Country of Origin: Montaigne/Ussura
Salon: Siev (Small), plus a handful of private tutors in Montaigne
Description: After General Montegue’s withdrawal from Ussuran soil, Knias Aleksi v’Novgorov of Rurik brought together a group of Fhideli acrobats and Montaigne deserters (promising them amnesty and safe passage home in exchange for their assistance), and commissioned the development of a unique fighting style suitable for Swordsman Guild sanction. He pointed to the success of the Montaigne invasion, in spite of Matushka’s wrath, as a sign that the “proud and loyal people of Rurik” needed to be able to compete with modern soldiers on equal footing.
The School is focused on the use of a rapier for all attacks, and on extreme mobility for defense. A Marchenko duelist favors flashy, bold attacks that often incorporate a somersault, leap, or dive, and students are just as likely to tumble beneath a rapier thrust as they are to parry it. Because they keep their bodies in almost constant motion, students must also learn exceptional blade control, so that their weapons strike where intended. Otherwise, a student’s tumbling would reduce his attacks to wild, random thrusts in the vicinity of an opponent.
While lending a degree of flair and flexibility to the style, its acrobatic nature also provides a weakness for opponents to exploit. There is a noticeable tensing of certain muscles before a duelist springs into action, warning an observant opponent that an attack is forthcoming.
Basic Curriculum: Acrobat, Fencing
Knacks: Bind (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Marchenko), Sidestep, Riposte (Fencing), Tagging (Fencing)
Apprentice: Basic instruction in Marchenko encompasses flexibility and self-determination of the defensive style best suited to each student. The Apprentice may select any Knack in the Acrobat Skill as his “specialty” Knack; he receives a free Raise whenever he uses this Knack for an Active Defense.
Journeyman: A Journeyman in the Marchenko style has learned that a skilled Swordsman’s defense and offense flow seamlessly together. After he successfully makes an Active Defense roll using any Knack from the Acrobat Skill, he may add his rank in that Knack to the next Attack Roll he makes in the same Phase. In addition, a Journeyman’s blade control is so precise, he may substitute his Rank in Tagging (Fencing) Knack for his Rank in any Civil Knack when he can use his sword as a direct component of the act. For example, Tagging may be used in place of Pickpocket to fish a set of keys off a guard’s belt, or instead of Throwing to flip a weapon to an ally.
Master: The Master of Marchenko has learned to use his athletic abilities to create openings for attacks where a lesser Swordsman can only hope to defend himself. He may substitute any Knack in the Acrobat Skill for Parry when performing a Riposte; however, use of the Knack must be feasible based on conditions around the Swordsman (e.g., a duelist cannot use Swinging if there is nothing on which he could swing).
In addition, the Master receives a free Rank in whatever Knack from the Acrobat Skill he selected for his Apprentice level benefit. This may raise the Knack to a six. If it does not, the master may Raise the Knack from a five to a six at a later date by spending twenty-five Experience Points.