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Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture
Alternate Duelist Schools
duelist, house rules, conversion

So after reading this post (http://walkingmind.evilhat.com/2016/08/28/taking-a-swing-at-swords/) by Rob Donahue (really like the Lacanne, can't stand Rebus), I was inspired to take a crack at converting a couple of the old 1e Swordsman Schools into 2e Duelist Styles.

Edit: As I mentioned a bit earlier, I'm pretty much removing these as a lot of them are woefully outdated in terms of how they've evolved unde both further review as well as some mock combats, mostly Duelist vs. Duelist but also Duelist vs. Non-Duelist and a bit of Duelist vs. Brute Squad.

I'm still fine-tuning a few of these as well as trying out a couple different ideas, and once I'm done I'll post a dropbox link to the combined file.

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Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture


Overall, I dislike the idea of replacing Maneuvers such as Slash or Parry (as those are the bread and butter of a Duelist). Leegstra is a good example where they get an extra "Slash" maneuver but still have Slash available. This should be reserved for those Schools that really focus on offense.

1) Desaix - Given the above about not replacing Slash, I would change this to something like "Whenever you deal Wounds to a target using Slash, Bash or Riposte, you deal 1 Wound to another target you can reach". This allows it to be used in conjunction with other Maneuvers. I don't think you need to add the "If no other combatant is there" phrasing as the Maneuvers are allowed to be situational.

2) Rogers - I like the flavor of this and it doesn't replace Feint which is nice.

3) MacDonald - The name "Sweep" implies in my mind a wide arc that might hit additional foes. You could word this similar to Desaix "Whenever you deal Wounds to a target using Slash or Riposte, you deal 1 additional Wound to the target that cannot be avoided or prevented". It keeps it somewhat limited. You could add the 'once per round' if you feel it's too much but I think it would work. In a round with say 4 raises, that's potentially 4 added damage if you continually Slash and Riposte.

4) Gallegos - To keep it defensive heavy, you might consider "This replaces the Riposte Maneuver. You prevent a number of Wounds equal to Weaponry + Finesse and deal a number of Wounds equal to Weaponry'

5) Villanove - I like this

6) El Punal - I like this, but it should be limited to once / round or maybe even once / target. Thematically once you reveal that hidden dagger it's not as useful for 'hiding'. If limited to once / target, you might make the Wits Wounds unavoidable.


Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

First, thanks for the feedback Harliquinn.

I do apologize, but am probably going to keep with the "replaces X Maneuver with" element since that's something that's part of the core rulebook schools, and my rule of thumb when coming up with homebrew material is to stick within the general parameters of the established rules as much as possible.  I followed that same rule of thumb when designing new species for FFG's Star Wars back during the Beta for Edge of the Empire, and it served me and my cohort of the time pretty well in creating species that were playable but didn't completely outshine the core species available at the time.  John Wick and company may come up with crazier ideas for what a Duelist style can do as their special trick, but I opt to believe that their stuff goes through far more playtesting than the stuff I tend to come up with on my own.

That said, I do like the idea about MacDonald's benefit applying to a specific set of Maneuvers, though I'll probably go with Slash and Bash, since the 1e version had Beat and Pommel Strike, which have a fundamental similarity to Bash, to say nothing of claymore usage being more about smashing your foe into the ground than anything; I've wieleded one of those, and you don't really get a lot of options for "trickery" given the weight and mass of that thing.

With Desaix, what you suggested about boosting multiple Maneuvers instead of just boosting Slash under the proper circumstances starts to creep in on the "is this too good?" territory in my view, especially since most PCs are going to ensure they meet the requirements to get the damage kicker in the first place, meaning they'd be effectively replacing Slash (and Bash and Riposte) with a Desaix version anyway.  I will take your advice on dropping the "other opponent stuff" and simply leave it at extra damage to any opponent within reach.

Your Gallegos suggestion puts too much emphasis on the defense side of things, that and I'm generally happy with the school offering a watered down Riposte rather than doing a replacement of the regular Riposte, which I find amusing given your opening statement of how you hate the whole "replace X Maneuver with this" bit when your suggestion is pretty much to do just that.

Glad that you liked Rogers and Villanova.  Though with re-reading Rogers' Cunning, it reads more as an upgraded Feint since the extra damage is unavoidable where the regular Feint's damage kicker could be avoided if the target has enough Raises to spend or sufficient Weaponry Ranks when using a Parry or Riposte.  Will change the design notes to reflect that, but I agree that it does still work as a "once per round" thing, which I feel should offer something more than a standard Maneuver.

With El Punal, one thing I had considered was giving the option to spend a Hero Point when dealing Wounds to add additional Wounds equal to Hide, with the restriction that such a trick could only be done once per Scene.  This gives the duelist a chance to make seriously nasty attack, but they only get one shot at doing so, which helps to balance it out.  That said, the limit of 1/round getting a boost to the Wounds a Maneuver inflicts does have merit.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Harliquinn Whit...
Harliquinn Whiteshadow's picture

Just a clarification: I said I dislike replacing "Slash and Parry" with a Maneuver since those are the bread and butter of attack and defense. I don't think any official school replaces those, so not replacing them is certainly fitting in with the core mechanics. Several schools replace Riposte or another maneuver and that seems fine since those are more secondary maneuvers used situationally.

You are free of course to replace Slash and Parry. If I adapt your suggestions (Which I likely will for Villains) I'll probably use the version without replacing the Slash/Parry, but overall I like where you're going!


NeoTanuki's picture

Some good stuff here!

Here's my thoughts just based on my first quick read:

1. Desaix: I really, really like this one. Just to clarify, am I reading correctly that the extra Wound from the Desaix Press must be applied to a different target within reach? It doesn't work if you are fighting just a single opponent, correct?

2. Rogers: I'm not quite feeling this one. To me, 1 unpreventable wound doesn't quite capture the feel of the original school, but to be fair I'm not quite sure what would make a good replacement. Maybe allow the player free Sea Legs advantage instead, or an additional bonus dice if the player already has Sea Legs?

3. MacDonald: I like this one, but to be honest, I'm not crazy about how many of these new styles use "Deal 1 unpreventable wound" in their special maneuvers. Also, it seems to me that keeping constant track of 1 unpreventable wound might become a bit nit-picky in a fight and slow things down (for me at least, I admit I prefer the math in fights to be as super-simple as possible.) I think I'd like this one better if the extra 1 Wound to Slash and Bash was standard instead of non-preventable.

4. Gallegos: Like you said, Riposting twice in a round seems overpowered, but amping up Riposte feels too similar to Eisenfaust. May I suggest an alternative? What about keeping a regular Riposte and instead adding a bonus of 1 extra Wound Prevented to the Parry maneuver? That way you get more overall defense during the fight. (For example, a Gallegos with Weaponry 3 could Parry 4 Wounds, Riposte, then Parry another 4 Wounds. That feels to me like the style of 1st edition-I played a Gallegos fencer in 1e and really liked it.)

5. Bernoulli: I agree with you, 1e Bernoulli's Lunge trick has been co-opted by Sabat. I like your Fleche suggestion, but instead of having it prevent the last wound inflicted, which is a bit tricky to keep track of, how about this: 

"When you wield a fencing weapon in one hand and nothing else, your Slash maneuver is replaced with by the Bernoulli Fleche.  Bernoulli Fleche deals Wounds equal to your Ranks in Weaponry. The next time you are injured by an melee attack, the attack does 1 less Wound."

6. Villanova: Oooh, I really like this one! It looks very appropriate, encourages use by high-Wits characters, and has a nasty effect. I actually think this is a major improvement over the original. Well done!

7. El Punal Occulto. You have done what I thought impossible...made me like El Punal Occulto! Specifically, I like V2. To be honest, if I was trying to do a concealed blade/Assassin's Creed style hidden blade mechanic, I prefer this to Rob Donahue's Rebus (though I also thought his Lacanne was quite good.)

Again, nice work on these! Please don't take my criticisms on 2-5 as too negative, they are just suggestions from my perspective you can take or leave as you wish. 

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Thanks for the feedback and compliments Neo.  And I'm not taking these negative at all as you've got some good points.

On Desaix, I updated it so the extra point of damage can be applied to the same target if the Duelist wishes, or can be applied to a second target.  This way, if the Duelist's use of Slash wipes out a Brute Squad without the extra damage, they could then apply that extra Wound to another Brute Squad that's involved in the fight if they so choose.  Or if they're squaring off in a one-on-one fight with a Villain, then the extra damage can be applied to the Villain.

Yeah, Rogers was way too screwy of a school as written to really capture any sort of general "feel."  Sea Legs for free was a possibility, but I honestly felt that most PCs that would be picking up this style would either have the Advantage already or could pick it up with a single story since it's only 1 point.  The unavoidable damage here fits (I think) becuase it's a cheap shot that the opponent really can't defend against, which fits for a fighting style that originated with pirates.  Alternatively, it could be changed to say that the target cannot spend Raises to reduce the 1 Wound from Roger's Cunning, which still works for a cheap shot.  I'll have to mull this one over.

I can see your point on MacDonald, and I may just revise that to be the additional Wound and drop the unavoidable aspect entirely.  Still makes it good on damage output but avoids stepping too much on Leegstra's toes in terms of sheer damage output.

On Gallegos, I'll think about it.  I also played a Gallegos swordsman in 1e, though the campaign didn't last long enough to get past Journeyman (and even that was simply due to starting with more Hero Points than normal), and Riposte was a huge part of my character's combat arsenal, one that I used quite often with saved dice.  That and I already have a notion to replace Torres' Matador's Flourish with an enhanced Riposte effect, so don't really want to have two Castillian styles have similar style bonuses (that being an enhanced Riposte).

I really like your suggestion on Bernoulli, as it's much cleaner and has much of the same effect, being more proactive (which fits with the theme of the school anyway).  Consider the advice taken and the change made, though I will leave out the "melee attack" restriciton, since Raises can be spent to avoid Wounds from a firearm (just not the Dramatic Wound) no matter of what Trait+Skill was used for the Hero's Approach.

And glad I could change your thoughts on EPO; personally I always liked the concept of the school and felt that it was very fitting for a Zorro-based group of do-gooders, even if the mechanics for the school itself weren't anything to write home about.  As for EPO vs. Rebus, I think part of Rob's issue is that he's too attached to gimmick usage, and thus made Rebus too broad so that it can cover a wide variety of situations.  I made some suggestions on his page (such as limiting the Surprise to replicating a Feint or Parry much like Mirelli's Revision does for Bash and Parry) which at least seems to have been enough to get him to reconsider what he'd posted.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Alcanor Sama
Alcanor Sama's picture

Congratulations for convert old school to new edition. It´s a post that I like to read and I think could be very useful.

Just a note about the name of the Bonus Strike in El Punal Occulto (El Puñal Oculto), I think its better "El Golpe Oculto" instead "El Heulga Oculto). It´s the correct translation of "The Hidden Strike."

I repeat congratulations for your work :)

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Thanks Alcanor, especialy for the suggestion on the re-name for EPO's style bonus.  Obviously, Google Translate was not as much a friend as I'd have hoped :D

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

So with the Villanova Stop-Thrust, been thinking about changing the damage so that instead of it being completly unavoidable, that instead the target can't use Parry to negate the damage.  The target could still use Raises (or a Riposte if they've not used it already this Round) to prevent the damage, but the most common defense a duelist would use against an enemy swordsman's attack (Parry) would be overridden.  Either way, the opponent has to burn a valuable resource (either Raises or their one Riposte) in order to stop the damage, which does play into the notion of a Villanova duelist wanting to control the fight.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

LibrariaNPC's picture

As always, some good work here, but I want to add a few comments/thoughts to the mix, if I may:

1) Desaix: At first, I wasn't too keen on thing. . .and then I looked at my final printing and realized that they changed the writeup for Valroux, so I agree, this is perfect for Desaix. I am still wary of it replacing Slash (and therefore being used every other turn); even if it's a direct copy from the Early Release, I think they may have changed it for a reason.
Since we don't have anything close to this to go on in any other school, I don't have any way to argue it. 

2) Rogers: I'm really not digging this. I get that it's dirty fighting for pirates, but it's lackluster in my book, as it's just another Feint (without being a Feint). Perhaps change it to be a true cheap shot by having it replace Feint (or even Riposte), but amped up? For example: "Replace the Feint Manuever with Roger's Cunning. When used, deal 1/2 of your Weaponry ranks in Wounds. The next time your opponent would take a Wound, they take one additional Wound." This way, it exemplifies that dirty fighting without copying an already existing ability.

3) MacDonald: The extra flat damage is better than unavoidable damage, but I'm curious if it might be better to put it on par with Leegstra, at least when a Claymore is used. I mean, MacDonald's whole premise was to use a claymore to such an effect degree that most other swordsmen would be hard pressed to come close to the damage potential (5k3 damage at Master Rank).
What if it was "Whenever you are weilding a heavy weapon (preferably a claymore) and you deal wounds to a target, you deal one additional wound."? Just throwing an idea out there. This way, at best, a MacDonald fighter is dealing 9 damage in two Raises (Feint + Slash) while a Leegstra fighter is dishing out 10 damage in two Raises (Leegstra Crash, then Slash). Puts MacDonald just below with regards to burst damage, but slightly better in a long, drawn out fight (and to me, more reminiscient of the original source). Just my opinion, of course.

4) Gallegos: I'm with Harliquin on this: I'm not big on the equivalent or two Ripostes in a row, even if it's "watered down." A player with enough time can have Weaponry 5 and Finesse 5, so they'll be able to pull off a Riposte in their first defensive action, then the Gallegos Counter, then a third Riposte if need be; it's basically be three Ripostes in a row, meaning plenty of damage and defense in one go. A few suggestions I have on the topic:
a) Beefed up Riposte: I'm thinking of doing a defensive version of Iron Reply here; reduce damage equal to Weaponry+Finesse, deal damage equal to Weaponry. This way, you have a really strong defense, and you're not stepping onto the toes of Torres too much.
b) Beefed up Parry: Gallegos practitioners, especially masters, were notoriously hard to hit in the first edition. I mean, +10 Passive Defense (+5 Active) can really make a difference, after all. Perhaps Parry can be modified to reduce wounds equal to Weaponry+Finesse? Or take Neo's suggestion of +1? Not as cool as the Riposte option, though.


I'll need to get back to you on the others later/when I have the time.

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

1) For the Early Release of Valroux Press, I always figured they changed it since it was a very offensive trait for a style that in 1e was more about defense and controlling your opponent.

2) With Rogers, I'm probably going to stick with the "second Feint" since it's an established trend in the schools to offer a "second X" Maneuver (Leegstra offers a 2nd Slash, Valroux a 2nd Parry with built-in Pressure, Torres a 2nd Parry, Mireli the choice of 2nd Parry or 2nd Beat).

3) Extra damage to all attacks is covered in Drexel's Gerbeck Stance, which also comes with a notable drawback (you effectively have one less Raise each round with which to act).  So again, probably going to keep MacDonald largely as it currently is.  If the PC wants to deal massive damage with a single swipe of their claymore, that's ultimately what Lunge is for; only change I'm still weighing is adding Lunge to the list of Maneuvers that gets the damage bonus.

4) Sorry folks, but at this point I'm keeping Gallegos pretty much as is.  Don't like, then don't use it in your games, simple as that.  Plus, your example is flawed since you can only use Riposte once per Round anyway, so at best Gallegos gets two Ripostes (even assuming a PC puts their Finesse at 5; I'd be surprised if there are players who aren't power-gamers that stop at Finesse 4 as they need those extra Trait points in other Traits to avoid being a one-trick pony)  At most I might drop the effect to Weaponry/2 for both negating and inflicting Wounds, but even that's iffy at this point.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

First off, sorry for getting a little hot under the collar about Gallegos in my last post.  In regards to that style, I wound up swapping Finesse to be used to negate Wounds and leave the damage at Ranks in Weaponry.  It'd still be a second Riposte Manuever each round, but it's also not stepping too heavily on Eisenfaust's Iron Reply as a seriously beefed-up Riposte, especially with how much favoritism a Gallegos duelist will be giving to Finesse (safe bet is minimum of 4, 5 if the player goes heavy on the min-maxing), making it strong on the defense (which is the Gallegos trademark) but not quite so brutal on the offense as my original posting.  Had another notion about instead having Gallegos Counter replace Parry, and that it allowed the duelist to spend Raises to inflict damage on the attacker, that just felt too complex and tread a bit too much on Villanova's Stop-Thrust.

I've got a couple other styles that I've been working on, in addition to a revision to Torres' sub-par style bonus as well as taking a look at some of the schools offered up in the Swordsman's Guild splat.  I'll likely post them as updates in the main post later today.

Thanks again for the feedback received thus far.  I really do appreciate it.

Edit: So I took another look at Torres, and noticed that it's missing the "must use immediately following Maneuver that caused your Wounds" wording that Valroux Press has, and it doesn't replace an existing Maneuver that has the restriction, such as Iron Reply which replaces Riposte.  So could very well be that the intent with Matador's Flourish is that you can use it at any time to negate Wounds equal to your Athletics, even if they weren't inflicted by the Manuever immediately preceding.  So, could be that if a Hero with Torres and Athletics 4 gets clobbered by a Slash for 3 Wounds by a Villain, who then is able to spend another Raise to use a Beat on before the Hero can act, on the Hero's Action, the use Torres Flourish to negate all 4 Wounds instead of just the 1 (from the Beat Maneuver just prior) that a regular Parry would stop.  If that is the case, then Matador's Flouish isn't nearly as bad as it first looks.

Also added Larsen and Soldano to the list of styles, and edited the effects on Gallegos (as discussed above) and as well as Villanova (so that it's not competely unavoidable but avoiding the damage carries a steep cost).

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

LibrariaNPC's picture

We all get hot under the collar with our creations sometimes, so no worries there. Besides, if we didn't want criticism and input to make it better, we wouldn't post things online, would we?

Anway, I agree that having Gallegos Counter replacing Parry would become too complex, as well as step too much onto the concept of a Riposte. It'd make them go from defensive to super offensive in an instant, trumping Villanova. 

I'll try to give feedback on Larsen and Soldano later; I'm currently balancing work with my own projects (newest one: working on new 1 point advantages with a fellow GM that I'll be posting on the forum in the near future, as well as the concept of "scaleable" or "improvable" advantages).

"Smilies exist because no one's bothered to create a sarcasm font." --Lost_Heretic

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Okay, so an update on this little project of mine.

I've been playing around with some of the styles a bit more, as well as converting a few other 1e schools (including some from the Crescent Empire book).  However, instead of editing the original post (which has become something of a chore) to include these updates and additions, I'll be clearing that out (with a soft copy saved for future reference if need be) and replacing it with a dropbox link to a PDF version of the converted styles.

I'm also toying with some new combat-related advantages (so far, an assassin-type deal that lets you use Lunge and a boxer-type that grants access to a small number of Dueling Maneuvers but using Brawling instead of Weaponry) and a brief bit on how to employ things from 1e that no longer exist (Disarm and Tagging Knacks for instance) using the existing 2e rules framework.

Probably won't be ready for a while yet, as I'm still weighing some options on how to proceed with a few styles (Rogers and Soldano especially).

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Semi-unrelated thought/notion.

Back in 1e, buying a Swordsman School effectively cost you 35HP, with a 10HP discount if you bought a style from your Nation.  So in 1e, a Montaigne Hero could buy Aldana for 35HP, or instead buy Valroux for 25HP.  In effect, this generally encouranged players to select Swordsman Schools from their character's home country instead of focusing purely on what provided the best mechanical combos.

So, what I was musing about was implementing something similar for 2e, in that if you selected a Duelist style from your Hero's Nation, you got a 1pt discount off the cost of the Duelist Academy Advantage.  Thus, a Montaigne Hero that bought Aldana as their Duelist style would pay 5 points for Duelist Academy, but if they instead bought Valroux they'd only pay 4 points for the same Advantage.  Heroes that start with the Duelist Background and selected a Duelist style from their Nation would get the 1pt rebate at Hero Creation, which they could then spend on some other 1pt Advantage.

Looking at the list of official styles, it seems that every Nation has at least one option, and the conversions I've worked on only adds to the list.  For instance:

Avalon - Donovan
Castille - Aldana, Torres
Eisen - Drexel, Eisenfaust
Montaigne - Boucher, Valroux
Sarmatian - Sabat
Ussura - Mireli
Vesten - Leegstra
Vodacce - Ambrogia, Mantovani

So unlike 1e when it was just the corebook, as things stand under 2e, any Duelist has an option to get the discount for learning one of the styles of their home nation.

I'm not entirely sold on the notion, as I feel that Duelist Heroes already have enough going for them with just Duelist Academy as is, but it is a thought.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

I am the sort to start inventing my own schools, but let me begin by commenting with my thoughts on the schools presented here.  I apologize if my analysis comes across as overly critical.

Desaix: Interesting, but a lot less damage by far than most offensive styles.  Seems most applicable in harassing two duellists at the same time, which may not come up very often.  Overall a little weak, though not as weak as, say, Torres style.

Rogers: Another Feint is not unwelcome, as with a very large number of raises you might start running out of things to do against non-duelists (every maneuver has a limit of twice per round, if not once in some cases), and the non-prevention clause could push through a little damage against a wearisome defensive foe, such as a Mireli combatant or a Drexel user in Bittner stance.  Seems a lot less shiny if you don't have 7+ Raises you need to find ways to spend.

MacDonald: Compares unfavorably (in my opinion) to the Gerbeck stance of Drexel style.  You don't lose initiative, which is nice, but you miss out on getting the bonus on all of your maneuvers, most notably Feint (which suddenly deals 4 total Wounds in Gerbeck stance).  Drexel also has two other stances... so this seems weak by total comparison.

Gallegos: A second Riposte, even one with slightly lower Wound prevention, is obviously good.  Seems about on par with the mid- to upper-tier styles.  Notably, Riposte does nothing against brute squads, and a second Riposte is of no use against a non-duellist foe who simply piles in all of their Raises for damage at once.  In other situations, this will be great.

Bernoulli: Cute.  Slash suddenly starts preventing Bash and Feint damage entirely, changing up its role in combat further.  Little effect on non-duelist foes.  Seems weak compared to most schools.

Villanova: Mixed feelings here.  Against non-duelists, this is just worse than a Riposte since they don't have Parry anyway, so it deals less damage unless you have outrageously high Wits.  However, I see some potential against duelists as you can force out a Riposte or force through some damage if they have used Riposte already.

El Punal Occulto: So, it's one or the other, not both versions?  Version 1 I like.  I think the player could have more than one concealed dagger (a sleeve dagger, a boot knife, a pommel dagger...) which could enable them to use this twice in a round as normal.  They may come to a logical conclusion of daggers at some point and need to take extraordinary measures as you suggested, but never underestimate player ingenuity.  Version 2 by itself is... awful.  Once per SCENE?  Version 2 is clearly inferior to Leegstra Style, and in fact to most all offensive styles.

Larsen: I like it, even though it's only useful against another duelist.  Losing a Raise is something new and novel, and it might be too powerful on an offensive maneuver so the balancing seems about right here.  Since it can be used twice per round, you could really sap the wind out of an opposing duelist's sails.

Soldano: Somewhere in about the same space as Leegstra style, but interesting.  You can make it a very hard hit, with the second Raise dealing as much damage as a total Feint in one blow.  I think you may have opened a vein of design space here with this idea.  Power-wise it looks good, somewhere in the mid- to upper-level tiers of the styles.


Whew!  Okay, so once again, sorry if I am overly critical.  I'm not sure what power-level point we should be measuring against just yet, or if the Sabat style is going to receive errata (currently you can do Sabat Gambit twice in one round as a pair of mega-Slashes, but unlike Lunge it can be prevented).  Lest you think I was just the peanut gallery with no content of my own, here are a few thoughts I have about new styles I am creating out of whole cloth.  Probably you will think they are overpowered, as we seem to be gauging things from different points on the power-balance spectrum.  I'd like to think my mind can still be changed if I turn out to be wrong.  Anyway... here goes my thoughts on the lack of Highland Marches / Inismore styles.


    The Highland Marches favor the claymore, from what I’ve read about it the main fighting differences would be that you might perform fewer thrusts (the blade is designed more for slashing), and the hilt/pommel/guard may be intended to use for striking, so a claymore fighting style might take some special variant on the Bash maneuver, or something that otherwise staggers the opponent in some way.

    Based on my research, it looks like renaissance Irish troops may have favored two-handed swords and halberds / two-handed axes, although skirmishers using shields and spears with one-handed slashing swords may still have been somewhat common as a medieval holdover.  The two-handed swords may be a variation of, or simply are, two-handed claymores.  A spear-and-shield style might be interesting for Inismore, incorporating the shield into the maneuver somehow since most other styles have completely eschewed the shield.


Highland Marches Maneuver Idea: create a once-per-round Bash-type Maneuver where the Wounds dealt and the Wounds prevented come from a pool you have to distribute (minimum 1 Wound dealt and 1 Wound prevented from the next attack).  The pool is equal to your ranks in Weaponry + your Finesse.  I'm not attached to Finesse here, but I like for a fighting style to favor one of the attributes that gets a region bonus from its home region, and Brawn is too obvious.


Inismore Maneuver Idea: create a once-per-round maneuver where you Bash or Parry with your shield, and at the same time throw a spear at a different combatant (both could be used against the same brute squad).  The spear throw deals Wounds equal to your ranks in Aim, and cannot be countered by Maneuvers since it is a ranged attack (the Wounds could still be reduced by spending Raises as normal).


Next up, I have been working on a style my character Visvaldas the Wanderer wants to create based around the estoc.  Currently he uses it with Drexel style, but he is hoping to create his own style and call it native to the Sarmatian Commonwealth (specifically Curonia) and found an order of knights / duelists sometime in the future.  Many styles are named after their creators, so I am simply calling it Visvaldas Style.  It takes its cues from Italian Longsword in real life.

Style Bonus: Visvaldas Stances

When you wield a thrusting weapon in two hands, you can choose a Stance:


  • Boar's Tooth Stance: You take up a fighting stance that punishes those who get too close.  Maneuvers that deal Wounds deal 1 additional Wound, and if an opponent just attacked you with Brawling or natural weapons (like claws, teeth or tentacles) your next Maneuver against them that deals Wounds (if it is performed on your next available Raise this round following their attack) deals additional Wounds equal to your Finesse, but this bonus only applies once per Round.  You cannot perform the Bash or Feint Maneuvers.

  • Two-Horned Stance: While in this deceptive and difficult stance, you reduce all Wounds from enemy attacks by 1 (this only prevents 1 Wound from a given brute squad).  If you perform a Feint followed on your next Raise by a Riposte, the Riposte prevents and deals additional Wounds equal to your Panache (in addition to the bonus Wound from Feint if applicable).  You cannot perform the Slash Maneuver.

  • Window Stance: You bring up your weapon to a tricky high forward horizontal stance, ready to counter any blow.  The first time each opponent attacks you this Round, they must spend an extra Raise to perform the action or their attack is utterly wasted, expertly countered by you (for brute squads, reduce the Wounds dealt to you by an amount equal to your Wits).  Your Parry Maneuver prevents additional Wounds equal to your Wits.  You cannot perform the Slash or Lunge Maneuvers.

You select your Stance at the beginning of each Round. If you wish to change your Stance during a Round, you must spend 1 Raise to do so.


So, a few words about the proposed Visvaldas style.  I was trying to keep the power level roughly near or below Drexel, you may not agree with me but hear me out.  Boar's Tooth Stance is effectively "monster-killing stance," also "brawler-killing stance" I suppose.  In other situations, it is less effective than Gerbeck stance from Drexel due to the extremely limited maneuver options.  Without being able to toss in some Bashes or Feints, your list of options grows very thin, and a combat round against a brute squad might look like this: Slash, spend 1 Raise to deal 1 Wound, Slash, Lunge.  You'll still deal some damage, but maybe not as much as you think.  Against a duelist, you can toss in Riposte, a Parry or two and give yourself more options for when to repeat Slash.

Two-Horned Stance is a weirdo (just like in real life).  It asks you to set up a Riposte after a Feint, not an easy thing to do and something that requires interaction from the opponent.  It has a unique defensive property which is only a minor annoyance to non-duelists.  You also can't Slash, limiting the offensive power of this stance.  So really, this stance is intended to make life difficult for another duelist, especially if you are ever unlucky enough to fight multiple duelists.  The defensive property blanks the damage of any maneuver that only deals 1 Wound, making Bash and Feint a lot less useful, as well as some style-specific maneuvers.  If you ever had to fight a duelist villain and his protege/bodyguard at the same time, I would seriously consider this stance.  Also might be appealing to those scratching their heads trying to figure out how to set up the Riposte as a sort of mental puzzle.

Of all of the Visvaldas stances, Window Stance is the one I am concerned I overpowered, but I'll give my reasoning for not nerfing it.  Losing both Slash and Lunge just about neuters the damage potential of being a duelist in the first place.  You still have Feint for a minor bonus, and you still have Riposte, but Riposte does nothing to brute squads and requires interaction with the opponent to function properly.  You have sacrificed almost all of your duelist's unique offensive power to take up Window Stance, and the bonus to Parry isn't even as good as Bittner stance from Drexel style (it also gives the bonus to Bash and Riposte).  What you get in return is that anyone who tries to attack you effectively has Pressure not to do so, and brute squads have their damage nerfed (not that you were concerned with brute squads as a duelist in the first place).  I think that sounds fair compared to what you've given up.


Finally, I have a couple of ideas that I'm not sure where to put yet.  See what you think...

Maneuver Idea (Non-Specific): a maneuver that deals 1 Wound, and causes the target to suffer -1 initiative for the rest of the round (they act 1 Raise slower, but lose no actual Raises).

Maneuver Idea (Non-Specific): a weak Parry that only prevents 1 Wound, but generates a Hero Point (once per Round limit).

Boar's Riposte (Non-Specific): in response to a foe’s attack that dealt at least one Wound, take a Dramatic Wound and deal Wounds to that foe equal to your ranks in Weaponry + your Resolve.  You can do this twice per round, since Dramatic Wounds are already quite the limiting factor.

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

I'll say this right up front so that it's perfectly clear what my intent is with these conversions of old 1e Swordsman Schools.

My primary goal with this was NOT to create a bunch of uber-styles that completely outshine the official styles.  In fact, if on paper most of what I've posted here looks weaker than the official styles, then I've done my job correctly in providing an option that's new, a bit different/flavorful, but doens't inherently break the game.  As some one that's tinkered with a wide variety of RPG rulesets over the past 20+ years, I now tend to be very cautious when introducing homebrew material to a game, as there's a very high risk of inadverently breaking the game by "fixing" one thing but completely breaking something else in the process.  Frankly, it seems you're way too obsessed with "what's mechanically the most effective?" instead of "is this a cool effect that fits the general flavor of the style?"  Admittedly, if one doesn't have access to the 1e books where these Swordsman Schools were first printed, at lot of that flavor is going to be lost simply because I'm not going to copy/paste all that text.

Also, I'm not to worried about how effective a Style Bonus is when dealing with Brute Squads, as more often than not the basic Slash is more than sufficient, with other Maneuvers being sprinkled (such as Feint or Bash) in simply because you can't use Slash consecutively.  Same conceit applies to when dealing with non-Duelist opponents, who either spend all their Raises at once, or use them gradually to do things other than just all-out attack.

Your Visvaldas style is really just a shoddy ripoff of Drexel, and really doesn't add anything beyond needless complexity.  But if that's the way you roll, more power to you, and that's about all I have to say on that.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Yikes, you sound like you took that pretty personally.  I definitely feel chastised, so I must have come across sounding equally harsh.

First off, I don't know where the balance lies exactly.  I do respect that you are taking it easy and staying on the safe side of things, and if conversion of old material trumps any mechanical effectiveness then any criticisms I may have are moot.  In terms of balance, I'm not sure where the middle ground is.  Is Leegstra style about the average middle ground of power?  If it is, should it be?  Should we question the average balance put into 2nd edition, or is it about right?  This is not clear to me yet, and therefore much of what I say is speculation.

The flavor of the style absolutely matters.  I have a pretty narrow focus when it comes to my historical accuracy, meaning that I go in and research a specific area when it is relevant to what I'm doing.  So, when I made mechanical suggestions regarding styles for the Highland Marches or Inismore, that was based on historical research.  I also have mechanical ideas in general, and sometimes they don't have a home yet; those I am in much less of a hurry to polish and complete unless they seem to find a good home.  For the style Visvaldas is trying to craft in particular, I have firsthand experience learning the novice moves of Italian longsword.  I am far from being an expert, but I also did research on the topic as well and I did my best to choose abilities that were in keeping with real-world stances I have learned.  I am sorry if you believe they are simply ripping off Drexel style; truthfully, there are only minor variations between German and Italian longsword styles (the zweihander has some additional options due to the extended grip), so if they seem a bit similar in their use of stances there is a reason.  If you think the differences are not pronounced or flavorful enough, help me to come up with something better.

Finally, I think I should clarify something: maneuvers can only be used twice per round.  The last sentence under the Maneuvers heading on pg. 235 says, "A Duelist may perform a Maneuver twice in the same Round of an Action Sequence, but there must be an additional Maneuver (or non-dueling Action) between the repeated Maneuvers."  I've seen some people post about having 3 or more Slashes in a single Round, and this sentence clearly states "twice," not "multiple times."  That's not specifically a rebuttal, just a general observation.

Anyway, sorry (once again) if I have given you offense.  I would much rather we collaborate and come to something approaching a consensus than to be at odds.  I can't claim 20+ years of game tinkering, in my case it is merely 15 years.  ^_~

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Yeah, you did come across as pretty snooty and condescending.

Personally, here's about where I place the official styles in terms of tiers (bearing in mind this is under best case scenarios where there respective strengths can be brought into play) based upon the power and usefulness of their style bonus.

High-Tier = Leegstra and Sabat, just for sheer damage output, with Sabat being a bit weaker simply because it burns up your remaining Raises
Upper-Tier = Aldana (very versatile, but takes planning on when to use the damage bonus), Boucher (easier on combo set-ups since you cut the wait time), and Eisenfaust (major beef-up of Riposte that hits hard and can heavily negate most if not all of a foe's big combo attack)
Mid-Tier = Donovan (good defense for allies, but main bonus costs your own Raises and a Hero Point), Drexel (versatile but can be very situational, costing a Raise if you need to switch-up in the midst of the round), Valroux (extra parry + precise action control vs. other Duelists)
Low-Tier = Mantovani (bit of damage with a built-in Pressure effect), Mireli (versatile but heavy on defense), Torres (good defense option, but reliant upon a second skill to be effective),
Bottom-Tier = Ambrogia (MAD plus Hero Point requirement, and dice can be very fickle things)

So for me, if a style bonus looks like it'll make Leegstra or Sabat seem mediocre in comparison, then for me it's simply too good and thus needs to be turned down.  And the best way I've found to determine if something's too good is to ask my inner power gamer "is there any reason that I as a PC wouldn't want to take this?"  If the answer's an unhesitating "Nope!" then it's time back to the workshop.

Also, as for Maneuvers, I think you're being much to literal in the "twice per round."  The spirit of the rule (which to me takes precendence over the exact wording of the rule) is that you can use the various Maneuvers as often as you like, provided they don't have the "once per Round" restriction and that you don't use the same Maneuver back-to-back, pretty much to avoid people just using Slash each Action when facing Brute Squads.  So an Action Sequence of a Duelist Hero with Weaponry 3 and 5 Raises facing a Strength 15 Brute Squad could go down like this:

1st Raise - Slash (now down to Strength 12)
2nd Raise - Feint (now down to Strength 11)
3rd Raise - Slash (now down to Strength 7)
4th Raise - Bash (now down to Strength 6, but deals 3 less Wounds when they go)
5th Raise - Slash (now down to Strength 3)
Brute Squad - attacks the Hero, but deals no damage since the Hero's Bash cuts their damage down to zilch.

Naturally, what style bonus the Duelist Hero has available is going to play a factor in the sequence of what Maneuvers are used and when.  Aldana could go Feint->Aldana Ruse->Slash->Bash->Slash (12 Wounds dealt, none taken), while Torres could forego that last Slash and use Matador's Flourish to further reduce the Wounds taken, and Leegstra wouldn't need to bother with a Feint and just go Slash->Crash->Slash->Bash->Slash (13 Wounds dealt, none taken), and Boucher would use the same sequence just a little bit faster.  Depending on the dice, Ambrogia might well have an extra Raise play with, letting them spice things up by perhaps leading with Feint so that the Brute Squad is only down to Strength 1 by the time it gets to act.  Sabat might go Bash, then Feint then Sabat Gambit, doling out 9 Wounds base plus whatever their Finesse is; assuming a Finesse of 3, it has about the same effect as the sequence above.  Drexel in Metzger Stance would just get to the same end result (no damage taken from the Brute Squad) a bit faster, maybe switching up the order a bit to not need that Bash in favor of a Feint+Slash combo, while Gerbeck Stance has about the same effect as Leegstra even though they lost that final Slash.

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Don't underestimate Gerbeck stance, Feint starts doing 4 damage total instead of 2, it's a huge difference.  Anyhow, I have a slightly different take on the tiers I think, and in all fairness it's a little hard to judge some of the unique effects like Donovan has, but I think I will lean in favor of versatility.  Donovan is great against a superior duelist villain, or any duelist villain if you have a lot of players, but it's nothing special when it's just a Parry.  Anyway, I'll compare my thoughts on the matter:

High-Tier: Drexel (versatility is power, and I've seen the damage Gerbeck stance can do), Sabat (if you take the reasonable houserules you suggested in the other thread then Sabat is still very powerful, but fair-ish; with the rules as written, it's absurdly bah-roken and I don't think I could personally allow it in a campaign without fixing it)

Upper-Tier: Aldana, Leegstra (both of these have high damage potential without requiring any interaction from the opponent; of the two, I am personally more fond of Aldana for its trickiness and wider variety of combat interactions)

Mid-Tier: Boucher (neat combo potential against duelists), Donovan (unique lockdown effect and ally defense, but with narrow application), Eisenfaust (great counter and damage potential, but requires combat interaction)

Low-Tier: Mantovani (small damage with precise action control vs. Duelist), Mireli (versatile but entirely defensive), Valroux (extra parry + pressure vs. Duelist)

Bottom-Tier: Ambrogia (upon further reflection, this is a lot worse than having a Signature Item in terms of how to spend a Hero Point), Torres (an extra parry that requires an extra skill)


Personally I wouldn't want to make a style that dwarfs the applications of Drexel or Sabat, which is why I am looking for feedback on the style Visvaldas is trying to research.  I think Boar's Tooth stance is weaker than Gerbeck most of the time, I think Window stance is about at par with Bittner, and I think Two-Horned stance is like a puzzle and does not directly compare to Metzger, however I think gaining initiative is very powerful so I think Two-Horned stance is weaker than Metzger stance.

In all seriousness, my character uses an estoc, a two-handed thrusting sword without a sharp edge.  I took my real-life experience with Italian longsword, took the guard positions that are made for thrusting moreso than slashing, and gave some thought to what situations they might apply in.  I wanted his background in Drexel to inform the way he created the duelist school, so it would use stances like Drexel does (perhaps this could be a more common trope of two-handed weapons in the setting).  In my efforts to be innovative, I realize that baggage came along and it no longer appears elegant like Drexel does.  If you still feel that it's a shoddy ripoff with needless complexity, help me trim the fat and find something else the stances can do.  I know I want a two-handed weapon style that emphasizes thrusting attacks over all else, and I would like to still use the Italian Longsword stances because of my personal familiarity with them.  I didn't create it haphazardly or by throwing darts at a board, it all grew out of my character and me and Italian Longsword.  If it looks junky (and I realize it does), and you feel that the flavor or innovation does not merit the complexity, I'm all ears for ways in which I can differentiate it from Drexel style while still using stances.  I don't think Drexel has a copyright on using stances, I think it's just opened the door for more.  =)

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

New Style Scrutiny: Visvaldas

This is a continuation of my analysis from a thread dedicated to the core rules ( http://www.7thsea2e.com/port/forum/analysis-duelist-combat-styles ), since I have not gotten any advice yet about how I can change or improve the style I've listed here, I'm going to take a theoretical look at how it might fare against all the prior analysis I've done for the basic maneuvers and normal styles.  Let's dive in.


Visvaldas Style (Sarmatia; wield a thrusting weapon in two hands)


You select your Stance at the beginning of each Round. If you wish to change your Stance during a Round, you must spend 1 Raise to do so.


Boar's Tooth Stance

  • Notes: Not a maneuver.  Your maneuvers deal +1 Wound, but you lose access to Bash and Feint.  You also have a bonus against foes who get too close, for fisticuffs or teeth and tentacles.  This stance can deal a lot of damage, but it's hard to use due to not having enough maneuvers to go back and forth between.  You do well enough against another duelist, tossing Parry into the mix, but in other situations sometimes you make awkward rounds like spending a Raise to deal 1 damage just so you can Slash again.  The stance is somewhat defensive and withdrawn in nature, but it is well-suited to executing a devastating thrust (Lunge) or Riposte.  Use this stance against monsters and brawlers, and sparingly against others.  It makes for a reasonable switch of stances near the end of a round, when most of what you want to do is just Slash+Lunge.


Two-Horned Stance

  • Notes: Not a maneuver.  You reduce Wounds dealt by all attacks by 1, and you can set up a devastating Riposte if it follows a Feint.  Hard to pull off, especially if your foe recognizes the style or has seen Two-Horned stance used against them in the past.  While the timing is difficult and your foe may be uncooperative, you can also influence their actions any time you Feint.  This can effectively act like a counter to their own Feint since they don't want to risk their big attack getting blown out by an even bigger Riposte the following Raise.  You take no Wound from Bash, and half the normal Wounds of Feint, so this stance has some strong applications against specific sorts of duelists, and may prove quite useful if you ever have to fight more than one duelist.  You lose access to Slash, though, so you may have to make ample use of Feint for damage instead.


Window Stance

  • Notes: Not a maneuver.  Anyone who attacks you effectively loses 1 Raise (or brute squad damage is partly prevented), making for a great defense against villain duelists whose actions represent large amounts of damage.  Further, your Parry is also improved, so you are able to turn aside terrifying blows.  Unfortunately, this comes at the cost of both Slash and Lunge, leaving you only Feint and Riposte to deal any significant damage.  A decent stance when you are pressed by multiple brute squads, potentially also multiple villains or monsters.  Consider switching to Boar's Tooth stance near the end of the round to sneak in some extra damage, if need be.


In Situations of High Raises / Low Raises

"Advantage" here means "you have more Raises than your foe," while "disadvantage" means "your foe has more Raises than you."


Visvaldas Style: Boar's Tooth Stance

  • Advantage: A little hard to use due to not having anything besides Parry, Riposte or non-duelist combat to juggle against Slash.  Still, you'll be ready with one heck of a Riposte if you happen to be fighting a monster or brawler, and you can deal respectable damage otherwise.
  • Disadvantage: You might get more of those Parry and Riposte opportunities when you're behind on Raises, so Boar's Tooth doesn't look too bad when the chips are down.  You should be pretty happy with a round that went Riposte+Slash+Lunge if you only have 3 Raises.

Visvaldas Style: Two-Horned Stance

  • Advantage: Not exactly easy to capitalize on without Slash, nonetheless you can lead off with something like Feint+Bash, pushing the opponent towards Bash or Feint in reply.  That's exactly what you want: you Feint in response to them, and now their options are looking shabby and you're threatening a huge Riposte.  Even if you don't pull it off, being disruptive is a strong point of Two-Horned guard; let your friends do the heavy damage dealing while you keep the villain off-balance.
  • Disadvantage: The stance is defensive by nature, helping to keep you conscious until you can act.  You don't have as much time to try to set up a Feint+Riposte, and it's not the end of the world if you just play strong defense here.

Visvaldas Style: Window Stance

  • Advantage: You can't deal much damage, but you can take control of the round.  Distribute Feints and Bashes, hold Riposte for a good moment, and let your Parries handle any major threats.  If your foes are ignoring you, switch to Boar's Tooth stance to get their attention.
  • Disadvantage: Window stance is great here.  You cost your foes 1 Raise to attack you, and your improved defenses help to keep you conscious and distracting the villains and brute squads.


Style Intersection: Visvaldas

The purpose of this section is to see how a player using Visvaldas Style might fare against a villain duelist, comparing against other styles.


Visvaldas vs. Aldana

Boar's Tooth stance lacks the subtlety you need here.  The easiest maneuvers to bounce between are Slash and Parry, and that isn't very ideal against Aldana, which tends to use Feint+Aldana Ruse quite often.  Two-Horned stance is amazing here though: their Feints are far less effective against you, and once they use Aldana Ruse it's time for you to Feint+Riposte in response for a dramatic turnaround from their alpha strike.  Window stance is not shabby here either, you can trouble them with Feint and Bash until you Parry any truly dangerous attacks.  It's okay to be behind as long as you aren't too far behind, and if you are ahead on Raises then Aldana will have a vexing time with you.


Visvaldas vs. Ambrogia

It's likely that the Ambrogia villain duelist will have more Raises, so plan accordingly.  Boar's Tooth stance isn't bad when you're behind, giving you opportunities to Parry and Riposte and keep on Slashing.  Two-Horned stance is also not bad here, although being behind means you may need to use Riposte more for defense than offense.  Window stance shines in this matchup though, costing Ambrogia one of their hard-earned Raises and bringing them back down to a manageable level.  If you manage to be ahead of Ambrogia, Two-Horned stance may offer the best mix of disruption and surprise offense.  This isn't a bad matchup for you.


Visvaldas vs. Boucher

Boar's Tooth stance may be too cumbersome here, since Boucher can drop a big attack and then "hide" it with a little attack like Feint or Bash, so your Parry and Riposte may be less valuable.  Two-Horned stance is not a bad option, protecting you against hidden attacks, although it may prove very difficult to line up an ideal Riposte against Boucher.  Window stance taxes Boucher a Raise, which might make them run out of Raises for the round very quickly in combination with Boucher Step.  Again, it may be hard to find the right moment to Parry or Riposte.  This matchup may prove a little difficult for Visvaldas Style, though you are far from defenseless.


Visvaldas vs. Donovan

Assuming you are in a situation where the enemy might profit from locking out both characters' remaining Raises (which is no sure thing, often you would be glad of a villain burning up their Raises even at the cost of yours), Donovan may prove difficult for you, giving the villain's allies free reign of the battlefield.  Being ahead on initiative gives you some options, but if the villain is determined to spend a Danger point and lock out your respective Raises you may have to face the music.  If this is their strategy, consider trying a non-combat approach and putting Pressure on them to some other effect.  If it seems they are not determined to use the lockout from Donovan's Bulwark, any of your three stances will prove effective enough.


Visvaldas vs. Drexel

Stance-on-stance action!  A lot depends on what stances are used, what stances you expect to get used, and how far ahead or behind you are from each other in Raises.  Here's a quick rundown.

When you are in Boar's Tooth Stance:

  • Boar's Tooth vs. Bittner: Drexel has chosen wisely, you have chosen poorly.  You are practically telegraphing your attack plan, and Bittner is more than happy to Parry, Riposte and Bash away your dangerous blows.
  • Boar's Tooth vs. Metzger: You're both about to beat the snot out of each other without a lot of interaction due to the gap in initiative.  If you do manage to get some interaction, use Riposte if it is at all convenient, and Parry.  This exchange is kind of a wash.
  • Boar's Tooth vs. Gerbeck: The clash of the titans.  You might get the chance to go first and lead off with a Slash, then have some chance to respond with Riposte and Parry against the villain's mighty attacks.  Gerbeck probably has a slight edge.

When you are in Two-Horned Stance:

  • Two-Horned vs. Bittner: Your defensive ability shields you from a lot of the damage Drexel can inflict from Bittner (Bash and Feint hardly phase you, and they cannot Slash), but it won't be easy to time your big Riposte against their Riposte.  If you do, Bittner has lost badly.  If you don't, you are still doing okay in this battle.
  • Two-Horned vs. Metzger: You have some defense against their early assault, but you need to hurry if you hope to pull off the Riposte combo before they run out of Raises.  Not a bad matchup.
  • Two-Horned vs. Gerbeck: You have effectively nullified the stance bonus of Gerbeck, but that doesn't mean it isn't still dangerous.  You are more likely to go first, and may have better odds of setting up your big Riposte here.  You're okay, just don't get cocky.

When you are in Window Stance:

  • Window vs. Bittner: The Duel that Lasted One-Thousand Years.  Bittner may have a slight edge on you with access to Lunge, but really, these two will duel to a standstill.  Good for distracting the villain.
  • Window vs. Metzger: Saps the wind out of Metzger's sails a bit.  If you manage to bring them down to reasonable initiative levels, you will wipe the floor with Metzger.  If Metzger keeps a strong lead, however, you might be better off switching to Boar's Tooth.
  • Window vs. Gerbeck: What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?  Tune in to this fight and find out.  In all seriousness, since you may have the advantage on initiative, you can cause serious consternation to Gerbeck here, setting them back even further on Raises for trying to attack you.  You also have the Parries you need to halt Gerbeck's big swings.  Sprinkle in Bashes liberally, and you might just come out on top.


Visvaldas vs. Eisenfaust

Boar's Tooth stance is precisely what you DO NOT want to use here, since Iron Reply will turn your own strength into a weakness.  Instead of landing a good Slash, you have given the Eisenfaust villain the right opening for an overwhelming counterattack.  Two-Horned stance is ironically trying to land a similar big Riposte of its own, except that it requires a lead-in from Feint for full effect.  Most likely the two of you will warily circle one another, hoping not to set up the right conditions for the other; if this proves true, then the combat may involve a great deal of testing and disruption rather than high-damage assaults.  You don't lose too much going a little later in the round, since Iron Reply is reactive.  Finally, Window guard is exactly what Eisenfaust doesn't want to see.  You have almost no high-damage attacks worth countering with Iron Reply other than your Riposte, and Window has access to a Parry strong enough to stop Iron Reply.  Between this and the loss of 1 Raise for attackers, Window stance is well-positioned against Eisenfaust.


Visvaldas vs. Leegstra

Boar's Tooth stance is not bad here: you can trade heavy blows and mix in Riposte and Parry against the onslaught, potentially coming out even or slightly ahead.  You'll both take Wounds, but you might not get the worst of it.  Two-Horned stance may not be ideal here, as it is well-suited to defending against Feints and Bashes, not a whole series of Slashes.  However, if you were hoping to find a chance to set up a giant Riposte, this might be the time because Leegstra seems like the style most likely to walk right into it.  Window stance is not bad here either, giving you Parries big enough to handle even a villain's Slash+Crash+Slash (with a little help from Riposte).  Leegstra is dangerous, but all of your options can be made to work here.  Obviously, you don't want to be behind on initiative; if you suspect you will be, Two-Horned or Window stance is the way to go.


Visvaldas vs. Mantovani

This can prove to be a difficult (or at least annoying) matchup due to your limited number of maneuvers in the stances.  In Boar's Tooth stance, you lose a lot if the Mantovani villain uses Mantovani Flay to deny you a Slash arriving on-time, potentially creating an ugly gap in your combat routine that might be best filled by switching stances.  Two-Horned Guard has the Feint+Riposte combo to be disrupted by the Flay, although Two-Horned benefits from taking no damage from the Flay.  Window stance doesn't have much to lose here, although if you have just used Feint or Bash the Mantovani villain can deny the other one, potentially forcing you to either Riposte, or spend a Raise to deal one Wound or prevent one Wound.  Still, it's not a big loss for Window, and you can disrupt them a bit yourself.


Visvaldas vs. Mireli

Boar's Tooth stance may find Mireli unreasonably annoying to deal with, since Mireli keeps locking down your big attacks and giving you nothing good to Parry or Riposte.  Two-Horned stance, on the other hand, may well be Mireli's worst nightmare.  You can take an infinite number of Bashes with no incidental damage, normally something Mireli leans on a bit due to its low offensive ability.  It costs you nothing to throw out Feints to test Mireli with, forcing the Mireli villain to constantly reassess when your Riposte might be coming.  You may have trouble hurting the Mireli villain, but in a way they have an even worse time with you.  Window stance is just not ideal here, since big Parries are not really the tool you need against Mireli.


Visvaldas vs. Sabat

Boar's Tooth can work here.  The Sabat Gambit is a very deadly Lunge, but it is only a little more deadly than your own Lunge... and you have Slashes and Riposte to share as well.  If the Sabat villain was hoping to power you out with Wounds, they may get shortsighted and make a poor exchange of blows with you.  Two-Horned stance can't stop the Gambit very well, but it can make the lead-in a lot less deadly and more interesting.  If the Sabat villain is trying to play clever and tricksy, Two-Horned is more than happy to have that conversation.  Window stance isn't a perfect fit here either, since the big Parry can't stop the Gambit.  What you add in defense may not be a good trade compared to what the other stances offer here.


Visvaldas vs. Torres

Boar's Tooth may run into a lot of Parries or Matador's Flourish, yet Boar's Tooth often doesn't prompt the need for them back-to-back.  Boar's Tooth remains largely relegated to monster slaying, a difficult tool to bring to bear in true duels, but it's okay here.  Two-Horned stance may frustrate the Torres villain here, dampening all of their attacks and seldom attacking in with anything worth spending a Parry on.  You also keep them grounded in the worry of your giant Riposte after a Feint, muting their offense further.  Window stance may be more defense than you need here, but it can certainly be put to work to shut out any offense the Torres villain was considering.


Visvaldas vs. Valroux

Boar's Tooth stance is an odd bedfellow with Valroux Cross: if the villain counters your Slash, they cannot choose Riposte since their Cross did no damage, leaving only Lunge as a viable option to force you towards.  If they countered your Riposte, Slash is also an option (though why they would choose this eludes me).  In any case, Boar's Tooth is not great here.  Two-Horned stance could face some disruption here if the Cross is used against your Feint, but otherwise it's a fair choice here.  Window stance gets rid of most of the advantage of using Valroux: the only attack you have worth a Parry (or Valroux Cross) is your Riposte, and anything they choose to push you towards that is a legal play (Bash, Feint) is not particularly good for them or bad for you.  In Window stance they can't even try to force Lunge with their Cross, since it just isn't an option.  Window is probably the strongest and most punishing choice against Valroux.


Visvaldas vs. Visvaldas

Stances galore once more.  This fight is unlikely to ever happen in the game I play in unless a tournament occurs after Visvaldas establishes a school, but just in case someone out on the interwebz likes my homebrew duelist style, I'll go ahead and cover this for the sake of theory.

When you are in Boar's Tooth Stance:

  • Boar's Tooth vs. Boar's Tooth: Not much subtlety here, you both trade mighty blows and make ample use of Parry and Riposte.  The one who goes first gets a slight edge, but only slight.
  • Boar's Tooth vs. Two-Horned: Two-Horned stance doesn't like all your big damage attacks, but you must be cautious of walking straight into the Feint+Riposte combo.  Unfortunately there's only so much you can do to stop it, so have a Riposte or Parry ready to take some of the sting out of that hurt.  A decent matchup for you.
  • Boar's Tooth vs. Window: A terrible matchup for Boar's Tooth.  Window has Parries big enough to stop your big Slashes and Riposte, plus you lose a Raise.

When you are in Two-Horned Stance:

  • Two-Horned vs. Boar's Tooth: A villain in Boar's Tooth is capable of dealing a lot of damage - unsubtle, but effective.  Use your Bashes wisely, and a Feint right before their Slash is ready should give the villain fits as they see the Riposte coming in their future.
  • Two-Horned vs. Two-Horned: Neither of you is well-suited to damage the other, so the prize goes to the one who manages to solve the riddle of the Feint+Riposte.  An alternate option is simply to Lunge after a little setup.
  • Two-Horned vs. Window: It may not be worth your time to combo off the Feint+Riposte, since a villain in Window can definitely Parry it.  Instead, nickel-and-dime your foe into submission, and take comfort in the fact that they can barely damage you at all.

When you are in Window Stance:

  • Window vs. Boar's Tooth: You are doing well here, you can respond easily and with the right tools.
  • Window vs. Two-Horned: A terrible matchup for Window.  Feint and Riposte are the only sources of damage, and there's little here worth Parrying, although if the Feint+Riposte combo comes out you'll be ready for it.
  • Window vs. Window: A slow, grindy matchup with Riposte as the highlight.  The one with more Raises will have a slight edge.



...and with that, I've said my piece for now on Visvaldas Style.  So, does anyone have a suggestion on how to make it less wordy, more fun, etc.?  If not, then this analysis may prove useful.  Speaking of which...


In Conclusion

Visvaldas fares well against Aldana, Eisenfaust and Mireli, and is mostly at some parity with the rest.  Boucher, Drexel and Leegstra can be a bit problematic, especially if they are going faster.  The stance options give nice versatility even as they restrict maneuvers, and Visvaldas Style can be played either clever or brutish, or somewhere in-between.

NeoTanuki's picture

Hello Lord Rumfish,

After reading your description of Visvaldas and its special abilities, here were my first impressions. Since you asked for feedback, I thought I'd offer some. These are just my own impressions reading it for the first time, and you may take them (or ignore them) as you see fit:

1. Flavor/Weapon choice/Nationality: These all seem pretty good. A spear or lance weapon seems appropriate for Sarmatia, since the flavor text says they are known for their Winged Hussars cavalry. Plus, it's a weapon that hasn't been covered by an official school yet. 

2. Special Maneuvers: This is only based on my first read-through, but I had two immediate reactions. First, it feels very, very similar to Drexel. In fact, the stances are so similar thematically to Drexel I think it diminishes the appeal of Visvaldas as a home-brewed school to an unfamiliar reader, because my first reaction was, "Oh, it's Drexel with a spear instead of a zweihander."

3. Special Maneuvers, part 2: The Window and Two-Horned Stances come across to me as too strong mechanically. Being able to either reduce all damage by 1, or forcing an opponent to lose 1 Raise automatically, seems too strong to me, and the corresponding disadvantages seem minor by comparison. Again, it comes across too much as "Drexel, but better."

My honest recommendation would be to rework the special maneuvers from scratch to make them less like Drexel. I think given the nature of the weapon having 3 special maneuvers would still be OK, but I would suggest signficantly different conditional  effects to better reflect the advantages a spear might have against different weapons. Something like this very, very rough outline:

A. Reach: A spear has the advantage of reach against a smaller weapon. If you wield a spear two-handed on foot against an opponent using bare hands, a knife or a fencing-sized weapon, you add +1 to any Wounds prevented with a defensive maneuver. This bonus does not apply against an opponent using a Heavy Weapon or spear (because they have similar or equal reach). 

B. Mounted: A spear or lance charge on horseback does devastating damage. If you are on horseback, you declare during your first Raise at beginning of the round that you are attempting a Mounted Charge. Spend all your Raises and treat as a Lunge that does (+X signficant extra damage and other major effect such as Fear). You may not perform a Mounted Charge in the following Combat Round (you have to maneuver your horse to set up the distance for another charge)

C. Set Defense: A spear can also be used on foot to hold off a fierce animal such as a boar, a monster or a charging human foe by bracing the spear to take the charge. If you are on foot, you may declare during your first Raise at the beginning of the Round that you are declaring Set Defense. Spend all your Raises. Your spent Raises equal your Set Defense. Any animal, Monster, or human armed with a heavy weapon or spear reduces the wounds they deal to you this round by your Set Defense, and suffers 1 Wound each time they attack you. Set Defense works against another Visvaldas opponent's Mounted Charge, and applies to multiple opponents attacking you in the same round. 

Like I said, this is VERY rough, and I'm sure has a lot of things wrong with the mechanics, but this is more what I think Visvaldas needs to distinguish it from Drexel. Conditional maneuvers that show off a spear's strengths and weakness in different combat situations, as opposed to simply duplicating Drexel's sword stances with different variations. Now, I am NOT a spear-fighting expert by any means, these are just ideas based on books and fiction I've seen and may well need revision to better reflect spear fighting. But I think special maneuvers based on combat conditions versus stances would be a better way to go.

Last, (and this is purely optional), do you see Visvaldas as a sanctioned Dueling school? I almost think it's much more appropriate as a battlefield style than a Dueling style, but YMMV. That's more a flavor/history question.

P.S. It would be nice to see some addtional flavor text, history, trivia about famous fighters or Visvaldas the Wanderer and how he founded the style in addition to mechanics. 

Donovan Morningfire
Donovan Morningfire's picture

Frankly, I think the best solution would be to just use Drexel and narratively call it something else, since there's no restrictions on learning a style from a nation different that your own.  Mechanically, Drexel just requires you to use a heavy weapon in two hands; in terms of fluff they're referring to a zweihander, but really it could just as easily be a spear.

Otherwise, it reads as "Drexel but so much better!" or "Drexel without those niggling little drawbacks that keep it from absolutely ruling the roost!"

Dono's Gaming & Etc Blog

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Hmm.  I think two of the stances are somewhat difficult to use due to losing two maneuvers, but perhaps you two are right.  I have noted in my own analysis that Two-Horned stance is pretty effective in a large number of situations due to the static defense bonus.  I am less convinced that Window is better than Bittner, and relatively certain that Boar's Tooth is worse than Gerbeck, but mechanics aside, it is indeed too close to Drexel.

Your thoughts on spear options are interesting, @NeoTanuki , although Visvaldas' weapon of choice is the estoc, a two-handed thrusting sword with a thick narrow blade that isn't sharpened.  In-character, he knows the Drexel style.  In real life, I know a little bit about Italian Longsword.  The stance names I used for the example Visvaldas Style were all taken from Italian Longsword, and they are all fairly good choices to perform thrusting attacks from.  As a character, Visvaldas wants to bring honor to Curonia, the poor eastern half of Sarmatia where he is from.  He is a world traveler (hence having learned Drexel in Eisen), and he realized that something he could do for his homeland would be to develop a new dueling style, found a college in Curonia and maybe even create an order of knights based around it.  He is not ready to create a duelist style yet: he needs to get to Weaponry 5 first, and part of his journey is to spend a bit of time studying under other masters of other duelist styles.  While he may not learn multiple styles, he wants to gain inspiration from them to help create something unique, something he can call Curonian and Sarmatian.

Anyway, I thought it would be neat to bring my real-life experience with Italian Longsword in, and I like the idea of his knowledge of Drexel helping to form a foundation for the new school he creates.  The trouble is that it isn't different enough yet (also, it may be too powerful in some instances).  It's not easy to make something wildly different either, as I learned firsthand trying to make this style; for instance, your suggestion for Reach is flavorful and neat... and reminds me a lot of Bittner stance from Drexel.

Your idea about the mounted charge is neat, but that is less Curonian and more how they do things with the Winged Hussars out west in Rzeczpospolita.  Curonia is pretty swampy and cavalry are not as known there.  Even though Visvaldas uses an estoc, the maneuvers should still be effective with a spear in hand so his native Curonians should be able to learn the style easily enough.  So for flavor reasons, Visvaldas is not looking for a cavalry maneuver.  He wants something distinct from the Rzeczpospolitan hussars and their high-flown chivalry.

That brings me to your Set Defense idea, which is kinda what I was trying to do with Boar's Tooth stance (punish those who get too close).  Your idea here is pretty neat, and better than what I came up with I think.  I could work with this idea and reinvent Boar's Tooth with it, I think.  The real-life purpose of Boar's Tooth Guard is a defensive stance that can quickly push the point upwards with a quick powerful thrust (like a boar), useful against foes who are charging in and getting too close.  It's not quite the same as being set against a charge, but I like the mechanics you've used here so I might borrow it.

Window guard is very defensive and awkward to attack from, at least in my experience.  It's also a position you can thrust from.  I'm not quite sure yet how to differentiate it from Bittner stance of Drexel.

Two-Horned guard is somewhat lost to history, and we are left with different arguments about how the grip is done, where the arms are positioned, etc.  Because it's a conundrum in real life, I wanted there to be something puzzling about it as a stance.  I like the weird feel of it, but it is probably too powerful right now.  To emphasize its trickiness, I wanted Feint and Riposte to be central elements of the stance.  I have an idea for a new Two-Horned Stance, see what you all think?

  • Two-Horned Stance: Whenever you perform a Feint, you also prevent 1 Wound from the most recent attack against you.  If you perform a Riposte on the Raise immediately following a Feint, you prevent and deal additional Wounds equal to your Panache.  You cannot perform the Slash maneuver.

This would be a lot less powerful, taking away the constant -1 Wound from all attacks and replacing it with a mini-Parry when you Feint.  Two-Horned stance would still be good at countering the damage from Bash and Feint, but it would take more effort and timing on the player's part.


So, I have a new idea to start working on Boar's Tooth with, and a proposed fix for Two-Horned stance.  With my wishes in mind, do you all think we can find something interesting for Window stance to do as a defensive piece, or should I start working on a different effect entirely?  Should I, in fact, consider giving the "Set Defense" effect to Window, and come up with something else for Boar's Tooth?

Thank you for the feedback.  Even if I never got another reply, I feel like this has been helpful for brainstorming.  I've still got a long while to develop my combat style before it ever gets used in the game.

Lord Rumfish
Lord Rumfish's picture

Alright, I've been giving it a bit of thought, and I want to jot down new brainstorming ideas for Visvaldas Style.  This has not been an easy endeavor, because 7th Sea is such an elegant and simple system that it doesn't have that many "knobs" to turn compared to a crunchier system.  Despite that, I am enjoying the challenge and the refinement process.  So, here is a new rough draft:


Visvaldas Style

When you wield a thrusting weapon in two hands, you can choose a Stance:

  • Boar's Tooth Stance: You take up a fighting stance that punishes those who get too close.  Your Riposte and Lunge maneuvers deal one additional Wound.  When you use Riposte, the target cannot use the Parry or Riposte maneuver on their next Raise, or any maneuver that duplicates or replaces Parry or Riposte.  You cannot perform the Bash maneuver.

  • Two-Horned Stance: Whenever you perform a Feint, you also prevent 1 Wound from the most recent attack against you if it occurred since your previous Raise.  If you perform a Riposte on the Raise immediately following a Feint, you prevent and deal additional Wounds equal to your Panache.  You cannot perform the Slash maneuver.  

  • Window Stance: You bring up your weapon to a tricky high forward horizontal stance, ready to counter any blow.  You may declare at the beginning of the Round that you are in Window Stance. Spend all of your Raises. You gain a Set Defense bonus equal to 1 + 1/2 the Raises you spent (for instance, if you spent 5 Raises, you would gain a Set Defense of 1+3, totaling 4).  Anything attacking you in melee reduces the Wounds they deal to you this round by your Set Defense, and suffers 1 Wound each time they attack you (any action that attempts to deal Wounds directly).  If you switch to Window Stance later in a round, spend all your remaining Raises when you switch to determine your Set Defense value.

You select your Stance at the beginning of each Round. If you wish to change your Stance during a Round, you must spend 1 Raise to do so.


Okay, so let's take a look under the hood here.  Boar's Tooth is now further afield from Gerbeck in what it does.  The bonus to Wounds dealt is minimal, only applying to two maneuvers that can only be used once-per-round each.  Instead of having a Big Stupid Attack that only works on monsters and brawlers, instead we now have a Riposte that works more broadly and makes the opponent think a bit harder (they are more incentivized to Bash you, since it can't be Parried or Riposted).  This feels a lot more like what happens when you haphazardly attack into Boar's Tooth Guard in real life, it's going to skewer you.  It's worth noting that Torres Style's Matador Flourish and Valroux Style's Valroux Cross maneuvers can still respond to the Riposte here, and I'm in favor of that.  Normally an extra weird kinda-Parry isn't great as a style bonus, so I'm glad it can have unique application here.  After the changes, I gave Feint back to Boar's Tooth, making it a lot less awkward to have a combat round with.

Two-Horned Stance lost the constant damage prevention in favor of turning Feint into a mini-Parry, and while this is definitely less powerful I actually like it better.  Two-Horned Stance is now even more invested in interacting with the opponent, and it's a lot weaker if you are slower on initiative.  You still have the difficult riddle of pulling off your Riposte combo, and I think that feels about right.  You still can't Slash from here, which is pretty true of the real-life stance as far as I can tell.

Window Stance has borrowed from NeoTanuki's Set Defense idea, but I reduced the value of the Set Defense slightly and opened it up to work against any melee attacker.  It comes with big drawbacks (you've spent all your Raises, you can't really move around, and you have no guarantees of who will try to attack you this round), but there are some situations where this stance will shine.  I thought about offering a variant version of Window Stance here where you have the option to spend some Raises instead of all of them, with a minimum of 3 Raises spent.  This would let you switch out of Window Stance or use a few maneuvers if you rolled a lot of Raises, as otherwise you are just stuck in Window Stance if you choose to use it, and that makes the stance-switching rule useless.  Adding that extra text made the block of rules for the stance look pretty clunky though, so I opted for the cleaner version.  Do you think it's worth mussing up the rules to add this flexibility and make it more like the other stances?  Do you think it would potentially make Window Stance too good?

Anyway, let me know what you think of this draft.  I think these are a lot more balanced, given the power-level concerns people had, and now Boar's Tooth isn't nearly so awkward to use as it used to be.  Two-Horned stance is still my favorite, but I can see definite uses for the other two stances as well.  Window stance is a bit odd now, but kinda spiffy as a narrow-application stance.

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