On 5e Backgrounds:Gladiator

Once you fought against other men and beasts for the entertainment of the people. No longer. Now you fight for a different cause.

Skill Proficiency: Strength (Athletics) OR Dexterity (Acrobatics); Charisma (Performance)
Languages: Pick any two.
Equipment: Any weapon, 1d100 coins, Traveler's outfit, Strips of cloth.

Specialty: Your background before becoming a gladiator varied:

  1. Captured slave
  2. Criminal
  3. Politician seeking warrior pedigree
  4. Ex-soldier
  5. Desperate man
  6. Thrill seeking upper-class patrician


As a gladiator, you were considered a hero and had many adoring fans. In any settlement of 500 people or more, there are 1d4 people who have heard of your accomplishments and fame per 500 people. In any settlement of 1,000 people or more, one of each of those is a very big fan and will accommodate whatever your wishes are. This can result in free services, housing, or other more esoteric requests depending on the fan.

Suggested Characteristics

No stranger to combat and death, you take such things very seriously. If you achieved any degree of fame, you have a talent for showmanship, but realize that being alive is more important than being impressive.

d8 Personality
  1. By Jupiter's low-hanging c*&k, I love to put a colorful fist full of words that fall from my mouth like s&*t from ass into a knotted ear!
  2. I'm just a simple gladiator trying to make his way against the whim of the gods, the politicians, the miscreants. So often you can't tell one from the other.
  3. There is no greater thing than standing victorious in the arena.
  4. Death comes to us all. Press me again, and you shall find yours.
  5. There is always a choice.
  6. I am beset by misfortune, one again gods spread the cheeks to ram c&*k in f*#&ing ass!
  7. I was sprung from my mother with sword in hand. The ways of battle are second nature, passed down from father to son.
  8. You had me at whores!

d6 Ideal
  1. Freedom: Those who seek to place heel on the throat of Liberty will fall to the cry of Freedom. (Chaotic)
  2. Ceremony: The dead must be honored and this is why I must fight. (Lawful)
  3. Wealth: Show me the money! (Unaligned)
  4. Victory: Winning is the only thing that matters. (Evil)
  5. Equality: In the arena, none of us are slaves. (Good)
  6. Vengeance: Blood demands blood. (Evil)

d6 Bond
  1. I have an endorsement deal with a popular guild, and am bound by contract to certain terms.
  2. I gave my word, blood and honor, to return to my wife. The gods themselves will not keep me from returning.
  3. My gladiators are my brothers and I live for them. Either to increase their rights or to protect their lives.
  4. I still have a close relationship with the Ludis that trained me.With the owners, trainers, and gladiators -- I represent them publicly. 
  5. You cannot stay long in one place, you are bound to wanderlust, traveling in whatever direction and desire wills your feet.
  6. Your trainer is the only person you wish to please.
d6 Flaw
  1. I was once a slave and for some reason, never managed to get that cleared up before I took off.
  2. I killed my patron and led a slave uprising, and now there are a group of people who want me dead for what they see as very good reasons.
  3. I have a wound that never healed correctly, that acts up at inopportune times.
  4. I am extremely popular with members of the opposite sex, and frequently run into problems caused by my sexual mystique.
  5. Freedom is not a stick of wood to be presented as a bone to obedient dog. It is a thing all men deserve. I will not tolerate slavery.
  6. For some reason, the odds never seem to favor you.

OSR Package
Running a B/X game? Give these advantages instead of proficiency and features. You can alos give these bonuses if running a 5e game using 3d6 for character generation.
  • +1 to hit.

Like these backgrounds I wrote? I collected them in a Pay What You Want .pdf, and affordable hard copy!

Hack & Slash Compendium I at RPGnow for 3.99!
Hack & Slash Compendium I at Lulu in affordable print! (7.99$)

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  1. Yours is better than the Player's Handbook. :)

  2. Yes for the Spartacus language in the Personality. I freaking loved that show and I would love to play as a character inspired by that world and their colorful language.

  3. You forgot to add "For the Thirteen!". I caught an episode of Rome the other day and Pulo was sentenced to fight in an arena. At first he refused to fight until one of the three men he was set to fight against insulted the 13th Legion. Shit got real at that point.

  4. Will you be collecting these all in one document? These are awesome!

  5. awesome . .
    you should arrange these in a folder
    excellent for generating NPCs
    as for PCs I defer to Roger the GS

    “You really, absolutely, definitely, indisputably do not need a detailed character background before play begins. In fact, all you really need is a name, a class, stats, and some equipment, and you're good - because within five minutes of the game beginning you will without fail find your character beginning to take on a personality of his own. This strange and almost mystical emergence of character through play is one of the best things about the hobby, and it amazes me that people have been so determined, for decades, to kill that concept.”

    Monsters and Manuals Blog, 21 October 2011

    1. You should take that up with 5th edition.

    2. Is there a defense of character backgrounds that's more... serious than that? I haven't seen it yet but I will continue looking...

    3. It's not a defense. They are more options for people playing 5th edition.

  6. You missed a golden opportunity for "ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?"


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