The Scarlet Theater
Across the Way from the slave pens is the gladiatorial arena known as the Scarlet Theater. Not visually impressive, it is a simple, windowless, three‑story domed building of dark stone. A large slate on the front wall announces the bouts for the evening, with rough chalk sketches of the gladiators and opponents for the illiterate. One large door for patrons and guests fronts the Way, with smaller doors for combatants, contestants, and uncooperative victims on either side. Rumors of doors opening on to secret underground passages are mostly rumors.
Strangely enough, the building was originally designed to be a theater, but it quickly fell on hard times. Stygus (along with the help of his unseen partners) quickly bought the property and refurbished it as a fighting arena.
The first floor is twice the height of the other floors. The front entrance leads into a large vestibule, though which the sounds of battle and shouts of encouragement or despair can be heard. The vestibule also has two large doors, behind which large, semi‑circular staircases lead to the upper levels. Two smaller doors on the sides lead to the wings on the left and right wings of the building. One thing this floor does not have is any established place to buy food or drink: that is done by wandering vendors, who sell watered ale and fruit juices and meat pies of almost respectable origins.
The arena is set into the first floor, surrounded by a low wall, surmounted with an iron fence. There are two doors into the arena. One leads to the gladiators’ private areas, and across the arena is the door to the animal pens, which is also used all other participants: criminals, automatons, and aberrations. The ceiling above the arena is domed with numerous skylights, which were boarded over by Stygus.
The left wing is devoted to maintaining the gladiators. Except in the case of Bruuhl, the arena champion, none of the gladiators live on the premises. He has a Spartan set of quarters situated along the front of the building, and the rest is divided up into several smaller changing rooms. Below this area are the bathing facilities, including a steam bath and massage room, a small clinic and the passage leading to the arena itself.
The right wing is devoted to the opponents: the fighting animals, criminals, and anything else that might appeal to the crowd. (In the past, gladiators have fought everything from swarms of goblinoids and Dire Rats to freshly‑caught Rift Spiders (hobbled for the spectator’s protection, of course) and Rust Monsters to Skeletons and Zombies.) The first floor is used for little more than the receiving room for the cages below. Below this area are the cages, all of which lead out to the arena through a common ‘run’, a large, well‑stocked meat locker and a crude veterinary clinic. Cages are 6’ high and are made of interconnected iron bars, so that the handlers can force animals out to the arena, but there are two 10’x10’ cages of thick stone for larger and more dangerous prey. The ‘run’ is controlled remotely from the rear of the cages.
The second and third floor is reserved for balconies and private boxes. Both floors have two private boxes in the rear, with heavy draperies concealing the occupants. The private boxes are connected to the rest of the floor through a set of secret panels; the boxes can also be reached through the secret underground passages and a climb up the narrow stairs inside the support columns. This area was originally the area behind and above the stage, but they were refurbished for private use after Stygus purchased the building. The second floor also has Stygus’ office, while the third floor has a large room that is often used for private meetings.
The arena is owned by several individuals, but the only one publicly known is Stygus, a former mercenary and dwarven tunnel explorer.
At night, members of the Mercenaries Guild are always in attendance for the fights, and Stygus can always rely on their support for additional security. During the day, Stygus rents the arena for practice sessions and duels; members of the Mercenaries Guild get special discounts.
The arena was deliberately built on the side of The Way closest to the Way of the Gods and its temples, so that the souls of the slain would find an easier way to their ultimate destination that way. In other words, its builders arranged it so that the dead souls are the responsibility of the priests rather than the owners of the arena. Even so, Stygus has an arrangement with several of the temples to have the arena exorcised and purified on a regular basis.
Stygus gets a cut of all betting, and is ruthless in enforcing this rule: 1 silver coin for every ten silver coins won, or 1 gold coin for every 20 gold coins. Any one who tries to cheat him faces expulsion from the Arena, or, worse, becoming the attraction for the next bout.
Alya, female half‐elf Brd5: CR 5; Size M (5 ft., 5 in. tall); HD 5d6; hp 29; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 13 (+2 Dex, +1 Amulet); Attack +4 mêlée, or +5 ranged; SV Fort +1, Ref +6, Will +2; AL CN; Str 13, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 17, Wis 12, Cha 17.
Languages Spoken: Common, Dwarven, Elven, Sylvan, Undercommon.
Skills and feats: Bluff +13, Disguise +3, Diplomacy +13, Intimidate +5, Listen +11, Perform (harp) +11, Perform (wind instruments) +4, Profession (entertainer) +10, Sense motive +13, Sleight of Hand +10, Spot +3; Negotiator, Persuasive.
Possessions: Amulet of natural armor +1, hat of disguise, pipes of the sewers, masterwork flute.
Bard Spells Known (3/4/2): 0th — Daze, Detect Magic, Flare, Lullaby, Mending, Prestidigitation. 1st — Charm Person, Cure Light Wounds, Hypnotism, Sleep. 2nd – Hypnotic Pattern, Silence, Suggestion.
Known for her penetrating voice and commanding presence, Alya acts as announcer and performer in between bouts from her usual position in the back balcony overlooking the arena. During bouts, she passes through the crowd, picking up rumors and information to pass on the Stygus. Alya would like to be a partner in the Arena, but doesn’t have the money: she does, however, know the identities of just about every one of Stygus’s hidden partners. In addition, she actually performed in the old theater before it closed, and so she knows the existence of the hidden stairways and tunnels underneath the Arena. What she plans to do with that knowledge remains to be seen.
Bruuhl, male half‐orc Bbn6: CR 6; Size M (5 ft., 11 in. tall); HD 6d12+18; hp 68; Init +5 (+1 Dex +4 Imp); Spd 40 ft.; AC 14 (+1 Dex +2 Bracers +2 Ring); Attack +10/+5 mêlée, or +7/+2 ranged; SV Fort +8, Ref +5, Will +4; AL CN; Str 18, Dex 13, Con 17, Int 9, Wis 15, Cha 10.
Languages Spoken: Common, Orc.
Skills and feats: Climb +7, Intimidate +9, Jump +11, Profession (gladiator) +6, Swim +11; Improved Initiative, Lightning reflexes, Weapon Focus (waraxe).
Possessions: +2 waraxe, bracers of armor +2, ring of protection +2.
Bruuhl is the most popular gladiator in the Arena. A shrewd warrior, he would rather join an adventuring band and is only staying because he is working off a debt to Stygus, who obliges him with relatively easy opponents. For the past three months, the two have been building up the reputations of other gladiators and beasts, then the supposed underdog Bruuhl defeats them, winning Stygus and Bruuhl a lot of coin. It’s a con that is rapidly beginning to unravel, so they are looking for one final big match.
Stygus, male dwarf Ftr9: CR 9; Size M (4 ft., 1 in. tall); HD 9d10+36; hp 82; Init +2 (+2 Dex); Spd 20 ft.; AC 12 (+2 Dex); Attack +11/+6 mêlée, or +11/+6 ranged; SV Fort +10, Ref +5, Will +4; AL N; Str 15, Dex 14, Con 19, Int 11, Wis 13, Cha 12.
Languages Spoken: Common, Dwarven.
Skills and feats: Climb +6, Listen +5, Move silently +8, Spot +8; Alertness, Blind‐fight, Combat reflexes, Endurance, Two weapon fighting, Weapon focus (waraxe, dwarven), Weapon focus (handaxe), Weapon specialization (waraxe, dwarven), Weapon specialization (handaxe).
Possessions: dwarven waraxe +1, masterwork handaxe
A former tunnel fighter, Stygus soon realized that it was better to have others do his fighting for him. That doesn’t mean he’s grown soft: he practices regularly and has been known to enter the arena himself on rare occasions.