View Full Version : Plot request - Republican Rome

Greg W
24-12-2004, 13:25:51
I can't believe that I am actually going to admit to this. Anyway... :cute:

I've been a PnP roleplayer for, hrm, 20 years or so. For the first time in years, I am going to try to run a game. The setting is Republican Rome, circa 135BC. It's supposed to be a more hands off dynasty building style game than the normal in-depth type game.

So, the characters wil be mostly interested in political careers, kids to carry on their name, and building wealth and political clout. As well as pushing the burgeoning Roman Empire along it's merry way. Kinda Pendragonish i a lot of ways (for anyone that has played that game).

So, there's quite a while (a month or so) before I start running it. I wanted to start them off around the time of the Gracchii, lead them through Marius, Sulla and the civil wars, and into Imperial Rome. The basic idea is to start them as young people not yet entered into the Senate, and give them a basic idea of Roman life from the point of view of a well to do Roman.

So, what's a good way to introduce them to Roman politics? Once the game's going and they're in the Senate, I can see in my mind how it's going to work. It's just the lead-in that has me a little worried. I have a few ideas, but without prejudicing any possible answers, I'd like to know if there is anything you all could suggest.

24-12-2004, 14:03:47
You could try making a flow chart of the ranks and postions of the Roman Government.

Greg W
24-12-2004, 23:04:02
Thanks, you're a big help. :p

28-12-2004, 22:23:59
what have the ROmans ever done for us?

28-12-2004, 23:47:32

Greg W
29-12-2004, 01:20:11
I knew this was going to be a mistake...

29-12-2004, 20:08:55
How are you intending to get them into the Senate? Are they going to be the only heirs? So Daddy or their Favorite Uncle goes and falls on his sword to cover up some scandal of one of the bigger fishes, and thus guarantees his family's future success (for a generation or so) and also that they have a Patron that is "sorta" looking out for them, early on? Of course, that Patron is probably paranoid they'll learn about the deep dark secrets, and starts machinations to crush them without APPEARING to crush at the end of the safe "introduction" period (thus setting the entire campaign into its full unfolding glory...)

Well? Was that what you had in mind? I suppose the non-military dads should do the Last Bath, rather then fall on their sword or knife...

Greg W
30-12-2004, 12:28:03
Kind of, yeah. I don't want to tell them what kind of characters they must have, other than that they must have aspirations to be in the Senate eventually, and thus have to be at least of Equite status (or the equivalent in rural terms).

But they could be rich provincials (like Marius was), poor Roman Senatorial families (like Caesar was, before he started his political career), rich Roman Senatorial families (like Sulla was), or anything inbetween.

That's not a bad idea though, have all of their fathers die/be disgraced in some way (the details could be figured out later, but owuld likely involve some form of treason), and have a senior senator come and offer their protection, while secretly trying to see if they were knowledgable of the plot. Hmm...

30-12-2004, 18:27:40
That's off the top of my head for "group" play. But you said Player vs Player, right? So mix it up a little...

Have one player's dad take the Long Bath to PROTECT his family's patron... have another player's dad fall on his dagger because he was framed... have a third player's dad "fall on his sword" (and later the player can find out that his dad "didn't fall on his own"), etc. In PvP, it helps if the players don't start off on the same side... So you could have 2 major factions pushing, and have the "starting" event be that one side tried to "frame/uncover" a great scandal that would have cost the other it's main pinion (Big Guy). It didn't really succeed --- for instance: a few loyal lessers "bite the bullet" to protect the Big Guy in exchange for more support for their family or prevent the fall of their entire family, etc, and a few of the other side's lessers had to "bite the bullet" as they got caught trying to plant/uncover the dirty bits of the scandal--- but it can be a common event for both of the major "sides", and it allows for more players to be "neutral" and pick their own side or play both sides off the other. Now, you can have both "Big Guys" of the factions trying to protect their own, sniff out what the heirs know (or uncover in their career), and start the machinations to string each other and the pawns up. As well as turning on their own pawns later, as they "know too much".

That is a classic PvP political setting, suitable for a fair sized player group. But if its a small (2 or 3 player group), then putting them on the same side and letting the players have the option to "flip" might be an easier campaign to set up and run.

Either way, have fun. Just let you mind wander over the possibilities, and let those wicked little voices (all game masters have them ;)) start hissing and cackling in glee. :ninja:

For instance:
Indeed, the keystone event that sets off the beginning entire chain of events that bring the players into the "game" could be that one of the player's father's learns "too much" about his own Big Guy's dealings, and he is murdered by the one of the Big Guy A {let's just use Augustus for easy labelling}'s hatchetman while making it look like the other Big Guy B {label: Brutus} hatchetman actually did it. Brutus's hatchman has to take the big dirt nap, to keep actual scandalous/traitorous events from being uncovered in the Senate in the investigation, so out he goes (Player 2's in). But Brutus isn't going to let Augustus get away with costing him his most trusted brusier, and so its an all out political war, in which several more pawns get lost or sacrificed. (Fit in other events of losses to in players into the game). Boom! Instant history, bad blood, scandal, backstabbing, yadda yadda bing bang. Everything you need. You can leave bits of "evidence" around in the pawns families, so the players will start with enough rope to eventually string themselves up with. (Why would my family have a Centurian's helm with the Ribbon of Bravery and the Ribbon of the 5th legion? My family hasn't served for 3 generations, and we were 1st and 3rd legionares... (bright players will have the little wheels in their head start turning. Average players will shrug. Slow players will decide its a sex toy for costume play and ignore it.) )

(Old game-master habit... set up a political powder keg in the background, then add players. Let stew until players blow up the world... ;)

Greg W
30-12-2004, 23:02:56
Well, I was only figuring PvP (which I didn't mention) insofar as they being from opposing families would mean they were striving to achieve the best for their family, and that would often be at the expense of other families. AFAIK during the republican period there wasn't as much inter factional bloodshed as there was in later imperial times, so that may be a bit extreme.

Having said that, setting up some political rivalries is never a bad thing, and those ideas could be turned around somewhat to make for family enemies, just not (yet, or openly at least) in the violent manner you are suggesting.

The political powderkeg pretty much exists already - the battle between the Optimates (keep the Senate the way it is), and the Populares (enfranchise their allies, more power to the people, etc). And the Gracchi are the focus of this early on. They were pretty much the first Populares, and the Senate ruthlessly killed them both. Around that there's slave riots and slave wars, foreign wars, civil wars (both against former allies, and later Optimates v Populares).

So, I am thinking:
- make a couple of the players connected to the Gracchi, either through blood, marriage, or their fathers supporting them.
- have other players in families that support the Senate in this instance.
- perhaps make some of their families closely involved in the massacres (they could die, or do the killing).
- Not long afterwards, some (all?) of them get elected as tribune of the Plebs (the office the Gracchi held), and have people approach them to resolve the issue.

My fault really, I should have given a bit more background info. Having said that, the type of game isn't set in stone yet, and may change a lot as it progresses.

30-12-2004, 23:07:18
Sounds like you got your ideas cooking now!

I'd expect a lot changes as you progress. That's the sign of a good game. It should take on a life of its own, after all. ;)

Enjoy and have fun.

Greg W
30-12-2004, 23:08:20
What I am basically looking at is a closely historical game (to start with at least). And then see how much the players can change history. I intend to throw them a few wobblies later on. For instance Gaius Julius Caesar will likely start life as a member of another family (say, a Gaius Cassius). Cassius will have a heap of children, and when the last Caesar is about to die with no heir, he adopts from his close friend Cassius, and thus Gaius Cassius becomes Gaius Julius Caesar. Or, depending on how the game is going, I may even make one of the players become Gaius Julius Caesar in a similar manner to mentioned above (aka they won't know they're ever going to be a Julius Caesar until the mast minute), and see if they follow the same path that the real Caesar did.

Anyway, the main point being that I want to keep it pretty historically accurate, insofar as that's possible anyway.

30-12-2004, 23:10:50
Whatever you have fun with. Sounds like it could be a blast!

31-12-2004, 20:33:17
:hmm:Sounds as exciting as watching paint dry to me.

Greg W
01-01-2005, 00:57:19
It would, to an old fuddydudd... :D

04-01-2005, 09:14:39
In a slightly unrelated point, i have been watching the classic BBC tv series 'I, Claudius' of Robert Graves' book of the same name and it has turned me into a rabid ancient romanophile. Unfortunately it has also exposed my chronic ignorance of the entire Roman period.

In the case of 'I, Claudius' it covers from augustus through tiberius, caligula, cladius and nero).
But in terms of plotting, backstabing, poisoning and poitical manouevering this period seems to have been very healthy :D

04-01-2005, 14:03:18
It turned me into a rabid Derek Jacobi-ophile

15-01-2005, 21:03:31
Originally posted by King_Ghidra
In a slightly unrelated point, i have been watching the classic BBC tv series 'I, Claudius' of Robert Graves' book of the same name and it has turned me into a rabid ancient romanophile. Unfortunately it has also exposed my chronic ignorance of the entire Roman period.

In the case of 'I, Claudius' it covers from augustus through tiberius, caligula, cladius and nero).
But in terms of plotting, backstabing, poisoning and poitical manouevering this period seems to have been very healthy :D The entire Roman period is like that, Rome was forever having intregue and usurpers appearing, left and right.

Most people ignored it after awhile, after the Republican period, most Emperors learned to play nice with the population, or get otherthrown.