One thing I have been thinking about concerning this arena is the inclusion of holy/religious classes. By this I mean Paladins, Clerics, and to an extent Monks (theres also favored souls and plenty of other options, lets keep it to the core classes for now). Paladins for one would loath being slaves, and would as likely fight their handlers and get themselves executed for not participating. Clerics may hold different ideas concerning their place in the world, but likely as not they’d fight to escape the arena as much as they are willing to fight in the arena. Monks tend to have religious backgrounds no matter how strongly they practice their religions. Unlike the Paladins or Clerics however their search for physical oneness would push a great many into the arenas as a way of testing themselves. Many other monks however would scoff at the idea of the glory that comes with fighting as a gladiator and would as likely shun the establishment.
This tends to make these classes less than desirable from a role playing standpoint within this gladiator game that I have running. I would certainly accept any of these classes, but I would still ask the player to be able to explain how or why their character would accept and remain a member of this form of establishment rather than laying their arms down every combat and run the risk of execution. The other limitation is that such classes also tend to expect devotion, and multiclassing isn’t much of an option. While it is perfectly acceptable that anyone remain their chosen path, I do want people to feel like they have the adaptability to overcome challenges such as our current shadow. A set and solid path can make it so that your character will always lose against particular opponents. For example: while Fog, the shadow, certainly has a huge advantage in incorporeality, he is also limited to having to take 10 levels as a shadow to fully claim what he is before he can take any levels in any class whatsoever. If anyone takes the right abilities that allow them to overcome shadows, Fog will likely not defeat that person for a very long time. So while I’d like to have paladins and clerics and even monks in the arena, I’d also like them to have the option of multiclassing freely. And more than that, I’d like that option to be acceptable from a role playing standpoint that isn’t just “The GM allowed it.”
There are feats and classing options allowed within the various books that can easily allow for multiclassing, the trouble with that is keeping track of the number of rules involved. It also doesn’t add much to the game I don’t think, and it means that people have to sacrifice feats and advantages to accomplish something freely that other classes can already do. It also still doesn’t help to explain why someone of faith would allow themselves to remain apart of the arena as a slave, or why they’d ever freely join the arena. The devotion demanded by their gods would push them to not remain as slaves to any other.
The only idea I can come up with is a god of gladiators. Such a god would encourage his faithful to take part in the arenas, and his greatest clerics would be well known gladiators. I’d like to spend this post explaining and exploring such a deity, and hopefully I can get some feedback on my ideas.
I see such a deity as being true neutral. To him life is about the struggle, it doesn’t matter how you get where you are going or what you want, its about working towards the goal. Its about overcoming obstacles, defeating foes, and recognizing the challenge. Its not about the award or the riches or the fame, its about the competition. The Honor is to have taken part and done your best.
I see the arena as his church if any exists, and the gladiators and their fights are but representations of the struggles we all face in life. But for this god, I don’t think he cares for the cheering fans. In fact if anything I think this god dislikes the fame and fortune that accompanies well known gladiators. This deity is very paradoxical in this because he would recognize celebrating the win, as well as celebrating those that lost. There would be no set holidays as much as small celebrations after every fight. Followers would likely have a greater celebration at the end of any sporting season, but the deity himself would likely not care as much for these. And just as there would be celebrations for every fight, there would be celebrations for those that have died (funerals).
The struggle is not eternal. We all must rest to recover our strength, to heal our wounds, to prepare for the next struggle, to celebrate our struggle, and to remember those lost. Everyone struggles in life and everyone dies, this is a universal constant. It doesn’t matter how good you are, how much you give, how many you defeat, or even how much you amass. In the end you will die, what is important is how you lived.
It is important to recognize that we are all struggling in life. Our struggles may differ, but they are no less important. For this deity it is important to recognize others. Others whos struggles are different. Others who actively struggle against ourselves. Others who struggle alongside us. The struggle is what is important. Once you’ve overcome your opponent, recognize them and honor their struggle. This god would frown on the desecration of a corpse or of mocking your enemy in any way. Once you finish your battle, win or lose, heal your opponent before you heal yourself. Recognize their effort, and thank them for the struggle.
Without the struggle, life would be boring. If everything was given to us on a golden platter, no worries or cares, what about life would be worth living? The spilling of your own blood is just as important as the spilling of your enemies blood. The sacrifice is the loss, the reward is the struggle.
So I’m rambling on about this deities dogma, but hopefully the idea I’ve conveyed gets across. I think clerics would have access to the following domains: Healing, Strength, Competition, and War (though call it Arms).
Healing is important because we must rest and recover our strength. Strength is about training ones self in preparation of the struggle. For the same reason I would include the Arms domain. And finally Competition is an obvious choice.
The War domain allows a cleric weapon proficiency and increased skill with their deities favored weapon. Why I offer Arms instead of War is because while this deities favored weapon would most likely be the gladius, I imagine this deity having no particular care about what weapon his followers use as much as that his followers make sure they know how to use their own chosen weapon. So the difference would be that while the War domain’s bonuses are specifically for their deities chosen weapon, the Arms domain would allow the cleric to choose any weapon and specialize in that.
I would say that healing to this deity should only take place after combat, the spilling of your own blood being your sacrifice. So while healing would be a possible domain, that domains advantages would primarily be for trainers and attendants and not common among gladiators. I would also say that as a cleric retires from being a gladiator, they would be able to change one of their domains to Healing. And if they start as an attendant and later become a gladiator, they would be able to change healing to another domain. This would not be accepted simply between fights and only as a career changing event. Likely within any arena dedicated to this deity there is a chapel like room in which the fighters recover and are healed by clerics of this deity.
As this deity is all about the struggle, and the preparation thereof, he would be accepting of his clerics multiclassing. Training as a warrior would give them knowledge of arms and armor and how to use them to their best ability. Training as a wizard would give them similar knowledge of magic. Rogues are all about skills and gaining the advantage, Bards are important for entertainment and recognition of heroic deeds. Rangers would have more real world application, but there is strong favor in studying and preparing ones self against a particular opponent. Barbarians are all about the raw strength and power. And Monks are all about physical self perfection, while Sorcerers would be all about metaphysical self perfection. All classes have their use in the great struggle of life. Any struggle can come to us, the more prepared we are the better we can face these struggles.
The only problem I come to is that of the Paladin. This particular class is very much focused very specifically in hunting and destroying evil. While their struggle would be honored by followers of this deity, and they would be welcomed as followers, I don’t see how Paladins themselves would still join the arena. They are called for very real problems and for very real struggles against very real evils. This deity honors the struggle without concern for who’s right or wrong, who wins or loses, who’s good or evil. So for this class I still have to rely on alternate rules and players attempts to explain their characters reasons.
Concerning other deities. I don’t think they like this deity as I’ve defined them. They may very well have a great deal of respect for him, and accept his adoration of their struggles. But they don’t like that they can’t count on him for help. His followers carry out mock battles that honor their struggles, but they just as often honor the enemies.
The battles in the arena are but symbols of lifes struggles to this god. And while he honors the struggles of real people, he recognizes his place as offering but a symbol of what they do. For this reason his followers always salute the crowds first. “We who are about to die, Salute You.”
So lemme know what you think. Anything to add? Think something I’ve said doesnt make sense, or might make sense another way? Any domains I might be missing? Anything wrong with the domains I’ve suggested? Its an idea, and I’ll definitely allow clerics and followers of this deity. If you want different domains and have a good reason for why they’d be allowed, let me know. There are no hard and fast rules for this guy.
Also, as I am very poor at coming up with names…. any suggestion for a name for this guy?
I keep saying he or him or guy, its just as likely a she if you can offer reason for it. I would say probably that this deity would most likely be neither male or female and could be represented either way, even both, or simply without gender.
Shortly after presenting these ideas to my friends, they told me about Victorix, a God they had used in previous games. The Jack called that name out during his match, and at that moment I decided to adopt Victorix as the God of Arenas.