Country of Origin: Eisen (one must be a member of Die Kreuzritter to learn this fighting style, which costs 25 HP regardless of nationality)
Salon: Freiburg (Tiny)
Description: Every agent of Die Kreuzritter knows that there is a world beyond the shadows, but only a select few know that there is life in the Dark Paths. Not just the twisted abominations that leak through the Barrier, but entire ecosystems and communities established by residents of the Paths. Whether these residents are native to the shadowy realm or travelers stranded by some other means, they have evolved, grown, and created a culture that is entirely their own; some have even built cities, though the stone and mortar which makes them up defies explanation even to Die Kreuzritter’s most gifted scholars.
In one of these cities, named Balefire by its residents, Anthony Silvermane encountered a fighting style that uses a pair of long, slender bladed knives (similar to a Théan stiletto) to eliminate both ordinary enemies and the horrors that roam the Dark Paths. Anthony has called the style Schattenmesser (Shadow Knife), an apt if somewhat pedestrian name, and introduced the style to the rest of Die Kreuzritter. It relies on precise attacks designed to penetrate armor (or chitin) and target the weakest points of a target’s defenses. It is an offense-heavy style, with a rudimentary defense added almost as an afterthought (and even then, used primarily to set up the fighter’s next attack).
Schattenmesser shares the weakness of any fighting style predicated on offense: it is extremely vulnerable to attack, especially during the opening exchange of a melee. An opponent who attacks quickly, before the Shattenmesser fighter has a chance to establish even his rudimentary defense, will have a decided advantage; if he chooses to press that advantage aggressively, his opponent may not have time to recover and initiate his own sequence of attacks.
Basic Curriculum: Knife, Spy
Knacks: Corps-á-Corps, Double Attack (Knife/Knife), Exploit Weakness (Schattenmesser), Lunge (Knife), Sidestep
Apprentice: A student of Schattenmesser learns to use a stiletto in either hand (or both hands) equally well, and to strike with great precision. The Apprentice never suffers an off-hand penalty when using a stiletto in his off hand, and increases his damage rolls with a stiletto by his Mastery Level whenever he is using this School.
Schattenmesser will never, under any circumstances, be submitted for sanctioning by the Swordsman’s Guild. As a result, an Apprentice receives a free Rank in one of his Swordsman Knacks in lieu of Guild Membership.
Journeyman: A Journeyman of Schattenmesser has become so precise in his strikes that even his most reckless attacks still inflict serious damage. Whenever the Journeyman successfully executes a Lunge, he may add two Kept dice (+2k2) to his Damage Roll instead of two Unkept dice.
Master: A Schattenmesser fighter occasionally employs a defensive strategy, but only to set up his next attack. In any Phase where the Master successfully executes an Active Defense, he may spend a current or Held Action Die, or one from later in the Round (i.e., one that is not currently legal), to attempt an Attack or Lunge. For every five full points by which the Journeyman exceeded the TN for his Active Defense, he gets a Free Raise on the subsequent Attack Roll.