Political duty discharged, I can now concentrate on an exercise in self-indulgence: news about the solo gladiator campaign I am running (for myself, natch).
My first few “sessions” have been enormous fun, recalling some of my better winter Detroit days spent in my cozy basement playing the schizoid as I switched army sides. It certainly beat the hell out of shoveling snow.
As I reminder I am running Red Sand Blue Sky, a nifty set of mano et mano Roman Gladiator rules from Two Hour Wargames which specializes in a range of mini skirmish rules that blend in RPG elements. Significantly, their rules also have nice elegant and easily workable rules for running non-player forces which makes them invaluable for solo or same-side efforts. (I should also add that their honcho, Ed, is a stand-up guy who has fond memories of white box OD&D.)
For figures I seem to be flying through the options. My first bout I tested with the full-color paper counters and paper arena that come with the rules, though was quickly unsatisfied and switched to stop-gap medieval-era 28mm minis while I waited on packages to arrive from afar.
My original intention was to run them with some very nicely sculpted (and dirt cheap)1/72 scale plastic figures from Pegasus. When the box arrived I was again happy with the sculpting, but groaned silently a bit as I opened up the box and saw all the multiple detached parts in needing of glue.
|From the Pegasus set. Nice midgets.|
For the record, when it comes to miniatures projects nothing turns me off quicker than the need to apply some epoxy. Something about having to sit there for minutes over and over again, with all that squiggly crap a-fixing itself to the pads of fingers just drives me bonkers.
So off to find another alternative. Fortunately I found a good short-cut with the Ludus Gladiatorus sets. These sets features five pre-painted 28mm Roman gladiators with their own mini-game and some icon-faced d6s. While I typically—like most mini grogs—look down my aquiline nose at pre-painted I am in the mood to jump right in now with a minimum of fuss.
RSBS has several starting options for solo gaming: playing as a single gladiator, a school of gladiators, or as the owner of said school. I want the full range of experience with the extended campaign rules so I opt for the last.
Kutalikus Cacophonus, an almost-famous Dacian gladiator freed by the Emperor in 153 AD has returned to seek the roar of the crowds and the smell of fresh blood—at least on the more lucrative and less dangerous end of the arena. No longer slave he is now lanista (trainer-owner) of a new ludus (gladiator school) in Corinium Dobunnorum, a rough-and-tumble town in the dreary, rain-besotted frontier province of Britannia.
Kutalikus' goal here, besides becoming stinking rich, is to ultimately move the school up from the backwater sideshow through the various tiers (RSBS has four each having a minimum cash level in aurei to get to) up to the “Big Show”: the Coliseum in Rome.
While wealthy he has a way to go with his 5,000 aurei at start.
Lacking grist for his fighting mill, his first action in month one (campaign turns are monthly) is to trot over to the local slave market to size up some likely targets. Looking over the flotsam and jetsom of those on the receiving of the Empire's might, he finds four broad-backed candidates and begins bidding on them.
First up on the block is Terius from K's homeland of Dacia. Though he is pretty average (savvy 2, strength 2, speed 2—all the baseline scores), out of tearful sentimentality he starts bidding and picks him up at a reasonable 9 aurei.
Next up is Maximus from Hispania, despite his cinematically-grandiose name another mediocre but passable acquisition. Maximus goes for a bit more at 15, K. decides what the Pluto and buys him too—as he does for yet another Mr. Average, Draco from Germania at 12.
The wily Dacian puts his new no-so-willing recruits through the tough pacing of his school. He's only satisfied with one, Bluto, enough to put him through the paces of the upcoming day of games. Bluto gets trained up in the kit and fighting style of the Hoplomachus, an armor, shield and spear carrying style.
In order to beef up my ludus with some real muscle—and field a full complement at the next round of games (each day of events has 1d6+4 matches in it), he makes the rounds to see what gladiators others lanistas may trying to off load. He is satisfied with four decent looking types:
Decundus, trained as a Murmillo, dude with sword and baroque fish-helmet (savvy 2, str 3, spd 4).
Sertius, trained as a Secutor, a “chaser” with sword, ornate helmet, and large shield (savvy 2, str 2, spd 3, Brawler special trait).
Secius, also a Secutor (sav 3, str 3, spd 2, Frenzy trait).
Secimus, trained as a Thraex, “Thracian” with a Griffin-helmet, small shield and sica (long wicked dagger) (sav 3, str 2, spd 2, Brawler).
Kutalikus buys gear for them and puts them through the paces preparing for next month's games.