Jump to content
ReydeAmarillo

00VII?

Recommended Posts

ReydeAmarillo

After 15 or so years I am starting to find Classic or Gaslight a little stale and so have started considering writing a Invictus Legionary campaign. However, concerned that it might be a "one trick pony" I did a little research and stumbled across this:-

 

https://legioilynx.com/2012/02/28/roman-scouts/

 

Speculatores and Exploratores as spy/lawgiver and far ranging scout would seem to be useful "investigative" professions to broaden any legionary campaign set in any part of the Empire. Maybe combined with a Centurion for pure combat and tactics skill, to make a good three Player Investigator team.

 

And with some house rules to really utilise the Centurions tactics skill by adapting something like this:-

 

http://www.roman-empire.net/army/tactics.html

 

I am toying with either Roman Londinium or going totally crazy, and setting it in a fort on one of the barbarian frontiers.

 

Has anyone tried anything like this and could offer some advice?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wombat1

I kept an Invictus campaign going for a very long time, and so it needn't be a one-trick pony; whatever poor thoughts I have on it can be found on the blog I did back in the day.  Lindsey Davis has kept the Falco series going for years now, and the main detective characters in that were, among other things, ex-scouts discharged from a legion; many of those stories can be given a 'Mythos twist.'  There are also a goodly number of horror stories set in the Roman era, especially Roman Britain.

 

1. One of the things that served me well was to look around in the literature--the historical literature, the fictional literature and the other CoC scenarios, and then to find a story I liked.  I then accepted that as 'historical truth', no matter how improbable, for the game world.  Now, having done that, one can ask the question, is there a scenario in anything that would have happened before (to bring the story to that point) or afterwards (to carry the story on beyond that point.)

 

Example:  Simon Scarrow has an adventure novel, Eagle's Prophesy, I think it was, in which the heroes, operating in the time of the Emperor Claudius, have to obtain a dingus, formerly owned by Antony and Cleopatra, which was recovered and then lost by a Roman agent in Egypt.  Now, that forms the basis of that story, and if we accept it as "historically true for our world" that has to happen.  But now, how did the dingus come into the possession of the agent in the first place?  Ah, now that can form the basis of an adventure.

 

2. Barbarian frontier has some potential.  I used it in the later part of my campaign, the frontier in question being Germania.  Maps are not too hard to come by--the Barrington Atlas will give you a very good province level map and there are lots of online resources to tell you what was where. It is an expensive beast however, and so better to find one at a nearby university library or ask for it on inter library loan.  I cut out one scenario from the campaign and submitted it to a Chaosium contest, where it was published as "Three Maidens of Bingen."  That scenario came rather late in the game however, in part because the players ducked and weaved from it for weeks.

 

3. My players had some character ideas already, and so I did not use a legionary style campaign, I worked with each player to draw up a character.  (The legion pretty much stays put, and my crowd likes to move too). Instead, to draw the party together, I used an NPC patron, or rather potential patron, who needed help and who had somehow heard of the characters.  That is old, and tired, and trite, I know, but that doesn't mean it is bad, and if one puts some effort into the characterization, one can make old and tired and trite work for you.

 

3.a.  I deliberately didn't make that NPC patron too powerful.  The investigators were starting characters. What sort of patron would use such non-entities?  A not very important, not very powerful individual.  Thus, Lucius Calpurnius Agricola, aged perhaps 20, if that, probably less, who was a member of the board for letting road repair contracts.  We shall come back to that board in a moment.  He has what is, to him, a very serious problem, but what is, to anyone else, a not very important problem, so he has to rely on any help he can find--enter the investigators.  Of course, this minor matter quickly spirals downward.  Hold that thought too.

 

3.b.  Even though the NPC patron is a fictitious character, we can attempt to root him in real, actual history, based on where we think our campaign is going to go. In this case, to develop Lucius, I opened up the Invictus setting book to the list of gens names, closed my eyes, and put my finger down on the page.  "Calpurnius."

The next step was to quickly look up the gens name on Wikipedia.  There are a number of prominent members in prominent branches of the family in the Republic, and early empire, most of whom come to bad ends.  However, we also find Sextus Calpurnius Agricola, governor of Germania, governor of Britannia, and finally, doer of something or other not clear what in Dacia and Moesia during the germanic wars of Marcus Aurelius.  Since this guy is cool, off to the library to find out more about him, but in the mean time, Lucius can provisionally be his nephew, (father of Lucius sadly deceased to prevent difficulties).

 

4. Now, back to the problem of the board of road contractors, and the problem Lucius has.  One of the mystery novels I had read some time ago, I think it was Lindsey Davis' The Accusers, had as characters a father and son, the father, a crooked road contractor, and the son, on the board letting the contracts.  This has potential, so I kept this element.  Now, to distinguish our story from that story, who would be interested in investigating such a pair?  Well, certainly the son's successor on the board, who can look into the accounts to make a name for himself.  Hence the job for Lucius.  Now, in the original story, the father ends up with a serious case of death, at the hands of his family.  So we shall add that in as well, and that can with some re writing, give us our mythos twist.  Instead of simply having the father murdered, the investigators will find him in the burnt out ruin of his home, naked, tied up, throat cut, on the tipped over remains of an altar.  That should do.  This would make the father rather difficult to find, and so Lucius, none too bright, has lost track of him.  The son has disappeared as has the father's second wife, and her brother.

 

5. The library is your friend.  The scenario almost writes itself out of the sources and the fiction.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mysterioso

Take a look at Ruth Downie's Medicus series.  I think you'll find some inspiration (and they're fun reads too).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
tentarephobia

Jane Finnis' Roman murder mysteries - the first one's called 'Get out or Die', I believe - might be good for a scenario where the characters need a base to work from (or the Keeper needs to keep them in one place for a while). They're based in the Oak Bridges mansio - a roadside hotel/tavern/courier station - in Roman Britain, run by the sister of one of the agents in the Emperor's intelligence service.

 

Marilyn Todd's Claudia Seferis series - beginning with 'I, Claudia' could also be a source of ideas. Claudia Seferis - a young, beautiful and wealthy widow - could be a possible patron, or just useful to involve Investigators into her troubles....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wombat1

Rey:  Have you done any more with this--I am kind of curious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ReydeAmarillo

Rey: Have you done any more with this--I am kind of curious.

 

Hi Wombat1. Unfortunately, I am currently a little bit "at sea" with gaming concepts at the moment. Lots of idea gems,but nothing really grabbing me 100%.

 

I really appreciate your concepts that you shared and will mine this thread for ideas should I return here in the future. Many thanks.

 

However, outside of a Roman era game, this idea has seen me reading more into Roman London and spun off ideas for more recent era campaigns.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wombat1

Hi Wombat1. Unfortunately, I am currently a little bit "at sea" with gaming concepts at the moment. Lots of idea gems,but nothing really grabbing me 100%.

 

I really appreciate your concepts that you shared and will mine this thread for ideas should I return here in the future. Many thanks.

 

However, outside of a Roman era game, this idea has seen me reading more into Roman London and spun off ideas for more recent era campaigns.

 

You might look at the Goatswood supplement for CoC--there is a scenario there about modern day folks fiddling around with the Moon-Lens, which had been left by the Romans.   Add to this the Temple of Nodens at Lydney Park, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lydney_Park a historical site not too far away, and one can devise an interesting scenario with two conflicting cults, I suspect, that will give a fair amount of good play..

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ReydeAmarillo

You might look at the Goatswood supplement for CoC--there is a scenario there about modern day folks fiddling around with the Moon-Lens, which had been left by the Romans. Add to this the Temple of Nodens at Lydney Park, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lydney_Park a historical site not too far away, and one can devise an interesting scenario with two conflicting cults, I suspect, that will give a fair amount of good play..

Wombat - I had the Goatswood supplement many years ago and certainly enjoyed the read. I have (here on YSDC) been discussing and expanding Nodens and am certainly wanting to use it.

 

I am looking at writing a campaign around lesser used GOO's like Summanus, Rhogog, Lilith etc. The Summanus part of that is inspired by some thoughts I was having around Roman London. Since Roman London is around 25 feet beneath 20thC London streets, maybe a secret temple of Summanus lurks beneath more recent streets?

 

And since Summanus temple in Rome was possibly near the Collosseum (with the associated bloodletting) maybe violence and bloodletting is a major part of what it is about? Imagine the associated cult of senseless violence and murder!

 

Then Rhogog in Epping Forest to the NE of London, And bringing a cult of Lilith in, and an obsessively lawful, ordered, painfully inert cult of Nodens from Roman times too. And a Humanised Ghoul motif - a (barely still) Human cannibal/troglodyte society in the labyrinth of Roman era streets and modern cellars.

 

Era would be either Gaslight, or, as I am increasingly tempted, maybe a Georgian setting, if I can be bothered to do the research to houserule the Gaslight setting back just over a hundred years!

 

Combining it all seems to me like quite a good campaign foundation?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wombat1

"Combining it all seems to me like quite a good campaign foundation?"

 

All of that seems to me to be an outstanding campaign foundation--carrying Gaslight back 100 years wouldn't be unduly difficult--I bet you could go a long way towards it by simply going through the Gaslight era material and removing any new technology--no steamships, no railroad, no telegraph and so on, and then add in a random roll for social status which provides one's status/credit rating, rather than a point based skill for credit rating/status.  

 

One could also hunt up a copy of the old sailing naval wargame rules set Hearts of Oak, and its role playing companion, Privateers and Gentlemen, and carry its skill ratings, which score against a roll on a d20 over to which-ever edition of CoC you are considering, then add in the rest of the CoC skills that seem useful.  The system otherwise behaves like a BRP based system.   Noble Knight Games in the U.S. has it, I don't know who else might.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
deuce

Take a look at Ruth Downie's Medicus series.  I think you'll find some inspiration (and they're fun reads too).

 

I've read Terra Incognita and enjoyed it. Downie does her research.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
ReydeAmarillo

"Combining it all seems to me like quite a good campaign foundation?"

 

All of that seems to me to be an outstanding campaign foundation--carrying Gaslight back 100 years wouldn't be unduly difficult--I bet you could go a long way towards it by simply going through the Gaslight era material and removing any new technology--no steamships, no railroad, no telegraph and so on, and then add in a random roll for social status which provides one's status/credit rating, rather than a point based skill for credit rating/status.  

 

One could also hunt up a copy of the old sailing naval wargame rules set Hearts of Oak, and its role playing companion, Privateers and Gentlemen, and carry its skill ratings, which score against a roll on a d20 over to which-ever edition of CoC you are considering, then add in the rest of the CoC skills that seem useful.  The system otherwise behaves like a BRP based system.   Noble Knight Games in the U.S. has it, I don't know who else might.

 

Wombat1 - many hanks for your kind encouragement.

 

I have been taking a vague look through Gaslight 3e and certainly removing or replacing a lot of technology has got to be the starting point. Steam power, gaslight (itself!), electricity, industrialisation and 99% of machinery needs to totally go. All firearms need to be flintlocks (pistols, muskets, carbines and blunderbusses (shotgun replacement). The only machinery will be waterwheels, windmills, capstans and winches etc.

 

Some skills would then automatically go or be almost totally worthless.  Electrical Repair, Pilot Balloon would go, while Mechanical Repair and Operate Heavy Machinery would be 99% worthless.

 

Then, Professions and Credit Rating. Society would be even more extremely stratified than in the Gaslight era. Most people would be poor (very poor?) Labourers, Coachmen, Ex-Soldiers, Craftsmen, Night Watchmen, Servants, Criminals etc. Their Credit Rating starting point might need to be even lower than the Gaslight rules suggest.  

 

Then you would have a small layer of middle class professionals, needed (and so supported) by the elites. Physicians, Lawyers, Military Officers, Clergy, Professors, exceptional Craftsmen. Sitting loosely between the poor and professionals would be the Thief Takers and Bow Street Runners.

 

Then the Upper Class themselves - Aristocrats with a few learned Aristocrats (at the top of their Profession) - Professors, Clergy, Senior Military Officers etc.

 

I guess the involved part is going to be the social background to all this, and that is what I am working on now.

 

However, as regards a cult of Nodens - this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_for_the_Reformation_of_Manners sounds like it has potential?

 

Happy days!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mysterioso

Wombat1 - many hanks for your kind encouragement.

 

I have been taking a vague look through Gaslight 3e and certainly removing or replacing a lot of technology has got to be the starting point. Steam power, gaslight (itself!), electricity, industrialisation and 99% of machinery needs to totally go. All firearms need to be flintlocks (pistols, muskets, carbines and blunderbusses (shotgun replacement). The only machinery will be waterwheels, windmills, capstans and winches etc.

 

Some skills would then automatically go or be almost totally worthless.  Electrical Repair, Pilot Balloon would go, while Mechanical Repair and Operate Heavy Machinery would be 99% worthless.

 

Then, Professions and Credit Rating. Society would be even more extremely stratified than in the Gaslight era. Most people would be poor (very poor?) Labourers, Coachmen, Ex-Soldiers, Craftsmen, Night Watchmen, Servants, Criminals etc. Their Credit Rating starting point might need to be even lower than the Gaslight rules suggest.  

 

Then you would have a small layer of middle class professionals, needed (and so supported) by the elites. Physicians, Lawyers, Military Officers, Clergy, Professors, exceptional Craftsmen. Sitting loosely between the poor and professionals would be the Thief Takers and Bow Street Runners.

 

Then the Upper Class themselves - Aristocrats with a few learned Aristocrats (at the top of their Profession) - Professors, Clergy, Senior Military Officers etc.

 

I guess the involved part is going to be the social background to all this, and that is what I am working on now.

 

However, as regards a cult of Nodens - this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Society_for_the_Reformation_of_Manners sounds like it has potential?

 

Happy days!

 

At this point, you really should take a look at C&W's Dark Streets.  It will do a lot of the work for the character materials and allow you to shift to designing the adventures.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
wombat1

Yes the cult, I mean, Society for the Reformation of Manners sounds like it has lots of potential for all sorts of fun.

 

I was wondering about the Cakebread and Walton publications--one can find the Renaissance d100 srd on the drivethru rpg as a free pdf, and go from there.

 

Society is more stratified, to be sure, but I think it would still mix in ways predictable even as late as the Victorian period--a gentleman and his equal friends, a gentleman and his servants, more aristocratic sorts and their clients, these would all be recognizable bases for the formation of a group of adventurers, in either period.  My inclination would be to convert it in to a percentile roll and have social status determined at random, to determine the status of the father, and then leave the player to explain his career or career choices. 

 

Some skills would change, rather than be useless--mechanical repair could cover all manner of clock work and lock picking; other skills would have to be added especially for sailing vessels and navigation and so on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.