I've embarked on a new campaign for my kids. So far they love it.
They created several new PC's and all of them have been captured or sold into slavery to the Caesar and turned into gladiators in the arena.
They can earn money and XP by fighting opponents in the arena. They must buy their freedom at the hefty price of about half a million Gold Pieces. They can obtain anything they need in terms of weapons, armor or spell material components from their winnings, though it depletes their stockpile to buy their way out of the gladiator life.
They can also take weapons and materials from defeated opponents and sometimes, the Caesar will gift a favorite with something special, perhaps even enchanted.
I make a point to try to match them up in a fair fight, with opponents of the same level or perhaps multiple opponents of lower levels and even give them other gladiators as a team to match them against higher level opponents.
Today they embarked on the new campaign and really got into it. This is something I came up with that essentially allows them to do solo adventures and the battles don't have to last a long time. We can get a quick battle done in 30 minutes or less.
Once they have managed to scrounge enough of their earnings together to buy their freedom, they will enter the world as battle hardened, highly experienced adventurers ready to take on really tough adventures. If they survive the arena that is.
So far, even making new PC's to enter the arena has been fun for them because each class and the individual stats is something different to see how well they will do.
Tonight, they pitted 2 pc's each in the arena. One of my kids had a ranger get taken down by 4 kobolds. She had a fighter win a match against a berserker, but mostly because the berserker rolled two 1's and essentially killed himself.
My other kid entered a cleric that got carried out after fighting 5 giant rats and he had a fighter sub-class called an "avenger" (see an earlier post) also get taken down by an orc.
Only the fighter won the gold and full experience points (losers only get half the XP for the fight) and that was mainly by sheer luck.
If they get to a point where their pc not only wins, but wins keeping most or all of their HP intact, they can call for another challenge to earn more gold and XP.
If they lose a battle and end up unconscious or below 0 HP, Caesar will give a thumbs up or thumbs down to the victor. There is a 50% chance for either result as determined by dice roll. If they follow the Caesar's orders, they will be declared the winner of the match. if they do not such as Caesar declares thumbs down and the victor should kill the loser, and the victor declines to kill the loser, Caesar will have the loser shot to death by guards shooting arrows and the victor will be declared the loser anyway for not following the Caesar's wishes and gain nothing for the battle.
I try to make the battles be as random as possible except where humanoids opponents are concerned (then I roleplay them as a desperate MU, Cleric or fighter, etc... should be roleplayed).
Tonight was the first night of the campaign and like I said, it was a hit. We'll see how it holds up over time and keep folks up to date.