Morturi: Battle Design
This page describes how to design battles. It isn't intended as a definitive ruleset, but rather is meant to inspire Imperator players in making fun and memorable battles.
Entry Fee and Prizes
In Campaign Games, Schools participate in battles only if the reward of doing so is worth the risk of losing their gladiators. Imperators should bear this in mind, and set prizes appropriately.
The "default" battle assumes the following:
- No Entry Cost.
- Two teams
- X Gladiators per team.
- Prize only to the winner.
- Schools can surrender.
As a general guideline, for a battle of this size and sort, its recommended that the Denarii prize be around X multiplied by 1500. So, for example, if the battle has four gladiators per team, then 6000 Denarii is a reasonable prize.
However, the situation will rarely be that simple. The Imperator may want to mix things up a bit by varying the conditions and the prize.
- Entry Fee
If the game has an Entry Fee, then it is recommended that the prize be increased by an amount equal to the Entry Fee multiplied by the number of teams. For example, in a four team game with an entry fee of 1000 Denarii, add 4000 Denarii to the prize.
- More than two teams
If a battle has more than two teams, it is recommended that +25% is added to the prize for each additional team beyond two. For example, for a 4 team battle, add +50% to the prize.
- Fee for participation.
If the game pays an amount to the losers, it is recommended that the total payout to runners up is taken out of the main prize. For example, if in a three team battle, each losing school gains 1500 Denarii, then deduct -3000 Denarii from the prize.
- No surrender
If a battle is tagged as being "no escape" or "to the death", then it is suggested the Imperator increase the prize by 50%.
- Uneven Teams
If the battle has uneven sides, then offer a proportionally higher prize to the smaller side, with the average equalling the prize before. For example, if the prize would normally be 12000 Denarii, but Team A is twice the size of Team B, then the prize for Team A would be 8000 Denarii, and the prize for Team B would be 16000 Denarii.
- Low lethality battle
If the conditions of the battle tend away from all out lethality, then reduce the prize by 25-50%. For example, in a battle where the win condition is to capture the flag rather than slaughter the enemy, you might reduce the prize by 25%.
- High lethality battle.
If the conditions of the battle are extremely lethal, then increase the prize by 25-50%. For example, in a battle where all gladiators start with half life points (perhaps because they are purposefully starved beforehand), you increase the prize by 25%.
By default, most battles will allow for any role of Gladiator, with selection entirely up to the school. However in some special battles, especially later in a campaign, the Imperator may want to have battles that allow for only certain Grades, Classes or Roles.
For example, in a "Trial of the New", the Imperator may deem that only Novicius Gladiators may participate. On the other hand, in a "Judiciary Execution" (where the crowds pay to see heavily armoured warriors slaughtering barely armed and armoured condemned men) Schools may be asked to provide only Gladiators of the Heavy Class.
In a Campaign, setting entry conditions to some matches adds a little more grand strategy to the campaign year and school building process, as well as allowing match ups and battle tactics that might not otherwise be commonly seen.
The Imperator should make sure the win condition to the battle is clearly stated.
By default, the win condition of a battle is to be the last school left in the battle, which is achieved either by taking all enemy Gladiators out of action, or by having all enemy schools surrender.
However, while playing such simple battles is the core experience of Morturi Te Salutant, it can also make for a repetitive and boring campaign year. Imperators who come up with creative and original win conditions can make interesting and memorable battles for their players. Here are some examples:
- Capture the Flag
In this game, each team has a Flag and a Home Base. To win, a team must pick up the enemy's flag (by spending three movement points in the square the flag is in), and then return with it to Home Base. The flag carrier cannot make attacks, and loses the benefit of any shield he is carrying while he has the flag. If the flag carrier is taken out of action, then the flag is dropped in that square. Teams cannot pick up their own flag. The flag may not be dropped deliberately.
- King of the Hill
In this game, one point on the battlefield (typically a raised area near the centre) is deemed "the Hill". To claim victory, a school must occupy that Square with a Gladiator for three full battle rounds, with a battle round only counting if the school starts it with a Gladiator on that square.
- Slaughter the condemned
In this game, the Imperator deploys a dozen or more Servus gladiators across the field. These Servus gladiators do not belong to any school, and do not attack, and act at the end of each Battle Round, moving as quickly as possible away from any School Gladiators. The winning School is the one that kills the most prisoners.
- Marked Man
In this game, each school names one Gladiator on his team. If that Gladiator is taken out of action, his school is beaten and all Gladiators of that school are immediately removed from the arena.
In this game, one school must move from one end of the field to the other, while the other school tries to stop them. The "running" school wins if they get at least half their number into the endzone (where they are removed from the Arena). The "blocking" school wins if they can prevent this, by taking at least half of the running school out of action.
Interesting arenas lead to interesting battles!
The "default" arena, is assumed to be a large square of sand, of 15 x 15 squares with three square wide gates at opposite sides of the arena, through which the Gladiators must enter on their first turn's activation. This default arena has all the features you'll need for a pick up game: clear markings where teams start (or enter) from, a decent gap between the two teams to give room for manoeuvring and ranged fighting, and plenty of room to move about.
That said, the default arena is a little dull. Consider adding some or all of the following features:
- Line of sight blocking
Stone pillars, large rocks, walls and the like all provide obstacles to line of sight, and stop ranged gladiators from dominating a match. The Imperator can then decide whether these obstacles block movement too.
- Varying height terrain
Areas of raised terrain provide tactically important points, as attacking from height is a sizeable advantage in the rules. Its generally a good idea for Imperators to place such areas in the middle of an arena, to encourage movement towards the centre.
Hazard squares provide an interesting tactical challenge and can endanger gladiators who move into them or who are forced into them. For example, a square filled with flame might deal 1 damage to any Gladiator moving into it, and 5 points of damage to any Gladiator that both begins and ends his turn in the flames. Imperators are encouraged to place hazards both around the edges of the arena (to encourage movement into the centre) and scattered about (to affect tactics and movement planning). Note that "hidden hazards" (aka "traps") are generally best to avoid, as the Imperator should not be discouraging tactical movement in Gladiators, as "stand and shoot" games can be very dull.
Triggers are squares which allow the Gladiator to activate some effect, either by stepping on them, or by spending movement points or attacks while within them. An example might be a ballista emplacement, that will allow a character to forgo his usual attack in favour of a ranged attack of unlimited range, that deals 5 damage on a 5+. Another example might be a control lever, that for three movement points turns a marked area elsewhere into hazard squares, or turns them back from hazard squares into normal squares. The Imperator player is encouraged to put trigger areas near the centre of the arena, to encourage gladiators to move into the centre.
- Moving sections
The above arena modifications can be made to be moving as well. For example, a hazard square might represent a whirring sphere of blades that moves around the edges of the arena on a fixed circuit. For moving sections, its generally a good idea to have them activate at the end of a battle round, and to make sure that all players know exactly how they work beforehand.
As well as modifying the win conditions and the arena, the Imperator player can add in other complications to add variety to battles. The only limit is his own imagination! However, some conditions and complications are suggested here:
- Heavy rain
Heavy rain turns an arena to mud, and makes ranged attacks more difficult. With this condition in place, any movement score greater than 3 is reduced to 3, and all ranged attacks have -2 to their range.
- Battle Drums
Drummers line the arena, beating out a steady heartbeat cadence that speaks of the spilt blood to come. All Gladiators deal +1 damage.
- Mire and filth
The buzzing flies and the stink of filth not only make this an unpleasant place to fight, but they increase the likelihood of septic wounds. Deduct -2 from the survival checks of any gladiators taken out of action in this battle.
- Massive crowd
In the largest arenas, the roar of the crowd is deafening. In this condition, double any Approval of the Crowd gains or losses made by any school.
This page created by Asklepios.