The Great Games, Gladiatorial Combat in the Domains
Gladiatorial Combat and other bloodsports long predate the Reckoning. Champions fighting to the death to resolves disputes between tribes, armies, and even tribunals were not uncommon. Beasts pitted against each other for sport was considered high entertainment in some circles. Sorcerer-Kings and Witch-Queens, the mightiest of the gifted, often grew fond of this sort of bloody spectacle. These older contests pale in comparison to the scale and importance of the great games, however.
The Great Games began as a mechanism for solving disputes between the Chosen and also for choosing their replacement. When the council of the Chosen could not mediate between two of their number they were allowed to resolve their disputes in a duel. The number of Chosen was limited by the Covenant, which meant that any Gifted who came afterwards had to compete if they wanted to become one of the Chosen. Since the early days of the Domains were a time of survival, desperation and war, the idea of choosing replacements through trial by combat was natural.
Over time the Great Games became ingrained in the politics of the Domains. Changes over the centuries have made Death-matches less common, and added layer upon layer of rules complexities to prevent cheating and exploits. However the idea of the Great Games seem as solid as ever, partly because so many of the Chosen rose to power through them.
Features of most arenas:
- Abattoir: The corpses of monsters are not just thrown away, but are disposed of properly. Parts that are valuable to necromancers and as alchemical components or craft materials are removed. The meat is fed to other beasts, if appropriate. The abattoir is well warded and supervised due to the dangerous nature of diseases and magical taint posed by many beasts.
- Arming Rooms: The arming rooms are where the Gladiators prepare themselves for battle and remove their equipment afterwards.
- Baths: Baths are provided for the Gladiators to clean up in after a match. These are a true luxury, with scented water, cleansing enchantments, and massages. The baths are often the scene of ardent after-match amorous activities. All arenas have access to baths and most place them in the arena, near the arming rooms.
- Entrances: In many ways arenas are like theaters; they have a wide variety of entrance-ways, secret passages, and trap-doors to enhance the dramatic proceedings of the fighting grounds. These are used mostly for monsters though. Gladiators tend to enter from a set point, in a traditional manner, which gives the crowd time to recognize and react to them.
- Fighting Grounds: This is the area where the Gladiators battle in the arena. The fighting grounds are usually a broad expanse surrounded by spectators on all sides. Traditional matches take place on pure white sand, but many special matches make use of terrain such as water, bridges, obstacles, pits, and even hidden traps.
- Infirmary: Sever injuries are treated in the infirmary. Even the smallest arena has several Gifted healers on duty during matches.
- Inspection: Gladiators must be inspected by an officer of the Deliberative before they enter the arena to make sure their weapons and armour meet regulations and to ensure they are fit to fight.
- Keystone: The Keystone preserves a Gladiators life forces if they die. The Gladiator must attune to the stone before the match. Keystones are only effective over short ranges, and not perfectly effective but combined with a talented healer and a Gladiators innate regeneration ensure that a fighter can be brought back from almost any wound they receive in the arena. Tampering with a Keystone is considered murderous. (MMORPG players can think of these a limited bindstones/lifestones) The Keystone is usually in the inspection area.
- Private Boxes: Many people, the Chosen among them, prefer to watch the Great Games without becoming a spectacle themselves. For those who can pay the expense, luxurious private boxes are available. These are spacious and sumptuous, with food, attendants, and many excellent amenities.
- Wards & Enchantments: Even the simplest arena has powerful wards that prevent the destructive magics and dangerous beasts unleashed within the arena from harming the audience. Over the years these additional enchantments and devices have been added in most arenas that allow spectators a better view of the fight such as image and sound magnifiers. The better arenas often have image capture and replay magics (not 100% on this as canon yet).