Alea Iacta Story Hour: A Mythic Rome Campaign (Baby Announcement: 8/17) - Page 15


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  1. #141
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    ø Ignore Pyske
    My communities:

    More please (as time permits, I'm sure you're busy). In retrospect, this has been one of my favorite story hours, especially for inspiring me for my game, as opposed to "just" a good read.

    I am curious: how does your Rome compensate militarily for lack of magical "artillery"? I can think of several possibilities, but I'm wondering which you went with.

    . . . . . . . -- Eric

 

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    I Defended The Walls!

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    Fallen to page 4 already? For shame!

    *bumps*
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    .. and the corresponding Rogues Gallery

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    Alea Iacta VII: Lux et Veritas Chp. 6?: The Trial

    Sorry for the long delay, folks - I was preparing for the final session of this arc, which just concluded! (No spoilers, but the game is going to continue...) Then I was grading 63 Roman History exams, and attending multiple academic conferences, and one thing led to another... But I can promise very regular updates for at least the next month or two.
    ***
    Publicola summons Nikos, the newly freed slave of Perthinos the soothsayer, up for questioning. Nikos is an olive-skinned, slenderly built young man, proudly wearing a red freedman's cap.

    "You are Nikos Perthinianus, former slave of Perthinos?" Publicola asks perfunctorily.
    "You know, Roman emperors have plotted against each other without the help of random Celtic people." --Metellus

    All roads lead to Rome, so come visit the Alea Iacta Story Hour.

  • #144
    Hooray! Welcome back.

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    Alea Iacta VII: Lux et Veritas Chp. 6?: The Trial

    Sorry for the long delay, folks - I was preparing for the final session of this arc, which just concluded! (No spoilers, but the game is going to continue...) Then I was grading 63 Roman History exams, and attending multiple academic conferences, and one thing led to another... But I can promise very regular updates for at least the next month or two.
    ***
    Publicola summons Nikos, the newly freed slave of Perthinos the soothsayer, up for questioning. Nikos is an olive-skinned, slenderly built young man, proudly wearing a red freedman's cap.

    "You are Nikos Perthinianus, former slave of Perthinos?" Publicola asks perfunctorily.
    "I am."
    "Do you remember the visit of Memmius Salonianus to your former master?"
    Nikos gives an account similar to that of Perthinos, claiming to remember remarkably little of the prophecy. He does admit, however, to having taken detailed shorthand notes of the prophecy in his own personal code, a standard precaution in case customers complain of having been misled later.

    "I have your transcribed notes of this supposed prophecy here, Nikos. Will you read them for the court?"
    "Well, I'm not really sure of what interest they'd be, honored advocate. Perthinos says a lot of strange things in his prophetic trances..." Nikos stammers.
    "Are you aware, Nikos, that slaves must be tortured before they can testify in a Roman court, to ensure the veracity of their evidence?
    "Well, of course, sir. But I'm not a slave. I'm a freedman Roman citizen, and thus immune to torture," Nikos states confidently.
    "And when did you obtain your freedom?"
    "A few weeks ago, honored advocate."
    "It was the day after Memmius Salonianus' visit, wasn't it?"
    "I suppose it was, honored advocate."
    "Don't you find it strange that you decided to buy your freedom and protect yourself from court-ordered torture the very day after you heard a prophecy predicting the possible doom of the Empire?"
    "I don't find it strange at all, honored advocate." <laughter in the courtroom> "I had enough money, and it was the beginning of summer - a good time for a change."
    "I see. Well, if you don't want any investigations into the suspicious timing of your purchase of freedom, I suggest you translate this prophecy for the court. Now. Remember, we aren't trying either you or your former master on this charge, for now."
    Suitably cowed, Nikos reluctantly accepts the scroll with his scrawled notes on it and unrolls it. He begins reading - very, very slowly.




    Pour thy wine out to the gods
    and beg for them to save you
    for in the times to come
    bountiful harvests shall be of naught.
    For the past echoes forward
    and Nero's music shall be heard again
    played by barbarian drums
    on the shortest night,
    when great Jupiter seems to attack
    his own two sisters and all their wards .
    For as one light dies, many others will arise.





    It takes Nikos nearly 10 minutes just to decipher this first verse of a long scroll, and Publicola, well aware of the dripping water-clock shortly to end his time, impatiently taps his foot. Finally he blurts out, "Look ahead! Does it say anything about the destruction of the Empire or threats to the Imperial family?"

    Nikos responds blandly, clearly intending to stall, "Well, there's some more here about a bad wine harvest...and something about the truth...but it's all very hard to make out sir. If you gave me some more time..."

    Frustrated, Publicola dismisses the uncooperate Nikos and calls his last witness, the eminent elderly jurist Quintus Rutilius Africanus, with only a few minutes to spare. Metellus recognizes Rutilius, who gave a lecture or two back in Metellus' schooldays, and nods to him; Rutilius nods slightly back as he hobbles to the front of the proceedings, clearly dismissive of the youthful judges.

    Publicola begins, glancing nervously at the water-clock. "Well, everyone here knows you and your qualifications as an expert on Roman law, Quintus Rutilius, so why don't we cut directly to the heart of the matter. Please tell the court about the law against seeking a prophecy about the fate of the Empire.

    Rutilius is clearly dying to launch onto a long and technical lecture, but is also well aware of the water-clock. Tossing aside several scrolls to his slave, he intones, "Well, young Publicola, the key differentiation is between intentionally consulting a soothsayer and being an accidental recipient of a prophecy. If a man is walking through a marketplace and hears a Jewish preacher claiming some dire fate which later actually occurs, he is not guilty of breaking the law."

    "What about if he goes to hear a soothsayer deliberately, and receives a different prophecy from the one he asked for?"

    "This is a difficult question. Seeking out a soothsayer at all is, of course, a minor illegality. The important aspect here, I believe, would be whether or not the question asked could be reasonably expected to return an answer related to the fate of the Empire or the Imperial family. "Who will my daughter marry?" for instance, is unlikely to be a dangerous question. But it's certainly not an area to mess around in lightly."

    "What is the standard penalty for seeking such a prophecy about the fate of the Empire, Quintus Rutilius?" Publicola interrupts, glancing at the last few drops of water left in the upper bowl.

    "Death by being thrown off the Tarpeian Rock, and confiscation of all property, of course. It's high treason, after all."

    "Thank you, Quintus Rutilius," Publicola says quickly. "I would like to just very quickly sum up what we have learned here. We know that Memmius Salonianus went deliberately seeking a prophecy to a known soothsayer, one known, furthermore, for true and dangerous prophecies. We know that he received a prophecy which mentioned an attack by Jupiter, the failure of harvests, falling houses, and various other dreadful events in Rome, as well as possibly even worse disasters directly connected to the Imperial family. We know that he did not report this prophecy to the authorities, but instead gossiped about it to his neighbor and spread confusion and chaos. And we know, good judges, what the law clearly says, and what the penalty for such a despicable act of treason, which undermines the very faith we have in our Emperor and Empire, shoule be. The prosecution rests its case."

    ***
    FYI, the PCs have now solved the prophecy, so all you readers can feel free to speculate here on the boards.
    "You know, Roman emperors have plotted against each other without the help of random Celtic people." --Metellus

    All roads lead to Rome, so come visit the Alea Iacta Story Hour.

  • #146
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    Quote Originally Posted by Orichalcum
    Pour thy wine out to the gods
    and beg for them to save you
    for in the times to come
    bountiful harvests shall be of naught.
    For the past echoes forward
    and Nero's music shall be heard again
    played by barbarian drums
    on the shortest night,
    when great Jupiter seems to attack
    his own two sisters and all their wards .
    For as one light dies, many others will arise.

    ***
    FYI, the PCs have now solved the prophecy, so all you readers can feel free to speculate here on the boards.
    Don't worry, it was well worth the wait. I just love an historical campaign with a DM that knows his stuff

    I'll take a shot at the prophecy.

    Pour thy wine out to the gods
    and beg for them to save you
    Standard way to placate the gods. Makes sense if a big disaster is coming.

    for in the times to come
    bountiful harvests shall be of naught.
    Probably refers to the barbarian invasions and the fact that the empire even had to pay tribute to the Goths for a time. Hence, no matter how good the harvest will be, you'll loose it in the end.

    For the past echoes forward
    and Nero's music shall be heard again
    played by barbarian drums
    Rome had to face invasions in the past (the Punic Wars being the most famous), it shall do so again in the future with the Germans (beginning in 235 AD). Rome will burn, but this time by a barbarian's hand.

    on the shortest night,
    when great Jupiter seems to attack
    his own two sisters and all their wards .
    Shortest night refers to Summer, the rest is a bit more cryptic

    For as one light dies, many others will arise.
    This could refer to the period of political anarchy (235-284 AD) when the troops acclaimed about 20 “emperors” and another 30 “pretenders”, although the two groups only differed in that the emperors briefly managed to control the city of Rome. Only one of these emperors died of natural causes, so the imperial throne was a dangerous prize.

    OR, it could refer to the fact that even though the "Light of Rome" was extinguished, it was reborn in the many smaller countries that were created after the fall of the empire. Civilization was threatened but always managed to reappear.
    Last edited by Mortepierre; Thursday, 20th May, 2004 at 09:36 AM.
    Mortepierre Malepeste
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    Check out my story hour:
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    .. and the corresponding Rogues Gallery

  • #147
    Quote Originally Posted by Mortepierre
    Shortest night refers to Summer, the rest is a bit more cryptic
    Well, for the record, Jove's sisters were Hestia (Vesta), Demeter (Ceres), and Hera (Juno). This is awfully cryptic; since they specifically mention night, perhaps some sort of astrological conjunction with the planet Jupiter? The Romans associated Ceres with the constellation Virgo, IIRC, and there may well have been a constellation or planet sacred to Vesta or Juno, but I couldn't say off the top of my head.

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    My communities:

    Isn't Venus sometimes said to be the sister of Jupiter? I'm wondering if there's a connection to astronomy and the movements of the planets. The other recognized sisters of Jupiter have had their names given to asteroids, so I doubt the Romans knew of them, but Venus could fit.
    Max Kaladin

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    Alea Iacta VII: Lux et Veritas Chp. 7: The Defense

    Interesting ideas, all of you. Fimmtiu, you're correct about the identity of Jove's sisters. Mortepierre, great knowledge of Roman history, but keep in mind that the game is both alternate history and roughly situated around the early 2nd century CE; the mid 3rd-century disasters are still very much in the future, and, of course, dependent on what happens in the PCs' present.

    For the record, it's currently a few days after the beginning of June, for the PCs.
    ***

    With the prosecution having concluded its case in a hurry, the half-hour water-clock is turned over. Lucius Verrius Glaucus, Salonianus' advocate, leisurely strolls before the judges. He is a sleek, elegantly groomed older man, with a toga made from the finest opaque Egyptian linen.

    "Honored judges, this entire case has been a terrible misunderstanding, furthered by the greedy desires of those [glances at Publicola] who wish to deprive my poor, foolish but innocent client of not only his livelihood but his life itself. Here are the facts. Memmius Salonianus is, as has already been established, a fearful merchant. He's lost his wine harvest before, and he's understandably concerned about it. As a means of reassuring his empty fears, he visited Perthinos the Soothsayer. He didn't want to know anything about the fate of the Empire - why would a humble wine merchant be interested in lofty politics? All he cared about was his wine.

    Unfortunately, when he went to ask about his harvest, the soothsayer, Perthinos, uttered some strange words - which we've heard some of today. Who knows if these are true words, or more than the drunken ramblings of an elderly Greek? I certainly don't. They didn't sound very significant when read out just now before the court. And more relevantly, Memmius Salonianus didn't think they were important. If he had thought this was a prophecy about the Empire, would he have gone home and not told anyone except his neighbor Marcia? Of course not! He would have gone straight to the vigiles or his patron. He didn't, because he didn't think this was worth wasting the time of anyone important. This has all been blown far out of porportion by people anxious to create scandal and drama in the slow summer season.

    I would like to first call my client, Memmius Salonianus. Memmius, why did you go to Perthinos?"

    "Well, I wanted good news about my wine harvest. Because, well, I worry, and I know the gods will watch over us, but..."

    "So you just wanted reassurance, right?

    "Yes."

    "Did you know seeking a prophecy was illegal?"

    "Well,yes. I'm very sorry about that, and I promise I won't do it again, and I'll pay any fine required," the terrified Memmius recites, almost as if he's been carefully coached.

    "Did you think the prophecy concerned the fate of the Empire or the Imperial family?"

    "No, I thought it concerned my wine harvest! Except I couldn't really understand any of it, except for the bit telling me to pray. Which I've been doing day and night ever since."

    Glaucus dismisses Memmius Salonianus, and examines Perthinos and Quintus Rutilius in quick succession. From Perthinos, he draws out a confession that the soothsayer drinks regularly, and that he receives complaints about false prophecies. He forces Quintus Rutilius to concede that there is legal ambiguity about the aspect of hearing an unintentional prophecy, and ends with plenty of time for his summation, having carefully neglected any chance to hear more of the prophecy from Nikos' notes.

    "Honored judges, you can surely see that this is all a terrible mistake. Not only did my client not intend to receive a dangerous prophecy, it's unclear he received a prophecy at all from this drunken charlatan, let alone a true foretelling concerning the fate of the Empire! Furthermore, the legal questions in this case certainly suggest that you should not condemn Memmius Salonianus of high treason based on his careless failure to report possible danger to the vigiles. This is a frivilous charge, and I ask you to dismiss it."

    The judges concur for a few minutes, and return to the courtroom. Metellus announces, glancing carefully at his fellow judge, that "We find the defendant, Memmius Salonianus, innocent of high treason. For seeking illegal soothsaying on repeated occasions, however, and for possible negligence in reporting potentially valuable information to the authorities, we fine him 5000 sestertii, and sternly admonish him to avoid soothsayers, witches, and other magic-workers in the future."

    Glaucus looks exultant; Publicola depressed at having lost his first case. Memmius looks confused, as if he can't decide whether to be glad that he's alive or horribly upset about the large fine. Before the court is formally dismissed, the other judge makes a final announcement.

    "Nikos Perthinianus, you will be kept in the custody of my lictors until you have produced a full and accurate translation of the prophecy, which will be delivered to the appropriate Imperial authorities through me. " He leans over to Metellus - "Sounds like entertaining reading? Do you want a copy? It's all going to leak anyhow, after this trial is over." Metellus nods, startled but not willing to miss the chance.
    "You know, Roman emperors have plotted against each other without the help of random Celtic people." --Metellus

    All roads lead to Rome, so come visit the Alea Iacta Story Hour.

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    Alea Iacta VII: Lux et Veritas Chp. 7: The Prophecy

    The Prophecy Given to Memmius Salonianus the Wine Merchant by Perthinos the Sagacious

    Pour thy wine out to the gods
    and beg for them to save you
    for in the times to come
    bountiful harvests shall be of naught.
    For the past echoes forward
    and Nero's music shall be heard again
    played by barbarian drums
    on the shortest night,
    when great Jupiter seems to attack
    his own two sisters and all their wards .
    For as one light dies, many others will arise.

    Even if you survive this do not then cease in your offerings,
    for worse fates await you.
    For the barbarians are but dice thrown by a master,
    gambling on the roll but not risking all.
    and the Binder of Light and Dark
    seeks to tear apart by chaining together,
    and that which the first and the eighth decreed he will destroy.

    For there are many truths,
    and there is one truth,
    and the truth of Roma
    unites them all.

    The winged one and the treewalkers shall aid him,
    though the one struggles and the others follow their own road;
    and one sprung from the divine will be the source of power,
    for already he walks in the shadow,
    guided by that stolen from the thief.

    The shadows will descend upon us
    and kin will not know kin
    and shall rise up against each other with sword and club,
    and thy greatest nightmares shall be shown forth,
    and thy wine too shall turn all to vinegar.

    For there are many truths,
    and there is one truth,
    and the truth of Roma
    guides them all.

    For the Binder of Light and Dark will eat away
    at the mortar of Roma's foundation stones,
    and all shall crack and tear asunder,
    and no more be joined together.

    From many come one now,
    but then shall many come from one,
    and the one will be in darkness,
    for now the crystal shines brightly
    and the image is magnified,
    but then it will shatter and
    reflect twisted visions
    through the dark tunnel
    opened by obliteration.

    For there are many truths,
    and there is one truth,
    and the truth of Roma
    protects them all.

    Yet pray to the gods for hope,
    for there is hope,
    if the eight serve the will of the eighth
    and defy the will of the Binder,
    tearing apart what he would unite
    and uniting what he would shatter,
    then the truth shall set them free.

    For the eight are bound themselves,
    to the winged spirit
    and to the Lord of Light,
    to the one who is both male and female,
    and to the Mother of Mares
    but also the Binder of Light and Dark has ensnared them.

    But those whom they saved shall save them in turn,
    for only those who know both
    of the Shadowbinder's names
    may harm him,
    and only in the dawn of Rome
    and the eventide of the northlands
    may the truth be seen.
    And then may a new dawn
    come for the north.

    For there are many truths,
    and there is one truth,
    and the truth of Roma
    rules them all.

    For they must enter unto the gates,
    and banish fear from their hearts,
    for horror will conquer them,
    but the truth will set them free.
    All rests upon the foundation,
    if the cornerstone be removed,
    then all shall fall.

    For there are many roads of Roma,
    and one has been twice chosen,
    by the first and by the eighth.
    But not all roads lead to Roma.

    For there are many truths,
    and there is one truth,
    and the truth of Roma
    gives light to them all.
    "You know, Roman emperors have plotted against each other without the help of random Celtic people." --Metellus

    All roads lead to Rome, so come visit the Alea Iacta Story Hour.

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