We stared at each other through the rain for what must have been ages, Horace and I. Our minds examining the possibilities of openings and counter openings. We stood there planning the final moves in a game of chess that had yet to begin. Horace tilted his sword a little. A nervous twitch? An opening? His mind is elsewhere. Thank you, Horace. I do believe it is my turn. Check.
Mankind, with its infinite capacity to creatively destroy, constantly produces new means by which to kill one another. There are no shortage of weapons in this world or ways to wield them. Across the Throne, weapon schools have cropped up. Methods that have been time tested in the crucible of war.
Throughout the world there exist elite schools of martial training that have honed and perfected a particular style of combat. These schools are rarely free to attend and admission is usually only available to a privileged few. Within these schools, however, combat styles are taught that allow more powerful maneuvers. These schools have a variety of incarnations, from the tuition based fencing schools of Hestralia to the elite blademasters of the Elven royal guard. Each of these styles contains several individual maneuvers and usually requires a specific condition with which to perform them with. To use a style, you must meet the requirements listed while using it, such as the weapon it is performed with. Once instruction is gained, each maneuver costs 5 skill points to learn. These maneuvers always require some kind of instruction from another who already knows the art, and they may be learned in any order within a given school.
There are three types of Advanced Maneuver groups: Weapon styles, Movement styles, and Conditioning Styles. A warrior may use one of each group at a time.
The abilities granted to the warriors who train in these arts are kept secret. To learn about their exact rules, you may need the appropriate Foci. The arts listed below are examples - there are certainly more than these in the world that are less well known.
Uses: Medium and Heavy Axes
Kept by: Njordic Thanes
Harsh places produce harsh men, and the environs of Njordor are the harshest. The northmen expertly hew what trees there are into warm cabins and sturdy longships, but there are worse things that must be solved by an axe in the North. The bears, the orc, and sometimes even the svartalf are dangers that can kill you faster than the winter cold. The brave men of the North fear no battle, however, and will fell a foe like felling timber. In the North, thanes serve a similar role to the vested knights that serve noble houses. These brave champions of the ice-hardened Jarls of the north are trained in the ferocious arts of the northmen, and use it to protect the lands of the lords and destroy their enemies.
Reward Cowardice - Easily push your opponent’s weapon out of the way, and disorient them with the strength of your blow.
Oak Hewer - Shields mean nothing under your axe blows.
Leg Biter - Legs are not too fast for your axe.
Uses: Maul or Great Mace
Kept by: Njordic Skalds
There is a song in Njordor, an epic tale of courage and battle called Jordermund's Fist. In the tale, a legendary band of heroes must do battle against a black dragon called from the frozen north, who's eyes could freeze a man's blood and choke him to death with fear. Jordermund, the prince of the North, and his old mentor Bjorgir track the monster to an icy fortress in the Frozen Wastes, Jotunkoenig, home of the giant king. When they reach the inside, the giant king demands that they pay for trespassing in his hall, and Bjorgir gives himself as a prisoner. On the highest tower of the fortress, Jordermund and Skaedve, his one time enemy, now trusted friend, face the dragon. The beast carries them high into the sky, but Skaedve places the mask of rage on his face and drives his Frozen Slayer into the beast's skull. The black dragon lands nearby, dead, but the Betrayer, He WhoLost His Name, kills Skaedve. Jordermund takes up Skaedve's mask of rage, destroys the Betrayer with his mighty maul before dying himself of his wounds. Jordermund raised up to become a storm god, to fight forever in the afterlife.
Skalds, traveling warrior-singers of the northmen, consider this story a favorite among the people of Njordr. They learn its secret ways and demonstrate it for those they tell of tale, and though it is used ceremonially in this respect, the art is as deadly as the warrior for who it is named.
Wise was Bjorgir - You are skilled with the weight of your weapon so that you can remain nimble with its use.
Brutal was Skaedve - Opponents who cross blades with you will show the effects of your strikes forever.
Broken was the Betrayer - With your might, you force your opponents back further and force them to lose footing.
LUCCIAVELLI FENCING SCHOOL
Kept by: Lucciavelli Fencers
Far away from the turbulent borders of the Empire, the well-protected region of Hestralia prospers in trade and art. Hestralians wishing not to dull their martial prowess on such leisure will often seek admission into a fencing academy to hone their skills to a razor edge. The Lucciavelli Fencing School produces the quickest, the sharpest, and the most aggressive swordsmen in Hestralia. These men seem to develop a healthy amount of bravado and showmanship along with their blade arm, their fighting style as flamboyant as the Hestralians themselves. The Lucciavelli school, founded by Anton Lucciavelli in Lion Age 430, charges high fees for its tuition - upwards of 5 gold for the time it takes to learn a single technique, and although the school is only found in Hestralia, graduate swordsmen sometimes travel to other lands to find students to recoup the costs of their own training.
Heart Thrust - using your full body weight behind your strike, opponent's arms and armor are no match for the force of your strike.
Flick - You ravage the nerves of your opponent and bolster your own ability in the process.
Dance with Death - Your showmanship is in itself a great weapon. Forsaking your own safety, your blade flashes with such deadly intent that your opponent has no answer for it.
STRATIVINCI FENCING SCHOOL
Uses: Rapier and Dagger or Main Gauche
Kept by: Stativinci Fencers
The Strativinci Fencing School produces the most precise, calculating and patient fighters in Hestralia. When training, Strativinci fighters stand on a chalked diagram of angles, perpendicular lines, and measurements that demonstrate every possible maneuver and attack that an opponent could attempt called the Face. The Strativinci, holding a rapier in one hand and a dagger in the other, make attacks against them impossible with a series of movements that correspond to points on a clock. These cool and calculating fighters seem to have no fear of the danger of battle, confident that they can wait out their foe and strike at the perfect opportunity. Like the their rival school, the Lucciavelli, the Strativinci Fencing School costs at least 5 gold per term of tuition, enough time to learn a single maneuver. Its students spread the technique to other, less calibrated swordsmen, to cover the costs of their training.
Razor Wheel - By sacrificing the speed of your rapier, you become incredibly agile.
Blade Turner - By sacrificing the speed of your dagger, it can be used to defend the fiercest of blows. Combining your skills with rapier and dagger, make the most devastating blows mundane.
Dagger Shield - You are skilled with a short blade so that it can negate any efforts by your enemy.
Kept by: Dunnick Farmers
The Duns have less call for weapons than other folks might. Being on islands with controlled resources, an occupying military force, and holding a reputation with their nearest neighbors in Rogalia as maniacs and wildmen, invaders are few and far between. The Dunnick stick close with one another and form friendships and bonds strong enough to withstand a few punches and kicks, but likely not a sword thrust. Furthermore, the Duns are forbidden by Rogalian law to carry weapons of any kind. For this reason, the Dunnick rarely carry weapons, but fight all the same with their fists and knees. When things get ugly, the Dunnick don't hesitate to dive in, elbow and knee. To a certain point, friendly violence is part of the Dunnick culture. People don't usually get lastingly injured in these types of brawls, and a Dun who beats a person more badly than they meant to will often take the time to offer his defeated foe some pointers or technique over the next round of beers.
Bob and Weave - Whenever ye avoid their attempts, make ‘em woozy wit yer counter.
Tooth Collector - Once they’re woozy, put ‘em ta bed!
Shove - You realize that anything is a weapon. Toss an opponent into the surroundings, disorienting and wounding them.
Kept by: Highland Warriors
The moorsword is the traditional warrior's weapon of Dunland. Very few are created today, as there is a ban on Duns carrying weapons of any kind, and fewer still know the secret techniques to forge them. The moorswords that one sees are usually ancestral weapons, handed down from father to son for generations. The moorsword is a long, thin-bladed, greatsword with large, angled quillions. The highland clans that holdout in the hills and bluffs of Dunland, living fugitive in defiance of the Rogalian occupation, train with them tirelessly, preparing for the time when they will throw their Rogalian oppressors from their islands and reclaim their home. The moorsword has become a symbol of a free Dunland. The highland warriors use them as a matter of coarse, and are willing to teach their arts to those who they believe worthy of the ideals that they fight for.
Knightslayer - Even the most well-armored enemies are at your mercy when you catch them from behind.
Run Through: By grabbing your opponent, you use leverage to run them through and then toss them aside.
Carry Through - The might of your strike withers many opponents. Even if one person can avoid your blade, the poor bastard behind him will not be as lucky.
BRIGAND KNIFE FIGHTING
Uses: Two Light Blades
Kept by: Capacionne Bandit Lords
The smallfolk of Capacionne have long feared to tread the king's roads, day or night, for fear of brigand assault. There is good reason behind these fears. Highwaymen, dangerous rogues with more scars than scruples take what they please, disenfranchised from the taxes the King has levied on them to defend the eastern borders against the enemies of the Throne. When a man lives outside the law, he must learn to be remorseless, letting no opportunity slip past. The same holds true in combat, and the brigands know every trick in the book. Bandit lords only take the toughest and meanest of would-be robbers for their gangs. Developing a fighting style such as this among such esteemed company is a matter of coarse - the brigands fight with a ruthlessness even grim and salty soldiers and mercenaries would balk at.
One for Each Kidney - Your attacks are incredibly devastating once you have them in your mitts.
Pull Back a Stump - If your opponent is foolish enough to try and grab you, their limb is forfeit to the speed of your blade.
Like a Sack of Rocks - Your target will drop immediately once you sever their spinal cord if you get the jump on them.
Uses: Two Daggers
Kept by: Spider Cult Assassins
In Gotha, there is little the Emperor does not see. Laws are tight, doors locked tighter, but murders happen even still. There are politics, and commerce, and crowded cities with hot emotions. In a place such as this, people who wish murder but have no means find a spider. The Spider Cultists are experts at infiltration and assassination. They can bypass locks, traps, walls, guards, and reason. The Spiders are feared in Gotha, and in the Throne at large for their ability to move as they wish, but it is the Shadow Fangs that makes them deadly. A secret art, passed down to those Spiders who become the elite assassins, allows a Spider to silently kill even the most well defended knights, the swiftest cowards, and vanish again unwitnessed. Rumors abound about the cult's motives or ambitions. Some say they worship the blood-spilling ways of Kuarl, others the secret death worship of Lazarolth or that they serve secret masters even more elusive. Whatever the truth, it is known that they perform certain rituals in the secret chambers they haunt when not out for a kill, the nature of which, and the secrets of these assassins, only members of the cult know for sure.
Spider’s Kiss: Your two blades work in concert with one another. They move quickly and with clear purpose. Enemies are too slow to defend against your first blade, though skilled opponents may influence your second strike.
Startling Attacks: Opponents are disoriented by the blinding speed of your initial attack.
Whispered Cries: You are the night in the darkness. When you prepare to strike, no target is immune to your blade. You have mastered the art of remaining unseen and unnoticed even when moving quickly.
FERRUM EX TEMPLARI
Kept by: The Vigilant Order of Templars
The Templar Order has an ancient history, dating back even before the Throne and the Lion Age, it is the oldest human organization that exists today. Throughout their long history, their traditions have remained powerful and iron-clad to this day: Destroy the heretic. Direct or subtle, overt or covert, the Templar order is the renouncing word of humanity against the Anathema. It is their stern defiance, their absolute commitment to find, declare and destroy every last heretic in the Throne so that their ways and their lore will die forever, that gives them their dauntless power in battle. To become a Templar, each member of their Order must show these traits, in turn, the Order shares its traits with them - a communion of steel.
Deny Sanctuary: Channeling the might of the lord, strike your opponent and level them with God’s wrath.
Heretic’s End: Your power is such that opponents are disoriented when struck.
Forbiddance: Disorient your opponents with God’s Brilliance as your sword is His instrument.
Uses: Tower or Heater Shield and a Medium Weapon
Kept by: Rogalian Field Marshals
If the Rogalians do one thing well, it is war. Rogalian battle tactics have been a part of all major battles since the formation of the Throne at the start of the Lion Age. Because of the high concentration of wealth and nobility in Rogalia, almost all those in important positions on the field are armored knights and lords who can afford the protection of steel plate and a large shield. Rogalian battle tactics involve standing shoulder to shoulder forming a shield wall while the line of heavy footmen advance, placing their large shields between their foe and themselves, and making precise attacks from behind a strong guard. They use their natural advantage to muscle their foes to the ground, slamming into them with their shields, executing them, and continuing the advance. For this tactic to work properly, all soldiers who function in a vanguard are drilled in these maneuvers, ready to lock together to form an unbreakable wall of steel and grit.
Kept by: Rogalian urban commandos
Not all warfare occurs on a battlefield, or rather some battlefields begin where others end. When a siege reaches that critical moment when the wall is breached and the fighting spills out into the streets, prudent generals dispatch special groups of short-range bow-fighters to take to the streets to hurry ahead of the carnage, the looting, and the plunder. These elite soldiers have to take positions in the city and immediately seek out and kill high value targets to break the interior resistance of the defending force. These soldiers train for exceptional accuracy in chaotic situations, often forced to fire into a situation where civilians are running panicked through the area and whether cynically not wanting to waste critical arrows on low value targets, or to save some lives with the rapidity of their death-dealing, these sharpshooters can make critical shots at the critical moment.
Uses: Engraved scythe, Faith in Lazarolth
Kept by: The Abyssal Order
No one wants to think that the Anathema are organized; that they are anything more than heretic cells of unstable or misguided lunatics that crop up on the fringes of humanity where the Church's vigil is weakest. No one wants to fearfully believe that an army of heretics, highly trained and organized, could be marshaling within the borders of the Throne, able to march upon the walls of any city at any time. Such fears, however, are not without basis. Disturbing accounts have cropped up with increasing regularity of groups of armed and seasoned Lazarines, whipping around ghastly weapons of bone and steel, chanting the name of their black god with a droning regularity as they carve through whatever cadre of city watchmen or militia were unfortunate enough to discover their movements. It is said that their weapons emit a haunting wail with each swing through the air, and that those who are struck by their blades and live are never the same. It seems as though single agents of the black god travel to new cells of Lazarines hiding within the Throne to train them in their secrets, so they, in turn, may train others, this dark art spreading like a cancer through the Throne that will one day boil over and destroy it from within.
Uses: Hooked scarf
Kept by: Aa'boran Magi
Kept by: Sihr'bahn Slave Soldiers
MINER TUNNEL FIGHTING
Uses: Pick, Crowbill or Mattock
Kept by: Iceforge Dwarves
Mining is important to the dwarven communities. A dwarf can always find work in the tunnels, gathering precious ores and gems hidden by Magnir, expanding the tunnels for later expansion, making life safe for other dwarves. Sometimes, however, a collapsing ceiling is not as dangerous as what lurks in the deep darkness. Monsters hide in the deepest places of the world, and goblins dig tunnels too. Even another dwarf who has lost his integrity may try to steal your gems in the darkness of the tunnels. For this reason, a Dwarf must be wily, and cautious. The pick in your hand is the only thing between you and them; best learn to use it, and to mind your surroundings.
Uses: Two Light or Medium Hammers
Kept by: Underlord Dwarves
The Dwarves of the more southron mountains have things in some regards easier than their northron brothers. While they can leave the warmth of the forges and go outside without the cold freezing their blood, the orc favor such land too. The mountaineers of the southron clans fight on the rocky terraces and unstable crags of the mountain sides, riding down a rockslide, starting avalanches and hopping from stone to stone with two hammers in hand, leaping and smashing as the rocks themselves do, the very mountain coming alive to defend the children of Magnir.