One of the things that’s going to be included in Centurion: Legionaries of Rome (please support the Kickstarter) is a discussion of building campaigns and adventures. It was a tough section to write, because it is something that comes naturally to me. I had to try to break it down in order to explain what I do. This article, in an edited form, will also appear in the game, because examples are a good way of teaching.
For the first playtest of the rules – for the one that I ran – I decided I wanted to run something in the earliest period covered in the book. That’s from the Second Punic War (which started around 218 BC) to the rise of Gaius Marius (who gained his first consulship in 107 BC). I didn’t want to run a campaign during an actual, full-on war, so that excluded the Second and Third Punic Wars. I knew that after the Third Punic War, Rome gained a kind of controlling interest in Spain, so I started reading about the Roman conquest of Spain.
Where did I read about this? Wikipedia, of course.
Wikipedia is the free and accessible version of the Encyclopedia Britannica. While it is not without errors, for prepping for a game, it’s accurate enough. Don’t use it for your term paper or master’s thesis, but if you are trying to brush up on a historical period, culture or concept for your game, it’s just about perfect.
And, of course, there’s a page devoted to the Roman Conquest of Hispania, along with plenty of side articles about different aspects of that conquest. It was here that I found out about the Lusitanian Rebellion (or the Lusitanian War, whichever you’d like to call it).
There were a lot of options at that point, and I basically broke down my interest into scouting, infiltration or conspiracy. Scouting would have the PCs scouting for Celt-Iberian forces at the outset of the rebellion. Infiltration would have the PCs attempting to infiltrate the Celt-Iberian forces. Conspiracy would have the PCs involved in uncovering a plot by the Celt-Iberian rebels before the rebellion takes off.
I went with this last one. I love a good conspiracy, and this could easily lead into the other two types of adventure I envisioned. Cracking the conspiracy could lead to infiltrating the enemy and when the war actually broke out, scouting out their forces.
I decided that the PCs would be part of a newly arrived legion, and they would uncover a plot by Celt-Iberian rebels to poison the legions. Almost all of the research I did was on the internet. Again, this isn’t for some kind of academic paper, it’s just for a game. If you get stuff wrong, it’s no big deal.
Usually, when I run a game, I do it using a one page document which can be either the entirety of the plan for the game, or an encapsulation of the key points. The one-pager starts with the situation. The information I gleaned from Wikipedia and cursory research on the internet, I came up with this situation:
In 156 BCE (one year before the Lusitani revolt which led to the Lusitanian War), the PCs are linked to a junior tribune in V Legio based in Corduba (modern Cordoba) under Proconsul L. Aurelius Orestes. An ex-legionary now merchant in the city has been paid off by a tribal leader among the Lusitani to sell poisoned food to the Romans. At the outset, no one knows how the men are dying, but sickness is rampant and a plague is suspected. The tribune is ordered to investigate, and he turns to the PCs to find out what is going on.
That’s the first part of the one-pager. I’ll get into the rest in the next article.
If you want to learn more about the Centurion Kickstarter, go here.
If you want to learn more about the Roman conquest of Spain, go here.