Ja'La dh Jin translates to the Game of Life. Ja'La is a brutal game played in the Old World by two teams on a square field marked with grids and a "broc", a heavy leather covered ball. The game is supposed to represent the struggle of life.
Ja'La was Jagang's favorite sport and he even kept his own team. If Jagang's team lost, he would have the players put to death.
Rules of the Game Edit
In each corner of the field was a goal, two for each team. The teams would try to put the broc in one of their opponents' goals from inside marked scoring areas on the grid, worth one point, or from behind a line, from which an accurate shot was worth two points.
The only person on a team that can score was the point man, who was the team's leader and also the most susceptible to violence. Two men were in charge of protecting him over all the other players; these were called his wing men. A wing man was allowed to score, but only if the point man was down.
Each team had one turn of an hourglass in which to score as many goals as possible, during which time the opponents couldn't score, though they can handle the broc. At the end of the turn, the ball was given to the other team and they picked a grid square from which to begin attacking for their turn of the hourglass. Play continued like this for a prescribed number of turns. If, at the end of this time, no winner had been declared, overtime turns were taken. There were no ties in Ja'La.
The losing team was brought out onto the field when the game was over and each player was flogged; one lash with a big leather whip for each point scored against them, given by the winning team.
Spirit of Play Edit
The ball was heavy and the rules were loose. The men who played Ja'La were savages. They must have been good at handling the broc but they were selected mostly because of their brawn and their brutal aggressiveness. Not many games went by without a least some teeth knocked out or a neck broken. The crowd actually got ugly if there was no blood shed because they then believed that their team wasn't trying hard enough. The rivalry is bitter, and some men die from the flogging.
Fans of the game would try to control the outcome of the game by assassinating players in their sleep.
Cultural Impact Edit
Jagang used Ja'La as a way to shape the mentality of people of the Old World and his army to sustain his campaign against the New World and the ideals of the Fellowship of Order. Ja'La was used to funnel the emotions and energy of the populace by giving his people a common cause to rally around, promoting the concept of being joined in opposition to others.
In his army, Ja'La served to distract his men from the misery of service. The violence of the games gave frustrated, combative, hostile men an outlet for their pent-up passions. Jagang understood that he might not be able to maintain discipline and control over his forces otherwise. Ja'La kept them from turning their hostility inward.
Also, Jagang's own team served to demonstrate the indomitable supremacy of the emperor. They were an extension of his power and might.
Having a winning team was a source of great pride for an army division or a city. The players were heroes and they virtually had the run of the city and could do no wrong. To have been a player was an honor of the highest order. The ones who had killed an opponent with a Ja'La ball were most sought after by women. People often named their children after these players.
Richard plays Ja'La Edit
Richard Rahl was captured as a prisoner by Commander Karg, or how Richard called him “Snake Face” and forced to play on a team as a point man. His team became very good, for Richard organized plays rather than let the game run freestyle as did every other team. Richard’s primary goal though, was to get to his wife, Kahlan by winning against Jagang’s team. Eventually, his team got good enough to play against Emperor Jagang's team. Emperor Jagang believed his team would win, but he still sent five of the players from his team to try and kill Richard.
The game was played with much honor on Richard's part, and though by all rights, Richard's team should have won, Jagang claimed many of his teams points to be fouls causing the Emperor's team to "win" and ultimately start a riot.