Country of Origin: Vendel/Vodacce (Regardless of nationality, any member of Sophia’s Daughters may learn the school for only 25 HP. Any member of the Jenny’s Guild may also learn it for the reduced cost, as the school is promoted heavily among their ranks and they are encouraged to accept training.)
Salon: Kirk (Average) The style is taught at a major Jenny House, and the founder travels extensively, teaching it to any women who wish to learn it.
Description: Indoctrinated into the Sophist conspiracy by her mother at an early age, Maria Agnesi has been considered one of the Daughters’ most gifted field agents for several years. The Vodacce Swordswoman has been offered numerous promotions during her tenure, and has turned each of them down, preferring to advance the Daughters’ cause by working “in the trenches.” This combination of absolute commitment to action and unparalleled skill at combat, intrigue, and charm alike made Maria the obvious choice when Juliette, leader of the Daughters’ operations in Vodacce, needed a volunteer for a particularly ambitious mission.
Throughout Théah, violence against certain “professional” women had been steadily rising. Politics in Vodacce were more dangerous than ever, and a number of prominent men had begun to take their frustrations out on their courtesan escorts. The Vestenmannavnjar had begun to drag Vendel’s jennies into their perpetual conflict. Escorts in Montaigne and Castille were being targeted due to their past professional associations with various member of the ruling class or those branded as heretics by the Church (or, in a few cases, both). The Daughters’ leadership agreed that these women (and indeed, all their members) were in dire need of some means of self-defense. A bodyguard might deter an assault from a lone mugger or a group of drunken clients, but bodyguards were not always on hand, and a dedicated attack could still prove disastrous to a woman on her own.
Juliette had heard stories of the fighting techniques of Cathay: techniques designed to disable attackers quickly and efficiently, often by turning their own hostile intentions against them. In 1668, Maria was charged with investigating these techniques. She set out for the Fire Wall immediately, and was amazed when she arrived some months later and the Wall parted like a curtain, allowing her to pass. When she returned in the waning days of 1669, the Daughters’ position in Vodacce had changed drastically, so Maria sought out Lorraine Weller, demonstrating the style she had perfected while studying in Cathay.
The Agnesi fighting style is an unarmed art focused on making a hasty escape after immobilizing, incapacitating, or otherwise rendering an attacker incapable of inflicting harm. It combines brutal kicks, fingernail rakes, and other strikes to vital locations with athletic conditioning and painful joint locks. Its focus on defense, combined with its assortment of high-impact dirty fighting techniques would qualify it as a “mixed” hard and soft style according to Cathayan tradition. Maria never speaks of her time in Cathay, so it is unknown (in mainland Théah, anyway) whether this is a unique style she designed, or simply a common Cathayan martial art transplanted to Vodacce and Vendel.
Agnesi is not intended to be a long-term fighting style; its practitioners focus on striking quickly and getting away. Attempting to use Agnesi over the course of a lengthy combat, especially against an armed attacker, is a recipe for disaster. Anyone who is aware of this weakness will cause an Agnesi fighter no end of problems: the opponent will maneuver her into a position where she is unable to make a quick getaway, or feign an injury or blind spot that suggests she may be able to escape, striking without mercy when she attempts to exploit her non-existent advantage.
Basic Curriculum: Athlete, Dirty Fighting
Knacks: Corps-á-Corps, Disarm (Dirty Fighting), Exploit Weakness (Agnesi), Eye Gouge, Joint Lock
New Swordsman Knack: Eye Gouge. This is the same as the Eye Gouge Knack of the Dirty Fighting Skill, but it is considered a Basic Knack for students of Agnesi.
New Swordsman Knack: Joint Lock. A joint lock is a special kind of hold that can be used to subdue an opponent by applying pressure to one of his joints so that if he tries to escape, he risks injuring himself. To use this attack, you must declare that you are attempting to get a joint lock on your opponent and specify the type of lock you are trying to obtain. The roll to attack uses Finesse + Joint Lock against your opponent’s TN to be hit, plus the Raises necessary to declare a called shot to the appropriate area. If successful, you have momentarily put the opponent in a joint lock. While held in this manner, your opponent can only attempt to break your hold or perform an Action requiring very little motion, such as pulling the trigger on a pistol. Unlike a grapple, the opponent does not have the option of using Head Butt on you.
To try and break your hold, your opponent must spend an Action (remembering the rules for Interrupt and Held Actions) and make a Contested Roll of his Finesse + Escape or Finesse + Joint Lock (his choice) vs. your Finesse + Joint Lock. If he wins, the hold is broken. On the other hand, you may spend Actions to improve your hold. Each Action you spend gives you one Free Raise from that point on when your opponent tries to break your hold.
When an opponent attempts to break a joint lock and fails, he takes damage based on the kind of lock you have him in, and you maintain the hold. If he succeeds, he takes the same damage, but the hold is broken. If the opponent makes a number of Raises equal to the number of Raises you had to make to apply the lock, then he takes no damage when he breaks the lock.
(Use Opponent’s Brawn)
This Knack is the same as the Joint Lock Knack found in the Soft Martial Arts Skill in Cathay: Jewel of the East. It remains an Advanced Knack for students of Agnesi, since the training is much less common in mainland Théah.
Apprentice: Students of Agnesi learn to concentrate their attacks on vulnerable areas of an opponent’s body, even those that aren’t immediately obvious. When using her Attack (Dirty Fighting) Knack, an Apprentice rolls an extra Unkept Die (+1k0) for damage.
Agnesi is not sanctioned by the Swordsman’s Guild and never will be. Students receive two free Ranks in Escape (with access to the Knack as a Specialty, if necessary) in lieu of Guild membership. These Ranks in Escape do not count against her limit of three Specialty Knacks.
Journeyman: An Agnesi Journeyman has mastered the art of the quick escape: the best way to avoid an attack is to remove yourself from harm’s way. After successfully inflicting a Dramatic Wound against an opponent, the Journeyman immediately receives an extra Action Die showing the current Phase. This Action is typically used to escape a dangerous situation, but the Journeyman may use it for virtually anything, even an attack. If the die is not used by the end of the current Phase, it is lost.
Master: Masters of Agnesi realize that sometimes defending yourself requires pressing an advantage, taking the fight to an attacker rather than waiting for him to come to you. When the Master has an opponent in a joint lock and spends an Action to improve her hold, in addition to gaining a Free Raise on future attempts to maintain the hold, she inflicts damage on her opponent. The damage rating of this attack is taken from the chart above, but relies on the Agnesi Master’s Brawn rather than the opponent’s. If the opponent suffers a Dramatic Wound, the Master can choose to release the joint lock instantly (without spending an Action) before taking the free Action granted by her Journeyman technique.
Agnesi Masters also learn to protect their own vital areas, even at the expense of suffering serious, but less life-threatening, wounds to other locations. Once per Round, when the Agnesi Master has taken damage from a melee attack and is about to make her Wound Check, she may choose to suffer one Dramatic Wound automatically. If she does this, she does not bother making the Wound Check, and her Flesh Wound total resets to zero.
The Agnesi Fighting Style is inspired by and in tribute to the R.A.D. Systems of Self Defense. All members of the Poisoned Shadows Crew encourage ladies of all ages to look into this training and seek it out if it seems like a good match for you or your situation.