Furtim Swordsman School

Country of Origin: Montaigne
Salon: None
Founded: Unknown, but probably sometime in the Seventh Century AV

Description: When Imperator Carleman rose to power, the status of the Montanus family began a significant decline. Rather than stew quietly about their reversal of fortune, they began secretly developing a Swordsman School that wedded their magical powers with the use of the Numan gladius. Though it took some time to develop, by the time Isabeau Montanus outlived her husband Charles, the School was completed, and she awarded her eight most trusted retainers more than tracts of land; she also taught them this School, which they passed on to their sons and daughters. Over time, the Montanus (now the du Montaigne) family began to rely less on swordplay and more on their powerful Sorcerous abilities. The School ultimately fell into disfavor and vanished into obscurity, though its details may be found in any number of ancient fencing manuals buried in one noble’s private library or another.

The Furtim School emphasized deception, misdirection and surprise: the most effective blow was struck against an enemy who did not even know he was in danger. Because the study of deceit as a philosophy often led to dark practices, anyone known to practice Furtim was seldom trusted by anyone, whether facing them on the battlefield or across the card table. The School originally relied on the use of a gladius, along with a cloak bound at the wearer’s wrists like a set of wings. Should they have the chance to learn the School, modern Swordsmen could substitute a smallsword for the gladius, but at a penalty of one Unkept Die (-1k0) on all rolls (except Damage Rolls) using the modern weapon.

While the School’s reliance on Porté Sorcery made it very effective, it also contributed to the School’s primary weakness. Whenever a Furtim Swordsman disappeared into a portal, experienced opponents knew they should expect an attack from an unexpected angle in the near future. An opponent with knowledge of Furtim’s techniques would whirl around and raise an immediate defense, while preparing to strike at the Swordsman as soon as he emerged from the walkway, before he even had a chance to open his eyes.

Note that Porté Sorcery is needed to reach a Rank above zero in the Disarm (Portal) Knack, and a Swordsman must be at least an Adept in Porté to use the School’s Apprentice and Journeyman level techniques.

Basic Curriculum: Cloak, Gladius
Knacks: Blur (Cloak), Disarm (Portal), Entangle (Cloak), Exploit Weakness (Furtim), Feint (Gladius)

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.

New Swordsman Knack: Disarm (Portal). Due to the unique nature of using Porté as a part of this Knack, its mechanics vary from traditional Disarm Knacks. It can only be used after an opponent has missed the swordsman’s Passive Defense. You must use a Current, Held or interrupt Action to make a Contested Roll of your Resolve + Disarm against the opponent’s Brawn + Attack in the weapon he is holding. If you win, the weapon remains trapped, hanging halfway out of the rift. If you perform this move with two Raises, the weapon passes all the way into the rift (where it can be retrieved later if you also have the Pocket Knack). This Knack cannot be used unless you have opened at least one portal, and cannot be used as an aggressive action under any circumstances.

New Swordsman Knack: Entangle. This attack is designed to bind and confuse your opponent temporarily. In order to use it, you declare that you are using Entangle, then roll using this Knack to attack. If the attack is successful, it inflicts no damage, but forces your target to increase his next Action Die by one, plus one for every Raise you made. If this increases that Action Die beyond ten, the die is discarded. This is the same as the Entangle Knack found in the Cloak Skill, but it is considered a Basic Knack for students of Furtim.

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.

Apprentice: Even Apprentices of Furtim learn to leap into a Porté hole with eyes closed and burst back into reality somewhere else, swinging quickly at whatever enemies may be found there. So long as he has opened at least one portal large enough to step through, the Apprentice may add his Rank in Walk to his Initiative Total, as well as any Ambush rolls he attempts.

Furtim has not been (and never will be) submitted for Guild sanction. As a result, its students receive a free Rank in one of their Swordsman Knacks in lieu of Guild membership.

Journeyman: As Journeymen, students of Furtim learn to duck into a portal to avoid an attack, then burst back into reality behind an opponent for a devastating attack. The Journeyman may use Walk as a Knack for Active Defense. If he succeeds at doing so, the next attack he makes in the same Phase is against a TN of five, and Active Defenses against that attack require two Action Dice (neither of which need be legal) to attempt.

Master: Masters of Furtim learn to make devastating strikes across muscle and sinew whenever an opponent is at his most vulnerable, draining his strength and leaving him easy prey for further attacks. Whenever an opponent’s TN to be hit has been reduced to five (typically during the Surprise Round, or due to an opponent’s Lunge or the Swordsman’s Journeyman technique), the Master may take three Raises on his attack roll. If the attack is successful, these Raises do not add damage, but the opponent’s Rank in Brawn is reduced by one (to a minimum of one) until the end of the Scene.

Note: A gladius is a short, double-edged weapon popular in Numan lands centuries ago. It is always a Masterwork weapon, and has a Damage Rating of 2k2. Gladius is a Martial Skill consisting solely of the Basic Knacks Attack (Gladius) and Parry (Gladius).