Female gladiators are rare, and usually a simple secondary amusement in the arena, but underestimating the retiaria can be lethal: even if her only defense is a bracer with a metal part on her shoulder (galerus), she can use her net (rete) as a shield. Her main attack is to entangle her foe with the net to impale them with her trident (tridens).
The Retiaria starts at Level I with Throw the Net, an action that improves damage, pushes and knocks down her opponent… something that cannot be prevented with any Stand Up result! This special attack can be used even against small Beasts (only Great Beasts are immune to it) and it can be used to push an enemy to a nearby trap, for example. At Level II, she can Use Net as Shield, raising her Defense (very meager, as with all blue Sine Scuto). At Level III, this deadly warrior can Use Trident Two-Handed, adding +1 Damage Die to counterattacks. If you are facing the Retiaria, make sure you take her out fast, because with these abilities, her long and sharp trident and her 6 Damage Dice, maybe you won’t get to attack her twice…
Back in 2009, two friends designed the first Gladiatoris prototype.
In 2010, as I had three spare months after Águila Roja’s first season, I wrote a geeky historical little 300 pages novel, about two friends designing the first Gladiatoris prototype (“write about what you know”, ahem).
The story also was, of course, about a girl (who looked like Jennifer Connelly) on the geeky part, and about a retiaria (of course) on the historical part, both of them called “Helena”.
In 2014, I convinced my friend to change our old Retiarius into a Retiaria… And now, Helena is the cover for our game.
Imagine my stress while designing her miniature.
In August 2009, out friend Egoitz Pinto (aka Dardarius) gifted us with some sketches to illustrate our first prototype. Among them, a brutal Retiarius we learned to love… even if we later stroke him with Tiresias’ staff. 😉
David: “Luis and I have decided that the retiarius from the prototype will be the first woman in Gladiatoris. (…) We’ve seen that that declination can be said as female (as in “the domus”), but “the retiarius” doesn’t sound good at all, so we were wondering if it would be terrible to call her “retiaria”, even if it would be one of the very few “modernized” names in the game. In any way, she would have her breasts bandaged to avoid flashing them (Gladiatoris can be played by underage kids).”
Alfonso Mañas: “the noun retiaria looks fine to me.
It’s correct Latin, as the names finished with -ius (ludius) turn into female with -ia (ludia). So, even if the Romans never used the word retiarius in its female form, if they had one, she would have been called retiaria.
It’s the same with the female form for paegniarius, which would have been paegniaria; thus, your proposal is perfect as a name. Female ending -rix (actrix) was only for nouns that ended with an -or (actor).”
Then we had to sketch the gladiatrix, who was already (and obsessively) described in my novel. And, as a Blade Runner fan (Ridley Scott, 1982), I added a little war paint, Pris-style.
The new mini for the prototype, from the West Wind brand, was loved by players right from the start; also, we improved Throw the Net a little (to include the push effect), and blue players stopped choosing always the Dimachaerus. This type of slight improvements, that affected a lot of fighters, was the result of hundreds of playtesting games.
Thinking about the miniature stance, I made a second sketch, where she looked like she was just about to throw the net… and with the ropes with coins we used later on the Hoplomaca.
David: “I have split in two again the protection in her arm, but I think it should be a full one. Her hair has three braids (loose hair is very difficult to model), but the final hairstyle will be the sculptor’s decision.”
Alfonso: “Those braids look cool, they’re like tentacles to hit her rival with. And the split manica can stay this way (different from the boys’ manica), it looks fine too.
PS: In the end, you have drawn a pin-up (and with the mole in her left cheek, like Marilyn).”
Alfonso also suggested to point the trident towards her enemy. But after spending several days modelling six different stances and discarding them all, the artists at 3DBreed sent us packing and made their own proposal:
3DBreed: “I think we can take advantage from that damn net and use it as a base for the leap.”
They sent us the seventh 3D, we liked the idea immediately and they started to work on the details. And it looked amazing! The trident looked like it was just short of impaling her enemy.
Alfonso: “That’s a glorious retiaria, I like her a lot. (…) About the prongs’ section, it can’t be round, as it is in the current model: that type of section is not documented. We have flat spear tips (see my pic) and tricuspid spear and trident tips (see pic), but not round ones.
I would also change the pugio, making the blade a little longer: we have to take into account that, if they lose the trident, the dagger was the weapon they had to use to keep on fighting, so it couldn’t be such a short-bladed pugio; the mosaics with retiarii have longer ones.”
We weren’t very sure about the galerus with sea motifs: even if it’s copied from a real Pompeian model, dolphins don’t inspire a lot of fear. 🙂
David: “The girl is fine, but I think she lacks a bit of muscle: female pole-vaulters look tougher.”
We retouched the muscles, the dagger and the trident, and a debate was open about the galerus; we finally decided to decorate it with the Gorgoneion from our Gladiatoris logo (and from our sestertii): the face of a young Medusa (“Eva Green, not the Artemisia from the coins”) with six interlaced serpents.
David: “I’m liking every one of this minis more than the previous ones; now you have to make a Thraex that can measure up to them: I have lost a lot of games lately using the Retiaria, and with this mini, the temptation is going to be even greater.”
And it came the moment to draw her (thanks, Jaime, for your excellent technique): we made a list with all our initial references for our “pin-up with a trident”:
- Muscled physique, like a pole-vaulter, such as Yelena Isinbáyeva’s.
- Ferocity, like Grace Jones in Conan the Destroyer (Richard Fleischer, 1984) or Red Sonja from the comics (I loved Barry Smith’s “The song of Red Sonja”).
- Bust from Jennifer Gardner in Elektra (Rob S. Bowman, 2005).
- Jennifer Connelly’s face, mole on her lip included. 😉
- Eye paint like Pris’ in Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982), blue woad as Olga Kurylenko’s in Centurion (Neil Marshall, 2010) or Keira Knightley’s in King Arthur (Antoine Fuqua, 2004)… or even fantastical ones like Lee-Anne Liebenberg’s in Doomsday (Neil Marshall, 2008).
Antonio José Manzanedo got on with it, and we started the cover of the game and the illustration for the card at the same time. We liked the leaping sketch, but we reserved it for the cover, and we carried on with the standing Retiaria.
The final result… well, we liked it so much that it’s our current image and avatar for the Gladiatoris social networks. Wonderful work process!
3DBreed: “Wow, impressive!!! Bravo, Antonio!”
Luis: “It’s a really impressive illustration. Congratulations.”
David: “I’m sure this Retiaria is going to “catch” a lot of players.”