Country of Origin: Bryn Bresail
Description: Those who have dedicated their lives to the rigorous study of the Sidhe could probably have predicted the development of this Swordsman School. Once the techniques of Faileas were formalized into a comprehensive style of swordplay, it became inevitable that another group of Sidhe, in their endless efforts to ape the mortals that fascinate them, would create a rival School which allowed the capricious faeries to play at the competition between Tricomi and Villanova, or Rasmussen and…well, everyone. The style is meant to be used with a Sidhe sword, though in a pinch, an ordinary rapier may be substituted.
Stylistically, Rhiannon often appears completely random, but this is far from the truth. Rather, a practitioner of the School studies a large number of famous (and infamous) duels: not just the causes, participants, and outcomes, but the actual exchanges of swordplay that opened, prolonged, or ended the battle (depending on what the duelist wishes to accomplish). When engaging in combat, a Rhiannon Swordsman chooses a conflict from his store of knowledge and reenacts it to the best of his ability. Sometimes an exchange is selected (or changed) at random. Sometimes the choice is based on some relevant factor known only to the Swordsman himself: the terrain or time of day, or something as trivial as the opponent’s eye color.
Once a duel has been chosen, students of Rhiannon select a participant (probably the victorious one) and duplicate his maneuvers, striking whenever the original duelist struck and focusing on defense whenever that duelist lost the advantage. Only two substantive changes are made: first, the duelist never repeats dialogue, nor alludes to the specifics of the original duel (unless he is feeling particularly smug), focusing instead on antagonizing the current opponent, especially if that opponent fights with the Faileas School. Second, the duelist will use his weapon defensively, bringing his sword up to intercept an attack (even if that is not what happened in the initial duel), then falling back into his chosen story. After all, one can hardly recreate an epic duel if one is defeated in the first exchange or two. Learned students of Rhiannon memorize a truly impressive number of duels, and they may change stories (or, for that matter, parts within the same story) whenever the whim strikes them. This makes the School very difficult to imitate using Faileas, and has the added effect of keeping one’s opponents on edge, as they never know when a change in position is simply a random movement, a fundamental change in tactics, or the precursor to an attack.
The inherent weaknesses of this School are significant and fairly obvious. A Rhiannon Swordsman’s actions are largely dictated by whatever duel he he has chosen, and while this can be very confusing to an opponent, it severely handicaps the Swordsman when it comes to strategy. He may want to strike at an enemy’s exposed heart or exploit a particular injury, but if his “model” backpedaled and then struck at the enemy’s sword arm at that point in the original duel, that is what he must do. These shortcomings are exacerbated when fighting against a particularly knowledgeable opponent, who may deduce the battle being reenacted before the Swordsman has a chance to change models, anticipate the Rhiannon Swordsman’s next few moves, and exploit them fully.
Basic Curriculum: Bard, Fencing
Knacks: Corps-á-Corps, Disarm (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Rhiannon), Riposte (Fencing), Tagging (Fencing)
Apprentice: While an Rhiannon Swordsman uses his footwork and bladework to tell a story, an opponent generally does not know which story is being told. In his eyes, the Swordsman is moving erratically, perhaps even at random. The opponent must attack tentatively, guarding against an unexpected counterattack, even one that might place the Swordsman at a disadvantage. When using his Parry (Fencing) Knack for defense, he may add his Mastery Level in Rhiannon to his TN to be hit, and twice his Mastery Level to any Active Defenses he attempts.
Rhiannon is not sanctioned by the Swordsman’s Guild, and probably never will be unless a mortal student (or a particularly curious and jaded Sidhe) takes it upon himself to pursue the matter. Consequently, students of Rhiannon receive a free Rank in one of their Swordsman Knacks in lieu of Guild membership.
Journeyman: Rhiannon Journeymen have studied enough duels to learn that an angry opponent is a reckless opponent, and a reckless opponent is a defeated opponent. They specialize in provoking their opponents into carelessness by both word and action, and may add Unkept Dice equal to their Rank in Tagging (Fencing) to any Taunt Actions they attempt in combat. Sidhe Journeymen may use their Tagging Knack to acquire Drama Dice as if they were mortal.
Master: For most opponents, the timing of a Rhiannon Master’s attacks is difficult to predict; it is determined by the pace of the story being reenacted, not by the current duel, so an attack may come at any time. Furthermore, when an attack in the story led to the death (or at least the disability) of an opponent, the Rhiannon Master has perfect the art of “assisting” an enemy in recreating his part in the historical or literary saga. A Rhiannon Master may use Interrupt Actions for attacks as well as Active Defenses, but the cost of an Interrupt Action used for an attack may not be reduced in any way (e.g., through the Lightning Reflexes Advantage). In addition, after inflicting damage with any attack, the Master may spend a Drama Die to attempt a follow-up Corps-á-Corps attack. The opponent does not make a Wound Check for the first attack until the results of the Corps-á-Corps attack are resolved.