Country of Origin: Avalon
Salon: Luthon (Large)
Founded: c. 1170 A.V.
Description: Centuries ago, when Robin Goodfellow roamed the forests of Avalon, striking blow after blow against wicked King Charles and his tax collectors, the outlaw developed a methodical approach to archery, still taught and practiced in his name to this day. While many of Robin’s band were gifted archers (especially after being trained by their leader), there were some who just couldn’t master the bow and arrow. One of these men was Jonathon “Big Red” Williams.
Big Red (so named for both his massive size and the shock of red hair that topped his head) had no skill with the bow, but he was a steady hand with a woodsman’s axe. He was mildly envious of his brethren who learned Robin’s secrets, but he recognized that there may come a time when archery failed them and an enemy closed in for a stand-up fight. Trained as archers, Robin’s band were at a serious disadvantage when pressed into melee combat. This situation was remedied when Big Red developed this Fighting Style, intended to complement what would eventually become known as the Goodfellow Style with a trusty hand axe (or two, or three, or whatever): something any woodsman worth his salt would be carrying anyway.
Unlike many Swordsman Schools and Fighting Styles, Williams does not teach a uniform set of maneuvers and attacks. Rather, the Style encourages each student to discern what sort of attack and defensive strategies work best for him based on his size, handedness, manual dexterity, or simple choice. A Williams training class resembles a sort of “organized chaos.” Rather than row by row of fencers (or archers) moving in perfect unison, a group of Williams fighters will demonstrate wide variety as they adapt the Style’s Techniques to their own personal preferences. One fighter may favor circling movements to the left, another may prefer to charge in headlong. Each student demonstrates considerable skill with whichever attacks catch his fancy, whether it is trip to the ground, a powerful swing of an axe, or even a low blow.
While the variance in each Williams fighter’s stance, movement, and attacks provides a great deal of flexibility, it also pigeonholes the fighter into one particular set of strikes and movements. An opponent who is trained in Williams can learn to identify the fighter’s unique approach and develop both an offensive and defensive strategy to counter it.
Basic Curriculum: Dirty Fighting, Hand Axe
Knacks: Beat (Hand Axe), Bind (Hand Axe/Hand Axe), Corps-á-Corps, Double Attack (Hand Axe/Hand Axe), Exploit Weakness (Williams)
Revised Swordsman Knack: Beat. When attacking an enemy, you can declare a Beat. You roll Brawn + Beat, and must take a number of Raises equal to your enemy’s Brawn in order for your Beat 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: As an Apprentice, a Williams fighter learns to wield two hand axes simultaneously, and to make each of his signature strikes count. The Apprentice never suffers a penalty when wielding a hand axe in his off hand, or when wielding two hand axes simultaneously. In addition, he may select one Advanced Knack in the Dirty Fighting Skill, or one of his Swordsman Knacks (except Exploit Weakness), as his signature strike. The Apprentice may add his Rank in Brawn directly to any Damage Roll resulting from his use of that Knack.
The Williams Fighting Style is not (and never will be) sanctioned by the Swordsman’s Guild. Therefore, instead of Guild Membership, those who study the Style receive a free Rank in the Advanced Knack of their choice from the Dirty Fighting Skill.
Journeyman: At this level, students of Williams have learned to cross their axes over an opponent’s weapon and twist it aside, opening their foe up to a nasty (if dirty) attack. Once per Round, when the Journeyman successfully executes a Bind, he may strike his opponent with a Head Butt without spending an Action Die. If the Head Butt fails to inflict a Dramatic Wound, the Bind is not broken.
Master: A Williams Master has learned a devastating combination attack capable of seriously wounding an opponent and sending him crashing to the ground. Once per Round, if the Master successfully hits with both attacks in a Double Aftack, he may immediately attempt a Corps-á-Corps attack against the same opponent without spending an Action Die. The Master may choose whether or not to force a Wound Check after each attack in the sequence.
In addition, the Master has spent enough time perfecting his individual approach to the Williams style that it is hard for opponents to predict what is coming next. Any benefit the opponent receives from the Exploit Weakness (Williams) Knack is halved (rounded down).