Swordsmanship

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Language: English

Swordsmanship refers to the skills of a swordsman, a person versed in the art of the sword. Swords widely considered "the kings and queens of weapons" in both the Occident and the Orient, and treated as both weapons and status symbols accordingly. Nevertheless, sword designs differ from kingdom to kingdom, and even for the exact same type of sword, there may be several competing schools of swordsmanship that teach different approaches on how to fight with a sword.

The Occident

Etrand

The sword of Morthen Orden'Ath Ildor is a perfect exaple of an "old style sword".
The sword of Stephanus Tavilrond is a perfect example of a "new style sword".
Two sword designs that originate in Etrand.
The terms "old style" and "new style" are slightly misleading, as "new-style swords" did not displace "old-style swords" when they came into existence, but instead continued to, and still continue to coexist with them. Both of them are compatible with the same styles of swordsmanship and the differences between the two are considered irrelevant by Etrandish schools of swordsmanship

Swords have been important parts of Etrandish culture ever since the days of Fathred's Confederation, which is when the straight and largerly curveless (save for the blade's pointy end) "old-style swords" came into existence, still in use. Although the swords got longer and the means to craft them got refined over the last two millennia, the overall design remained almost the same with little changes. Why try to fix what isn't broken?

During the rule of the Corlagonid dynasty (0-71 AEKE), Etrand came under heavy High Elven influence, during which Etrand's elite drooled over anything that came out of Froturn - which also included High Elven swords. However, High Elven swords required a vastly different style of fighting that the Etrandish could never adapt to: during the Hengistid dynasty (71-145), "new-style swords" were born as a compromise between traditional Etrandish swords and the introduced High Elven swords, originally as a way of crafting swords that were fit for the Etrandish style of fighting while mimicking High Elven aesthetics. This new design became immediately popular among the aristocracy, but it did not displace the "old-style sword" - the two designs continue to coexist even to this day, in fact, the latter has seen several revivals throughout Etrandish history (for example, under the revival of the Fathred-cult under the rule of King Calhoun I of Etrand).

Differences between the two swords are considered irrelevant attribute-wise, and both main schools of swordsmanship in Etrand deem both swords compatible with their respective styles.

The two opposing schools of swordsmanship in Etrand can be divided roughly geographically: the Southern Etrandish School of Swordsmanship is nimble, agile, and elegant, while the Northern Etrandish School of Swordsmanship is designed for strength, brawn, and savagery.

Southern Etrandish School of Swordsmanship

The Southern Etrandish School of Swordsmanship is a speed and defence-centred style that puts emphasis on mobility, footwork and keeping distance from the enemy unless an opening is found that can be exploited. It contains moves that are considered unorthodox by pretty much every swordsmanship who practices a different school of swordsmanship: for example, while kicks are generally discouraged for swordsmen in other schools of swordsmanship, reasoning that it leads to the kicker losing balance (especially during a sword-lock), in the Southern Etrandish School of Swordsmanship, kicking one's opponent is not only considered a perfectly legitimate move, but is also encouraged in order to dissolve a blade-lock - in fact, swordsmen who practice this style go through extensive leg-training so they can retain their balance even when kicking, and their foot can become strong enough to kick a hostile swordsman back and possibly knock them out of balance.

It is important to note that this style of swordsmanship is optimized to combat against larger, physically stronger, and mostly unarmoured or poorly-armoured foes, such as orcish raiders and ogres, from which distance needs to be kept until they can be stabbed or sliced at a vital spot. This school of swordsmanship was also influenced by tribal Lizardman "sword dance", borrowing many moves and stances from it, as well as Wood Elven ways of fighting.

Swordsmen practising this school of swordsmanship are taught to be patient and exploit enemy openings, and wait for the enemy to create an opening instead of trying to force the opponent to open themselves.

Northern Etrandish School of Swordsmanship

The Northern Etrandish School of Swordsmanship is a strength and offence-centered style. While describing it as a "brute force style" would be unfair, it is the polar opposite of its southern counterpart. Since both the swordsman and the opponent and implied to be heavily armoured, have a shield and of comparable size and physical strength, the northern school of swordsmanship puts little emphasis on defence, instead urging the swordsman to be as aggressive as possible, albeit be careful not to create openings for too long.

In sharp contrast with its southern cousin - which stresses keeping distance from the opponent - the northern style urges to minimize distance with the foe, and incorporates elements of psychological warfare into swordsmanship: to keep the pressure on the enemy, to make them feel like they don't even have one millisecond to rest or wait, to gain dominance and corner the enemy. Since the northern philosophy commands one to utilize their weapon to its fullest, using the sword's crossguard and pommel as a hammer play a special role in this school of swordsmanship, alongside shield bashes and gauntlet punches.

It is important to note that this style of swordsmanship is optimized to combat against similar-sized, heavily armoured opponents of comparable physical strength. This school of swordsmanship is heavily influenced by Dwarven styles of fighting, which urge maximal aggressiveness in personal combat, with the implication that the enemy will either break under the pressure at one point and yield, or that the continued battering will eventually kill the enemy.

Froturn

Dragoc

Neressa

The Orient