Country of Origin: Avalon/Montaigne
Salon: Wandesborow (Small)
Description: Perfect swordplay requires a tenuous harmony of discipline and passion. Discipline yields anticipation and precision. Passion yields inspiration and speed. A swordsman who has studied this harmony knows that it can never be maintained; it must constantly be worked towards and tenuously achieved, moment to moment. It is the tireless pursuit of this harmony, the undying quest for clarity of self and blade, that defines a Descartes Swordsman.
The School was developed by a Valroux Swordswoman named Sophie Descartes who left her native Montaigne in disgust after the occupation of western Castille. Already a believer in the need for balance between passion and discipline, Sophie felt that the occupation was oversaturated with passion while lacking even the barest semblance of discipline. Retiring from her career as a successful Swordswoman, she relocated to Wandesborow in Avalon.
Initially, she thought she was going to write a fencing manual describing her philosophy towards combat, but the more she wrote, the more she tired of pen and ink and longed to feel the comforting hilt of her rapier in her hand. She abandoned her writings and set about developing a Swordsman School that put her philosophy into action. Mademoiselle Descartes chose to focus solely on the rapier when developing her School, partially to distance herself even further from the sword-and-knife styles favored by her countrymen, and partially after witnessing the efficacy of the Andrews School in duels fought in Avalon.
The School’s focus on balancing discipline and passion is its primary weakness. When a Descartes Swordsman has let passion guide his arm, he will slow his attacks down and focus on a disciplined defense. On the other hand, if he has slipped too far into a disciplined stance, he will hastily launch a passion-fueled assault. Either way, an opponent well-versed in the School will be able to determine a Swordsman’s approach, predict his next move, and act accordingly.
Basic Curriculum: Athlete, Fencing
Knacks: Exploit Weakness (Descartes), Feint (Fencing), Lunge (Fencing), Pommel Strike (Fencing), Sidestep
Apprentice: In his earliest lessons, a Descartes Swordsman learns that letting passion guide his hand can help him defeat an enemy. Every time he makes an attack using Attack (Fencing) against a single opponent and inflicts damage, he receives a cumulative +1 bonus to damage rolls against that opponent on all future attacks. This bonus resets to zero after he attacks another opponent, he attacks using a Knack other than Attack (Fencing), or he fails to inflict damage with an attack, as any of these conditions closes the window.
Journeyman: As a Journeyman, a Descartes Swordsman has learned that economy of movement is a necessary step in achieving discipline. He gains a free Rank in his Sidestep Knack. This may increase his Rank in Sidestep to a six. If it does not, he may increase it from a five to a six later by spending twenty-five experience points.
Master: A Descartes Master can achieve moments where passion and discipline come into perfect balance. He has learned to feint so effectively that he not only draws an opponent’s blade out of position, but his entire body as well. After successfully executing a Feint against an opponent and inflicting damage, the Master also receives the benefits of the Feint (i.e., extra Unkept Dice for damage and the opponent cannot Actively Defend) on a Lunge against that opponent, if he executes it in the same Phase, without taking any extra Raises on his attack roll (though Raises may still be taken to increase damage or for a called shot, if the Swordsman wishes).