Adarian Background

(Or what every Adarian Player Character Should Know....

The Setting

This campaign takes place in a alternate history at a time similar to earth's 1600s. It is the time of swashbuckling musketeers, where old fashioned knightly virtues clash with with the new "mordern" morals of the reniassance. The balance of political power is shifting from the noble rulers and the church to the urban guilds and newly rich merchant princes. There is intrigue, skulldugery and back-room deals as well as the menace from the forces of chaos and the evil in men's souls.

The biggest difference between our modern mundane world and the campaign world is, that while black powder weapons are known, they have not had nearly as much impacted on the campaign's history as on the real world (mainly due to magic and especially magical armour enchantments), thus in the Adarian Campaign, blackpowder weapons were unable to drive the armoured knights to extinction as in our own mundane world. Additionally, the advancements in mechanical engineering (mainly of dwarven invention) have instead produced some very capable crossbows and highly accurate ballistae and catapults even usable from the decks of ships on high seas. So armies maeching off to war will have companeys of knights in full magical platemail armor, and Heavy Infantry (often dismounted knights) holding the main battle line, there are also lightly armored pikemen and musketeers as well as "sword and buckler" men and artillery support might be cannon or ballistae or catapults or a circle of mages....or some combination.

In warfare, there are three main methods of equiping and fighting, each has certain advantages if used properly on the battlefield. The "Dwarven School of Warefare" trades mobility for heavy armored protection and heavy hitting ability (i.e., heavy weapons) while the "Elven School of Warfare" values mobility and speed above protection. The so called "Human Schoolof Warfare" tries to combine both the dwarven and elven theorties of warfare to strike a balance between mobility and protection, speed and hitting power, as with most compromised theorties, many consider it to be a bastardazation and while often effective, many especially the dwarves, the elves and those who use the older forms consider it an upstart way to wage war and somewhat less than a pure form and thus less than honorable and not quite as respectable a way to fight a proper battle.

While the Adarian Campaign is in many ways a traditional fanasty role-playing campaign, with human and non-human realms with their own settlings and cultures, many of which are typical, while some are decidedly untypical of what one might expected. In addition to the "dungeon crawl," and many of the "classical" fanasty adventures that can be expected in this world (including some "Swashbuckling" and pirate style adventures), player characters will discover andventure involving a lot of political intrugue, epic grand quests, voyage adventures that might span the known world and beyond. There are powerful friends to be made, dangerous enemies to be foiled and the chance to rise to a position of power and authority and to leave your mark upon the campaign world. The Reputations player character(s) earn will come to aid or hinder them as word of his (or her) heroic deeds (or "criminal activities") are told and retold, and while everyone knows bards often "reinvent" their stories and ballads to make the story "better," most people will consider that there is at least a grain of truth to the stories and songs about a particular character (after all, where there is smoke, there is fire...). But as the player character's wealth, power and status grow, so do their list of foes. Some will see your rise as a threat to their position and work to embaress your character or your stance on a position, while others will attempt to befriend you as a suitable ally. Some of the most dangerous and toughest encounters may occur at court in the Grand Ballroom under the watchful eye of the ruler...the only weapons, wit and a golden tongue...a loss in such an "encounter," could lead to imprisonment, exile, or worse...possibly being given the "honor" of leading an impossible task that not even the ruler believes in, but on the assumption that is your character should be sucessful, it would reflect favoribly upon himself, while your failure would show that he at least attempted to do something and, of course the failure will be remembered as your character's and perhaps less his...It should be noted that perhaps unlike most fanasty worlds, there are extremely sinister plots and dark cults as well as secret knowledge which man was not meant to be known that adventurers may encounter and which they must deal with. Some of which can change the very course of the world's future...or destroy it utterly...or letting loose forces which could lead to a future worse than death itself...the Higher Powers (including the Gods) believe that a great conflict is approaching, and perhaps as it gets closer they may be better able to see the outcome, but perhaps not, since every creatre has free will, a look into the future cannot be said to be firmly set or Fated, too many varibles can effect what will happen, but such a look into the future will show the most likely outcome and it will often come to pass that things to happen as predicted...most of the higher powers attempt to influnce these events, but how suce3ssful they are is one of the great mysteries of life...

Player Characters should be created with 150 points plus up to -45 points in disadvantages and -5 points Quirks to reflect their role as potential heroes (i.e., or at least some of the campaign's "movers" and "shakers"). The Adarian Empire being fairly tolerant of foreign and non-human races will pretty much allow any intelligent being or creature freedom of movement as long as they behave themselves, their race is not at war with the empire, no imperial laws are broken and the individual is not being overly aggressive and mistreating imperial property or those people under the protection of imperial law.

"Nay, I don't like em any more than you do, but after all, we have ta learn to git along with and rule such peoples, especially as we resume our rightful place as the dominate world power. Of course, while personally I'd not invite such foreign creatures ta dinner, there are times when even the foulest of foreign creatures have their uses. For instance, heard the other day that the XIII Imperial Adarian Foreign Legion, which as you may know is mostly orcs, put down a major rebellion out west for us. If orcs want to fight, kill and plunder might as well let em fight, kill and plunder for us instead of against us, see what I am saying? Once ya teach em Orcs how ta behave in civilized lands, and keep a firm hold on em, they make useful troops, not nearly as good as us regulars course. Just gotta know how to use em for the betterment of the Adarian Empire. Besides if we didn't have them orcs in tha Foreign Legion they would've pulled us off this here soft border duty to fight them rebs..."
~ Overheard conversation at a Imperial Border Crossing Station manned by an Adarian Legionaire to one of his fellows as a mixed group of "foreign" merchants and their guards (both human and nonhuman) passed into the emipre.

The Fencing Clubs

This are the places where the different Fencing styles are taught. Each club is devoted to just one school and members of other clubs are only respected if they use the same fencing school. It is common to have small battles between two or more clubs most often in greater cities but most such encounters are not deadly. Members of a club (also called society, clan, brotherhood, chapter or school) have to defend the honor of the club, their style, their teachers and comrades. Also they are expected to never disgrace themselves or be impolite to the teachers. The rules are strict but so is the bond of friendship originating from these clubs. The cost depends on the reputation of the club and its members and can range from $25 to $500 per month, entry fees are 2 to 12 months payment in advance. Some very exclusive societies require an invitation by a full member or at least a letter of recommendation.

The Law

In the Adarian Empire, the Gentle-born and nobles have the right to trial by combat. Here the law system is build around duels and any such case may be solved with a duel (fencing duels have become the fashionable duel of choice by "civilized" urban folk, although rural nobles still commonly prefer the "joust"). In such cases, the Judge is nothing more then a referee of the duel while the jury is only there to witness the fairness and outcome of the fight. Depending on the case the involved parties have to fight personally or can name a Champion to fight for them (titled, landholding nobles, clerics, women, the elderly and crippled individuals can always call for a champion and many wealthy and powerful individuals will have a professional champion, in many nnable households, the champion holds the title "First Knight"). As a side note, if an individual calls for a champion, and none will step forward to assume the role of champion in three days, that individual is assumed gulity and is puinished accordingingly.

Trials by Combat to the Death are only needed in severe criminal cases or to defend your personal honor against a well known and bitter enemy, however any death occurring during any "Trial by Combat" is legal and no prosecution or vendetta is allowed. While slaying a defeated foe in such a situation is considered dishonorable, bad form and looked upon with distaste by ones peers, the slayer will face at worse social snubs and may be looked down upon, carefully of course, since an outright insult would likely lead to a challenge to "Trial by Combat..."

This system, while considered far from being fair by many (the Gods are supposed to insure a fair and honorable outcome), is at least very entertaining for the crowd and a great opportunity for gaining reputations, friends...and enemies.

One of the Adarian customs regarding noble title holders is that before an heir can assume his title, there is a public announcement that any Adarian who believes the heir is unworthy may challenge the heir to a duel for the title. The theory is that only those worthy of holding a noble title will be able to hold the title and those unworthy would not survive the challenge duel which is a form of Trial by Combat. Higher ranking noblemen do not challenage for lower titles (i.e., a Count would not personally challage a baron for example, but he may invite one of his knights to challenage the baron's heir...). The challenager risks whatever title(s) he may have and the duel is to the death. It is considered very bad form (but it is not disallowed), for an individual being challenaged to have a champion. Even if such an heir's champion were to win, the new title-holder would not be as respected, would likely gain a reputation as being weak or cowardly and would likely be a social outcast. No champion can take the place of the challenger in such a case, so unless the challrnger is prepared to risk his life and fortune, he should remain silent. While in theory, anyone can challenge an heir, only Adarians of the gentleborn or noble classes would be allowed to retain the title, as they would be challenged in turn since such an upstart commoner would find a great many poor, improvished gentlemen or landless knights with nothing but their armor willing to risk themselves to protect their customs and the rightful place of the gentle-folk to lead and rule the commons...

In cases where an Adarian Emperor grants a noble title or noble holding, to challenge such an individual while considered a grey area (the individual is not really an heir) it would be an extremely public insult to the Emperor (as you are in effect saying his judgement is faulty in naming an unworthy individual to the position), so before the challenger would fight the "heir" he would have to fight the Imperial Champion before fighting the "heir" and even if he won the title, he would very likely have the emperor as a personal enemy and could cound on many challenges from those wishing to find favor with the emperor. As might be imagined, very few have ever dared to challenage the emeror's right to enoble or grant a title or noble holding on whom he wishes, but it could and has happened....

It is possible for PCs to play as members of a law-firm with a mixed party of champion-fencers, some scholars to negotiate salaries and out-of-court settlements, a healer, a weaponsmith and some other useful craftsmen or servants could prove an interesting background setting. Older Champions may retire either to become judges or enter a fencing schools as instructors.

The Fencing Schools

In this campaign a lot of action could be solved by fencing. In general we will have three levels of fencing abilities. First the normal fencing learned at home from father, uncle or brothers or as a part of standard military training in the armies or during the education as a noble. This is just the plain regular fencing skill without any spectacular moves or special tricks. It is represented with the normal fencing skill, specialized for one of the three fencing weapons (smallsword, rapier, saber). This is the skill level most NPCs will have (around skill level 12-15).

The second level is reached by the pupils of one of the three fencing schools (the term "school" is here used similar to style in normal martial arts, of course there are many places to learn fencing not just three, but any teacher follows the style of one particular school). These are detailed below. At that level special maneuvers and combat skills are learned together even with some advantages (usually skill levels around 15-17).

The highest level in fencing is reached by the masters of the three schools. They gain abilities only describable as cinematic and their reputation is highly regarded (skill level 21 and above) and are commonly called Fencing Masters.


The oldest school, originating from the medieval sword and shield fighting. It uses the saber as a weapon to both cut and thrust and a small round shield (called buckler) or a heavy cloak at the other hand to block the enemy. The power of the hit is more important then the speed and the cut is favored over the thrust. This school is most popular in the army and in the northern (uncivilized) countries.

Primary Skills: Fencing (Saber) [PA], Buckler [PE], Cloak [PA]
Secondary Skills: Fast Draw (Saber) [PE], Jumping [PE], Savoir Faire (Fencers) [ME]
Maneuvers: Feint [H;W+0], Fleche [A;W-3], Lunge [A;W-2] Hit Location [H;W-3], Ground Fighting [H;W-4], Spin Cut [A;W-3], Shield Punch [A;W-4]
Advantages: Enhanced Block (+1), Combat Reflexes


This school is the most popular at the moment and it uses the rapier together with the main gauche (a parrying dagger with the hilt and basket in size and form like from a rapier). The thrust is most common because the swing unbalances the rapier and prohibits its fast parrying. The philosophy of this school is not to get hit first and then hit the enemy from a safe position.

Primary Skills: Fencing (Rapier) [PA], Main Gauche [PA], "Sai" [PA]
Secondary Skills: Fast Draw (Rapier) [PE], Fast Draw (Main Gauche) [PE], Jumping [PE], Savoir Faire (Fencers) [ME]
Maneuvers: Feint [H;W+0], Fleche [A;W-3], Lunge [A;W-2], Close Combat [A;W-2/-6], Corpse a Corpse [H;W+0], Hit Location [H;W-3], Aggressive Parry [H;P-4], Dual Weapon Attack [A;W-4], Weapon Breaker [H;W-4]
Advantages: Ambidexterity, Combat Reflexes, Enhanced Parry (+1; both weapons)


The youngest school uses the smallsword and has with it created a new battle stance. Now the fencer rotates his body away from the enemy presenting only the small side and not the bigger front as a target. With this style the other hand becomes useless and is kept away from the battle. Quickness is everything and multiple fast attacks and defenses are typical for this style. It is difficult to learn but is starting to become popular with the young nobility as it looks quite impressive for the spectating young ladies (the free hand then most of the time holds a rose or a "favor" (a scarf of the lady). At the moment it is used for duels only.

Primary Skills: Fencing (smallsword) [PA], Fast Draw (smallsword) [PE]
Secondary Skills: Acrobatics [PH], Jumping [PE], Savoir Faire (Fencers) [ME]
Maneuvers: Feint [H;W+0], Fleche [A;W-3], Flour Lunge [H;W-4], Lunge [A;W-2], Hit Location [H;W-3], Riposte [H;W-4], Stop Hit [H;W-4], Initial Carving [A;W-4]
Advantages: Combat Reflexes, Enhanced Dodge (+1)

All schools have also use for the skills of Intimidating [MA], Armoury (Fencing Weapons) [MA], Tournament Law (Fencing, Duels) [ME], Brawling [PE], Carousing [MA], Tactics (Duels) [MH] and sometimes Teaching [MA] or Leadership [MA]. Useful Advantages are High Pain Threshold, Fit and Very Fit, Danger Sense, Rapid Healing, Toughness 1/2, Alertness, Reputation, (Allies, Patron or Contacts in the club). Common Disadvantages are Gentleman or Fencers Code of Honor, Bully, Bad Temper, Lecherousness, Overconfidence, Reputation, Impulsiveness, Stubbornness (Enemies or Dependants in the club). Bloodlust, Sadism and Berserk will get you killed very soon, Coward or Laziness will get you thrown out of the club.

The individual teacher of a PC Fencer may of course have given some variations especially in creating fanciful named maneuver-combinations. But for game purpose the different schools should kept different for the flavor of the campaign and the GM has to prohibit "power-players" to abuse the rules. (So yes, a Foil-Fencer can learn to use a Main Gauche, but if he uses it together with the Foil, he looses his enhanced dodge and cannot perform certain maneuvers and surely none of the especially learned combinations). The PCs should be encouraged to be creative within the system not in breaking it. However it could be an interesting campaign of its own to play the quest of a Fencer to learn all 3 schools (as he would be training with former enemies and fight against former friends...).

The Weapon Masters [40 Pts each]

These fencers have mastered their weapon in every aspect and are now capable of doing unthinkable feats. This Advantage (not normally available for PCs at the creation) includes many helpful abilities and the possibility to learn more skills and maneuvers. However all these do not appear over night, instead hundreds of hours of rigorous training is necessary to learn them. So a PC may gain then during his career piece by piece and at the time he has mastered everything he may call himself a "Fencing Grand Master".
Master Skills: Body Language [MH], Blind Fighting [MVH], Drunken Fighting [PH], Parry Missile Weapon [PH]
Master Maneuvers: Fighting while seated [H;W-2]
Master Advantages: For all: +1 DMG per 5 full skill level, Perfect Balance. Saber-Master: Initiative +1 per 8 full skill level, swing DMG +2, able to block at 2/3 skill instead of 1/2. Rapier-Master: All active weapon-defenses +1 to parry at weapon skill level 16 and above, swing never unready, +2 on roles to disarm or break weapon of enemy.Foil-Master: +1 additional attack and parry each round at skill level 16 and above, Hyper Reflexes (only during combat).

 And then are there these rare individuals who can call themselves really fencing masters. They have mastered all three schools and can use all skills, maneuvers and advantages associated with the different aspects of fencing. (Fencing Master Advantage includes all 3 Weapon Masters and the schools as well as a very high Reputation) In a normal Campaign not more then two or three of them should live in the same century.

The Weapons

Fencing Weapons

Name Type Damage Reach Wt. NOP ST Cost comments
Saber imp thr+1 1 2 1 8 $400 straight blade
cut sw 1 2 1 8
Rapier imp thr+1 1,2 2 1 7 $500
cut sw-1 1,2 2 1/* 9 *: becomes unready after a swing
Smallsword imp thr 1,2 1 2 6 $375
Main Gauche imp thr-1 C 1 1 - $100 disarm/break weapons
cut sw-2 C,1 1 1 -
Weapon Basket cr thr C - - - - uses Brawling skill
Buckler cr thr C 2 1 - $125 gives PD 1

All the stats assume a standard (good) weapon quality with a normal 1 in 3 chance of breaking by contact with a heavier weapon (p. B74). Cheap weapons (breaking 2 in 3) are uncommon and are most of the time older neglected weapons. They cost only 40% of the normal price. A bit more common because of the high demand are fine fencing weapons. They break only at 1 in 6, add +1 to DMG and cost 4 times the normal price. However the most famous fencers rely only on very fine weapons, as they do not break and add +2 to DMG. These weapons are made of the finest steel available, build with more time and care and are often decorated by the finest artists and jewelers. They cost at least 20 times the standard price. True master weapons smiths give their weapons abilities even beyond that but more on that in the next chapter.

Other Melee Weapons

Here the standard GURPS weapon stats can be used for dagger, knife, club, scimitar (curved broad sword), pike (or similar polearms), 2-H-sword, cutlass (curved short sword), flail or morningstar (for rural adventures).

Ranged Weapons

Besides the regular throwing weapons (knife, dagger, axe) the bow is most commonly used as a hunting tool or used in sporting. The military uses almost exclusively the crossbow.

Type effective ST Malf Type Damage SS Acc 1/2D Max Wt. RoF ST to use Cost Loading Mechanism
Normal user Crit. imp thr+2 12 3 STx15 STx20 5 1/3 - $100 by hand
Military user x1.5 14 imp thr+4 14 5 STx20 Stx25 7 1 10 $150 repetition by lever
Heavy user x2 13 imp/cr thr+6 16 6 STx15 STx25 10 1/6 12 $250 by winder

The heavy crossbow can shoot both bolts and rocks (or even small bottles with Greek fire), in that use the range is reduced to 60%. Remember the crossbow stats refer to the bows ST not necessarily the users ST. The loading mechanism dictates how good the users ST can be used to cock the bow. If a user is not strong enough the loading time for the crossbow is tripled.

The Master Smiths

These man are true artist with the steel and hammer. The weapons they created make their names known for all eternity and small kingdoms have been sold to get one of these rare weapons. They specialized in one weapon only and their secrets died with them most of the times. Here are the most famous Mastersmiths and the special features they gave their weapons. Of course these men only build very fine fencing weapons and their names, signs or initials are engraved on the hilt or blade of their weapons.

Arione de Nasradi: His specialty was the art of crafting rapiers so graceful, that they do not become unready after a swing and still can parry in the same round after the cut. Depending on the decoration a rapier crafted by him costs $12,500-$15,000. But since his death the prices are increasing dramatically.

Mantuna Assandro di Ratano: He was able to create foils with a tip so sharp that it surpassed any armor very easy. His foils reduce PD and DR of its target by -2. Each of his 15 Foils made in his life will cost at least $12,500.

Garon Letaniar: He is known for his deadly sabers, which have a +3 to DMG (thr and sw, in addition to the bonus for weapon quality). He sells them for $20,000 a piece.

Jerone D'Alsia: He creates matched pairs of rapier and main gauche customized to give both weapons a +1 to any parry attempt, while the main gauche also gets a +2 bonus on any disarm and weapon-break maneuvers. A matched pair of these weapons costs $25,000.

Jan Vanderson: He is the only mastersmith still living who has specialized in making bucklers. Most of the time he is more jeweler than smith and he creates marvelous artwork with gold and gemstones. However he also knows how to build very efficient combat bucklers and his creations give PD 2 and a +1 to shield punch DMG. They also are nearly unbreakable. But even without any valuable materials used he charges $5,000 per combat-buckler.

Hasio Tanderhem: This eccentric old man is the only mastersmith working on all kinds of fencing weapon. He makes custom weapons so precisely matched on their owner that they give them a +2 to their fencing skill. His price is similar breathtaking, between $30,000 and $40,000 and free room and meals during his worktime (and both better also be from very high quality or one morning he will leave without finishing the work).

Hadib Kasar Al Zhahim: Originating from the south and traveled to far lands in the East (on a far away island he learned a totally new kind of bladesmithing) he is without doubt the best weaponsmith on earth. His Rapiers not only are never unready they also give a +1 bonus to skill and a +2 to DMG (thr and sw). Because of his long travels he only builds one rapier each year and then sells it for the highest price (usually around $37,500 and more).

Casinus Donibertus: A monk who himself is not a mastersmith but has taken the work to create a library about all the great mastersmiths and their weapons. He knows the history about nearly all weapons build by the above people from creation up to their present owner. There is a rumor that he also has a secret book which includes all the experience, knowledge and tricks used by those craftsmen, and any weaponsmith reading it would be able to create a weapon with all their benefits together.

Raphael Comte de Bastogne: Also not a weaponsmith, he is nevertheless well known to everyone with an interest in masterblades. He holds the greatest collection on fencing weapons in the world and is the only known person to have at least one weapon from each of the above named mastersmiths. He also is a generous sponsor for young weaponsmiths and in his workshops some high quality and expensive decorated blades are made. He is a close friend of many masterfencers and their clubs even if he himself only is of mediocre talent. He could serve as a patron or contact for any PCs involved in the world of fencing.

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