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August 19, 2007, 6:26 pm

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Battle Sashes

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The tradition of Battle Sashes is only a century or two old. It started in Celedor by the River, but it has been adopted in every part of the WestLands. Now the complex code of knots and colors allows Elites to know "who is who" as well as their affiliations.

The tradition of Battle Sashes is only a century or two old, but it has been adopted in every part of the WestLands.

It started in the city of Celedor by the River. There several schools of Swordsmanship made their home. Each School of Swordsmanship was (and still is) a home of Elite finishing: teaching ettiquite, honor, and some scholarly elements (histories, rhetoric, and some others) in addition to "appropriate" styles of sword (and weapon) use. Each had their own "uniform" for training.  It is the honorable thing to show ones "colors" or school affiliation, to "warn off" those of lesser skill. The uniform tradition expanded into a network of social connections via the school. Thus many an Elite, noble or otherwise, would patron or recipicated to fellow school mates.

However wearing ones colors became cumbersome, as social decorum determined it was inappropriate to wear them at certain times. Wearing of uniforms outside the schools was periodically outlawed, as they became a magnet for challanges.

As the story goes, one of the school, The Dolman (of Celedor) school, incorporated a black sash with white edges into its training uniform. The Festival of Atarais, which celebrates his great victory over the Pylarthians, is one of the proper times to show ones school colors. (One also wears their regiment or banner colors.) The nervous Principate would not lift the ban on school uniforms, even for the holiday, because of the number of terrible incidents that had just recently happened. The Dolman students (novices, juniors, and seniors) began to wear the sash outside of the school as a "fashion piece". This allowed them to show their school affiliations without violating the ban on wearing uniforms. During the first day of the festival, the entire school turned out to parade through the streets wearing their sashes. The idea caught on. Students of the Swords began to appear at the festival wearing the traditional belts or a sashs that matched their uniform colors. The tradition began. All the Students of the Sword in the city began to wear a sash of the appropriate style and colors when "off the grounds" of the Salle. Soon a complex system of knots was developed to determine who was "ready to duel" or who was peace vowed, who was a novice, who was a senior, and who was "graduated" or Retired.  This all made the Principate happy, as it helped to restrict wanton dueling (and made sure that only senior dueled seniors, and that novices were kept out of harms way). The concept was quickly adopted other places to avoid "issues".

Additional traditions have occured as well:

> City Knots or specific school knots or charms have appeared upon the sashes. Dolman schools have a distinct double knot that almost everyone can recognize. 

> Mastery Beads: Certain schools have "notable" techniques. Those that have mastered those techniques, be they juniors, seniors, masters, or retirees, will wear beads or a small string of beads tied into the knot or sash. Each school has its charms for each technique.

> Link Tradition.  From Master to Student or Parent to Child, each forms a link in the chain from the founding of the school. Link traditions have people hand down their school sash, to their successor. People will go to great lengths to retrieve their family sashes or to avenge any staining of them.

>Duplicates:  There is no controlling body registering which school can have which colors, styles, or knots for sashes.  While most schools strive to be identifiable, there is some duplications which has causes some grevious incidents.

> Students of Conflict: Rather than being a tradition just for Swordsmen school, other lesser schools (i.e. non sword schools) have adopted the tradition. The venerable and famous Flècher school of Archery issues Battle Sashes. As long as the school primarily teaches battlecraft, issuing sashes is socially acceptable. The term "Student of Conflict" is becoming prefered of "Students of the Sword".

>Sashes of Variation: Some schools, to be different, wear their "colors" as headbands. This practice is common in the Northern part of the Southern continent. Armbands, neckware, and vests, have also been used. 

Schools and Honor Code
The teaching of "finer" combat has been a mark of the Elite in the WestLands since the fall of the Arcturian Empire. Associated with this is an honor code. The code resembles Western Chivalry in many way. The various schools of finer combat, beyond the basics taught to soldiers of the line, are part of every Elites (or those who aspire to be Elites) training.  It includes things of the Elite (honor, style, proper decorum, and so on), next tier education suitable for an Elite, and social connections.

Part of the code also allows for those Elites (call them Knights or Nobles or Chezcan or soliders) to "test themselves" against others.  The Sashes allow for people to know if a target is "worthy" (i.e. worth your time and effort) to fight, for proving your superiority over a novice from another school is pointless. Elites should only test themselves who are of a suitable (comparable) skills. The knot code helps determine who is suitable. (Of course if a lesser skilled person offends one’s blood honor, then any challange is appropriate).

These challanges are often to first strike or first blood or suitable degree of points. Given some schools rivalries, the death or first grevious wound is often the result. The challanged party determines if real or mock weapons are used and the level of victory.

If you are of a lesser mark (notably lower skill) than your opponent or not a warrior, you may appoint a substitute for any challange. Some people see this as cowardess, others acknowledge you as a wiseman who knows their limits.

Students of the same school are supposed to be part of the same cadre or military family. One is supposed to support this extended family, when one can.  Thus the schools become the basis for an extended connection of contacts. 

Developing Schools
Schools are normally named after geography or the school’s founder. Normally, each city or region will one school, thus it will be named after the city or region. The WesternMark school or the Doleman School or the Blue Cascade (a small mountain range region). If the founder’s name is used, it will be founder OF region. Delmen of Dolman for example (there are four schools in Dolman). This begins to get tricky when the school branches out from its original location into others.  Example: Delmen of Dolman in Celedor is the Delmen school in Celedor by the River or Blue Cascade School in Antioch.  Schools have yet to be named after their "technique" or "style" yet, but that will occur some day.

Each school will teach the basics of superior combat.  While dueling is an emphasis, the realize that Elites will be the forefront of any military. Schools will have certain tactics or techniques that they emphasize. There will always be one to three things the school is known for: fast attacks, cleaving, masters of feints, lightning draws, teaching how to fight in cramped spaces, masters of knifework, etc. When creating a school, choose a couple.

Schools will have histories as well.  Schools will often be in conflict, due to their owners or some events in the past. Determine if there is any relationship with other schools in their area.  Also schools might be associated with historical figures and events.  Append them into local history.

Remember, in China, schools sometimes opposed corrupt local rulers and marched against their forces OR the local rulers suspected they might and marched against them.

Game Mechanics
Why are there game mechanics for something so simple? To make it easier for some to impliment Battle Sashes into their games. They will impact characters in ways that might simulate game mechanics in your system.

> School: Each school provides certain advantages when performing manuvers. If your rules do not support "martial arts" or advanced combat manuvers, they should receive a simple plus when performing certain basics actions.  Example: Dolmen school known for defense, grants a +1 to defense, but a +2 if they have initiative and attack after they defended last round.  Being part of a given school gives one a "discount" or minor advantage if they take certain skills or manuvers or feats/boons. The school might also be required to easily learn certain manuvers or feats/boons.

You may also get certain skills for free given your school membership (or get them at a discount).

Certain systems will see School Membership as a gift/ feat/ edge that must be purchased. However, the GM can set this as a default, so those who create non schooled characters will have that as a flaw.

> Honor Gifts/ Flaws: The Sashes are outward symbols of the students dedication to a honor system. When one wears their sash, it can provide access to honor modifiers. If one has an honor gifts: When acting properly along the honor code lines, you get a bonus… and only receive penalties when greviously failing; when one has an honor flaw/ disad, they character is penalized if they don’t act honorably, and only receive a bonus when going above and beyond the code. 

> Reputation: Sashes add to your reputation.

> Heraldry: Heraldry skills will allow you to appropriately identify people. School membership alone will give you some of the basics for any school from "your area".

> Ancestors: One could take certain "ancestors" associated with the school or the family.  These ancestors could grant bonuses or advice in appropriate circumstances. This is prevolent with the links tradition.

> Contacts: A social/ Charisma skill, combined with a "school skill" allows one to a) recieve reaction bonuses when dealing with members of the same school and b) to find members of the same school (who are in the area) who might be able to help you.  (So if you need someone who speaks an ancient language, your school contacts might know a retired member who speaks it in the next town over. He might even do it for free…) 

> Contact rivalries: Keep in mind that school rivalries might provide negative reactions for members.  So you find yourself brought before the magistrate, and he is wearing your rival school sash.  While he will be fair, he will lean towards a harsher penalty than he would had you been with another school (and you would of gotten off with a warning had you been with his school).

> "Interesting Battle Sashes" The character may need to have a special background gift/ feat to achieve this item.

Battle Magics
If you have a skill based magic system, the schools may allow players access to "battle magics", a small selection of skills that will be useful for combat users.  Some of these might be jump, skill charms for to hits, "biting blades" (extra damage mods), serpent slip (dodge advantages), shell of honor (armor pluses), and so on. Gurps or Hero or Basic Roleplaying/ RQ will work well for this.

Note: Honor code- The honor code I am using is close to that of European Chivalry. Any code that allows for personal dueling can be used. You can create a Bushido-esk code, a piratesk code, or anything that fits for you.



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Comments ( 13 )
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Voted Scrasamax
May 28, 2006, 11:43
0xp
I particularly liked the usage of identifying knots, and beads in the indication of skill within the school. I could see a variation coming in the pattern of the sash, a nove student could have a predominantly white sash with the other color forming a fring, while the master of the school's style could have a sash of the dominant colot with a white trim or something like that. I can see small magic charms also being woven into these sashes, especially if they are common among the wealthy, though it might become a sign of weakness having a sash of protection +2
Voted Cheka Man
May 28, 2006, 14:05
0xp
Another great idea from Moonhunter. 5/5

Plot Hook-the members of one school are taking a violent dislike to the *colours* of other schools, stealing them, and the PC's have to do something about it.
Voted Pariah
May 28, 2006, 21:37
0xp
I really like this, it's indepth and it got me thinking about possible submissions. 4.5
MoonHunter
May 31, 2006, 16:23
0xp
Submit, submit. You must submit. Stop thinking about it and just submit your ideas.
MoonHunter
May 31, 2006, 16:25
0xp
This is the anchor post for the other two in the set. Interesting Battle Sashes are the "magical" sashes. The tangentially related City Image for Celedor by the River is the origin point for the sash tradition. See links in the upper right corners.
Voted dark_dragon
April 3, 2007, 2:59
0xp
I really like this idea, the flavour and texture it adds to the schools really brings the world to life. You can definitely imagine two rival schools in a town in a classic Romeo&Juliet saga, or many other possibilities for this.

Perhaps the training goes deeper than the sash itself, and student can also recognise each other by the way they fight (the same way soldiers can recognise which nation you come from by studying the way you walk (which was influenced by the way you were taught to march)). Now, an impostor could pretend to be from a school by wearing the sash, the pcs unaware that they are being duped, feeding them misinformation, bringing tons of plot goodness!
MoonHunter
April 3, 2007, 12:43
0xp
Actually it is more like any number of HK/ Chinese historicals with school vs school action.

But yes, you are spot on with those applications.
Voted Ouroboros
December 31, 2007, 8:18
0xp
This is a brilliant flavour piece. It deserves to be seen! 5/5
MoonHunter
December 31, 2007, 13:28
0xp
Thank you.

Schools provide rational and explanation for martial techniques and skilled fighters, without having everyone be a member of a military unit (Though you should consider a military unit to be a school (of sorts).

Schools also create a "circle" of related peoples. Everyone who has attended the school has a link of common experience. They will sit around and swap stories about school days. They will all know the teachers. They will all know that little old food stand just up the road where students would always stop and get lichefruit ices after practice. (SO former students will often get Lichefruit ices). So the school provides experiences to fill out the character's history, personality, and circle of accquaintances (allies, contacts, and nemesis (always that guy that doesn't like you at school)).

The mechanics are simple to install in just about any game system. In most, the school is nothing more than a conception tool telling you what skills you should buy. In others it will allow access to certain skills. In a D20 Game, school membership (which will probably be a feat) will automatically favor a number of skills and allow you to take a certain cluster of feats.

So things of this nature should be created for any number of games. In fact, I am working on a few school lifepaths for a Burning Wheel game.
Phaidros
February 23, 2012, 10:43
0xp
Nice idea for some depth in your game, while the bonus might lure the PCs to think about a School of Fighting, with all kinds of plothooks and possible contacts G rivals. Just a more detailed example would have been nice. 4.5/5
MoonHunter
February 27, 2012, 11:01
0xp
More detailed examples would of required specific game mechanics or taken away from the GM's job of creating things that specifically fit their setting.

I could of listed the Celedor school (and I did briefly mention them), but then again, you might want different schools for different lands to fit your campaign's needs.

Voted valadaar
October 22, 2013, 14:42
0xp
I like that the schools bring both mechanics and role-playing aspects into a form of achievement.

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