Country of Origin: Avalon
Salon: Fenshire (Small)
Description: Properly called “Lord Whittaker’s Rules of Conduct for the Gentlemanly Art of Self Defense,” the unarmed fighting style generally abbreviated as Whittaker is credited to Lord Mayor Earl Whittaker, Baron of Fenshire. He did not develop the style himself; rather, he commissioned it from a pair of perennial troublemakers. James and Richard Hutton were twin brothers with a penchant for starting (and winning) bar brawls. Brought before Baron Whittaker after their latest of several such encounters, the Huttons were charged with channeling their aggressive energy into a useful forum: the development of a formal fighting style to counter Finnegan, in anticipation of the eventual expansion of professional fighting from Inismore to the rest of the Glamour Isles.
In designing a formal fighting style, the Hutton brothers drew upon their strengths: they knew how to throw a punch, and they knew how to take a punch. After the first few developmental sessions descended into the brothers taking turns punching one another in the face until one of them fell over, they began to see the wisdom in avoiding a punch rather than simply taking it, primarily through lateral movements (as opposed to the circular bobbing and weaving of the Finnegan style). As the Baron (a bit of a scrapper himself, in his early years) looked in on them, he encouraged the brothers to add rigorous athletic training to their regimen and to avoid the ungentlemanly cheap shots that had been their specialty. Before long, the Huttons evolved into well-rounded fighters, and they began training others in their style. Whittaker fighters are sometimes called “boxers: because of their tendency to move along lateral lines within clearly-defined squares or boxes. Boxers actively seek out fighters trained by Roary Finnegan, in attempt to prove that their techniques are superior to “the old man’s drunken waddling.”
A boxer tends to keep his fists up, just below face level, while shifting his weight continuously from one foot to the other. This stance allows him to move to either side in a hurry, to duck down quickly if necessary, or to easily land a straight jab or drop a hand in preparation for a stiff uppercut. Boxers throw very hard punches and have an unfortunate tendency to injure their own hands in the process; to defend against this, they wear fingerless leather gloves with padding over the knuckles. (A few fighters illegally fill the padded areas with finely ground lead dust. These “knuckle dusters” cost ten Guilders for a pair, and double the effect of the Hook Swordsman Knack. They are illegal in sporting competitions under Lord Whittaker’s Rules.) Attacks are always made with closed fists, and aimed at the face or midsection; all other sorts of blows are considered unsportsmanlike and shunned.
The weaknesses of the Whittaker fighting style are threefold. First, because most attacks are aimed at the face, and never below the waist, an opponent familiar with the style will know to concentrate his defense on his upper body. Furthermore, because Whittaker ties footwork into its offense as well as defense, an opponent can identify the shift in balance that precedes attacks as well as the moments when a boxer is between steps and least able to defend himself from a blow. Finally, under Lord Whittaker’s Rules, a judge oversees all combats and calls them off when one competitor has been injured too gravely to continue (i.e., when the fighter has taken enough Dramatic Wounds to become Crippled). This is such an essential element of Whittaker training that a fighter will instinctively hesitate when an opponent has been (or seems to be) injured or knocked down.
Basic Curriculum: Athlete, Pugilism
Knacks: Exploit Weakness (Whittaker), Fortitude, Jab, Hook, Uppercut
Apprentice: The first stage of Whittaker training is to hit an Apprentice again and again until he learns how to get out of the way. The Apprentice may add an extra Unkept Die (+1k0) to all Active Defenses using Footwork. Because getting knocked down may signal the end of a fight under Lord Whittaker’s Rules, they work particularly hard at staying on their feet; against Corps-á-Corps attempts, the Apprentice instead adds a Kept Die (+1k1) to Active Defenses using Footwork.
Since this is not a Swordsman School, boxers do not receive membership in the Swordsman’s Guild for free. Instead, they receive a two-point Nemesis Background at no cost, representing a fighter of the Finnegan style he defeated (or who defeated him) in a fist fight while he was training.
Journeyman: The combination attacks of a Journeyman boxer are singularly devastating. Whenever a Journeyman inflicts a Dramatic Wound against an opponent, he reduces the opponent’s Rank in Wits by one until the end of the Round. A boxer who inflicts more than one Dramatic Wound in a single attack, or over the course of a single Round, may reduce his opponent’s Rank in Wits to a minimum of one.
Master: By the time he has reached the level of Master, a boxer has endured blows from some of the most powerful opponents in the Triple Kingdoms (and has knocked out his fair share of them, as well). The Master gains a free Rank in both the Fortitude and Hook Knacks, increasing both Knacks to a Rank of six.