Country of Origin: Vendel
Salon: Kirk (Average)
Description: The Branner Swordsman School was developed by a second-generation Vendel Swordswoman, Audrey Branner, in response to other Schools designed specifically to dominate one-on-one duels. While all Schools train their students to battle single individuals as well as groups of opponents, in the late 1660’s and early 1670’s, Théah saw the emergence of Schools (e.g., Salamanca) that sacrificed some of the group combat training in favor of techniques to quickly and efficiently trip a single opponent to the ground or open up a bleeding cut sufficient to win a duel to first blood. Madame Branner refused to allow her nation, home to the Swordsman’s Guild and superior to all others in every conceivable way, fall by the wayside as this development took root.
A Branner Swordsman relies on intricate footwork to defend himself from attacks and maneuver himself into a better position to take control of a duel and swiftly end it. The School focuses on winning duels by depriving the opponent of his weapon, sometimes by tying it up with his own, but more commonly by twisting it to the ground, taking hold of it himself, or even flipping it up into his opponent’s face. It is basically a single-weapon style, though its practitioners sometimes use two rapiers at once (their own and their opponents’). Either way, once an opponent is disarmed, it is a simple matter to force his surrender, strike him down, or overwhelm him with a flurry of strikes.
The weakness of Branner lies in its focus on attacking an opponent’s weapon. An opponent who changes his stance and holds his weapon down and away from the Swordsman, only bringing it up to attack or defend, greatly reduces the effectiveness of this School.
Basic Curriculum: Athlete, Fencing
Knacks: Bind (Fencing), Disarm (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Branner), Flurry (Fencing), Sidestep
New Swordsman Knack: Flurry. When attacking an enemy, you can declare a Flurry. You roll Resolve + Flurry, taking a number of Raises equal to the opponent’s Resolve. If the attack is successful, the opponent cannot Actively Defend, and the Raises add Unkept Dice to your Damage Roll as usual.
Apprentice: Branner Swordsmen specialize in disarming techniques, beginning when they are first indoctrinated into the School and continuing throughout their studies. The Swordsman receives one Free Raise per Mastery Level on all uses of his Disarm Knack. In addition, the off-hand penalty for wielding a second rapier is negated.
Journeyman: A Branner Swordsman never knows when he is going to be set upon by an opponent, so he remains vigilant and ready to engage in combat at all times. A Journeyman of Branner may draw and attack with a rapier as part of the same action. If he does so, he receives a free Raise on the attack.
Master: Masters of Branner have become so adept at disarming their opponents, they may send their opponents’ weapons virtually anywhere they wish. If a Master succeeds at a Disarm attempt with two Raises (in addition to any Raises required for an active Disarm, if applicable), he may take hold of the weapon as usual. Alternately, he may flip the weapon into the hands of an ally within fifteen feet, or flip the weapon back at the opponent, making an impromptu attack.
A separate attack roll is not necessary; the results of the Disarm roll are compared to the opponent’s Passive Defense (he may not attempt to Parry with the weapon he was previously holding for either Passive or Active Defense), and if he wishes to Actively Defend against the attack, the result of the Disarm roll is the TN the opponent must meet. The damage for this attack is the weapon’s base damage (typically 2k2 Flesh Wounds for a rapier) unadjusted for Brawn; however, extra Raises may be called on the Disarm attempt to increase the Damage Roll by one Unkept Die (+1k0) per Raise.