In my copious free time, I’ve continued to think a bit about gladiator rules. There are some nice sets of rules already on the market, and I don’t see this as a commercial project. I am looking for something quick and easy for one-off games. Greg has been looking at distinguishing special abilities to make the various types of gladiators seem different. The working title of these rules is Blood and Sand.
I am pretty sure the game will be run on a hexagon grid to make it abundantly clear the gladiator’s facing. The discerning gamer who already knows the unbounded joy of Blood and Swash, will find some of the mechanics very similar.
Above is a sample, working draft of a “character” card for a gladiator. Note that gladiators can attack into their front three hexes. When a player rolls up the gladiator’s attributes, one of the attributes is Attack. That goes in the hex with the dark border. The other two hexes have the Attack number modified as shown in the leftmost card. Similarly, for defense, the dark hex contains the Defend attribute, and Defend is modified ginghams around the figure as shown on the right two cards.
Each class of gladiator (heavy, medium, and light) will have a different chart for rolling up attributes.
Gladiators were most frequently grouped by class (e.g., heavy vs. heavy) to provide the most even, balanced, and entertaining match (sort of like the forced mediocrity created by the draft system in professional sports). I’m not exactly sure how that will work in the game. Greg is working on the scenarios and matchup. Like recent sets of rules like Jugula and Sons of Mars, Greg has the idea that a player will have a stable (ludus) of gladiators and select the right one for the upcoming match. I’m sure that will appeal to many gamers, but for me, I am looking for some quick games to fill and hour, not a campaign where I have to manage resources. That sounds like work, not play. Also, while the head of a ludus sounds interesting as a gaming mechanism, apparently they were considered about the same as pimps or flesh peddlers in their day.
I have created a “middleweight” gladiator class that doesn’t seem to have existed formally. Gladiators in this class include the Provocator and Hoplomachus. These are armored like heavy gladiators but carry a much smaller shield.
Greg is also researching special abilities for the gladiator types within a class to distinguish them from each other. Where Sons of Mars has a lot of special abilities, many of those are already taken into account in the attribute generation tables. We are looking for things more like a foot sweep tripping attack, and shield bash (using your shield as a weapon), etc. More to come on that.
You may note a Speed attribute on the character cards. I envision two uses for this attribute. First, it is the number of hexes a figure may move when it activates. The second use will be to determine the activation sequence. Instead of cards, I am thinking that at the beginning of each turn, players will roll d20 for each figure and add that figure’s Speed number. The highest resulting number goes first and then on down the line. I would like to do a d6, because that will make the Speed attribute more important than when rolling a d20, but I am worried about too many collisions requiring a “roll off.”
So that’s where I am today. I am waiting for my sand-colored hex-grid cloth to arrive so that I can do the first play test. Also, Greg is still working on the special abilities. Stay tuned for more information as the concept matures. I am hoping to have the cloth and be ready to run a game at Barrage, 27-28 September.