[Solo Game w/Wife] Arena/Gladiator combat

Are you not entertained?!? Is this not why you are here??!

Gladiator combat. In my experience, it's either all fun or all boring. I've seen it done as a simulationist approach, with each move calculated out to tiny detail, or it can be done as a mini-game, ala the Joust in Chainmail.

In our last solo-game session with @thePrincessWife and I, Aeli found herself in the desert city of Chaliam, seeking clues to a lost Wizard's Tower that her ancestor raised. Clues might be found the the Tomes of Heronicus, but the largest collection of those would be found with the fat wizard Jacen, who likes to live a with a little opulence.

Jacen, the lech that he is, leered at Aeli for awhile, but after learning of her martial prowess, came up with a different idea and made her an offer. He would be a sponsor of her in the Great Arena of Chaliam, and she would fight in his name, allowing him to clear up a gambling debt he owned to the Arena's producer.

I spent a few days casting about for a decent set of gladiator rules that would flow with OD&D, be quick in combat and not distract us from the main point... earning money for Jacen. Remembering my Gladiator, I opted to create my own rule... The Mob Rules!

1. Base the crowd's "mood" on a reaction roll.
2-5 They are NOT entertained, hostile
6-8 They are bored, restless
9-12 They are entertained, supportive
13+ Deliriously entertained, very supportive.

2. For a new gladiator, determine the crowd's initial mood with 1d6+1.

3. Every 2 rounds, a combatant might signal a "flourish" which is a combat move meant to wow the crowd. They must declare they are flourishing before rolling to hit. The flourish gives no combat bonuses or penalties. For each time they flourish and miss, it is a -1 to the end-of-combat mood check. For each flourish that hits, it is a +1 to the end-of-combat mood check.

4. For a 3 on 3 battle, each opponent dispatched by the gladiator adds a +2 to the end-of-combat mood check. If the gladiator loses, it is a -2 to the check.

5. For 1 on 1 battles, if the gladiator wins, it is a +4 to the end-of-combat mood check. For a loss, it is a -4.

6. At the end of combat, roll a reaction roll on 2d6. Add the modifiers for flourishes and win/loss. The final result is the crowd's mood towards the gladiator. This affects payout!
2-8 - 50% pay (5gp for 3x3, 25gp for undercard 1x1, 100gp for main event 1x1)
9-12 75% pay (7gp5sp for 3x3, 37gp5sp for undercard 1x1, 150gp for main event 1x1)
13+ 100% pay (10gp for 3x3, 50 for undercard 1x1, 200gp for main event 1x1)

7. That mood carries over to the next match.

The idea here is that if the crowd loves the gladiator, then the money flows from the mob to the producer (and then to the fighter) in the form of bets, increased attendance, food, etc. If not... then the gladiator gets less. This also flows well with keeping with my OD&D combat, fast and furious, with few fiddly bits.

There were some campaign specific things here - contestants could opt to wear the "golden sash" which meant they fought to the death. Double winnings for them! And the type of battles - in the Grand Arena, there were the 3x3 matches (yawn), the undercard 1x1 matches (yay) and the main event 1x1 (YAY) which could be a title match or just a big name fight.

Angie loved it. The battles flowed quickly, she loved doing the flourishes and her dice were hot, so her character, Aeli, kept winning! The crowd loved Aeli!

Aeli now finds herself in a non-title match against the current Arena champion, Red Garry. There's a dark cloud over the champions - the last 3 have ended up dead or missing! And Aeli might be getting set up as an "easy win" for the champion, at the expense of her patron, Jasen...


  1. Nice idea for determining payouts and gladiators' popularity. A couple of questions: Does determining the mood in step 1 affect the after-combat result? Also, do you just use this on top of regular D&D combat?

  2. It was more for atmosphere... so that Angie/Aeli would get a sense of how the crowd grew more/less interested.

    And yes, I use this on top of my OD&D regular combat. That's based on Philotomy's Simplified Combat sequence.


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