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ChalkLine

RuneQuest 3 - Gladiator Previous Career

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Here's something I knocked up by rearranging the skill point allocation of the Warrior previous career.
It's posted here as a tool for those who want to simulate a gladiator, but it uses a heavily Roman-based model which I hope you'll find understandable. This is set in a Romanesque Lunar Empire from our  campaign, feel free to use it for ideas. Note that the main thing about the gladiator presented here is that it refers to them as the bottom rung of slaves and as such they are not given spells or equipment. The gladiator is viewed as disposable and likely to die so only physical training is wasted on them.
If interested I can become exhaustive on the culture of the gladiator from Rome but it's also widely available on the net. I make no assertion that this model is better or worse than many Hollywood or fantasy gladiator models. In fact way back in the 80s I had a ruined chaos-run gladiator arena in the Big Rubble that really broke the rules! :)

Rune Quest 3 Gladiator Previous Experience

Gladiators are slaves who are forced to fight so spectators can watch them display weapons skills and the stoic bearing of wounds up to death. They are trained harshly in the skills of personal close combat and are given extensive physical training to be strong, enduring and fast on their feet. Of all the slaves, gladiators are at once the lowest of the low due to them being forced to give their bodies for other’s amusement, yet they are also considered to be admirable examples of martial and human virtues in the face of death. A gladiator who is a willing fighter and bears their wounds with dignity are often famous and will have a large following of fans.
While most gladiatorial matches are not ‘to the death’, the chances of severe injury and death remained high. Weapons were proven to be sharp for the crowd’s approval and the torso of the gladiator was almost never armoured. The death rate was high.

Gladiators are never given spells. Statistic boosting spells might be cast on a gladiator before they entered the arena and healing spells might be cast on them when they are wounded, but the gladiator as slaves do not have spells and the spell would be lost when the gladiator died on the sand of the arena.
Instead gladiators are trained physically in Strength, Constitution and Dexterity when these statistics are raise-able according to the Rune Quest 3 ‘Increasing Characteristics’ rules (page 38, Player’’s Handbook). One point of training is given for every point of spirit magic they would normally receive. Note that some gladiators who are undesirable assets and were destined to simply die would not be trained at all.

Each gladiator is trained in a gladiatorial style and only the weapons inside that style are considered ‘cultural weapons’ with a base 30% skill. The following are some historical gladiatorial styles but the game master is encouraged to make up their own. Note that the gladiator never owns any of this equipment.

- Hoplomachus

Parma (Target), Spear, Machera (sword), Pugio (dagger), hand to hand. Helmet, greaves, balteus (armoured girdle), right arm manicum (arm guard)

- Laquearius

Trident, Lasso, Dagger, hand to hand. Right arm Manicum (arm guard), balteus (armoured girdle)

- Murmillo

Scutum (Hoplite Shield), Gladius (short sword), Pugio (dagger), hand to hand. Helmet, greaves, balteus (armoured girdle), manicum (arm guard)

- Retiarius

Trident, Net, Dagger, hand to hand. Right arm manicum (arm guard), balteus (armoured girdle)

- Samnite

Scutum (Hoplite Shield), Gladius (short sword), Pugio (dagger), hand to hand. Helmet, greaves, balteus (armoured girdle)

- Secutor

Scutum (Hoplite Shield), Gladius (short sword), Pugio (dagger), hand to hand. Helmet (special smooth helmet to avoid being snagged or caught), greaves, balteus (armoured girdle), right arm manicum (arm guard)

- Thraex

Parma (Target), Sica (short sword), Pugio (dagger), hand to hand. Helmet, balteus (armoured girdle), greaves.

- Veles

Buckler, Javelin, Gladius (short sword). (Note: The Veles’ javelin had a ten metre leather thong that attached it to the Velites’ arm.)
- Dimachaerius
This sub-group of gladiators dispenses with a shield and uses a Gladius (short sword) in each hand but is otherwise identical to any other sword-wielding gladiator. 
The off-hand sword has a base chance of 20%

SKILLS:
Jump x2, First Aid x3, Martial Arts x3, Fast Talk x2, Conceal x
1, Sleight x1, Listen x1, Hide x1, Sneak x1, Scan x1, Fist Attack x2 or Grapple Attack x2, Dagger Attack x2, 1H Weapon Attack x4, Shield Parry x4 or Dodge x4 or if Dimachaerius Offhand 1H Weapon Parry x4, 1H Weapon Attack x4 from another gladiatorial style or if Dimachaerius 1H Weapon Attack x4.

Equipment:
Linen tunic, Sandals, 1D3 Scars, Slave Brand if applicable, Rudiarius (wooden short sword) for freed gladiators.

 

Amour Notes:
Helmets, greaves and manica are either 6AP or 8AP plate, 
manica may also be chain mail 7AP, scale 6AP, padded linen 1AP, leather 2AP or cuirboilli 3AP. All have 1AP sub armalis padding. Balteus is heavy leather 2AP or cuirboilli 3AP.

Rune Quest 3 Civilised Gladiator previous experience.odt

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No Orate skill? Got to put on a good show! PCs with this background would be the best and longest lived, and probably earned their freedom through showmanship. RQG would get Intimidate, maybe instead of Fast Talk.

Edited by PhilHibbs

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1 hour ago, PhilHibbs said:

No Orate skill? Got to put on a good show! PCs with this background would be the best and longest lived, and probably earned their freedom through showmanship. RQG would get Intimidate, maybe instead of Fast Talk.

It'd be a bit hard to be heard down on the sand, especially with a Myrmillo helmet on. Fast talk was more for trying to get something past the Lanista, your owner.
There was a Mythras fan combat trait called 'showmanship' that might work, but only in a soft fantasy setting. What the fans wanted was blood, violence and then the gladiators bearing their wounds stoically.
As an aside, gladiators weren't nearly as popular as chariot racers, but they got covered in Monster Coliseum :D

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41 minutes ago, ChalkLine said:

As an aside, gladiators weren't nearly as popular as chariot racers, but they got covered in Monster Coliseum :D

LOL!

Not bad. I wouldn't assume that all gladiators are slaves though. Many were free men who went into the "sport" for fame and riches. Being a gladiator wasn't nearly as deadly are we used to believe. A typical gladiator might only fight one death match a year, if that. MAy retired from the games with a nice amount of money. 

44 minutes ago, ChalkLine said:

There was a Mythras fan combat trait called 'showmanship' that might work, but only in a soft fantasy setting. What the fans wanted was blood, violence and then the gladiators bearing their wounds stoically.

Actually the crowd wanted a show. With just blood and violence the fights would be over far too quickly for the fans to enjoy. A non-showy fight would probably be over in well under a minute, and the whole show would be finished in under half a hour. It's pretty much the same thing with sword fights in movies and on TV. 

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Think World Wide Wrestling level entertainment (although the stars were on the level of Premier League football glitterati) - there would be favourites who were "baddies" and others "angels" who played up to the crowd. 

It was far more often a "show", not a "death-match". An untrained slave during the Augustian period cost c. 500 denarii - then they would have to be trained, fed, equipped etc. which would soon add up to a pretty large investment. Getting a "mega-star" gladiator back from retirement could easily be hundreds of thousands, so promotors typically had to pay gladiator houses extra for arranging fatalities (and those would be the prospects who hadn't worked out and shown promise). It was a business.

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Very much so.
Also, being slaves, the heroes could be rented out for functions and so on to add lustre to whatever you were doing. However the vast majority weren't heroes. Tyro gladiators probably had a high death rate, and especially in early matches where they had little 'name value'.

They could expect good quality health care though and in Glorantha that means quick trauma care for wounded gladiators, and added that infection doesn't work the same way in Glorantha (thankfully) recovery will be very likely. The way Rune Quest combat systems work the majority of deaths will be from specials and criticals, especially to the generally unarmoured torso. In normal combat a gladiator would probably be instructed to never apply their damage bonus and to just wait for a torso strike. Blasting through armour might result in a wound that wasn't seen by the audience and a thus a waste of gladiators, however I could expect a gladiator fighting for their lives to probably ignore that regularly.

While the sources are fairly silent about the fighting from the gladiator's perspective apart from a few interesting examples there are a lot of commentaries included in various works by spectators. Mainly they wanted fearlessness, stoicism and the 'manly' (Rome being very patriarchal) facing of death. As gladiators would primarily be in the Lunar Empire and The Holy Country, both with strong matriarchal or gender-equivalent cultures this may be modified, however in the Glorantha works there is still a strong vein of martial expectations and this is what gladiators addressed. It must be noted that women often went to gladiatorial matches, often to the offence of male sensibilities in Rome :D How these sensibilities varied from class to class is not really known as the vast majority of the voices of the common people are silent. On the whole though the crowds seemed quite happy when a gladiator died, and what they wanted was the name of the game.

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