There have been a lot of diffusion of knifefighting styles among the Fanseeth over the ages, so you’ll find every style among every group in different degrees. These usually also involve arguments about what each version does or does not show, or how much it represents reality, or how it isn’t supposed to represent reality, whether and to what degree it can be used to settle disputes, whether it is a reasonable way to spend one’s time, or any number of heated debates on the dueling traditions (and if it gets heated enough, the debate itself can lead to a duel).
Most children among the Fanseeth grow up with a least a passive knowledge of knifework, though how much they’ve actually practiced varies widely.
Thrusting is usually frowned upon for these styles, since it is so often highly lethal when done with an actual knife.
There are four primary arts used in duels, but each has a lot of individual variations: Gisal, Takni, Jasha, and Bowwi.
(Note to players: These are starting places only. Feel free to add, subtract, multiply, or divide as needed for your play preferences. If you want to engage in knife-fighting at the upcoming Fanseeth event, please review the knifefighting mechanics for The Darkest Space.)
Gisal — The Tournament
This style is popular for entertainment and for betting. It originated as a spectator sport for the Vordur, but now all of the cultures enjoy a good Gisal match. It is among the oldest arts found among the Fanseeth, but has evolved significantly over time.
An area is cordoned off on the floor, stepping outside of that area is a loss of the round. All cuts to critical spots (defined as inside of the arms or legs—but not the outside—along with any cuts to the torso) are considered “points” and after each point the participants reset to opposite sides of the field.
Usually done to a best-of-n-rounds, though sometimes different values of points are awarded for each area, and instead of stopping to reset, they continue fighting until that number of points is reached.
Betting is frowned upon in polite company but is perfectly legal and very, very commonly practiced.
Takni — The Academic Art
A common sport among young, educated Vordur that have a lot of money and not a lot of sense, the goal of this fighting is to lay a small, shallow cut with a specially modified knife along the deltoid (most commonly) of the other person. It is widely practiced in schools, sometimes with official sanction (the Fanseeth equivalent of a gym class). In this style it is very common to use a cloak or half-cape in one’s other hand, which is used to bind the opponents knife for a more effective cut.
This cut will sometimes be encouraged by the recipient to scar over, resulting in what is called a “smite” which may be displayed. These are often considered a mark of honor, at least among participants.
The art is studied heavily and treatise on the proper way to engage in it have been evaluated in depth.
Jasha — The Dance
In the early days of Fanseeth, knives were forbidden to prisoners. Additionally, before the advent of safer blades and more sport-like versions, fighting in general was considered a waste of resources.
In this style two opponents move at a roughly equivalent speed, working to match speeds with one another while they make cuts and thrusts at the other person, never actually landing the blow.
The goal is to make an attack on the other person that the person acknowledges as having gotten past their guard.
Almost never done for tournaments, this form is almost exclusively practiced by the Hakal and in mining-focused clades.
Bowwi — Settling Disputes
Based on an old legend from the origins of the Fanseeth, this is a form of duel that arose as a way to rapidly settle disputes between clades and is still widely used for dispute arrangements, especially friendly ones. It’s also frequently used as a legal resolution to difficult problems between clades that don’t want to get a higher level of government involved.
Two fighters either clasp hands or hold on to a piece of cloth and then attempt to land a designated number of cuts (or touches, or whatever equivalent) on the opponent.
These cuts are usually limited in where they can be landed—never on the arms that are bound, nor on the leg on that side—and is often fought with each fighter’s primary hands being so bound, leaving the blade in their off hands.