View Full Version : PBP RPG: Setting And Customisation Example

Samurai Jill
2009-09-24, 09:31 AM
Pax Romana- Supernatural Conflict in an alternate Roman Imperium

This intended as a development of the PBP RPG system I'm trying to get playtesters for, documented here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=125350).

Not the most original title, I know, but I was stuck for names, and the main point here is to flesh out a detailed system example, so what the Hell- I might as well be up front about this: everything I'm presenting here isn't actually what the game is about. This game is intended to be primarily about authorship of story, and everything here represents a springboard or starting point, not rails to which one must religiously adhere. Nonetheless, for players that might be intimidated by the notion of diving into Narrativist play head-first, here's something a little more concrete and specific- plenty of well-defined Sim upon which to chew and meditate.
I would expect and encourage that after a few crucial scenes, players would start to experiment with inventing their own traits, beliefs, goals and resources- these options, again, are here purely as a starting point and setting outline, intended to spark further debate and creativity among the players. The idea of having finite, concrete, predefined options is, as Bruce Lee might say, "a boat to get you across, and once across, it is to be discarded and not to be carried on one's back."

Player-characters are either Romans or Celts. The action takes place in a loose equivalent to the 2nd or 3rd century AD, somewhere within the regions of France, Britain, or Ireland, but to perfectly frank the analogue is sketchy, and while I did do some modicum of research, I don't want a debate over real-world religion. Give the presence of magic and all, I've been playing pretty fast and loose with the facts. (It would be easy and probably beneficial to do some related historical reading before play, but remember- if the setting becomes too detailed and fixed, your characters must be flexible, or Narrativist play becomes very difficult. Heck, I'd incline toward colouring in the map as you go.)

While it may well be possible for players in a single group to play both Celts and Romans, I don't reccomend it offhand (although Renegades and Cult of the Legion offer obvious possibilities, and various helpful NPCs could always crop up among the opposition.) Female player-characters gain Woman as a free Major Trait, but cannot serve in the Roman military (e.g, Paladin, Cult of the Legion, or Renegades as mercenaries, scouts or auxiliaries,) while certain church philosophies might bar them from higher office.

And.. that's about it, as far as general overview goes. Read on for the details.

Roman Background

Roman players must first choose a class of origin for their character:

Patrician- the hereditary Roman nobility, tracing their lineage back to Italian stock and military service toward the old Republic. Many such families remain immensely wealthy, but others have fallen into steady decline.
*- Must have Major or Moderate Social Status, choose either Philosopher or Sacerdos, and have Faith.
*- Must have a Villa or Estate situated near an urban centre somewhere in Gaul or Britannia.
*- Must have Servants, Slaves, and Fine Vestments to advertise their rank and privilege.

Equite- the middle classes: civil servants, businessmen and career military with substantial political and economic influence.
*- Must have either Minor or Moderate Social Status, and a Source of Income.
*- Must choose at least one Goal related to elevating or restoring their family's wealth, honour, or privilege.

Plebeian- the lower classes, ranging anywhere from uncomplaining prosperity to back-breaking penury one step above the slave pens.
*- May only take Minor Social Status, cannot choose Philosopher, and must have an Expertise related to manual labour.
*- Starting Conscience maximum is raised by 1.
*- May, if desired, choose Minor or Moderate Expertise in the Rites and Mysteries of one local Celtic Deity.

Having done so, they must then choose a professional and spiritual background:

Cult of the Legion- Roman soldiers stationed in distant lands often take up the worship of indigenous Gods, either openly or behind closed doors.
*- Must have at least Moderate Expertise in Sword AND Shield and Armour, with at least Moderate Arms and Armour to match.
*- Must have Expertise in Formation Fighting and Encampment, and be stationed near an urban centre somewhere in Gaul or Britannia.
*- Must choose at least one Resource: Subordinate, and a Minor or Moderate Military Entourage- with matching Fortress.
*- May choose (up to) 2 Expertises, at up to Moderate degree, from the following list: Rites and Mysteries[any local Gods], The Otherworld, Barter and Covenant. If Expertise in Rites and Mysteries is not taken, Faith must be.

Sacerdos- the ordained priesthood of an exclusive religious order or community, sworn to serve God before Man.
*- Starting Conscience maximum is raised by 3. Faith must be taken, and may not be Epicure or Stoic.
*- Must have Resources for a Servant and Fine Vestments appropriate to their station.
*- Must choose a friendly History with another player-character of their Faith, or a Goal external to the order or community.

Paladin- favoured servants of the Holy Emperor: Equestrian Knights willing and honoured to die in His name.
*- Must have at least Moderate Expertise in both Sword AND Shield and Armour, and Expertise in Riding.
*- Starting Conscience maximum is raised by 2. Must have Faith.
*- Must have at least Moderate Resources for Arms[Sword and Shield], Moderate Armour, and a Warhorse.
*- Paladins ALWAYS begin with Moderate Social Status[Romans, The Empire], Minor History[positive, The Emperor], and a Minor Source of Income[court stipend] as free Aspects. These do not count toward normal Aspect quotas, and may only be altered by the player's consent.

Philosopher- educated and well-read critical scholars and freethinkers who seek to broaden human knowledge.
*- Must have Resources for either Servants or Slaves, and at least a Moderate Source of Income.
*- ONLY Philosophers may have Major Expertise in Rhetoric and Inquiry, Lore of History, or Natural Philosophy. They must have at least Moderate Expertise in 2 of them.
*- Faith, if taken, must be Pelagian, Stoic, or Epicure.

Roman Religion

Most Romans, particularly of the upper classes, profess to a particular religious or philosophical creed, usually modelled on or adapted to resemble early Christian monotheism, that they follow in their daily lives. (Whether this involves actual belief in a crucified prophet-messiah is up to your group, and would present a whole new axis to discussion for each religious faction, so I won't cover it here. How well these characters actually live up to the standards of those beliefs is another matter entirely.)

The following are particularly important for ascetic philosophies, but somewhat relaxed for the indulgent:[i]
*- Sexual contact is discouraged, particularly outside wedlock.
*- Food and drink should suffice for the body's needs, and not much more (e.g, cut down on meat.)
*- Personal possessions should be minimal and chiefly functional.

The following are particularly important for forbearing philosophies, but somewhat relaxed for the punitive:
*- Petty violence and personal retribution is forbidden.
*- Salvation is a question of private conscience, not human judgement.
*- Claiming Self-defence notwithstanding, mercy and forgiveness toward one's enemies is most commendable.

The following are particularly important for egalitarian philosophies, but somewhat relaxed for the stratified:
*- The moral authority of the Holy Church is primarily human, not divine.
*- Women should be allowed full participation in rites and offices.
*- Slaves have a right to religious expression.

Various other virtues are obvious enough, being universal to all human cultures: don't lie, don't steal, don't cheat, don't kill anyone not threatening you, honour your friends and loved ones, treat others as you would like to be treated. No surprises there, so I won't go into them much. Note: Stratified churches will not accept women as priests without limiting their Social Status to Minor as a permanent condition of membership.

The most common variations on this central theme are as follows:

Imperial (punitive, stratified)
*- Man is born sinful, and can only be redeemed through entry to the Holy Church. All other Gods are evil spirits who damn souls.
*- The One God and True Creator manifests in person as the Holy Emperor, and so answers prayer both spiritually and through His servants.
*- Good works- of charity, kindness, industry and piety- and obedience to church authority together pave the way to salvation.

Gnostic (egalitarian, ascetic)
*- The One True God exists, but being perfect, has no concern for this corrupt world of suffering and decay. She answers no prayer.
*- This world was created by the Demiurge, Ialdabaoth, and His lesser lieutenants, the Archons, who may both aid and hinder salvation.
*- Salvation is predestined, not chosen, proceeding from denial of the impure flesh, and the pursuit of wisdom, She who is called Sophia.

Pelagian (ascetic, forbearing)
*- Mankind has freedom to choose between good and evil- while the church may set a moral example, it has power neither to damn nor redeem.
*- The One God exists, created this world, is the font of all goodness, and intervenes in our lives. Other Gods do not alter this.
*- Good works and self-denial are the key to eternal life, but no man may presume to make another's choices for them.

Stoic (stratified)
*- God is the ever-present animating spirit of the material world, evident in the excellent order and subtle arrangement of it's parts.
*- The soul is mortal, and does not persist beyond death. Virtue is but the best path to maintaining and securing happiness in life.
*- Logic, reflection, and discipline secure one's soul from destructive passion and vexing injury: Above all, obey your right reason.

Epicure (indulgent, egalitarian)
*- The soul is mortal, and as a reflection of material causes, does not survive death. The Gods, content and idle, care naught for our plight.
*- Pleasure is the good, and pain the evil: Shun excess, oppression and luxury as dangerous, but on no account suffer needlessly.
*- The pursuit of happiness- that is to say, certain and lasting pleasure- depends on moderation, cultivated friendship, and evading strife.

Relation With Paganism
Some of these beliefs may be partly or wholly compatible with belief in, if not worship of, the various pagan Gods, which may be viewed simply as malicious demons or spirits, well-intentioned but spiritually imperfect supernatural beings, or lesser emmissaries of a higher divine power.

There is nothing stopping Roman characters from taking Beliefs appropriate to worship of a given classical idol or membership of an imported mediterranean cult, but it has no in-game effects (beyond those of earning Luck, Providence and Grace.) The former Roman policy of cultural-pluralism-et-assimilation has diluted pagan spirituality to the point where it's effectively meaningless: Claiming all Gods to be equally true and essentially harmonious aspects of eachother is, after all, tantamount to declaring each equally false. Noncommittal paganism is generally being ignored in favour of veneration of the Emperor and His Church.

However, the player MAY optionally choose to identify a particular Celtic Deity with a non-Celtic idiol with a similar portfolio of concerns, and model their veneration accordingly (see Celtic Religion, below.) This does not mean the PC is consciously aware of any such identification!

Faith, Conscience, and Miracles
The Faith Expertise models a character's knowledge of a given Philosophy, but Conscience, a seperate attribute, measures their commitment to it's precepts. Every starting Belief or Goal that ties directly into a character's Faith grants starting Conscience: +1 for Minor, +2 for Moderate, +3 for Major, but is afterwards recorded and advances separately. By default, a character cannot start with Conscience of more than 3, and it may never exceed 10.

Conscience increases through acts of personal sacrifice that exemplify the tenets of the character's Faith (similar to earning Luck, Providence, and Grace,) and decreases through acts which violate it.
* -Extreme violation or adherence (e.g, similar to earning Grace): -/+3 (Conscience 9 or less)
* -Moderate Violation or adherence (e.g, similar to earning Providence): -/+2 (Conscience 6 or less)
* -Minor violation or adherence (e.g, similar to earning Luck): -/+1 (Conscience 3 or less)

The character may call upon their Faith to manifest miracles through prayer, testing Faith + Conscience + Will (along with the usual expenditure of Luck, etc.) against DOUBLE the normal 'unlikelihood' of the blessing. The granting of ANY miracle HALVES current Conscience (rounding down.)

Characters may have Faith Expertises in multiple Philosophies, but Conscience with respect to only one, and while it is technically possible to combine Faith with the Rites and Mysteries, any pact with or sacrifice to a pagan Deity is considered a commensurate violation of Faith. Characters that do not believe in active divine intercession cannot call for miracles, but can still 'lead a charmed life'- natural, unassuming miracles of base unlikelihood 5 or less may occur spontaneously at the player's discretion. By contrast, characters that DO believe in divine intercession can ONLY call for miracles of base unlikelihood greater than 5!

Losing Faith
None of the above means that any of the given philosophies are literally correct or morally infallible. What matters is that they can satisfy the character's social Conscience, by giving them some sense of right and wrong as distinct from their momentary whims, selfish desires or private judgement. For game purposes, this is how a genuine supreme Divine agency can channel itself. If one Faith ceases to satisfy a player, they may switch to another, just as they may do for Beliefs. In such cases, the character loses half their prior Conscience, (rounding up after,) to represent the doubt and inner conflict that impelled them to convert.

Celtic Background

Celtic players must first choose a region of origin for their character:

Gallic- based on Gaul (modern France,) this province has been largely pacified by Rome, and has begun cultural integration into the Empire.
*- Must choose Renegade or Aois-Dána.
*- May choose (up to) 2 Expertises from the Roman Only listings at up to Moderate degree.
*- May not have Major Social Status, and any Druidic Expertise (see below) must be Minor.

Breton- based on Britannia (modern England and Scotland,) this province is still in the throes of full colonisation, but has a few minor Roman settlements.
*- Must have Expertise in either Guerilla Warfare or Survival.
*- Must have an initial History with Rome in general or a specific Roman captain or garrison, OR a History with another Breton tribe or leader- (or, if desired, both. Whether such Histories are fearful, amiable or hostile depends on whether the character's tribe went Renegade.)

Gael- based on Hibernia (modern Ireland,) this island has thus far been all but untouched by Roman interests.
*- May not choose Renegade, and may not have ANY Only Roman Expertise or Resource.
*- Must have Expertise in either Rites and Mysteries or The Otherworld. Starting Favour maximum is raised by 1.
*- If not a Druid, must have an initial friendly History with either The High King Of Tara, a Breton chieftain, or another Celtic player-character that brings them to Gaul or Brittania.

Having done so, they must then choose a professional and social background:

Druid- a priestly caste of lawkeepers, diviner-sorcerers and cultural stewards, the core of Celtic resistance to Rome.
*- ONLY Druids may have Major Expertises in Rites and Mysteries, Brehon Law, The Otherworld, or Lore of Bird and Beast, and they MUST have at least 1 Major Expertise from the above. All others need only be Moderate, but must be taken.
*- ONLY Druids may have ceremonial weapons, sacred groves or stone circles as Resources.
*- Starting Favour maximum is raised by 3.
*- Druids must have Moderate or Major Social Status, and either a staff of office or ceremonial weapon as Resource.

Berserker- veteran shock-troopers who have learned to unleash their naked savagery upon the enemy (sometimes literally.)
*- Must have at least 2 Moderate and one Major combat-related Expertise, plus Intimidate. ONLY Berserkers may take Intimidate as a Major Expertise.
*- Starting Favour maximum for any Deities expressly associated with war, strife or bloodshed is raised by 2.
*- Must have Great Strength and Stature OR Vigour and Fortitude, and weapon Resources to match any Expertise.
*- Expertise or Resources related to defence or martial discipline may only be Minor.

Aois-Dána- bards, court poets, spies, and learned advisors to the Celtic chieftains.
*- Must have an initial, friendly History with a named local monarch or chieftain.
*- Must have at least Moderate Expertise in Oral History, Sleight of Mind, and Music, Song and Poetry. ONLY Aois-Dána may take Music, Song and Poetry as a Major Expertise.
*- Must have Minor or Moderate Expertise in Brehon Law, and matching Social Status.

Renegade- scouts, mercenaries, noble hostages, professional auxiliaries, or simple converts to the Roman cause.
*- May choose (up to) 2 Expertises from the Roman Only listings at up to Moderate degree.
*- Must have a starting History of some form with Rome in general, a specific Roman social group, or a Roman leader.
*- Resources, if chosen, cannot be Major, and Social Status may never become Major while the character serves Roman interests.

Celtic Religion

Many Celts are versed in the Rites and Mysteries of a particular God, Goddess, or small subset thereof (henceforth referred to as 'Deities' for convenience.) Unlike Roman faith, Celtic worship is primarily focused upon places of power, the reverance of nature, and explicit taboos revolving around their use and abuse, with less emphasis on standards of personal conduct, the soul's salvation or a well-defined cosmic opposition between good and evil. The most accepted, widespread, and revered idols of worship (as I'm defining them here, though there's a great deal of mixing-and-matching involved) amount to the following:

Danu and Taranis, Mother and Father of the Gods, the Tuatha de Danann, Lords of the Otherworld. Their services cover interaction with lower classes, protection of women and children, congress with the Shí, and power over the elements or illusion.
Their commandments are to honour the authority of elders and rulership, and celebrate the festival traditions (Bealtaine and Samhain.) Their power neither wanes nor increases.

Lugh, Dagda and Nuada, Hero-Gods- warriors, rulers and patrons of the arts. Their services aid cunning in love or war, critical feats of skill or courage in pursuit of selfless goals, handling social superiors, or gaining new Expertise.
Their commandments are never to renounce a goal or sworn oath, and never to betray a lover. Their power is strong when aided by friend or kin, but weak against inferior opponents.

Palu, Sadv and Rhianna, She-Gods renowned for speed, grace, and elegance in their guise as the silent cat, gentle deer and swift-footed mare. Their services befit stealth, endurance, mobility, transformation into their respective animal forms, or any aspect of feminine artifice.
Their commandments are to suffer neither man, woman, nor beast be held captive, and to live nowhere more than a year at once. Their power is strong with a following wind, but weak when others are told the intent.

The Brigid (Airmed, Boann and Belenus), Goddesses of healing and the waters. Their services cover the treatment of non-fatal disease, poison or injury, especially when herbs are used, and the appeasement of springs, streams and rivers.
Their commandments are never to suffer the pollution of freshwater, and never to seek out vengeance. Their power is strong in spring, but weak during heavy snows or fog.

Manannán, God of the ocean, caves and grottos, and guide to the souls of the newly dead. His services pertain to seafaring and fishery, taking the forms of ocean life, funerals, and any attempts to revive the recently dead.
His commandments are never to bury, but burn the dead, and to hunt or slay creatures for hunger's sake alone. His power is strong by the coast, but weak when the tide is low.

Cernunnos, the Horned God, protector of forests, sacred groves, the birds and beasts. His services cover hunting, fertility (both literal and figurative,) and taking the forms of stags, boars, birds, or other ostentatiously masculine prey animals.
His commandments are never to let human blood be shed in a sacred grove, and never to slay an ungrown creature, whether animal or human. His power is strong far inland, and weak on barren soil.

Diancecht, the Healer, father to uncounted offspring, who gave to Nuada an arm of silver in place of one of flesh. His services cover the treatment of mortal wounds and lost limbs or organs, or strife between kin.
His commandments are never to kill the defenceless, and never to let disobedience go unpunished. His power is strong when working alone, unaided, but weak in the presence of weeping.

Ogmios, God of Eloquence, inventor of the ogham script- "He who binds his followers with words like chains of gold." His services cover social confrontations- including intimidation- and any steadfast intellectual pursuits.
His commandments are never to pronounce what you know to be outright untruth, or let it go unchallenged. His powers are strong when a covenant is scribed on stone, but weak in the face of chaos.

The Badb (Morrígan, Macha and Nemhain), triple-Goddesses of war, slaughter and battle-frenzy. Their services can aid in taking the form of animal predators or scavengers, or in any combat situation where you don't anticipate returning alive.
Their commandments are never to hold back, withdraw, or show mercy in the heat of battle joined. Their powers are strong with the moon waxing full, but weak in full sunlight.

Crom Cruach, the Great Serpent, the Elder Worm, sentinel of the stone circles. His services can cover almost anything, but the price of a failed bargain is exacted in the blood of worshippers. His Favour cannot be bargained for, only earned.
His commandment is to make no promise one cannot soon fulfill. His power is strong when sacrifice is made, and weak within close walls.

Favour and the Rites and Mysteries
The Rites and Mysteries Expertise models a character's knowledge of a given God's aspects and the proper rituals of obeisance towards them, but Favour measures how kindly a given Deity looks upon them personally. The character may obtain the initial Favour of multiple Deities with whose Rites and Mysteries they are familiar by establishing Beliefs and Goals (and possibly Histories, to sacred animals or places,) that reflect their unique aspects and concerns: +1 for Minor, +2 for Moderate, +3 for Major- but is afterwards recorded and advances separately. By default, a character cannot start with any Deity's Favour at more than 3, and none ever exceeds 10.

Favour may be increased or reduced in a fashion similar to Conscience, through violation of- or selfless adherence to- divine commandments, but the pagan Gods do not grant miracles in the conventional sense. Instead, a pagan Deity must be propitiated and bargained with through explicit covenant (an earnest promise of future deeds) or living sacrifice (either self, human or animal.) Bonuses to the bargaining process run as follows:

*- Major covenant, many human sacrifices, sacrifice of self: +3 (Favour 9 or less)
*- Moderate covenant, sacrifice of one's flesh, a single human or many animal sacrifices: +2 (Favour 6 or less)
*- Minor covenant, sacrifice of one's blood or a small animal sacrifice: +1 (Favour 3 or less)

The bargain test itself is Rites and Mysteries + Favour + Will + Acuity + Barter and Covenant + bargain bonus (along with the usual expenditure of Luck, etc.) vs. DOUBLE the 'unlikelihood' of the service in question. If the bargain is accepted, Favour improves by 1 point. If not, it is lowered by 1 point. Depending on the terms, the character may not necessarily know whether the bargain offered was accepted until some time later (although the player knows immediately.)

A given Deity's displeasure can also be earned through any obvious desecration of places or objects sacred to them- e.g, burning a sacred grove, defacing inscriptions, poisoning food or drink- or abandonment or betrayal of the terms of a covenant struck. This HALVES current Favour with the God(s) in question- rounding down. If enough Favour is lost, the player may even incur some divine wrath, either subtle or overt.

Supernatural Manifestations and Divine Intervention
As a general rule, players can ask for anything that their characters would have a reason to desire, but certain services are more idiomatic than others, and tie in to particular skills.

*- Crafting illusions, sending visions and bestowing unnatural adroitness or concealment are aided by Sleight of Mind. The difficulty varies with how tough it would be to convince the person of what they're seeing, and whether there are roughly similar physical materials to work upon. For adroitness or concealment, the effect lasts the duration of a given intent- typically a scene or two- and has a difficulty matching 4x the Condition's bonus.
*- Transformation into various forms of animal benefits from Lore of Bird and Beast, and any History the character has with an animal of the same kind. Either the self or another may be transformed- if unwilling, the difficulty is doubled. Animal forms constitute a Major Condition toward any three tasks which that animal performs particularly well- flight, hiding, climbing, etc. If the transformation was willing, it may be ended at the subject's discretion. The base difficulty is 12, +4 if the animal is particularly small (e.g, an insect or mouse,) or large, e.g, (a brown bear, a whale,) +4 if the transformation is hurried (i.e, a few moments, as opposed to several hours,) and -4 if the transformation is given time and perfect seclusion (e.g, several days.)
*- Healing wounds, poisons, disease or other life-threatening injury matches 2x the difficulty of a typical healing check using relevant Expertise, or 5x if it's urgent, and you cannot ask to be healed yourself. Raising the dead, if the body is still at hand and mostly intact, will generally require successful healing checks on any wounds or conditions present (the outcome is not known until raising is attempted,) plus a ritual test against difficulty 20, +2 for every day since death.
*- Calling down lighting, darkness, fire, ice and earthquake is aided by Lore of the Elements, and should accordingly tie into prevailing weather conditions or local knowledge of geological history for maximum effect. This form of incantation is lengthy, taking hours to complete, and is generally most useful during massed battles against large hosts. The difficulty is 5x the penalty associated with the Condition suffered by anyone out in the field, or 5x the general unlikelihood of such manifestations.
*- More general divine intervention should be appropriate to the idiom of the Deity in question. e.g, a wheeling flock of crows for the Badb, a rushing torrent of foaming water for the Brigid, a gaping chasm in the earth for Crom Cruach, a sudden sense of untouchable assurance and focus for Nuada.

Meeting the conditions for a given Deity's weakness or strength adds or subtracts a success during Interest resolution, as does begging for intervention that doesn't specifically accord with (-1 success) or contradicts (-2 successes) their specific concerns.

The Faerie Folk and Necromancy
Shí bargained with as familiars or aides may perform any of the above supernatural tasks, with the added ability to take the form of any human with which they are familiar (at difficulty 20.) Shí will otherwise never publically reveal themselves to others. The difficulty of persuading them to do so exactly matches that of calling upon the Gods, without the benefit of Favour- but conversely, Favour is unaffected by the process.

Contacting the spirits of the dead whom you personally knew, OR can name precisely and are known to be buried close at hand, for purposes of a single question that can be answered with a single word, has a base difficulty of 15. Each additional question to that individual, or additional word of response required, raises the difficulty by 5. These penalties are cumulative, and permanent.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-24, 09:44 AM
Sample Expertises

Some of the Expertises listed here are at least potentially related to eachother. Possessing a related Moderate or Major Expertise in appropriate situations will increase the bonus from the primary Expertise by +1, up to a maximum of +2. These relationships may be situational or dependant on the form a given Expertise takes, however, so apply with due caution and a heaping helping of common sense.

Roman Only (max. 2 Minor Expertises for Celts):
Rhetoric and Inquiry- inspired speeches, logical arguments, deceptive bluster. Related- lore of history, suasion.
Faith[Philosophy]- covered under Roman Religion. Related- natural philosophy, lore of history, rites and mysteries.
Lore of History- legal precedents, distant battles, dredging up the past. Related- rhetoric and inquiry, tactician.
Natural Philosophy- the material world, biology, alchemy, mathematics. Related- any lore, faith, engineering.
Engineering- assembling bridges, masonry, fortification, siege weapons. Related- natural philosophy, siege warfare.
Siege Warfare- bringing down or scaling walls, using artillery. Related- encampment, tactician, engineering.
Encampment- erecting or holding a fort, provisioning, maintaining discipline. Related- foraging, domestics, engineering.
Formation Fighting- keeping in step, holding a line, morale, actual formations. Related- tactician, shield and armour.
Tactician- direction and timing of assaults, terrain, psychology. Related- formation fighting, lore of history, geography.

Primarily Roman (Minor or Moderate for Celts):
Suasion- swaying others through heartfelt appeals, seduction, or deceit. Related- barter and covenant, rhetoric and inquiry.
Riding[Warhorse, Bareback or Chariot]- staying upright, charging, wheeling. Related- lore of bird and beast, intimidate.
Sword- the gladius or longsword, close engagement- blocks, locks, parries and finishing blows.
Javelin- the pilum or throwing-spear- possibly of use in hunting and fishing. Less effective in heavy (Major) Armour.
Shield and Armour- covering the man next to you, deflecting blows, hiding from arrows. Related- formation fighting.
Surgeon- tending to life-threatening injury. Related- natural philosophy, domestics or lore of bloom and root.
Seafarer- riding storms, navigation, fishery, handling crew. Related- intimidate, lore of the elements, geography.

Staves [or] Clubs- blunt, shafted weapons, easily crafted or improvised, useful to inflict concussion. Can't be Major.
Bow and Arrow- shooting from cover, over high walls, allowing for wind. Combine with alchemy for flames. Can't be Major.
Small Arms- small blades, improvised weapons, brawling- useless against heavy arms or armour. Related- sleight of mind.
Metallurgy- forging armour, heads, blades, tools and reinforcement. Related- domestics, lore of the elements.
Woodwork- carving reliefs, smoothing shafts, weaving baskets, joinery. Related- foraging, lore of bloom and root.
Tailor- weaving and dying cloth, cutting to length, dressing and trimming. Related- domestics, farming.
Domestics- cooking, brewing, pottery, minor repairs, petty disagreements, make-and-do, saving up. Related- suasion, any trade.
Farming- Raising crops, tending to or herding animals, storing food for winter. Related- foraging, domestics, any lore.

Primarily Celtic (Minor or Moderate for Romans):
Intimidate- brutality, bravado, psychological warfare, naked battle-frenzy. Related- suasion, riding.
Axe and Spear- keen-edged, somewhat unwieldy, may be thrown to lethal effect. Can't be Minor.
Lore of Bloom and Root- plant and mineral-based cures, drugs, poisons, spices or cosmetics. Related- foraging, brehon law.
Lore of the Elements- foreeing weather, seasons, lightning, tides, floods, fires- even earthquakes. Related- geography.
Geography[Area]- the lay of major towns and villages, shore, bog, peak, plain, forest. Related- domestic, seafarer.
Foraging- scrounging nuts, leaves, bark fruit, or firewood, pillaging bodies or homes. Related- encampment, farming.
Music, Song and Poetry- mourning loss, entertainment, recounting mighty deeds of heroes of yore. Related- oral history.

Celtic Only (max. 2 Minor Expertises for Romans):
Brehon Law- legal disputes, obscure natural history, taboo and obligations. Related- any lore, oral history, suasion.
Oral History- the clan's remembered past, transmitted from mouth to mouth. Related- brehon law, music, song and poetry.
Barter and Covenant- exchanging goods or services with a binding pact. Related- intimidate, rites and mysteries.
Rites and Mysteries[Deity]- see Celtic Religion. Related- barter and covenant, the otherworld, sleight of mind.
The Otherworld- death, the Shí, ogham runes, sacred festivals, the supernatural. Related- rite and mysteries, brehon law.
Lore of Bird and Beast- the speech, habits and movements of wild animals. Related- geography, lore of the elements.
Sleight of Mind- quick wits, misdirection, dexterity and preternatural concealment. Related- rites and mysteries, suasion.
Survival- hunting and dressing game, laying traps, hideouts, caches, stealth. Related- foraging, sleight of mind.
Guerilla Warfare- ambush, spying, camouflage, lightning raids, withdrawal. Related- intimidate, survival, tactician.

Sample Resources

Roman Only (max. 2 Minor Resources for Celts):
An Estate or Villa- use to recuperate, provision, and entertain. Requires Slaves or Servants to look after it.
A Slave or Slaves[Entertainment, Hard Labour, or Instruction on a single Expertise]- human property fit for a single purpose, useless outside that context (except as a bargaining chip.) Either one or many slaves could be modelled here, dependant on degree and function.
Armour- any combination of protection that could be worn and buckled on or off by that person. Major Armour tends to encumber any Expertises or Traits dependant on freedom of motion or quick reflexes.
A Fortress- used to secure supplies, weather siege and furnish weaponry. May either be isolated or part of a larger garrison, and can accomodate a Military Entourage of up to the same degree.

Primarily Roman (Minor or Moderate for Celts):
A Source of Income- a day job, business interest, foreign holding or sheer inherited wealth. Use for barter and negotiation.
Jewellry or Ornamentation[function]- glamorous baubles or mystic talismans fit to inspire wonderment, fear, or desire. Use accordingly.
Fine Vestments- a uniform appropriate to one's station, useful when invoking personal authority. Can't be Major.
Tools of the Trade[Expertise]- lathe and adze, hammer and tongs, bone-saw and scalpel- whatever fits your chosen calling.
A Boat or Galley[war, pleasure, mercantile or fishery]- a seaworthy vessel equipped for the purpose. Fishing boats can't be Major.
Warhorses [or] a Horse [or] Horses and Chariot- must generally be stabled at a local Fortress, or Hall, Villa or Estate with servants. Warhorses are only available to Romans, chariots to Celts. In addition, chariots need drivers.

Social Status[Faction, Area]- rank and privilege accompanying noble birth, outstanding ability, or matchless courage. Used in social conflicts with those of lower rank, but the effect is weaker outside a given area or within the opposite faction.
Fame [or] Infamy[Faction, Area]- similar to social status, but earned for deeds of note, not necessarily those recognised.
Arms- any combination of weapons that could be wielded and carried by one person at once.
A Subordinate, Vassal, or Servant- a minor character acting under your authority. Social Status must be greater than degree.
A Military Entourage- a body of armed followers- usable directly only in open war. Social Status must at least match degree.
A Domus, Hall or Dwelling- Similar to an Estate or Villa, but Moderate or Minor.
Friends or Contacts within Given Circles[e.g, Merchants, the Military, the High King's court]- used to get in touch with a desired person or find information- the more remote, skilled, and specific, the more difficult this is, especially if you don't want to attract attention...

Primarily Celtic (Minor or Moderate for Romans):
Livestock- a primary measure of wealth and prestige among the Celts- cattle especially. For sacrifice, entertainment and barter.[/i]
A Store of Sacred Herbs and Earth- salts and vegetable matter carefully preserved or crushed for use with Lore of Bloom and Root.
A Harp, Flute, Lyre or other Delicate Musical Instrument- tuned and ready to accompany Music, Song and Poetry.
A Barrow or Tumulus- a burial place for the dead in the womb of the earth. Used to mourn, contact the fallen, or raise the Shí.
A Relationship with one of the Shí- the faerie folk can be bargained with for services, and tend to haunt specific locations. The Shí can perform general supernatural feats associated with the pagan Gods, disappearing and reappearing at will, but never publically reveals itself to others- only to the character who owns the Resource. Should the character successfully convince another person of it's existence, the Resource is instantly lost!
A Farm and Homestead- used to raise and tend to rich crops, strapping sons, or handsome daughters. Must accompany a positive History with one's landlord or chieftain.

[b]Celtic Only (max. 2 Minor Resources for Romans):
An Animal Familiar- a hawk, stoat, raven or other creature kept about one's person. Use for scouting, messages, pilfering, etc.
A Sacred Grove or Circle of Standing Stones, with Altar- holy ground consecrated to the pagan Gods, used for rites and gatherings.
A Ceremonial Weapon (Sacrificial Knife, Cord, Sickle or Club)- useless in combat, but of great significance in bloody rituals.
Enchantment of a Weapon, set of Armour, Tools, or Talisman [Deity]- certain very rare artifacts can be imbued with the virtues of the pagan Gods, but their use comes at a price- Firstly, the claimant MUST be able to establish a corresponding physical Resource, of matching degree, to reprent the physical materials. Secondly, the blessing is effective ONLY when used to further the agenda of that Deity, cannot be claimed in contravention of that agenda, and actually inhibits acts in contradiction of it's commandments. Thirdly, the wielder MUST be able to establish an immediate History with the artifact in question, representing their personal connection to the Deity in question. If the preceding are satisfied, all resolution bonuses from the artifact are cumulative with this enchantment.

Sample Traits

A Tattoo or Ritual Mutilation[specify where and what]- badge of social membership, mark of devotion, or just plain scary.
A Resounding Voice- appropriate to song, rhetoric, suasion, or other effort to make your presence felt.
A Missing Limb or Organ[specify what]- can unnerve opponents, but imposes a penalty to corresponding tasks.
Great Strength and Stature- lifting heavy objects, wearing armour or wielding heavy weapons, daunting enemies.
Fell Cunning- trapping an opponent with their own words, devising a crushing strategy, predicting a crisis.
Acute Senses- spotting a trap or ambush, hearing footsteps in your sleep, nailing a target from a hundred yards away.
Lithe, Swift, Graceful- impressing friends- dance, acrobatics- dodging, combat with light weapons. Useless in armour.
Nimble Fingers- weaving, tailoring, woodworking, sleight of hand, sensuality. Can't be Major.
Appearance of Youth and Beauty- social conflicts based on persuasion or inspiration, especially involving sexuality.
Vigour and Fortitude- feats of athletic prowess, physical tenacity, recovery from injury, poison or disease.
Frail and Delicate- can be used to prompt sympathy, but tends to make martial or athletic pursuits impossible.
Advanced Age- inhibits any stamina-based tests, but improves those based on will.
Empathy or Insight- allows the character to sense others' hidden feelings or agendas, or know when they're being lied to.

Anything else that the player can think of could fit here, ad long as it's physical- blonde hair, dark skin, premature baldness, the works. As long as they can tie it into a description of their Interests during Scene resolution, they get it's bonus.

Scenario Ideas
The first thing you have to remember here is that, if you're doing it right, any fixed plot direction will get shot to Hell very quickly. So what follows are simply embryonic starting points that you will then have to flesh out dynamically in play, specifically in order to press your PCs' emotional buttons. It's rarely in your interest to have a very clear-cut division of good and evil all the way down the line, because that makes correct choices obvious, and obvious choices aren't choices worth speaking of. So I've added some general suggestions for spicing up the situation within different frames of starting reference.

The Enemy Within
The players are called upon to investigate a secret cult, implicated in human sacrifice, that turns out to have corrupted the local imperial legion- it's like Call of Cthulhu, as covered by Virgil! But wait! What if the charges are inaccurate, or don't tell the whole story- what if the cultists are healing the sick and injured without so much as a blood-spattered altar-cloth in sight?

Or, what if the cultists are making human sacrifices, but the sacrifices are willing- say, that of a condemned criminal in exchange for freeing their family from debt? Does that make it right? If not, why?

To look at the flip side of the equation, imagine a Gnostic heretic preaching to the Celtic tribes that their Deities represent the Archons of Ialdabaoth- the Demiurge, or Blind God- who in turn is servant to the True and Everlasting Lord... and that they actually start listening. Pretty soon, she's established a monastery and followers, and Roman ideas of trade, land ownership and government are following swiftly in her wake. The Druids, fearing the displacement of their monopoly on spiritual guidance, have called the players in to put a stop to this. -But what if she can work miracles? The heretic doesn't seem to be doing anything wrong, exactly, and, just maybe... some of her ideas sort of make sense?

The Sweeping Cataclysm
Here, the players are confronted with a very clear and unambiguous external adversary, as represented by The Other Side (Roman, Celt, or at least a prominent faction or two therein.) It's a straightforward military incursion, possibly involving a deliverable Magical McGuffin or Arch-Nemesis of some variety, and "The Fate of the World as We Know It is at Stake"- you know the drill pretty well.

Since the main enemy is so well defined, drama comes mainly from decisions on how best to fight that threat- some allies will be unwilling or reluctant to get involved- and even different PCs may diverge on optimal resistance strategies (a la, e.g, Boromir and Denethor,) with the BBEG serving principally as a metaphorical vice to squeeze the PCs into action and raise the stakes of conflict. It can work well enough with either side, though the Magical McGuffin might actually be more interesting if used by the Romans, with a rebel leader of unnerving tactical skill complementing the Celts. -just where are they getting their information from?

If short periods of violence followed by long stretches of decadence is your thing, charge your PCs with ensuring the safety of an important diplomat or official, and focus on the internecine squabbles between political or religious power blocs, with maybe the occasional assassination attempt to liven things up. It's also perfectly possible to mix in Celts here, as Renegade embassadors and/or Aois-Dána spies, all to to the accompaniment of sex, drugs, and terpsichords. Miniature versions could be played out within a chieftain's household or even at the Royal Court of Tara.

The real question here is, how far is the player willing to compromise their character's virtues for the sake of their goals? Because the cleverest villains cover their tracks too well for satisfying both to be easy, particularly when you sprinkle in some Histories. Will you beat out a confession, blackmail a witness, stab a man in the back, for the sake of the greater good? For different potential outcomes, think of The Godfather- the tale of a well-intentioned young man out to protect his father, or L.A. Confidential, and the self-assured, idealistic young Exley. You might consider one a more positive outcome than the other, but neither survives with their principles unscathed.

The Quest
As a general rule, Roman religious beliefs are primed to instigate conflict between prominent individuals and their associated political groups, while Celtic religious beliefs are primed to instigate emotional conflicts within a single individual with respect to their goals and commitments. The Celtic Deities don't quite directly tread on eachothers' turf in the same way different Philosophies do- each has their speciality and they don't directly clash. However making Covenants, made in desperation, are a way of committing players to dramatic promises they can't back out of, which, in turn, leads to further desperate gambles! Remember that Celtic Deities often have quite specific, concrete, conditions of power- related to places, times, and circumstances- that could be leveraged to rather dramatic effect. Make them awkward or costly for the player. Give them grief over those Covenants!

This could be another straightforward method of getting Celtic PCs into action- throwing off the yoke of Roman oppression! (This is basically The Enemy Within, but viewed from the other side's perspective.) Drama arises from dealing with defections and traitors within your own side, and the conflicted loyalties those can easily engender.

Taking a cue from previous examples, the Roman equivalent might be an attempt by missionaries to displace the barbaric Celtic practices of blood sacrifice and incessant tribal warfare with a system of monastic partnership and universal human brotherhood, (as embodied by their One True Faith.) 'Physical' conflicts might revolve around epic supernatural duels against the corrupt Druidic cabals who hold the true reins of power, and their abhorrent legions of otherworldly minions. Drama could stem from differences in which tribes side with the Druids and which with you- will your pacifism leave you powerless to aid your own, or even avert a massacre? Alternatively, drama might arise from having to walk a line between a religious and cultural message the people might be willing to embrace, and the political domination of Rome which they are not. Can you advance the one, stem the advance of the other, and yet remain loyal to both?

Civil War
There's no shortage of grounds for internal disagreement within either faction, as the death of any given Emperor is apt to spawn a half-dozen ambitious generals as successors to the throne, while the Celts are perfectly happy to fight like cats and dogs because... oh... it's Wednesday and raining. And when they do, the opposite civilisation will be more than happy to pitch in on one side or the other, sensing an opportunity and seizing the moment of weakness, and whoever receives their help does so knowing full well they'll be stabbed in the back the moment it's turned- but accepts it anyway, because, well, it beats the alternative.

Because EVERY side in this free-for-all is so obviously and cheerfully amoral, drama from the PCs' perspective mainly stems from trying to survive the fallout with their loyalties, dignities, principles, and loved ones intact- and your job, as GM, is make that extraordinarily difficult. Place husbands, sons and mothers on the opposite side of the fence, covertly or overtly, and watch the rift between them grow- unless you step over, or somehow pull them back. What can, and will, the PCs sacrifice to do so?

Politics notwithstanding, potential religious aspects to these altercations shouldn't be overlooked- what if religious Reformation struck a good millennium earlier than scheduled? What if followers of one of the pagan Deities, having gained too much power, found others deciding they could no longer quietly agree to disagree? Could Diancecht rub shoulders with The Badb indefinitely? Pelagians with the Imperium? What if such imbalance of power is itself the result of PCs' goals and choices during earlier adventures? Badass credentials aside, nobody said being heroes was easy.

Evolve or Die
The reason why I'm presenting all these ways in which to challenge or complicate the characters' moral perspectives is simple: If the player doesn't change their beliefs, then you have to go on challenging them, but harder. This is not a bad thing: Great tales of heroic sacrifice can be told this way, but bear in mind that this is in many ways a bloody and uncivilised age, and characters whose actions say, "I am willing to die for this belief", will sooner or later get exactly that: a glorious death. The trick is to make sure they accomplish some great object in the process, so that their death is as haunting, satisfactory and meaningful as possible, which means that pacing escalation here is crucial. Don't throw epic choices at them right out the door, but build up to them gradually, one step at a time- the player must be free to back down, right up to and until their character's last moments.

But backing down is ALSO dramatically satisfying! If there is nothing more worthy of respect than unwavering commitment, there is nothing more admirable than humility and readiness to learn- it's not a case of damned if you do, and damned if don't. From a dramatic perspective, tough choices are always win/win scenarios.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-24, 09:46 AM
Rules Addenda/Changes:
Divide 10 points between Stamina, Will, and Acuity. None can be greater than 5, or less than 2.

Pick 3 Drives (Histories, Goals, or Beliefs.) They can't all be of the same type.

Choose your Assets- Habits, Traits, Expertises and Resources. You may opt for:
5 Major, 5 Moderate, and 5 Minor Assets (Balanced,) OR
4 Major, 5 Moderate, and 7 Minor Assets (Learning,) OR
6 Major, 5 Moderate, and 2 Minor Assets (Extremist,) OR
4 Major, 7 Moderate, and 4 Minor Assets (Centred.)

All minor NPCs have stamina, will and acuity of 3 for any situations where it matters.

You can't use more than two Assets of a given type during a single Interest.

Using the same Asset more than once in a given Scene incurs a cumulative -2 penalty.

As a general rule, any significant situational disadvantage imposes a -1 penalty.

Interests oppose any contradictory Interests before or after that listing.

Sample PC: Marcus Cato the Younger (Roman, Equite, Cult of the Legion, Balanced)

Age 27, Man, firm muscular build, tall, booming voice
Stamina 4, Will 2, Acuity 4
Conscience 3

* Belief: "I serve the Emperor and respect my social superiors."
* History [hostile]: Livius Titianus, provincial governor, over perceived military incompetence
* Goal: "I will return to my family a decorated officer, moreso than my father."

Major Assets:
* Expertise: Sword
* Expertise: Riding
* Expertise: Encampment
* Resource: A Warhorse
* Resource: Arms: A gladius, and a stout, steel-bossed shield

Moderate Assets:
* Habit: "Keep out of woods and narrow passes where formations are useless."
* Expertise: Shield and Armour
* Expertise: Formation Fighting
* Resource: Social Status as a garisson commander
* Resource: Armour: a studded leather breastplate, helm, skirt and shinguards

Minor Assets:
* Trait: Great Strength and Stature (+1 to stamina based tests, -1 to stealth, agility, disguise)
* Expertise: Articles of Faith [Imperial]
* Resource: A Subordinate, Decius Brutus Cassius (a capable cavalry officer)
* Resource: A Military Entourage (a dozen legionaries or so)
* Resource: Part of the garrison of a fort outside Londinium
* Resource: Monthly salary as a legion officer

Sample PC: Constantia Antoninus (Roman, Patrician, Philosopher, Balanced)

Age 59, Woman, blue eyes, ramrod straight, dark hair (quickly greying)
Stamina 2, Will 5, Acuity 3
Favour [Belenus] 1
Conscience [Stoic] 1

* Goal: "My daughter must be healed of her mental condition."
* Goal: "I will find the Well of Uinneas, consecrated to Cybele, and she will drink deep from it's sacred waters."
* Belief: "The Goddess of Life, Cybele, is known to these barbarians as Belenus."

Major Assets:
* Trait: Woman
* Expertise: Rhetoric and Inquiry
* Expertise: Lore of Customs [Gallic]
* Resource: Social Status as a late senator's wife coming from an old family [Roman, Gaul]
* Resource: A Source of Income (inherited wealth and investments) [The Empire]
* Resource: A summer estate outside of Lugdunum

Moderate Assets:
* Trait: Advanced Age (-2 to stamina-based tests, +2 to will-based tests)
* Expertise: Articles of Faith [Stoic]
* Expertise: Intimidate
* Resource: Fine Vestments appropriate to a late senator's wife, and mark of station
* Resource: A Servant, Jocasta: maid-in-waiting, nurse to her daughter, and go-between

Minor Assets:
* Habit: "Partake in food and drink with due moderation."
* Trait: Dour and unlovely (+1 to social tests based on daunting, -1 to those based on persuasion)
* Expertise: The Rites and Mysteries of Cybele [Belenus]
* Resource: A Servant, Maximian: baggage-handler, bravo and bodyguard
* Resource: Some Slaves [Hard Labour], back at the estate (perhaps a dozen)

Scene Example: Ambush

Marcus is escorting Constantia's caravan through the forested region en route to a western fort, where she hopes to gain information on the well.

The GM announces:
Here, the party is going to be attacked by a party of Celtic warriors lying in ambush. They're being ordered in by an NPC who's watching the battle from nearby. Her relevant Aspects are as follows:

Will 4, Acuity 4, Stamina 3
Moderate Resource: Miltary Entourage (40 or 50 Celtic warriors, armed for melee.)
Minor Expertise: Tactician
Major Expertise: Geography[South Britannia]

First Interest: My men must be hidden in the forests to either side without engaging the party beforehand. (Acuity + Will, Tactician, bonus for Geography, -6 for difficulty, total +5)
Second Interest: They must take the party by surprise as they're crossing the ford. (Acuity + Will of entourage (3 + 3), Tactician, bonus for Geography, penalty for repitition, total +7)
Third Interest: I want to kill this noble's entourage and take who they're guarding prisoner. (Stamina + Will of entourage (3 + 3), Military Entourage, -2 for difficulty, total +6)

Marcus' player declares the following:
First Interest: Stay on the lookout for native attacks. (Acuity + Will, Military Entourage, Habit (keep out of woods), total +9)
Second Interest: If attacked, make sure my men keep formation and form a line. (Acuity + Will, Formation Fighting, bonus for Encampment, bonus for attributes (booming voice), -4 for difficulty, total +6)
Third Interest: If pressed, ride in from the flanks with Marcus and try to rout the enemy. (Stamina + Acuity, Riding, Subordinate (Marcus), Sword, Arms, -12 for difficulty, total +6)

And Constantia's player declares:
First Interest: Pray for a safe passage to the fort (basically, a minor miracle.) (Will, Conscience [Stoic], Luck bid (3), Advanced Age, -5 for unlikelihood, total +6)
Second Interest: If attacked, look to my daughter's safety- keep her hid with Jocasta. She must not be taken from me. (Will + Acuity, Servant (Jocasta), -4 for difficulty, total +6)
Third Interest: If about to be captured or killed, use my knowledge of these savages' language and customs to sue for truce, make my status clear, and point out killing us would thus be most inadvisable. I, my companions and bodyguards could be ransomed for a healthy sum. (Will + Acuity, Intimidate, Fine Vestments, Social Status (penalty for region and faction,) Dour and unlovely, Lore of Customs [Gallic] (penalty for region), -8 for difficulty, total +8)

The NPC's First Interest goes up against Marcus' and Constantia's First Interests, 11 vs. 9 + 6, and gets two successes, for Weight of 22.

Constantia's First Interest is praying for a general 'safe passage', which opposes the GM's entire intent, so she's basically calling for a single Interest in opposition to ALL the GM's own. The test is 6 vs 11 + 7 + 8, and gets one success, for Weight of 6.

Marcus' First Interest contradicts the NPC's First and Second Interests, 9 vs. 11 + 7, and gets one success, for Weight of 11.

The NPC's First Interest is instated. Her men are hidden in the forests near the ford, ready to ambush, and are not spotted.

The NPC's Second Interest goes up against and Marcus' and Constantia's First Interests, 7 vs. 9 + 6, and gains 1 bonus success from her successfully instated First Interest. She gets 2 extra succeses, for Weight of 21.

Constantia's Second Interest isn't directly opposed by anyone, but has a static difficulty of 4. She gets 1 success, which permits automatic instatement. (If her daughter comes up later in the scene, however, she'll get a bonus success during resolution.)

Marcus' Second Interest isn't directly opposed by anyone, but has a static difficulty of 4. He gets 2 successes, for automatic instatement.

The NPC's, Marcus' and Constantia's Second Interests are instated. The celts take the caravan by surprise, but Marcus manages to get and keep them in line, and Constantia keeps her daughter out of sight.

The NPC's Third Interest goes up against Constantia's First and Third Interests, and Marcus' Third, 6 vs. 6 + 8 + 6, with a bonus success for suprise, and gets one extra success, for Weight of 12.

Constantia's Third Interest goes up against the NPC's Third, for 8 vs. 8, and gets two successes, for Weight of 16.

Marcus' Third Interest goes up against the NPC's Third, with a bonus success for getting his men in formation, 6 vs. 6, and gets one extra success, for Weight of 12.

There's a tie between the NPC's and Marcus's Interests, resolved in favour of the NPC- However, Constantia's Third Interest has the higher Weight, and overrides both.

Constantia's Third Interest is instated. The fighting is going badly against Marcus' men, but Constantia manages to intervene between each group and force an accord before everyone else is killed. The GM decides that should wrap up the scene for now.

Constantia's player and the GM both had 2 Interests instated, and the tie goes to the former. Constantia's player must narrate the scene, ideally while incorporating full description of each instated Interest.

The NPC had 4 failures from contested Interests, so temporarily disabling a Resource seems appropriate. Her Military Entourage has been decimated and demoralised, and won't be available for immediate use (given they're awaiting payment for the ransom.)

Constantia had 5 failures from contested Interests, so, a penalty to one of her Major Assets seems appropriate, along with another, Minor Condition: Her Source of Income will be badly depleted by the ransom payment (-2 penalty,) and she's shaken by her experience and concern for her daughter (-1 to further social tests.)

Marcus had 5 failures from contested Interests, and the intent was to kill him, so a serious injury seems in order: -3 to all stamina-based tests (excepting those for recovery,) and he's bedridden.

The GM hasn't introduced all the NPC's Assets, so the character can't earn experience yet.

Constantia's player had 5 failures for an experience test of 15 vs. 33 (the sum of her Assets.) She gets 1 success, and decides that boosting Intimidate to Major makes fair sense.

Marcus's player had 5 failures for an experience tests of 15 vs. 31 (the sum of his Assets.) He doesn't gain any successes, though- and so, doesn't learn anything useful.

Marcus's player is probably going to want a recovery scene to get him back on his feet, possibly with help from Decius and Jocasta applying bandages, etc. They're currently captured, so he may also want to plan and prepare some form of escape in case the ransom doesn't work out.

The GM is going to have the NPC try to meet with Constantia, and propose a bargain with her. A nearby Roman settlement is desecrating a river sacred to Boann (not to mention being of strategic value,) and if Constantia will aid the Celts in destroying it (by somehow opening the gates of the city via bribery, persuasion, hired muscle, whatever it takes) the NPC will permit Constantia's daughter access to the Well of Uinneas. Her odds of getting there otherwise are slim.

To be honest, I'm fudging the modifiers here more than I'm entirely comfortable with (particularly with respect to how each party's Military Entourage would weigh into things,) but it should give some idea of how to work out a short scene. I'll see if I can include some sample narration later...

Samurai Jill
2009-09-24, 09:51 AM
Y'all can post now. I'll try to get some sample PCs and scenes up over the next day or two (or three.)

The original design draft may be found here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=125350).

For inspiration, I'm sure there are dozens of online resources relating to early Celtic Deities and dress, and ancient Roman lifestyles are more than adequately documented. I'll just mention some particular sources I found interesting: Firstly, the excellent indie CRPG, Nethergate (http://www.spidweb.com/nethergateres/index.html). ...And the crappy film from a few years back, King Arthur. This was one of those films that had occasional flashes of coherence which let me see the film they were trying to make, and permitted me to grudgingly like that film despite everything but those flashes being flat or tiresome. I can't in conscience recommend seeing it, but if you want to look up some snapshots, you might get a rough idea of the aesthetic and underlying themes I had in mind. (Also, Jim Fitzpatrick (http://www.jimfitzpatrick.ie/gallery/index.html) might be worth a gander.)

But again, I would stress that my own research here has been pretty superficial, thrown together with a lot of outright invention, and I'm sure that someone with a genuine historical knowledge of the period(s) could conceive many improvements. Whatever suits your group.

Samurai Jill
2009-09-25, 02:27 PM
I've added two sample PCs to the third post (if it's of any interest.) Please Evaluate And Criticise Honestly.

After some experimentation, I've come to the conclusion that character creation needs to be a little more generous, so I'll be posting the precise changes later. Anyways, let me know what you think...

Samurai Jill
2009-09-27, 09:44 AM
There's a full example of simple scene resolution above (excepting narration,) which I hope will communicate the overall procedure used. And... that's about it, for now. I'll try to update the original rules summary at some point.