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    Default Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    I'm interested in building a world for my next game similar to the time of ancient Rome at the height of its power. While each region will have a mixture of the standard D&D races, I decided I didn't want the major empire to be human lead (in fact the PCs will be starting among the northern "barbarians"). My original idea placed Dwarves and Gnomes as the proto-empire, who were absorbed into the current empire. But then I decided if I was going to set this in a pre-medieval world, it might be interesting to use it as a time before humans were the dominant power, as D&D tends to assume. I'm currently considering who should primarily rule in the current empire, and would like some ideas as to what race most easily fits into the role. The dwarves were my first idea for being regimented and close to the gnomes, who could remain sort of the previous city-state empire.

    TL;DR: Which non-human race should rule the Romanesque empire?
    Last edited by Luccan; 2017-11-28 at 04:34 PM.

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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    hobgoblins are rome. elves are Persia. dwarves or humans Vikings.

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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    The Dwarves are a perfect choice for a Roman type Empire. Orcs are another really good option. I'd like to quote hobby historian Dan Carlin on Rome; "Rome is this weird human experiment on a society of rabid ambition. Every action and cultural norm was designed to foster and increase ambition, to pit people against each other for the growth of Rome." Dwarves fit this when you take into account the usual familial honor and reverence. They'll also ignore the consequences for greater wealth and prestige. Orcs, on the other hand, have that same level of self-canibalization as the Romans did. The important note is to have the Orcs canibalize the weak aspects, which then allows their empire to grow unrestrained by them.

    However, I would state you should start by looking into Roman history if you really want to use them as your basis.

    A couple of other suggestions for different, but hopefully interesting kinds of empires;
    • Elves - Usually relegated to tree loving hippies because of their long lives, I think it would be interesting to see a world where their population growth rate is a bit higher. This would cause populations to grow really big over time, and thus you'd see a lot of infighting as it becomes harder to progress within your mastery because of that 700yo mother fudger. This means colonization and new settlements become more usual. Include some extra aggression instead of their infinite patience and you've got a nest primed for the internal conflict to drive an empire.
    • Aasimar/Tieflings - Holy Gate/Hell Mouth allows a population of angels/devils/demons to settle in the material plane. They're simply better in every way. You'd get a three tiered situation in the resulting empire; Master Class (Angels/Devils/Demons), Citizen Class (Half-breeds/descendant populations), Filthy Mortal Pleb Class (everyone not rleated to hte Master class). Due to their immortality, you'd have a strongly autocratic empire and can have this racial division as a driving conflict in either the empires expansion or its fall, since not everyone can have this divine/unholy blood.

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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    Interesting that you specify which race should RULE the empire rather than which race should the empire consist of.

    Here are a few possibilities.

    1. A world similar to the Arcanis setting. The empire is ruled by the descendants of the gods (or demons). You could steal the Val races from Arcanis wholesale or use half Celestial or half fiend for the rulers of the empire while the lesser members of the houses are tieflings or Aasimar. The bulk of the ruled population could be standard humans in this case.

    2. The rulers of the empire are half-elves who preserved some of the magic of their elven ancestors who grew decadent and fell to barbarians in the long past. Again, much of the bulk of the population are humans.

    3. The rulers of the empire are elves--the last archmages and scions of a decadent race. The bulk of the population are half-elves with pure humans in the more recently conquered provinces (the recently conquered barbarians) and a smattering of half-fiends, tieflings, etc among the houses with more decadent tastes.

    4. The rulers and the empire itself are both hobgoblins.

    5. The rulers of the empire are dwarves as are the citizens and the population of it's oldest and most leading cities, however there are humans and half-elves among the distant provinces (recently conquered barbarians) and there are half fiend and tiefling dwarves. You could say that this is before dwarves and duergar became separate races so there are some houses of dwarves who traffic with friends and have some of the powers associated with duergar but they are not yet socially distinct from the rest of the dwarves.

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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    I vote for halflings, partly to play against type. Instead of cozy, sometimes sneaky stay-at-homes you have a highly mercantile, expansionist nation which professionalized its armed forces to make up for their physical shortcomings. The discipline and order of the halflings makes them more than a match for the disorganized rabble of the Big Folk, and once they have established control of an area they incorporate the locals as shock-troop auxiliaries where that role is needed. Any individual who thinks that their size will help them in lawbreaking soon discovers that the Empire’s justice is swift and merciless and starts with ‘overwhelming force’ before working its way up from there.

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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    All Roads Lead to Gnome.

    I for one support the Gnoman Empire.

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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrguymiah View Post
    The Dwarves are a perfect choice for a Roman type Empire. Orcs are another really good option. I'd like to quote hobby historian Dan Carlin on Rome; "Rome is this weird human experiment on a society of rabid ambition. Every action and cultural norm was designed to foster and increase ambition, to pit people against each other for the growth of Rome." Dwarves fit this when you take into account the usual familial honor and reverence. They'll also ignore the consequences for greater wealth and prestige. Orcs, on the other hand, have that same level of self-canibalization as the Romans did. The important note is to have the Orcs canibalize the weak aspects, which then allows their empire to grow unrestrained by them.

    However, I would state you should start by looking into Roman history if you really want to use them as your basis.
    You've perfectly described why I thought Dwarves might be a good fit. I've decided to stay away from any of the -Int races if I'm going to pull from historical peoples, but you have a good point about how Orcs are described can fit with the Roman basis.

    I'm definitely going to brush up on my history in building this game. I address a couple of your suggestions below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elder_Basilisk View Post
    Interesting that you specify which race should RULE the empire rather than which race should the empire consist of.
    Well, I want the empire to be integrated, but with a clear ruling class that would in essence be the born citizens of the empire. Plus, human empires in fantasy rpgs tend to be somewhat inclusive to non-humans (to a varying degree, but particularly in D&D), so I don't see why a large empire lead by non-humans couldn't be. I've been considering a half-dwarf player race anyway, so it could be humans in particular are still present due to their ability to mingle with dwarves. The other races are their because, well, the empire had no reason nor desire to completely drive them out or attempt to get rid of them. As long as they pay their taxes and don't step out of line, it isn't really a problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Elder_Basilisk View Post
    Here are a few possibilities.

    1. A world similar to the Arcanis setting. The empire is ruled by the descendants of the gods (or demons). You could steal the Val races from Arcanis wholesale or use half Celestial or half fiend for the rulers of the empire while the lesser members of the houses are tieflings or Aasimar. The bulk of the ruled population could be standard humans in this case.

    2. The rulers of the empire are half-elves who preserved some of the magic of their elven ancestors who grew decadent and fell to barbarians in the long past. Again, much of the bulk of the population are humans.

    3. The rulers of the empire are elves--the last archmages and scions of a decadent race. The bulk of the population are half-elves with pure humans in the more recently conquered provinces (the recently conquered barbarians) and a smattering of half-fiends, tieflings, etc among the houses with more decadent tastes.

    4. The rulers and the empire itself are both hobgoblins.

    5. The rulers of the empire are dwarves as are the citizens and the population of it's oldest and most leading cities, however there are humans and half-elves among the distant provinces (recently conquered barbarians) and there are half fiend and tiefling dwarves. You could say that this is before dwarves and duergar became separate races so there are some houses of dwarves who traffic with friends and have some of the powers associated with duergar but they are not yet socially distinct from the rest of the dwarves.
    1. Interesting idea, but I'm not sure I want to use a sort of "descended from gods" angle for the main empire. A rival nation might work with that though. Similar to mrguymiah's suggestion, I think I'd keep from the pure celestials/demons/devils in this case, simply because immortal, naturally powerful beings would simply not have room for other empires.

    2. I like this idea and using an improved half-elf (I like to give a Charima bonus), I could see a sort of Sorcerer ruling class. I'll definitely save the idea for later.

    3. You and mrguymiah have some similar ideas, I've noticed. I like that both of you suggest playing against the elven stereotypes. I'm thinking of using desert elves for the big elvish nations, but using these ideas you've both proposed could be integrated here or as the main empire if the elves are the rulers.

    4. A similar suggestion to daremetoidareyo. I've always found using hobgoblins as a big nation weird. They make the most sense, but it leaves the question of the other goblinoids

    5. I like the idea of the duergar still being in the empire. I could easily use them for conflict within the empire and their natural powers make them difficult to control, so even when they cause problems none of the disparate houses are willing to do much about it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    All Roads Lead to Gnome.

    I for one support the Gnoman Empire.
    Haha, yes! Can I sig this?

    I like gnomes a lot myself, perhaps they can have a more independent city-state somewhere.

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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    Quote Originally Posted by Luccan View Post
    Haha, yes! Can I sig this?

    I like gnomes a lot myself, perhaps they can have a more independent city-state somewhere.
    Of course.

    In defense of the Holy Gnoman Empire ("Ave Imperignome!"), the gnomes were obviously the origin of gnocchi and fagnioli.

    The glory of the city of Gnome would be enhanced greatly by permanent image spells; gladiatorial matches against shadow conjurations within hallucinatory terrain would be all the more spectacular.

    The slaves wear collars of disguise self to appear more attractive... and to hide the overt signs of abuse & privation.


    Steal tropes from the 1920s and call it the Gilded Age, since most of the gold shining from Gnome is an illusion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    Of course.

    In defense of the Holy Gnoman Empire ("Ave Imperignome!"), the gnomes were obviously the origin of gnocchi and fagnioli.

    The glory of the city of Gnome would be enhanced greatly by permanent image spells; gladiatorial matches against shadow conjurations within hallucinatory terrain would be all the more spectacular.

    The slaves wear collars of disguise self to appear more attractive... and to hide the overt signs of abuse & privation.


    Steal tropes from the 1920s and call it the Gilded Age, since most of the gold shining from Gnome is an illusion.
    I've always liked the idea of gnomes having a nation running on illusions. This would be a great way to subvert expectations of players; gnomes are always the friendly little guys that live in small towns and never bother anyone (except with their incessant chatter). Having their primary nation be essentially one big lie would be great, especially if the gnomes who live outside of it are actually friendly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daremetoidareyo View Post
    hobgoblins are rome. elves are Persia. dwarves or humans Vikings.
    What a coincidence! My hobs are romans too! Elves are... what isolationist cultures have we had anyway? Humans are barbarians and vikings, and dwarves are kinda based on ASoIaF.

    @Luccan:
    I actually made the lowly generic goblins a slave race to the hobs and bugbears. Most hobs view it as a favor to the lowly goblins and bugs simply consider them inferior. It gives the whole region an interesting dynamic very similar to ancient Rome.
    Last edited by martixy; 2017-11-28 at 05:46 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by martixy View Post
    What a coincidence! My hobs are romans too! Elves are... what isolationist cultures have we had anyway?
    China & Japan (at different points).

    Switzerland.

    Those tribes in the Amazon who shoot arrows at anthropologists and planes and drones and...

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    Quote Originally Posted by martixy View Post
    and dwarves are kinda based on ASoIaF.
    So they are snarky Nobles that drink too much and get abducted" a lot?


    More serious: I can see Hobgoblins as Rome, but the Gnoman Empire made my evening. Hilarious!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    The glory of the city of Gnome would be enhanced greatly by permanent image spells; gladiatorial matches against shadow conjurations within hallucinatory terrain would be all the more spectacular.

    The slaves wear collars of disguise self to appear more attractive... and to hide the overt signs of abuse & privation.


    Steal tropes from the 1920s and call it the Gilded Age, since most of the gold shining from Gnome is an illusion.
    Quote Originally Posted by Luccan View Post
    I've always liked the idea of gnomes having a nation running on illusions. This would be a great way to subvert expectations of players; gnomes are always the friendly little guys that live in small towns and never bother anyone (except with their incessant chatter). Having their primary nation be essentially one big lie would be great, especially if the gnomes who live outside of it are actually friendly.
    Reminds me of the Emerald City from the original Wizard of Oz. The outside is green, but they force everyone inside to put on unremovable green glasses "to protect their eyes". Dorothy gets a lovely green dress there, but when she departs to continue her journey finds that its brilliance has "faded" and is now simply white.

    It's actually some pretty subtle foreshadowing for how the Wizard turns out to be a con man in the end.
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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    The Egyptian or Japanese empires should be the aasimar-led ones. Both were historically led by emperors claimed to be divine, particularly the Egyptian mythos, which is replete with animal-headed deities.

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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    Quote Originally Posted by Luccan View Post
    4. A similar suggestion to daremetoidareyo. I've always found using hobgoblins as a big nation weird. They make the most sense, but it leaves the question of the other goblinoids.
    My goblinoids are former slaves selectively breed over generations by an old/fallen empire. The goblin value freedom, both personal and as a group. They currently structure themselves eusocially and have a strongly utilitarian philosophy.

    Bugbears are dark brown and are raw resources producers, goblins are green and are manufacturers, bhuka are tan and are diplomats, hobgoblins are orange and are soldiers, blue are blue and are burocrats, varag are yellow and are messengers, xvil are purple and are scouts/spies/assassins... (Goblins are color coded for your convenience)

    The goblinoid have researched reincarnation magic that allows them to reincarnate a creature as a specific type of goblin. For them it is a great honor to grant goblinkind to an humanoid not born as a goblin. They also use this if someones role doesnt fit his race in goblin society.
    Thanks a lot Gengy for the awesome... just a sec... avatar. :)

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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    Another idea would be to have Greek Elves. Their fantasy alignments are the same and their culture would certainly being the effete masters of science and philosophy.

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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    Quote Originally Posted by thethird View Post
    My goblinoids are former slaves selectively breed over generations by an old/fallen empire. The goblin value freedom, both personal and as a group. They currently structure themselves eusocially and have a strongly utilitarian philosophy.

    Bugbears are dark brown and are raw resources producers, goblins are green and are manufacturers, bhuka are tan and are diplomats, hobgoblins are orange and are soldiers, blue are blue and are burocrats, varag are yellow and are messengers, xvil are purple and are scouts/spies/assassins... (Goblins are color coded for your convenience)

    The goblinoid have researched reincarnation magic that allows them to reincarnate a creature as a specific type of goblin. For them it is a great honor to grant goblinkind to an humanoid not born as a goblin. They also use this if someones role doesnt fit his race in goblin society.
    Scary, and interesting, approach.

    I like it.
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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    I second Dwarves or Hobgoblins. Dwarves already fight like Romans (tight shield walls and dislike of cavalry) but the Hobgoblins have the mentality for it (rampant ambition, tight hierarchy that can be climbed through killing the opposition)
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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    I had the idea once of having Elves being counterparts to two types of people in a roman styled world*. First they would be various celtic cultures, many would have integrated into the Empire but in the northern parts of Britain their are the Pictish elves and other celtic cultures pushed to the edge of the world. The second is they would be fitted into various isolated/not well understood cultures because they could then be mysterious and not limited to one area. So they would be Basque and maybe the Etruscans.

    *Roman history with fantasy peoples.
    Last edited by Grytorm; 2017-11-28 at 07:58 PM.

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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    In regards to a Celestial/Infernal empire not allowing competition, the idea for such a campaign could be around the mortal races throwing off those shackles in favor of self determination. Run what you will, just throwing it out there.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
    Of course.

    In defense of the Holy Gnoman Empire ("Ave Imperignome!"), the gnomes were obviously the origin of gnocchi and fagnioli.

    The glory of the city of Gnome would be enhanced greatly by permanent image spells; gladiatorial matches against shadow conjurations within hallucinatory terrain would be all the more spectacular.

    The slaves wear collars of disguise self to appear more attractive... and to hide the overt signs of abuse & privation.


    Steal tropes from the 1920s and call it the Gilded Age, since most of the gold shining from Gnome is an illusion.
    NOT HOLY
    NOT ROMAN
    NOT EMPIRE

    In all seriousness, the HRE was _terrible_.

    Quote Originally Posted by Caelestion View Post
    Another idea would be to have Greek Elves. Their fantasy alignments are the same and their culture would certainly being the effete masters of science and philosophy.
    I second this idea. My buddy, Teddy "the Greek", told me there's a saying in Greece, "The Romans conquered Greece with arms, the Greeks conquered the Romans with culture." The Elves, long lived and generally focused on artistic pursuits, make great sense for the Greek equivalent.
    Last edited by mrguymiah; 2017-11-28 at 08:08 PM.

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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    Quote Originally Posted by mrguymiah View Post
    NOT HOLY
    NOT ROMAN
    NOT EMPIRE

    In all seriousness, the HRE was _terrible_.
    Indeed.

    But the topic here is GNOMES, in case you didn't gnotice.

    Gnow that you have gained gnew gnowledge, we can ignore the ignominious ignorance that was the HRE.



    HOLY GNOMAN EMPIRE forever!

    PS: the best insult for the not-Roman Gnomes ought to be "Ignoble", and "Gnoble" is their highest praise.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luccan View Post
    TL;DR: Which non-human race should rule the Romanesque empire?
    You need a sequence - Sumerians and other Middle Eastern tribe, leading to Greeks and Persians, leading to Romans, with barbarians around.

    I suspect that the Elves are Egyptian, and held the Jewish Dwarves as slaves until the time of Moses. I'm not sure about the Greeks and Persians, but goblins, hobgoblins, and orces are the Visigoths and Celts.

    Human might be the Britons.

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    Every race listed here would be awesome, but consider:

    Raptorans
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay R View Post
    I suspect that the Elves are Egyptian, and held the Jewish Dwarves as slaves until the time of Moses.
    Judah the Hammer certainly does sound Dwarven.

    That would also explain the animosity between Dwarves and Elves.


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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    Gnomes are Carthage. Who else would think driving a herd of war elephants halfway around a continent and through a mountain range was a good idea? (Seriously, there was a coastal road over there).

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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    Dwarves are certainly a good fit - the organized legions have already been mentioned, but the organization, the monumental architecture, the vast production of metals, and a whole bunch of other things also lend themselves well to a pseudo-roman depiction. Heck, even the depiction of decadent Rome during some periods can fit in pretty easily; gold, jewels, and being greedy are standard dwarf trappings.

    There's also the matter of how the Roman empire had a lot of fairly distinct peoples in it who got transported all over the place, particularly when considering areas that were within major Roman cultural influence but not Rome qua Rome. This works well for having a society with a variety of D&D races in the analogue, with military forces being particularly mixed.

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    I would be tempted to make the society orcish and introduce a racial feat. The Highbreed feat. Prereqs level 1 orc and born to a wealthy orcish family. It removes ALL the orcish stat penalties, adds +2 to a mental stat of their choice, and adds 1000gp to their starting gold.

    Money and privilage accounts for the difference between the bread and circuses orcs of the common rabble and the TRUE members of the orcish race.
    Last edited by Fouredged Sword; 2017-11-29 at 08:48 AM.

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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ashtagon View Post
    Gnomes are Carthage. Who else would think driving a herd of war elephants halfway around a continent and through a mountain range was a good idea? (Seriously, there was a coastal road over there).
    1 / Carthage are Halflings. "They have our same racial size bonus! KILL THEM!"

    2 / Carthage are the other kind of Gnomes.
    Last edited by Nifft; 2017-11-29 at 09:17 AM.

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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fouredged Sword View Post
    I would be tempted to make the society orcish and introduce a racial feat. The Highbreed feat. Prereqs level 1 orc and born to a wealthy orcish family. It removes ALL the orcish stat penalties, adds +2 to a mental stat of their choice, and adds 1000gp to their starting gold.

    Money and privilage accounts for the difference between the bread and circuses orcs of the common rabble and the TRUE members of the orcish race.
    If you're going to go down that route, just have two sub-races and scrap the feat, as it's an obvious tax for any player.

  30. - Top - End - #30
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    Default Re: Should the Dwarves be Rome?

    Quote Originally Posted by Caelestion View Post
    If you're going to go down that route, just have two sub-races and scrap the feat, as it's an obvious tax for any player.
    Or just allow Senatorcs and other high-class orcs to wear sunglasses.

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