Practitioners often seem cold and detached, even in the midst of a duel, as they constantly reassess the situation and figure out how they may turn it to their advantage.
The analytical nature of Condorcet creates a number of subtle weaknesses that a seasoned opponent may exploit. A Condorcet Swordsman has an unfortunate tendency to overanalyze a situation, moving in to take advantage of an opening after the optimal moment has passed, giving the opponent a better chance to defend himself. Furthermore, once the Swordsman has committed to an unsuccessful attack, he may find it difficult to change tactics and fall back in time to avoid a retaliatory strike.
Basic Curriculum: Commander, Fencing
Knacks: Bind (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Bonacci), Exploit Weakness (Condorcet), Riposte (Fencing), Tagging (Fencing)
Apprentice: Students of Condorcet are trained to emulate its founder, who fenced exclusively with his left hand. As a result, an Apprentice receives the Left-Handed Advantage for free. In addition, the Apprentice has begun to master the defensive flexibility that makes this style famous. He suffers no off-hand penalty while using a main gauche for defense.
Now that the School’s sanction has been revoked for a second time, students no longer receive Guild membership for free. Instead, the Apprentice receives a free Rank in Exploit Weakness (Bonacci), as Master Lafontaine has redoubled efforts to eliminate members of the hated rival School.
Journeyman: A Journeyman’s tactical studies have begun to bear real fruit, giving him an advantage when he has the opportunity to study a battlefield and the opponents he will face upon it. In the first round of combat, the Journeyman receives one Strategy Die which may be added as a Kept Die to any Active Defense he attempts. At the beginning of the second Round, he receives two Strategy Dice; at the beginning of the third Round, he receives three, and so on. The Journeyman may never receive more dice in a Round than his Rank in the Strategy Knack.
Master: A Condorcet Master has learned that the value of a quick, surprise attack may outweigh the sacrifice of flexibility or defensive protection it requires. Once per Round, the Journeyman may use an Interrupt Action to make a standard attack, using whatever weapon he has available. If the Master has the Lightning Reflexes Advantage, he may use that ability in conjunction with this technique.