Calgrind has a rough, hardened feel about him. He wears armour everywhere he goes, and weapons to match. When you see him your first thought is that he is heartless and would not have any regrets about killing anyone. The second is that he is an awesome fighter and that he inspires strenght in those who fight with him and fear in his enemies.
Cali the Barbarian
Cali as he was once called was born a tribes man. He was of the Kelic tribe. He was the son of the Prime Warrior of his tribe a man of indominable strenght and speed and battle rage known as Calgrind. However the strenght of his tribes’ warriors was nothing as he saw when he was required to fight a great enemy.
The was empire invading and conquering new tribes at an efficient speed thanks to the new general Casius who was giving the empire massive land gains. The empire was out numbered 5 to 1. But the enemy fought with order and dicapline with unity and the resulting strenght. He learnt many things that day but when he reached the front line with his father he found that the empire’s weaponry was fashioned with expertise that outdid any of his or any other tribes’ weaponry, their armour made them hard to wound and their shields protected them form being touched by a blade at all. Also it felt as if he was fighting several warriors at the same time. In the end his tribe was slaughtered and his father killed like any other man on the field.
Cali was carried home after being wounded only to have his village burned and looted a few days later. His mother and sisters were raped right in front of him while he was held in place, screaming vengeance. He was carried off to the centre of the empire as a slave. He came to the Imperial City, as it is called. He was permanently scared and more or less destroyed inside. He was prone to fits of rage and it was decided he would make a good gladiator. Understatement of the century.
Number XIII The Gladiator
He was sold to one the best gladiator school in the empire, the Holy Sword. But there was nothing holy about it, the training was hard and bloody. The first stage of training was based on increasing your personal with exhausting exercises. If someone was not tough enough then they usually died as sword fodder to give the more promising fighters experience.
But Cali was not one of those even as the masters and trainers insulted him, his ‘savage’ backround and his voided look he fought on almost numb to any kind of pain, he had seen it all. He was determined to survive, to kill as many as possible and win his freedom. Even after he lost his sense of self and felt like dirt with no meaning or purpose he kept fighting using his anger to keep him alive. After the first stage he began to train in the skills of swordmanship as well as the later mastery of other weapons. It was here that he saw the value of discipline over brute force and ruthless coldness over anger. He was taught order and resulting power. He learnt about tactics and as he developed a flare for them he gained the approval and respect of his masters. In mock fights he usually showed no mercy and killed several young gladiators. But that was excused, for the man they now numbered 13 in their numbers was going to earn more than any of the sword fodder he killed.
Soon he was put in the arena and although most of the time he was just supposed to make the opponent submit he killed them anyway. For years he fought, taking injuries in his stride. He began to enjoy a life of luxury with the best women money could buy. However his wealth was wasted on him as he could not muster the happiness or even indifference to enjoy it. His entire people were gone and nothing could change that. He rose in fame and stature but still a lack of experience, youth and a remaining savageness in fighting kept him from reaching the top bouts. But with time…
However he could not wait for his freedom and he took on an opponent too strong. The opposing gladiator had lost many comrades to number 13 and he was going to make sure he stopped slaughtering gladiators needlessly. Indeed most bouts were resolved with two live people leaving the arena as the sponsor of the games had to pay for the Gladiator’s replacement.
Into the fight Number 13 was badly wounded and could barely stand. But he battled on embracing death and sustained a sword stab that cut deep into the former tribesman. Screaming he cut his executioners head off and fell to the ground.
It was then that he was visited by the spirit of his dead father. He later realised that the spirit was just a hallucination a representation of what his conscience wanted. It wanted him to live again to feel, to love, to finally fight back at the Empire that had destroyed his tribe. But it was too late he thought, not so. There were several druids among the healers of the Empire. They healed with magic in exchange for life and a reasonable living.
The Druid that was called in to heal number 13 happened to be of the Kelic. She recognized him instantly and called on Meliku, god whom she drew power from, a god that was dying along with its worshipers. She told the god that this was the son of a the greatest warrior that worshiped Meliku, the legend known as Calgrind and that the druid saw hope for her race in him.
So the God granted the druid the power to save Cali and blessed him and the Druid, who was known as Salua. Sal told him when he woke that he was now the hope for the entire tribe. She told him that Casius was preparing to launch another invasion into new tribal lands. He could lead a rebellion from the inside of the Empire while the army was abroad in the name of Meliku.
He agreed, eager to make use of the second chance he had been given. With Salua guiding him he began to organise small groupes of Gladiators of Kelic as well as other Tribesmen. He also amassed slaves of all kinds from all over the city, telling them to lay low. However Salua led the captured druids and gathered people to her as well. Together they began to organise a real rebellion.
Number 13 worked hard for the next four years driven this time by meaning as he plans to destroy the Imperial but more importantly save his tribe. However to make himself a spire of hope and strenght he had to fight the strongest gladiators in the city. So he did and he overcame his former flaws to become one of the best Gladiator of the games, however there was but one flaw, he needed to kill a Gladiator that simply could not be killed, Vorgus the undefeated, a man that had won his freedom but still fought because he loved killing and who drew enough support to him that Cali could not gain enough control over the arena. But he decided then that it was best to kill his enemy through subterfuge even though he did not like it. This has been a source of shame for Cali ever since who still valued honour but valued the future of his tribe more. Salua poisoned Vorgus discreetly and Cali reached his goal. He took on the name of his father as it reminded the Kelic of who he was and began the final steps of what was known as the revolution of Meliku.
Calgrind the Revolutionary
Two weeks later when the army of Casius was as far into the Barbarian plains as he called them, the Revolution started. An army of slaves and freemen gathered in the arena where they were armed with weapons of the gladiator schools or that had been supplied by wealthy gladiators. Calgrind declared them warriors of Meliku and freedom. With that they stormed the streets burning, killing and calling out freedom where ever they went. However they failed to have the organization of a real army and Calgrind was shocked by this. All his forces could do was rampage around the city like a mob and not an army. A real army came soon enough. Five thousand legionaries came from the city barracks as no one had organised a force to attack them, the Legion struck as one, killing the separated mobs with brutal efficiency, although outnumbered 4 to 1 the odds soon turned against revolutionaries who were now fleeing for their lives. The army of slaves and freemen was forced out of the Imperial City.
Now it all seemed like it would be for nothing, more slaves (mostly tribesmen) than Imperial citizens would die and in the end no changes would come about in the Empire except that slaves would be treated worse than every before. Calgrind and Salua would be talked about as the destroyers of the Kellic tribe and not its’ saviors. Even the damage that the mob had already done had only been to normal people. Not the soldiers who had destroyed entire nations.
Unable to accept this Calgrind rallied his forces to his aid. Not the slaves but just his fellow Kellic gladiators, the fighters which had also fought in the final battle or were to young to fight. These people knew his father as their hero and followed his son into the inebitible defeat. However this battle was not like the others where ‘barbarians’ were massacred, the Empire had trained the Kellic with order, had given them power and it showed. In the centre of the city the two forces clashed in several streets. The Legionaries were only raw recuits hired as militia men not men that were meant to experience anything more than a riot.In their first real battle they faced Gladiators, not slaves with swords. As hundreds of enemies died hundreds of friends joined the battle from different sides. The Retreating quickly the legionaries crashed with their fellow soldiers causing confusion and disorder, many died in the chaos that followed. Calgrind directed his group of gladiators to follow, to feed the confusion and surround the Legion.
Without a route to counter attack the Empire soldiers could only retreat. The small army of gladiators could of won that day but just as the night was won the Empire struck back. Mobs of armed citizens took to the streets and fought back against the Revolutionaries. One group which was led by Calgind and one by Salua which was made up of people who had been gathered from the retreat to return to help Calgrind. Salua had only been able to persuade a few thousand men that the battle was not over. Thus both leaders were out numbered by people who were fighting for their homes, Calgrind knew that the Empire citizens were better motivated than his mob that just wanted revenge, that and the numbers forced him to call a final retreat.
Since that day Calgind has led the small band of Gladiators that survived and did not scatter away in the panic. He has been organising small raids and fought a guerilla war agianst the Empire. But he still lacks the resources and men to stage another revolution
2 short swords of the finest make as well as an unadorned scale mail armour and a shield.
The Heroes can either be with him or be against him. If with him they should fight alongside him and should be the stars of his army. And if against him he should be the target of assassination. However it should be noted that he is almost impossible to beat in battle and your average adventurer will get slaughtered. However in non-single combat the PCs have a chance to win by sheer numbers. Rule out magic as it makes it too easy.