If you've seen some of my recent posts, I've started a campaign called "Gladiator Games" for my players. This allows them to pit individual PC's against roughly equivalent monsters/opponents in an arena setting.
It's been all out brawls when fighter classes are in the area, which is pretty much what I expected. There's only one thing for them to do and that's grab their weapon and wade into the enemy.
I've also watched them send Clerics, Illusionists and Magic Users into the arena with some interesting results.
Clerics do OK so far, about 50% win and 50% losses at this point. They tend to start out wit a spell then go straight to their weapons.
A Geomancer is kind of a sub class of a Cleric though their spells are more similar to Magic User spells. Their magic comes from the inherent magical energies that they are able to draw out of select gems and precious stones. At the same time, they enjoy the Cleric's ability to wear armor and use limited weapons.
There is one Geomancer who has been much more effective than we really anticipated he would be. Now, his current record is only 1-2, but the two losses weren't that bad considering everything.
The Illusionist and Magic User have yet to win a fight or emerge from one without being knocked around like rag dolls. The obvious thought that comes from this is that MU classes aren't really meant to be active combatants. No surprise there really. The books indicate as much.
Now, in the Gladiator Games, at least in mine, the Caesar doesn't require a kill or even a physical beatdown of the opponent to win the match. All it takes it to put your opponent into a state or condition that they are unable to continue or win the fight.
With this rule, the Players have found new inspiration and creativity in how they approach to the arena matchups. They try to frighten opponents into surrender, to make them lost or wander away from the fight, whatever they can do to get the opponent to disengage themselves from the action. If the opponent will not fight, they cannot win, thus essentially they "lose" the match.
The Caesar ultimately determines the winner based on if it was a good show or not. Whether the combatants fought/competed in a "sportsman-like" manner and the manner in which the "defeat" of the opponent came about.
Where the MU classes are concerned, the more flash and ingenuity displayed the better. To just walk in and use the command "sleep" works effectively, but it might still learn the Caesar's displeasure if it is carried out in a blase manner or used too frequently.
This has all led to the Players having more discussions of how spellcasters can be most effective in a traditional exploration campaign as part of a party with other classes in it. Which is partly what I wanted to have happen. I wanted my Players to get a better idea of how the various classes work individually in combat so they can better assess how they might be best used in a party elsewhere.
Not only has my Gladiator Games been fun in their own right, but it is helping my Players improve their role playing skills and becoming better tacticians as well.