Bonacci Swordsman School

Country of Origin: Vodacce
Salon: Medico (Small)
Founded: 1663
Sanctioned: 1666
Revoked: 1668
Re-Sanctioned: 1670

Description: The Swordsman Schools of Condorcet and Bonacci share the distinction of being the only schools to receive the sanction of the Swordsman’s Guild, only to have that sanction revoked due to repeated, schoolwide violations of Guild rules (specifically, the bloody rivalry between them that led to countless deaths as Swordsmen of one School engaged members of the other in unlawful duels). The rivalry between the Schools can be traced back to their founders: one-time friends who turned against one another over the most likely of prizes (love) in the least likely of places (Vodacce).

The founders of the styles are negative images of one another. Jean Marie Condorcet was a minor Montaigne noble who supported the people’s claims of oppression and worked in subtle ways to alleviate their hunger and suffering. Leonardo Bonacci was a commoner, trained in a Castillian military academy, who served in the army of Donello Falisci. His unshakable loyalty and expertise as a warrior came to the attention of the Prince himself, who rewarded his loyal service by appointing him a “Lord’s Hand” of the Falisci lands. Favors were called in on behalf of both men, one string pulled after another until each was admitted into the Villanova academy to learn that prestigious School. They began their studies within days of each other, and despite their differences, became fast friends.

Unfortunately, both men aroused the suspicion of Giovanni Villanova, who wanted them investigated thoroughly. Even if their motives for studying swordplay in his domain extended no further than their desire to learn the School, he reasoned that they might make valuable spies if they could be brought into his camp. To that end, he allowed a cousin born without Sorte Sorcery (and otherwise fated for a political marriage somewhere down the road) to study at the school and worm her way into their good graces. She succeeded beyond her cousin’s wildest dreams, capturing the hearts of both men and determining that neither of them was anything more than he appeared.

By that time, however, the damage had been done. The men discovered that they had been pursuing the same woman, and neither was prepared to back down. The situation culminated in a violent brawl that left both men physically scarred and inflicted serious damage on the fencing school’s common room. They were thrown out of the academy (having achieved only Journeyman status) and returned home in disgrace to create their own fighting schools.

In 1664, they had the misfortune of applying for Guild sanction at the same time, only to be turned away after they came to blows at a wine-tasting hosted by Linnae Knute. They were not allowed to apply until two years later (their testing was deliberately scheduled for different months), and each succeeded in impressing the Guildmasters sufficiently to see their Schools welcomed into the Guild. Unfortunately, alongside the basic curriculum of their Schools, each Master also taught an abiding hatred for the followers of the other, leading inevitably to a series of increasingly violent confrontations and the simultaneous expulsion of both Schools from the Guild for at least five years.

At least that was the plan.

In 1669, a Swordsman representing the Condorcet School won the Guild’s Founder’s Day Tournament, and with it, sanction for his School. Not to be outdone, a student of Bonacci won the Tournament the following year, earning sanction for her School and, in repayment for other services rendered, demanding that the sanction of Condorcet be revoked.

Bonacci is very loosely based on the Aldana style; the most significant departure from Aldana tradition is the simultaneous use of a rapier and a knife. Students of Bonacci adopt an individual rhythm, and apply it to all their combats from that point forward. Selecting the rhythm (e.g., “strike, step, strike, step-step” or “strike-strike, block, step; strike-strike, block, step”) is the first element of a student’s training; once he has found a tempo he finds comfortable, he is given a metronome that corresponds to his selection. As a duelist gains more experience, the speed of the metronome is increased until his attacks and defenses flow seamlessly together into an effective scheme. Training from that point on consists of learning to mirror an opponent’s stance, forcing him to either shift position or attack the duelist’s weapon before he can strike. The best Bonacci duelists can confound an opponent so thoroughly, they are able to dart in to attack and fade back into a defensive posture (in time to their metronomes) before the opponent can figure out a way around their stances.

Moving in time to a single rhythm is, of course, predictable (in the same way the “chorus” of an Aldana Swordsman can be used against him), but the flaw extends much more deeply than that. Taking a Bonacci fighter out of his rhythm has a devastating effect on his style. If pressed, a practitioner of Bonacci will make poorly-considered, careless attacks in an attempt to fit the combat into his personal rhythm. A shrewd opponent knows how to push the Bonacci fighter into these situations, and take advantage of the Swordsman’s subsequent recklessness.

Basic Curriculum: Fencing, Knife
Knacks: Bind (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Bonacci), Exploit Weakness (Condorcet), Lunge (Knife), Tagging (Fencing)

Apprentice: Months (if not years) of two-weapon training and the Swordsman’s mimicry of an opponent’s stance have immediate benefits for an Apprentice of Bonacci. The off-hand penalty is negated when using any sort of knife, and the opponent not only loses any benefit gained from the Left-Handed Advantage, but suffers the disadvantage of fighting a Left-Handed opponent himself (even if the Bonacci Swordsman is wielding his primary weapon in his right had) due to the Swordsman’s mirroring of the opponent’s stance.

Journeyman: The aggressive nature of the Bonacci style is reflected in one of their signature maneuvers, the wild “blocco e colpo” (translated as “block and strike”). After successful use of his Bind Knack on an opponent’s primary weapon, the Journeyman receives an extra Action, which must immediately be used to make an off-hand Lunge with his knife. If the Lunge inflicts a Dramatic Wound, the Bind is considered broken. Should the duelist choose not to make this attack (perhaps out of fear of a retaliatory strike while he is defensively exposed), the extra Action is lost.

Master: Masters of Bonacci have learned to mirror virtually any guard and posture, and integrate shifts in position (to match an attacker’s movements) as a “harmony” to their personal rhythm. Every Round, the Master receives one Parry Die. This non-exploding die is rolled with his Action Dice and adds to his Initiative total normally, but the value is also added to the Master’s TN to be hit for the entire Round. If the Swordsman has some ability allowing him to reroll one of his Action Dice, he may instead reroll his Parry Die, if he wishes. The Parry Die may not be used for an Action (not even an Active Defense).