Friday 13 July 2012

Sanguinem et Gloria

I've been working on my own set of rules for a simple Gladiator game. I wanted something that was easy and intuitive to play but offered enough options for creative tactical play. It was not simply  necessary for the combatants to just knock seven bells out of each other, there had to be some drama and surprises as well. While the 'sport' itself was brutal and barbaric is was still a spectator sport and therefore had to be interesting and exciting to watch and this should be reflected in the game-play.

I found a lot of simple rules systems online but in the end I decided I wanted to try my hand at designing something from scratch. Judging from the constant banging headache I get every time I work on it this decision may have been a mistake. But I have started so I'm going to finish it, even if the design process is slow and painful! 

Gladiators depicted in the Zliten mosaic (public domain)
I'm still battling it out with the first draft and am beginning to realise just how hard it is to come up with something original. What I have so far is a very basic turn based set of rules. Its largely an I-Go-U-Go set-up but I'm building in some surprises and dramatic elements by utilising a card deck as part of the game-play. The idea is to have a really simple set of rules that provides a framework on which to hang all these card based special actions. 

haven't yet reached a stage where I can playtest the rules (I still have a basic set of action cards to design), but I'm hoping to have a working first draft within a couple of weeks. I expect that as a rules writing n00b I will end up with a system that will be far from original and full of wholes, but its proving to be an interesting experience none-the-less. In fact the only thing I'm happy with at this stage is its working name Sanguinem et Gloria (Latin for Blood and Glory) although I expect someone will now tell me that name has already been used! 

I'll keep you informed about my progress (or lack thereof) over the coming weeks and of course feedback and ideas are always welcome.


  1. I'm always interested in gladiator rules. It's a difficult topic for gladiatorial combat was rather stylised than exciting. I've come across only very few sets which cover that convincingly while being good fun as well. Looking forward to what you'll come up with!
    Some knowitall, sorry: If you want the title in nominatives, it should read "sanguis et gloria". If you're going for what visitors expected to see (i.e. accusatives) it's "sanguinem et gloriam".
    And no, I don't remember someone using this phrase yet.


    1. I'll trust your Latin is better than mine (ie better than Google Translator!) and change the name to Sanguis et Gloria. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Ahhh, rules design is always gun. Enjoy the frustration!

  3. I shall be watching with interest; gladiatorial combat has always been on the cards as the next great distraction!

  4. I have tried a number of gladiator rules. Not one of them has held my interest past one game. If you can get it right I hink there is deffinitly an interest from other wargamers. I really wish you luck. Keep us all informed.

  5. It's a very difficult thing to do.....good luck!

  6. Rule writting, it's really difficult but can be rewarding. You possibly picked one of the harder subjects to do it with.

    Good Luck

  7. I'm writing a ruleset about gladiatorial combat for Ganesha Games. It is called "Ferrum et Gloria" and it will be out the next year. The rules are ready and playtested. There is a campaign system too.
    You can read more here:

    Instead "Blood and Glory" is the name of a videogame about (pretty fantasy) gladiators for IPad:


  8. Good luck, Lee. I love your title, and short, bloody gladiatorial action is just perfect for a quick pick-up game at a club, perhaps as a fill-in before the main evening action starts. Very best of luck with these - I'll certainly be watching!

  9. Look forward to seeing the finished results. I have done a set of gladiatorial rules, but not from scratch - I took a very simple set and then tweaked and added to them until I got what I wanted. But I'm always interested in how other people approach the subject.

    To me the hardest part was coming up with a way of reflecting the different armour, weapons and styles of both known historical gladiators, whilst still allowing the use of figures which may not be totally accurate (as far as such a thing can be determined with gladiators).


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