Gladiators are highly trained and expert in hand-to hand fighting. They may be from any cultural background but are typically found only in civilised lands. Those that survive quickly become expert in melee combat and little else, in this way they are set apart from professional soldiers or tribal warriors that posses broader skills as men-at-arms. Gladiators tend to fight alone and rarely understand the concept of being part of a larger organised unit, one that has a command structure and expects obedience.

Gladiators specialise in efficiently killing, maiming or disabling opponents to order. Typically, they are familiar with a vast range of mundane and often exotic weapons and are well used to fighting unusual opponents. Experienced gladiators soon learn to engage the crowd, often effecting flamboyant moves, mannerisms and personas to gain an advantage over their opponents. The Samnite, the original and most prevalent gladiator is easy to spot; gladius, heavy armour with a visored helmet, large shield, wrist guards and a greave on the lower left leg. However, numerous regional and arena specific variations do exist.

The gladiators of the arena were highly trained. It took two years to complete the training to prepare an individual for the arena. During the initial period of training, each individual was evaluated to determine which branch of gladiatorial training he would undertake. The ability to perform certain tasks, speed, agility, strength and endurance were thoroughly tested before the final decision was made as to which style of training the candidate would receive.

Within the schools for gladiators, each branch was given its own barracks, and the schools provided doctores (weapons masters) for each branch, too. The individuals were usually past participants of the games who had won their freedom and knew their profession very well. Below the weapons masters, the other members of the school were divided into four different classes with the primus pilus being the highest and the tyro being the lowest.

Gladiators are usually recruited from criminals, slaves (especially captured fugitives), and prisoners of war. Criminals, having lost their citizen rights and slaves and prisoners of war having none, have no choice about becoming a gladiator, if they have the physical and emotional make-up necessary for the profession. Some free-born men, however, although they had not lost their citizen rights, voluntarily choose the profession and bound themselves body and soul to the owner of a gladiatorial troupe by swearing an oath "to endure branding, chains, flogging or death by the sword" and to do whatever the master ordered.

If a free man takes the gladiator’s oath, he agrees to be treated as a slave and suffered the ultimate social disgrace. As unattractive as this may sound to us, there are advantages. The candidate's life takes on new meaning. He becomes a member of a class that is known for its courage, good morale, and absolute fidelity to its master to the point of death. His life becomes a model of military discipline and through courageous behaviour he capable of achieving honour similar to that enjoyed by a professional soldier on the battlefield.

An experienced gladiator may not fight more than 2 or 3 times a year and would have a chance at fame, wealth and the attentions of any number of female admirers. Some might even impress enough to be absolved, or amass significant wealth, with which they could buy their freedom. The few legendary gladiators can dispatch a veritable army of opponents while working the crowd into rapture, indulging king and peasant alike in a genuine spectacle of glory, passion and gore.

Should a particular gladiator become successful in defeating his opponents over a period of time, the fighter would be offered the Rudius (a wooden sword). Also, from time to time, an individual would have a spectacular duel and would have the choice of freedom or continuing to fight in the arena.

Beginning Hero SuggestionsEx-Gladiators are natural heroes for HeroQuest adventure as they are expert fighters. The majority of those have won their freedom or have somehow extracted themselves from servitude.
Appropriate Homelands Any
AbilitiesAssess Opponent, Recognise Fighting Style, Fight When Wounded, Fight in Armour, Play to Crowd, Act out Spectacle, Dodge Blow, Disarm Opponent, Brawling. Select three of the following gladiatorial styles as your specialty.
Typical Personality TraitsBrave, Flamboyant, Jaded, Cold blooded
Typical Relationshipsto Patron, to Old Combatants
Typical FollowersGladiators of note or renown may have people following them around for various reasons. Some ambitious or aspiring warriors may want to learn the specialist skills they possess. If in vogue or especially comely they may attract wealthy patronage, general hangers on or other impressionable types. Wealthy gladiators may hire servants to make them seem important.
Standard of LivingCommon unless sponsored by wealthy patron
Typical EquipmentWeapon and armour relevant to his expertise, and camp equipment. Often a gladiator will own a fine example of his favoured weapon or armour.


Samnite "Heavy Armor" First and most common type of gladiator. [Sword and Shield Fighting]
Thracian "Light and Fast" These fighters are lightly armoured and faster in evading their adversary. [Evade Opponent]
Mirmillo "Fish Man" paired with Net Fighter who would attempt to catch his Fish Man opponent. [Spear and Shield Fighting]
Hoplomachus "Club" A varient on the Samnite, fighting with mace and shield [Mace and Shield Fighting]
Secutor "Chaser" To chase his opponent around the field of battle and exhaust him out for the kill. [Axe and Shield]
Retiarius "Net and Trident" These fighters used the strategy of attempting to snare and entangle [Net and Trident Fighting]
Dimacheri "Two Handed" Gladiators who fought with two swords. [Two Weapon Fighting]
Equites "Equestrian” Those who fought mounted, that is from horseback using various weapons [Mounted Fighting]
Laqueatores "Noose-Snare” Use a spear and noose or lasso to snare their opponents [Lasso Fighting]
Essedarius "Chariot Warriors” Combatants who rode chariots during their engagements [Chariot Fighting]
Andabate "Blinded” wore helmets with no eye apertures, thus they fought "blind" [Blind Fighting]
Sagittarius "Hunter" A fighter armed with bow and arrow. [Bow Fighting]
Bestari "Beasts" A fighter expert at dispatching ferocious predators [Know Predator]
Velite "Javelin" Lightly armoured, quick and used ranged weapons, particularly the javelin [Javelin Fighting]
Dimachaerus "Blade" lightly armoured and fought with knives [Knife Fighting]

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