Thursday, June 16, 2011

Some of the 'Special Rules' for my Arena Game

So, I'm polishing off some of the rules changes for the Dark Sun game... here are my core assumptions:

Assumption 1: All of the players are gladiator slaves, and none of them hold any ranking... all are fresh off the boat, so to speak.

The players need to determine why they are here, what their initial motivation is (survival, escape, martial excellence, whatever). They'll need to have a brief history (where are they from, will anyone come look for them, what is their name).

Assumption 2: Slaves can be of any race or class, within reason.

Players will have free access to all player races and classes that make sense for the game... Eladrin, with their ability to teleport at will, for instance, aren't exactly high on the list of slaves. No slaver would get very far selling goods that escape the next day. As far as classes, Divine and Arcane power sources are completely out. Divine simply does not exist, and no Arena Master would risk putting a Defiler on the arena grounds.

Assumption 3: The players will be known to be different.

The city the players are in is not Tyr, where everyone is free. This will be a brutal City-State ruled by a Sorcerer-King, with nearly 100% of the population as human, and only 10% or so truly free. The PCs will be marked not only by their race (if non-human), but all gladiator slaves will be marked in some way that they can't easily escape into the crowds. The PCs will stand out.

Assumption 4: The way to power is fame/infamy

All players will start out as unknowns, thrown into one of the giant melees designed to please the crowd with a ridiculous amount of death and bloodshed, and will need to prove themselves worthy to make it out of that bloodbath alive and worth being trained. Starting as unknown underdogs, they will need to position themselves to become known, with flourishes, attack patterns, over-the top styles just to be noticed... and then they will need to pick their enemies, going after the well-loved fighters can earn you infamy, while supporting them can grant you fame. Either way, whether loved or hated by the crowds, you'll be a draw, and with a draw comes bigger bets, larger crowds, and more attention from the people that matter.

Assumption 5: This isn't about gear

Players won't have posessions. Armor and Weapons will be ephemeral, limited to what the arena masters grant you for the fight. As such, players will use the alternate advancement tables instead of relying on magical gear. In addition, weapon and armor breaking will be MUCH more prevalent than the rules imply... not only will weapons break on fumbles, they can also shatter on criticals, be targeted for a sunder, thrown across the arena on a disarm, or just wear out through long use. Battles might involve higher quality weapons that can last an entire duel, but it is just as likely you'll be forced to fight with fists and feet, or scavenge other weapons from downed foes. Think Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, where the weapons used were varied and many.

Assumption 6: Relationships with the arena staff will be key

While the types of fights held (duels, skirmishes, obstacle courses, death runs, king of the hill) can change, and can the 'random' weapons and armor, and the specialized training before the fight... it isn't necessarily fair. If you have good relationships with the beast master, you can learn the monster of the week. If you and the weapons master came to an agreement, your favored weapons may be chosen for the battle, and if you've bribed the drill instructor, he may train you in climbing if he knows a king of the hill is your next task. Conversely, bad relationships could have them choose to go against you in the 'random' selections.

More to come...

1 comment: