Default: prerequisite skill-4.

Prerequisite: Any fencing weapon skill; cannot exceed prerequisite skill.

A cinematic swashbuckler can try to carve an initial using his blade. Determine where he'll carve the initial and the number of strokes he'll need to carve it - for instance, a Z takes three. The first stroke is at no penalty beyond that for hit location; it's at -0 on the torso, -5 on the face, and so on. If the stroke inflicts at least a point of cutting damage, it will mark anything but metal or similarly hard materials, ripping cloth (but not armor), scarring skin, and delivering any poison vile enough to need only a scratch. An impaling weapon can make a Tip Slash (p. 113) to do cutting damage.

It's more difficult to align the remaining strokes of the initial relative to the first. The attack roll is at -4 (in addition to hit location modifiers) for an initial roughly 4"x4". If a subsequent stroke fails by 4 or less, it makes a slash but it isn't properly connected to the earlier lines - there's a gap or an overlap (roll a die). This can be bad form; it might even change the initial to another letter! It's possible to connect lines that are too far apart; try again at the same modifier. The victim might object to the erasing process, however, as this involves at least half a dozen crisscross lines. Initial Carving is generally the realm of the incredibly skilled . . . or those named Inigo, Ignatz, or Irene.

You must learn a separate technique for each letter. It lets you buy off the -4 for the second and later strokes. To remove the penalties for carving in a specific hit location, buy a Targeted Attack (p. 68).

Example: Don Lorenzo Estrada wishes to leave the initials L.E. on the skin of several (unwilling) acquaintances, so he practices long and hard. He spends 4 points on the L and 5 on the E (which takes four strokes, so he wants to get it right the first time). His Rapier skill is 14; he'll make the first stroke of each letter on a 14 or less. The next part of the L is at default+3, giving a net -1 to skill - he needs a 13. The E is at default+4; he has no penalty to carve it at all.

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