Blood of Rome
The Circus Maximus
The Circus Maximus is the greatest center of entertainment in Rome, the site of the chariot races between the Greens and Blues that hold the whole population in thrall. The circus is about 2,000 feet long, and about 700 feet wide; the three banks of seats around the arena can accommodate about 200,000 spectators, and for important races, they do.
A raised area called the spina runs down the center of the arena, making the arena into a circuit. At each end stands a meta, a set of three gilded cones, which mark the turning points. The spina also supports seven eggs and seven dolphins, which are used to count the seven laps of a race. The chariots start at the western end, in the carceri, which are set on a curve to ensure that the distance to the formal starting line is the same for all competitors. The spina also supports an Egyptian obelisk, and Constantius erects a second, larger one in 357.
The outer walls of the Circus are clad in marble, with three levels of arches. Many soothsayers, tabernae and brothels ply their trade in shops built into these walls, and several times fires have broken out here to destroy parts of Rome; indeed, Nero’s fire broke out here, and devastated the whole city.
While most chariot races are held in daylight, some meetings extend into the evenings. Great braziers are placed along the spina and around the edge of the track, so that the arena is illuminated by the dancing flames. These events are as popular as day races, and the stands are typically full. Because the stands are largely dark, and everyone is concentrating on the races, it is rare for fewer than five corpses to be left behind when the crowds disperse; riots are not an uncommon event.
The Kindred of Rome sometimes hold their own races, from which mortals are strictly excluded. Undead charioteers, managing ghouled horses, race by the light of the full moon. Even if all the Kindred of Rome gathered in the Circus, it would still seem empty, and the sounds of the horses echo. Kindred races follow the same factions as mortals, except that the greatest Kindred charioteer, Carcarus, maintains his loyalty to the Purples, which were founded by Domitian, and perished with him. The people of Rome say that, on nights of the full moon, dead charioteers return to continue the rivalries they had in life. They are exactly right. Valentina Junia Seneca runs the events held at the circus.
On other nights, the Circus is deserted, and eerily quiet; it is large enough that the sounds of the city are faint when one stands in the center.
The Circus Maximus lies directly above the Fane of Darkness, with the obelisk aligning perfectly with the Threshold itself.
Equipment Bonuses: +3 to hunting rolls during anight race, thanks to the noise and distraction. +3 to all stealth rolls in the crowds during a night race; in the press and noise, no one stands out. The great obelisk erected by Constantius is covered in hieroglypics, and came from Thebes in Egypt.