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[Project] Blood on the Sands


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Hi guys,


Let me share you a project I'm following for some years now...






Welcome to Blood on the Sands, a tabletop skirmish game that allows players to take on the role of gladiators fighting for their lives in the provincial arenas of ancient Rome. The aim of designing Blood on the Sands was to capture the dynamic and fluid nature of gladiatorial combat while also incorporating the balanced intricacies of the deadly blood sport as implemented by the Romans.


The game mechanics produce narrative combats that require tactics, skill, and some degree of luck on the players' part, while avoiding the gameplay devolving into a simple static dice rolling fest. The game can be played as a simple one-off combat or as a campaign, where the careers and skills of gladiators develop over time. The campaign can cater to a large group of players (anywhere from 2-6), but the number of players should always be even.







Some words from the author Frank SULTANA :



What BotS is.

Blood on the Sands is a game of gladiatorial combat featuring intense one-on-one duels. It produces dynamic, narrative combats that move around the arena and that do not simply devolve into a static dice-rolling fest. The game requires only six miniatures per player, a hex grid playing area, gladiator sheets, some dice and some tokens; making for a pretty low buy-in for a game. It employs a dice pool mechanic that enables players to have a sense of direct control over their gladiators' actions, including manoeuvring, managing endurance, and both defending against and attacking their opponents. In its current form BotS features six historically researched gladiator armaturae or classes, the hoplomachus, murmillo, provocator, retiarius, secutor and thraex, but there are of course others in development. The distinct armament of these classes has been carefully considered in the design of BotS. Why does a murmillo wear one short greave? Why does a thraex wield a bent or curved sword? Why does a retiarius wear next to no armour? These are the types of questions that were considered when designing the game. It can be played as a simple pick-up game or as part of a longer campaign where you manage a stable of gladiators.


What BotS ain’t.

Blood on the Sands is not a miniature skirmish game with lots of figures in play at the same time. A player will control one figure only. Yes, one figure. The game concentrates on trying to replicate historical gladiatorial combats traditionally fought between a pair of gladiators. But what about the arena battles in the movie Gladiator? Sure, those things may have happened on occasion to deal with large groups of criminals or prisoners, but that is not a gladiatorial combat, that is a mass execution. Regardless, those types of battle are outside the scope of BotS and would be better handled by other rulesets. Animals! What about animals? Nope. Animal combats or hunts were the realm of the bestiarii, men trained specifically for the task of fighting and killing animals. They would have erroneously at best been considered gladiators, as real gladiators fought only other men. So BotS neither caters for large all in brawls or the killing of animals.

Blood on the Sands is seriously just a game with two figures on a hex grid? Is that going to be fun? You’ll just have to take my word for it until you can try it out for yourselves. Oh, and Charon doesn’t count…



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