Rex Gloriae Tradition / Ritual in Ulskandar | World Anvil

Rex Gloriae

A field sport that simulates the actions of a battle, with less bloodshed involved, most of the time.


The concept of Rex Gloriae was first devised in the Nomadic Era, where without the overarching judicial system of a nation state, hostile encounters or disagreements between separate tribes often led to brutal conflicts, which had the potential to permanently cripple or wipe out smaller tribes. It is unclear where the sport was actually conceived, but the concept of Rex Gloriae, which essentially simulates a battle environment, though in a much safer manner, quickly began to spread. This was helped by the fact that tribes would often congregate, and clash in areas with high amounts of resources in given seasons, and implementing the concept of Rex Gloriae led to far fewer deaths, and allowed tribes to leave disputes and conflicts relatively unscathed. The use of Rex Gloriae did not eradicate inter-tribal violence by any means, and in many cases encouraged it by engendering a sense of competition between tribes. Nevertheless it became popular enough that it has spread throughout the continent of Turoza, and is played in ever nation there.   During the time of the Settlement Era, the sport has continued to exist ant thrive, though is now incorporated as a side aspect into the much more complex dance of diplomacy, or is used by factions and noble families as a mark of prestige over one another.



A match of Rex Gloriae is conducted in a rectangular playing area measuring 130m x 70m, with the pitch divided into two ‘territories’ which are 65m x 70m and which are divided by the ‘territory line’ that splits the pitch into two equal halves. Each territory is likewise split in two, with each of these quarters or ‘marches’ being 32.5m x 70m in size. The ‘front march’ immediately borders the ‘territory line’, whilst the ‘rear march’ borders the ‘back line’ of the pitch.   Both teams’ ‘rear marches’ has a totem, made of wood that has been painted white, known as the ‘king’ at its centre. Each teams’ ‘front march’ has two flag holders, one off set to the left and the other off set to the right. These flag holders are where the flags themselves are placed at the beginning of each match, and where a team must return stolen flags if recaptured. The flags themselves are mounted on a piece of wood roughly the height of a spear haft.  


The object of a match of Rex Gloriae is to score as many points within the period of an hour, or to inflict the maximum number of points allowed on the ‘king’. Each strike made with either a missile or hand-held weapon against the ‘King’ is worth one point, and each captured flag is worth two points. The team that has the largest amount of points wins. A maximum number of 20 points can be scored against an opponent’s ‘king’ after which their ‘king’ is considered to be dead and they lose the match. The match does not stop when a point is scored against the king, or when a flag is captured, but play continues regardless which is an attempt to simulate the dynamic action of a battlefield. This does mean that teams can be overrun if their defence around their king crumbles and their opponents can repeatedly attack them. This means that the maximum number of points that can be scored in a match is 24 (equating to 20 strikes against the ‘king’ and 2 points for each flag captured).   There is a single Referee who is mounted on a horse and monitors the action to spot foul play, and who presides over all of the proceedings. In addition, there are two other match officials, known as ‘King’s Men’ who monitor and keep track of hits made against the ‘king’ they are given charge over. Often King’s Men will stand on small platforms on top of the king itself so that they can view what is going on without getting in the way. There are also two mounted ‘Sides-men’ who aid the Referee by keeping an eye on the action from the side-lines, and helping to adjudicate and indicate when a player has left the field of play.   Players can use their equipment to hinder their opponents attempts to score points against their ‘king’ or capture their flag, and can use their equipment to score points on their opponent’s ‘king’ and to capture their enemy’s flags. If a player leaves or is forced out of the area of play they are considered to have ‘withdrawn’ and must leave the pitch and are not allowed to return for five minutes.   Rex Gloriae is a full contact sport, though all participants must wear thick leather body armour, and helmets, and use blunted weapons. Overall few things are actually banned, save deliberately targeting someone’s eyes and biting, infringement of these two restrictions can see a player being forcibly ‘withdrawn’ by the referee for 15 minutes. Other than that, players are allowed to use their equipment and deal with opponents as if they were actually engaged in battle. This means that a match of Rex Gloriae can be an incredibly brutal affair, and it is not uncommon for people to be seriously injured or killed during a match. As a result, most teams will have a large body of substitutes to pick from.


Each side has 4 shield bearers, 4 Long-sworders, 4 skirmishers, 4 riders and 1 Marshall
  • Shield Bearers: Equipped with large rectangular shields, spears and short swords. Their primary role is to protect the team’s flags and ‘king’.
  • Long-sworders: Equipped with long swords, these players are used as shock troops and often form the core of a team’s strategy to attack the enemy’s ‘king’ and capture their flags.
  • Skirmishers: Equipped with javelins, bucklers and short swords. Skirmishers are generally used to harry their opponent’s formations and try to draw their players away to make openings to attack their ‘king’ or capture their flags.
  • Riders: Mounted players equipped with spears, short swords and javelins, used to outflank enemy formations and launch opportunistic attacks on their ‘king’
  • Marshall: Mounted player armed with a long sword and shield, who leads the team and tries to organise the chaos happening around him.


As national diplomacy has advanced quite significantly since the sport of Rex Gloriae was created, it is no longer a staple of diplomatic proceedings. Instead, matches regularly take place as a side part of diplomatic trips and exchanges between two nations, and it is seen as a sign of good faith that two nations will be prepared to put aside enough time for a match of Rex Gloriae to be played, and for necessary diplomacy to be discussed. In some still tribal communities, Rex Gloriae retains its position as a key part of diplomacy, and can often resolve disputes that would otherwise lead to armed conflict.   Across Turoza, each nation will often have a variety of regional teams, payed for by local aristocracy, who compete against one another as a show of the power and resources that a given noble or wealthy family is able to bring to the table. A great many nobles have lost their fortunes trying to sustain an expensive Rex Gloriae team so that they can show off to their rivals.
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Cover image: by Chris Pyrah


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