Country of Origin: Numan Empire
Founded: Unknown, but probably within a few decades of the Bargain
Description: Once the Bargain was struck, the Sorcerous art of Sorte had been given to a female Senator, and it turned out that the potent magic could only be passed on to women. Naturally, certain male Senators wished to have this potent Sorcery at their disposal, and sought to subjugate the women who practiced it. Early on, the Senator and her heirs worked with their personal guards to develop a fighting style that would integrate magic with bladework, ensuring that anyone who sought to dominate a strega would do so at his own peril.
Praesidium taught that strength was an illusion. Practitioners of the style were taught that no one could hope to be stronger, quicker, or more disciplined than every one of her enemies, so this style relied on techniques that used an opponent’s power and strength against him. The style relied on the use of a dagger (particularly one the strega had Twisted using her magic) instead of a gladius because daggers were easier to conceal and lighter to use in battle.
Praesidium was a defensive fighting style that relied on a short blade, and a shrewd opponent could manipulate this to his advantage. A strega using this fighting style had to wait for her opponents to come to her, but her weapon did not have the reach of a gladius, leaving her vulnerable to attacks while an opponent was outside her melee range. Even her Sorte tricks were predicated by raising her dagger or her hand, and this signaled to a knowledgeable opponent that it was time to strike.
Note that a character must have Sorte Sorcery to use any of this fighting style’s techniques.
Basic Curriculum: Athlete, Knife
Knacks: Bind (Knife), Corps-á-Corps, Exploit Weakness (Praesidium), Sidestep, Yield
New Swordsman Knack: Yield. Rather than attacking your enemies, you prefer to make their attacks backfire on them. Instead of blocking an attack, you assist it in the direction it was already going, making sure you’re out of the way. Your opponent’s momentum and the fact that he does not encounter the resistance he was expecting will upset his balance. You first attempt a Footwork Active Defense against the incoming Attack, and then, if the Active Defense was successful, make a Corps-á-Corps Attack of your own on the person who just attacked you. When performing a Yield, you receive one-half the dice from your Footwork Knack (rounded down) for your Active Defense, and one-half the dice from your Corps-á-Corps Knack (rounded down) for your counterattack. For every Rank in Yield, you may add one die to either the Active Defense attempt or the counterattack. These dice are added after you’ve halved the appropriate Knacks. Per the rules in Salvaged Skills of the 7th Sea, Yield is no longer found in the Soft Martial Arts Skill, and is solely a Swordsman Knack.
Apprentice: Practitioners of the Praesidium fighting style keep their dominant hand free for use of their Sorte powers, wielding a Twisted dagger in their off hand for Sorte-assisted defenses and desperation attacks. Apprentices suffer no off-hand penalty when wielding a dagger, and may add their Rank in the Blades Knack to any Active Defenses they attempt using Parry (Knife).
Praesidium 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: Armed with a Twisted dagger, the Praesidium Journeyman could attack an opponent at a distance, sending them crashing to the ground like a marionette whose strings have been cut. The Journeyman may slash out with her weapon to cut an enemy’s essential strands at a distance, making a Corps-á-Corps attack at a target up to five times her Rank in Resolve feet away. If this attack is successful, the target crashes to the ground, and the Journeyman may add her Rank in the Mysteries Knack to her damage roll.
Master: When pressed by multiple opponents, the Master learns to reach out to the strands tying her opponents together and rip at them, opening everyone in the vicinity (including herself) to a devastating Sorcerous backlash. By tearing blindly at the strands around her with her free hand, the Master may cause a fate lash to strike out at herself and anyone else within a five-foot radius. These fate lashes cause anyone struck by them to lose three Drama Dice; if a target does not have three Drama Dice to lose, he or she takes a Dramatic Wound for every Drama Die he is short.