Mog the Half Orc's Pit Fighting Circle
for GURPS Fantasy
by Royce E. Day
It's ugly, it's not talked about, but below a certain social level in the city of Megalos you can't deny it's there. Every once in a while a high-minded priest makes a demand of the Megalos Guard and burns the place down, but it always shows up again in a day or so in a new spot, and with crowds just as large as before. Mog himself hasn't been caught yet, though there's a fair reward ($200) for his capture on the charge of "creating a public disturbance" (rioting is a regular event at the Circle).
The design of the place is pretty simple. The inner circle consists of a sand-lined pit nine feet deep and about 20 feet wide, surrounded by rough benches except for two wooden gates on opposite sides where the fighters enter. Outside this area are a couple small buildings (sheds, really) where combatants and their trainers/owners can have some privacy before the fight begins, and the usual array of itinerate merchants hawking souvenirs of questionable quality and food of even more questionable origins. There are also, inevitably, bookies in the area. Though none of them have a clear franchise from Mog, occasionally one manages to beat off his competitors and gain exclusive business for all bets on the Circle's fights. Chaotic systems being what they are, it's usually an open market again in 24 hours (or less, depending on how fast the bodies can be disposed of).
Events in the Circle occur every day (including Sundays, much to the aforementioned righteous priests' disgust) usually starting early in the afternoon, and proceeding until sunset. There's no particular set schedule otherwise, audiences for Circle fights appearing about five minutes after the crier Mog hired starts announcing the day's card. Once enough of a paying audience shows up to fill the seats ($1.00 a head), the fights begin.
Events vary, sharing only in their utter brutality. Be it gladiators, cock fights, bear-baiting, or worse, every fight in the Circle sticks to a few very basic rules.
- Rule 1: Contestants enter from opposite sides of the Circle at the sound of the gong.
- Rule 2: No magic.
- Rule 3: Last one standing wins the purse.
The purse is generally 10% of Mog's take at the entry gate ($50 to $100, usually). Humanoid combatants are permitted to tap out during a fight, though the audience much prefers it if they're either crippled, unconscious, or dead. Animals generally fight to the death. If the audience isn't happy with the fight's outcome, they aren't afraid to show their disapproval by either flinging whatever they have at hand into the Circle, or sometimes physically entering it themselves to attack one of the fighters. Mog allows this, mostly because it makes for a better show, and encourages fighters to play to the crowd.
At the end of the fight the winner is helped out of the Circle to collect his purse, and the loser is pulled out and thrown into the street. Medical aid after the fight is the responsibility of the combatants.
There are generally four or five events a day. Mog pays out to the winning fighters/owners at the end of the day, and in that one respect is generally honest. The mix is generally one or two humanoid fights (there aren't that many wannabe gladiators in the city) and the rest animal events. If there's one odd thing about Mog's whole operation, it does seem like he somehow has unusually steady access to exotic animals to stick into his pit, like lions, tigers, and things locals have never heard of.
The most popular event is humanoid on humanoid combat, of course. Armor more substantial than heavy leather is frowned upon by Mog, though any sort of non-ranged weapon is welcome, the more exotic the better. Given the confined area of the Circle, it's usually one-on-one, though pairs also make an occasional appearance. Most of the regular fighters that appear are human of course, though for some reason Mog offers a double purse to any half-elf vs. half-elf fights. Despite having kept his Circle operating for at least two years now, no regular fighters have made a name for themselves yet. For one reason or another they tend to drop out once they get a reputation going, probably because they sensibly figure once they've earned a good amount of coin, they can move on to a safer occupation.
The biggest one behind this whole operation is that Mog the Half Orc isn't one.
Mog's name is really Cai Evertree, and he's no half-breed creature, he's a full-blooded Dark Elf. His family has been in the business of organizing bloodsports for almost a thousand years now, and he's just on a business holiday to help expand operations. He came over to Megalos about three years ago, on a mission to find new fighters and exotic animals to sate the jaded tastes of Dark Elf crowds. The family's extensive stable of slave warriors and animals were becoming a bit stale, and to pump up business some new bloodlines had to be found. So far he's been having the time of his life.
The simple fact is that he finds it absolutely hilarious that humans and other creatures brought by the Banestorm are so utterly desperate for a pittance of coin that they're willing to throw themselves into a grotty, pathetic excuse for an arena and risk their lives for a purse that would be spat on by even a novice Elven warrior. Even better, many of them are disgusting, mongrel half-elves, who die in the Circle and leave the world before they can produce any more perversions of nature.
But there is a practical side to the whole thing. Promising fighters in the Circle are sometimes kidnapped by Cai or his associates, to be transported back to the secret Dark Elf strongholds and finish their lives serving in arenas that will properly show off their talents. He takes care when he picks his target(usually someone who is new to the capitol and has no immediate family or friends nearby), and is careful to leave no evidence of his crime. Within an hour of catching his quarry, the person finds themselves in the cells underneath Cai's family's estates, ready to start his real training and become a slave warrior.
Mog/Cai carries only two magic items on his person: a pair of rings which supplement his spellcasting abilities, and a logbook of his operations which is carefully hidden in the house he owns in Megalos proper (getting into the city is relatively easy when he's in his Elven form). In the city he maintains the identity of an Elven sage researching the recreation of the Church's hierarchy during the chaos of humanity's initial appearance on Yrth.
The first ring has an Illusion Disguise spell, which permits him to maintain his Mog identity for up to 24-hours without draining his personal mana, or if he needs to quickly escape the attention of the authorities. The second has a Scryguard permanently enchanted on it to keep him clear of the magical eyes of prying mages.
If he is discovered, Cai would first attempt to cast a normal Teleport spell to a preset bolt hole well away from Megalos, and then Gate straight home. Given his origins, he knows he'd undoubtedly be executed for his activities in Megalos. The henchmen he hires under the guise of Mog to kidnap fighters know nothing of his true identity, and figure their employer just likes to occasionally have someone to casually torture/murder.
- The Old "NPC Goes Missing" Plot: A friend of the heroes, one that is well known as a competent soldier and who was also a little down on his luck, has disappeared after participating in a fight in the Circle. Questioning Mog directly will lead to a wall of indifference. "What do I care where somebody goes once 'dey take 'dere purse?" he'll say. But there's a witness who swears he saw their friend enter one of the outbuildings to collect his winnings, and never came out again.
- Backtracking: The PC's find clues about Mog's operation from the other end, during a mission that takes them to a secret dark elf city hidden deep in the wastes of the Nomad Territories. The local arena appears to have an unusual number of foreign fighters, most of whom prove to have had their minds blanked when they entered their life of slavery. Will they be willing to follow the leads all the way back to Megalos?
Mog the Half Orc (aka Cai Evertree)
109 1/2 points
Age 130; 5'11''; 150 lbs.
ST: 9 ; IQ: 15 ; DX: 11 ; HT: 10 
Advantages: Dark Elf (Radical) -- Racial ST -1 [-10]; Racial DX +1 ; Racial IQ +1 ; Appearance (Attractive)  (Reaction: +1); Combat Reflexes ; Magery 3 ; Musical Ability +2 ; Unaging ; Racial Skill Bonus +2 (MA): Bard ; Racial Skill Bonus +2 (ME): Savoir-Faire ; Code of Honor [-10]; Social Stigma 3 [-15]; Sense of Duty [-15]; Literacy ; Alternate Identity .
Disadvantages: Callous [-6]; Secret [-20].
Quirks: Always pays double to watch half-elves kill each other; Never cheats winners of their purse, even if he kidnaps them later. [-2]
Skills: Bow-11 ; Shortsword-11  Riding (Horse)-10 ; Fast-Talk-12 ; Acting-13 ; Intimidation-13 [1/2].
Spells: Detect Magic-16; Seek Magic-16; Seek Gate-16; Control Gate-16; Apportation-16; Levitation-16; Flight-15; Hawk Flight-15; Teleport-15; Create Gate-15; Sense Life-16; Test Food-16; Lend Strength-16; Light-16; Foolishness-16; Simple Illusion-16; Illusion Disguise-16.
Article publication date: October 3, 2003
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