Praisse Swordsman School

Country of Origin: Montaigne (any member of Les Tabards Noirs with Porté sorcery may learn the style for 25 HP, even in the unlikely event that they hail from outside Montaigne)
Salon: Charouse (Average)
Founded: 1664

Description: The Praisse family boasts some of the strongest Porté bloodlines in Montaigne. Until a few years ago, they were forced to keep their prowess a secret due to the Church’s ban on Sorcery, relying on other means to assert their dominance. One of their scions, Pierre Praisse du Rachetisse was a particularly skilled Valroux Swordsman whose tongue was every bit as sharp as his blades, and who had won international acclaim as a first-rate duelist. When L’Empereur declared Sorcery legal in Montaigne, Pierre began practicing (indeed, flaunting) his abilities openly. After their humiliating defeat at “Montegue’s Stand,” the Inquisition began looking for an easier target, and Pierre fit the bill.

A squad of Knight Inquisitors was immediately dispatched to dispose of the arrogant nobleman, only to find that Pierre’s greatest fighting abilities had remained a closely-guarded secret. He used a devastating combination of Porté and swordplay to dispatch his opponents, opening a number of small portals, dodging behind them for defense, and thrusting his rapier between them and into the exposed backs of the Inquisitors. Witnesses reported that the scene remained a gruesome mess of bleeding Porté holes (and bleeding Inquisitors) for several minutes after Pierre fled the scene, a few steps ahead of Inquisition reinforcements.

After this battle, Pierre began passing on his technique to a number of family members, including several half-blooded in-laws, before being killed in his sleep by an unknown assassin. Management of the Swordsman School fell to Pierre’s sister Cherise, who was forced to flee the country after Léon was deposed. Some small number of her fellow Swordsmen fled with her, but the vast majority remained in Montaigne, joining the royalist sympathizers among Les Tabards Noirs and serving as that group’s elite strike force. As new members were recruited, the School was passed on to a select few of them, but only those who showed some capacity with Porté (those who lacked the ability would be unable to use the vast majority of the School’s techniques anyway, even if the elitist nobles felt inclined to teach them).

The weaknesses of the School are two-fold. First, it takes the user time to establish his pattern of Porté holes: time in which he is unable to use his abilities to full effect and remains vulnerable. Second, even when the network of holes is complete, it remains a highly visible (and bloody) phenomenon. Knowing that a Praisse swordsman will duck behind the holes for defense and strike through them for offense, an opponent has an easier time predicting the Swordsman’s next move, as there are fewer options that need to be considered.

All credit for Praisse belongs to Dana DeVries, who developed the original Swordsman School.

Basic Curriculum: Athlete, Fencing
Knacks: Catch, Disarm (Portal), Exploit Weakness (Praisse), Lunge (Fencing), Tagging (Fencing)

New Swordsman Knack: Catch. The Porté mage has mastered the art of quickly whipping open small portals to catch bullets and other items in order to stop them from hitting him. In 7th Sea terms, this Knack can be used as a Knack for Active Defenses against firearms and other projectiles. If used as an Active Defense against slower projectiles (arrows, quarrels, thrown weapons, etc.) the mage receives one Free Raise on the attempt. Anything “caught” in this manner winds up inside the portal and is lost, probably forever. (Note that while Catch cannot ordinarily be used against melee weapons, the Apprentice ability of this school provides an exception to that rule.) While not truly a “Swordsman Knack,” Catch is used in conjunction with the School’s Swordsman Knacks to determine Mastery Level.

New Swordsman Knack: Disarm (Portal). Due to the unique nature of using Porté as a part of this Knack, its mechanics vary from traditional Disarm Knacks. It can only be used after an opponent has missed the swordsman’s Passive Defense. You must use a Current, Held or interrupt Action to make a Contested Roll of your Resolve + Disarm against the opponent’s Brawn + Attack in the weapon he is holding. If you win, the weapon remains trapped, hanging halfway out of the rift. If you perform this move with two Raises, the weapon passes all the way into the rift (where it can be retrieved later if you also have the Pocket Knack). This Knack cannot be used unless you have opened at least one miniature portal, and cannot be used as an aggressive action under any circumstances.

Apprentice: A Praisse Apprentice learns to fight with a rapier in one hand while his other hand rips open miniature Porté holes. On each of his actions, the Swordsman may rip open a small, fist-sized rift in addition to making an attack or an Active Defense. (The Swordsman may not open a rift when deciding to hold an action.) Due to the Praisse Swordsman’s advanced training, these portals remain open until the end of the Scene. (Ordinarily, rifts of this nature close as soon as the Sorcerer’s need for them has expired, or at the end of the round they were created at the very latest). Furthermore, the Apprentice may use Catch as an Active Defense against melee attacks as well as ranged attacks, and he receives a free Raise on Active Defenses made against melee attacks using the Catch Knack.

In lieu of membership in the Swordsman’s Guild, Praisse Apprentices with Porté Sorcery receive a single Rank in the Catch Knack, and their maximum Rank in the Knack is increased by one (to four for a Sorcerer who is Half-Blooded, or six if he is Full-Blooded). 

Journeyman: A Praisse Journeyman learns to create a pattern of Porté rifts in order to defend himself. The Swordsman gains +1 to his TN to be hit for each portal he has opened, to a maximum of his Rank in the Catch Knack. In addition, because of his advanced training, the Journeyman may use a Blooded dagger to slice open his miniature rifts, though the off-hand penalty for wielding a dagger is not otherwise waived.

Master: The Master of Praisse has learned that all space is joined through the portals. He may attack with his rapier into any rift he has opened, while the blade emerges from any other portal (and from any direction) within his sight. When an opponent is within a foot or so of one of his miniature portals (e.g., when the opponent is directly engaging the Praisse Master in melee combat), the opponent is considered to have a TN to be hit of 5, regardless of the Knack used for Passive Defense. The opponent must also take an extra Raise to Actively Defend against an attack made through one of the Master’s portals.