Country of Origin: Castille
Description: Alano Manzada is a good Swordsman, perhaps even a great Swordsman, but he is obsessed with being the best Swordsman. Not content with mastering the Gallegos School when he was just nineteen, Alano spent the next twenty-five years studying, traveling, and searching for another School to complement the excellence of Gallegos. The Tricomi salon would not accept him as a student, and all other Schools bored him. Finally, he resolved to develop his own signature School, which he guards closely. He has not taken on a single student in the six years since the School was perfected. No one has been worthy.
A Manzada Swordsman learns early in his training that before he can master his blade, he must master his own will through rigorous meditation and philosophical study. When the time has come to draw his weapon, he applies these techniques by picturing a flame. He pushes all of his fear, anger, self-doubt, or any other potentially distracting emotion into this flame until it burns up, leaving a void behind. Within this void, the Swordsman can focus solely on his opponent (or even multiple opponents), dealing out deadly strikes and offering nimble defenses in return.
This steady, meditative focus also serves as the School’s main weakness. Breathing techniques are essential to maintaining one’s place in the void, and a subtle shift in breathing precedes each attack. These cues give a seasoned opponent a chance to brace for an attack he knows with certainty is forthcoming, then offer a return strike while the Swordsman is regaining his place in the void.
Basic Curriculum: Fencing, Scholar
Knacks: Exploit Weakness (Manzada), Razor (Fencing), Riposte (Fencing), Sidestep, Whirl (Fencing)
New Swordsman Knack: Razor. You have studied basic anatomy, and mastered the art of blade control to take full advantage of your studies. As a result, when you strike with a weapon, you inflict precise, extremely painful wounds. For every Rank you have in this Knack, you may add one to your Damage Rolls with an appropriate weapon.
Apprentice: As an Apprentice, a Manzada Swordsman learns the value of centering himself before committing to a line of attack or reacting to an incoming strike. At the beginning of every Round of combat, the Apprentice may choose to give up his earliest Action Die for the Round. If he does, he may add the value of that Die to the his next Action, whether it is an attack roll or an Active Defense. If the Apprentice uses his next Action for a Riposte, the bonus only applies to the Active Defense.
The Manzada School is known only by its creator, who has no plans to submit it for Guild sanction. As an Apprentice, a Manzada Swordsman receives a free Rank in the Meditation Knack in lieu of Swordsman Guild Membership. If the Swordsman does not have access to the Meditation Knack in one of his Skills, he receives it as a Specialty Knack, but it does not count against his limit of three Specialty Knacks.
Journeyman: A Journeyman of Manzada is known for his meditative focus, burning up all distraction and pouring his entire being into the perfect moment to strike. The Journeyman adds his Rank in the Meditation Knack to all rolls using the Attack (Fencing) Knack.
Master: A Manzada Master has learned to feel the ebb and flow of spiritual energy in combat, tap into that energy, and exceed the limitations of his mortal body. At the beginning of each Round of combat, the Master may select a number from one to nine; on any roll that Round (except Action Dice rolls), the number he selected is considered a ten. This applies to attack rolls, Damage rolls, Active Defenses, and Wound Checks.
For example, if the Master selects two at the beginning of a Round, and later in the Round rolls a two and a ten on an Attack roll, both dice are treated as tens; they are rolled again (unless the Master is Injured) and ten is added to the result. If another two or ten is rolled on either die, another ten is added to the roll and it is rolled again, and so on.
I wish I could learn such a meditative process: burning up all distraction and pouring his entire being into the perfect moment to strike (or paint, or cook, or design, etc.).
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