Courtyard > Basics of Combat

Ah, you have arrived. Good. Many of my colleagues would have you believe that it is possible to avoid conflict altogether. Not so. Regardless of how good a sneak you are or how well you can fire your bow -- you will eventually find yourself face-to-face with an armed opponent. It is then that you must rely on the skills you will learn here. Here I shall instruct you in the ways of combat. You must learn how to use that sword or dagger you pick up in the Armory.

Before you pick up a weapon, you must understand why you need it. We Keepers pride ourselves with remaining unseen, but the truth is that we are seen far more than we wish. There are many in the City who would threaten our lives. Their motives may vary - security, profit, entertainment - but the motive behind violence does not matter. What matters is that when a man or creature comes toward you with violence in their heart, you are able to defend yourself against their violence. This is why a Keeper carries a sword or dagger. This is why you must learn to fight.

To begin, you must understand your own vulnerabilities as compared to those of your opponent. Suppose you find yourself facing an armed guard. This guard wears chain mail armor, plate metal pauldrons, and a steel helmet. You wear a leather jerkin. There is no balance in this equation. The guard is obviously more suited to armed combat than you are, and you must fight accordingly. Your advantage must lie in speed and guile. Keep this in mind as we approach the subject of sword combat.

On the table before you lies a sword. Pick it up and feel its balance in your hand. Good. Now approach the practice dummy across the chamber. There are three forms of attack you can use with the sword - the right slash, the left slash, and the overhead slash. We will now discuss the difference.

The type of sword attack you perform is determined by how long you hold the swing before releasing it. The most basic attack is the right slash. This is a quick slash with the sword. A longer swing will result in the left slash, which is a slower attack but is also more powerful. Lastly, the overhead slash is your most powerful attack, but is also the slowest. A single overhead slash will kill any living opponent as long as they are not alerted, and some undead opponents as well. However, even against an alerted opponent who is facing you in combat, it should only take two or three overhead slashes to defeat them. Now, try the three slashes against the practice dummy.

Good. Now we will try against a live opponent. Walk into the dueling circle in the middle of a chamber. Your opponent will arrive within a moment. Here is my advice for the duel, along with any other you may find yourself in:

  • Once you see your opponent approaching and know that combat is inevitable, raise your sword into an overhead slash position if you have time. If you start the duel with an overhead slash, it will severely weaken your opponent and may grant you victory after only a few more slashes.
  • A live opponent will not stand here for you as this practice dummy did - they will move around and attempt to block your slashes. Remember - speed is key here. Do not let up your assault or you may find yourself in trouble.
  • It is possible to block your opponent's slashes, but it can be a difficult skill to master. Opinions vary on the use of blocking, and you will have to determine through experience whether or not it suits you. With time, you will develop your own dueling style.

Ah - here is your opponent. When you are ready to begin, approach the guard with your sword. Remember the advice you have been given, and you will do well. Begin whenever you like.

That is enough for today. Look at your arm - it is bleeding. Despite this, you have accomplished much. Your opponent is an experienced swordsman, and yet you held your own quite well against him. On the table over there you will find a healing potion and some food. Either can be used to help recover from your wounds, although I would recommend the healing potion first.

Healing potions are quite common in the City, and are used by many. These potions were developed by alchemists to address the lack of medical supplies in the City during the Siege of 1181. They essentially speed up the body's natural healing process, enabling minor wounds to heal almost instantly. More severe wounds, however, will take more than one potion to heal. Food can also be used to assist the healing process, but the odds of a successful recovery are less than when a potion is used. It is therefore recommended to keep a ready supply of potions available.

You may continue practicing on the dummy if you wish. I will leave you with a final note on dueling. Once you have become proficient enough with your sword to best the average guard, there is another factor to consider. Not all opponents will face you until defeat or victory. If you prove an opponent's match in combat, some may break off combat to search for help. If this is is allowed, a fight against one guard can quickly become a fight against three or four. When you are ready to discuss the use of daggers, please approach me and let me know.

Finished with the sword? Good. We will now discuss the dagger.

You will find that combat with a dagger is far different than that with a sword. While a sword allows you to face your opponent with some amount of equality, however small, a dagger offers no such leverage. The dagger is, quite simply, a defensive weapon only. However, used in correct context, even a dagger can be deadly to an unsuspecting opponent. And that is what we shall discuss - how to use your dagger to its fullest potential.

The dagger is most efficient when your opponent is caught by surprise. This allows you to choose the time and place of your attack rather than your opponent. A dagger is only about a third as long as the average sword, but the length is sufficient if the blade is placed within a vital area of the body - the head, chest, or back. Allow me to demonstrate. Step into the next room with me. There we will find a guard with his back turned to us. Watch as I approach him from behind with my dagger drawn.

There. Had this man been an actual target, I would have been able to disable him with a single downward swipe of my blade. Notice that as I approached the target I maintained a steady stance and made almost no sound. At all times during the approach you must remain cautious and ready to retreat upon detection. Unless combined with stealth, the dagger will do you little good. Some have attempted to combat an armed guard with only a dagger, sometimes even successfully, but it is not recommended. If your opponent is wielding a sword and you are wielding a dagger, it would be best to disable him or her using less... confrontational ...methods.

Of course, that now brings us to our final subject -- flash bombs.

When faced with an opponent possessed of superior armament or skill - and attack from a distance is not an option - it is possible to throw your opponent off-guard by dropping a flash bomb.

Flash bombs are an invention of the Hammerites. This small globe emits a bright flash of light upon impact, momentarily blinding all within range. When dropping one, of course, it is advisable that you close your eyes lest you find yourself blinded as well. Once blinded, your opponents will then be susceptible to all forms of attack - blackjack, sword, or dagger. The blackjack, however, is recommended as it will disable most blinded opponents with a single strike. Like most Hammerite devices, flash bombs are available for sale to others within the City and can therefore be found throughout it.

This tactic will usually work even while engaged in face-to-face combat. If you should find yourself in a combat situation wherein you are being overwhelmed, a hastily dropped flash bomb can quite possibly turn defeat into victory. Speed is advised, though, as the blinding effect of the bomb will only last a few seconds. Frown not upon such trickery, either - an adept Keeper within our ranks has been known to fell six or seven opponents at one time with but a single flash bomb and his blackjack. Such feats are possible, but only to the highly skilled or the highly lucky.

And now you have learned all that I will teach you of armed combat. Despite my earlier insistence that combat will eventually happen, of which I have no doubt, I agree with my fellow Keepers that the most adept are those who manage to avoid it. Killing may sometimes be necessary, but as Keepers we should be able to avoid it whenever possible. Our role in this world is to maintain and protect, not destroy. With the skills you have learned here, however, it is hoped that you will survive many years - and many encounters - to serve our order faithfully in its mandate.

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