PDA

View Full Version : Best system for a Roman campaign?



Yahya
2013-04-09, 07:33 PM
Hey guys,

My group and I are interested in playing a campaign set in the Roman Empire, and we're trying to decide on a system. We've played a lot of Pathfinder/3.5, and recently we've taken a liking to D&D Next.

However, one aspect of the Roman campaign could potentially be commanding troops in battle, which neither systems are particularly equipped for (we played Kingmaker, and we know about the PF rules for mass combat, and while we thought they worked fine there, we don't really want to base a campaign around them).

Right now, we're thinking about the Song of Ice and Fire RPG, which has decent looking rules for both solo play and troop play, but we're not sure. Do you guys have any suggestions?

Another aspect that we're looking for is rules for creating new settlements, which non of the systems (besides perhaps Pathfinder) really support.

What do you guys think? Thanks in advance!

fusilier
2013-04-09, 07:42 PM
There's always GURPS --

http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/imperialrome/

I know 3rd edition had various rules for mass combat -- I think most of them were consolidated in Compendium II. (I think GURPS Napoleon also had some rules on how to handle individuals in mass combat) But I'm not sure if your group would like GURPS.

I vaguely remember that D&D 2nd edition had rules for mass combat (of course D&D is ultimately derived from a wargame).

Chainsaw Hobbit
2013-04-09, 08:09 PM
FATE Core (currently in beta) is very good. The rules are simple, flexible, and internally consistent. Conflict resolution is rather abstract. A character's place in the world, their ties, their emotions, and their personality make as much mechanical difference as their abilities and skills. It lends itself best to plot-heavy games.

Another good option would be BRP (Basic RolePlaying). BRP is a universal system that is quite flexible, usues a percentile mechanic, and has a good Rome supplement. It lends itself best to gritty games with a focus on realism.

137ben
2013-04-09, 10:16 PM
If you are comfortable with 3.5/PF, Heroes of Battle works fine. Either that or GURPS, honestly.

Rhynn
2013-04-10, 01:04 AM
Chaosium's Basic Roleplaying has a BRP: Rome supplement - system and sourcebook synergy. Of course, the same is true of GURPS and GURPS: Rome, but BRP is simpler. You could also use the BRP supplement with any editoon of RuneQuest very easily (and there's Cthulhu Invictus, CoC set in Rome; I think it's actually a much better Roman RP sourcebook than it is at integrating the Mythos into ancient society, which it does pretty much not at all).

I'd pretty much go with BRP or some edition of RuneQuest (RuneQuest 6 is the latest, in production and on sale, but RuneQuest 3 - the Avalon Hill edition - is a classic and more than capable of the job, and synergises VERY well with BRP Rome).

GURPS has/had mass combat rules in the Compendium II.

The Riddle of Steel can't be beat for ancient close combat rules, and has mass combat rules in The Flower of Battle supplement, but it's very hard to obtain.

Also, if you want to use a d20 game, you can adapt the Open Mass Combat (http://www.scribd.com/doc/7851118/d20-Open-Mass-Combat-System-) (Scribd.com link) rules or Mongoose's Conan d20 Mass Combat (www.mongoosepublishing.com/pdf/conanmasscombat.pdf) (direct PDF download link from mongoosepublishing.com) rules.

Edit: Also also, any edition of AD&D from 2E back (or see retroclones in my sig), and the 1E Battlesystem rules (not 2E!).

Killer Angel
2013-04-10, 02:15 AM
Once (1993) there was Lex Arcana (http://www.gdrplayers.it/gdr/lex-arcana/), which would be perfect, at least for the setting, but afaik (sadly), it's only in italian, and anyway, I don't think it covers mass battles.

Ashtagon
2013-04-10, 03:50 AM
Dark Dungeons (BECMI retro-clone) has rules for commanding armies. So far, it's the best D&D-based system for mass combat I've seen. You could probbaly adapt that mass combat system into a 3.x game quite easily if you are fixed on 3.x.

Green Ronin's Testament has army rules (expanded in their Trojan War book), and also has Eternal Rome for Roman era games. These are all part of their Mythic Vistas series.

GURPS has everything of course.

Heroes of Battle (3.5e) has army rules, but treats the army abstractly, with battles determined solely by PC actions. A bit weird really, and doesn't allow for determining battles where PCs are off-camera.

Mark Hall
2013-04-10, 10:09 AM
Way more work than I would be willing to do, but I think you could make an AWESOME Republican Rome game out of L5R. Differing houses and factions, different schools of training. Lots to work with, there, but it would require a fair bit of work to strip out the pseudo-Japan and make it into Rome.

Ars Magica might make an interesting system, especially since the creation of a community (a covenant) is a central part of the game. The 4th edition is quite playable and available for free (http://www.atlas-games.com/product_tables/AG0204.php)... if nothing else, you can rip the covenant rules out of there for inspiration.

However, if you can get a hold of them, I think a combination of AD&D's Birthright campaign setting (which has rules for owning and running domains, including different people owning multiple types of power within a single holding) and Glory of Rome (for background information) would serve you well.

runeghost
2013-04-10, 11:02 AM
Some of the suggestions have been good. I particularly like the idea of L5R-Rome, but it would be a lot of work. For something that you can play out of the box AND that has game-relevant but not too complex rules for mass combat, you want GURPS.

GURPS Imperial Rome (http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/imperialrome/) and, GURPS Mass Combat (http://www.sjgames.com/gurps/books/masscombat/) should take care of it. (Plus the two core books.)

BWR
2013-04-10, 12:57 PM
AD&D 2E Historical Reference series: Glory of Rome? :smalltongue:

Mark Hall
2013-04-10, 01:03 PM
AD&D 2E Historical Reference series: Glory of Rome? :smalltongue:

I am the time-traveling ninja of three hours ago. :javelinpose: :smallbiggrin:

Yahya
2013-04-10, 04:11 PM
Wow, thanks a bunch guys, this is great stuff! Looks like I've got some reading to do! :smallsmile:

Rhynn, fantastic signature by the way, really helpful!

While I think about a system, what do you guys think about an interesting direction to go for a campaign? Here's some of the things we've been thinking about:

Gladiatorial based game
Exploring outside of the Roman Empire
Creating, defending, and running a new settlement

Also, for that matter, what period of Roman history would you guys go to for the most flexibility?

Thanks so much!

Mark Hall
2013-04-10, 09:31 PM
Well, there's a lot of options, but what period you go with would really depend on your campaign type.

For example, I think a Gladatorial game would be more interesting in the Mid-Empire... more or less contemporary with the movie Gladiator. OTOH, you could have fun with a bait and switch... let them play Gladiators at the school of one Lentulus Batiatus, and have things unfold from there.

For the exploration and creation of a new settlement, I think the most interesting would be near in time to the Gallic Wars. They're either scouting Germania and Gaul for Caesar, trying to establish a Roman colony. Maybe up in Britannia, or as Romano-Britons during the Anglo-Saxon invasion.

In case you haven't figured it out, I've got a preference. ;-)

Razorstorm
2013-04-14, 10:06 PM
I'd also throw in Savage Worlds for consideration. Very similar to GURPS in many ways, but with lighter, faster rules.

Chainsaw Hobbit
2013-04-15, 12:06 PM
I'd also throw in Savage Worlds for consideration. Very similar to GURPS in many ways, but with lighter, faster rules.

And a focus on miniatures combat. And much less regard for realism.

Anxe
2013-04-17, 01:23 AM
I can't speak for what does work, but my group tried it with D&D3.5 and it failed for us. It may not for you, but if I tried it again I'd use a different system.

Kilbourne
2013-04-17, 03:21 AM
If you want to go ultra-realistic with the combat and wounds, I'll recommend Riddle of Steel and its fan-supplement, Flower of Battle. No longer in active print, you can probably find it somewhere online, likely through a resource from /tg/.

It's very gritty, very deadly, and has advancement based on acting on one's goals and beliefs, not killing things. Check it out!

OzzyKP
2013-06-05, 08:56 PM
Wow, thanks a bunch guys, this is great stuff! Looks like I've got some reading to do! :smallsmile:

Rhynn, fantastic signature by the way, really helpful!

While I think about a system, what do you guys think about an interesting direction to go for a campaign? Here's some of the things we've been thinking about:

Gladiatorial based game
Exploring outside of the Roman Empire
Creating, defending, and running a new settlement

Also, for that matter, what period of Roman history would you guys go to for the most flexibility?

Thanks so much!

I tried to get a Rome game going back in September. I think we had a really good concept for the game, but the DM flaked out on us and the game fell apart.

Feel free to use any ideas from here:
http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=256168

The game used Gnorman's E6 and started the night of the fire in Rome under Nero. It was a pretty great time to begin a game, the Christian persecution was about to begin, you've got Nero there as a great villain, and all sorts of other stuff was happening in the empire.

Water_Bear
2013-06-05, 09:34 PM
There's a really awesome system out right now called Adventurer Conqueror King (http://www.autarch.co/), which I would say fits this idea perfectly.

It's based on the old B/X D&D, but with a bit of an upgrade to fit modern sensibilities (no THAC0, spontaneous prepared casting, shorter combat rounds, etc). There are two main draws of this game; it is supremely well researched from weapons to economics with a tremendous fidelity, and it focuses heavily on the progression of characters from low-rank Adventurers into army-leading Conquers (and eventually Kings with their own realms). The fact that it explicitly sets out to emulate the Classical world is a particular advantage to your game.

In terms of which era of Roman history to base it on, I would suggest the Dominate rather than the Principate or Republic, maybe even as far as the Empire in the East after the fall of Rome if you don't mind giving up the paganism. While the earlier eras had a lot more conquest the later Empire didn't lack for war, and in my opinion the politics are much more interesting. Especially if you go near Aurelius, when the Empire had it's last real chance to regain it's glory, you can't go wrong in my judgement.

Razanir
2013-06-06, 08:29 AM
I'm not sure how well it would work at all for troop combat, but Mazes & Minotaurs (http://mazesandminotaurs.free.fr/revised.html) could probably be refluffed for Rome instead of Greece

neonchameleon
2013-06-06, 09:27 AM
Hey guys,

My group and I are interested in playing a campaign set in the Roman Empire, and we're trying to decide on a system. We've played a lot of Pathfinder/3.5, and recently we've taken a liking to D&D Next.

However, one aspect of the Roman campaign could potentially be commanding troops in battle, which neither systems are particularly equipped for (we played Kingmaker, and we know about the PF rules for mass combat, and while we thought they worked fine there, we don't really want to base a campaign around them).

Right now, we're thinking about the Song of Ice and Fire RPG, which has decent looking rules for both solo play and troop play, but we're not sure. Do you guys have any suggestions?

Another aspect that we're looking for is rules for creating new settlements, which non of the systems (besides perhaps Pathfinder) really support.

What do you guys think? Thanks in advance!

OK. Some basic questions (although I'd recommend getting the GURPS Rome book for background whatever you decide).

What relationship do you like with the rules?
1: We like running freeform, and pick the dice up to break disputes. Entire sessions go by without a dice.
2: The rules are a good narrative guide.
3: The rules are how the gameworld works and we want to simulate as much as possible about that world.
4: The rules inspire us to describe more and get more interesting results than not having them.

How much control should the players have over the external world?
1: Player control stops cold at the limits of their character. This is part of what makes the game both fair and a challenge, and it helps create immersion as they are continually in actor stance.
2: The channels of communication are imperfect. To make up for this PCs should be able to establish things in the gameworld that fit with their character.
3: It's our world. The players' as much as mine. And the more they set the more investment they will have.

How crunchy do you like? 1-5 where 1 is 3:16 where you only have two stats (For Attacking and Not For Attacking), and Pathfinder's about a 4.

How gritty do you want things to be? 1-5 where 1 is "Can die at any second to a stray arrow" and 5 is "Death? We're the heroes and always win."

And what are the themes of the campaign?
1: Band of ne'er do wells living as troubleshooters and hired muscle. The PCs are for the most part allied.
2: Border raiders (either side of the border). The PCs are the local leaders and the tension between their goals is a driving factor.
3: Politics in the heart of Rome (or Byzantium), raising street gangs, buying senators, becoming Tribune or Consul, and attempting to become First Man In Rome or Emperor of Constantinople. One PC will succeed and their allies will be rewarded. But all of them ultimately want the prize.
4: Legionaries and centurions working together.
5: Something else I haven't listed.

Rome is a backdrop - it covered a large area and a long period of time, and I need to know more about what type of game you want to play before I can recommend something.

Twilight Jack
2013-06-06, 01:16 PM
I'm going to second Water Bear's suggestion of the Adventurer Conqueror King System, with the added suggestion that you talk to a user on these boards named Kiero (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/member.php?u=23123), who has already adapted the particulars of ACKS for use in a historical Classical Greek setting. If you can use the work he's already done to recreate Ancient Greece, you should have no trouble putting together a Roman scenario.