Country of Origin: Crescent Empire
Salon: None (the School is taught from practitioner to practitioner among Corsair Swordsman, though it is beginning to gain some traction among the Brotherhood of the Coast)
Description: It is an unfortunate but undeniable fact that the vast majority of sailors aboard Crescent ships haven’t chosen to be there. Perhaps they fell victim to a press gang, or were captured and enslaved in a dockside raid. Some of them may be simple victims of circumstance, serving under Khereid-Din’s bloody banner for lack of anything better to do. These unfortunates rarely receive formal training in swordplay, as it is a simple matter to replace them when they fall in battle, as many inevitably do. This is the way it has always been, and perhaps, it is the way it will always be.
One of the nameless, faceless slaves aboard the Strange Skies was not content with such an ignoble fate. He recognized that fighting for your life, even in captivity, bred a certain camaraderie; men either learned to fight together or died alone. He also recognized that those who managed to survive under the harsh lash of Edahgo (or any of the Corsairs’ other, equally brutal bosuns) developed grace and strength to carry out their duties; without these qualities, they would be tossed overboard without hesitation. This man, known only by the name Qurra, began appealing to his fellow captives to make the most of their situation, relying on the natural gifts they were developing (and, more importantly, on each other) to prolong their lives. They began working together to carry out their duties efficiently, and training together in their rare moments of downtime. Then, when forced into battle, they fought together…and managed to stay alive.
One never knew what weapons, if any, would be available when a Corsair ship engaged an enemy, so Qurra and his fellows focused on their own natural weapons: blows to vital areas using the feet and hands (or whatever other body part might be available). Over time, the style evolved to encompass the odd scimitar or sica (a short-bladed, scimitar-like knife) that fell into a fighter’s hands. Some specialized in the longer weapons, some in the curved sica, either singly or in pairs. Khereid-Din was pleased at his crew’s efficacy…at least until Qurra and a number of his “students” joined Espera (now known as Ernesto Castillus) in escaping aboard the Freedom’s Key. The remaining slaves were punished, solely to discourage future mutinous behavior, but they were allowed to continue training in their unique fighting style, as it had proven to be a tremendous asset when boarding an enemy vessel. Between the mighty fleet of the Corsairs and the occasional escapee who makes his way aboard another ship, the style has spread so thoroughly that virtually anyone who has spent time aboard (or in combat with) a Crescent ship has had at least minimal exposure to the style.
Qurra is an acrobatic style of fighting, and its students make frequent use of the skills they learn while serving aboard ship (climbing, balance, swinging from the rigging, and the like). It is treated as a “bring your own weapon” style, usable in conjunction with a scimitar or a sica singly or in pairs (or using one of each). Furthermore, the style relies on cooperative attacks and defenses; Qurra fighters are much more dangerous when attacking in pairs or groups. Between one fighter somersaulting between his legs to strike from behind and another flipping overhead to strike from above, even experienced opponents have difficulty keeping up with as few as two students of Qurra working in tandem.
If Qurra has a weakness, it is the style’s reliance on quick, athletic movement. A cagey opponent will force a Qurra fighter onto unstable ground, or pin him in a corner where he cannot effectively evade attacks. Denied of his style’s quick, daring attacks and acrobatic defenses, a Qurra duelist is left vulnerable to whatever harm a more conservative opponent wishes to inflict upon him
Basic Curriculum: Acrobat, Dirty Fighting
Knacks: Corps-á-Corps, Double Parry (Fencing/Knife), Exploit Weakness (Qurra), Stunt, Whirl (Fencing/Knife)
New Swordsman Knack: Stunt. One of the most important aspects of an acrobatic performance is the teamwork and precision with which the entertainers move. An acrobat with this Knack has learned to depend upon and be depended on by others when it comes to timely catches, throws, and assists. This Knack is the same as the Stunt Knack found in the Acrobat Skill in the Ussura book, but it is considered a Basic Knack for students of Qurra.
Apprentice: A Qurra Apprentice trains extensively with scimitars and curved knives, often in pairs. The Apprentice never suffers a penalty when using either weapon in his off hand. Furthermore, the style’s flexibility allows the Apprentice to substitute a scimitar for a knife (or vice-versa) when using his Double Parry and Whirl Knacks.
As a sailor’s style, Qurra is taught almost exclusively to young men and women destined for a life at sea, who learn the technique alongside other, equally vital survival skills. Consequently, rather than receiving membership in the Swordsman’s Guild, students of Qurra receive one free Rank in the Swimming Knack (as a Specialty if they do not already have access to it by virtue of another Skill, though Swimming will not count against the character’s limit of three Specialty Knacks).
Journeyman: In addition to offensive flexibility, the Qurra style stresses the merits of cooperative actions: Journeymen who act in coordinated groups are more successful than those who work alone. When two or more Qurra Journeymen work together to perform an action requiring a Knack in the Acrobat Skill, each may add his Rank in the Stunt Knack to any rolls he makes. In addition, if the group is attacking the same target (a Brute Squad counts as one target for this purpose), this bonus also applies to Active Defenses using those Knacks, as well as any rolls using the Attack (Fencing) or Attack (Knife) Knacks.
Master: A Master of Qurra has invested a great deal of time and energy training with the style, encountering fighters from many different countries and doing battle under many different conditions. There are few tricks he has not seen, and while he seldom masters many of them, there is virtually nothing he cannot attempt with his weapons. A Qurra Master may spend a Drama Die to attempt to use any of the following Swordsman Knacks, as if he had a Rank of 2 in them (or at his actual Rank in them, whichever is higher): Beat, Bind, Disarm, Double-Attack, Feint, Flourish, Flurry, Lunge, Pommel Strike, or Tagging. The Knacks may be attempted with a scimitar or a knife (or any combination of the two). These Knacks can never be increased (unless the Master gains access to them by learning another Swordsman School), and do not count as “part” of Qurra for purposes of advancement or Grandmastery.
At the Gamemaster’s discretion, the Qurra Master may have access to other Knacks he has encountered (e.g., the Stop-Thrust of Villanova, the Cavatione of Tricomi, or any unique Knacks created by the Gamemaster for his own games). As a general rule, the Master may only use this ability with Knacks that involve the use of melee weapons and require some sort of roll for success. The ability does not apply to Knacks that merely provide a bonus to other rolls (e.g., Razor, Fortitude, or Wall of Steel).