Country of Origin: Montaigne (any member of the Knights of the Rose and Cross who is a Black Stone Veteran may learn this school for twenty-five HP, regardless of nationality)
Salon: None (the style is passed on directly from one Veteran to another)
Description: The Knights of the Rose and Cross keep very few secrets, but those they keep, they defend to the death. Of those secrets, none is more closely guarded than the Ritual of the Black Stone; it is so closely guarded that even among the Knights, few are aware of its purpose (or its existence, for that matter). Those who participate in the Ritual are changed forever; some sink into long periods of depression, others find refuge in strong drink, and a few leave the Knights altogether, their hearts and spirits broken.
When Maurice Fournier drew the black stone and carried out his grim duty, he channeled his energies in another direction. Swordsmanship had always come naturally to Maurice, and he had never given any thought to the who’s or the why’s when he drew his blade. Having been forced by fate to end a life, he vowed that he would use his considerable martial skills to protect life in the future.
The fighting style Maurice developed is defensive in nature. Its students are not averse to fighting (separating this style from its spiritual brother, Salamanca); rather, they simply prefer to defend themselves, or whoever else needs defending, while an opponent wears himself out trying to penetrate the Swordsman’s defenses. Then the real pummeling begins.
The School’s weakness is its focus on defense, particularly in the early stages of a fight. An opponent who takes his time in setting up an attack will force a Fournier swordsman to break his defensive stance for a more direct engagement, taking him out of his comfort zone and setting him up for defeat.
Basic Curriculum: Bodyguard, Fencing
Knacks: Charge (Fencing), Corps-á-Corps, Disarm (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Fournier), Wall of Steel (Fencing)
Apprentice: A Fournier Swordsman’s early training consists of long battles in which he may not strike back until his trainer gives the command. As a result of this training, while the Apprentice is using his Wall of Steel Knack, his TN to be hit is increased by three per Rank in that Knack instead of two.
Fournier is not sanctioned by the Swordsman’s Guild. As a result, students receive a free Rank in one of their Swordsman Knacks in lieu of Guild membership. Traditionally, training in this School is only offered to Knights who have drawn the black stone in the Black Stone Ritual.
Journeyman: A Journeyman has learned to perfect the timing of his sudden attack, because it is easier to demoralize an opponent and force his surrender when you catch him off guard. The Journeyman may use his Charge Knack once per Round, not just in the first Round of combat, and he may choose to lower one of his Action Dice at any point in the Round, not just at the beginning. (He may still use the Knack only once per Round, however.)
Master: The Master’s defensive stance allows him to roll with a blow to lessen its impact; while using this Swordsman School, his Wound Threshold is increased from twenty to twenty-five against melee attacks. He also perfects his ability to defend others, receiving a free Rank in his Interpose Knack. This may increase the Knack to six; if it doesn’t, the Swordsman may increase it from a five to a six later by spending twenty-five Experience Points.