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Thyatian Gladiatorby Rodger Burns
Anaxibius watched the gathered crowd from the shadow of the Champions' Gate. It was a restless mob gathered in the stands for today's events, teased with the blood of four prior fights already this morning. One had been an ugly, treacherous business between eight convicts and a pardon for the last one standing; another had touched the crowd with a thread of real fear, when a dire wolf had made a maddened leap for the lowermost stands and very nearly made it. The mob would be hungry now, anxious for blood.
The pride of the morning's fights was being led out now, on the far side of the stands - a massive hydra, its heads writhing and hissing as it struggled against the handlers' leashes. Anaxibius could feel the excitement of the crowd rising, a wave of sound and rustling motion, as they speculated on the strength of the beast and the tactics used to combat it. Money was changing hands up above, and the crowd's anticipation was beginning to turn to tension and worry as no champion appeared. Just a little longer...
Anaxibius abruptly burst forth from beneath the Champions' Gate, crossing the sands in an easy lope. The cornicens blew as he emerged into the full sight of the crowd, and cheers rose from the stands as they recognised their favourite. Anaxibius paused, raised his shield high, and spun his sword in a complex salute, and the cheers redoubled and echoed throughout the arena. "Anaxibius, ANAXIBIUS, ANAXIBIUS!!!!"
The thunderous cacophony beat at Anaxibius as he advanced towards the hydra, sword held at the ready. His face was expressionless, but his heart was singing - this was what he lived for, this was why he was the most celebrated warrior of the Empire. This was why he was a gladiator.
The Thyatian Gladiator is a prestige class taken by veterans of the arenas of the mighty Thyatian Empire. Not all fighters within the arena have this prestige class, but many of the most experienced ones do, focusing their combat skills on the specific weapons and tactics used in arena combat. A few other adventurers also learn the style of gladiatorial fighting, then use it in other endeavours elsewhere.
Note: This PrC write-up uses rules for Perform (Weapon Drill) and gladiatorial combat found in the Complete Warrior supplement. Refer to pages 131-132 of that book for rules information.
- Base Attack Bonus: +6
- Skills: Intimidate +6, Perform (Weapon Drill) +4
- Feats: Combat Expertise, Weapon Focus (any two weapons favoured in the Thyatian arenas)
- Special: Must have defeated at least one opponent of CR6 or greater in a gladiatorial challenge.
Preferred Weapons: Though warriors of all types are welcome in the Thyatian arenas, there are a few weapons and combat styles that are preferred for general use. These include the long sword (spatha), short sword (gladius), dagger, gauntlet (cestus), spiked shield, halberd, trident, whip, and net.
Hit Dice: d10
Skills: 2 + Int skill points per level. Class skills are Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Perform (Weapon Drill) (Cha), Ride (Dex), Sense Motive (Wis), Swim (Str), and Tumble (Dex).
Level BAB Fort Ref Will Special 1 +1 +0 +2 +0 Combat trick 2 +2 +0 +3 +0 Combat trick 3 +3 +1 +3 +1 Bonus feat 4 +4 +1 +4 +1 5 +5 +1 +4 +1 Combat trick 6 +6 +2 +5 +2 Bonus feat 7 +7 +2 +5 +2 8 +8 +2 +6 +2 Combat trick 9 +9 +3 +6 +3 Bonus feat 10 +10 +3 +7 +3 Will of the Crowd
Combat Trick: At levels 1, 2, 5, and 8, a Thyatian gladiator may select from any of the following combat tricks. Many tricks apply to a single weapon; these tricks can be selected multiple times, each time applying to a different weapon.
- Armour Proficiency (Gladiatorial): Special armour is prepared for use in the gladiatorial arena - lighter and allowing greater manoeuvrability, but less durable and requiring more training to move in. Customising armour for gladiatorial use costs 300 gp and increases the maximum Dexterity bonus by 2 points, but reduces the armour's hardness and hit points by half. Characters without this ability can wear gladiatorial armour, but are limited to the maximum Dexterity bonus provided by normal armour of that type.
- Gladiatorial Disarm: Choose one weapon from the preferred weapons list. The character gains the benefits of the Improved Disarm feat when wielding that weapon. A net or whip can also be used to make ranged disarm attacks.
- Gladiatorial Sunder: Choose one weapon from the preferred weapons list. The character inflicts an extra 1d6 damage when making a sunder attack with that weapon.
- Gladiatorial Trip: Choose one weapon from the preferred weapons list. The character gains the benefits of the Improved Trip feat when wielding that weapon. A net or whip can also be used to make ranged trip attacks.
- Show Off: Choose one weapon from the preferred weapons list. This weapon can be used in a showy display of expertise, intimidating an opponent. Such a display requires a standard action, and allows the gladiator to make an Intimidate check against a single opponent within 30 feet that can see him, adding his base attack bonus to the result. If the result exceeds the opponent's modified level check, the opponent becomes shaken for 1 round per class level of the Thyatian gladiator.
- Skill Focus: A Thyatian gladiator may choose Skill Focus (Bluff), Skill Focus (Intimidate) or Skill Focus (Perform - Weapon Drill) as a combat trick.
Bonus Feat: At levels 3, 6, and 9, a Thyatian gladiator may select a feat from the list of fighter bonus feats.
Will of the Crowd (Ex): A 10th-level Thyatian gladiator may finish a gladiatorial duel with a stunning, deadly blow under certain conditions. The following prerequisites must be met:
* The Thyatian gladiator must be participating in a gladiatorial match (as per Complete Warrior rules).
* The crowd's attitude must be friendly or better towards the Thyatian gladiator, and unfriendly or worse towards his opponent.
* The opponent must have been reduced to at least half their max HP, and be knocked prone, pinned, or disarmed or had their weapon destroyed.
* The Thyatian gladiator must take a move action to invoke the crowd's will, calling for the blood of the opponent; this requires a Perform (Weapon Drill) check with a DC of (10 + opponent's level or HD). If the check fails, the crowd's attitude towards the Thyatian gladiator worsens.
If all these conditions are met, the Thyatian gladiator may take a standard action to attack his opponent, and treats a hit as an immediate coup de grace attack. The attack is automatically a critical hit and imposes a Fortitude save to avoid death. These effects take hold even though the opponent isn't helpless. Using this ability doesn't provoke attacks of opportunity.
Design Notes: A lot of this has been cribbed shamelessly from the Exotic Weapon Master PrC in Complete Warrior, which is an interesting write-up but focused on exotic weapons only. As the gladiators of Thyatis are fairly focused on martial weapons for their work (just in odd combinations, oftentimes) I felt that a revision and expansion was justified. And since you need CW to fight gladiatorial matches anyway, no sales are lost.