Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Antioch Season 1, Episode 6

Following on from the last episode, we carry onto the next round. Mark's posts are in blue, mine are in green, and any post-editing commentary are in red. The gladiator rules used are Munera Sine Missione. Each round will be posted as a weekly episode.

They maybe spared Lupus because of his previous record?

Perhaps Fortuna is beginning to smile on the ludus of Ahenobarbus? A good win in a prime location will boost his reputation, and the money will help too.

GALLUS wins a further 5 aureus for the win taking his balance to 20. He is also in line to pick up a fourth skill (which do you want?).

A few days after the games, the slave Helios comes to see Ahenobarbus, as usual on the pretext of collecting rent for Athenodorus, but in fact to convey the patron's requests (= instructions).

Athenodorus is in a tricky position. As a romanised Greek he is secretly despised (but feared) by his Greek compatriots in Antioch society. The Romans while appreciating his usefulness also do not fully trust him. He also faces a medium term dilemma: suspecting that Mucianus and Vespasian are plotting to seize the throne, should he throw in his lot with them or blow the whistle? As civil war continues in the West, the potential rewards of getting it right, and risks of getting it wrong, are enormous.

As City Aedile, Athenodorus is responsible for such important but boring jobs as road maintenance, markets supervision, and water supply. The actual work of course is done by public slaves including supervisors and professionals, and by contractors. He does not have any armed force. Right now this is causing him a problem that needs to be solved discreetly.

As Helios briefs Ahenobarbus, the Blue Gate market (one of the City's smaller markets, near the Damascus Gate) is being encroached on by a local standover gang, led by Pericles. They are trying to seize control and collect the usual bribes, previously going into Athenodorus's pocket, for themselves. Or, as is suspected, for another shadowy player, even Miltiades the City Prefect, another romanised Greek, and actually a Roman citizen, to whom Athenodorus nominally reports as Aedile. Obviously he must tread carefully, but he must act.

Ahenobarbus's instructions are to form a squad and ambush Pericles's gang at the market, and "get rid of them for good". The gang usually comprises 4-6 men, none of them veterans or gladiators, only street toughs, although Pericles himself is a notorious "hard man" suspected to have committed several murders. Ahenobarbus should take enough men to do a thorough job. Getting the Pericles gang to run away is not enough as they will come back with reinforcements. And none of the many civilians who will be in the market are to be harmed. The City Watch will not show up (they will be incentivised to patrol somewhere else).

Please run this as an asymmetric SBH game. The basic street fighters on each side would be Q4 C2 but veterans and gladiators that Ahenobarbus "might have available" could be Q3 C3-4? Details up to you. If Ahenobarbus goes himself, maybe a hero or combat master? The aim is to kill or capture as many as possible, including Pericles and at least 50% of his gang members. Capture would be good as they can be tortured for information.

I had a game using “Song of Shadows and Dust” using the “abduction” scenario. I had some cardboard standees that I used (though accidentally some were medieval). Not sure if I did it right, but the evil “gang” consisted of (205 points):

2 x Henchmen (Q4 C3 Grey)
1 x Henchman with cudgel (Q4 C2 Agile, Bludgeon, Quick Grey)
1 x Savvy Henchman (Q4 C3 Determined StreetFighter)
1 x Tough Henchman (Q4 C4 Hard)
1 x Henchman with Sword (Q 4 C3 Armed, Bellicose)

The gladiators were (206 points);

Ahenobarbus (Q3 C4 Armed, Champion, Combat Master, Greedy, Hard)
Gallus (Q3 C4 Armed, Bludgeon, Hard, Stubborn)
Other (Q3 C4 Armed, Bludgeon, Quick, Stubborn)

The above picture shows the 6 gang members with black bases (circled in red) entering through an arch commemorating of triumph of some random Roman general. A bunch of civilians with white bases were milling about, the two that are highlighted in green are prostitutes who have a “distract” ability, adding 1 to a figures Q dice when within a short move (one male, one female). The gang moved first but rolled a triple failure. It was clear that Pericles was not amongst the group, and they had no strong leadership. The 3 gladiators on the other hand, moved freely and attacked.

In the above picture, Gallus (unfortunately) scored a gruesome kill on one of the gang. This was crucial as 4 of the gang members immediately fled at the sight, two off table, the other two using “grey” to disappear into the crowd. Surprisingly, one gang member remained, the savvy one with “street fighter”. The second gladiator of Ahenobarbus attacked, causing only a push back on the clever opponent. Ahenobarbus himself attacked, but only managed a draw against the wily criminal – Ahenobarbus’s “hard” skill saving him from an embarrassing knock down. The Savvy Henchman attacked back, and was himself knocked down. The other gang members continued to flee, and Gallus bound the fallen savy henchman, capturing him; with the final position below;
Though an even point fight, it was a very quick, one sided engagement. Overall, a sort of failure. The gang members were not that brave (apart from one) without Pericles. One henchman dead, one captured, and 4 escaped…..


Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Antioch Season 1, Episode 5

Following on from the last episode, we carry onto the next round. Mark's posts are in blue, mine are in green, and any post-editing commentary are in red. The gladiator rules used are Munera Sine Missione. Each round will be posted as a weekly episode.

Yes it odd how often it works out like that. I found the same thing with Mago and Kemsa. Possibly some subconscious mechanism at work?

Anyway Ahenobarbus and his troop (less the unlucky GERMANICUS) return to Antioch in reasonable spirits. They have lost one of their better fighters, but overall the ludus has done OK. Ahenobarbus has presented good entertainment to the key Romans (and Roman lackeys) in the province, enhancing his prestige and making useful contacts. He has also made some money.

GALLUS has picked up the new skill "crowd pleaser" to add to "attack" and "dodge", and he gets half the special prize (the rest gies to Ahenobarbus) taking his credit balance up to 15 aureus. He has now also won three fights (v Umbris, Saburra, and Sejanus, killing the last two. And completed an important dirty tricks mission for Athenodorus. After a fairly ordinary start he seems to be gaining self confidence.

Time passes

It is now 68 AD and news is coming in about world events. Nero has been overthrown by Galba who has been proclaimed Emperor. Nobody will miss him, although it seems things are not settling down and Galba may have rivals for the throne. But that is all a long way off - news from Italy can take three months to reach Antioch. Nearer home, Vespasian and his elder son Titus have recaptured Jerusalem and seem close to exterminating the revolting Jews. This is generally welcomed, even the Jewish community in Antioch is keeping it's head down. And there is a glut of Jewish slaves on the market including many prisoners of war. Ahenobarbus is able to pick up several likely lads with fighting skills  at good prices.

Things are also proceeding for the Alexandrian Games, traditionally the first set in each new year and highly prestigious. As City Aedile, Athenodorus can place some of Ahenobarbus's men in key fixtures. GALLUS is slotted into a prime spot against LUPUS (Velite, skills: Stamina, Reflexes, Dodge).

Athenodorus is not being nice to Ahenobarbus purely out of the goodness of his heart, even though open handedness by a patron to a client is a highly regarded social virtue, bringing prestige in itself. Instead, Ahenobarbus (through the intermediary Helios) is becoming Athenodorus's chief enforcer, as he uses his political office to get things done, and enrich himself. He is becoming more Roman than the Romans, whisper his political enemies and enviers. More on thus next time, perhaps.


OK, quite an interesting fight. One sided in the end but skills came into full use. Gallus won with 2 big hits, one doing 6 points of damage, the other 5. Lupus, having stamina, started with 9 strength. Some highlights were Gallus getting crowd favour due to his showmanship that he was working on, which allowed him to do a very rare 7AP move (albeit with a fatigue). Lupus rolled a few 1’s for AP’s but his skill turned them into 5’s & 6’s, so it came to use, but he lost in the end. He rolled 10 for the crowd, so easily survived.

Gallus: Lost 1 from 8 strength, 2 fatigue. Win
Lupus: Lost 10 from 9 strength, 2 fatigue. Lost but survived appeal.

The fight was not THAT entertaining, so it is inexplicable why the crowd was suddenly so generous. Maybe they like fighters dressed in wolf skins?


Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Antioch Season 1, Episode 4

Following on from the last episode, we carry onto the next round. Mark's posts are in blue, mine are in green, and any post-editing commentary are in red. The gladiator rules used are Munera Sine Missione. Each round will be posted as a weekly episode.

The VIP crowd that was being entertained at Athenodorus's country villa was delighted with the private games. Several other bouts took place in addition to the ones featuring they Ahenobarbus ludus. They wanted to see GALLUS fight again. Governor Mucianus himself put up a special prize of 10 aureus to see GALLUS fight SEJANUS (Retiarius, skills: Reflexes, Stamina), another fighter considered an unlucky loser last time. Ahenobarbus and his fellow lanista are happy to agree, and the fight is set up for tomorrow evening.


It is funny how the fights have had a consistent pattern that inexplicably fits the story line. In this case, yet again the audience was bloodthirsty. Also, both fighters have just come off a loss and were clearly carrying injuries. When I rolled for strength, I rolled 1 for Gallus – Strength 5. Then I rolled for Sejanus (higher of 2d6 due to stamina) and rolled 2 ones! (seriously), 5 strength as well. Clearly they were rushed into this by their lanistas and well underdone.

Both suffered an AP drought (again, they were underdone!), and kept their distance. Gallus got the first roll of 6 and just managed a frontal attack, causing 3 wounds. Sejanus was now injured, and did not roll enough AP to get away, but enough to get a wild throw of his net which missed by such a wide margin, onlookers were not sure whether it was just outright ineptitude. Gallus (also with low AP) did a few frontal attacks, a couple scoring 1 hit each to bring the hapless Sejanus down. By previous standards, quite a boring fight, but Ahenobarbus would have breathed a sigh of relief . When it came to the crowd roll, Sejanus rolled 7, +1 for being injured, but -1 for not inflicting any, and -1 for having no helmet. Final score 6, the audience was not happy….

Gallus – lost 0 from 5, 1 fatigue, no crowd favour, WIN
Sejanus – lost 5 from 5, 1 fatigue, no crowd favour, LOST Missio roll.

For a new skill, I would pick “Crowd Pleaser” (I need something to get the crowd moving!).


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Antioch Season 1, Episode 3

Following on from the last episode, we carry onto the next round. Mark's posts are in blue, mine are in green, and any post-editing commentary are in red. The gladiator rules used are Munera Sine Missione. Each round will be posted as a weekly episode.

GERMANICUS was brought back to the ludus on a stretcher, but Ahenobarbus's doctor is sure he will be OK, it is just massive loss of blood. But it means he will need time to recover and cannot help to solve the Paulinus problem for Athenodorus.

GALLUS returned in triumph, and just as importantly unscathed, after delivering the best win yet (OK, almost the only win) for the ludus. He wins a further 4 aureus, taking his total to 6, and he now has the skills of Dodge and Attack.

Ahenobarbus now gets another visit from Helios and they work out a plan to deal with Paulinus. The next morning GALLUS (who has been briefed as the assassin and promised wine, women and gold) lurks in the predawn darkness behind the temple of Europa, disguised as a gardener. Helios is out the front and whistles to signal the approach of Paulinus, then scarpers as agreed. GALLUS emerges to do the deed and sees not Paulinus alone, as he expected, but two men and a woman !!! One is Paulinus, who he can recognise because he is unusually tall. None of them look like bodyguards, just civilians, but he has to decide instantly what to do:

  1. Slip away and report back to Ahenobarbus.
  2. Attack Paulinus and risk inflicting collateral damage if it gets messy.
  3. Stay unseen in the shadows, observe, and wait on events.
What will he do?

Through his endeavours in the arena, Gallus has demonstrated a somewhat slow response to situations. Hopefully this will change at some point… However, in light of this, Gallus will demonstrate patience, selecting option 3, and waiting for an opportunity to act!

GALLUS hides in the shadows, unnoticed, and observes the trio walk down the narrow alley between the temple and the wall of an adjacent building (the Gardens of Mus). They open a postern door in the wall and go inside, into the Gardens. Just as GALLUS is about to follow them, two more people come from the other end of the alley and also go through the door. Then some more. Within a few moments about 20 people have gone through the door, at least half of them women, and none, except for Paulinus and his associates, well dressed. What can it mean?

It is starting to get light now and people are appearing on the streets to go about their daily business. A couple of real gardeners appear and start to sweep leaves. GALLUS will have to leave soon, or attention will be drawn to him.

Then a stroke of luck. Paulinus accompanied only by a woman comes out of the garden and they walk back along the alley. They will pass within a few yards of the skulking GALLUS. Will he:

  1. Strike now, even though it is light and there is a risk of being seen by witnesses?
  2. Get cold feet, do nothing, and go back to Ahenobarbus and report?
  3. Wait until Paulinus has gone and try to sneak through the door, into the Gardens, and satisfy his curiosity?
Gallus is in two minds, he thinks there might be something good for him behind the wall, but he will follow orders instead and go for option 1 and strike.

GALLUS'S training kicks in. He moves quickly up to Paulinus's side, from out of line of sight, and runs him through. Paulinus staggers and falls. The woman stands transfixed and horrified, and then starts to scream "murder". Worse, GALLUS thinks he recognises her from somewhere, and thinks he sees recognition in her eyes too. She turns away to try and escape, he grabs her from behind and cuts her throat. Then he runs for it, amazingly no one has intervened or raised a hue and cry (I diced for this, GALLUS was lucky!). Probably any actual witnesses peering around corners etc are slaves and want to keep their heads down. If they become involved in an investigation they will inevitably be tortured for their evidence. Slave evidence was only admissible if it had been obtained by torture. Rumsfeld and Cheney should have been Romans!

GALLUS makes it back to the ludus and reports. Ahenobarbus is relieved the business seems to have been successfully finished, and rewards GALLUS with 4 aureus (total now 10) and various other delights.

Over the next few days reports of the " 'orrible murder" circulate through the City. Rumours fly, especially about a political connection. Eventually, some days later, there is an official announcement from the office of the Governor, G Licinius Mucianus: the victims were Christians, probably murdered by hard line Jews. The Jewish community is fined 1,000 aureus which provokes some unrest but most people think they had it coming.

Here is a crime scene photo of the investigation into the murders of Paulinus and his mistress Thaiis, crypto-Christians. The evidence points to an assassination by "sicarii" - Jewish bandits and extremists. One theory is Paulinus has refused to pay protection money, or to funnel payments to the revolutionaries fighting to free Judea from the Romans. The figure shown in the photos is a slave gardener, who saw nothing, standing in the alleyway where the bodies were found. Another theory is that Mark is getting too involved in the back story !!!

Several weeks pass.

Athenodorus is proclaimed City Aedile for the coming year. There are no Games scheduled for several months because it is harvest time and many of the City plebs are away in the country as seasonal workers. Also many of the elite retire to the comfort of their country estates to escape the heat.

However Athenodorus is organising some private amusement for himself and his cronies at his villa a few miles south of the City, on the coast. Ahenobarbus receives a 'request' to attend and bring some gladiators. It is understood there will be some VIP guests attending. Good entertainment is essential and will be well rewarded.

There is a decent-sized natural arena near the villa, where the bouts will be staged. Arrangements are made for the following match ups:

GERMANICUS (no skill) v CARVILIOS (Hoplomachus, 1 skill, Attack)
GALLUS (Attack, Dodge) v BRASUS (Thraex, 2 skills: Reflexes, Dodge)

As the games begin, Ahenobarbus notices a small group of Romans with Athenodorus and a couple of his romanised Greek friends. There are guards discreetly posted. He thinks he recognises the Governor, Mucianus, and also Vespasian who is supposed to be in the south conquering the Jews. But he has no time or inclination to dwell on this, politics is not for people like him.

Note: Even though it is a “private” fight, I played with the working the crowd rules, as the attendees could still cheer on gladiators e.t.c. – it proved important in the first fight


This was the toughest fight of Gallus’s career, and at the same time, one of the most entertaining fights witnessed. It took a long time, a really long time. For most of the fight, Gallus was on top, Carvillos was both injured and exhausted, but just stayed in the fight. It was a fight of small hits that accumulated. Eventually, Gallus also became injured an exhausted. The crowd really got into it, cheering on both gladiators at various times. It was in fact the wild cheers that kept the fighters going – Gallus had to overcome a -3 to AP (injured + exhausted) and could not even perform a simple pivot, without the crowd egging him on. Carvillo ended proceedings with a double 2 special hit. A 5 was rolled for the appeal, but there were enough bonuses to get it to 8, so Gallus survived. Gallus was on top for most of the fight, but Carvillos only really came back at the very end. Gallus is seriously considering conversion to some strange cult, like that of Mithras, as he heard gladiators gain some luck from that god.

Gallus: Lost 8 from 10, 2 crowd factors, 10+ fatigues Lost, but survived appeal
Carvillos: Lost 5 from 7, 1 crowd factor, 10+ fatigues, Won


This was a really hard fight for Germanicus as Brasus had the attack skill, which allowed him aggressively push the lightly armoured Germanicus around. It was very quick, two fast hits in and Germanicus was felled in a few moves. It went to appeal, but there was a final modified score of 4 – curtains…….

Germanicus: Lost 8 from 7, 0 crowd, Lost, and lost appeal, Dead
Brasus: Lost 0 from 6, 1 crowd, Won

That was the situation, in the private fight, it is in the hands of the host…. One thing that was distressing, the tendency of harsh crowds is too be unforgiving at the end, being it private grouping or large arenas. What is wrong with these Antiochans? Ahenobarbus must be tearing his red hair out.