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Red Sand, Blue Sky: Death in the Arenas of Rome» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Campaign Journal: Cyriacus the thraex rss

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Chris Talbot
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In the six weeks since I purchased and printed Red Sand, Blue Sky, I've been thinking hard about playing it as a campaign. Originally my plan was to build a stable of gladiators and play out the campaign from the lanista's point of view, but after some more thought, I decided to play out the career of one character instead.

Cyriacus was built to use the thraex fighting style (sword and small shield). I chose to keep him as a man-sized gladiator instead of rolling randomly. Likewise, I decided to start him off at Rep 4, so he's unblooded in combat but has been trained.

I played my first game of RSBS at lunch (gotta love the perks that come with working from home). This also kicked off Cyriacus' campaign, which I'll continue to write about here (The Rise of the Hippo has inspired me to write session reports of his career).

September, 106 AD

Somewhere in Germania in a small arena...

I chose a miniature from the Ludus Gladiatorious set I bought in late December to represent Cyriacus and laid out the map that came with that game in a poster frame.

I rolled randomly to see what type of gladiator would be Cyriacus' first opponent. Part of the reason I chose to play a thraex was because the fighting style and the opponents appealed to me. I rolled a man-sized murmillo at Rep 3 and, once again taking inspiration from The Rise of the Hippo, I gave him a name -- Corbinus.

I chose a miniature for Corbinus and placed both of the minis on the map at opposite gates. With them just inside the gates, there were eleven inches base to base.

With the deck of cards already shuffled, I chose black for myself and drew the top two cards. They were both red, so Corbinus moved three inches directly towards Cyriacus. Then I moved Cyriacus four inches toward Corbinus.

No missile weapons were being used, so I tossed the cards aside and started the second turn. One of each, with the black nine beating out the red four. Cyriacus got to move first this turn, which was perfect. That was just enough to Cyriacus right up to touch bases with Corbinus and strike with his sword.

I moved him up and consulted the combat rules. This is where I started to get a bit confused, and the game really slowed down here. I thought I had a good grasp of the rules before starting, but apparently not. I re-read the rules to get an idea for how things worked and then started making rolls. I chose four dice for my attack, and a random roll for Corbinus only gave him one die to allocate. I beat him by 2d10 and then consulted more charts.

At first, I thought I had landed a solid blow to his chest, but then I remembered the shield. Instead, I didn't roll high enough on the combat chart to bust right through his shield, but rather Cyriacus' blade slammed into Corbinus' shield. I consulted the maneuver table, and poor Corbinus got knocked right to the ground, flat on his back.

Unless I misread the rules, that gave Cyriacus a free shot at Corbinus, so I took it, cutting into his left arm and knocking his dice pool down significantly.

I wasn't sure whether Corbinus still got his action, but I assumed so. I checked to see if he would try to catch his breath, but nope. He stood up and I checked the flanking rules and how they relate to NPCs. Since whether or not an NPC flanks is based on whether he allocates more dice than his target, I chose to allocate three dice to my defence, knowing that Corbinus' dice pool had been reduced from fifteen to four. He couldn't allocate more dice than Cyriacus, so it had to be a straight-up frontal attack.

Here's where the rules confused me again. I rolled the dice. Corbinus passed one and Cyriacus passed three. I assumed that simply meant Corbinus missed, but then the rules seemed to indicate that Cyriacus passing more dice meant he got to make an attack roll. I hope I read that right, as the chart said the "higher" roller.

Cyriacus got through Corbinus' shield and cut into his belly, knocking the wind right out of him and reducing his dice pool to zero. Corbinus was spent, so the fight was over. Winner: Cyriacus the newcomer.

That gave Cyriacus three advancement points and fame points. It also ended his first appearance at the arena.

One thing the rules mention is that it's possible for a gladiator to have to fight more than once in a month, but I couldn't find a rule regarding how that happens. Unless I find something about it, I'll just assume the next battle takes place in the following month.

And that was my first time playing RSBS. I like the way the game functions, although I think the rulebook could use some changes so as to make it easier to quickly find information on how NPCs act/react. I'm thinking about putting together a reference chart for my own use that's specifically made for NPC stuff.

Chris
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Chris Talbot
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October, 106 AD
October, 106 AD

After spending the rest of September resting, Cyriacus was put into the arena once again with Corbinus the Rep 3 murmillo in October. This turned out to be a tougher match, and Cyriacus came very close to losing the fight, even though he sustained no injuries.

As with the first battle, the battle took place in a small arena (the Ludus Gladiatorius arena) somewhere in Germania.

In the first turn, Corbinus got initiative and moved directly towards Cyriacus, who did the same.

In the second turn, Cyriacus got initiative. He ran up to Corbinus and struck at him with his gladius, putting three dice into his pool. Corbinus also put three dice into his pool. They passed the same amount of dice and continued locked in combat. Corbinus allocated two dice and Cyriacus three dice in Corbinus' attack phase, and a lucky hit gave Cyriacus a scratch and reduced his dice pool by one.

In the third turn, Cyriacus got initiative again and tried to flank Corbinus. That large shield is a pain to fight against, so I wanted to eliminate its effectiveness. The dice weren't with me, and Corbinus turned to face Cyriacus as the thraex struck with his gladius. I allocated three dice and Corbinus allocated one, but the dice still weren't with me and Cyriacus failed to get through Corbinus' defence.

In the fourth turn, Cyriacus once again got initiative and tried to flank, but failed. The two combatants were unable to penetrate each other's defences and remained locked in combat.

In the fifth turn, I had Cyriacus give up on flanking and just throw three dice behind a wild gladius attack. Corbinus tried to bash Cyriacus with his big shield, but Cyriacus passed two more dice than Corbinus. A lucky roll opened up a wound on Corbinus' left leg and burned two of Corbinus' dice, but by this point, both gladiators were dangerously near exhaustion.

In the sixth and final round, things looked back when Corbinus got initiative. With only one die in his pool and two in Cyriacus' pool, both gladiators allocated one die on Corbinus' attack. Both passed the same amount. With Corbinus left exhausted and Cyriacus just barely standing on his feet, the thraex spent his action to back off.

With one die still left in his pool, Cyriacus was declared the victor, although it seemed like a shallow victory. He'd injured his opponent, but he'd been given a hell of a fight. When comparing dice pools, Corbinus' 15 really should have been no match for Cyriacus' 20. I think I might be using too many dice in each attack/defence allocation.

It also seems like the NPCs should, when their dice pools reach a certain level, choose to back off to catch their breath.

I'm slowly starting to feel a bit more comfortable with the Red Sand, Blue Sky rules, and I'm looking forward to continuing Cyriacus' career when I have time for the next match.

Chris
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Chris Talbot
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The end to Cyriacus' career
With my girlfriend out tonight, I decided to continue Cyriacus' career. I wanted to get a couple of fights in, roll some dice, learn the rules better and have some fun. Mission accomplished. I had fun. Cyriacus ended up with a crippling injury that ended his career prematurely.

November, 106 AD

Somewhere in Germania...

In Cyriacus' third match, I rolled up a hoplomachus (spear and shield fighter) with Rep 4 as my thraex's opponent. Not only was the first time I'd went up against a hoplomachus, but it was also the first time I'd rolled an opponent of equal Rep.

Using the Ludus Gladiatorius map again, Cyriacus and Didicus the hoplomachus started about eleven inches away.

In round one, Didicus got initiative, but all either gladiator did was move towards the other.

Round two: Cyriacus got initiative, closed in on Didicus and attacks. Cyriacus allocated two dice and so did Didicus. Cyriacus passed two dice while poor Didicus blew his roll and passed none. Cyriacus' sword cut into Didicus' lower left leg, making the hoplomachus burn two more dice and giving him a nice sting. Not a bad start. Didicus struck back, with both allocating two dice, but neither passed any dice, for no effect.

Round three: Cyriacus got initiative again and tried to flank Didicus. Cyriacus passed two, but Didicus passed one. The flank failed, but Didicus was forced to burn another die. In the attack, neither passed any dice. Didicus fought back, allocating three dice to Cyriacus' two and trying to flank. Neither passed any dice, so the flank failed. Didicus evened the odds with his frontal attack, though. He passed one die, while Cyriacus passed none -- scoring a hit on Cyriacus' chest, injuring the thraex and making him burn three more dice.

Round four: Didicus won initiative. He allocated three dice to Cyriacus' two and attempted a flank. Neither scored a passing die, so the flank failed. However, Didicus passed two dice on the attack, one more than Cyriacus. He scored a hit on Cyriacus' belly, which had me worried. Thankfully, the spear didn't penetrate Cyriacus' armour. For his turn, Cyriacus allocated one die, equaling Didicus' one die allocation. Both passed one, so no effect.

Round five: Didicus won initiative, and both gladiators allocated two dice. Neither passed any dice. This was it. Cyriacus allocated two dice and Didicus allocated his last die. Both passed one die, but Didicus the hoplomachus was spent. He surrendered.

Cyriacus won the fight and gained 4 AP.

I rolled on the healing table for the chest wound, but Cyriacus wasn't able to recover.

December, 106 AD

Since Cyriacus was still injured, I chose to keep him out of the arena and just roll for healing. I rolled below his Rep and Cyriacus' wounds had healed up nicely. He was ready for his next opponent.

January, 107 AD

Still somewhere in Germania...

This time, Cyriacus (Rep 4 thraex with 10 AP -- six away from Rep 5) was put up against a Rep 3 murmillo named Lazarus. I had rolled up Lazarus up as a large gladiator, but I forgot about that during the fight. I'll have to go back to see if it would have had any effect on the battle.

Round one: The gladiators started about eleven inches away. Cyriacus moved ahead, followed by Lazarus.

Round two: Cyriacus got initiative, rushed forward to come into base-to-base contact with Lazarus and attacked. Cyriacus allocated two dice and so did Lazarus. Things looked bad when Cyriacus passed zero dice. Then things got worse when Lazarus passed two, opening up Cyriacus' belly with his sword and making the thraex burn three dice. On Lazarus' turn, he allocated three dice, compared to Cyriacus' two, and tried to flank the thraex. Neither passed any flanking dice, so the flank failed. In the attack, Lazarus passed one die and Cyriacus crapped out again with nothing. Once again, Lazarus cut through Cyriacus' armour, cutting open Cyriacus' lower left leg and making him burn two more dice. I should have just given up right there.

Round three: Lazarus won initiative and tried to bash Cyriacus with his shield. Both gladiators allocated two dice, but both passed one die each, making the attack ineffective. Cyriacus tried to flank Lazarus, but with both getting zero passes, the flank failed. For the attack, both allocated two dice, but neither passed anything.

Round four: Cyriacus won initiative and tried once again to flank, but failed (both passed zero dice). Instead, he went face-to-face again. Both allocated two dice, but only Cyriacus was able to pass a die. His strike to Lazarus' upper left leg wasn't strong enough to pierce the murmillo's armour, though. On Lazarus' action, both allocated two dice. Things were looking up when Lazarus passed zero and Cyriacus passed one. I rolled the head on the hit location chart. Great, I thought. I can kill him right here. But no, I forgot about the amount of armour on the head. Cyriacus failed to bust through Lazarus' helmet.

Round five: With both gladiators getting dangerously close to being exhausted, Lazarus got the initiative. He allocated two dice to Cyriacus' one and tried to flank. For the flank roll, Lazarus blew it with zero passed dice and Cyriacus took advantage with two passed dice. Instead of flanking Cyriacus, Lazarus opened himself up for a flank, reducing his Rep by one (to Rep 2) for the round and burning an extra die for his attack. Since he had allocated his last two dice, it was going to be one die against one die. Neither gladiator passed a die, so Cyriacus was unable to actually take advantage of his position. However, Lazarus was spent (Cyriacus was down to 2 Dice Pool.). Exhausted, Lazarus surrendered.

Cyriacus gained 3 AP for the fight, but he had two wounds. I blew both healing rolls for January, so Cyriacus was going to be laid up for awhile.

February, AD 107

Once again, I made healing rolls and blew both of them, even with the -1 roll on the dice. It was looking bad for Cyriacus. If he didn't completely heal in March, his career was over and he'd find himself sold off.

March, AD 107

I rolled to heal and Cyriacus' belly wound finally closed over. However, the lower left leg injury refused to heal. Sadly, a lame gladiator is no good in the arena, so Cyriacus the thraex was sold off from the school to enter a life of general slavery and labour.

Chris
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Joseph Latvaitis
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Tough break, Cyriacus.
 
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