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When we look through the rule books, we see that axes are just plain better than swords.
Why, then, would anyone one use a sword in real combat?
Because, while swords are less capable of simply killing people, they are the best weapon by far for skillful stratagems and swashbuckling maneuvers.
But first, a definition: Swashbuckling Maneuver: A Swashbuckling Maneuver focuses on finesse over brute force. Add an Artha die to the maneuver if using a Sword (or variant thereof), as this is what Swords were made for, for light weapons (Daggers, Fists etc.), do not modify the difficulty, and for heavy weapons (Axes, Maces, etc.) take a +2 OB penalty. When a Swashbuckling Maneuver is also a Blackpowder Maneuver, add +1D for Pistols, do not modify the difficulty for bombs, and add +1 OB for Arquebuses. The player is required to toss off a witty quip or bon motte while using such maneuvers, to avoid an additional +2 OB. Short and sweet, me buccos!
And now for the maneuvers themselves:
Feint and Disarm are Swashbuckling Maneuvers.
Strike through Steel Neutral (Swashbuckling) Maneuver Tests: Skill
Special Requirements: It is important that, before using this maneuver, your opponent is off balance, as the essence of this strategy is to strike while your foe's guard is down. You suffer a +2 OB penalty unless your opponent: a) has had his weapon knocked off balance (Beat and Bind) b) has been knocked off balance or is on the ground (Charge/Tackle, Push, or Throw) c) is in a Lock
Effects: When one Strikes through Steel, one takes advantage of an opportunity to deal a blow right through your foe's armor, greatly confusing them thereby. This maneuver functions as a Strike, except that successes over the obstacle may also be used to increase the weapon's VA by 1 per extra success.
Escape Defensive (Swashbuckling) Maneuver; Tests: Agility +2D Escape is a Agility-based Withdraw; it is a positioning test in all respects Countered by: Close, Withdraw and Maintain count as Natural Defenses against Disengage. Special Requirements: Escape is a special action much like Charge. It is a Withdraw maneuver that also costs an action to perform. All positioning bonuses apply. Effects: Using the Escape maneuver, the character to dodge, ducks, and weaves back and forth, dart ing from side to side, moving erratically, striking without warning ( and generally disconcert friends and enemies alike. When all your enemies are thinking about is how to avoid being maiming by your frenetic activity, it is easy to escape (hence the +2D bonus) but the strange manuvers make effective attacks difficult to perform. The character gets a +2 Ob penalty to all Neutral and Aggressive non-swashbuckling actions that volley and the next. This is to emphasize that Escape is a difficult action that you don't use for positioning in a fight, you use it to end a fight with a quick and effective exit.
Avoid does NOT counter Escape.
Blackpowder Maneuvers: Firearms are the worst ranged weapon around. If you want speed, go with a bow. If you want damage, go with a crossbow. A gun provides neither. But, historically, blackpowder weaponry was the favorite weapon of swashbucklers the world over. These rules show why.
Blackpowder Training People who have Blackpowder Training can use Blackpowder Maneuvers, do not take the +1 OB penalty for being in smoke or fog, do not have to make an OB 4 Forte test and suffer the margin of failure as an Obstacle Penalty for all actions from choking on the smoke, and does not have to make Blackpowder-related Steel tests under normal circumstances (i. e. those listed in BWR p.123-124)
Blackpowder Maneuver A Blackpowder Maneuver requires you to use a firearm or bomb as the weapon in the Maneuver. It also requires Blackpowder Training to use.
Blast it to Bits Aggressive (Blackpowder) Maneuver; Tests: Skill When you Blast something to Bits, chose an object. Test your skill against the bonus you want to add to your weapon's Mark for the purpose of attacking the object. If you succeed, add the OB to the Mark. If you fail, roll the Gunpowder Die.
Befoul the Air'; Tests: Skill Defensive (Blackpowder, Swashbuckling) Maneuver
With this maneuver, one increases the quantity on gunpowder used, so as to make the enemy stumble through vast clouds of smoke. Make a Strike, but set your own Obstacle. This Obstacle must be greater than 1. Subtract 1 from the Obstacle and add the result to the Forte test made for being within a cloud of blackpowder. If you fail, roll the Gunpowder Die.
Hordes of Foes: Swashbucklers commonly defeat large numbers of enemies. Here are some Stat Blocks for such Hosts.