Rios Swordsman School

Country of Origin: Castille
Salon: Altamira (Tiny)
Founded: 1644

Description: Few people really noticed that, when the Aldana School was formalized in 1639, a close friend of Don Millano Rios del Aldana was abruptly declared an outlaw for murdering one of the Don’s personal guards. The alleged culprit, Don Julian Rivera del Rios, fled into the Castillian night and was declared an outlaw, eventually finding sanctuary aboard the Uncharted Course and joining the crew of gentleman pirate Phillip Gosse. There was only one problem with this turn of events: Don Julian was innocent of the crime, framed by Don Millano so that the latter could take credit for the refinement of the Swordsman School that would become known as Aldana.

While the disgraced don was serving under Captain Gosse, he seethed with rage, vowing revenge against Don Millano and promising himself that he would one day claim his place as one of the most renowned fencing masters in Théah. The captain saw the man’s obsession growing daily, and gently urged his newest sailor to channel his aggression into something constructive. Julian saw the wisdom in his captain’s words, and began creating a new School from the ground up: one that he would one day use to reclaim his legacy. As weeks turned into months and months into years, Julian met a woman on Captain Gosse’s private island of Utopia and fell in love, choosing to set aside his mission (for now) and settle down. The two were married and had a son, Marcos. As the boy grew, his father trained him in fencing and educated him in both Aldana and the new Rios Swordsman School so that he might one day take up his father’s quest. After sailing with Captain Gosse himself under the name Torvo Espada, Marcos ultimately settled in Altamira, reclaimed his name, and established a fencing salon to pass on the Rios School (and the quest for vengeance against the Aldana family).

Rios is a well-rounded school that carries an equal focus on defense and offense. Students are first taught to defend themselves against attacks from all sides, then instructed in the fine art of intercepting attacks and launching surgical strikes of their own. Like many Castillian Schools, Rios is a single-rapier style, and like Aldana, the off hand is kept curled into a fist at the small of the Swordsman’s back. The two Schools begin from the same stance, and in the first moments of a duel, it is nearly impossible to tell if the Swordsman is using Aldana or Rios for the combat.

As Rios Swordsmen are obsessed with proving they are superior to students of Aldana, they will often forego “easy” maneuvers to attempt something more challenging. This provides an obvious weakness to exploit: attacks hardly ever come towards an opponent’s weakest side, and defenses consist of broad, sweeping parries rather than simple deflections of the blade. This allows an opponent to dictate where the Swordsman’s attacks are likely to land so he can shore up his defenses on that side, and to plan a follow-up attack when the Swordsman has not yet reset his blade after intercepting the opponent’s initial thrust.

Basic Curriculum: Athlete, Fencing
Knacks: Disarm (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Rios), Feint (Fencing), Riposte (Fencing), Sidestep

Revised Swordsman Knack: Feint. When attacking an enemy, you can declare a Feint. You roll Wits + Feint, and must roll 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: Master Rios believes that his students must learn to defend themselves properly before they are taught to attack. Students of this School may add twice their Mastery Level in Rios to their TN to be hit while using any Knack from their Basic Curriculum for Passive Defense.

This School will not be submitted for Guild sanction so long as the Aldana School occupies a place of honor within its halls. Instead of Guild membership, students of the School receive a free two-point Hunting Background to represent their quest to defeat Don Andrés Bejarno del Aldana and as many of his students as they can.

Journeyman: The next lesson a Rios Swordsman must learn is to intercept an attack and deliver a counter strike, though he does not always attack from the expected angle. A Journeyman may choose to Feint after successfully executing the Active Defense portion of a Riposte. If he does, his Rank in Feint is halved as if he were using Attack (Fencing), but he may add dice as usual based on his Rank in Riposte. If the Feint is successful, the Journeyman receives the full benefits of the attack (i.e., extra Unkept damage dice and the opponent may not Actively Defend).

Master: Although their lessons up until this point have focused on avoiding strikes, Masters of Rios know that sometimes a hit is inevitable, and they may drop their defenses briefly to create an opening for a devastating counterattack. Whenever a Master has the opportunity to make an Active Defense using Parry (Fencing) but chooses not to, he may use a Current or Held Action to launch a quick counterstrike. The opponent may not use Parry with the weapon he just struck with for either Passive or Active Defense, and the Master adds Unkept Dice (+1k0) equal to his Rank in Parry (Fencing) to his next Attack (Fencing) roll made against that opponent. This bonus disappears at the end of the Phase if it is not used.