Friday, May 24, 2013

"Gladiators" by Matthew Sprange, published and distributed by Mongoose Publishing.

ISBN = 1-903980-05-4  MGP # 2001

Quick Look-see:


Part 1 - Arenas and Campaigns
01) Overview of the Arena
02) Races of the Spectacle
03) The Arenas
04) The Gladiator Campaign

Part 2 - Gladiatorial Combat
05) Characters of the Arena
06) Gladiatorial Feats
07) Types of Matches
08) Fame, Mercy, and the Crowd
09) Chariots
10) Exotic Weaponry
11) Dirty Tricks of the Sands

Part 3 - Sands of Death
12) Sands of Death
13) Sample Gladiators
14) Designer's Notes
15) OGL
16) Rules Summary

The intro is a two page short story and a short bit about the book.

In Part One, they have an overview of the arena in general, another bit about why they are built, a few paragraphs about gladiators in general, another short section on Stable Masters (the controllers of the slaves), a very short look at managers and contracts, some info on the crew of the arena, another section on the crowd, and a bit about smaller arenas. Races of the Spectacle include: Humans, Dwarves, Elves, Gnomes, Halflings, Goblinoids, Orcs, Half-Orcs, and other races.  Arenas include Pit Fights as well as larger outdoor arenas.  Outdoor arenas are split up into smaller and larger venues.  Finally, in The Gladiator Campaign section, there are thoughts about a gladiatorial based campaign, including a few plot hooks. 

In Part Two, they look at characters of the arena, including a new character class of Slave, the Gladiatorial Champion character class, the Beast Handler character class, and the Charioteer character class. Then there are new feats, info on types of matches, Sacrificial Games, blind fighting, and mounted entertainment, including Chariots and Jousts.  There's also a short section devoted to fame and mercy.  In addition, there are a few pages devoted to Chariots and how they operate, another couple of pages on exotic weaponry, and finally some dirty tricks Gladiators need to watch out for - or use.

In Part Three, they create a whole mini-game to use either in a regular role playing game campaign, or, believe it or not, as a stand alone product. There are rules for running "The Sands of Death", including some sample Gladiators. If you've ever had the desire to portray a "Stable Master", with gladiators under your control, this is the section for you. Finally there's the usual OGL, a rules summary, and a sample Stable Master's record sheet.

Although this is an 80 page book, I found the section on "The Sands of Death" almost useless, and it takes up 15 pages, including the inside back cover.  However, the sample Gladiators, of which there are 15, might be useful as either PC's or NPC's.  In addition, there are no diagrams or maps of any type of arena.  These two flaws, which I consider major, are the reason I'm only awarding this book three stars.  Had there been, maybe, even one good diagram/map of an arena, I =might= have give it four.  In this case, I'd say to stay away unless you =really= want to add Gladiators to your campaign.

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