Gladiatorial GURPS
By S. John Ross, Copyright © 1997, 2009 - version 2.0

Click Here for Gladiator II: The Magic Rules
Click Here to download some gladiator-pit maps in PDF form.

This is a set of rules for using the GURPS (3rd Edition) Advanced Combat system as a well-balanced stand-alone boardgame, not unlike Car Wars or Battletech or Starfleet Battles. Or, more to the point, not unlike Melee or Man to Man. These rules have been played and tweaked extensively over many years; some of the restrictions that may seem odd are here for very good reasons ... certain parts of GURPS work well with a GM, but less well in a purely competitive combat game. At the end of this article is a large list of stock warriors, making the game an easy-to-use and ready-to-go diversion that can take up a quick 10 minutes of time while you're waiting for the other players to show up on Game Night ... Note that even if you don't want to "gladiate," the armor table might come in handy (it summarizes the Basic Set numbers in one handy place) and the gladiators themselves serve well as stock NPC grunts.

Transparent, Unnecessary Rationale: You portray a warrior plucked from your homeland and brought to fight for all eternity in the palace of the Nutty Wizard. You probably don't mind.

The Nutty Wizard's Ground-Rules

Combat is Advanced Combat, on an open grid or "arena map" that the players can agree on. Arenas frequently include things like pillars, steps, and acid pits (any character entering an acid pit hex dies instantly). Gladiators are created, or selected from the stocklist.

The Rules of Style: Any normal attack described in the Basic Set for Advanced Combat is legal, with the following exceptions: Slam attacks, picking foes up, Strangle attacks. Furthermore, gladiators who fall or are knocked down may not Grapple or be Grappled until they are once again fully standing.

Gladiators (or teams) begin at least seven yards distant from one another, with one-handed blades in scabbards and unbalanced weapons unready but in hand. Shields and all balanced two-handed items begin at readiness. Throwable melee weapons may be thrown, but weapons used exclusively for ranged combat (crossbows, etc.) are not permitted. No form of net or lariat is permitted.

Rules Options in Play: Defense rolls are made at a -1 penalty for every full 2 points the attack succeeded by. The Changing Position in Armor, Shield Damage, Accumulated Wounds, and Dice + Adds options are in play. Any All-Out Defense may be used to take a single defense at +2, rather than 2 defenses. Thrust/Crush attacks may be directed at the solar plexus (treat as vitals but use the DR of the torso) at -3.

Feint Bonus: Each fighter has a Feint Bonus equal to the difference between his weapon skill (or Shield skill, as applicable) and his DX. Thus, a fighter with DX 16 and Broadsword-14 (Feint Bonus -2), takes a -2 penalty to skill for purposes of feinting Quick Contests. A fighter with DX 10 and Broadsword-13, on the other hand, would receive a +3.

Sequence: Sequence is equal to [Basic Speed-Encumbrance], rounded down, and turn structure is fixed. Ties in sequence are broken with the following other factors, in descending order: Dodge, Basic Speed, DX, Move, lowest encumbrance level, least weight carried, HT. Resolve remaining ties by random die-roll; this lasts the entire fight.

Knockback: When knockback direction could go more than one way, the attacker gets to decide which one applies.

Warrior Creation

All warriors are built on 25-200 points. The standard is 100. Quirks are not a factor. IQ does not exist. Low stats are fine, with a minimum stat of 6. Fights are generally between warriors of equal value, or teams of equal value.

Building Teams: A team's value is equal to the total point-cost of the team, multiplied by the number of gladiators in it. Thus, a team of four 25-point gladiators is worth 100x4, or 400 points -- an "even match'' for pair of 100-point gladiators (200x2).

Wealth: All warriors are flat broke, and must purchase cash with points (and gear w/cash!). 1 point buys $50, and 1/2 point buys $25.

Cloth Chain Leath.* Scale** Plate** Hvy. Plate**
Shirt 50/8 300/34 150/12 630/49 2300/50 3800/85
Dress 50/8 340/40 160/14 670/56 2400/55 3900/90
Suit 70/10 410/49 210/16 780/70 3400/70 5400/110
Suit+H 75/10 465/53 220/16 880/75 3500/75 5500/115
Torso 30/6 230/25 100/10 420/35 1300/35 2300/45
Arms 20/2 70/9 50/2 210/14 1000/15 1500/20
Legs 20/2 110/15 60/4 250/21 1100/20 1600/25
A+L 40/4 180/24 110/6 460/35 2100/35 3100/45
A+L+H 45/4 235/28 130/6 560/40 2200/40 3200/50
Helmet 5/0 55/4 20/0 100/5 100/5 100/5

The chart shows cost (in $) first, then weight.
* Leather assumes cuirboulli (PD 2; DR 2).
** Scale, Plate, and Heavy Plate listings assume a pot helm in any set that includes a helmet. For a great helm, add $240 and 5 lbs (Helm alone is $340 & 10 lbs).

A "Shirt" is covers torso and arms, "Dress" covers torso and legs, and "Suit" covers torso, arms, and legs. "A+L" is arms and legs. Miscellany: Cloth gloves + sandals cost $25 and weigh 1 pound; cloth gloves and shoes cost $55 and weigh 2 pounds. Leather gloves and leather boots cost $110 and weigh 3 pounds. Gauntlets/sollerets costs $250 and weighs 9 pounds.

Legal Advantages: Ambidexterity, Combat Reflexes, High Pain Threshold, Luck (read "fight" instead of "hour"), Toughness, Extra Hit Points (5 per level), and Strong Will (helps to stay conscious). Type II Luck costs five times normal price. Type III Luck is available for regular prices.

Legal Disadvantages: A special brand of Unlucky is available. It works just like Luck, except you take the WORST of the three rolls, and your FOE decides which roll it affects. If you have multiple foes (in a team game or potluck death-orgy) they must agree unanimously! You can take this twice, if you really want to. Low Pain Threshold is also legal. No other disads are. There is no 40-point limit.

Enchantment: Characters may wear a Ring of Warding (which grants +1 PD to all locations) for 10 character points. Weapons may be purchased with the Accuracy, Puissance, Quick-Draw, Loyal Sword, Defending Weapon, Penetrating Blade, Quick-Aim, and Graceful Weapon enchantments (see GURPS Magic and GURPS Grimoire); no other enchantments are legal.

Skills: Acrobatics, Running, and Tactics are legal, as are any combat skills available at TL 3 (plus Fencing, Karate and Judo). Tactics level is always "X" -- it only serves to grant +1 to sequence for 1/2 point. The "off-hand training" skill is available from GURPS Swashbucklers. 2 points per level, as per that book. No cloaks or main-gauche. Nothing from GURPS Martial Arts in any form. All warriors are 20 years old, so no more than 40 points can be put into skills. All warriors weigh 150 lbs and take 2 spaces as a Driver or Gunner.

Characters record their total PD and DR on a "defense chart," which lists locations in the following order: Skull, Head, Left Arm, Right Arm, Left Leg, Right Leg, Left Hand, Right Hand, Left Foot, Right Foot, Torso, and Vitals. Unless otherwise stated, the attack is to the Torso (and a swing, if the weapon has more than one mode of attack). Shield PD is included in the defense chart values (adjust in play for runaround attacks, etc). Values noted with an asterisk (*) indicate chainmail is the area's primary protection, reduce PD by 3 and DR by 2 when attacked by impaling weapons. Values noted with a pound sign (#) indicate breastplate protection (reduced PD and DR on attacks against the character's back side).

You Are the Brute Squad:
Stock Gladiators from the Wizards' Stables

The Amazing Mouli (and his girlfriend, Julie Ann); 100 points

ST 17; DX 10; HT 7. Thrust 1d+2; Swing 3d-1
Skills: Axe/Mace-12, Shield-10, Running-7, Tactics-X
Advantages/Disadvantages: Low Pain Threshold
Weapon/Damage: Fine Axe (3d+2 cut)
Other Gear: Cloth Suit, Leather Suit, Pothelm, Cloth Gloves, Shoes, Medium Shield

Sk Hd La Ra Ll Rl Lh Rh Lf Rf To Vi
PD 6 3 5 5 5 5 4 4 4 4 5 5
DR 6 0 3 3 3 3 1 1 1 1 3 3

Encumbrance: Light (52 lbs.)
Dodge 3, Parry 6, Block 5.
Basic Speed 4.25, Move 4, Sequence 4

Broccoli Bear (with a nice cheese sauce); 100 points

ST 10; DX 14; HT 10/11. Thrust 1d-2; Swing 1d
Skills: Spear-14
Advantages: Toughness (DR 2)
Weapon/Damage: Spear (1d+1 imp)
Other Gear: Cloth Suit+H, Chain Coif, Scale Suit+H, Boots, Cloth Gloves, Pothelm

Sk Hd La Ra Ll Rl Lh Rh Lf Rf To Vi
PD 3 3* 3 3 3 3 1 0 2 2 3 3 *-3 PD imp
DR 12 3* 7 7 7 7 3 0 4 4 7 7 *-2 DR imp

Encumbrance: Heavy (96 lbs.)
Dodge 3, Parry 7, Block NA.
Basic Speed 6.0, Move 3, Sequence 3

Conall MacMuirDonagall (wears kilts); 100 points

ST 16; DX 10; HT 8. Thrust 1d+1; Swing 2d+2
Skills: Broadsword-13, Running-5, Shield-12, Tactics-X
Advantages/Disadvantages: Toughness (DR 1), Low Pain Threshold
Weapon/Damage: Cheap Thrusting Bastardsword (3d cut, 1d+2 imp)
Other Gear: Cloth Suit, Leather Suit, Shoes, Medium Shield w/Shield Spike (+1 to shield-bash damage)

Sk Hd La Ra Ll Rl Lh Rh Lf Rf To Vi
PD 3 3 5 5 5 5 3 3 4 4 5 5
DR 3 1 4 4 4 4 1 1 2 2 4 4

Encumbrance: Light (53 lbs.)
Dodge 3, Parry 6, Block 6.
Basic Speed 4.5, Move 4, Sequence 4

Filthy Pierre (he'll buy your stolen goods); 100 points

ST 11; DX 9; HT 11. Thrust 1d-1; Swing 1d+1
Skills: Buckler-10, Fencing-14
Advantages: Strong Will+3, Toughness (DR 2)
Weapon/Damage: Saber (1d+1 cut, 1d imp)
Other Gear: Buckler, Leather Suit, Slippers

Sk Hd La Ra Ll Rl Lh Rh Lf Rf To Vi
PD 1 1 3 3 3 3 1 1 1 1 3 3
DR 4 2 4 4 4 4 2 2 2 2 4 4

Encumbrance: None (21 lbs.)
Dodge 5, Parry 9, Block 5.
Basic Speed 5, Move 5, Sequence 5

Hassan Chop! (close sesame!); 100 points

ST 12; DX 9; HT 13. Thrust 1d-1; Swing 1d+2
Skills: Two-Handed Sword-14, Running-12
Advantages: High Pain Threshold, Strong Will+2
Weapon/Damage: Cheap Thrusting Greatsword (2d+2 cut, 1d+2 imp)
Other Gear: Cuirboilli Shirt

Sk Hd La Ra Ll Rl Lh Rh Lf Rf To Vi
PD 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2
DR 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2

Encumbrance: None (19 lbs.)
Dodge 5, Parry 7, Block NA.
Basic Speed 5.5, Move 7, Sequence 5

Jhoon "Bruce'' Ri (nobody bothers Lee); 100 points

ST 11; DX 12; HT 12. Thrust 1d-1; Swing 1d+1
Skills: Judo-14, Karate-15
Advantages: High Pain Threshold
Weapon/Damage: Punch (1d cr), Kick (1d+2 cr)
Other Gear: None
Armor: None (DR 2 on Skull)
Encumbrance: None
Dodge 6, Parry 10, Block NA.
Basic Speed 6, Move 6, Sequence 6

Little John (he asks no quarter and gives plenty); 100 points

ST 11; DX 11; HT 12. Thrust 1d-1; Swing 1d+1
Skills: Fast Draw (Knife)-10, Judo-11, Knife Throwing-12, Running-10, Staff-15
Advantages: High Pain Threshold
Weapon/Damage: Quarterstaff w/(x1)Penetrating Blade enchantment (2d cr or 1d+1 cr), Cheap Large Knife (1d-1 imp)
Other Gear: Chainmail Suit, Cloth Suit+H

Sk Hd La Ra Ll Rl Lh Rh Lf Rf To Vi
PD 1 0 3 3 3 3 0 0 0 0 3 3* *-3 PD imp
DR 3 0 4 4 4 4 0 0 0 0 4 4* *-2 DR imp

Encumbrance: Medium (64 lbs.)
Dodge 3, Parry 10, Block NA.
Basic Speed 5.75, Move 5, Sequence 3

Pokey (the pick of the litter); 100 points

ST 14; DX 12; HT 10. Thrust 1d; Swing 2d
Skills: Axe/Mace-17, Brawling-13, Running-7, Shield-14
Advantages/Disadvantages: Unlucky (once per game)
Weapon/Damage: Pick (2d+1 imp)
Other Gear: Cloth Suit+H, Leather Suit, Pothelm, Shoes, Medium Shield w/Shield-Spike (+1 Damage to Shield-Bash)

Sk Hd La Ra Ll Rl Lh Rh Lf Rf To Vi
PD 6 3 5 5 5 5 3 3 4 4 5 5
DR 7 0 3 3 3 3 0 0 1 1 3 3

Encumbrance: Light (56 lbs.)
Dodge 4, Parry 8, Block 7.
Basic Speed 5.5, Move 5, Sequence 4

Roger Wilco (if you axe him a question); 100 points

ST 12; DX 11; HT 12. Thrust 1d-1; Swing 1d+2
Skills: Axe/Mace-12, Shield-12, Running-10
Advantages: Tougness (DR 1)
Weapon/Damage: Axe (2d+1 cut)
Other Gear: Scale Suit+H, Cloth Suit+H, Boots, Medium Shield

Sk Hd La Ra Ll Rl Lh Rh Lf Rf To Vi
PD 7 3 7 7 7 7 4 4 6 6 7 7
DR 8 1 6 6 6 6 1 1 3 3 6 6

Encumbrance: Heavy (107 lbs.)
Dodge 2, Parry 6, Block 6.
Basic Speed 5.75, Move 4, Sequence 2

Roland (Generic Universal Gladiator); 100 points

ST 12; DX 12; HT 12. Thrust 1d-1; Swing 1d+2
Skills: Broadsword-14, Shield-12
Advantages: High Pain Threshold
Weapon/Damage: Cheap Thrusting Broadsword (2d cut, 1d+1 imp)
Other Gear: Chainmail Suit+H, Cloth Suit+H, Pothelm, Leather Gloves, Leather Boots, Medium Shield

Sk Hd La Ra Ll Rl Lh Rh Lf Rf To Vi
PD 6 6* 6* 6* 6* 6* 5 5 5 5 6* 6* *-3 PD imp
DR 9 3* 4* 4* 4* 4* 2 2 2 2 4* 4* *-2 DR imp

Encumbrance: Heavy (89 lbs.)
Dodge 3, Parry 7, Block 6.
Basic Speed 6, Move 3, Sequence 3

Reuben James (you loved him then; love him now); 100 points

ST 14; DX 10; HT 11. Thrust 1d; Swing 2d
Skills: Flail-13, Running-8, Shield-11, Tactics-X
Disadvantages: Low Pain Threshold
Weapon/Damage: Morningstar (3d cr)
Other Gear: Steel Breastplate, Chainmail Suit+H, Cloth Suit+H, Boots, Cloth Gloves, Pothelm, Medium Shield w/Shield Spike

Sk Hd La Ra Ll Rl Lh Rh Lf Rf To Vi
PD 6 6* 6* 6* 6* 6* 4 4 5 5 7# 7# *-3 PD imp #PD/DR 3/4* on back
DR 10 3* 4* 4* 4* 4* 1 1 2 2 7# 7# *-2 DR imp #PD/DR 3/4* on back

Encumbrance: Heavy (115 lbs.)
Dodge 2, Parry 6, Block 5.
Basic Speed 5.25, Move 3, Sequence 3

Sherman (he always gets stuck playing a shepherd); 100 points

ST 11; DX 13; HT 6. Thrust 1d-1; Swing 1d+1
Skills: Axe/Mace-16, Shield-12, Tactics-X
Advantages/Disadvantages: Toughness (DR 1), Low Pain Threshold, Unlucky
Weapon/Damage: Axe (3d cut)
Other Gear: Cloth Suit+H, Chainmail Suit+H, Plate Suit+H, Gauntlets, Sollerets, Medium Shield

Sk Hd La Ra Ll Rl Lh Rh Lf Rf To Vi
PD 6 6* 7 7 7 7 6 6 6 6 7 7* -3 PD imp
DR 11 3* 9 9 9 9 5 5 5 5 9 9* -2 DR imp

Encumbrance: Extra-Heavy (166 lbs.)
Dodge 0, Parry 8, Block 6.
Basic Speed 4.75, Move 1, Sequence 1

Large Joe (says it all, really); 150 points

ST 12; DX 13; HT 8. Thrust 1d-1; Swing 1d+2
Skills: Two-Handed Sword-15, Running-6, Brawling-14
Advantages: None
Weapon/Damage: Thrusting Greatsword (2d+2 cut, 1d+2 imp), Fist (1d cr)
Other Gear: Plate Suit+H, Chain Suit+H, Cloth Suit+H, Gauntlets, Sollerets

Sk Hd La Ra Ll Rl Lh Rh Lf Rf To Vi
PD 6 6* 7 7 7 7 6 6 6 6 7 7 *-3 PD imp
DR 10 3* 8 8 8 8 4 4 4 4 8 8 *-2 DR imp

Encumbrance: Extra-Heavy (154 lbs.)
Dodge 1, Parry 7, Block NA.
Basic Speed 5.25, Move 2, Sequence 1

The Black Knight (is invincib-b-ble!); 200 points

ST 15; DX 13; HT 6. Thrust 1d+1; Swing 2d+1
Skills: Two-Handed Sword-17, Brawling-13, Running-4, Tactics-X
Advantages: Toughness (DR 1)
Weapon/Damage: Thrst. Greatsword (3d+1 cut, 2d+1 imp), Fist (1d+2 cr)
Other Gear: Plate Suit+H, Chain Suit+H, Cloth Suit+H, Gauntlets, Sollerets

Sk Hd La Ra Ll Rl Lh Rh Lf Rf To Vi
PD 3 3* 4 4 4 4 3 3 3 3 4 4 *-3 PD imp
DR 11 4* 9 9 9 9 5 5 5 5 9 9 *-2 DR imp

Encumbrance: Heavy (154 lbs.)
Dodge 1, Parry 8, Block NA.
Basic Speed 4.75, Move 2, Sequence 2

Mrs. Pickman (a good model who likes a good poke); 200 points

ST 14; DX 14; HT 15. Thrust 1d; Swing 2d
Skills: Axe/Mace-19, Brawling-15, Running-12, Shield-16
Advantages/Disadvantages: Toughness (DR 1), Ring of Warding, Unlucky (once per game)
Weapon/Damage: Pick (2d+1 imp)
Other Gear: Cloth Suit+H, Leather Suit, Pothelm, Shoes, Medium Shield w/Shield-Spike (+1 Damage to Shield-Bash)

Sk Hd La Ra Ll Rl Lh Rh Lf Rf To Vi
PD 7 4 6 6 6 6 4 4 5 5 6 6
DR 8 1 4 4 4 4 1 1 2 2 4 4

Encumbrance: Light (56 lbs.)
Dodge 6, Parry 9, Block 8.
Basic Speed 7.25, Move 7, Sequence 6

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