Country of Origin: Crescent Empire
Salon: Edirne (Average)
Description: In the slave markets of Edirne, the strongest, most athletic, and most attractive slaves are sold quickly. They are not only in high demand among Crescent nobles wishing to further beautify their homes; many are purchased by the owners of “stables” of slaves who are trained to fight in gladiatorial games held monthly in the grand stadium. Typically pitted against one another, as Edirne’s elite have little taste for watching fearsome beasts tear unarmed slaves apart (at least not exclusively), only the strongest survive. The losers are generally killed as part of the spectacle, but survivors of enough battles may eventually be trained in the underground fighting style known as Shalzeri.
Shalzeri is a quick, acrobatic twin-sica fighting style (a sica is a short, curved blade, rather like a small scimitar). Its students’ first lessons are in defending themselves (and doing it well) with their athletic training and the weaving motion of their blades, while making swift flurries of attacks. At first, students of Shalzeri can become disilllusioned that they do not learn any other offensive techniques early in their training. It is only after a long course of study that they are taught an attack called the death of a thousand cuts: a devastating series of precision strikes designed to severely damage an opponent and make him less of a threat.
The choice of weapons and acrobatic movements of the style are its primary weaknesses. While sicas are deadly in well-trained hands, they are small, light blades that can easily be knocked aside by a larger, heavier weapon. Furthermore, since the style is designed for use with tumbling, whirling, and leaping attacks and defenses, it is easy to trip an opponent up with a low strike or even a swift kick to the legs, leaving him off-balance and unable to act with full effect.
Basic Curriculum: Acrobat, Knife
Knacks: Double Attack (Knife/Knife), Exploit Weakness (Shalzeri), Flurry (Knife), Razor (Knife), Sidestep
New Swordsman Knack: Flurry. When attacking an enemy, you can declare a Flurry. You roll Resolve + Flurry, and must roll a number of Raises equal to your enemy’s Resolve in order for your Flurry 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.
New Swordsman Knack: Razor. You have studied basic anatomy, and mastered the art of blade control to take full advantage of your studies. As a result, when you strike with a weapon, you inflict precise, extremely painful wounds. For every Rank you have in this Knack, you may add one to your Damage Rolls with an appropriate weapon.
Apprentice: An Apprentice of Shalzeri is taught to wield a sica in each hand, and to protect himself from attack at all times. The Apprentice may wield a sica in each hand without penalty, and he receives a Free Raise on all Active Defenses made using Parry (Knife), Leaping, or Tumbling.
Since Shalzeri is not Sanctioned by the Swordsman’s Guild of mainland Théah, its students gain the Combat Reflexes Advantage for free in lieu of Guild Membership.
Journeyman: Journeymen of Shalzeri learn to use both daggers to defend themselves from attack: one establishes a strong defensive posture, while the other flashes out to intercept attacks that penetrate his initial defense. When using Parry (Knife) to establish his passive defense, the TN to hit the Journeyman is increased by five, and he may use Parry (Knife) as an Active Defense even if that was the Knack used to establish his Passive Defense.
Master: At this level of experience, the Shalzeri knife-fighter learns to take every opportunity to cut an opponent: deeply. When using his Sidestep Knack, the Master may dvide the benefit of the Knack across more than one Action Die, increasing one Die by five, five Dice by one each, one Die by three and another by two, or any other combination. In addition, when the Master makes more than one attack in a Phase, the opponent does not make a Wound Check until the final attack is resolved, and the threshold for sustaining more than one Dramatic Wound (for that Wound Check only) is reduced to fifteen.