The Fencing Tournament is the first part of a mystery-like adventure for characters with an interest in swordplay. The adventure is divided into three parts: The Fencing Tournament, The Vicomte’s Garden Party, and The Missing Master. The basic plot revolves around the kidnapping and imprisonment of Maitre (Master) St. Pierre, head of Fraternity Sainte-Didier, by his arch-rival Signore Sapristi, chief of Fraternity di Giganti. The party will face several puzzles and dangers to rescue him. In the process some old enemies will return to haunt the characters. Signor Sapristi himself may become a regular enemy in later adventures.
Back at his apartment, Guy questions the wounded nobleman who was trying to shield the Mysterious Musketeer who turned out to actually be a noblewoman in disgusise and who Guy suspects is the Duchess de Chevreuse.1 Guy tricks the nobleman into revealing that he works for the Prince de Guemene. Guy realizes that the Prince de Guemene’s birth name is Louis de Rohan, the older brother of the beautiful and daring Marie de Rohan, the favorite and friend of Anne of Austria who is otherwise known as Madame de Chevreuse. This confirms Guy’s suspicions; he has figured out the identity of the Mysterious Musketeer.
On realizing that he has given away the important secret and that there is no longer any reason to conceal his own name, he tells guy that he is the Baron Martin de Becaharmoy (SR 10), one of the gentlemen in the Prince de Guéméné’s entourage or suite. He asks Guy to keep his secrets – in return Becaharmoy will be even more in Guy’s debt that he already is for saving his life and for escorting the ‘Musketeer.’ Guy agrees to keep Becaharmoy’s secrets.2
Guy returns to the Latin Quarter and the Black Stork Inn but the foreign nobleman has already left. The only clue Guy manages to find is that the nobleman’s clothes are expensive and that by their description, they have an English cut. Afterwards, Guy takes the ring he was given by Madame de Chevreuse to a jeweler where he pawns the ring. The value of the ring is 1000L; he gets ½ that value in pawn and he shares the wealth with his cousin Gaétan and with Norbert.
Father Signoret wishes to broaden his understanding of the sword by mastery the misdirection and trickery of the French style. He asks his cousin Guy de Bourges and his friend Gaston Thibeault to help him gain admittance to their dueling Fraternité. Signoret obtains letters of introduction from his Spanish sword master and from Guy which he brings with him on April 30th when Gaston makes an introduction in person to Maetre St. Pierre, the Master Superior of the Fraternité Sainct-Didier, recommending Signoret as a new student. The Jesuit begins studying the French style at the Fraternité. He trains hard learning quickly and working to impress Mastre St. Pierre. He finds the Maestre to be a sparkling and witty fellow, quick to criticize and slow to praise. These are positive characteristics in a fencing master. St. Pierre is observant and intense when giving lessons. Although he trains several wealthy noblemen, including the Vicomte de Bouvard, he gives lessons equally to all of his students and he spends a considerable amount of time on weekends and afternoons at his Salle d’Armes.3
In early May the talk of the Fraternité is of the fencing demonstration to be sponsored by the Vicomte de Bouvard, a member of the Fraternité, and to be held at a Garden Party at his chateau outside of Paris on May 17th. The assistants and fencers have not yet been chosen by Maestre St. Pierre, and he has made it understood that there is to be a tournament within the Salle a week before the Vicomte’s Garden Party to determine who will participant in the demonstration. This provokes a great deal of speculation and boasting among the membership.
Maestre St. Pierre decides to use the upcoming tournament as a trial for Father Signoret’s readiness to learn the final secret of the French Style. He stipulates that Signoret must demonstrate his competence using only the French style in the upcoming tournament and, if successful in the tournament, in the demonstration itself. Signoret agrees to do what St. Pierre has demanded.
Since Gaston’s acquittal at the trial and the failure of his ambush, Baron Villemorin has become increasingly elusive. This makes any response by Gaston in kind impossible even if the risk of attacking a noble in the aftermath of a public trial were not too high. While the regiment as a whole, prefers not to be involved in Gaston’s conflict with Villemorin, Gaston has separately spoken to his fellows in the Picardy Regiment who were ambushed by the Baron. Legrand hates Villemorin for his cowardly attack and he wants revenge. Villemorin deliberatley left Janvier with a scar that ruins his good looks and Janvier now fears and hates the Baron and passionately wants revenge on him. Sannom sees the Villemorin as an enemy and wants the Baron punished for his unjust attack on himself and the others; although he did not recognize the Baron due to the darkness and his poor eyesight, he believes Legrand who did recognized Villemorin. In addition, Sannom’s ability to win and survive at 2-1 odds has raised his confidence in his abilities as a fighter. Unfortunately all three of them have the same problem that Gaston has; the gap in social station between them and Villemorin makes a direct challenge impossible. Villemorin could just ignore the challenge of someone so inferior in station. I must make Villemorin challenge me…and I will do it in a way that makes that bastard squirm.4
Since he cannot challenge Villemorin directly due to his social position, Gaston chooses to strike at Villemorin indirectly and to strike at his social position. Gaston writes scurrilous verses about the Baron accusing him of cowardice and posts them publicly around Paris. If the verses are noticed and repeated publicly, they will damage the Baron’s reputation and harm his social station.
Gaston posts the verses in parts with one ever few days so that interest will build as people await the next set of verses. He posts four versions: (i) stanzas 1-2, (ii) stanzas 1-3, (iii) stanzas 1-4, and (iv) stanzas 1-5. Norbert and Gaston’s fellow soldiers help him by posting copies around town. Norbert actually nails a copy of the poem to the gate of Villemorin’s own townhouse. But two of his footmen quickly tear it down. Norbert immediately returns, disarms the footmen, knocks them unconscious, and nails a second copy even higher on the gate, then breaks their clubs in two, tossing the pieces on top of the unconscious servants. This attracts even more attention by the Baron’s neighbors to the poem.
A Noble Reckoning – by Anonymous Poet (A. Poet)
A Baron of noble flavor
Sought a fight that he could savor;
He invited some friends
To look for amends
And procure odds in his favor.
But the Baron’s poor friends did waver.
’Fore cold steel with hearts all a quaver.
Flew off fickle-friends
A gaggle of hens
Left Baron with odds so much graver.
This Noble of name yet unknown
Bereft of his men stands alone.
He stares at his foes,
Then picks up his toes
And scuttles away – brave Baron!
Noble Baron whose name has been hid.
In a town named for foes of El Cid.5
The truth he does fear;
Holds honor not dear;
Treacher’s schemes and foul plans has he bid.
One day Baron and Poet shall face
One in vict’ry and one in disgrace
Swords in hands on the ground
Deeds not words shall expound
That day Noble shall Poet efface.
The Fraternité Sainct-Didier holds their tournament on Wednesday May the 10th. The tournament will consist of a series of matches. Fencers may fight with their preferred weapons (foil, rapier, longsword, or sabre). The weapons are rebated (blunted), and the fencers wear sufficient padding to avoid damage.6 Matches continue until one fencer scores five or more touches against his opponent; in addition, the contestant must win by two. Unusual weapons, brawling, or dirty fighting will not be allowed.
Guy, Gaston, and Father Signoret each participate in the tournament. They fight a number of matches, doing well in the lead up to their final rounds. In his final round, Guy fights Jan Jelita Zamoyski,7 a Polish noble and a skilled practitioner of the Eastern or Cavalry style of fencing. One of his favored attacks is the quick saber cut. In their match, Guy consistently outthinks his opponent getting the initiative every round to win his match 6-4.
Father Signoret’s opponent in the final round is Romain Lalande8 who fights in the Italian style. Signoret uses a flurry of quick cuts to quickly score touches one after another against Lalande. He wins his match 5-0. Maetre St. Pierre seems pleased with both Gaétan’s progress and his showing in the match.
Gaston’s opponent is Achille de Châteaupers, an Ensign in the King’s Musketeers who fights in the French style.9 It seems that the fates conspire to pit Gaston against Lucien’s fellows. However as skilled as he is, Châteaupers is no Porthos. Gaston wins his match in his usual relentlessly aggressive style. He uses a mix of thrusts, beats, disarms, and a few hilt punches to control the pace of the match and to drive his opponent back. He even mixes in a few rapid cuts in the French style. The combination and variety of attacks leaves no real opening for his opponent to counter attack as Gaston slowly and methodically scores touch after touch. He beats his opponent 5-0.
All three of the friends have succeeded in winning a place in the demonstration at the Vicomte’s Garden Party. Since Guy and Father Signoret have servants to attend them and Gaston has none, he asks his cousin Norbert to go along and assist him during the demonstration.
1 In Adventure 14: The Missing Musketeer.
2 In return Becaharmoy owes Guy a Level 10 Favor.
3 Fencing hall.
4 Gaston’s goal is to embarrasses the Baron and damage his reputation; Villmorin’s roll to resist is (8+3+1-3=8); he becomes a topic of conversation among Parisians and he loses social status. This will continue until the situation changes in some way.
5 Villemorin is from the Old French “morin,” a diminutive of the name “More,” meaning dark and swarthy [as a moor] or one who resided in or near a moor and ville for city.
6 Unless a fencer rolls a Calamitous Failure, in which case his opponent suffers ld6 damage and the attacker loses honor for an uncontrolled and vicious hit.
7 Jan Jelita Zamoyski is a hero/villain level character. Guy gets the initiative in every round of their combat. He clearly outthinks Zamoyski.
8 Lalande is a retainer level 3 with skills similar to a Musketeer like Cedelhac.
9 King’s Musketeer in the French style stats from H+I page #128.