Druses Claudius Avitus
The campaign starts as a legion of Rome cross the channel to conquer Briton, and the command of Julius Caeser. Unfortunately, there's a storm, and a few ships get a bit lost, and end up in Ireland.
My character is a Roman Tribune, Druses Claudius Avitus, a young nineteen year old who thinks he knows everything, because he's read about it in books.
Thanks to Adam Crossingham (aka Phil the Greek) the spelling is now somewhat better than it was (though any mistakes are still my own fault). He's also complained that these writings are biased, but all such attacks on the accuracy of this document are blatantly untrue. As an honest Senator of Rome, Druses would never lie just to serve his own best interest.
Druses Claudius Avitus, a Roman Tribune and Senator.
Philip, a Greek Trader who was originally sent along on the invasion of Briton to act as a guide.
Patronius Arbiter, a pompous Roman senator.
Cervius, a Roman Centurion, close to retirement.
Dabulos, a Numidian warrior, and now a Roman citizen.
Plus many others of lesser importance.
The Isle of the Blessed
We struggle ashore on the south coast of Ireland (though our trusty Greek guide, Phil (the one with the young slave boy), assures as we're actually somewhere in Cornwall. We get caught up in a cattle raid, and manage to help the right side, befriending a tribe of Irish Celts, who tell us that we're in the Isle of the Blessed. Druses discovers the unusual freedom of women in the land, when he's invited to spend the night with the chieftains wife.
Seeking a way to Briton (or even Gaul), we head north, and camp with some friends of the southern lot. Invited on a hunting trip, a small group of us (read: the PCs) go off and leave the remnants of the legion behind. We get lost, and meet up with Scuffa, a Druidess, dwelling at a school for warriors. We survive by pretending to be traders. Returning to the legion, we find our legion massacred by blue cloaked warriors, and the Legion's Eagle stolen.
Druids Are Sometimes Nice
Scuffa explains that the attackers were warriors of Mebh, the Queen of Connaght, who isn't liked hereabout. The Eagle was probably taken to her fort. She suggests a plan involving Samhain and ridiculous heroics. Stupidly, we agree, and head northwards once more (killing a witch and her evil offspring on the way, possibly meeting a god - though I'm not too sure about that bit).
Eventually we find a small temple of Connaght men, raid it by pretending to be the walking dead (it is Samhain after all), and Druses meets the daughter of Mebh. Apparently this spear Druses picked up in the temples treasure room is the ceremonial spear used to kill the current Queen, and can only be wielded by the future king of the future queen, who is crowned after the current one is slain. A deal is struck, where I will get to kill Mebh, instate her daughter as Queen, and get the Eagle back. Oh joy.
To Be A King
We get to Mebh's, bluff our way inside the fort, and then Druses (hoping for a quick stab in the back), ends up having to challenge Mebh to a fair dual. He strikes her down with a single blow from the spear, and instates the new Queen, and wins back the Eagle. Learning of the custom of ploughing kings into fields when the Queen tires of him, Druses and friends bid a hasty goodbye and gets passage home.
We return home from the Isle of the Blessed, and Druses' family promptly marry him off to a beautiful young woman named Terenita, with the general idea of getting as good a match as possible while Druses is still famous.
Julia, wife of Pompey has just died, and there is much sadness in Rome. Somewhat overshadowing this as far as the Senate is concerned, is the fact that news has just arrived from Syria that the Governor there, Marcus Licinius Crassus, has just gone missing, together with the entire Syrian Roman army. Druses and friends are sent to escort the Flaman (a Priest of Mars) Lucius Caponius who is being sent to investigate.
Setting sail to Antioch (with plenty of dancing/pleasure slaves, courtesy of Phil), we find that Crassus had marched into Parthia, and hasn't been heard from since, and the Armenians have deserted the Roman armies. While the Flaman goes to Armenia to talk things over there, our Senator raises the militia, and Druses and Phil heard to the Parthian border to see what can be found of the army.
We find Gaius Cassius Longinious, a Praetor, and only surviving leader of the Roman army. He'd gathered together ten thousand of the survivors and successfully marched them back into Syria safely. Forty thousand Roman soldiers are dead or captured, Crassus had made some big tactical blunders, and lost his army, plus quite a large portion of the Syrian treasury. The last thing we have heard is that a civil war is brewing in Jerusalem.
The Sunny Sands of Egypt
With both Syria and Egypt breaking out in war, we receive orders to go to the latter nation on a 'fact finding' mission. It's much like home, with more factions you can count on a legions fingers, and all out for each other's blood. Cleopatra and Ptomely rule jointly, though it seems Cleopatra has far more desire to really rule than her brother does, and hence is gaining the most enemies, especially amongst the eunuchs.
Our initial meeting with their Divine Majesties is uneventful, though later we get word that Cleopatra wishes to meet us privately. Things go well, and both Patronius and I receive, er, small tokens of her gratitude. Not quite sure how we're going to ship everything back to Rome, but I'm sure we'll find a way.
In order to help Cleopatra, we travel with three regiments of Roman trained egyptian troops to put down a Jewish rebellion. There is a great battle, in which we are victorious.
Return to Rome in time for my wife to give birth to two healthy boys, though unfortunately she dies in child birth. I don't waste too much time in marrying again though, this time to Cornelia Matella, a cousin of Pompey's wife. She's a beautiful young woman, and not as fragile as Terentia.
Until Death Do Us Part
Ever the political campaigner Patronius throws the mother of all parties, inviting senators of all factions in order to persuade them of the benefits of supporting Caesar. Whether anyone remembered anything the following morning is uncertain - I know I definitely didn't.
I woke to discover that I was back home, and my Senatorial ring was missing. Before I could even get over my hangover, an emergency meeting is summoned in the Senate, which I have to attend. Apparently it would seem that someone has raped a Vestal Virgin. Not a particularly sensible thing to do, since such tends to upset the gods. Whoever it was, was foolish enough to leave behind a Senatorial ring. Oops.
Before they begin the “find out who's missing a ring” trick, I try to have a quiet word with one of my new relatives - a particularly influential senator. The shock of finding out that it's probably my ring causes him to faint. My attempts to nick his ring are foiled (though not noticed), so I confront Cato with the truth.
He accepts that it's probably not me, but insists I find out who it was, and where my ring is. Enlisting the aid of my trusty colleagues, we try to find out who brought me home, and via where. Things are progressing slowly when Phil, Cervus and Dabulos decide I'm safer out of the way, and club me into insensitivity. It wouldn't have been too bad if anyone had bothered to tell Dabulos about the sleeping draught Phil had bought to keep me under. Two days of being clubbed whenever I awoke is not an experience I wish to repeat.
By the time I recover, it seems they've uncovered a plot by my wife who's trying to have an adulterous affair with another, and faked my death (by angry mob). She had his wife murdered, and framed me so she could try to marry him. So much for family loyalty.
We set her up, and confront her with what we know. She's somewhat shocked by my reappearance, and admits framing me to us and Cato. Not able to trust her anymore, and in no good mood thanks to Dabulos, I divorce her with extreme prejudice. To show no hard feelings to her family, I allow them to have both her body and head back.
Socks for Caesar
It would seem that I am useful to some people, especially those who want some links to more neutral camps in the Senate. Cato has persuaded me to take his daughter - Catonia - in marriage. Another woman in my life is something I could do without at the moment.
In other news, the senate has installed Pompey as sole Consul in Rome. This is not good news, and is sure to lead to trouble.
It seems that I've been expected to host some Egyptians who have been sent by Cleopatra to Rome. As is traditional, we have a party, which is gate crashed by Calpurnia, wife of Caesar. She wishes me to take a letter and some socks to her husband, who is somewhere in southern Gaul.
We head north by boat, and thankfully we allow the Egyptians to accompany us since Thothhotet is a sorcerer, and saves us from being swamped in a storm. Stopping in northern Italy, we rescue some damsels from rape and murder (well, at least murder) by some of Pompey's legionnaires. The young girls are daughters of Catalina, and have been adopted by Caesar, so we take them with us to find him.
Eventually we find Caesar marching south to Rome, and deliver the message (and socks) as requested.
We return to Rome without incident, except for the news of the death of Pompey in Alexandria and Cato somewhere in the Ionian sea. My new found wife, so recently acquired, kills herself in grief at her fathers death.
Prophets of Amon
It would seem that one (very rich) supporter of Caesar, a Marcus Apulius Celer, is being held in Thebes by the prophets of Amon for apparently breaking some minor religious taboos.
Caesar asks us to free him, or at least ensure that he re-writes his will to include Caesar in it. We make contact with a lady who offers to help us, in return for some of our aid. Apparently there are some sacred tombs the occupants of which require moving. She's not too bothered about their possessions though, so rather unsurprisingly, the dead have somewhat more space in their new home.
We break Marcus from the prison he is held in, and leave for Rome.
The Ides of February
Julius Caesar is brutally murdered by Brutus and various other traitors. Patronius and myself help try to unite the senators of Rome against the murderers, with some success. One, Gaius Patronius Cervidius pledges his support as long as I find a suitable husband for his daughter Cervidia. He didn't necessarily have me in mind, but he is a powerful family, and I've decided that he could be a useful ally.
My first meeting with Cervidia does not go well, but love, or the lack, should never get in the way of a good marriage.
It has been a bad few days in Rome, with accusations and fear running somewhat higher than normal. I return home to find a lady waiting for me - not my soon wife to be as I had expected, but the wife of that traitor Brutus - Portia. It would seem that she trusts me not to be too stupid - though given my record with women of my household previously, I would be a strange person to turn to. Her house has oh so unfortunately been burnt down, and she and her son require a place to stay. Sheltering her would be dangerous, but keeping her close is one way to keep an eye on her. And she is family, after all.
Instructing my servants to keep a very close watch on her doings, and an especially close watch on any meetings she my hold with others, I allow her sanctuary at least for a time. She promises also to provide me with information from her own contacts while she stays here - something which could be useful, especially if I can find out who those contacts are.
By morning the following day Patronius has turned up with Cervius and Dabulos in tow. It would seem that Rome in her infinite wisdom wishes to bargain with Parthia for the ten thousand legionnaires that are still held by the Eastern Empire since the debacle in Syria eight years ago. Her wisdom would seem to be completely unbounded considering she has invited an ambassador from that Kingdom here, with two hundred of his honour guard, and is allowing them into the city itself. The nearest of Rome's own armed forces is days away at least, and there is little to stop them from taking, rather than bargaining, for whatever they want.
Patronius and I it seems have been volunteered to open negotiations with Parthia, and my villa has been chosen to house the Ambassador and his men. Oh joy. Just to make things better, Gaius Cervidius has decided he wants my marriage to his daughter to take place in two days time. I make arrangements to find room for the Ambassador and his people, and also hire a Parthian speaking translator to listen in on any conversations the Parthians may have while resident with me.
Patronius and Phil organise a large party to entertain the Ambassador that night, thankfully not holding it at my villa, but at the house of Marcus Antonius. I'm pretty sure that they're up to other things as well, but to what, I have no idea. The rest of the day is a nightmare, the only joy being watching Phil and Patronius trying to find a Parthian translator within Rome. It seems there was only one.
Thankfully I abstain from any heavy drinking or feasting that night, for shortly into the entertainment, word reaches me (via the Parthians!) that someone has tried to burn my house down. The Ambassador so kindly informs me that my household is being 'protected' by his men. I hurry back to my villa to find it not too badly damaged - it seems some arsonists tried to burn down the kitchens, though no-one is hurt. Moving my household back inside, the Ambassador is offered quarters in Marcus's residence while mine are cleaned, and all but a handful leave. He says his men know who was responsible, but refuses to divulge whom except to say that it was one of my 'colleagues'. Later, my own spy at the party returns to say that the Parthians were talking about it being Cervius.
I stay the rest of the night at home, and have word sent to Gaius Cervidius that given certain comments made by the Ambassador, and his attitude, it might be wise to organise some way of defending against him should he turn nasty. My mistake.
Morning, and an emergency meeting is summoned at the senate, where Horatious gives an oh so wonderful speech about how the Parthians should be forced out of Rome and moved to a country estate. That's not what I quite had in mind. Patronius convinces me to try and talk the senate into changing their mind, but the cowards refuse to think about mobilising anyone, and decide to go ahead with possibly insulting the Ambassador. None of this was quite what I had in mind when I warned Cervidius.
I'm only just beginning to realise what sort of state Rome has got herself into. The only legions we have are fighting each other in a hopeless civil war that can only damage Rome further, and the plottings and schemings are too dangerous a luxury to afford at the moment. The death of Caesar has made me think about just where my loyalties now lie. None of the others are willing to put their own petty differences aside in favour of Rome, and as such are inviting invasion by foreign powers. Maybe that's what we need. An invasion, or at least the rumour or signs of invasion, might be the only thing to unite Rome against her real enemies. And by then, it could be too late.
I have organised a force of five hundred men - officially bodyguards - to defend my household, and if necessary Rome. The Parthians are still within Rome - I'm not even going to attempt to guess at the dealings Patronius and Cervius got involved in. Patronius at least has managed to come to an agreement with the Ambassador - Judea and Tel Aviv for any of the legionnaires who wish to return home. The immediate threat is possibly over, but there are still two hundred elite Parthian heavy cavalry within the city.
On a final note, I married Cervidia last night. I'm not sure of where her loyalties lay, but her family could be a useful ally. No longer will I pledge myself to any one of the warring factions in Rome, but to Rome herself, and I'll see what I can do to remove those who threaten her safety, and that of my household.
Those Bloody Germans
Be careful what you wish for. Something in the order of a million germans have come south looking for lands to settle in, in particular Macedonia. The Senate calls on the priests to divine the future, but in the temple of Jupiter the great statue to him breaks in two, burning in the braziers it falls among. It would seem that the gods are not happy.
This is at last enough to spur the senate into raising a new legion to protect Rome, under the control of Gaius Cassius Longinious, Patronius Arbiter and myself. Both Arbiter and myself agree to let Longinious run the show - a single voice is so much more effective at running an army, especially when it has more experience than both of us put together.
Several senators also call for the return of Rome to being a republic. Others of course wish to side with Marcus or Octavian. With help from the Egyptian ambassador, I obtain a list of those senators hording grain ready for the coming crisis. By an amazing coincidence, the 140 odd senators so accused are all ones most likely to cause trouble.
The military plan is to send for the legions in Gaul to bring them back to defend Rome. Longinious' legion is to travel to Albania where Brutus is massing his legions for his own personal gain. We'll join up with them, and march to defend Roman lands from the German hordes. Of course, such requires persuading Brutus, or at least his legions, to side with us for the common good. Enter cunning plan number one.
I travel to Greece with Phil and Dabulos to arrange for the death of Brutus, by barbarian raiders. This way we can incite his legions to avenge his death and join with our legions. In the end, I meet with Brutus before hand, to try and persuade him to join anyway. Apparently he hadn't heard about the Germans, and is more than willing to make me his second in command to help him with the deployment of his army. After making sure that his men know that Brutus trusts me, and that they are under my command, he has his little accident, and his legions fall under my control.
Greece offers to raise five legions of its own to help defend its lands, in return for which it asks to be allowed five senators of its own. I agree to this, though will have to clear it with the full senate later.
There is much fighting against the barbarians, as well as friction on the border between Rome and Parthia, with both sides deflecting the invaders onto the other. Phil becomes a Greek hero at one stage, holding off two hundred thousand Germans with a single Greek legion. Meanwhile, Patronius, Cervius and I conquer more land for Rome, while holding off the rest of the German hordes.
After many weeks of warfare, I receive a message from the senate. It would appear the omens are not good, and the gods are refusing to talk to the priests of the civilised lands. We are requested to seek the reason for the gods displeasure from the prophet at Sewa, in the Egyptian deserts.
After a hard desert journey, and some strange sights, we reach the place, and find a blind man who speaks for the gods. All of us have been summoned there - Darius the Parthian ambassador, Dabulos, Cervius, Phil, the Egyptian Ambassador, Patronius and myself. The gods, we hear, are displeased with the way the priests have been behaving towards them, and unless we make ammends they will leave us forever. They propose a quest, to find three mystical items and to bring them back here for the gods (a cauldron, a bow and a staff). It is a quest which must be performed by all of us, working together. Phil though has other ideas, and strongly objects to being the gods playthings. In a fit of disobedience, he stabs Darius, breaking the taboo against blood shed in this place. The gods are greatly displeased by this, and the Siwa is consumed by the desert, as the gods turn away from Mankind.
Too many wives and not enough spears
I return to Rome with news of what has happened, and quickly make haste back to the legions where things I have a hope of understanding are going on. Things are going fine until Julius Caesar turns up in Rome again and starts taking charge. Julius Caesar. The same Julius Caesar who was stabbed to death some time ago. The one we cremated. The one who is supposed to be very very dead. He's turned up with some celtic barbarian Queen from the north, who apparently has some cauldron with her. Oh bugger. Why do I get the feeling that I know this woman? In a sort of having married her sort of way?
The next news to come from Rome is that both Patronius and myself have been removed from the Senate, and that the legions we've raised have been disbanded. It's then that Cervidia turns up with news that some really strange things are happening in Rome. Various Senators are being invited to see Caesar, and coming out… changed. She had an invitation to go seem him, so decided to leave and come and find me. As wives go, she's actually quite sensible. Whether that's a good thing or not is another matter entirely.
Anyway, apparently the barbarian Queen has taken up residence in our house, with a whole load of her warriors. Possibly stupidly, but it's safer than her finding out from someone else, I tell Cervidia who I think the Queen is, and how I met her… Amazingly she doesn't try to kill me.
There are rumours of a force moving through Parthia towards the west, possibly coming from India. I take a small group into Parthia to try and make contact with the group, hoping that some agreement can be reached between them and Rome. The force turns out to be an army of about thirty thousand, including elephants, led by warriors in decorated in black feathers. As it happens both Darius - the Parthian ambassador - and Thothhotep have had the same idea of meeting with this army, and we arrive at roughly the same time. The leader of the army carries a bow - the one spoken of by the gods - and intrusts it to me. Darius already has the staff, and the three of us agree that peace would be best until the issue with the gods is sorted out.
I return to the legions and we stop our harassment of the Parthian borders, and instead march on Rome, to deal with this apparent Caesar.
Rome is shrouded in some very unnatural fog by the time we reach her. The legions march on the city, and are met by plenty of barbarians who now seem to control the forum. Both Caesar and my, er, other wife are there. In the grand melee which ensues, Patronius is slain, but so is the Queen, once again by my hand. The senators (including Caesar) who had been put under the Queen's spell (to be precise, slain, then resurrected in the cauldron) become mindless zombies. Rome is once again returned to the rule of the Romans.
The cauldron, staff and bow are taken to the Isle of the Mighty, to a great stone circle known as Stonehenge, where the gods claim them. I have a feeling that the relationship between men and the gods might not be quite the same as it was though.
Rome once again becomes a Republic, with the client states of the Empire getting Senatorial representation, and only those old Senators who can be trusted with power retaining their position.