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Ezebial

Gladiator Pits

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I ran a fairly successful Death Watch game but now, we all agreed we want to play Dark Heresy next. If anyone has advice or addons anything is appreciated.

 

So far, what I know for the game is the acolytes are sent to investigate the dissapearence of a Rogue Trader (and mostly to retrieve the Warrent of Trade, Inquisitor is a suitible inheritor) However during transit they meet with the same fate as the Rogue Trader did, they are boarded by Ork Pirates. If they manage to beat back a few Gretchins and squigs without all getting beaten I'll let them meet the captain Freebota Galog. Lasts until they are all beaten.

 

They wake up in cages with explosive collars and no gear. Now the plot. On a distant world Corrupted Nobles have been running a gladiator ring where they gather to watch and bet on their champions. They wear masks to every battle so no one can identify them. They use Freeboota Galog to supply them with exotic beasts and champions in return for whatever he asks for. The acolytes get caught up just in time for the Tri-annual games.

 

In an ever changing arena they are forced to fight in different scenarios and against each other until one or the other is dead. Mercy on the defeated means the collar will be activated and death. Try to openly rebel and the collar means death. They keep psykers appropriately drugged unless they are going to fight, and fighters are given a knife in their first battle and upon victory can choose a new piece of gear, or a free upgrade on their existing equipment. The last one standing is granted freedom and the Warrent of trade.

 

The key points of interest I know now is that Galog has the mark of a sanctioned Xenos and the Warrant of Trade they would be given is not the one they were sent to retrieve, it would be  a new one meaning there is a powerful figure involved.

 

I know I wrote a lot but that is all I have planned. Any advice on things to have players do so its not just sit in a cage and fight?

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(...)

 The last one standing is granted freedom and the Warrent of trade.

(...)

 Any advice on things to have players do so its not just sit in a cage and fight?

Not what you asked for, but I advise you to screw this idea. What does it mean? It means (for those organizing the this illegal gladiator fights) that they make a potential mortal enemy (kidnapping, killing friends in the kidnapping, forcing him or her to kill and kill and perhaps kill friends and comrades) AND hand them the potential for wrath (the might that comes along with a warrant of trade) . This isn´t sounding very smart, does it?

This "scenario" of yours will work just as fine (?) without giving the sole survivor the warrant of trade.

By the by, you really want the PC to kill another off during this? This might be nice in movies, but I do not advise it on the gaming table.

Last but not least, if you want the characters to have something to do instead of just fighting and fighting, turn the arena into an open area, overwatched by some servo skulls or similiar "watchers". Sounds familiar? Yes, "The Hunger Games" does just that in the first two parts. It allows for me freedom, more things to do and more actions to take, and if it is just because they need to explore and to find food and a place for rest instead of just being hauled out of a cage and into the fight.

 

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You make a very good point. I could instead organize it into teams competing to survive. (Originally I would have the PCs fight last or hopefully find a way to break the system first but that is a much better idea) and I will nix the warrant of trade. I was thinking of it as compensation to never return here but they would probably amass an army so... yeah. Any suggestions for a good alternative 'reward' or should it just be a death trap through and through?

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@Rewards
Well.... if you kidnap people and make them fight against another to the death, you normally do not even tend to let them leave alive, I believe. Unless they were enemies to YOUR society in the first place, and after fighting for a long, long, long time you "grant" them right to be part of that society (if they have behaved). Ancient Rom, so I believe to remember, did this with their gladiators, sometimes

But this scenario is completely different. In Rom, the Gladiators were legally slaves, as that was what the society was like. In this scenario, the whole slavery is illegal. Letting them go free is dangerous. After all, we are not talking about having bought a score of underhives from some uncaring hive noble but about interstellar piracy (which is illegal outside of a formal trade war, and since the characters aren´t part of a trade house... well, you get it).

The plot I could see is an old and dusty one: fighting and finding a way to escape. Which is kinda hard unless they are on a planet with some "regular imperial presence" that could be reached. But how shall the characters even know? It is not like you have your illegal arenas in line of sight of such. You would need some Deus ex machina for this. Like, imperial forces who have followed a distress signal, tracked down the pirate, found the arena and !BAM! RESCUE SINCE YOU SURVIVED THAT LONG! ;)

If you completely scrap the beginning of your plot and turn it into a some illegal fighting pits with WILLING, professional gladiators... well, different story. In that case, some kind is a kinda "must have", otherwise gladiators would not try to enter the tournment (or be enlisted by their respective owner). The thing that would make it illegal then would be the kind of other contestants involved. Perhaps Orks of the..what was the tribe trafficking with the Imperium? Axebiters? Red Axes?...anway, if this tournmant would include xenos, it would be illegal enough to be worth the attention of the Inquisiton AND you could have some Investigation at the start...or skip that part, and simply start with the cover-jobs already done for and the characters underway to their destination.

In that scenario, you can have team, formal banquets before battle where those that will fight and kill another meet over a glas of wine and slice of roasted grox first, mingled with the nobles who sponsor and enjoy that illegal activities, where the arena has goodies and traps and stuff...well, everything that is tried & true cheese for this kind of play. :)

In regard to rewards..well..the official thing will be money, but the characters will be there to carry something that can be "tracked"...perhaps some psychic gem an astropath could use as a beacon or just because the Inquistors things that their "records as witnesses" will help him getting clues about who is involved and where the show is happening...if they survive!

but as you see, that starts to be a whole different story then

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Here are some things to be sure to consider:

 

1 - If they come up with ways to escape the pit or their cages, then run with it. Anything from hacking the collars to tricking a guard to who knows what else.

 

2 - If they come up with a way to defeat the Freeboota, let them. If this subverts your whole arc, let it. The nobles likely have a lot of power and influence if they managed to set up and run these gladiatorial games under the nose of the local Enforcers, the Arbitrators, and the Holy Inquisition itself.

 

Never fiat a pc group into defeat. Do everything you can to make the encounter tough, unsurmountable even, but don't simply "rocks fall" the party. If you want them to be in a fighting pit and don't want to leave it to chance, then have them start out there. Indeed, it'd be a great place for the party to meet and form a group, and their survival/escape/whatever would be excellent grounds for an Inquisitor to recruit them.

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@Levi, Once they were there I had intended to let them run wild until they were force into a game. After that they would be allowed to return. After the first game they would be let out of the cages and into a general hall with sleeping quarters.

 

If they DID beat the encounter, I would be surprised for one, impressed for two, and I would have to let them go one safely out of respect. In that case the investigation would go far differently but ultimately lead them to the same world with the pits. Probably as 'spectators.'

 

@Gregorius, Rome did, they would give their gladiators a Rudius as a sign of freedom, usually after countless victories and a lot of money was made. You make a lot of good points and ideas. Yes it would change the story considerably if I took them all but you are on to something. I will make the encounter 5 Gretchins and their leader. If they lose, they are forced into the games themselves. They are put into teams and each week dropped into a battlefield to kill another team. They must survive against the wilds and opponents. (Some 'arenas' will be ruined cities, volcanic mountains, etc), When they are back at the camp they can talk to their opponents or try to get out. If they manage to get rid of the collars then they could do some real damage, and maybe even escape.

 

If they overcome their attackers then they obviously make it to their destination. Investigations into the missing trader reveal they never made it to the planet and after some work they can find out about the pits if they get in good with a noble (Or evesdrop). If so, they can don masks and go to the games as spectators and make bets on champions while they join the feasting and the like. A much more investigative approach than survival. If they can get names they could call in their inquisitor to send ig to overtake the world, capturing the criminals and simulatneously reclaiming it for the emperor.

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