Country of Origin: Montaigne
Salon: Charouse (Small)
Description: The Fantôme Swordsman School was developed by Marius Chevalier (a pseudonym: his birth name is Marcel Seau), a Swordsman, actor, and playwright in residence at Le Grande Opera in Charouse. Originally designed as a stage art, a sort of “armed dance” for simulating grand duels, Monsieur Chevalier realized after three years of choreographing fight scenes that exchanging some of the art’s fancy flourishes and dashing false strikes for wicked feints and savage thrusts would make a fairly effective fighting style. The addition of a cloak alongside the rapier was a last minute stroke of genius, as it allowed the Fantôme fighter to maintain an aura of flamboyance and mystery (hence the name: Le Fantôme: the Ghost).
Typically, a Fantôme Swordsman grips the edge of his cloak in his off-hand and holds his rapier low and behind the body, bringing it up only to defend himself or press an attack. Using this particular stance blocks not only the Swordsman’s body with the cloak, but his weapon as well, making it more difficult to predict the Swordsman’s line of attack. The School’s flair, bourgeois origins, and famous practitioners have made it popular among the elite of Charouse, and now that nobles no longer need to worry about keeping their heads, a number of them are paying Monsieur Chevalier for fencing lessons.
A Fantôme Swordsman may appear fierce, but this is largely an act maintained by his use of a cloak. Should an opponent deprive the Swordsman of his cloak (by tearing it from his hand, or simply cutting it loose through the Tagging Knack), his defenses are weakened and his attacks become painfully easy to anticipate and counter.
Basic Curriculum: Cloak, Fencing
Knacks: Blur (Cloak), Corps-á-Corps, Exploit Weakness (Fantôme), Feint (Fencing), Lunge (Fencing)
New Swordsman Knack: Blur. Your cloak is an ever-present blocking device, obscuring your footwork and your exact position from your opponents. If you have not attacked yet this Round, then each Rank of this Knack increases your TN to be hit by two if you use Footwork to determine your Passive Defense.
Revised Swordsman Knack: Feint. When attacking an enemy, you can declare a Feint. You roll Wits + Feint, and must take a number of Raises equal to your enemy’s Wits in order for your Feint to be successful. If you are successful, he cannot avoid the attack using any Active Defense. The Raises taken on this roll add Unkept Dice to your damage roll as usual.
Apprentice: Just as a Fantôme Swordsman’s cloak obscures his position from attackers, it can be used to hide the angle of an attack. The Apprentice suffers no off-hand penalty when gripping the edge of a cloak he is wearing. In addition, on his first attack of each Round, the Apprentice may add his Rank in the Blur (Cloak) Knack to a Fencing attack (including a Feint or a Lunge).
Fantôme has not been submitted to the Swordsman’s Guild for sanction. Monsieur Chevalier has no particular aversion to the idea, but no burning desire to seek the Guild’s approval, either, Students of Fantôme receive a free Rank in one of their Swordsman Knacks in lieu of Guild Membership.
Journeyman: The Journeyman of Fantôme has learned to fling his cloak upward before he strikes, drawing his opponent’s attention away from the incoming blade. When using his Apprentice Technique, the Journeyman may add twice his Rank in the Blur (Cloak) Knack to his attack roll.
In addition, Fantôme Swordsmen practice with a variety of different weapons, so they learn to compensate for their weaknesses. The Journeyman may disregard the penalties for using pommel-heavy or blade-heavy rapiers.
Master: A Fantôme Master has learned that keeping his free hand extended beneath the cloak allows him to position his blade anywhere he wants and his opponent will have no idea where or when an attack will come. When using his Apprentice Technique, the Master may add three times his Rank in the Blur (Cloak) Knack to his attack roll.
In addition, so long as he maintains a grip on his cloak, the Master may execute a rudimentary defense, even when he is overextended. After performing a Lunge, the Master may still attempt an Active Defense using Block (Cloak), but his Rank in the Knack is halved (rounding down, to a minimum of one) for purposes of the Active Defense.