What Happened at the Game

Before discussing what happened at the game, here's all the information that went into the character sheets. The names listed at the head of each section indicate which characters received that information.

As with most live games, as the gamemaster I really have no idea what actually happened during the game -- I was too busy serving food, washing dishes, and straightening togas! I've included here some reports from players on their experiences:

If any players would like to write up something, please send it to me and I'll post it here for everyone to read.

However, after the game I did ask each character what he would be doing during the next week. From this info, and leaving out mention of a number of the minor plots, I've put together the following timeline of what happened soon afterward as a result of the game:

  • Before the other guests even left, Agricola, fearing that he would be condemned for Christianity, took the fastest horse in the Praetorian stables and fled Rome to the north.
  • Immediately after the party, Emperor Domitius raped his daughter Domitria. An hour later he had her bundled off to Illyricum to stay with her mother. En route she managed to send a cryptic letter to her lover, Rutger.
  • The next day the emperor, supported by his half-brother Ennius, declared Christianity illegal and began a search (read: witch-hunt) to identify those within the legions. Formal charges were levied against the missing Agricola.
  • Praetorian first tribune Publius was dismissed and placed on trial for treason (based on revelations of his incompetence in battle in Alemannia). Rutger was appointed in his place. With the Praetorian prefect gone, Rutger is essentially in command of the Praetorian Guard.
  • The emperor named Senator Tully legate of Britannia. This was sufficient to break the deadlock in the Senate, allowing for the formal annexation of the new province.
  • A hasty ovation for Titus Flavius's Britannic conquests was arranged and concluded. The emperor then immediately placed him in command of a sizable fraction of the empire's legions and ordered him to begin a massive campaign to conquer Parthia. Taxes were raised across the empire to fund this campaign. In lieu of taxes, the Severas's negotiated a deal by which the Decapolis would contribue Damascan archers.
  • With the emperor's blessing, planning was begun to construct Portus, Rome's second port. Planned funding sources included the temples (arranged by Ennius), contributions from the merchant Secundus and the Decapolis (arranged by the Severas's), and new taxes on Judaea and other primarily Jewish regions (imposed by the emperor). The port will include a number of new temples. Both Ennius and Tully seem to expect to have a large hand in the construction contracts, and no doubt will continue their long economic feud. Septimius Severas received promises from both the emperor and Cassius Aurelius to place him in charge of the Portus construction project.
  • Secundus was killed in the streets by unknown assailants, rumored to be gladiators. With the support of almost all factions, his great wealth was transferred to the state to be used for the construction of Portus. [Behind the scenes, this hit was arranged by Rutger, who told some of his fellow gladiators that Secundus had been fixing fights. As the new commander of the Praetorian Guard it was then fairly easy for him to cover this up.]
  • Senators Tully and Vespasianus agreed to an alliance, marrying Tully's eldest daughter to Vespasian's eldest son.

And now the big events. A week after the dinner party, the emperor Domitius sucumbed to war fever and died, leaving no will or heir. In an emergency session of the Senate, Cassius Aurelius proposed that he be named princeps in a "stewardship" role (taking care not to make it seem like a dynastic inheritance). He also offered to marry his eldest daughter to Titus Flavius. At first it seemed that the Senate would accept his proposal. Indeed, he was supported at first by both his own faction and the supporters of Ennius, plus a few minor factions, including that of Gallicus, while Tully's party remained neutral.

The winds suddenly shifted the other way when Titus Flavius announced that he intended to marry Domitria, name himself Domitius's legal heir, and assume the imperium, and further let it be known that he was willing to use his widespread command of the legions to enforce his intentions. Suddenly, Ennius and Tully switched to support the Vespasian faction, leaving Cassius Aurelius and the imperial faction the sole hold-outs. Even Gallicus, Herod, the Severas's, and other minor power players who had originally supported Cassius Aurelius saw the writing on the wall and switched sides. In return for their support, Titus Flavius was forced to grant some favors. For the short term, at least, Ennius received the title of pontifex maximums (removing it from the purview of the emperor), Tully got numerous small economic and political concessions, Gallicus got citizenship for his Gauls, Severas got control of Portus construction, and Herod got the special taxes levied on Judaea removed.

Unwilling to accept this illegal military takeover, Cassius Aurelius and many of his supporters fled Rome for the provinces, where they found loyal legions, raised new troops, and plunged the empire into civil war. He managed to hook up with Agricola, who was given command of one of their legions.

Using Domitria's message to Rutger, Titus Flavius managed to intercept Domitria before she reached Illyricum (where she would otherwise certainly have fallen into the hands of Cassius Aurelius's faction), allowing him to marry her and establish at least the shadow of a legal basis for his inheritance. Domitria gladly agreed to the arrangement, since there was a mutual understanding that both she and her husband would retain their private relationships with their respective freedmen lovers, Rutger and Julia Djadeh.

The civil war didn't last particularly long -- Cassius Aurelius was hopelessly outnumbered. Emperor Vespasian was confirmed by the Senate and led the empire into a new period of consolidation. Of course, Domitius's planned invasion of Parthia never occured.

To project forward in time, it looks like this action actually set the Roman Empire pretty much back on the path it took in real history. Unlike the real world, the Julian dynasty of Imperium was well on its way to establishing a regular precedent of dynastic inheritance for the imperial succession. Titus Flavius's military takeover put an end to that. Judging by his character and those of his supporters, such processes as the spread of Roman culture and Roman citizenship to the provinces and the spread of the eastern mystery religions into Roman society will probably continue as they did historically.

The only big difference is that the empire of Imperium is still a lot bigger than that of history. (See the map of the empire.) While it will almost certainly suffer the same internal problems that led to the fall of the historical Roman Empire, by that time many of the border provinces will have been at least partially integrated into the empire, providing important buffers for the empire's core Mediterranean provinces. When the Sassanid Persian Empire arises in the east, provinces like Mesopotamia and Armenia will have had an extra century of Roman assimilation beyond what they had historically, increasing the chances that they will remain within the sphere of Roman culture and institutions. Likewise, when the Huns arrive they will not drive semi-nomadic Germanic tribes before them to ravage the western half of the empire. Instead those Germans will be inside the empire and may even be fighting on its behalf. The Roman Empire of Imperium may still fall, but if it does the subsequent dynamics of its successor cultures and states will bear almost no relation to those of history.

Page updated 7/28/99, Scott Martin