Making a Character

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General Info
Types of Characters (Roman Aristocrats, Visiting Dignitaries, Slaves)
Character Quiz

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Imperium Home Page
List of Characters
Game Conventions
Role-Playing Tips
Roman Society

General Information
The many plots of Imperium will be based entirely on the characters submitted by players. As such, the more material you can send in the better! However, understanding that not everyone can make the same investment in the game, I've provided for three different
types of character you can choose from. For those creating full characters, there is also a character quiz to help you flesh out a character which can fit into a variety of plots.

Initial character submissions (at least a name and short description) are due by June 7. Full submissions will be due on July 5. Complete character sheets, with all background information, will be distributed to players at least one week before the game.

When answering the character quiz, you may wish to explicitly separate all background info into "public" and "private". The public background information will be published on the game's web site and distributed in print to all players along with the actual character sheets. Private information will be known only by yourself and perhaps a few others. You are strongly encouraged to develop characters with links to each other, and may revise your character concept as new ones come in. Remember, almost everyone at this feast knows each other and has a long history of contact and relations.

Types of Characters
Imperium will have three types of characters, divided by the level of plot involvement. The three groups are:
Roman Aristocrats, Visiting Dignitaries, and Slaves.

Roman Aristocrats are the center of the game, the movers and shakers of the Roman Empire. All members of the imperial family are in this category, as are any high-ranking senators, generals, or favorites who happen to be at the feast. Roman aristocrats will have extensive connections with almost every other character, including long histories of alliances, rivalries, and intrigues. If you're in this category, expect to get back many pages of individual background material for the game and a host of complicated goals. I hope that most players will choose this category, as the plots of these characters will form the core of the game.

Visiting Dignitaries are important people from outside the center of Roman politics, such as provincial governors or client rulers. Though important in empire-wide politics, they will have little or no connection to the inner intrigues of the imperial court, though they certainly can get drawn in. Visiting dignitaries will have strong connections to only a handful of other characters and can expect to get only a few pages of private background material and a similar number of goals. This is the category for those who want to play but can't devote the time to develop a major character.

Slaves are just that, the all but invisible people who will serve food and drink, provide entertainment, and clean up during the feast. Just a name and a personality, slaves will have no private background material: no secrets, no goals, no plots. Slaves are the characters for those who want to role-play and ignore the whole "game" aspect of the event. Of course, you also get stuck with all the menial tasks of the evening; in exchange you get a 50% discount on the game fee. I'm especially looking for people who can either cook (the chief chef will get a 100% discount and have commensurate authority over the other slaves) or entertain (singing, dancing, juggling, acrobatics, clowning, playing instruments, acting, reciting poetry, and exhibition combat are all appropriate; mimery, though traditional, will not be permitted). In a slight departure from real history, slaves will not be required to engage in casual sex with their masters; any such activites at the game will be completely voluntary.

Character Quiz
Roman aristocrats and visiting dignitaries should answer as many of these questions as possible. Be creative and feel free to ask me advice or assistance.

1) Are you a member of the imperial family? What is your relation to the emperor? How do you get along with the emperor? What do you think of the emperor in private?

2) What is your position in the empire? Describe your political offices, military support, land holdings, financial resources, or other areas of influence.

3) As a wealthy Roman, you are at the top of the system of patronage (see Patronage on the Roman Society page). Name some important clients or factions which are beholden to you. Describe at least one major client or faction which has in the past changed allegiance between you and another character (in either direction). How did this transfer come about?

4) What are your feelings (publicly and privately) about the succession? Who do you support, who would you be willing to tolerate, and who do you want to prevent at all costs from holding the scepter?

5) What forms of power do you wish to gain? Do you prefer military prowess, financial riches, political office, or simply the quiet voice behind the throne? Name at least one office, title, or land currently owned by another character which you want to posses.

6) Besides power, are there any other major aspects of your life which you wish to improve? Do you wish to gain skill, love, friendship, respect, revenge, or personal growth?

7) What philosophical code do you follow, if any? Are you a stoic? A conservative Roman? A scholar? A particularly strong supporter of the imperial cult or some other religion?

8) Describe at least three secrets about yourself that would be embarrassing or damaging to you if they were publicly revealed.

9) Describe at least one secret you know about another character that would be embarrassing or damaging if it were publicly revealed. (This secret need not be something the other character knows himself!)

10) Describe at least two favors that another character has performed for you. Describe at least two favors that you have performed for another character. How important is it to you to repay or collect on such debts?

11) Describe at least one nasty thing which you have done publicly to damage or humiliate another character (eg, arranged for him to lose an important Senate vote or get her husband transferred to Britain). Describe at least one similar event which the victim does not know you did. Describe at least one nasty thing which another character has done to you. How important is it to you to "get even" for this?

12) What is your relationship with each of the other characters? Friendship? Hatred? Indifference? Uneasy alliance? Friendly rivalry? Respect? Dependence? Give details!

13) List at least six specific goals that you hope to achieve this evening. A long list of examples follows.

Economic Goals
Convince character A to call off a substantial debt which you owe him.
Convince someone to donate ten million sesterces to build a monument to an old friend.
Convince the appropriate officials to grant you the monopoly for importing Iberian pottery to Rome.
Bribe official G to overlook some illegal dealings by your business partners.
Political Goals
Convince Senator B to vote for your proposal.
Destroy the reputation of character C so you can take his lucrative office as Public Safety Inspector.
Convince characters D and E to support your candidate for a seat in the Senate.
Destroy the credibility of character F, who has always opposed your policies.
Military Goals
Convince the emperor to give you a command.
Convince general H to switch his loyalty from his current patron to you.
Find out the military plans of general I so that you can tell his enemies and embarrass him in the field.
Manufacture a "cassus belli" so that the emperor will declare war on a rich client kingdom under your military jurisdiction so that you can loot the place and afford to pay your troops.
Personal Goals
Convince character J to break her engagement to character K and marry you.
Have sex with character L without letting your spouse find out.
Convince character M to sell you a particularly skilled slave.
Be better at all things than your rival, character N.
Support the goals of your old friend, character O.
Support the long-term goals of your chosen political faction or mystery religion.

The following questions are less plot related but provide material which will greatly enrich your characterizations. You don't necessarily have to submit this info to the GM, but should prepare it before the game so that you can make "small talk" during the evening. You may wish to look over Roman Society to get a feel for the setting.

14) Describe one or more jokes or amusing anecdotes that you've recently heard and would likely share with other people.

15) Describe an "interesting" incident that happened to you in the last week. Did you buy some noteworthy new property, such as a house, fine clothing, or a valuable slave? Meet some interesting foreigners? Receive important news from a distant family member? See a particularly exciting chariot race or play? Discover some juicy gossip about a neighbor? Inherit some lands in Africa you don't know what to do with?

16) Invent some "current events" which would be familiar to the general public. (This information should be shared with the GM, so it can go into the general background.) What's the latest news from the Persian front? Any scandals in the Senate? Is there a high profile romance in Rome? What do you think should be done about the shocking state of the streets around the Palatine Hill? Are you upset by the recent shortage of good Greek tutors in the slave markets? Have you heard the latest about the civil unrest in Narbonnensis? Do you know anything about the reputed liberal politics of the new tribune in charge of public games?

Page updated 7/21/99, Scott Martin