"The beginnings of all things are small." - Cicero
So too was the beginning of the Roman Empire. A single hill, splashed with fratricidal blood. A small village, made to swell by the bloody birth pangs of raped Sabine women. A tiny alliance that through the blood of conquest and subjugation has conquered most of the known world. It is an empire bathed in blood where no man or woman's hand comes away untainted.
But who remembers that now? That painful and struggling birth of the Roman Empire. Certainly not her Emperor, the mighty Augustus who bedecks his glorious Rome in fine Grecian marble, who feeds its people with Egyptian bread, and entertains his citizens with the most exotic animals and gladiators from Parthia and beyond. It is a time of prosperity. A time of peace and Rome opens her arms to all within her empire like a mother.
And they come. All can find a place in Venus' city. All can find a home be it slave or patrician, gladiator or soldier, merchant or diplomat. They say that all roads lead to Rome... and they are not wrong.
PLEASE DON'T MAKE DREAM CHARACTERS WHO ARE HISTORICAL FIGURES OR MEMBERS OF THE IMPERIAL FAMILY.
Augustus' reign as Emperor spanned from 27 BCE to 14 CE. This dreamworld is set in the last few years of this period. Technology should be consistent with the ancient world, think scrolls instead of books, swords, shields, bows, saddles without stirrups etc. While the Pax Romana is touted as his greatest achievement the border provinces are far from safe, and there is a rising tension growing among both the senate and educated citizens about what happens to the infant empire when Augustus dies.
Rome is a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society. While the color of a person's skin isn't completely invisible, what matters more is their social class, education and whether their family comes from Rome itself or the provinces. At this point in history the more well-known provinces include: Hispania, Gallia, Macedonia, Numidia, Aegyptus. Note: Britannia, Dacia, Germania, Mauretania, Thracia and Persia were made provinces after this period, though dreamers are welcome to be foreigners from them.
Given that this is a dreamworld the role of women in Rome is greatly expanded. They can and should own businesses, manipulate events and for the upper classes it is alright to be out alone (though you may want to pose a slave guard or two for your own safety). Priestesses, particularly the Vestal Virgins have immense power and their bodies are considered sacred and untouchable. The only roles that would be very out of theme would be women in the legions (unless in disguise as male) or women in the senate.
This ancient world is a world full of magic and the divine. To most people in Rome the gods are very very real. Days are marked as auspicious or inauspicious, and it's not unreasonable to close up shop on an inauspicious day instead of risking bad luck. Divination (usually through the examination of an animal's liver) is taken before any important event or decision. Rituals follow many of life's landmarks such as birth, coming of age, marriage, death. Curse tablets are as common as charms for fertility, winning a chariot race, or ensuring a child lives through a fever. Offerings to the gods of trinkets, animal sacrifice or votives are the norm. Polytheism is standard with the offering being dedicate to the deity most likely to be able to help with the specific request.
Slave (0) - Slaves at this point in the early empire make up almost a third of the population of Rome. While many become slaves as war captives, others are born into slave families or were even once citizens themselves who are forced into indentured servitude to repay a debt. The conditions of a slave's life varies greatly on what skills they have to offer and the disposition of their owner. Whether a slave in the silver mines who never sees the light of day, or a treasured courtesan dressed in silks, a slave's life is held absolutely in the hands of their dominus or domina. And though there are some very progressive-thinking Romans, almost every household has slaves, and there is a deep-seated cultural fear of slave uprisings after the Servile Wars and the rebellion of Spartacus in 70 BCE.
Foreigner (0) - Foreigners are all those persons who are not Roman citizens or part of Roman families. This includes almost 90% of the population in the provinces (outside of Italia) and any of the barbarian areas that would only later be folded into the empire. The rights of foreigners in Rome are highly restricted, usually forcing them to seek a citizen patron to assist them. Foreigners have no right to vote, hold office, make contracts, own property, have a lawful marriage, defend oneself in court etc.
Libertini (10000) - A libertini is an ex-slave freed through manumission (lit. sending out from the hand). Slaves are freed for a variety of reasons sometimes out of friendship, the slave saving their owner's life, or even love. Other times it is the slave who gathers enough money to buy their freedom and perhaps the freedom of their slave partner or children. Recently Augustus has decreed that no slave could be freed before age 30, forcing some to leave their children behind in slavery. The previous owner of a freed slave automatically becomes the freedman's patron as part of the patron-client relationship. Though not consider full citizens of Rome, libertini men could vote and participate in politics except for running for office or being admitted into the senate. The children born to a libertini after their manumission are considered full Roman citizens.
Plebeian (20000) - The plebeians (or plebs) are the general body of free Roman citizens who are not part of the patrician families. While generally it is both a wealth and social class, in recent years there have been many horrendously wealthy plebeians moving their way up into the equestrian class. One of the two consulships was reserved for plebeian and if a plebeian attained the consulship he was regarded as having brought nobility to his family. Such a man was a novo homo (new man) and his descendants were considered nobiles, though never patrician. Tribunes (a political office with the power to veto the consuls) could only be drawn from the plebeian class.
Equestrian (30000) - The equestrian class is an odd one, more of a wealth category than social because it draws both the plebeian rich and young glory-seekers from the patrician families. Plebeians use the position to work their way up into political power, while some noble, but poor, patricians use the position to gather wealth which patrician families often struggle with because they are barred from commerce. According to legend the equites were the cavalry bodyguard of Romulus, the founder of Rome, but over time they developed from the military cavalry units who formed the wings or alae of the Roman army. Equites fill the senior administrative and military posts of the imperial government. They are permitted to wear the red or purple narrow-striped tunic (patricians have a broad stripe) and gold ring marking them as equites.
Patrician (50000) - According to legend, the first hundred men appointed as senators by Romulus were referred to as patres (fathers) and the descendants of those men became the patrician class. Only patricians can hold high political offices, such as dictator and censor, and most priesthood positions (especially pontifex maximus) are closed to non-patricians. There is a belief that patricians communicate better with the Roman gods, so they alone can perform the sacred rites and take the auspices. Seen as the aristocracy of the Roman empire, patrician families consider commerce to be beneath them and draw most of their income from the produce of their estates, rents on urban apartment buildings and the spoils of conquest. It is not all that unusual for young brothers in a given family to have next to no personal income and be close to destitution save for the roof over their heads.
Monster (70000) - A land with living gods is also a land with living monsters, creatures fleshformed and twisted for experimentation, punishment or amusement, and Rome is no different. While any of the more traditional Greco-Roman monsters are acceptable, keep in mind that this is an urban setting and large obvious monsters are difficult to hide. Try and keep a more subtle horror element to your monsters. Vampires, werewolves, fauns (half human-half goat creatures), strix (a bird, traditionally an owl, who could turn into a beautiful woman and fed on human flesh and blood) and lemures (vengeful ghosts) are solid choices.
Potentia (strength / stamina) - Potentia represents a person's sheer physical power encompassing both strength and endurance. It can be used as a contested roll, an attack (unarmed or melee weapons), or defense (taking a hit) depending on the circumstances. This stat is recommended for manual labor slaves, soldiers, mercenaries, gladiators etc.
Celeritas (quickness / dexterity) - Celeritas represents a person's quickness or dexterity, both in terms of agility of movement and smaller sleight of hand actions. It can be used as a contested roll, an attack (for small or ranged weapons), or defense (dodging a hit) depending on the circumstances. This stat is recommended for house slaves, musicians, craftspeople, dancers, charioteers etc.
Praesentia (beauty / charisma) - Praesentia represents a person's presence whether that is pure physical beauty, a charming tongue or quick wit. It can be used as a contested roll, for seduction, or just to see who is the most charismatic person in the room. This stat is recommended for socialites, prostitutes, dancers, orators, authors (remember that Rome is still a very oral culture), priests, politicians etc.
Gravitas (political power / authority) (capped by role) - Gravitas represents a person's political power and authority. Overtly it determines who the guards, thugs, or the mob are most likely to listen to but it can also be used in subtler ways such as blackmail, or simply as social pressure backed by the power of one's family. It can also be sparingly used by the lower classes by leveraging the power of their more socially elevated patron as part of the traditional patron-client relationship. This stat can only be taken capped by role. Patrician 5, Equestrian 4, Plebeian 3, Libertini 2, Foreigner/Slave 1 (usually representing the gravitas of their owner or citizen patron). Monster characters masquerading as humans should cap their gravitas at the role they are trying to pretend to be.
Pietas (piety / devotion) - In a world where the gods are very real, one's piety or religious devotion can be the difference between life and death. Most people in Rome will have some religious leaning whether that is appealing to the mainstream Roman pantheon, an attraction to exotic foreign gods, or the underground and secretive mystery cults. When invoking the gods for divination, dreams, charms, curses or other magic please feel free to petition the dreamworld owner to see if there is any divine reaction. This stat is recommended for priest/priestesses, doctors, midwives, haruspices, or anyone particularly devout or superstitious.
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