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    Canonfire :: View topic - Greyhawk City Arena and blood sports
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    Greyhawk City Arena and blood sports
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    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Tue Oct 17, 2006 8:40 pm  
    Greyhawk City Arena and blood sports

    I haven't read the Age of Worms adventure path, but is it true that blood sports take place in the Greyhawk city arena?

    In other words, gladiators can legally kill other gladiators in the arena? Much like ancient Rome?

    Are the gladiators slaves? Or are they mostly free gladiators and adventurers who sign up for fame and glory?

    Thanks Happy
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    Tue Oct 17, 2006 10:04 pm  

    I'm glad you brought this up. I am in the middle of running AoW in the arena episode and I had similar questions and here is what I learned (from LGJ #5 and AoW):

    The arena was built by Ponjes the Bull when GH was considered a de facto outpost of the Great Kingdom (This explains the Bull references in the Champion's Games I guess). As GH became independant the arena degenerated into ruins until the rule of Zagig Yragerne. He improved the arena. (Here I suppose the concentric circular hall of the lower levels with its mechanical workings are added). He reasoned that Greyhawkers could still enjoy a good bloodsport without being like the Aerdy.

    After Zagig, the Oligarchy forbade lethal combat in the arena, and its use went to the local colleges for athletic competition. The arena also was used for such exciting uses as military exercises, open-air concerts and holiday celebrations. This includes the period of the published GH setting mainly from 576 to 590. This is why in the Foreign Quarter 'The Pit' is an attraction for pseudo-bloodsports even if some of those were staged as well. Then in 591CY (The game date of the LG article) Nerof reinstated bloodsports in the arena 'as a means to deal with overcrowding in the city's workhouses'. Thus criminals now get to fight monsters and each other in regular festivals. Some even become fan favorites despite their criminal history (so no there is still no slaves used, slavery is outlawed according to GH law-that could be a gray area for monstrous humanoids though).

    Now to the Champion's Games in AoW(which I presume is set in 596 to stay in line with LG even though its not eplicitly tied to them), the arena has progressed to a new style of gladiator battle, voluntary team competition. Instead of lethal criminals fights, once a year teams are allowed under paid license to battle in a semi-lethal arena tournament. Teams come from all around and number 2-8. All manner of magic is allowed within the boundaries set by the Director of the Champions Games. Lethality is possible but anyone is allowed to surrender. Losers or victors not honoring the surrender are disqualified. The first round consists of 6 bouts of 4 teams in a free-for-all. The later rounds are then team vs team. Awards and trophies are handed out after each bout.

    So it seems the Arena has come full circle.
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    Wed Oct 18, 2006 6:42 am  

    It strikes me as a hopelessly modern American sensibility to erase bloodsports (as well as the slavery that can feed such) from the setting, except among the "evil" or "bad" folks. This kind of sanitizing creates an almost Dizney Greyhawk, IMO. Bloodsports and slavery = "evil?" So the Romans etc. were "evil?" To a lesser degree, the medieval Church was correct in its condemnation of knights tourneying because they frequently killed themselves and others? So too the later prohibitions against mano et mano duels? How about bear baiting and bull fighting? To an even lesser degree, cock fighting and dog fighting? So a GH with no arena bloodsports, no knightly tourneys, no duels, no killing of animals for sport? I suppose this is the "pseudo" in pseudo-medieval. Not IMC.

    So as not to confuse anynone, I'm not saying any of the above are "good." Rather that the simple equation of "= evil" is too simple. Too Dizney. For my tastes. YMMV.
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    Wed Oct 18, 2006 8:01 am  

    They are bad, but bad things happen in the real world. If you want some sort of verisimilitude you should include them. The distinction to be struck is between not sanitising on one hand and not glorifying on the other.
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    Wed Oct 18, 2006 9:11 am  

    Woesinger wrote:
    They are bad, but bad things happen in the real world. If you want some sort of verisimilitude you should include them. The distinction to be struck is between not sanitising on one hand and not glorifying on the other.


    Exactly.
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    Wed Oct 18, 2006 11:57 am  

    While chivalric tournaments were bloody, they were still distinctly different from the overt bloodsports of Roman days.
    Nor can it properly be said to be a distinctly "American sensibility," or even modern sensibility, to delete them, as the first laws against the more vicious forms of animal fights were passed centuries ago.
    So deleting arena bloodsports is not anachronistic or maudlin by any means.
    That does not exclude bloody unarmed combat for entertainment. Medieval boxing rules were insanely savage compared to modern times, as were medieval team sports. Both are different from overt hacking at others in an arena though.
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    Wed Oct 18, 2006 2:32 pm  

    I think it would be hard to assert that sending slaves to their death against trained soldiers or captured beasts isn't an evil act by the absolutist standards of the D&D world. But there is certainly scope for a variety of violent entertainment in 'good' locales (which Greyhawk City is not, btw). It just should not be intentionally lethal.

    An aversion to bloodsports is hardly a modern attribute. All manner of attempts to regulate or ban such things have occurred over the centuries. One needs to consider the character of the peoples, their culture and especially their religions in making decisions of this sort. It is extremely unlikely that a heavily Raoan or Pelorite community would endorse such activities, for instance.
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    Wed Oct 18, 2006 3:06 pm  

    I might have a different opinion. In CY 591 the city of Greyhawk was hurting for money because the wars and the fallout from them has put a pinch on trade. Meanwhile the Pit has expanded and grown in popularity. It would stand to reason that the Nerof, the lord mayor would want a piece of the action.

    The day to day decisions for the city are made by Nerof, and his allies. The other members of the oligarchy intervene to keep them honest to a degree, but there is no question of where control lies.
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    Fri Oct 20, 2006 11:55 pm  

    I added bloodsport back to the Free City Arena for the simple reason that it opened up a bunch of new story options for City of Greyhawk campaigns that did not previously exist when all you could do there was catch a game of soccer.

    --Erik
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    Sat Oct 21, 2006 10:12 am  

    I've been in some pretty harsh games of soccer . . .

    But at least you have a decent reason for it.
    ("For the story" is generally self-justifying, even if anachronistic.)
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    Sat Oct 21, 2006 1:56 pm  

    I think arguments of "anachronism" have limited merit when discussing a fantasy setting that draws inspiration from a variety of historical periods and fiction that is likewise unrooted to a specific historical era.

    --Erik
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    Sat Oct 21, 2006 4:12 pm  
    hail caesar!

    Greyhawk is a fantasy city in a polytheistic world. These are not medieval Europeans. They are not Christians. There isn't a powerful, unifying Church that opposes blood sports on principle. Instead, there are a number of cults, some probably have no issue with arena battles[especially condemned crminals fighting monsters]. Sure, some factions will speak out against it. Others may support it wholeheartedly. COG is more a neutral city than a heroic , good-aligned realm[unlike, say, Furyondy]. Just my humble opinion.

    "C'mon, you've still got one good leg left! Get 'em!'' Smile
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    Sat Oct 21, 2006 6:30 pm  

    iquander wrote:
    I think arguments of "anachronism" have limited merit when discussing a fantasy setting that draws inspiration from a variety of historical periods and fiction that is likewise unrooted to a specific historical era.

    --Erik


    I disagree. Otherwise there would be nothing to distinguish Greyhawk from Eberron. It is also destructive to suspension of disbelief.

    While an obsessive dedication to perfectly replicating some specific, historical nation is a waste of effort, casually dismissing any consideration of a baseline time equivalent makes any effort at developing a flavor equally wasted.
    What is to prevent adding firearms to the next iteration of the setting because they are fun? Heck, why not just do an entire adventure path of tracking down sections of the ship from Expedition to the Barrier Peaks for all the cool weapons? (Yes, I know a boxed set of that was done.) Or what about something as simple as a canal from the Azure Sea to Relmor Bay by Irongate? A canal connecting the Sheldomar and Javan Rivers? Bridges over the same?
    Of course, those are extremes of technology. On a social level, what if the entire setting were filled with parliamentary democracies, without even constitutional monarchs as the heads of state, and patrons for PCs were limited to law enforcement agencies or shadowy trans-national corporations? Marxist states have been done, including one in the Chainmail setting, and in quite engaging ways, but should they become a staple?
    Even the middle level is dangerous. Harry Turtledove did an entire novel series paralleling WW II in a fantasy setting. It was Eberron and then some, with nuclear weapon level magic rituals. (Which, by the by, had a much better pseudo-Stalinist state than most fantasy Marxist pastiches.)

    So no, I think arguments of "anachronism" always have significant merit when discussing a fantasy setting, even one that has broken its established rules multiple times already like Greyhawk. That is why I said said your reason (opening up a bunch of adventure options) is generally self-justifying. If it were always self-justifying then all of the above and then some would be fair game without a second thought, as the one time cool potential of anything and everything destroys any consistency within the setting. And while that might be the inevitable fate of any setting after a quarter century of existence, it doesn't mean we need to rush to embrace it.
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    Sat Oct 21, 2006 9:44 pm  

    Be that as it may, the point of this thread to me is the Arena's function was changed in a logical progression with history that shouldn't upset anyone's campaign significantly.
    Master Greytalker

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    Sat Oct 21, 2006 9:50 pm  
    Re: hail caesar!

    CombatMedic wrote:
    Greyhawk is a fantasy city in a polytheistic world. These are not medieval Europeans. They are not Christians. There isn't a powerful, unifying Church that opposes blood sports on principle. Instead, there are a number of cults, some probably have no issue with arena battles[especially condemned crminals fighting monsters]. Sure, some factions will speak out against it. Others may support it wholeheartedly.


    Unfortunately, most, if not all, of those cults are outlawed in the City of Greyhawk. No Evil faiths allowed. Which of the rest would really support it?
    Zilchus? He is against making money amorally.
    Lendor? Only if boring someone to death reading your history is considered a sport.
    Boccob? He would care why?
    Kurell? Maybe.
    Kord? Bloodsports are many things, but they aren't that athletic.
    Ralishaz? Would find them amusing in a twisted way but would hardly be concerned.
    Rudd? Again, where is the skill?

    I'm just not seeing it.
    GreySage

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    Sat Oct 21, 2006 10:08 pm  

    Heironeous would approve, as long as both parties were given a fair chance. No feeding unarmed cultists to lions, but a gladiator with a spear could win honor killing a lion with Heironeous' full endorsement.

    The same with Kord and Llerg; a distinction has to be made between watching monsters tear helpless people apart and a real sport, which this seems to be. Kord is all about watching heroes battle monsters, and Llerg likes anything that involves monsters or animals fighting things.

    Given that distinction, there's more than enough skill and risk to win the endorsement of Rudd and Norebo as well.

    mortellan wrote:
    Now to the Champion's Games in AoW(which I presume is set in 596 to stay in line with LG even though its not eplicitly tied to them), the arena has progressed to a new style of gladiator battle, voluntary team competition. Instead of lethal criminals fights, once a year teams are allowed under paid license to battle in a semi-lethal arena tournament. Teams come from all around and number 2-8. All manner of magic is allowed within the boundaries set by the Director of the Champions Games. Lethality is possible but anyone is allowed to surrender. Losers or victors not honoring the surrender are disqualified. The first round consists of 6 bouts of 4 teams in a free-for-all. The later rounds are then team vs team. Awards and trophies are handed out after each bout.


    There seems more than enough room for chivalry and skill in those rules. Given the magical combat, the temple of Boccob might even participate - they wouldn't care either way, but some priests might decide that such a Darwinian struggle advances the cause of magic, and gladly observe/moderate.

    The question, I think, is what churches would disapprove? It's not peaceful enough for Rao, not hopeful enough for Zodal; Ehlonna, Jascar, and Phyton might be concerned about the welfare of the animals, and those are probably the only ones. The Pelorites might volunteer to heal the wounded, but I don't think they'd venture an opinion about the fights themselves.
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    Sat Oct 21, 2006 10:16 pm  

    An ordinary man with a spear against a lion is hardly fair enough for Heironeous. Someone would have to cast detect game mechanic and keep the CR's within reason.
    Kord might go for slightly more lopsided fights, but Kord would still actively want the hero to win.
    Llerg would favor whoever is more savage, but Llerg is definitely a minor deity.
    If those conditions could be met Rudd and Norebo would support it, but that hardly seems likely right for common bloodsports.

    Now if ordinary duels of honor were fought there, Heironeous wouldn't object.
    Bareknuckle boxing or pankration style wrestling would have Kord sending half a dozen avatars to sign up.
    Llerg would have his clerics awaken all the bears to make it more interesting. (If people were wrestling bears for some reason.)
    Again, not ordinary gladiatorial combat to empty the workhouses.
    GreySage

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    Sat Oct 21, 2006 11:14 pm  

    If the point is simply to kill as many criminals as possible, then you're right: Heironeous and most of the other good deities would disapprove.

    If the point is to keep tourists and locals filling the city's coffers in order to see exciting and bloody combat - and to allow criminals to earn their freedom through acts of bravery and skill - the fights don't need to be lopsided, and most gods would probably be okay with it.

    A crucial point to establish is - is this voluntary, a way to reduce a criminal's sentence in exchange for entertaining the masses? Or are they just trying to reduce prison/workhouse overcrowding by substituting de facto execution for incarceration?
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    Sun Oct 22, 2006 7:51 pm  

    iquander wrote:
    I think arguments of "anachronism" have limited merit when discussing a fantasy setting that draws inspiration from a variety of historical periods and fiction that is likewise unrooted to a specific historical era.

    --Erik


    Well said.

    Greyhawk is filled with "anachronisms" and has prospered despite them and indeed, IMO, because of them, for Greyhawk is not bound by any need to adhere to one model or another, but may be defined and redefined as necessary to promote a good game. Of course, individual opinions of what constitutes a good game will vary (83 Box vs FtA vs GH2000 etc.). Thus:

    If an institution (or activity) can be placed in a setting on OERTH where it might exist (or take place), it can be appropriately found in that setting on OERTH, if such would serve the interests of the game, even if that institution (or activity) would be anachronistic (or an anachronism) on EARTH or OERTH, if there is precedent for a similar institution (or activity) on EARTH or OERTH.
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    Sun Oct 22, 2006 8:21 pm  

    If there is a precedent for it, it isn't anachronistic.
    So the semantic value of that fiat declaration of design standards is completely null.

    And then of course there is Piper's observation about Colonial Law that applies to most history too - you can find a precedent for anything. Warforged here we come!
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    Sun Oct 22, 2006 8:30 pm  

    rasgon wrote:

    A crucial point to establish is - is this voluntary, a way to reduce a criminal's sentence in exchange for entertaining the masses? Or are they just trying to reduce prison/workhouse overcrowding by substituting de facto execution for incarceration?


    Exactly. If it is, in fact, a legitimate contest and sport, that's one thing. If its just "entertain people with others' spilt blood", there's no way to reconcile that with non evil alignment in D&D. While Greyhawk city is certainly not a pillar of "goodness", its not openly evil either. Not to mention all of its major neighbors are heavily on the 'good' side of things.
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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 3:58 am  

    One thing to remember is that gladiatorial games have been established as a feature of Oeridian culture since forever and a day, probably deriving from tribal ritual combat or trial by combat.

    Or to put it another way, you might think bullfighting is cruel, awful and immoral, but a Spanish bullfighting fan's milage varies considerably. Ditto people steeped in Oeridian culture (as most of the former Great Kingdom is).

    It's probably too crude and barbaric for people with a more Suel influenced upbringing* - people from the Sheldomar, the Urnsts - and it might have been outlawed somewhere too do-goody like Veluna. However, in Ahlissa, the NK, the Compact, the Bandit Lands and even Fruyondy, Dyvers, the Pale (though they prefer to purify criminals by fire), Ratik, Nyrond and parts of the Iron League (and perhaps even the old Wild Coast), I'd say gladiatoral combat is alive and well. It's probably a voluntary profession and a form of trial by combat for capital crimes in the more good-leaning realms. In the less good Oeridian realms - esp. those with slavery - involuntary gladitorial bloodsports would be a common sight in major cities, I think.

    Among the Oeridian decended nobility (and the wanna-be noble merchant classes), it may have evolved into the joust and melee of tournies, as well as a culture of dueling (I can see this being esp. prevelent among the wealthy of Ahlissa).

    In terms of the Oerid gods and their followers, I think Heironians would have less of a problem with criminals facing trial by combat - provided they were sentenced for capital crimes in the first place. Zilchites probably wouldn't have that much problem with criminals dying either (and money and prestige deriving from that). Hextorites and followers of Erythnul certainly wouldn't have a problem. Ditto Stern Alia, provided they were guilty. Procan and the Velaeri wouldn't care.

    When considering Greyhawk City, it's also important to remember that it's not a theocracy. The churches have some say, but Nerof and his coterie run the city. If they say empty the workhouses, the workhouses get emptied. They're not nice people and GHC isn't a nice place.

    P.

    PS: GHC is on the frontier of the Suel and Oerid spheres in the Flanaess and has a lot of Suel influences. That might explain the outlawing of the bloodsports in the Arena in the past.

    * That said - I can see ritual duels and public displays of torture very much being en vogue in the late Suel Imperium. The depravities of the Ivids were probably an echo of the sadistic tastes of decadent late Suel Emperors and nobles. Though they had their own flaws, I'm sure some of the enmity that the Baklunish padishahs held towards the Suel was due to their impious and savagely decadent ways (that was certainly a good way to get the dervishes and holy men on side). I'm sure the more inbred branches of the Neheli or the decendants of the Maure or the more brutal Rhizian jarls keep this sadistic streak alive.
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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:24 am  

    Well, the real question is whether or not you accept the D&D alignment regime, which is fairly absolutist. You don't get to play 'cultural relativism' in D&D.

    Now, the Oeridians have lots of prominent and influential evil gods, so nasty cultural traits are certainly fine. But you can't really go around making them 'fine' with the LG types unless you gut the whole function of the alignment system.
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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:06 am  

    Vormaerin wrote:
    Well, the real question is whether or not you accept the D&D alignment regime, which is fairly absolutist. You don't get to play 'cultural relativism' in D&D.


    I agree for the most part. I think this is likely at the heart of the matter when the topic under consideration is one which would be classified as "bad" or "evil" by modern standards (if not others). I think I am remembering correctly that, subsequent to the discussion of alignment in the PH, there has been a 3X revisiting of that subject (in Dragon or some Wotc product, I want to say) that substantially reimagined the alignments in less morally absolute terms, allowing for cultural relativism (although that was not a term used, I don't think) as an option or alternative to the standard take on alignment. I do not immediately recall where I read it.

    Suffice to say, IMC, I use cultural relativism, moral relativism and situational ethics, in preference of a clearer, cleaner absolutism. I think the key to handling alignment in less absolute terms are the consequences that flow from certain actions, distinct from the mechanics of alignment penalties. As I phrase it to my players when they ask about alignment - "How you play determines how you will be regarded and by whom. There are no absolutes. You are what you play."

    Defined broadly, IMC, blood sports are found throughout the Flanaess; I do not, however, run an "evil" campaign, rather a morally ambiguous one.
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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:12 am  

    GVDammerung wrote:
    I agree for the most part. I think this is likely at the heart of the matter when the topic under consideration is one which would be classified as "bad" or "evil" by modern standards (if not others). I think I am remembering correctly that, subsequent to the discussion of alignment in the PH, there has been a 3X revisiting of that subject (in Dragon or some Wotc product, I want to say) that substantially reimagined the alignments in less morally absolute terms, allowing for cultural relativism (although that was not a term used, I don't think) as an option or alternative to the standard take on alignment. I do not immediately recall where I read it.


    Checking in the Book of Vile Darkness and the Book of Exalted Deeds, the exact opposite is true. The moral absolutism has been reaffirmed, and cultural relativism directly rejected.
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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 11:17 am  

    The alignment system is a fairly screwy and artificial construct to begin with, but let's work with it for the sake of argument.

    There's an assumption that Lawful Good is somehow always sweetness, light and the very soul of liberal consideration. I don't think it is. It's about following the law for the common good. Law does not always equal justice. And goodness doesn't always mean freedom - or at least "freedom to" as opposed to "freedom from". There's nothing in there to suggest that LG automatically implies a penchent parole and community service rather than capital punishment. The PHB talks about mercilessly hunting down evil when describing LG as an alignment. That's not very liberal (or from a certain point of view - good, if mercy and the possibility of redemption even for the most evil soul is included in your definition of good - which is where, no doubt, the different gods differ on points of doctrine). LG can be as fanatical and destructive as CE (or I'd argue, as overbearing and tyrannical as LE) - which is why maintaining the Balance is so central to the Circle of Eight, I imagine.

    I'd argue that if a criminal was in a workhouse for a capital crime having been tried and found guilty by the law, then no Heironean would bat an eye lid if the same criminal was sent out to be torn to shreds by a lion. The guy was an evil criminal who deserved to die to protect the common good. And so he does, messily. Debt to society paid. Other evildoers deterred. Case closed.

    Now if it's an urchin whose only crime is stealing bread - well then its neither lawful nor just to throw him to the lions. Then a devout Heironean might get irate.

    Which brings up two questions:
    1: How many people in GHC are devout enough to actually do something about it? My guess - not too many.

    2: How do they reconcile breaking the law of the land? They can justify it by saying the law is unjust in the their creed - but that's unlikely to hold much water with a GHC judge. It's very likely said Heironean will end up in prison, at the end of a rope or in the Pit himself.

    In realms where the nobles rule rather than the churches and especially in realms where there's no favoured church - then churches and their followers have to follow the law of the land - whether their deeply held beliefs agree with the law or not. At the end of the day, if one church wants to defy the law of the rulers, there's plenty of other churches willing to take their place (quite literally). The gods are real, yes - but so the hangman's noose.

    Or let's look at it another way. If the gods are real and gladiatorial combat offends them, then wouldn't they make that plain? If it offends them enough - wouldn't their followers have stamped it out by now? The fact that they haven't means that the gods aren't too pushed or that their followers don't have a lot of power to force the issue.

    As for general Oeridian norms - in LG Oeridan influenced countries (which GHC is emphatically not), I'd say trial by combat for criminals is only limited to those guilty of capital crimes (and even then only as one option among many). That, obviously, only accounts for a small amount of the activities in an arena. The rest of the time is taken up with combat between voluntary gladiators. It's probably a well-paid, respectable, if very dangerous profession. Not every fight would be to the death, but some might be. The gladiators don't have to fight in them, but the money and the kudos is there for them if they do. If they die, then they just wheren't good enough. If you're religious, you might conclude that the death was the will of the gods (otherwise he wouldn't have lost, right?) - though your point of view would likely vary depending on which god you favoured.
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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 3:13 pm  

    Well, I agree the alignment system is silly. I prefer to basically toss it out completely except as it applies to outsiders. I also prefer to be able to have some corruption in my good churches without some rule to say the god would have intervened to expel the priest already... If the churches are that pure, then they would naturally have tons more support and power, because people would *know* the Heironeans will never hose them over. And that is bad, bad, bad for intrigue type campaigns.

    If its structured as a form of execution in which there is some manner of honor and fair play, I can see Heironeous going along with it. But I doubt he would be interested in sullying the image of righteous combat with some gory spectacle of slaughter. That's what Hextor is all about.

    I am not arguing that there cannot be gladiatorial combat in GHC. In fact, I noted its not a "good" aligned locale. My point was that you can't rationalize overt bloodsports (the death and mayhem sort) as a "good" thing. Sure, the temples of the good dieties may be stuck operating in a land whose legal system doesn't jive with their ethos. But what does that have to do with anything? Inability to change something is not the same thing as condoning it. I am sure that they whine to the government about all manner of things regularly.

    Btw, the argument that "if bloodsports really annoyed the gods, they'd've done something about it already" is pretty facile, since we are the ones deciding what the gods/religions can and would do and we are discussing whether something should have been made to happen.

    Anyway, to sum up I don't have an objection to having fatal arena games in GH. I object to a number of the posts above suggesting that they are compatible with generally goodly aligned places (such as pretty much all of GHC's neighbors). And overt bloodsports like feeding people to lions and the like are just plain evil in any normal D&D cosmology.
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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:10 pm  

    I think everyone has some good points. In my upcoming GH campaign, I will indeed feature gladitorial combat in the Free City's arena. Likely I'll handle it like so:I won't use slave gladitaors. All the gladiators are either free volunteers, or convicted felons[rapists, murderers,etc]. The fights do draw criticism from many of the good churches, but no concerted effort has materialized to stop them. The profits from betting on matches and the benefit of distracting the citizenry are seen by the Oligarchy as too useful to abandon the practice. I will emphasize monster fights, semi lethal; events[boxing, for example], and the like. I don't think all arena matches have to end in death, but fatalites aren't uncommon. The Pit will be an illegal place with no holds barred death matches, including coerced slaves fighting. I think GH City is neutral enough in moral alignment to say''Hey, these guys either volunteered to risk their necks, or else they committed some heinous crime to be sentced to arena combat.''

    Oh, that bit about AWAKENED bears and bears wrestling- freakin' awesome. I hope you'll let me steal that.
    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:37 pm  

    CombatMedic wrote:
    Oh, that bit about AWAKENED bears and bears wrestling- freakin' awesome. I hope you'll let me steal that.


    Shocked

    1. I was kidding.
    2. Technically, if I let you, it isn't stealing. Laughing
    3. Given that I was kidding, I can't think of anything more multiply ironic than you using it.
    4. I got the idea from a segment of a novel by Joe Haldeman where the main character fights a genetically engineered kodiak bear with cybernetic enhancements and higher intelligence. So go all the way and make it an awakened dire bear with golem grafts.
    Cool
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:55 pm  

    GVDammerung wrote:
    I think I am remembering correctly that, subsequent to the discussion of alignment in the PH, there has been a 3X revisiting of that subject (in Dragon or some Wotc product, I want to say) that substantially reimagined the alignments in less morally absolute terms, allowing for cultural relativism (although that was not a term used, I don't think) as an option or alternative to the standard take on alignment. I do not immediately recall where I read it.


    Somehow, it figures. Wink Book of Vile Darkness p. 6, "Evil in Your Game, The Relative Approach (Variant)." Cool

    Yet, I want to say this is not what I was thinking of as it does not breakdown each alignment, which I'm certain I've seen. Unfortunately, Wotc books often have poor to no indexes (and Dragon has none) and I've had no immediate luck finding the expansion of the "relative" alignment notion found in the Book of Vile Darkness. But the BoVD at least illustrates the more general proposition re cultural relativism.
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    Master Greytalker

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    Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:11 pm  

    Less than half a page versus almost 4 pages on the standard version.
    Again, the BoVD rejects relativism except as a peculiar variant that will cause disruption to several subsystems of your game. It is not a wholesale endorsement of the concept.

    However, using that, I can now identify several other likely candidates.
    I suspect you want one or more of the rules variants relating to Oriental Adventures and the use of Taint in the game. These are in Oriental Adventures, Unearthed Arcana, and, possibly, Heroes of Horror. None of them as I recall give in to full blown cultural relativism though, they each simply discuss removing all alignment based spells from the game system, and replacing them with a subtype that focuses on Taint or the equivalent.
    Because of the variant cosmologies, it might also appear in Manual of the Planes or D&DG, again on the same basis of replacing the alignment descriptors with another factor to detect and affect.
    The only place I have seen any serious consideration of raw cultural relativism usurping the whole alignment system is in fan pieces. But those are not the base game system.
    Master Greytalker

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    Tue Oct 24, 2006 4:50 am  

    Interesting topic. Alignment is not intended to be rigid but I think it is intended to be objective. The categories mean that, more often than not, your actions will follow a general theme that an objective observer would consider lawful or good. LG doesn't mean you can never do anything dishonest or bad but if you do so repeatedly your alignment will eventually shift towards neutral in both cases not as a punishment but just because that's what your behaviour represents.

    Greyhawk gods have a pact not to interfere directly on the Prime Material (most of the time) - but their worshippers act as their proxies so that is where any disapproval of particular behaviour will come from. However, there is no point in seeking parallels with clerical alignments and real world alignments since our priests don't generally obtain spells!

    A LG character would certainly expect criminals to be incarcerated and face the wrath of the law but might be apalled at the conditions in the prison and work to improve them. A LG character might disapprove of the level of punishment for stealing bread but would be more likely to pay the bread seller than condone the theft or more likely to petition for clemency than smack the city guard in the head to ensure the urchin escapes (i.e. see CG!)

    I consider myself LG but that doesn't mean I've never broken the law. I dislike blood sports or sports such as boxing but I have no strong desire to petition to see them abolished. I think many Greyhawkers would feel the same. The city is generally LN so most folks would be happy to see a bit of blood and guts in the arena. Good characters may also enjoy it but may cringe at health and safety violations and petition for more healers on hand or some such.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Sat Oct 28, 2006 3:41 am  

    If Greyhawk were a "neutral" city I probably wouldn't have a problem with open bloodshed and folks being slaughtered in the heart of the city for entertainment. However, with the "no evil churchs allowed" ban in the city, Greyhawk, by default, seems to be more good-aligned.

    (In one of the Gord the Rogue novels there's a temple of Nerull smack-bang in the heart of the low quarter or something. In this non-canon version of GHC, maybe blood sports would work.)

    I'm still undecided about blood sports in Greyhawk city. I have no problem with them being in Rauxes or any of the nations of the Great Kingdom, but in Greyhawk it seems out of place somehow. And, believe me, my Greyhawk is no Disney version :)

    Thanks for everyone's response :)
    GreySage

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    Sat Oct 28, 2006 12:02 pm  

    dead wrote:
    However, with the "no evil churchs allowed" ban in the city, Greyhawk, by default, seems to be more good-aligned.


    That's a problem, and I think most or all of us would rather such a ban didn't exist. It seems contrary to Greyhawk's flavor as a border town between the forces of light and darkness, a "free" city unaligned with the great warring powers of Law, Chaos, Good, and Evil. However, you don't need openly evil churches to have a dark gray, neutral city. There are a lot of extremely shady neutral gods - Ralishaz, Norebo, Wee Jas, Kurell, Wastri, and Llerg to mention a few. For that matter, there are some shady good deities, like St. Cuthbert, Pholtus, and perhaps Trithereon, whose extreme views on Good sometimes stretch the definition of the concept. And even those who profess faith in truly good deities such as Pelor, Rao, and Zodal don't necessarily practice what they preach. Nothing is entirely free of the stink of corruption in the City of Hawks. Imagine a city where the Church of Rao is more interested in appeasing tyrants than real peace, where the Church of Zodal distributes false hope to the poor in the form of dangerous narcotics imported from Lendore, and where the Church of Pelor is only a front for the cult of Asmodeus. That's grayness!

    Openly murderous cults like those of Incabulos, Pyremius, Erythnul, Beltar, Nerull, Orcus, and Iuz are logically going to be banned in most cities and lands that care at all about civic order. It's one thing to be neutral, and quite another to allow sociopaths to parade openly. That doesn't mean that those cults don't have real political power in the city, using powerful citizens as pawns to advance their goals, even disguising their churches as temples to other gods; it just means they're subtle about it. The church of Nerull might effectively have as much power over the destiny of Greyhawk as the church of Pelor, but behind the scenes. Nerull is the god of underworld and covert activity, after all, so that's in his nature. Pyremius and Syrul are similar in that respect. Other evil cults, like Erythnul and Incabulos, may use this approach in Greyhawk even if they'd prefer to be more blatant.

    I'd personally prefer a Greyhawk where at least the less overtly sociopathic evil deities are worshipped legally, and I wouldn't mind one where all deities are legal. I see Greyhawk as a place where an uneasy truce exists between weal and woe, mostly in the name of mutual profit. But that doesn't mean that outlawing some of the more anti-social cults isn't an intelligent thing for a neutral city to do, and doesn't necessarily make the city good or even good-leaning. There are even evil lands where evil deities are outlawed, like the Bandit Kingdom of Dimre, which is dominated by a LE splinter cult of Pholtus.
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