Samnita (Scutarii)

Gladiatoris - Samnita (Scutarii)


The Samnita belongs to the oldest gladiator type (the samnis), and she is armed with the traditional weapons of the Samnite tribe: an oval shield and a long dagger. Also, she’s the only one of the Great Shields that fights with a spear (hasta); with it, she can keep her enemies at bay and avoid their special attacks.

At Level III, she has the skills Spear Strike (she spends a red card, to adds a Success, and she can even do it at a distance range, thanks to her Long weapon), Optimize Armor (the best Defense of the red fighters), and Nullify Special Attacks (prevents the use of Special Attacks and Beast attacks against her, if there isn’t more than one enemy in contact with her). This powerful gladiator gladiator easily intimidates her enemies, and they will consequently attack any other weaker fighter in the arena, if available.

Samnis (pl. Samnites): It is the first gladiator type that appeared, because it dates back to the time of the Samnite Wars (from 343 to 290 BC), when the Romans brought to Rome thousands of Samnite war prisioners, and forced many of them to fight as gladiators. They used shield, lance (hasta), sword, and ocreae. The Samnite gladiators always fought against each other, until the second gladiator type was introduced: the gallus (around the second century BC).

Excerpt of the glossary of GLADIATORIS, reviewed by Alfonso Mañas.

Design process

One of the last miniatures of the basic set to be designed, the Samnite, wasn’t a female gladiator until the critical moment. The 2014 version only had 2 female gladiators: the Retiaria (blue) and the Paegnaria (orange).

David: “I’m giving a thought to a new idea: there should be a woman in every team (…). We would need to change the gender of the two remaining gladiators, in Great Shields and Small Shields: the Samnis and the Hoplomachus. They will wear helmet, and the Great Shield woman should be huge and strong (similar to Brienne, in Game of Thrones).”

Luis agreed to the idea and the rest of our team liked it… even if our historian, Alfonso, would rather change the Desultor for a Desultrix, and maybe turn all the Acrobats into women, so that all the classic gladiator archetypes would remain untouched.

Gladiatoris - Samnis prototype (Foundry Miniatures, modified)

Our original Samnis didn’t even fight with spear, but with a sword: at the beginning there weren’t long weapons in the Scutarii team. After a lot of test games, several players told us that it was a weakness of the red team (one that made it impossible for them, for example, to attack enemies across a pit), and we decided to change it.

Alfonso: “As I say in the glossary, the Samnes used a sword (or, even better, a dagger), because Cicero, De Oratore, 2323 (written in 55) says that samnites warmed-up with hasta (a type of spear) but they didn’t use it in actual combat (we think that they only used the gladius). Maybe the first Samnite gladiators only used the spear (as it seems to be the case with the Samnite warriors), carrying at most a sword or dagger in their shield hand (as the hoplomachi did, that were partially based on them). When Cicero describes them, they didn’t use the spear because it was an inferior weapon compared to other gladiator’s weapons that already existed; they would jump into the arena only with the sword in the right hand, and shield in the left one.”

gladiatoris-samnita-en-getty-villaFollowing our standard design process, we gathered a lot of references and plenty of graphic documentation about the Samnite people.
David: “Could she wear a breastplate, such as the ones worn by the Samnite infantry, decorated with three circles?”

Alfonso: “The triple-disk breastplate of Samnite warriors wasn’t worn by the gladiators. An alternate solution could be a small disk over both breasts, and it would look OK.”

Gladiatoris - Alfonso Samnis Mañas (April 2014)

“There is not a single known representation of a Samnite gladiator, so we have a little more freeway here, but not too much, as we can guess that they would use equipment similar to the Samnite warriors (and we have indeed a lot of examples, see photo 9 in my book (“Gladiadores: el gran espectáculo de Roma” Ariel, Barcelona 2013). I would make our Samnita wear the crested helmet from pic 9 (it also looks cool), both shinpads and also a belt that looks like the ones in those photos (…). Apart from that, the obligatory manica in the right arm, a scutum in the left one, and a gladius in the right hand.”

Gladiatoris - Samnite "Germania" of early David (March 2016)

David: “I’m sending you my sketch for the Samnita. I was looking for images of shot putters and weightlifters, but in the end I softened her features and muscles. I thought of a Germanic barbarian, she would be taller and stronger than the rest of the female gladiators in the game.
– After finishing the sketch, I changed her subligaculum, I hope it’s better this way.
– The oval shield worries me: Since she must carry a sword in her hand, I tied it up to the arm with straps, I don’t know if it’s plausible.
– The shield has the hyaenas from the red team in it.”

Alfonso: “It’s great, David, you hit the spot there. I think she can be the more spectacular female gladiator in the game (I think she’s way better than the Retiaria).
– The Samnite helmet -with wings- is spectacular and looks wonderful on a woman (it reminds me of Valeria in “Conan the Barbarian”, she wears a helmet like that at the end of the movie, but with bigger wings).
– She didn’t use a sword but a dagger, but you drew it fine, because it looks like a long dagger. It’s OK.”

Gladiatoris - early David Samnita retouched by Alfonso Mañas

“- To emphasize her female features, I think the first subligaculum is better. And also I took away both side parts; it now looks like the one from the Hamburg female gladiator.
Maybe we can narrow the belt a little for the same reason, so she’d have a more feminine waist (the female gladiators from the Halicarnassus relief have narrow belts, and the Hamburg one doesn’t have a belt).
– The shield hand also grabbed one of the two shield straps (and the dagger too… same way that the hoplomachus did).
Also, the central spina you put on the shield is quite correct… You’re already an expert in the field, David!”

David: “…After talking with Alfonso about this gladiator, I can’t keep myself from imagining her saying “Do you want to live forever?” 🙂

With these instructions, 3DBreed made their first version of the Samnita.

Gladiatoris - corrected by Alfonso Mañas Samnita

Alfonso suggested a handful of changes, such as narrowing the belt (like in the female gladiators from Halicarnassus and Hamburg), adding buckles to the back of the belt, and taking off the protective plate of her breast. He also proposed us to invert the spear position, but it didn’t convince the rest of the team.

David: “The shield looks fine to Alfonso, but in my opinion, smooth shields and the point of the staves look fake on minis (I always mod them a little with green stuff).”

Gladiatoris - Samnite in process

Alfonso: “The only mistake are the wooden planks, why have you included them now? They weren’t there in previous sketches, and nobody said anything about it, because it was fine: shields were made with wooden planks glued together and wrapped in leather (both on the outside and on the inside), with a bronze rim. An umbo (for a rectangular scutum) or a spina (as it’s the case) was added at the center. Wood was never seen.”

David: “It was my proposal, because of the way the textures work in miniatures: big, smooth surfaces tend to look like plastic, and therefore they seem fake. We can take out the wooden streaks, but we should add at least something to simulate that leather, in order to provide some modelling.”

Alfonso: “Well, David, in the case of a Roman gladiator, people will not think that the shield is made of plastic…
Also, the difference between a plastic surface and a leather one (that they painted with different dyes) is very small, impossible to distinguish in a miniature.”

I proposed Alfonso to tighten the leather with a rim and nail heads (as in a lot of historical minis), and we reached a minimum agreement, even if he rejected the nails.

Gladiatoris - corrected by Alfonso Mañas Samnita

Alfonso: “Another thing: The shinpads have edges (because there are angles in the surface), and that’s something that was never seen on gladiatorial greaves (or in any greave from the Antiquity). The greaves had semicircular shapes, with no angles, so that weapon points slips along the curved surface (on a straight surface, the strikes would not slip). If it’s possible to scratch off those edges and have curved greaves, it would be perfect.

I like this miniature a lot, it’s a shame that the spear points to the rear instead of being in an offensive position!”

We kept the greaves, even if Alfonso thought they looked like the armor from Marvel’s Thor, because of the interesting shadow they cast. Once again, as it often happens in historical productions, we listen to the historian but finally we don’t follow their advice. In this case, we had to keep in mind the final size of the element (a few inches).

The Samnite was finished! With this miniature, we ended in May 2016 the 3D design process for the GLADIATORIS fighters that we started on June 2014. A long process, across two different companies, until we made our dreams from 2009 come true (on images, at least) .