[Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

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[Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by Havard » Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:01 pm

I'm thinking about starting a new Mystara campaign that's going to be a bit different. I want the PCs to be part of a team of Gladiators that have arrived to fight in the arenas of Thyatis. Instead of dungeon crawls, many of the combats with actually be arena battles. Also, the Gladiator PCs will gradually be drawn into the intrigues of the city and given other adventuring opportunties like guard duties, assassination tasks, crime, heroics etc.

Could I present the Gladiator School as a kind of sports team?

I would like to have everyone in the School be loyal to eachother and have rival schools that they could fight against as well as monsters etc.

I would like to have a combination of Gladiators forced into that profession and those who entered it by their own choice. Some would be slaves, but others volunteers, seeking wealth, fame or excitement.

What sort of NPCs would be connected to the Gladiator School?
1) School Owner. Does he have to be the owner of any slave Gladiators, or could there be other owners of individual Gladiators?
2) Trainer.: Possibly an older Gladiator who now trains younger members (ie the PCs)
3) Weapons Master: Someone responsible for keeping the armor and weapons of the School in good condition
4) Healer: Probably a Cleric. Unless he is a PC (and a Gladiator), I would only have him provide healing outside of the arena.
5) Other gladiators

Gladiator fights: Since this is a fantasy world, I think there is no limit to the type of arena fights we could have. DotE already goes into some examples of this. Even historical roman gladiator battles sometimes involved things like sea battles with real water and ships within the arena. In this version, illusion magic, monsters, pyrotechnics, traps and all kinds of effects could make the battles exciting for the audience. I would like to have the PCs fight as a team instead of having individual fights at least for the most part, since that would be more fun for the players.


What do you think? Do you think this could make for a fun, yet different D&D campaign? :)

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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by Robin » Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:18 pm

Interesting idea... :lol:
I just had explored Gladiators for use of some NPC's in my own campaign :geek:
So I hope the following will help


Loyalty of the Gladiators will be a near absolute, however abolute rilvalry for the top players will also be there
As originally all gladiators in RL were slaves, they earned rights and privaledges by doing their best (or better) in their job.
They could earn their freedom after 10 years or winning 3 major royal battles

1 As such the school owner would be best an politician, Ambassador, owner of a rich merchant house (slaves are expensive and must earn their value)
2 You would have a master trainer (for overall training) who might have been (or still is) a slave with high ranking, but too old (or wounded once) to be in public battles anymore.
3 Yet you would have experienced weapon masters for each type of Gladiator. these were either retired soldiers or former slaves earned their 'freedom' (and still being forced to work...) They would be controlled by the Masster trainer
4 Their were always healers and even surgeons active, to enable good gladiators (ie who made money for their owner) to be restored asap...if magic was possible this would certainly have been used, however, as a Raise Dead spell is mostly costly, this probably would not been done very often (depending on the immortal used). Clerics are always hired personell and 50% of their pay (including those for the used spells --estimate 100gp per spell level +10%per level cleric) wouldf been paid to the temple, and they had to pay for their room, food, concubines, and any offspring they create
5 Basically you had three groups of gladiators; the new and unexperienced (needing 1 to 2 years to become better), the experienced ( 1-2 years in service or former soldier captured or indebted), and the champions (mostly already 5 or more years in service--often their family is held elsewhere as a leverage) who do the really important battles upon the royal bets are placed.

You had 10 gladiator types
Bestiarii;
Image
Unlike other gladiators, the bestiarii were combatants who fought animals and not humans. Roman emperors and senators used exotic and powerful animals (for example lions, tigers, elephants, and bears) imported from Africa or Asia to show off their wealth, and put on a spectacle for the crowds at the Colosseum and amphitheaters. Some animals such as elephants were captured to shock and entertain the crowds with creatures they would not have seen before. Other animals were there to hunt and be hunted. There were two main types of bestiarii: the “damnatio ad bestias” (damned to the beast) and the “venatio” (hunter). The damnatio were those sentenced to death, thrown into the ring for a humiliating and vicious exit to the after-life. Not considered gladiators—they were the lowest class of people in ancient Rome—their death was to entertain the crowd and a single beast could kill hundreds at a time.The venatio trained and hunted animals for the crowd as part of their performance. There are very few known venatio that have been recorded by historians and chroniclers because they were looked down on compared to other gladiators. The most famous example is Carpophorus who is said to have killed over 20 animals with his bare hands at the Circus Maximus. Also, rather befitting of the time, he trained animals to kill, hunt, and even rape victims.Several emperors showed off their skill at killing animals as a bestiarii, although, rather than impress the crowds, it actually damaged their popularity. Nero fought animals at the Arena, whilst Commodus heroically fought injured and immobile animals from a safe, raised platform, much to the disgust of the senate.
Noxii;
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The noxii were the lowest of the low in Roman society. By far the lowest class of civilians, they were those deemed so offensive to Roman society that they were not even classed as people. These types of people included (in no particular order) Christians, Jews, those who deserted the army, murderers, and traitors. They were not selected for gladiator school, and their appearance in the arenas was purely to die in the goriest way possible as punishment for their crimes. There were several ways that the noxii could die. One was as part of a bestiarii conflict with beasts, where they would be ripped apart by the animals. Another would have the fighters blindfolded and given instructions by the crowd, like a sadistic blind man’s bluff. Others would be thrown to actual gladiators to be hunted down. Often naked or possibly wearing a loin cloth, the noxii had no armor, and any weapon would be a simple gladius (short sword) or stick. The Romans took delight in killing the noxii. It served as a reminder to the civilians of the rule of law and order, and also of their place in the social hierarchy.
Retiarius;
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Which is better, speed or power? Death by a thousand cuts or one thrust? In the Roman times, the answer was definitely the more power and armor, the better. This is why the retiarius was initially looked down upon as a lower type of gladiator; they had very little armor and had to fight using agility, speed, and cunning. To make up for it though, they had a net to ensnare, a trident that was used to jab and move, and as a last resort, a small dagger that, on some occasions, was four-pronged. The retiarius would train in a different barrack to the “sword and shield” gladiators and often had worse conditions. They were seen as feminine to others and were mocked. The satirist and poet Juvenal told the story of the minor aristocrat Gracchus, who not only caused disgrace by becoming a gladiator, but he brought further shame to society by fighting as a retiarius. Despite this, they did gain some favor over the centuries, and became a mainstay in the arena, complementing the different styles of the armed secutores, murmillos, and scissores (a gladiator with a sword that has two blades).
Secutor;
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Remember the classic arcade game Donkey Kong? If not, in every level of Donkey Kong the character Mario would have to scale buildings to confront the villainous Kong. Now replace Donkey Kong with a retiarius. Mario would be a secutor whose job it was to chase and defeat the retiarius. A secutor was dressed in heavy armor: he had a large shield, sword, and a round helmet that covered his whole face except for two tiny eye holes. They were developed as a counterpart to the increasingly popular retiarius (net throwers) in a clash of styles. A typical contest between a secutor and retiarius would begin with the retiarius a safe distance away—in some cases on a raised platform above water—with a stockpile of rocks ready to throw. A secutor (meaning chaser in Latin) would pursue the retiarius and try to avoid being captured in the net or hit by the rocks. They would also have to avoid the retiarius’s trident which was used to keep the secutor far away. The secutor had the advantage of being heavily armed but would also tire easily under the weight of his armor. It led to a gripping contest.The Emperor Commodus fought as a secutor during the games, and heavily weighted the odds in his favor to ensure that he would win his contests. Another famous secutor was Flamma, a Syrian fighter who fought wearing an outfit from the territory of Gaul. He fought 34 times with a win/draw/loss record of 21-9-4. Amazingly, he was offered his freedom four times and refused each opportunity
Equites;
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Despite sharing some similarities, the equites gladiators should not be confused with the Roman cavalrymen of the same name. The Roman cavalrymen were often minor aristocrats, holding trusted positions in the senate, and could even become emperor. The gladiatorial equites were glorified showmen.Because the potential of death was not enough, the Colosseum would generally start with an equites bout to liven the crowd up due to the displays of agility and speed that they showed. Beginning on horseback, they would attack each other with their lances, and then dismount to fight with a short sword and shield. They wore light armor to improve their nimbleness and athleticism.
Provocator;
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As we now know, many of the contests pitched different types of gladiators against each other. A provocator, however, would only fight other provocators. The reason for this is because they challenged each other to fight, rather than have the match selected for them. They would fight to settle feuds between rival gladiator schools, for the sheer competition of it, or to enhance their own status by beating a well-regarded rival. To reflect the equality, each provocator was armed in the legionnaire (Roman soldier) style with large rectangular shields, a breastplate, and helmet. The heavy armor meant that they tired quickly and it was difficult to injure them.
Gladiatrix;
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The debate about whether females should take part in combat sports is not new. Thousands of years ago, philosophers, historians, and senators such as Cassius Dio and Juvenal discussed the merits of females taking part in combat at the Colosseum. A gladiatrix would wear very little armor, be bare chested, and in many cases, not even wear a helmet in order to show off her gender. Armed with a short sword and possibly a shield, these fights were very infrequent and seen as a novelty. As well as fighting each other, to increase the indignation, they also caused shock and outrage by fighting dwarfs.In a rather extreme case of the aristocrat throwing off her corset and slumming it with the manual workers, many gladiatrices came from a higher status in society, a contrast to the low-born or slave gladiators. Their appearance caused such scandal that they were eventually banned in A.D. 200.
Gallus/Murmillo ;
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(origin of the word murmuring as these were often badly understood due their facehelmet) The Gallus were some of the earliest gladiators that came from the Gaul tribe of central and western Europe. They began fighting after being captured as prisoners of war. Heavily armed, they looked like the stereotypical gladiator with a longsword, shield, and a helmet, but they wore the traditional Gaul style of dress. Less agile than other types of gladiator, the Gallus relied on power and brute force to attack their opponents. They often fought prisoners from rival tribes. Once the Gauls made peace and became part of the Roman Empire, it was seen as distasteful to force an ally to fight for their entertainment, so they adapted into another type of gladiator called the murmillo. Still using the heavy sword and shield, the murmillo dressed closer to a Roman soldier and fought other murmillones, gladiators from rival regions, and the net throwing Retiarii. A famous murmillo was Marcus Attilius, who, in his maiden fight, managed to beat a gladiator from Nero’s own troops, Hilarus (who had a 12-2 win/loss record). Attilius then followed it up with a victory over the 13-0 Lucius Felix. Not bad for a rookie.
Samnite;
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The Samnite were another of the early gladiators, and they share many similarities with the Gallus. They were also originally prisoners of war but hailed from the Samnium region of southern Italy. When the Roman’s conquered, they forced the Samnites into staging mock ceremonial battles. Popular, this eventually evolved into gladiator contests where the Samnite would wear their traditional military outfit with a large rectangular shield and sword. They fought other soldiers who had been captured from tribes that were feuding with Rome. Forced to compete in their respective military styles, this offered a unique chance to see rival clans battle. Eventually, they fought opponents that were dressed as Roman legionnaires to depict Rome’s triumph over the tribes (which hopefully the Roman’s would win or else it would have been pretty embarrassing). When Samnium became absorbed as a province of Rome, they no longer fought as a distinct category but developed into the hoplomanchus or murmillo gladiators, who had similar weapons and dress.
Thracian;
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The most popular and well-known gladiator is Spartacus (other than Russell Crowe maybe). Spartacus was a prisoner of war from the Thracian tribe of southeastern Europe (around modern-day Bulgaria). He rebelled against his enslavers who had trained him as a gladiator and forced him into combat. After leading his fellow slaves and amassing an army of over 70,000 rebels through several battles with the Romans, he was eventually defeated although his legend lives on today. Sporting a round shield, curved blade, and a broad helmet with a griffin emblem, the Thracians were arguably the most popular and common of the early gladiators. They would frequently fight the Gallus and Samnites.In the same way we support sports teams, emperors and senators had their own favorite types of gladiators. Caligula, in particular, supported the Thracians and even killed another gladiator who had defeated his favorite Thracian warrior. Caligula trained to fight as a Thracian when he fought at the Colosseum, and this allowed any close decisions to swing favorably to the Thracians. Another emperor Domitian had such contempt for Thracians that he once threw a spectator to the dogs. The spectator’s crime—he suggested a Thracian may win a fight.

A source of information might be these movies
https://www.ranker.com/list/best-gladia ... vies-lists
and especially https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spartacus_(TV_series)
But do not underestimate the Asterix comix, there is a lot of information within if you know how to read and look

Hope this helps
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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by shesheyan » Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:29 pm

You should read Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay for inspiration on gladiators and city intrigues.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/104 ... _Sarantium
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/104 ... f_Emperors

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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by Cthulhudrew » Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:04 am

You should definitely go back and check out DDA1 and DDA2 again if you have them for more inspiration for a gladiator themed campaign in Mystara. :)

Most of what you describe is easy to do just using a traditional gladiator environment, without the need to make it too much like a modern sports team or Harry Potter. Gladiators weren't always slaves- there were many non-slaves who voluntarily joined on, and even gladiators who were able to earn or buy their freedom sometimes remained gladiators. Gladiators of differentludi would function in much the same manner as sports teams or schools; they were owned by wealthy nobles and consisted of slaves and indentured servants who were trained as gladiators. The lanista (owner, essentially) might have personal conflicts with other lanista that could potentially spill over into arena matches between their gladiators (willingly or unwillingly).

I've thought about doing a gladiator campaign for a long time (or even just trying to make some post-DDA2 module sequels that continue that storyline). My biggest stumbling blocks were primarily:

1) High-level gladiators: At a certain point the heroes will either probably want to transition out of the arena, and that may happen very soon (for instance, if they begin as slaves and earn their freedom) or much later in their careers. Eventually, it kind of makes less sense to have 36th level characters fighting in the arenas every session. So for a gladiator campaign I think it is kind of essential to have some sort of end-game in mind for the Players, even if just a vague one, so that you can transition the campaign away from the arenas in some fashion (ie, PCs become nobles and start dominion building; PCs become lanistas and start their own schools; etc.)

2) Magic: This is the biggest hurdle I've faced. How to incorporate parties that will- very likely- have magic-users and/or clerics in their ranks. It becomes harder to justify PCs as slaves when their magic-users can cast knock or even magic missile at their captors. How to make believable arena battles where fireballs don't accidentally (or purposely!) incinerate huge swaths of the audience without hand-wavingly saying even more powerful magic prevents it. I'm sure that I overthink it somewhat, but those sorts of abilities are more difficult IMO to try to keep within bounds of a geographically limited sort of campaign. It can be done, but it requires a bit more thinking than a typical dungeon crawl sort of campaign.

Additionally, check out this thread for some thoughts on better distinguishing the RW gladiator types for a Mystara campaign.

ETA: One other note. I referred to "geographically limited" campaign up above, and what I meant by that is limited as regards the scope/scale of the arena environment itself, which would be the primary setting of most "adventures." That said, I think you could very easily expand the geographic range of the campaign by having PCs move between arenas in different cities and countries. Arenas in the Hinterlands might be very different than those in Thyatis City itself (almost certainly so). The Romans had coliseums of various sizes located all over Europe and North Africa; I don't imagine the Thyatians would be any different.
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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by Havard » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:12 pm

Robin wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 6:18 pm
Interesting idea... :lol:
I just had explored Gladiators for use of some NPC's in my own campaign :geek:
So I hope the following will help


Loyalty of the Gladiators will be a near absolute, however abolute rilvalry for the top players will also be there
As originally all gladiators in RL were slaves, they earned rights and privaledges by doing their best (or better) in their job.
They could earn their freedom after 10 years or winning 3 major royal battles
Great research and ideas Robin! Thank you!

And yeah, the Asterix comics will probably influence me even on the subconscious level :ugeek:

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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by Havard » Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:12 pm

shesheyan wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:29 pm
You should read Sailing to Sarantium and Lord of Emperors by Guy Gavriel Kay for inspiration on gladiators and city intrigues.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/104 ... _Sarantium
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/104 ... f_Emperors

Thanks! Not familiar with those, but will check them out :)

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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by firebee » Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:12 pm

It's funny that you should mention this. I am hoping to run a gladiator-themed B/X D&D Adventure at a gaming convention I attend every year. Unfortunately, it is scheduled for the morning of the last day of the con and there are no takers so far. :(

I am using a combination of DDA1, DDA2, and the mash-up adventure Prisoners!

These three adventures have a ton of great information about some of the movers and shakers in Thyatis City, as well as information about the Colosseum (and what lurks below!)

I am putting together a 3D arena, though not a large as the colosseum is depicted in the modules! That thing is huge! I'll try to post some pictures, even if I don't end up running it.

With all that material, and additional information in the Dawn of the Empires, you could definitely flesh out a whole campaign.


Havard wrote:
Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:01 pm
I'm thinking about starting a new Mystara campaign that's going to be a bit different. I want the PCs to be part of a team of Gladiators that have arrived to fight in the arenas of Thyatis. Instead of dungeon crawls, many of the combats with actually be arena battles. Also, the Gladiator PCs will gradually be drawn into the intrigues of the city and given other adventuring opportunties like guard duties, assassination tasks, crime, heroics etc.

Could I present the Gladiator School as a kind of sports team?

I would like to have everyone in the School be loyal to eachother and have rival schools that they could fight against as well as monsters etc.

I would like to have a combination of Gladiators forced into that profession and those who entered it by their own choice. Some would be slaves, but others volunteers, seeking wealth, fame or excitement.

What sort of NPCs would be connected to the Gladiator School?
1) School Owner. Does he have to be the owner of any slave Gladiators, or could there be other owners of individual Gladiators?
2) Trainer.: Possibly an older Gladiator who now trains younger members (ie the PCs)
3) Weapons Master: Someone responsible for keeping the armor and weapons of the School in good condition
4) Healer: Probably a Cleric. Unless he is a PC (and a Gladiator), I would only have him provide healing outside of the arena.
5) Other gladiators

Gladiator fights: Since this is a fantasy world, I think there is no limit to the type of arena fights we could have. DotE already goes into some examples of this. Even historical roman gladiator battles sometimes involved things like sea battles with real water and ships within the arena. In this version, illusion magic, monsters, pyrotechnics, traps and all kinds of effects could make the battles exciting for the audience. I would like to have the PCs fight as a team instead of having individual fights at least for the most part, since that would be more fun for the players.


What do you think? Do you think this could make for a fun, yet different D&D campaign? :)

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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by Havard » Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:54 pm

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:04 am
You should definitely go back and check out DDA1 and DDA2 again if you have them for more inspiration for a gladiator themed campaign in Mystara. :)
Yep, these will defininitely be a big influence on this campaign! :)
Most of what you describe is easy to do just using a traditional gladiator environment, without the need to make it too much like a modern sports team or Harry Potter. Gladiators weren't always slaves- there were many non-slaves who voluntarily joined on, and even gladiators who were able to earn or buy their freedom sometimes remained gladiators. Gladiators of differentludi would function in much the same manner as sports teams or schools; they were owned by wealthy nobles and consisted of slaves and indentured servants who were trained as gladiators. The lanista (owner, essentially) might have personal conflicts with other lanista that could potentially spill over into arena matches between their gladiators (willingly or unwillingly).
Useful information. I will probably allow the players to decide why they are Gladiators. I like the idea of having rival ludi who aren't necessarily in direct combat with the PCs at most times. I'd love to have a lot of friendly rivalry and bragging about accomplishments in bars etc.
I've thought about doing a gladiator campaign for a long time (or even just trying to make some post-DDA2 module sequels that continue that storyline). My biggest stumbling blocks were primarily:

1) High-level gladiators: At a certain point the heroes will either probably want to transition out of the arena, and that may happen very soon (for instance, if they begin as slaves and earn their freedom) or much later in their careers. Eventually, it kind of makes less sense to have 36th level characters fighting in the arenas every session. So for a gladiator campaign I think it is kind of essential to have some sort of end-game in mind for the Players, even if just a vague one, so that you can transition the campaign away from the arenas in some fashion (ie, PCs become nobles and start dominion building; PCs become lanistas and start their own schools; etc.)
I think the campaign can take many different directions, but yes I think it will definitely have to transition into something else at some point. Most likely they will become invovled in political schemes early on and this could be what leads them out of the arenas. I do like the idea of PCs running their own schools. I could also see them ending up fighting in some outer planar arena at higher levels, just to bring back memories of where they started out.

2) Magic: This is the biggest hurdle I've faced. How to incorporate parties that will- very likely- have magic-users and/or clerics in their ranks. It becomes harder to justify PCs as slaves when their magic-users can cast knock or even magic missile at their captors. How to make believable arena battles where fireballs don't accidentally (or purposely!) incinerate huge swaths of the audience without hand-wavingly saying even more powerful magic prevents it. I'm sure that I overthink it somewhat, but those sorts of abilities are more difficult IMO to try to keep within bounds of a geographically limited sort of campaign. It can be done, but it requires a bit more thinking than a typical dungeon crawl sort of campaign.
I will allow spellcaster PCs. I'm thinking slaves with spellcasting abilities will very often be freed once they reach a certain level of power. Perhaps other magic-users and temples buy them and free them, or the owners will figure out that freeing their slaves make sense. I'm thinking that owners granting slaves their freedom is fairly common. As in historical Rome, freeing a slave means the freed person owes his owner big time. Non-spellcasting slaves who reach higher levels will probably also often be offered freedom. That doesn't mean there aren't high level slaves. In many cases slaves might even prefer to live in slavery too, if they enjoy the type of work they are tasked to do (some gladiators might just love that life too much) and some slave owners will understand that treating their highly competent slaves well is a good investment. This might not make much sense to a modern mindset, but if Thyatis is portrayed as a world where freedom could mean a life of poverty and misery. Obviously, successful adventurers would have nothing like that to worry about.

Regarding Magic in the Arena: For low level campaigns this is less of a problem. I havent decided if I'm using BECMI or 5E, but obviously 5E characters have more spells and an infinite number of cantrips for spellcasters, but still most such spells won't have that devastating attacks.

For more powerful mages, I think these will be selected for more spectacular fights. In those cases I would assume anti magic shielding of the arena and probably other magical effects on the fighting ground as well. In addition, it will be made clear to the mages that certain spells will be off limits and that they will be punished for violating those rules. PCs might chose to violate such rules and deal with the consequences later, but I'm thinking most Gladiators will obey. Remember most fights won't be to the death anyway and mages will be way to valuable for Gladiator owners to want to risk their lives needlessly. There is always a risk of course, but it can be minimized and still keep the entertainment value.

I am also looking into mechanics to make popularity an important part of the game. Winning the crowds over should be something players would want to do.


Additionally, check out this thread for some thoughts on better distinguishing the RW gladiator types for a Mystara campaign.
Nice, that was a good thread :)
ETA: One other note. I referred to "geographically limited" campaign up above, and what I meant by that is limited as regards the scope/scale of the arena environment itself, which would be the primary setting of most "adventures." That said, I think you could very easily expand the geographic range of the campaign by having PCs move between arenas in different cities and countries. Arenas in the Hinterlands might be very different than those in Thyatis City itself (almost certainly so). The Romans had coliseums of various sizes located all over Europe and North Africa; I don't imagine the Thyatians would be any different.
Yes, I was thinking about that too. I don't know how limited the arena battles will be since I plan to have elaborate layouts for each batte, created by temporary walls, illusions and stoneform spells etc, but taking a tour around the arenas of the Empire would be a great way to showcase different parts of the world. I also like the idea of the different Collseums being different from place to place. The Arena in Thyatis City might be unique in that it attacks Gladiators from all over the world.

I also want to play up many of the aspects of a Gladiator's life outside the arenas. Training, the luxury that comes with success, fame, people wishing to hire a Gladiator for other kinds of work. Also, political schemes, crime, sewers etc.

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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by Havard » Fri Feb 08, 2019 10:15 pm

firebee wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 9:12 pm
It's funny that you should mention this. I am hoping to run a gladiator-themed B/X D&D Adventure at a gaming convention I attend every year. Unfortunately, it is scheduled for the morning of the last day of the con and there are no takers so far. :(

I am using a combination of DDA1, DDA2, and the mash-up adventure Prisoners!

These three adventures have a ton of great information about some of the movers and shakers in Thyatis City, as well as information about the Colosseum (and what lurks below!)

I am putting together a 3D arena, though not a large as the colosseum is depicted in the modules! That thing is huge! I'll try to post some pictures, even if I don't end up running it.

With all that material, and additional information in the Dawn of the Empires, you could definitely flesh out a whole campaign.
That sounds awesome Firebee! I would lov to see picture of what you compile! :)

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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by firebee » Fri Feb 08, 2019 11:16 pm

Cthulhudrew wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 2:04 am

My biggest stumbling blocks were primarily:

1) High-level gladiators: At a certain point the heroes will either probably want to transition out of the arena, and that may happen very soon (for instance, if they begin as slaves and earn their freedom) or much later in their careers. Eventually, it kind of makes less sense to have 36th level characters fighting in the arenas every session. So for a gladiator campaign I think it is kind of essential to have some sort of end-game in mind for the Players, even if just a vague one, so that you can transition the campaign away from the arenas in some fashion (ie, PCs become nobles and start dominion building; PCs become lanistas and start their own schools; etc.)
I agree. I think that after you are a gladiator for a while, the campaign might take you down through the dungeon underneath the Colosseum, and perhaps all the way to the Hollow World.
2) Magic: This is the biggest hurdle I've faced. How to incorporate parties that will- very likely- have magic-users and/or clerics in their ranks. It becomes harder to justify PCs as slaves when their magic-users can cast knock or even magic missile at their captors. How to make believable arena battles where fireballs don't accidentally (or purposely!) incinerate huge swaths of the audience without hand-wavingly saying even more powerful magic prevents it. I'm sure that I overthink it somewhat, but those sorts of abilities are more difficult IMO to try to keep within bounds of a geographically limited sort of campaign. It can be done, but it requires a bit more thinking than a typical dungeon crawl sort of campaign.
Again I agree. For the convention adventure I'm running, there won't be any spell casters except for Elves. As players start as slaves, any Elves will have no spell books and will need to rely on their combat skills.
Tom Mahaney

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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by Robin » Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:06 pm

Havard wrote:
Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:12 pm

Great research and ideas Robin! Thank you!

And yeah, the Asterix comics will probably influence me even on the subconscious level :ugeek:

-Havard
Thanx glad to help ;)

Asterix is awesome. :lol: as living in the Netherlands I grew up on these. I even met ‎René Goscinny in 1978 on a comic convention in Brussels and Albert Uderzo in 1998 (amongst others) some of my books thus have autographs/or even some minor art (Idefix the dog)
So these are subconsciously wavering on the background with anything Thyatian here too :ugeek: :mrgreen:
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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by Gecko » Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:36 pm

One thing to bear in mind - you’ll also have to describe a lot of fights of the pcs competitors (ie fights not involving PCs) unless the PCs are kept completely in the dark.

Critical Role did an episode where the party entered a team arena fight competition, much like a gladiator competition, in campaign 2 episode 17 (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RNOyGusWh3s starting around 2hr33min) and look at how much time and effort the DM had to spend on fights not involving the PCs. Are you a good enough narrator to keep your players interested through all that where they are only spectators? It’s not easy.

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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by Havard » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:18 pm

Robin wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:06 pm
Asterix is awesome. :lol: as living in the Netherlands I grew up on these. I even met ‎René Goscinny in 1978 on a comic convention in Brussels and Albert Uderzo in 1998 (amongst others) some of my books thus have autographs/or even some minor art (Idefix the dog)
So these are subconsciously wavering on the background with anything Thyatian here too :ugeek: :mrgreen:
That is amazing! Do you have pictures of your signed art you can share? :cool: :cool:

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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by Havard » Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:29 pm

Gecko wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 7:36 pm
One thing to bear in mind - you’ll also have to describe a lot of fights of the pcs competitors (ie fights not involving PCs) unless the PCs are kept completely in the dark.

Critical Role did an episode where the party entered a team arena fight competition, much like a gladiator competition, in campaign 2 episode 17 (https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RNOyGusWh3s starting around 2hr33min) and look at how much time and effort the DM had to spend on fights not involving the PCs. Are you a good enough narrator to keep your players interested through all that where they are only spectators? It’s not easy.
Interesting!

Personally, I would not spend too much time describing scenes not involving the players. I would stick to them hearing rumours about other fights or getting reports. Alternately, I could run the fights and allow the players to take the roles of NPCs, but I will definitely keep the Critical Role model in mind. In my experience, scenes not involving the PCs directly will quickly bore most if not all of the players quite fast.

What tends to work well though is to create NPCs that the players will come to hate. Perhaps arrogant competitors leaving the arena, mocking the PCs as they are about to go into the arenas themselves or encounters in bars later on where some annoying NPC brags about his accomplishments while laughing at the PCs or perhaps boasts about having killed or maimed an ally of the PCs tends to work well :twisted:

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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by Robin » Mon Feb 11, 2019 6:59 pm

Havard wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:18 pm
Robin wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:06 pm
Asterix is awesome. :lol: as living in the Netherlands I grew up on these. I even met ‎René Goscinny in 1978 on a comic convention in Brussels and Albert Uderzo in 1998 (amongst others) some of my books thus have autographs/or even some minor art (Idefix the dog)
So these are subconsciously wavering on the background with anything Thyatian here too :ugeek: :mrgreen:
That is amazing! Do you have pictures of your signed art you can share? :cool: :cool:

-Havard
I do, :cool: and of a lot more artists like Disney's Carl Barks, Don Lawrence(Storm & Trigan Empire), The artist of Pharao, Jeff Easley and Clyde Caldwell amongst many other (mostly belgian/dutch artists). Mostly they made the art special for me...for example Don La\wrence was soo bored drawing Storm or Redhair, that when I requested to draw the Red Nomad, he drew a full hour, which was even filmed by the fanclub), and Jeff and Clyde liked my PC's and made nice drawings of them...just to name some examples.
I will see if I can scan them, then I'll share them in the Tabard Inn (as this is too of-topic Mystara).
It will take a while though, as I have to locate them between Real Life and my D&D mapping projects, find a good scanning location, scan and then share.
I'll inform you by a link here then ;)
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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by TheGlen » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:07 am

If you're looking to copy Roman gladiatorial combat first thing you're going to notice is they had a lot of laws dealing with gladiators. The guy in charge of putting together the game, the editor, was pretty much like a concert promoter. He had to hire the gladiator stables, arrange the games, get them cleared with the Roman government mainly by paying the taxes on the games. They had severe restrictions on who could fight who, pairing non-traditional foes to fight against each other was frowned on by the fans and the taxing authorities. Most of the gladiator styles were supposed to be versions of people the Romans had conquered, so the hoplomachus mimicked the Greek hoplite, Thracians were armed with weapons from Thrace, Gallus were Gauls and so on.

Combats to the death were actually rare because the organizer was required to reimburse the stable owner if one of the gladiators was killed. The flipside was games that rarely resulted in death quickly lost popularity. There were quite a few entertainments between games, in fantasy this is where the wizards would come out to entertain the crowd in staged matches against beasts, or have hin fight with wooden swords to keep the crowd appeased. The biggest issue would be the fact that ever match outside of 1v1 would be taxed. Have women fighting against men? That costs extra. Monsters against non venators or bestiarus? Extra. Mix styles outside of the norm? That costs extra. Introduce chariots, constructs or fantastic monsters? Hellaciously expensive. The biggest most extravagant games would be outside the ability of anybody except the richest nobles or even the Emperor to host.

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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by hyrieus » Tue Feb 12, 2019 10:03 pm

Monster Coliseum for Runequest may also be helpful.

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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by Robin » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:48 pm

Havard wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:18 pm
Robin wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:06 pm
Asterix is awesome. :lol: as living in the Netherlands I grew up on these. I even met ‎René Goscinny in 1978 on a comic convention in Brussels and Albert Uderzo in 1998 (amongst others) some of my books thus have autographs/or even some minor art (Idefix the dog)
So these are subconsciously wavering on the background with anything Thyatian here too :ugeek: :mrgreen:
That is amazing! Do you have pictures of your signed art you can share? :cool: :cool:

-Havard
As agreed I Have sought through my huge Collection(over 20.000 comic books), And located several ointeresting art pieces, though not yet of Asterix.
look here; viewtopic.php?f=88&t=21358#p227838.
When I find these I'll place these there too.
Enjoy :lol: :mrgreen:
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Re: [Thyatis] How do Gladiators Work?

Post by Havard » Fri Mar 01, 2019 1:26 pm

Robin wrote:
Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:48 pm
Havard wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:18 pm
Robin wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 1:06 pm
Asterix is awesome. :lol: as living in the Netherlands I grew up on these. I even met ‎René Goscinny in 1978 on a comic convention in Brussels and Albert Uderzo in 1998 (amongst others) some of my books thus have autographs/or even some minor art (Idefix the dog)
So these are subconsciously wavering on the background with anything Thyatian here too :ugeek: :mrgreen:
That is amazing! Do you have pictures of your signed art you can share? :cool: :cool:

-Havard
As agreed I Have sought through my huge Collection(over 20.000 comic books), And located several ointeresting art pieces, though not yet of Asterix.
look here; viewtopic.php?f=88&t=21358#p227838.
When I find these I'll place these there too.
Enjoy :lol: :mrgreen:
Very impressive! :)

-Havard

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