Fading Suns and Flaming Heresies
Fencing is the art of the blade. Fencing duels are the preferred method of resolving disputes of honor among the nobles of the Known Worlds. A noble who doesn’t know how to handle a sword may find himself dishonored or dead.
Fencing actions are trained tricks of the trade. Anyone can thrust with a blade, but only those who have carefully practiced will gain special benefit from it. Fencing actions are rated by the Melee skill level required to learn them. For example: Disarm is 5, meaning that a character must know Melee 5 to learn it. Each action must be bought seperately (buying the level 5 Feint does not give the character the level 5 Disarm or any other actions of lower levels). However, fencing actions do not have to be learned in order (a character can buy Disarm without having to buy Slash).
Fencing actions cost 1 point per level during character creation, or 2 per level with experience points.
Refer to the Fencing Actions Chart for specific rules.
Parry (Level 1): Perhaps the most basic and important action in fencing — the ability to deflect an opponent’s blade with one’s own.
Thrust (Level 2): A forward thrust with the point of the blade. Although best performed with a thin blade, such as a rapier, a broadsword thrust can still be devastating. Thrusting allows the fencer extra reach.
Slash (Level 3): A sideways, downward or upward swing of the blade. Unlike thrusting, slashing has a larger contact area (the edge of the blade rather than the point), but not as much reach. In addition, it is hard not to telegraph (reveal) a slash before it hits, perhaps giving an opponent time to react.
Counter Parry (Level 3): When the character’s attack is confronted by a parry, she can counter the parry by swiftly rotating her blade, gaining a better chance of getting past the parry. A successful Wits + Melee roll means that a parrying opponent loses the +2 bonus to her goal. The attacker does not suffer a multiple action penalty for this roll.
Fancy Footwork (Level 4): The character dances and dodges, twists and turns, doing everything possible to confuse her opponent. Every victory point on a Dexterity + Vigor roll reduces her opponent’s goal on any melee attacks by one. This footwork constitutes one action; characters performing it with any other action (except dodge, block or parry) will suffer the multiple action penalty.
Flat of Blade (Level 4): A slap with the flat of the blade rather than the edge, meant to hurt an opponent rather than kill him. However, this can be an insulting gesture and many nobles may become enraged if repeatedly slapped this way, causing them to lose their composure and poise, perhaps even driving them to reckless and poorly defended actions — “Exactly the point,” say the dastards who employ this maneuver.
Draw and Strike (Level 4): Normally, drawing a sword from its sheath or picking it up from the ground takes one action. But a fencer with this training can whip out his sword or kick it up from the ground, catch it and strike in a single motion—handy if one is being hunted by assassins.
Compound Attack (Level 5): The character goes through an elaborate pattern designed to set her opponent up for her next attack. While this turn’s attack has a -1 to the goal number, whatever fencing maneuver she makes next turn is at +2.
Disarm (Level 5): The fencer can use his blade to knock an opponent’s blade from his hand and send it flying through the air or skittering across the floor a distance of one meter per victory point.
The fencer rolls Dexterity + Melee (the target can dodge this roll). If successful, he rolls Dexterity + Melee again but adds the victory points from his previous roll. These successes are then contested by the target’s Strength + Melee roll. Optionally, the fencer can choose to substitute Strength rather than Dexterity) for this second roll.
Gracious fencers will allow their opponent to then fetch their blade before continuing the duel, a lesson in humility. Cads will take full advantage of a weaponless foe.
Feint (Level 5): The fencer fakes a move (such as a thrust to the heart) but then swiftly changes it (a thrust to the leg), throwing off an opponent’s defense. This action adds three successes to contest dodges only. A Feint will only work twice against a single opponent per engagement.
Stop Thrust (Level 5): When done properly, a stop thrust attack will prevent an opponent from landing his attack. In reality, the character’s often lands just moments before the opponent’s attack. While that may be all the character needs to win the duel, this is not always the case.
Off-hand (Level 6): The fencer has trained to fight with a weapon in both hands. He suffers no penalties for using a weapon in his off-hand. He can thus switch hands if one arm tires or he wishes to throw off an opponent — “But I thought you were right-handed!” “Ho, sir! I fight equally well with either hand.” Or he can use an off-hand defensive weapon to parry with, such as a main-gauche or dagger.
Parry/Riposte (Level 6): The fencer’s reactions are good enough to parry and then swiftly return a strike. This is treated as one action. The fencer must allow his opponent the first attack, which he parries and then returns. If his opponent elects not to attack or misses, the fencer may strike at the end of the action.
Wall of Steel (Level 6): The character can parry up to three attacks in a turn without a negative modifier, though he can do nothing but parry. The character must have already purchased the Parry maneuver before buying this one.
Cloak (Level 7): The fencer can use a cloak in her offhand with which to parry or disarm her opponent. In addition, on a successful parry, she may try to Disarm her opponent without taking an extra action — the effort is so swift it takes place as the opponent tries to withdraw his blade (the character must first learn Disarm, level 5). This action is popular among nobles who are subject to ruffian assault while traveling incognito. The fencer must first learn Offhand (Level 6).
Florentine (Level 7): With this action, the character can use two blades — one for attacking and one for defending. He can take two actions, an attack and a parry, without negative modifiers. Taking a third action would require that all his actions for the turn have the normal -6 modifier. The character does not have to know the Off-hand action to fight Florentine, but if he does not, any other actions he takes with an off-hand weapon will suffer a -4 penalty.
Athletic Strike (Level 8): The fencer — in the swashbuckling tradition — can swing from a chandelier, slide down a banister, leap from a window, etc. — and still strike his opponent in the same action! He suffers no multiple action penalties for doing so. This feat plus the strike must be the only actions performed in the turn. Gamemaster discretion.
Pierce (Level 9): The fencer’s precision is amazing — she can slip her blade between the joints of an opponent’s armor. Her attacks ignore armor (except energy shields). If the opponent is wearing armor with no joints or openings of any kind which would allow the point of a blade through, then this maneuver must contend with that armor. However, such a situation is very rare and is usually encountered only with ceramsteel battle suits, designed to be environmentally sealed.
Double Strike (Level 10): The fencer can strike with his blade and quickly follow it up with a strike from his offhand (a dagger, sword, punch, etc.). This is considered to be a single action. Both attacks are rolled separately. The fencer must first learn Off-hand (Level 6).