Known by most as simply Strata, Free-Form Combat is the ultimate form of entertainment in the New World. Held in massive arenas often seating hundreds of thousands, Strata pits two or more warriors against another in simple hand-to-hand combat.
Free-Form Combat evolved from the martial arts and wrestling competitions of the 21st century. Professional matches take place on a large, raised, slightly concave platform that rotates above the arena floor, often referred to as the Bowl. Here, the world’s greatest athletes, men and women of every species and of incredible athletic prowess, face each other in hand-to-hand combat. Strata fights are fast, vicious bouts with very few rules. To win, one must disable the opponent either by rendering them unconscious or throwing them from the platform. Victory can also be attained by forcing the opponent to yield. The most successful fighters are not simple brutes, but highly trained fighting machines, versed in a variety of combat styles and athletics.
The spectacle surrounding Strata is unmatched in the entertainment world. Championship combats are promoted for weeks, sometimes months. The streets of every major city are plastered with massive banners that cover the walls of skyscrapers. The images of Strata fighters are everywhere and its champions are among the most recognisable and popular celebrities in the New World.
The most popular fighters are celebrities of unmatched fame and fortune. While careers are often short, the rewards are extraordinary, and any fighter that retires in reasonable health - with his/her fortune and reputation intact - is almost instantly a legend, and held in the same regard as VidStars.
Strata arenas can be found in every arcology, save Città Santa, and in nearly every other city - along with fighter stables, which function as training, management, and housing facilities for most up-and-coming fighters.
Like many sports throughout history, Strata has attracted more than its fair share of criminal interest. Entire underworld syndicates have formed around the shadowy world of Strata. Rarely do elite fighters have any tangible ties to organised crime, but in the smaller arenas, particularly those in the Freezones, crime is rampant (3.4.8).