Baras Swordsman School

Country of Origin: Castille
Salon: Avila (Tiny)
Founded: 1628

Description: Sarita Baras was many things in her youth: a gifted athlete, a near-legendary dancer, and a passable duelist. When she was much younger, full of wide-eyed optimism, she applied to the Gallegos salon for training. The stodgy Master of the salon (and, following his lead, all of his assistants) turned up his nose at the young girl and her lack of “proper education” with the blade. Stung by the rejection, Sarita returned to her dance lessons and secretly began incorporating weapon techniques into her rehearsals. Within a year, she had perfected her own Swordsman School. Now that she is much older and has retired from performing, she runs a performing arts academy in Avila and also trains young dancers in the School she developed.

Baras focuses mostly on footwork, but as interpreted through dance. Indeed, ballet lessons serve as the School’s primary tool for conditioning. Baras Swordsmen also practice acrobatics: walking on, jumping over, and ducking under narrow beams on an obstacle course. As the student becomes more advanced, a blindfold is introduced. The keen balance and control that this training provides gives the Swordsman great confidence in her movements and eventually hones a defensive “sixth sense” in its practitioners.

While Baras is a fully-developed School in its own right, it is still looked down upon by the Master of the Gallegos School and his lieutenants. They have done everything they can to prevent Baras from taking hold in Castille, and they have been largely successful. The only trainees Maestra Baras can recruit are from the students in her dance classes: mostly women, but a number of men have taken to the training and become fierce Swordsmen as well as gifted dancers (and vice versa).

Perhaps it is because of the chip on their teacher’s shoulder, but Baras Swordsmen tend to try too hard in combat, taking unnecessary risks and being susceptible to taunts and dares (even going so far as to close their eyes during a duel). This tendency leads to small mistakes: unnoticeable to the untrained eye, but serving as glaring miscues to an experienced opponent.

Basic Curriculum: Fencing, Performer
Knacks: Cold Read, Exploit Weakness (Baras), Lunge (Fencing), Sidestep, Tagging (Fencing)

New Swordsman Knack: Cold Read. This is the art of deducing things about a person from his or her appearance and mannerisms. Handedness might be determined from a callus upon a knuckle, while a nervous twitch could reveal much to an observant eye. With this Knack you can always enter a conversation with at least a little information about the other person. More often than not, this Knack will be used in Contested Rolls against the Resolve of another, or against one of his other Knacks. This is the same as the Cold Read Knack found in the Performer Skill, but it is considered a basic Knack for students of Baras.

Apprentice: Since ballet is such a fundamental part of Baras training, it is only natural that it would be incorporated into the School’s fundamentals. Whenever an Apprentice of Baras may use Footwork as a Defense Knack, she may substitute her Dancing Knack instead. Furthermore, Apprentices gain a free Raise on all rolls involving the Dancing Knack, including Active Defenses. This bonus applies at all times, even outside of combat, unless she is using a different Swordsman School.

Maestra Baras has not been invited to present her School to the Swordsman’s Guild due to its unofficial “rivalry” with the popular Gallegos School (and she probably wouldn’t submit her School anyway, largely for the same reason). In lieu of Guild Membership, students of Baras receive a free Rank in one of their Swordsman Knacks.

Journeyman: Recalling their early training, Journeymen of Baras apply their Swordsman’s dance in a variety of situations. They may substitute their Dancing Knack any time a Balance, Leaping, or Tumbling Knack must be used. The bonus from the Apprentice Technique still applies, and like the Apprentice Technique, this is usable at any time (even outside of combat), except when the Journeyman is using a different Swordsman School.

Master: By the time she has reached the level of Master, a student of Baras has committed her dance steps to muscle memory so she can focus on the tiny clues an opponent provides when he is about to attack. After an opponent has made a successful attack (of any sort), but before an Active Defense is attempted, the Master may make a Wits + Cold Read roll against a TN equal to the opponent’s Attack Roll. If her roll is successful, the Master may use an Interrupt Action to attempt an Active Defense by spending one less Drama Die than is typically needed. This Technique is cumulative with the Lightning Reflexes Advantage, but cannot be used any time the Master would be denied the opportunity to make an Active Defense.