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Old 01-14-2010, 09:59 PM   #1
Verjigorm
 
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Default The Illyrian Sport

I've got a historical campaign based on rome, around 230 BC to 180 BC. I've decided on a reccurant NPC: Decius Curtis Illyricus*, a Roman of patrician descent, who was unfortunate to be captured by Illyrian pirates for several years before returning to Roma improverished and destitute. In 224 BC he fights in the legions against the Gauls, and introduces a game of chance and skill to the romans: the Illyrian Sport.

I'm inspired by both the video for Beat It by Michael Jackson, but also from an old conan story featuring Red Sonja. The core principles of the game are that the two participants lash their right hands together, and use a knife in their left. The game is variously played to first blood, first cry or death, depending on the severity of the wager, and how much alcohol has been consumed.

A question that's rising for me in this is how to reflect the bound right hands? The sport is variously practiced with different customs regarding binding, from grasped hands, tightly wrapped in a tunic or cloat, to belts or cords tied aroudn the wrist and gripped tightly in the fist. In anycase, a core technique involved is to pull and push the opponent off balance using the right hand.

How can I work this out, mechanically? It's fine and dandy to have Illyricus win matches against NPCs, but what if the PCs want to participate?

*The name is kinda made up. Any one knowing latin, by all means, correct me
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Old 01-14-2010, 10:17 PM   #2
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Default Re: The Illyrian Sport

At its simplest, it sounds like both parties should be considered to have their right arms Grappled, so use those penalties along with off hand penalties. As for pushing/pulling the opponent off balance, perhaps treat it as a Beat against Dodge?
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Old 01-15-2010, 04:15 AM   #3
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Default Re: The Illyrian Sport

Quote:
Originally Posted by Verjigorm View Post
I've got a historical campaign based on rome, around 230 BC to 180 BC. I've decided on a reccurant NPC: Decius Curtis Illyricus*, a Roman of patrician descent, who was unfortunate to be captured by Illyrian pirates for several years before returning to Roma improverished and destitute. In 224 BC he fights in the legions against the Gauls, and introduces a game of chance and skill to the romans: the Illyrian Sport.

[...]

*The name is kinda made up. Any one knowing latin, by all means, correct me.
The middle name would denote his gens and would have an -ius at the end. The illustrious Gens Curtius.

Unless one of his ancestors had defeated the Illyrians and been awarded the name by the Senate, his cognomen wouldn't be Illyricus. It could be used as a nickname (i.e. a fourth name to distingiush him from all the other Decius Curtius <Whatever>s), but if it is, it's a huge insult if used to his face.

I don't know enough about that period to say for sure, but I suspect that "destitute patrician" is a contradiction in terms. Colleen McCulloughs portrays the early life of Cornelius Sulla as a destitute patrician in her "The Grass Crown", but that was a century later and even then he wasn't I-don't-know-where-my-next-meal-is-coming-from destitute, just I-don't-have-the-million-sesterces-I-need-to-take-my-rightful-place-as-a-senator destitute.

Unless the entire gens Curtius is extinct, it would at the very least provide a small allowance to keep him from embarrassing them. Nor would any wealth he had disappear while he was held captive by pirates, since, as a patrician, all his wealth would be derived from ownership of land. He could have paid a lot of it for ransom, but he wouldn't sell everything, nor would the pirates expect him to. They'd set the ransom to fit with his wealth (or his father's wealth).

If you do make him serve in the legions (I'm really not sure his fellow nobles running the legions would even allow it, but say they would), be sure to give him a hefty negative reputation with the upper class, since he would have been expected to commit suicide rather than demean himself and embarrass his ancestors.


Hans

Last edited by Hans Rancke-Madsen; 01-15-2010 at 05:10 AM.
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Old 01-15-2010, 04:57 AM   #4
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Default Re: The Illyrian Sport

Quote:
Originally Posted by Verjigorm View Post
The core principles of the game are that the two participants lash their right hands together, and use a knife in their left. The game is variously played to first blood, first cry or death, depending on the severity of the wager, and how much alcohol has been consumed.
It's going to be quick and bloody. Neither participant has any way to defend against attacks to his right arm.
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Old 01-15-2010, 05:29 AM   #5
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Default Re: The Illyrian Sport

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The name is kinda made up. Any one knowing latin, by all means, correct me
My latin is rusty, but it should translate as Ludus Illiricus. Ludus in latin can be used to translate both game and sport; a gladiator fight was called ludus.

A few nitpick. Your game seems more something good for the arena, rather than romans. During the Republic, gladiators were seen as inferiors, criminal and slaves. The golden age of the gladiator shows was still to come. When a teuton chief challenged Marius to single duel, the consul ignored the challenge and sent a gladiator against the german, just to show his contempt.

Quote:
Unless the entire gens Curtius is extinct, it would at the very least provide a small allowance to keep him from embarrassing them. Nor would any wealth he had disappear while he was held captive by pirates, since, as a patrician, all his wealth would be derived from ownership of land. He could have paid a lot of it for ransom, but he wouldn't sell everything, nor would the pirates expect him to. They'd set the ransom to fit with his wealth (or his father's wealth).
Well, while he was prisoner, his relatives may have squandered his money or made huge debts to free him. You could also use the old plot of the evil relative who pays pirates to have the hero killed (old as mountains, but always good).

Joining the legions is a possibility, but he should at least be a tribune or a quaestor rather than a legionnaire. Maybe he called in a favor or two from some of his old friends. This would give him a rank befitting his status, leaving him nonetheless poor enough to start a ring of bets on his "ludus".

Said this, you're planning a roleplay campaign, not a doctoral thesis so feel free to usewhatever fit your needs best.
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Old 01-15-2010, 06:11 AM   #6
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Default Re: The Illyrian Sport

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My latin is rusty, but it should translate as Ludus Illiricus.
Illiricus? Are you sure? Not Illyricus?
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Old 01-15-2010, 07:12 AM   #7
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Default Re: The Illyrian Sport

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Illiricus? Are you sure? Not Illyricus?
Depends on how literal you're being about transliteration and how picky you're being about historical linguistic flow. The Latin alphabet doesn't have the letter Y normally, so you could transliterate it as Illiricus; however, it seems like this in this case the Romans just borrowed the Y (in the form of Upsilon) from the Greeks when they transliterated the Greek name (Ἰλλυρία) to a Roman one, so "Illyricum" and "Illyria" are actually accurate.

Cheers.
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Old 01-15-2010, 09:09 AM   #8
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Default Re: The Illyrian Sport

IIRC in 3rd Ed. Swashbucklers there were rules for something similar, the duel "au mouchoir".
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Old 01-15-2010, 09:46 AM   #9
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Default Re: The Illyrian Sport

The Rom and, IIRC the Catalans have similar dueling traditions, although I think the Catalan one involved a much longer rope.
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Old 01-15-2010, 09:53 AM   #10
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Illiricus? Are you sure? Not Illyricus?
Indeed is Illyricus. I mistyped.
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