Somerville Swordsman School

Country of Origin: Avalon (any member of the Sea Dogs may learn Somerville for 25 HP, regardless of nationality)
Salon: Catterick (Average)
Founded: 1659

Description: Life aboard a Sea Dog vessel is not always pleasant, and this is especially true aboard the Siren’s Kiss, captained by Drake “Mad Dog” Gloucester. It is said that Captain Gloucester executes any man (or woman) aboard his ship who cannot measure up to the captain’s high (and often brutal) standards, even if he or she serves a vital role. This was certainly the case for Lieutenant Avery Everett, leader of the ship’s marines, whose “soft training methods” (according to Captain Gloucester) allowed a Castillian caravel to outfight a boarding party and escape relatively unharmed. Her second-in-command, Joseph Somerville, resolved to avoid his predecessor’s fate by codifying the skills and techniques they had developed into a rigorous (and highly effective) training regimen. Eventually, word of Somerville’s success reached the ears of Commodore Jeremiah Berek, who arranged the man’s transfer to a training compound in Catterick where any Sea Dog could study the Somerville School.

Somerville is favored by sailors and horsemen alike, as it teaches its students how to maintain their footing without falling (very important whether at sea or mounted). A Somerville Swordsman always stands on tiptoes or the balls of his feet (even when his feet are in stirrups), allowing him to easily evade an opponent’s strikes and retaliate in kind. Somerville students wield a single sabre, leaving the off-hand free to grasp reins or rigging, depending on the needs of the Swordsman at the time.

The Somerville School relies on nimble and graceful defenses ill-suited to weathering an aggressive fighting style. By striking hard and often, an opponent may be able to knock a Somerville Swordsman off-balance and render him less able to defend himself or launch a proper counterattack.

Basic Curriculum: Fencing, Sailor
Knacks: Disarm (Fencing), Exploit Weakness (Somerville), Feint (Fencing), Pommel Strike (Fencing), Riposte (Fencing)

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 opponent’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 the roll add Unkept Dice to your damage roll as usual.

Apprentice: Even as an Apprentice, a Somerville Swordsman can maintain his footing while other Swordsmen are struggling with their own footwork. The Apprentice may use Balance as a Defense Knack in place of Footwork whenever he likes, and may also use Balance for defense instead of Riding (Horse), Riding (Elephant), or any similar Knack. In addition, he receives a free Raise on any Active Defenses he attempts using his Balance Knack.

As the Sea Dogs’ private fighting style, Somerville will probably never be submitted for sanction by the Swordsman’s Guild. Therefore, students of the School receive a free Rank in one of their Swordsman Knacks in lieu of Guild Membership.

Journeyman: A marine’s efficacy in a fight is diminished if he has been wounded, so the Journeyman learns to look for an opponent’s tiniest miscues and exploit them when defending himself. Any Active Defense that misses by five or less is considered successful, and may trigger a Riposte, if appropriate.

Master: A Master of Somerville has perfected the lessons he learned as an Apprentice and Journeyman. The benefit of the Journeyman Technique is doubled: any Active Defense that misses by ten or less is considered successful (and may trigger a Riposte, if appropriate). In addition, the Master receives a free Rank in his Balance Knack. This may increase his Rank in the Knack to six; if it does not, the Master may increase it from five to six later by spending 25 XP.