View Full Version : Alternatives for "the arena"

2012-02-01, 08:25 AM
Traditionally, when the DM wants to introduce a sport that PCs can get involved in and excel at and through which they can gain fame and money, it is along the lines of "There is an arena, do you guys want to become gladiators?".

I find that unsatisfactory. Arena combat is just combat:
-It's something that PCs are doing constantly anyways
-Everyone who is good at combat is good at arena combat (either "the champion" is the highest level combatant in the settlement or better ones just aren't interested)
-Besides, every experienced player has played through numerous arena fights at one point or another

I'd like to have something a bit more complex. Something in which the players can use their combat skills but that would also involve a lot of tactics and that players would see as an alternative to just fighting.

Currently, I'm considering something along the lines of American Football (or Blood Bowl) with each player also directing an NPC or two... Lack of combat capabilities means your team is prone fast while other team scores touchdowns but if you spend too little time concentrating on the ball and too much concentration on combat... again means that the other team scores the touchdowns.

That said, I'm not certain that DND 3.5 (Or Pathfinder, in my case) mechanics are well-suited for something like american football. Even ignoring the massive problems that spellcasters cause in any sport like that... The more precisely I try to simulate games in my head, the less likely it seems that everything would go smoothly.

Has anyone ran any alternatives for the arena or at least interesting variations to it? Do any supplements describe good system for any interesting sport?

2012-02-01, 10:25 AM
Well, I've never run such a system, but historically, gladiators were expected to be showmen as much as combatants. So, you could invent some way for the the players to not only win, but win with style. Bonus points for especially effective imagery.

2012-02-01, 10:38 AM
A good joust is always fitting in a fantasy setting. As could archery tournaments, etc. Basically, anything you'd see at a ren. fair.

You could, in addition, peruse pathfinder's performance combat (http://www.d20pfsrd.com/gamemastering/performance-combat) rules. Those would be useful.

2012-02-01, 09:36 PM
I believe Races of Stone has a thing called Goat-Ball, that may or may not have rules that may be pertinent. Something in the Goliath section.

There is always the option of modified Chess, checkers, battleship, or even an arena-like maze/dungeon crawl, where spectators somehow see in (seated above the henge-maze or however). This arena like maze could be a race or fight to the death, or even a violent match of capture the flag.

Ulysses WkAmil
2012-02-01, 11:13 PM
Obstacle course? Epic trap-maze? OLympic games that require several checks? Maybe, to go inception on everybody's arse, a D&D tourney? :smallcool:

2012-02-02, 12:55 AM
Can't go far wrong with a bit of good old-fashioned Siegeball (http://1d4chan.org/wiki/Siegeball).

2012-02-02, 07:24 AM
Thanks everyone for suggestions. I've got to look up the goat-ball and I hadn't rembembered that PF had performance combat rules... But Siegeball is pretty much exactly what I was looking for!

Obviously, if someone has more suggestions (or perhaps playtest experience with Siegeball) I'd love to hear them but this has already exceeded my expectations. :)

2012-02-02, 09:09 AM
When I played Siegeball we had rules about the incoming/outcoming direction of the ball and how much the attacks would add. So you could smack it up the field passing it between three people and get much more damage on the ball than a quick intercept and trying to send it back in direct opposition to the direction it came. I forget what exactly we used.

2012-02-02, 09:49 AM
There's always challenges. Sorta, "If you're so great, let's see you do X."

There's a rather renown story of some Norse gods doing exactly that. There's nothing like a drunken game of dare.

2012-02-02, 09:57 AM
Oh, another idea.

The characters are well known. Have them RUN the games. Throw in lots of cheating and other nastiness. They can run bar games, an arena, a proper jousting tournament, or some other set of contests.

Ulysses WkAmil
2012-02-02, 09:07 PM
There's always challenges. Sorta, "If you're so great, let's see you do X"
Strangley, this usually takes the form of murdering things.