He was a supreme commander of Rome's armies and personal commander of the VI Legion. At some point before the events of Ryse, he was appointed by his father as governor of Britannia. While the previous governor was fair and the Britons lived in peace, Commodus ruled as an evil tyrant, directly resulting in a massive rebellion led by King Oswald and his daughter Boudica.
He was badly deluded and narcissistic, a result of being the Emperor's son and brought up to believe he was a living god and the entire world should obey him. Furthermore, he was obsessed with his self-image to the people of Rome and sought after military glory to claim he was the greatest general in the history of the empire. Despite this self-motivation, he was unfit to command and his own troops despised him.
Captured by The Rebels
When Oswald and Boudica led their massive army to attack York, Commodus foolishly led his VI Legion out to meet them in battle and although this served to delay the assault on York the Sixth was effectively wiped out. According to a conversation between barbarians in Chapter IV, Boudica herself lead the raid that captured Commodus and this cemented the Britons' faith in her.
Commodus was taken prisoner by Oswald, who then traded him to Glott, The Horned King of the north, who made plans to erect a Wicker man and sacrifice Commodus by burning him alive, a fate reserved only for their most valuable sacrifices.
When the XIV Legion captured Oswald and Boudica and reached York, Commodus' brother Basillius threatened to kill Boudica, forcing Oswald to reveal what had become of Commodus and so Basilius ordered the Fourteenth to go northward into Scotland and rescue his brother.
Rescued by the XIV
Commodus appears for the first time in Chapter V, a prisoner of Glott and the Minotaur tribe. After Marius kills Glott and destroys the Wicker Man, thus rescuing the captured Vitallion and the rest of his cohort, Commodus begins screaming for the soldiers to free him from his cage, shouting obscenities at them, and they all attempt to ignore him until Vitallion tells Marius to "do the honors". After Commodus is freed, he yells at Marius and thanklessly demands his rescuer give him his cape, and then marches off.
Betrayal and Fall of York
Commodus reappears at the start of Chapter VI, overseeing King Oswald's submission at York and the signing of the peace treaty that would end the Britons' rebellion. The meeting appears to go well initially and Commodus retrieves a dagger with the emperor's seal from a chest, presumably to present it to Oswald as a token of their alliance, describing it as an extension of the emperor's will. He smiles as he tells Oswald to embrace him, and after a moment of hesitation Oswald smiles back and conceits. Just as it appears they have made peace, Commodus stabs Oswald in the back repeatedly, all the while screaming "How dare you".
The Britons within the city are outraged at the betrayal, and a riot ensues as Commodus demand that they all kneel before him. As a rock flies through the air and hits Commodus in the face, he loses his temper and orders Vittalion to put down the revolt, and then loudly mocks the mob as he and his Praetorian Guards flee to the dock to escape the city on his warship, leaving the XIV Legion and the city's populace to die.
Gladiator and Death
Commodus appears for the final time in Chapter VII, when Marius, now having assumed the mantle of Damocles, swears revenge on Commodus for betraying his legion and sets out to kill him. Marius poses as a gladiator in order to enter a special tournament Commodus is holding. Commodus has returned from Britannia a false hero, claiming all of Marius and the Fourteenth's victories as his own for the sake of his own deluded vanity and public image, finally being able to claim he is the greatest general in Roman history.
However, an oracle, who had been taken prisoner from Glott prophesied he would die in the Colosseum at the hands of Damocles. Outraged he gave the Oracle to his brother Basillius as a gift. However, the prophecy made Commodus nervous and when learning of a gladiator in the Colosseum went as Damocles, Commodus decided to put the odds against him.
Marius and a small band of gladiators is to make their way through the coliseum battling barbarian prisoners in order to "emulate Commodus' achievements". The prize for reaching the end alive would be the chance to duel Commodus. Marius distinguishes himself during the match, and Commodus arranges to have the odds further stacked against him, such as sending extra waves of barbarians into the fray, and eventually ordering the other gladiators to turn on him, with the promise of a 1000 denaris.
After all other foes are slain, Marius is finally permitted to face Commodus, who first showboats for the crowd with a rousing speech in his own honor. Marius is easily able to best Commodus, knocking him down and preparing to finish him, but Commodus then throws a fistful of sand in Marius' eyes, momentarily blinding him as Commodus' body doubles in matching armor surround him. Marius begins to kill off the body doubles one by one, all the while the real Commodus mocks him. When only the two of them are left, Marius again bests Commodus, and as he goes for the kill a strange mist rises up through the floor tiles, revealed by Commodus to be poison. Another two body doubles enter the combat and almost kill Marius, who fights back with his last gasp and manages to kill them both. Marius falls to his knees exhausted as Commodus casually taunts him, just then Marius spins around and lands two hits on Commodus, gravely weakening him. They then exchange blows for the final time, culminating in Marius impaling Commodus as the crowd falls silent and the Emperor Nero looks on in shock. Marius makes eye contact with Nero as Commodus falls to his knees, and Marius decapitates the false hero, then holds his head aloft as he faces Nero, and boldly declares "I am Damocles. I am vengeance. You are next!"
In the campaign, it is clearly stated at the end of Chapter III that Commodus leads the VI Legion to engage Oswald's army when the Britons march on York and in the following chapters it is revealed that the Sixth was defeated and Commodus was captured then, but the Chronicle found throughout Chapter 4 tells a different story; that Oswald suddenly appears one morning in the forest outside of York, and Commodus eagerly lead just a single cavalry unit in an attempt to capture Oswald and win glory, and is subsequently ambushed and captured. While the Chronicles provide an otherwise consistent backstory, this oversight causes a serious contradiction, as it leaves the fate of the greater VI Legion unclear.
Commodus' character model is available as a costume for the multiplayer gladiator with the purchase of the corresponding DLC.
- Real life Commodus (31 August 161 AD – 31 December 192 AD) was Roman Emperor from 180 to 192. His father was Marcus Aurelius, who he campaigned alongside in Germania (modern day Germany), but abandoned the frontier for the comforts of life back in Rome after his father's death. He caused what at the time was a minor scandal when he chose to compete as a gladiator for his own amusement, and often had his contests rigged to ensure an advantage over his opponents. Commodus was assassinated when his subjects poisoned him, however the poison did not take effect quickly enough, and his own slave resorted to strangling him while he bathed. Ironically, this same slave was the one who trained Commodus as a gladiator.
- Commodus' death in the arena is a plot similarity to the film Gladiator (2000), in which Emperor Commodus, son of Marcus Aurelius, masquerades as a false hero and conqueror, and is killed by the hero of the people, a general who he had betrayed, in the Coliseum.