"Don't understand the rules? Not to worry. They'll
change in a minute."
- Nessar the Grim
Kalgamorra is a complex, competitive team sport known for mixing strategy with intense physical play. The game is fought (quite literally) between two opposing teams, each with their own goal, in a huge oval shaped playing field. Kalgamorra is played only in the city of Drakkel in the city's Great Arena. Due to the nature of the game, Kalgamorra can only be played in the capital city of Drakkel.
The game is divided up into rounds. The goal of each round is to capture a flag from the enemy flag tower. The first team to acquire all three of their opponent's flags wins the game. Although the basic rules of the game are straightforward, the game is complicated by a number of "conventions", specialized rules that only come into play if certain conditions are met. These conventions complicate the game so much that most non-Drakkellians have trouble following it.
Kalgamorra is Old Traxxian for "always in motion".
The game is divided up into rounds, each round being a 5 minute interval. Each team has twelve team members to begin with (although inevitable the number of players in the game dwindles due to injuries and death). Each team has a flag tower with three flags at the top and a ramp spiraling up around the outside of the tower. The goal is to capture the flags of the opposing team. The first team to successfully capture all three of their opponent's flags wins the game. Only one flag may be "captured" each round. It is not possible to recapture a flag. Once a flag has been captured, it remains captured for the rest of the game.
Although the basics seem easy to grasp, the game is far from simple. To begin with, Kalgamorra is a violent game. Injuring other players to take them out of the game is expected and encouraged. At various points during the game, one or both teams may be armed or armored. The manglers (see below) ensure that no one is safe during the game and keeps every player on his or her toes.
In addition, there are a large number of "conventions" that control the flow of the game. It is these conventions that make the game a dizzying puzzle of subrules and special cases that most non-Drakkellians have trouble grasping. The conventions are additional rules that have been added to increase the complexity and flow of the game. When in play, a convention may alter the rules, add a new component to the game or put a new restriction in play.
Furthermore, most of these conventions are triggered by events and circumstances OUTSIDE the arena. This creates a unique relationship between the common citizenry and an active game. If certain requirements outside the arena are met, conventions suddenly come into play and the rules of the game change. Thus the game and the city influenced each other in a complex web of interdependency. Because of this unique interdependency, Kalgamorra is intricately interwoven into the culture of the city of Drakkel.
The game of Kalgamorra is controlled by the Gaming Guild who control all business transactions, betting, advertising and so forth surrounding the game. The game itself is controlled by the Game Wardens. This is a group of seven wizards who sit in a balcony in a Great Tower overlooking the field. They control all of the magical effects, field terrain changes and so forth. They also decide if a violation has occurred, the penalty for any violation and so forth. The Game Wardens themselves are high ranking members of the Gaming Guild.
The Great Tower houses the offices of the gaming guild itself. It also has dozens of private spectator balconies reserved for nobles, wealthy businessmen and the like. At the base of the Great Tower is the main stage, upon which stands the Herald, the assistant game wardens, a group of drummers who play during the round, a horn blower who announces certain parts of the game with a blast of a large horn and so forth.
The game field itself is a wonder to behold. Connected to the front of the main stage is a large wheel called the Wheel of Challenges. This wheel has a number of sigils inscribed upon it. The Wheel is spun at the beginning of each round (and sometimes in the middle of a round if certain conventions are activated). When the wheel stops spinning, whatever sigil is on top will activate and will determine the nature of the playing field. Each sigil represents a different type of field. The field can be rocky or sandy or covered in snow. It can even become flooded with crashing waves. The variety of playing fields are endless and the Game Wardens are always creating new fields. Each field comes with its own unique challenges and dangers. Simply running from one flag tower to the other can become a monumental task depending on the nature of the terrain.
The Kalgamorra field is oval shaped - 150 meters long and 100 meters wide. It is surrounded by the Great Arena... a colossal architectural wonder fashioned of stone. Tiered seating rises up at a steep angle along all sides. The two flag towers stand at either end of the field. The Great Tower sits on one side, at center field.
The manglers add an exciting element to an already complex game. A mangler is a mechanical contraption that looks like a sphere composed of metal plats and rivets that stand about 1.5 meters in diameter. Inside is a small chair and a dizzying array of knobs and levers. It is completely mobile and controled by a driver that sits inside. The driver is typically a grum or small dwarf. They wear padded armor, thick goggles and gloves.
Each mangler is armored and has an impressive arsenal of mechanical "weapons" that can be deployed, including a pair of large pincers, whirling blades, long spikes, a tethered harpoon gun and a front mounted crossbow. It is powered by a primitive steam engine with bellows, pistons and a magical heat source. The manglers have spiked treads around the circumference. With these spinning treads, the manglers move about by rolling around the field and do so very quickly.
Each team will get two manglers assigned to it. Their purpose is quite simple... to aid their own team and to harass, injure or kill the players of the other team.
The makeup of a kalgamorra team is quite variable. There are only four rules:
1. A kalgamorra team must twelve players at the start of the game. One of those players is usually designated as team leader.
2. The team may not have any weapons, armor or magic items at the start of the game. Other items are sometimes allowed (simple tools, common objects, but nothing that can be used as a weapon). What is and is not allowed to be brought in the field is decided by the assistant game warden who reviews the team at the gate tower.
3. Players may not be changed during the course of a game. Injured or killed team mates are not replaced.
4. Only one player on a team may be designed as team wizard. Only that player may use magic. Some types of spells magic (necromancy, charms, etc) are discouraged.
There are 81 teams in the Drakkellian league. These 81 teams play 40 games in an elimination playoff. Of the 81 official league slots, there are 68 professional teams that compete every year. There are 13 slots available for “amateur” teams. There is fierce competition between amateur teams to fill those 13 remaining slots. If a pro team loses to an amateur team, they lose their franchise and automatic placement. The winning amateur team acquires the franchise and the losing “pro” team must compete as an amateur team the following year.
The league games are separate and distinct from "guild games" (which are used to settle guild disputes).
Fans of Kalgamorra are a wild bunch and their fervor for their chosen team is often frenzied and intense. This has been incorporated into the game.
Whenever a goal is scored a random front row spectator is teleported to the center zone. The spectator is always teleported out of the crowd area for that team. The spectator, for a short while, becomes an honorary member of his chosen team. If that spectator reaches one of the opposing teams’ gates, that team loses 5 points. Usually the scoring team will defend the spectator and try to help him reach the opposing team gate. The team whose gate he is trying to reach will try to stop him. And the third team might oppose the spectator, or help him or they may do nothing.
A cowardly spectator may opt to lay flat on the field, signifying surrender and that he does not wish to participate. However, being chosen in this manner to support your team is considered a great honor. Those who purchase front row seats are assumed to have already accepted the risk. Those who cower and surrender upon the field may find themselves facing a hostile crowd when they return to the stands.
Although this is a very dangerous and violent game, teams generally do not try to kill players on the other team. If you accidentally kill a player on an opposing team, you lose 10 points. If the game magistrate determines that a kill was blatant and intentionally, he may impose an additional penalty of up to 25 points.
Hanging over the center of the field is a large cage. This cage hangs about 15 meters up and is suspended by chains from a pair of stone arches that arch over the entire arena. Whenever a player violates the rules, the Game Wardens may decide to send him to the cage. The player is physically lifted up by magic and tossed into the cage. The cage is constructed of iron bars and the player can see the game through the floor bars and the spectators can see the player.
Aplayer stays in the cage until someone else from his team violates the rules and gets sent to the cage. There can be only one player from each team in the cagea at any one time. The cage is lined with various weapons and players in the cage are free to attack each other.
Violations which will put a player in the penalty box:
Leaving the boundaries of the field
Intentionally and willfully damaging any part of the arena, including the flag towers.
Intentionally and willfully attacking, injuring or killing anyone not in the game (spectators, the Herald, the assistant game wardens, the Game Wardens, etc)..
A magistrate referee may also put a player in the penalty box for any reason.
The front row seats at any game are, by far, the most dangerous. Spectators in the front row have, on many occassions, by injured and sometimes even killed by various aspects of the game. It is quite common for spectators in the first row to armor themselves or carry a weapon. First row spectators are often in a position to interact with the game. They often may help or hinder players as they see fit. There is a certain honor in being a first row spectator and, despite the danger, many people pay extra for the honor of sitting there.
There are 273 Conventions of Kalgamorra. Collectively they are known as the Canon of the Game or simply the Conventions. Here are a few examples of the conventions. The conventions are added to every year. The winning team of the season is allowed to write a new convention, and it will be added to the canon of the game permanently.
|17||If the sun is obscured by clouds, the mangler visors are closed (and the mangler drivers are essentially blind).|
|29||If the fans of either team can successfully light one of the Beacons of Porthus during the game, their team gains the use of fire cloaks.|
|32||If the bell tower on the River Gate rings during the game, then pits are opened on the field.|
|47||If fans of either team can successfully catch the greased pig in the Merchant's Quarter of the city, their team is given weapons.|
|57||If the fans of either team can successfully garner 15 magistrate signatures, their team is granted helmets, light armor and shields.|
|72||If the game goes beyond twelve rounds, a krallinar (or other dangerous beast from the city zoo) is loosed upon the field. Another beast is released every six rounds thereafter.|
|87||If Lord Ozzel gives a speech at the Council of Guilds, the East Gate Team is granted healing.|
|95||If there are more than 25 ships currently in port, the fire walls are in play.|
|107||If the White Wolf tavern sells out of thunder mead during the game, the East Gate Team loses a flag to the other team.|
|119||If the Lady on the Water riverboat arrives during the game, a prize will be placed on the field next round.|
If the Drakkellian Flagship is in port during the game, the game will have an additional "rogue" mangler that has no team affiliation and goes after all players.
Because so many of these conventions can be influenced by common citizens, the city itself becomes the stage for part of the festivities. Common citizens are allowed, even encouraged, to support their team in whatever way they wish to bring certain conventions into play.
Certain conventions involve powerful items coming into the game. These are known as "prizes" and sometimes the "game artifacts". These prizes are usually magical, powerful and very useful. They are typically placed at or near center field. The first team to acquire the prize gets to keep it and use it for the rest of the game. Below are a few of the prizes that have appeared in past games:
|A cloak of protection.|
|Boots of speed.|
|A staff of healing.|
|An arkulyte crystal.|
The game was first played as an elaborate solution to settle a trade dispute between two guild houses in 2470 CY. The resolution worked out well. The game itself proved immensely popular and the two houses decided to hold the event the next year and it quickly became an annual event. In 2474, other guilds began to join. By 2482 CY, there was over a dozen teams competing in a crude league. In this year the first set of formal rules were codified. In 2488 CY, the first set of conventions was implemented.
By 2582 CY, Kalgamorra had become a major national pastime for the Drakkellian Alliance. It has continued to gain in popularity and new conventions have been added over the last 150 years. It has become a major tourist attraction and a major component of Drakkellian culture. All many of gambling and business transactions surround these games.
True to its origins, Kalgamorra is often used to settle disputes between guilds. City magistrates have the authority to order guilds to play Kalgamorra to resolve intractable conflicts.
Over the years, the games have spawned a number of business opportunities within the social tapestry of Drakkel. One business specializes in the manufacture and repair of the manglers. another specializes in trivia and historical knowledge of the game and handles maintenance of the arena. All games played are written in the Annals of Kalgamorra and become an official part of the history of the nation.
The shortest game in history was played on Magreign 15, in 2662 CY between House Okran and House Peller. That game lasted only 39 seconds. Both teams were killed along with all four manglers, the Herald and all spectators that were unlucky enough to be sitting in a specific section of the tiered seating which was destroyed. That destroyed arena section was never repaired as a way of honoring those lost. The forty foot gap is known as the Breach. This historic game is rarely discussed in polite company and it is considered very bad luck to talk about it before a game.
The longest game in history is known as the Big One of 2692. It lasted a record 15 hours (a total of 107 rounds plus numberous breaks called by the Game Wardens). It is still talked about today by those who were there. It broke almost all existing records. Because of convention 72, dangerous beasts were repeatedly released upon the field every few rounds. The game guild emptied the city zoo of dangerous creatures. It took almost three years for the Gaming Guild to replace all of the animals that had been killed during the game.
This page last updated Wednesday, December 24, 2008. Copyright 1990-2009 David M. Roomes.