Country of Origin: Unknown (anyone with Symvasi Sorcery may learn the School for 25 HP; anyone else must pay 35 HP)
Description: Although it is rare, there is a Sorcery known as Symvasi which empowers a Sorcerer (known as a magus) to make a deal with an otherworldly entity (a daemon), exchanging access to the mortal world for access to the daemon’s powers. There are five common daemonic Domains: Ice, Knowledge, Passion, Sea, and Tempest. Unbeknownst to all but the most studious magi, There is a sixth Domain: Sword (Spathí). A daemon of the Sword Domain is relatively weak, having no Sorcerous power to trade. Instead, they teach a unique Swordsman School: Fóvos.
Raw aggression and frightening power are the keys to the Fóvos School. A Swordsman trained in Fóvos constantly looks for opportunities to press an attack and demoralize an opponent by any means possible: cutting words, overwhelming force, or even soul-chilling stares. A Fóvos Swordsman seldom passes up an opportunity to attack, whether it is by charging headlong into battle at the first possible moment or turning a simple defense into a fierce counterattack. Fóvos Swordsmen are practically immune to fear themselves, and it shows in some of their reckless actions on the field of battle. Originally designed for use with a Numan gladius, a modern Swordsman could easily a substitute a smallsword, though at a penalty of one Unkept Die (-1k0) to all rolls using the modern weapon.
A School focused on ruthless aggression is also an easy School to trip up. If an opponent can ignore the Swordsman’s intimidation tactics, or survive whatever early onslaught the Swordsman has in store for him, it is fairly easy to turn the fight around and outmatch a student of Fóvos.
Basic Curriculum: Dirty Fighting, Gladius
Knacks: Charge (Gladius), Corps-á-Corps, Exploit Weakness (Fóvos), Lunge (Gladius), Riposte (Gladius)
Apprentice: Even as an Apprentice, a Fóvos Swordsman learns to press an attack at every opportunity. An overwhelming assault as combat begins may demoralize (or simply defeat) the enemy before he has a chance to land his first blow. When using his Charge Knack at the beginning of combat, the Fóvos Swordsman may lower one Action Die per Mastery Level by his Rank in that Knack, to a minimum of zero (i.e., the “Surprise Round”). Remember that attacks in the Surprise Round are made against a TN to be hit of five, and Active Defenses against them can only be made using Interrupt Actions (unless the opponent also has an Action Die showing Phase Zero).
Fóvos will never be submitted for Guild sanction. As a result, its students receive one free Rank in one of their Swordsman Knacks in lieu of Swordsman’s Guild membership.
Journeyman: Journeymen of the Fóvos School learn that half the battle is won through the mind, and by attacking his opponent’s mind with fear, he can force mistakes to be made and confidence to be shattered. Whenever the Journeyman inflicts a Dramatic Wound against an opponent, he may immediately attempt an Intimidate Action against that opponent without spending an Action Die. If the attack inflicts more than one Dramatic Wound, the Journeyman receives a free Raise on this Intimidate Action for each Dramatic Wound beyond the first. Regardless of the success of this technique, it can only be attempted against any given opponent once per Scene.
Master: Masters of Fóvos have perfected the art of “Gazing into the Abyss,” staring through an opponent with dead eyes that so demoralize him, his attacks falter. Once per Round, when an opponent launches an attack against the Master, but before the attack roll is made, the Master may spend a Current, Held, or Interrupt Action to attempt an Intimidate Action against the attacking opponent. If the Master wins the Contested Roll, in addition to the usual effects of the Intimidate Action, the attack is cancelled without effect and the opponent’s Action Die is still lost. Unlike the Journeyman technique, this may be attempted against the same opponent as often as the Master desires, though the results of the Intimidate Action are not cumulative; only the most favorable result is applied.
Note: Just like the daemons that empower Symvasi, daemons of the Sword Domain also seek escape from beyond the Barrier. They also achieve this completing the Seventh Pact, but not through application of Sorcery. For a Sword daemon, the seven Pacts consist of teaching a Swordsman the Charge, Corps-á-Corps, Lunge (Fencing), and Riposte (Fencing) Knacks, along with the Apprentice, Journeyman, and Master level techniques. Once a Swordsman reaches the level of Master, his daemon is released on Terra. Unlike his Sorcerous counterparts, a Fóvos Swordsman does not lose access to lessons provided by his daemon; he remains a Master of Fóvos (as does the daemon), and also gains the following powers:
- He may spend a Drama Die to learn the current location of his former daemon, how far away it is, and in what direction.
- When interacting with the daemon, he gains a number of Unkept Dice equal to his Resolve on all rolls that affect the daemon directly (e.g., Attack Rolls, Reputation Actions, Active Defenses, but not Damage Rolls).
- He ignores the effects of being Crippled or Knocked out when acting directly against the daemon. Thus, if in a direct confrontation with the daemon, all of a magus’ dice always explode, and he does not need to spend a Drama Die to remain conscious after suffering Dramatic Wounds equal to twice his Resolve.
In addition, by the time the daemon is released, the Swordsman will have learned all seven syllables of the daemon’s True Name. Speaking its True Name while striking a killing blow will destroy a daemon forever, rather than banishing it back beyond the Barrier.
While the Knacks are standard fare, the Mastery Level techniques of Fóvos are quasi-magical and cannot be taught by one mortal to another. To learn Fóvos, one must make a Pact with a daemon.
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).