Country of Origin: Montaigne
Salon: Charouse (Small)
Description: Henri Poincaré was a Montaigne soldier taught to fence by his Castilian mother. He grew into a Swordsman of great skill but very little renown, notable more for avoiding duels than winning them. So little was his renown that when he wrote a fencing manual, Pour Éviter La Mort, it was completely disregarded by his contemporaries. The School developed by his mother and perfected by Henri passed unnoticed into obscurity when Henri died with no heirs and his worldly possessions were sold to an auction house to pay for his funeral and burial expenses. The manual wound up being auctioned off (generally as part of a lot) several times through the years, until it was discovered in a Charouse library nearly a century later by the dispossessed noble Jaime Deneuve du Surlign. Never one to follow tradition (and ostracized by her family because of it), Jaime embraced the single-weapon School contained in the manual, rising to prominence as a fencer until she could successfully petition the Swordsman’s Guild for sanction of the School in 1672.
Poincaré relies on frustrating and unnerving an opponent in the early stages of a duel, setting up a devastating attack that will severely incapacitate an opponent. After that, the School’s primary strategy is to control an opponent’s weapon (and his ability to stand) and inflict petites coupes (“little cuts”) that sting, bleed, and distract an opponent, setting him up for a single, brilliant strike to end the duel. As much a study in psychology as a fencing manual, Poincaré’s text also described the regarde vide (“vacant stare”) designed to strike at an opponent’s will until it inevitably falters, even to the point of surrender before the duel has begun.
However, a Swordsman familiar with Poincaré’s tricks can steel himself against the regarde vide and brace for the attack which follows. He also knows that much of Poincaré’s strategy involves leaving one’s rapier sheathed, and a sheathed rapier cannot be used to parry, something a cagey opponent will use to his advantage.
Basic Curriculum: Athlete, Fencing
Knacks: Bind (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Poincaré), Feint (Fencing), First Strike (Fencing), Tagging (Fencing)
New Swordsman Knack: First Strike. When you have not yet drawn your weapon and wish to attack an enemy, you can declare a First Strike (using a single Action to draw and attack with your weapon). You roll Finesse + First Strike, and must take a number of Raises equal to your enemy’s Finesse in order for your First Strike to be successful. If you are successful, he cannot avoid the attack using any Active Defense. The Raises taken on this roll add Unkept Dice to your damage roll as usual.
Revised Swordsman Knack: Feint. When attacking an enemy, you can declare a Feint. You roll Wits + Feint, and must take a number of Raises equal to your enemy’s Wits in order for your Feint to be successful. If you are successful, he cannot avoid the attack using any Active Defense. The Raises taken on this roll add Unkept Dice to your damage roll as usual.
Apprentice: Even as an Apprentice, a Poincaré Swordsman learns to frustrate an enemy by darting around a battlefield, ducking his head or sidestepping his opponent’s attacks, sometimes without even drawing his weapon. He may use Footwork as an Active Defense Knack even if that is the Knack used to determine his Passive Defense. In addition, while his rapier is sheathed and he is using Footwork to determine his Passive Defense, the Apprentice may add his Mastery Level in Poincaré to his TN to be hit.
Journeyman: Once the Poincaré Journeyman has drawn his weapon, he can keep it in contact with his opponent’s blade until the moment is right for a surprise attack. When the Journeyman has his opponent’s weapon in a Bind and the Bind is broken (or the Journeyman simply chooses to release it), he may inflict his base rapier damage (typically 2k2) on that opponent. This damage does not trigger a Wound Check.
Master: A frustrated opponent is a careless opponent, but a demoralized opponent is a defeated one. By spending an Action to Intimidate an opponent, the Master may choose to forego the usual benefits of Intimidating an enemy. Instead, the Master may add Unkept Dice (+1k0) equal to the number of Unkept Dice the enemy would have lost from his rolls against the Master to his next attack against that enemy in the same Round. If this attack is made using his First Strike Knack, these dice are Kept Dice (+1k1) instead. This technique may only be used against a given opponent once per Scene.