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A Dance of Death
Emily’s style of combat differs from her father, despite the fact that he trained her. Hers is a more fluid, graceful method of movement. She flows through her enemies, punctuating her movements with swift, sharp strikes, taking advantage of her foes weaknesses. More than just an opportunist, Emily doesn’t just wait for her opponents to make mistakes, she makes them make mistakes through subterfuge and on-the-fly planning.
If we want to emulate Emily’s style of combat, I believe we first need to start with fencing – either classical fencing or modern sport fencing. Personally, I think the sabre would be the most advantageous weapon to study, as its cutting edge more closely resembles her graceful slicing-and-dicing, but if you have to go with foil or epee that’s fine, too. The cool thing is that fencing seems to be on the rise again, both sport fencing in schools, and classical reconstructions.
If you’re interested in getting started in fencing, here’s a great directory for sport fencing: https://www.fencing.net/fencing-clubs/ Classical fencing doesn’t have a centralized body that I could find, but here’s a decent directory at least for the US: http://www.kmoser.com/classical-fencing/
Of course, an argument could also be made for other European blade studies, such as HEMA or even SCA stuff. You could even come from an entirely different part of the globe and go for Philipino martial arts like Kali. I just think fencing is honestly the best spiritual fit for Emily’s style, upbringing, and setting.
Now, when it comes to recommendations for unarmed combat, I’m going to make a few suggestions, but as we don’t get that much unarmed combat, it’s difficult to find a proper analogue. With that said, I think based on setting and style alone, Savate may be a good fit. Savate is a style of French kickboxing, cobbled together from several different styles in the region going all the way back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Its modern form looks similar to muay thai, but without the shin kicks and elbow/forearm strikes.
I’d also suggest pairing a grappling/throwing style with the above, and my personal recommendation would be either judo or aikido. I lean towards judo, simply because I think it’s the more practical of the two, but if you can find a really good aikido dojo, I think the more graceful, nuanced movements fit Emily a bit better. Honestly, though, most aikido places tend to be McDojos, so be wary. Judo, on the other hand, is usually pretty damn legit (and honestly easier to find, too.)
Skills of the Outsider
Unfortunately, most of the skills granted by the Outsider’s Mark are pretty difficult to replicate in real life. We can, however, look at the purpose of the skills as they are presented in the game, and maybe come up with a few substitutions.
First up here is mesmerize, specifically because it’s the closest thing we can replicate in real life. Remember that mesmerize’s purpose is to distract and enrapture people. Though we don’t have mystical voodoo to literally do the same, it’s actually quite possible to distract and/or manipulate people, either verbally or visually.
Persuasion is the verbal method of getting people to do what you’d like them to do. Now, that’s not the same as intimidation, which is where you force people to do what you’d like them to do. Rather, persuasion is effectively getting them to want the same thing you want. If you’d like to learn more about this, I can’t recommend the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion highly enough. Check it out, and give it a read, and it should give you a solid start to mesmerizing people yourself.
Distraction, on the other hand, is a lot more straightforward, and it’s a lot simpler than it sounds, you just need to be creative. Want people to look in a different direction for a while? Throw some sparkler fireworks there (just make sure no one sees you throw them.) Balloons and animals work similarly. Try throwing a bagel in the street in New York and watch a billion pigeons go for it. It’s like a little baked distraction grenade. The important thing is to just remember your goal is to make people want to look somewhere. Bright colors, loud noises, and motion are always your best bet.
For real, though, far reach serves a couple purpose in game, primarily locomotion and drawing people in, physically. While the locomotion aspect is a bit difficult to replicate, there’s any number of methods you can use to draw people to you (this is part of the reason I recommended judo in the combat section, btw.) If you’re interested in tools to do such a thing, you could always use a lasso, or go all “Indiana Jones” with a whip. Conceptually speaking, in a combat sense, you can also draw people in by leaving empty spaces between you and them, making them appear to be a gap in your guard for them to attack.
Again, the key here is to think about your goal (draw someone in,) and then figure out how to accomplish it (do I need to physically interact with them, or just psychologically entice them?)
The Benevolent Leader
We’ll talk a bit more in this in the next section, but it’s important to note that there’s a difference between being a benevolent leader, and a pushover. A benevolent leader does what’s right for their people, is compassionate, caring, and considerate. However, a pushover leader is someone who does everything everyone tells them to do, without consideration for the consequences. The name of the game, here, is discretion.
When you’re asked to do something, and told it would be a kindness, it’s always worth your consideration. However, part of that consideration is considering the source, and considering the motives behind that source. When you’re in a position like Empress, you need to consider the fact that there while most would like to see you succeed, there’s also always a handful who would like to see you fail.
Do kindness unto others, especially those below your own station, but don’t allow yourself to be manipulated by people who would abuse your kindness. Helping others is never worth sacrificing your own health and wellbeing, or the health and wellbeing of others.
That’s it for The Outsider Assassin! Tune in on Monday for Empress in Exile, where we’ll delve into Emily’s psychology and worldviews, and see what gems we can use in our own lives!
Live boldly, change the world, and continue to be awesome!