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Toadmaster

Friends, Romans, countrymen....

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Toadmaster    18

lend me your inspiration. :P

 

There are several Roman themed supplements for BRP / CoC / RQ etc. The problem I have is getting excited about the Roman Empire as a setting. Intrigue based games don't particularly interest me, and there is only so much one can do with gladiators. Something set around legions on the fringes of the empire could be interesting, I know there is at least one game using that as a setting (43AD), and a movie or two. I just picked up Cthulhu Invictus as that seemed the most likely to work for something like that, but I haven't gotten very deep into it.

Looking for some suggestions of media that might get me excited about the setting. It doesn't have to be set in the fringes, the heart of Rome is fine as long as it isn't all about court intrigue and / or the lives of gladiators. I'm just lacking the Roman equivalent to the many Greek mythology films, Sinbad films, Beowulf and King Arthur to get me turned on to a Rome campaign.

 

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g33k    735

Basically, gov't/jurisprudence is one of the BIG contributions Rome made to western civilization, and "political intrigue" is one of the big tropes for a RPG.  Historically-speaking, the most I'd expect for an "action" game is either to set it at a time of maximum local instability (so "political infighting" might routinely include overt assassination), or at a time when the empire was weak, and barbarians threatened or even sacked Rome itself.

But this is fantasy!  And, um... urban!  So:  Urban Fantasy games set in classical Rome.  Either go with "the supernatural is out in the open" and play those tropes (e.g. werewolves at the top of the heap, because Romulus & Remus were wolf-raised; supernaturals of various sorts live routinely in town, participate in the Senate, etc), or "supernatural in the shadows / mundanes are unaware" for the spookier vibe & the whole "you are PART of the conspiracy to keep the poor citizens in the dark."  See Hunters of Alexandria IMHO; combined with your already-bought Cthulhu Invictis, this does most of your Heavy Lifting (if that "Urban Fantasy" notion floats your boat).

 

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Atgxtg    343

It would be easier to make suggestions if we know what sort of games do interest you. There is/was a lot more to Rome than just intrigue. A few ideas that I've had for a Roman campaign:

1) Roman Army: The PC are members of the Roman Legions. Probably as new recruits so they can learn the ropes. I was thinking of putting them on the border somewhere an deal with the problemsthat come with the territory. One possible variant of this idea would be to run thier outfit as a sort of Roman take on the Phil Silvers Show. 

2) Young Gaius: This idea was for the PCs to meet and befriend a young Roman, Gaius. Over time, they would watch him  get into debt, and finagle a governorship out of Rome to escape creditors. While away he goes on a series of conquests, expanding the Empire (and helping raise the wealth to deal with his creditors), and making quite a name for himself. Part of the fun with this is that, knowing my players, I doubt any of them would recognize Gaius Julius Ceasar as that Julius Ceasar until big things really start to play out. 

3) King Arthur: Historical Arthur, if he existed, was probably a Romanized Celt, and a group of men trained in Roman methods of warfare, could have held off the Saxon invaders. A campaign with a group of Romans, or Romanized Celts, cut off from Rome, trying to hold the British Isles could make for an excellent campaign.  

 

In some ways you can run just about any Medieval type of adventure, and quite a few Renaissance adventures as well. The Romans had a lot of social, governmental, and financial institutions an opportunities that didn't exist for the next thousand years or so. Even a few "modern" story ideas can work well in a Roman setting.  

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tobarstep    22
3 hours ago, Toadmaster said:

Something set around legions on the fringes of the empire could be interesting

There is a film (currently available on Netflix) called Centurion. It's set in Roman-era (obviously) Britain and is very much an action film. It isn't highly rated on Imdb, but I enjoyed it quite a bit for what it was.

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10baseT    43

Definitely watch the already mentioned Centurion and HBO's Rome, also add The Eagle to it. Then you can also pick up any of the following adventures books; De Horror Cosmico, Malum Umbra, Extrico Tabula, Lux in Tenebras, The Gods Hate Me or The Legacy of Arrius Lurco, or the Invictus Companion and just read them. If these don't get your goat, well,... you'll lose SAN.

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Toadmaster    18

I do find movies to be a good source to get me into a setting. All I could think of was Spartacus and Gladiator, which while good movies didn't particularly do anything for me from a gaming perspective.

So getting further into Cthulhu Invictus and reading some of these comments and searching out some of the suggestions, I can see how one could very easily take a few liberties and use some of the common Cyber Punk themes (minus the chrome of course). That helps a lot, I was having trouble figuring out how to do something I find interesting without making it Rome in name only. 

I'm already thinking how Outland, Blade Runner or the Untouchables could be used for a game set around a unit of Vigiles. The fringes of the empire still works as a possibility for a more traditional fantasy game.

 

Thanks, that is what I needed. I was just having trouble with ideas that would lend themselves to the setting.    

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soltakss    1,020

Spartacus the TV Series has a different slant to Rome, albeit under the Republic, but as gory as any RQ game. 

I would echo the recommendations for HBO's Rome, an excellent TV Series with some ritual and HeroQuest magic included.

 

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g33k    735

Note that a unit of Vigiles, tasked with MiB-style "suppress/control the supernatural" mission, might be busy with street-rats in the slums one day, and Senators in the Forum the next... and then out to the countryside looking for the source of that "odd" wine.

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simonh    86

Bear in mind that Roman politics had much more in common with organised crime turf wars than modern electoral politics. I second the recommendation for the HBO series. It gives an up close and personal view of what life was like for ordinary Roman citizens and how brutal violence that would be a shocking scandal in a modern city was commonplace.

 

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Toadmaster    18

Much of my view of Rome is colored by Mel Brooks. :P

 

It seems like one could fairly easily add in some X-files or Kolshak the night stalker influence. Weird War Rome doesn't seem out of place either, with either an ambitious Roman officer or the other side channeling things man was not meant to know.   

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Algesan    0

David Drake, Vettius and  His Friends

Great series about a Roman officer going around being a troubleshooter for the weird and mysterious.  AmazonDavid Drake's Page

Also, he has another book called Killer, but instead of the supernatural, this one is an alien escaped from its keepers.

Both are out of print, but you might find them for free on the Baen Books page.  A game based on them would be more episodic, think weird mystery of the week with a recurring cast.

For Rome (and then Hundred Years War English) meet Cthulhu as he is rising....the Ranks of Bronze series, which you can get electronically, but that is the aliens buy some legionnaires being sold as slaves after one of the big defeats and using them for low tech warrior slaves.

I just got, but haven't read the Dark Osprey book about the Cthulhu Campaigns in Ancient Rome  but the USA book is pretty cute.

EDIT:  Okay, I glanced over the Dark Osprey book quickly.  It is definitely big picture, but you could probably use the stuff in there to get the core background for several campaigns.

Edited by Algesan
Added info

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Gryphaea    1

The Falco novels by Lindsey Davis are well written and fun, and there are plenty of them if you find that they are your thing. The BBC dramatised the first few books in the series and you can pick those up on Audible if you prefer to listen rather than read. The early books are a knowing pastiche of the Private Eye genre set in Rome in the years following the death of Nero, the series goes on to develop a life of its own but retains the crime/mystery theme. The characters travel to most parts of the Empire and the author has thoroughly researched the period and brings it to life in a very accessible way, most books have a chapter at the end where she discusses her sources and research.

The Romano-British Arthurian setting has plenty of writers putting novels in the period, not least Bernard Cornwall who published a trilogy of books about it. Also there are RPG source books for 1d100 and other systems. The difficulty is that the history and archaeology is sparse and open to many different interpretations, so don't expect one writer's take on the matter to match up with another. This can be frustrating if you want to base your campaign on more than one source. If you want to watch some actual play The DiceStormers, an Australian group of Lets Play You-Tubers, have put out a short series of VODs of a CoC game set in Northen England a the very end of the Roman period. The Vids are of good quality and the GM is an academic who has published on the period, which shows through in his love of the setting.

If you feel the need to consult an actual historian about Rome, you may want to have a look at Mary Beard's SPQR which is pretty recent (ie 2015) and has graced the best seller lists which is good evidence of how readable it is. Her book on Pompeii is also worth a look.

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Questbird    186

Don't forget Asterix and Obelix :)

More than half in jest, but the comics are beautifully illustrated and give you a sense of not only Rome itself but the provinces.

Most fantasy 'Empires' (including Glorantha's Lunar one) are modelled on this particular historical European empire.

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