Makhlab Swordsman School

Country of Origin: Crescent Empire
Salon: None (the tribe wanders, teaching the School to its young members and to others who manage to find them deep in the desert)
Founded: 1407

Description: When the Second Crusade came to its bitter end, with the Poor Knights of the Prophet vilified by the Vaticine Church, some of their number were ordered not to return to mainland Théah, but instead to stay within the Crescent Empire, undoing as much of the damage the Crusades had caused as possible. The selected Poor Knights sought refuge with each of the tribes in turn, only to be turned aside time and time again. In desperation, they turned to the mysterious Yilan-bazlik Tribe, who welcomed the Empire’s former enemies into their ranks. It did not take long for the Knights to see that their hosts were less than forthcoming with their secrets and their plans for the Empire, so the outlanders took their leave, along with whatever members of the Mystic Snake felt moved by the Knights’ piety and honorable intentions. Collectively, less than five hundred men, women, and children departed to wander the vast desert of the Muglak’kum, staying hidden from their enemies and continuing their mission to repair the damage inflicted on the poor people of the Empire by the Crusades. As the years turned into decades, the Crescents and the Knights combined their beliefs, their discoveries, and their bloodlines. They also combined their approaches to combat, and the result was the small but stalwart tribe known as the Saqr-alsahra (Desert Falcon) and the Swordsman School called Makhlab.

The School’s name translates to “Talon,” and it takes its name from the arm positioning and weaponry of its practitioners; from above, the scimitar in the main hand and the sica in the off hand resemble a falcon’s outstretched claw in profile (the scimitar is the long claw, the sica is the rear claw). The School is like its creators: subtle and quiet, but incredibly powerful. A Makhlab Swordsman presses every advantage and never allows an opponent to disengage without suffering for it. Like a falcon’s claw, the scimitar and sica work together to keep an opponent (or his weapon) trapped and easy prey for a follow-up attack.

The School relies so much on using both weapons in tandem that it loses efficacy when a Swordsman is denied the use of one or the other. This can be accomplished by disarming the Swordsman, or more simply by presenting only one side to him, offering a small target that is harder to trap in his raking claws.

Basic Curriculum: Fencing, Knife
Knacks: Bind (Knife), Exploit Weakness (Makhlab), Feint (Fencing), Lunge (Fencing), Sunder (Fencing)

Revised Swordsman Knack: Feint. When attacking an enemy, you can declare a Feint. You roll Wits + Feint, and must roll 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.

New Swordsman Knack: Sunder. When making an attack, you can choose to strike at an enemy’s weapon, hoping to break it and leave your opponent defenseless. To make this attack, you roll Finesse + Sunder, taking two Raises to target the enemy’s weapon. If your hit is successful, roll damage as normal; this damage is not applied to the opponent, but compared against the following chart to see if the opponent’s weapon breaks:

Type of WeaponTN to Sunder
Dagger, Knife, Main Gauche20
Fencing Weapon25
Buckler, Shield30
Heavy Weapon35
Firearm, Polearm40

Game Masters should use their discretion in applying the Sunder Knack to other kinds of weapons. These Target Numbers can be adjusted by the following modifiers:

Weapon QualityTN Adjustment
Inferior Weapon or Shield-5
Quality Weapon or Shield+5
Dracheneisen Weapon+10
Djinn or Sidhe Weapon+15

Apprentice: Once the Apprentice has an opponent’s weapon trapped, he does not easily give up his prey. If an opponent successfully frees himself from an Apprentice’s Bind, the Apprentice may rake the edge of his sica across the opponent’s hand, inflicting 1k1 Flesh Wounds in damage. The opponent must make a Wound Check as usual.

Originating in the Crescent Empire, Makhlab has never been submitted to the Swordsman’s Guild for sanction. As a result, the Apprentice receives a free Rank in one of his Swordsman Knacks in lieu of Guild Membership.

Journeyman: Makhlab Journeymen will not yield; even when they are struck by an opponent’s weapons, they remain prepared to counter with a raptor’s savagery. If a Journeyman takes damage from an opponent’s melee attack but does not suffer a Dramatic Wound, he may spend an Interrupt Action to immediately make a counter attack using either of his weapons.

Master: A Master of Makhlab has perfected his use of both blades as a single weapon. Whenever the Master rolls damage after a successful Attack, he may roll damage for both weapons and use the higher result. This does not apply after a Feint or Lunge, but it includes the use of the Master’s Sunder Knack, as he uses one blade to hold the opponent’s weapon in place, and the other to shear it off.