Country of Origin: Avalon (Highland Marches)
Salon: Dun Torcunill (Tiny)
Description: James Maxwell is a middle-aged Highlander, trained as both an Andrews Swordsman and a Finnegan boxer. He is also a drunk, a cheat, and a radical Separatist. He toured the Triple Kingdoms extensively when he was in his late teens and early twenties, and found that the courts of Avalon were too tight in the britches for his liking, while the courts of Inismore, run at the whim of the O’Bannon, were too chaotic. It was only natural, therefore, that the sensible Highlanders carve out their own nation and live their lives unfettered by the yoke of Avalon’s rule and the forced fraternity with Inismore.
He was so disgusted with two of the Triple Kingdoms that he renounced his training in both Andrews and Finnegan, and made a drunken wager that he could best any challenger without drawing on those “inferior” techniques. He lost that bet. And the next one. And the next one, and the one after that, until he realized that, unfettered by the sensibilities of Andrews, he could always gouge an eye, or stomp an instep, or kick a groin to increase his chances of winning. Once he added those moves to his repertoire, he started winning his wagers, and eventually his techniques coalesced into a semiformal Swordsman School that he still teaches out of the back room of the Dry Whiskey Tavern in Dun Torcunill.
The Maxwell School of combat is less a dedicated course of study and more a collection of dirty tricks that one accumulates as he goes through his training (typically by being the victim of said tricks one or more times). His rapier is almost an afterthought, used only to deprive an opponent of his weapon (or his senses) and to strike while the opponent is distracted by whatever mess the Swordsman has forced him into.
The School’s weakness is that it is really just a finite collection of nasty surprises. (There are only so many ways to pull down an opponent’s pants, after all.) The more familiar an opponent is with those surprises, the easier it is to prepare for them and defend against them.
Basic Curriculum: Dirty Fighting, Fencing
Knacks: Disarm (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Maxwell), Feint (Fencing), Pommel Strike (Fencing), Tagging (Fencing)
Revised Swordsman Knack: Feint. When attacking an enemy, you can declare a Feint. You roll Wits + Feint, taking a number of Raises equal to the opponent’s Wits. If the Feint is successful, the opponent cannot Actively Defend, and the Raises add Unkept Dice to your Damage Roll as usual.
Apprentice: James Maxwell’s students learn that the first rule of combat is that there are no rules. They learn to use tactics that are not just dirty, but downright unconscionable: tossing sand into an enemy’s eyes, kicks to the Achilles tendon, strikes below the belt, and so on. Whenever an Apprentice attacks with his Attack (Dirty Fighting) Knack, he receives one Free Raise on the Attack Roll per Mastery Level. In addition, he never suffers an off-hand penalty for making a Dirty Fighting attack with his left hand while his right hand wields a rapier.
Maxwell’s School has not been submitted for Guild sanction; he has no interest in doing so, and given its reputation, it probably would not be accepted anyway. As a result, its students receive a free Rank in the Swordsman Knack or the Dirty Fighting Knack of their choice.
Journeyman: A Maxwell Journeymen has learned to take advantage of an opponent whenever he is at his most vulnerable. Once per Round, the Journeyman may attempt a Called Shot against an opponent whose TN to be hit is five or less to inflict some dirty trick on the opponent that reduces one of his Traits, except Resolve, by one or more Ranks (to a minimum of one) for the rest of the Scene.
The attack reduces the designated Trait by one Rank, plus one additional Rank for every two extra Raises taken on the attack roll (besides those necessary for the Called Shot). The Swordsman must describe the dirty trick and what effect he wishes it to have (e.g., pulling an opponent’s pants down to tie up his legs and lower his Panache, smacking his “funny bone” to numb his fingers and reduce his Finesse, boxing his ear to ring his bell and sap his Wits, and so on). He may only affect one Trait on one opponent per Round.
Master: A Master of Maxwell has become highly skilled at cheap shots, and relies on his rapier for a strong defense. The Master receives a free Raise on his Eye Gouge, Head Butt, Kick, and Throat Strike attacks, and may increase his TN to be hit by five whenever he is using Parry (Fencing) to determine his Passive Defense.