Sports Festivals

Gladiatorial Games

Reminiscent of Rome's gladiatorial combat and arena events, organized fights and races take place in a number of set-ups and ways, from the grandiose stadium fighting events and races to the more local stable circuits we discover with Fighting Slave of Gor.

In major cities, it would appear that the various stadium events follow seasons, much like the sports calendars do on Earth. The games in the Stadium of Blades, for example, are said to finish their season at the end of Se'Kara, a month following the season of races (tarn races in this case). This would indicate that there are periods of time for the rebuilding of teams and the training of fighters, tarn or tharlarion racers, etc.

Although it is said that some participation in these fights is voluntary, it is more that the participants are criminals or prisoners of the city in which the games are held. In the city of Tharna, under the silver mask rule, the Amusements of Tharna were used as a way to dispose of those who broke the laws of Tharna in as public a way as was possible. The men of Tharna, were expected to attend these games four times a year or find themselves participating in them, a way the ruling women reminded them of their place.

Though not all cities reserved the stadium fights to those sentenced to them, these combats were, for the large part, not of the type in which warriors would willingly partake. The spectacle of blood-for-blood without other purpose, and the presence of constantly unfair odds to ensure that death will occur, would be beneath the warrior's code of honor. If those warriors were prisoners, they would have no choice in fighting to survive. They would not be willing to volunteer in exchange for the gold or the glory of coming out alive.

Stadium combat comes in a large variety of flavors and themes, more than likely for the purpose of holding the crowd's interest. Men fight one-on-one using various weapons and being subject to various handicaps, such as blinding hoods or yokes. They fight in teams against other teams or beasts of as wide a selection as Gor offers. Slave girls fight each other or are rounded up in groups to fight one man. There is even mention of flooding the arena with water so that sharks and Vosk turtles may be used.

Stadium Races - Tarns

The most heavily attended and followed public contest, at least in the city of Ar, is the season of tarn racing. Its popularity and league set-up are not too unlike what we are used to as far as team sports on Earth. The league is subject to rules and standards as well as participation fees, and we can clearly see that tarn racing isn't just a matter of racing; it is a business in itself. The cost of joining the league, poor showing or failing to meet standards in racing results for a number of consecutive seasons is said to result in penalties of financial nature. It can cause the loss of the right to belong and compete for as long as ten years in the tarn racing circuit.

Fans dress up in the colors of their favorite faction, or team, and as the time of the final races approach, the entire city becomes a rainbow of colored banners and patches. Goreans of all levels of society flaunt patches of the color of their favored team on their left shoulder and even the slaves in paga taverns end up in silks of one or the other faction's color.

The racing stadium has the spectators sitting around an aerial track of 12 rings which hang by chains from their respective supporting towers over a net and through which the racers, on their tarns, must pass. There are a number of possible set-ups and track arrangements, though details given on only one in the city of Ar. The only race one can witness is located in the city of Ar, the reference to racers being of other cities such as Melipolus of Cos and Menicius of Port Kar allows us to think that tarn racing is indeed more than likely popular in any city where tarns can be found.

Racing tarns are described as smaller and much lighter than the more common tarn. They are not the sort of bird which would be used for war, raiding and transport of loot. The training of the racing tarn is far different, as would be the training of the rider in how to maneuver such an animal for racing.

Stadium Races - Tharlarions

The breeding and racing of tharlarion is mentioned as a preferred sport in a number of the cities. The most important or at least the most mentioned city when it comes to tharlarion racing is the city of Venna, home to the Stadium of Tharlarion and to what seems to be the heart of the world of tharlarion racing.

Stable Fights - Fighting Slaves

We are looking at a gambling sort of game, a sport which seems to have begun between the men who run breeding stables as a sort of pastime/sideshow to their gatherings. The custom is to pit stable slaves, one against the other, in a cross of street fighting/boxing/wrestling matches and making bets on who will win. It is said to be a form of amusement much favored by lower castes, though the slaves would likely belong to important people with enough money to have breeding stables and many stable slaves.

The fighting slaves use hand wraps, gauntlets and sometimes hook knives. In the world of stable fighting, it would not seem that these fights are expected to end in the death of one of the participants. This makes sense, as habitually, the stable master is but an employee of the stables and not the owner of the slave he uses for these wagers.

Over time, this pastime appears to have developed its own network of fans and participants. In cities where fights are common, their time and date is often known. The event gathers quite a crowd, much to the joy of those who make money from taking wager fees. Although the higher class stable owners are less likely to be seen at the fights, there does seem to be a form of higher level contest between them. The impression received is that they are often quite aware of their stable's rank in the fighting circuit, as well as who their current champion is.