By Stuart Ellis

The practice of dervishim survived because it was effective without raising too many political or spiritual problems.

During the Emperor Wars the Guilds and Houses exhausted every source of lore they could find in their search for an advantage over their opponents. This search led some to revive and combine almost-forgotten esoteric systems, most of which were soon re-buried when they were found to be useless or too dangerous, and others were later banned to appease the Church, only surviving in the meticulous records of the Inquisition. The practice of dervishim survived because it was effective without raising too many political or spiritual problems.

Its originator was Don Pedro Antonio de Aragon, a talented soldier with a very mystical bent. His sources of inspiration are now lost, but may have included Ukari mystics, his friend the Brother Battle Torquatus and the teachings of the heretic Zegai of Grail. The school of combat which he founded relies on developing and channeling the fighters instincts and passion ("let the hate flow...") as well as understanding and releasing the emotions of others. Dervishes proved to be shockingly effective in close combat and gave the Hazat a considerable advantage in assaults for several years, until the other Houses began to field their own. One suspicion is that the Imperial Eye subverted Hazat dervishes and spread their knowledge to the other Royal Houses. Rumours that Dervishim is related to Psi training or that the Dervish units include psychics have always been discouraged by the nobles that maintain them.

Dervishim is limited to a small number of specialist troops because the practice requires dedication and a certain mind-set which is not compatible with normal military discipline. To be successful a Dervish must have both a strong will and a Passionate nature, and be willing to regularly deal with overwhelming emotions. Many Dervishes use drugs and music to fuel their passions, and a few are unbalanced enough not to need them. In fact the wildest offspring of some noble Houses have received Dervish training in order to teach them how to moderate their behaviour, a short-sighted policy because dervishim only channels strong emotion, it does not resolve it. Dervishes are known for their eccentricity and violent moods, popular stereotypes are the fervent crusader or driven avenger.

In combat Dervishes use fast Fencing attacks and straight-forwardly aggressive Martial Arts Actions. Impress, Vigour, Leadership and Stoic Mind are relevent but Dervishim is really a separate skill. Its first use is that it allows Dervishes to Incite their Passion with less justification than most people and adds to their Passion score for the roll (it still costs 1 Wyrd). Secondly, Dervishes who lose control of their Passions (i.e. fail a Calm roll or succeed a forced Passion roll) can attempt an Ego+Dervishim roll to channel their emotions into another action rather than following their first instinct (the effort costs 1 Wyrd if they succeed). Lastly, Dervishim can be used to compliment Impress and Leadership or generally influence moods in an area by the careful use of props - choosing appropriate music, colours, images etc. (something like feng shui). War-paint and battle-chants are often used to incite troops and increase an opponents fear.