I'm not clear if these can be used against brute squads or if it they'r only meant to be used against villians.
An example in the book show a character using slash against brutes and taking out one per point of damage slash does, so by RAW I would say yes.
I don't run it that way, though. At my table maneuvers target one opponent (so you can slash a single brute for overkill damage). Duelists are already great without it and the change allows me to make more out of smaller brute squads.
Technically, there is no mechanical "changeover" between a combat and a duel. Therefore the manuevers work at all times. I find this massively broken. While I am working up an entire post on how to fix this, my "quick fix" is to cut all manuever bonuses in half when fighting a non-duelist but allow the Style bonuses at full power.
“Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats.” - H.L. Mencken
I'd personally only allow duelist maneuvers and abilities in an actual duel (regardless of RAW), or at least in a fight against one or more villains. The flavor text about an expert swordsman being no match for a duelist is fine, but I figure that's mainly because a duelist is specifically trained for defeating a swordsman one-on-one. A non-duelist, say, a veteran soldier, could conceivably fare better than the duelist in a melee. This at least opens up a small niche for combat-oriented non-duelist characters.
This is just my opinion, but for my own games I think I prefer to go with the RAW and allow dueling maneuvers to affect Brute Squads.
Mainly this is because I prefer the style of play where a trained duelist can take on a number of brutes that would be unrealistic in real life. The best example I can think of is the scene in "The Mask of Zorro" where Antonio Banderas fights 20+ soldiers in the barracks.
Another reason is because of my experiences with swordsman schools in 1st edition-as much as I loved the idea, I found it frustrating how limited Swordsman school starting benefits were for their high cost . While I understand that 1e worked around a character creation philosophy of "Pay a lot now for a benefit that will appear several months or years down the line" I strongly feel if a player should feel like they are awesome from the get-go. YMMV, of course.
In my early game sessions, I didn't find my Duelist players were mowing down Brute Squads willy-nilly. Actually I found that 1 low- to mid-level villain plus 1-3 Brute Squads seemed to be a decent challenge. In a situation where a group is facing off Brutes, I would try to just divide them into appropriate sized Squads depending on player skills.
Example: Rodrigo the Aldana Duelist and Berthold the Archaeolgist are ambushed by a horde of thugs. There are 12 Thugs, so I give Rodrigo 8-9 as a squad to handle, and Berthold 2-3, and just proceed to describe the combat colorfully.
Also, don't forget Non-duelists can take advantages like Reckless Takedown and Riot Breaker to handle Brute Squad combat more efficiently. If you restrict Duelist maneuvers from affecting Brutes, wouldn't you have to ban these advantages also?
By all means, if you are finding you prefer to house rule Duelist schools against Brutes, and it works better for your game, go for it! :) But I haven't encountered major issues with this in my early games, so I'm a little surprised to hear it's been that much of a problem. What in particular seems to be the difficulty?
As a real fencer, dueling is very much about one on one fights. As a LARPer, I use my real fencing skills, but they won't help me fight multiple opponents better than someone without them.
Duelists are going to have a character built with lots of combat raises anyway. Let them pay raises per wound like everyone else.
I'm a former fencer myself (in my college days) and while I agree that in real-life a fencer isn't likely to be able to take several opponents at once, personally I don't see that the goal of the game is emulating realistic combat.
In my opinion it's meant to be cinematic and larger-than-life. If the game was striving for realism, it seems to me the rules would allow players to fire 1 pistol shot and the villain would drop dead, and vice-versa. Or characters would risk breaking their ankles when leaping from rooftop to rooftop. For my games, I prefer my players to have amazing fighting skills like movie heroes, because that makes for an enjoyable game for my players.
That said, if other people prefer to restrict dueling in their games and it works for their group...or they want to tweak the mechanics to make combat more realistic and deadly, I think that's totally reasonable as long as their group is having fun. I just watched a video interview with John Wick where he encouraged people to customize RPG rules to suit their group. I liked one quote from the interview in particular, where he says he sees himself as a co-author with GMs and players. His contribution is writing the rules, and GMs and players then take them as they see fit to create the stories that are most fun for them. :)
One other thing...I strongly suspect perhaps people are defining the term "Duelist" too narrowly in their heads. I keep reading comments from people who seem to think the rules don't allow a player to give a military or lower-class character a Dueling style. Why can't a "veteran soldier" or an ex-mercenary have a Dueling school? People seem to have this idea that in 7th Sea, a "duelist" is only an upper-class fighter who studies at a formal academy who exclusively fights single combats over affairs of honor. But that doesn't have to be the only concept for a "Duelist." Why can't a player create a hard-bitten soldier whose fighting skill comes from years of battlefield experience rather than formal schooling, and take a dueling school Advantage to reflect that character's fighting ability? A soldier can be drilled into how to use a broadsword by a grizzled sergeant and combat experience just as as a noble fencer can learn the rapier in an elegant salle in 7th Sea. Where the player got their skill is flavor, not mechanically required by the character creation rules.
In fact, several of the schools described in the book clearly indicate that they didn't originate with "gentlemanly schools." Leegstra is described as a combat style used by Vesten warriors that has only been recognized as a formal "school" very recently. Mireli is a fighting style based on acrobatics and dancing by circus performers. Drexel is clearly another battlefield style...one of my players who's a German history buff shared with me a lot of interesting stories about mercenaries who used the giant zweihander sword Drexel is based on. A zweihander is not a weapon of the leisure classes; it's a soldier's weapon.
Theah is a fictional setting that includes formal laws for individuals legally challenging and fighting each other over questions of honor, and the authorities sanction particular weapons for these contests-you can't use a spiked club in a formal duel, but a rapier is perfectly acceptable. In the case of Drexel and Leegstra, it's not that these styles were specifically created for dueling...it's that the dueling authorities recognized their fighting techniques and preferred weaponry as acceptable for legal affairs of honor as well as battlefield use.
I really feel strongly that this idea that "Duelists and soldiers are mutually exclusive" is an arbitrary misconception that's not necessary and doesn't fit the setting. People seem to have this idea that they are two separate classes of character-but this isn't D&D.
TLDR: If someone wants to be an awesome soldier and complains that a gentleman duelist is better, there's nothing prohibiting the soldier from taking a dueling style that's thematically appropriate to reflect their combat skills. If I'm the GM and someone said, "I don't like it that the Castillan nobleman who hangs around court and knows Aldana is performing better in a fight than my Eisen ex-merc with basic skills" I would say, "OK. Let's re-do your character's advantages and give him Drexel or Eisenfaust to reflect his battlefield skills. Problem solved."
Case in point: I get an Eisenfaust Panzerhander Monster Hunter that hasn't fought nor cares a single dime about honor dueling. It is a tool for killing critters. Period.
Duelist = "strong warrior with formalized schooling in the art of stabbing/bashing/whipping/et-all-ing people and critters".
I think part of the stigma is the "Membership in the Dueling Guild" that allows you to start and fight duels. In the 1st edition there were schools that were specifically 'fighting styles" that did not include membership in the Guild. 2nd Edition doesn't seem to have that outside of just not using the Guild Membership.
Nothing stops anyone from taking a Dueling Academy, but it doesn't always fit 'thematically' as generally defined in the dueling section. It is something that may work itself out in time though.
I'm not sure I want every character to have a Dueling Style as a GM :)
The concept of the Dueling/Swordsman's Guild drew heavily from a novel called "Swordspoint" by Ellen Kushner, where one of the protagonists was a lower-class swordsman hired by nobles to issue challenges and fight lethal duels on their behalf. I suspect it was incorporated for two reasons: 1) it gives characters an excuse to have duels, and 2) it gives lower-class and upper-class characters a reason to adventure together (for example, poor swordsman hired as bodyguard/dueling proxy for nobleman).
That said, I certainly would like to see "non-dueling" fighting schools like the barehanded Finnegan style from 1e return. I think the non-sanctioned and unorthodox fighting styles first appeared in the 1e sourcebooks, so hopefully we'll see something similar in Pirate Nations or the other upcoming books.
P.S. I'm certainly not saying EVERY character should have a dueling style, but I do think if a player tells the GM they want to excel at combat during the character creation process, a dueling style is the way to go. (Unless they want to be more of a mass brawler type who can take down hordes of Brutes, in which case I would steer them toward Riot Breaker and Reckless Takedown.)
(Unless they want to be more of a mass brawler type who can take down hordes of Brutes, in which case I would steer them toward Riot Breaker and Reckless Takedown.) <-- I have a player that's a Bud Spencer tribute character and he's heading this way. but his true passion is Cooking! He wants to be the best cook there is!
I wish there was a craft skill... because neither perform nor scholarship cover what cooking really is... >_<
The Fighting Cook! I love it! :D
After all, Long John Silver, one of the greatest villains of pirate literature...was a cook! And he's scary even with one leg and a crutch. "Them that dies...will be the lucky ones!"
I do agree with you that adding something like a "Crafting" skill to fit between Perform and Scholarship would be nice.
Truth be told I can understand that in the system where skills are -really- broad, such an specific thing as cooking is overkill... but craft? Sure is an oversight...
Slightly off-topic: Bud Spencer and Terence Hill aren't really a thing in the USA, neh?
I understand why there is no craft skill. There isn't much "risk" in crafting, so little need to roll for it. Not that I agree with the philosophy, but I think that's the thinking behind it. Instead, you just work it out with the GM. Unless you have the Master Craftsman Advantage, you can make a serviceable product.
I'd say that in most cases Masterpiece craftsman (Cooking) should work. The only exception would be if the cooking was actually some form of risk.
For example, your cook must square off against a rival in order to impress a distinguished Montaigne cullinary academy. In this case I would argue that since both chefs were effectively masterpiece crafters in their art already, then the perform skill would work best as a way to distinguish their ability with the right degree of flair necessary for the judges.
Or if the aim is to accurately prepare an extremely obscure dish in order to not arrouse suspicion from the Monsignour whose house you're infiltrating, than Scholarship is more appropriate.
Skills are only necessary for dramatically interesting tasks. Cooking can certainly be dramatically interesting, but it's usually going to be through the lens of some other skill. You don't need to use it whenever you make dinner for the night, so in most cases Masterpiece crafter is more than sufficient.
Fighting Cooks are better than Hexe Cooks... Eisen Chef is a terrifying show.
And to echo Harliquinn's comment, I don't want every player at the table to share ANY advantage, skill or virtue. I want diversity in the players just to keep them interesting. But most of the time, you find that every group has a player that doesn't want to focus on the fighting.
Given the varied weapons and styles of the Dueling schools, I don't think multiple Duelists lack diversity. An Eisenfaust is quite a bit different from an Aldana, who in turn is different from a Boucher fighter.
"Eisen Chef." That is awesome. You win the thread. :D
That's my player. he buillt a Hexe/Spy with some crafting ability. He's calling him "Gordon Rammstein".
I agree that each style is different but when everyone is a swordsman, they approach situations from the same point of view. It was that way in the old system too. (and has been all the way back to original D&D)
All problems are nails and all your solutions involve hammers/swords/poleaxes/fists. I can see that happening.
I also think it is abour players and GMs knowing what each want and compromising enough so that all parties have fun. Say, a GM like some political intrigue and the players are all about the sword. We can all argue that a Three Musketeers style adventure fits best to all parties. And so on. It's not about having diversity or not, but everyone having fun and playing that which brings fun/joy to them.
As far as differences in the Duelist Styles, I think a lot of it is going to come down to if the player embraces the fluff about how the style operates, or if they simply go for what's the most mechanically advantageous.
For instance, a Leegstra user should be focusing on Slash and Crash, with the occasional Bash or Parry, while a Torres use will likely be making more use of Feint and Parry with the occasional Flourish, while the Valroux user will be using Feint, Cross, and Beat to really humiliate their opponent, and Aldana will like be looking for chances to set up a Feint+Ruse+Slash/Riposte combo to really bring on the pain.
But if they focus purely on mechanical effects, then you'll see a lot of Feint+Slash no matter what the style, since that generally gives you the most damage, especially if you've got more Raises to work with than your opponent(s), with the occasional Bash to cut down how much damage your foe can do.
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I would say yes they can. In the example of play on pages 184 and 185 of the rulebook,it has the players using dueling styles against brutes inflicting multiple wounds. So as per RAW Dueling style can be used outside of duels.
As someone else had pointed out how many times did we see Zorro taking out groups of minions or three Musketeers for that matter.
The game it supposed about epic swashbuckling fun, isn't it a lot more fun for the heroes if they can take out large groups of brutes?
That's my two cents.
Men will lie to you. Your eyes will deceive you. You own thought and emotions will cloud you path. Steel never lies, nor deceives, nor hides the way before you. In the sword you can find truth. ~Kakita~
Makes sense, just seems kind of railroady. If someone doesn't take dueling they may as well not go into combat. A group of four with one person without dueling would feel like the three musktateers and their crippled friend.
It depends on how you define "combat". If you look at the wounds inflicted as a form of consequences, then non-combatants could use other skills. For example a courtesean using their wiles to convince the brute squad to fight themselves over her.
I've run sessions where the Heroes that didn't have Duelist were still able to contribute meaningfully to combat, primarily by using their raises to dispatch of Brute Squads. After all, using Weaponry with a cutlass and four raises to cleave through a Strength 5 Brute Squad still works very well in substantially reducing the threat of that Brute Squad.
It's just that those PCs that didn't take Duelist Academy won't be as flashy in combat as those that did. But since the PCs with Duelist Academy alloted 5 of their potential 15 points for Advantages to a single Advantage, then the PC has paid for that privilege, just as much as a PC with Sorcery has paid for the privilege of using magic.
Only if the GM is an unimaginative dunce would a Hero that's lacking Ranks in combat skills (Aim, Brawl, or Weaponry) be truly useless in a fight, as the Heroes will often have a variety of other Skills they do have Ranks in that they can bring to help reduce the threat of Brute Squads, or better yet constantly apply Pressure to the Villain to force him to burn through his Raises that much faster.