After a week off, our group picked up where we left off with our Dungeons & Dragons game. They had gotten to Mediolanum, the new capital of the Western Roman Empire, and had been lauded for their victory over the Quadi in a desperate siege in Germania. They had been feted by the Empress Regent, Justina, whose four year old son Valentinian II has just been made the augustus (senoir emperor) in the Western Empire. (They had been, until now, operating under the orders of the caesar (junior emperor), Valentinian’s 16 year old half brother, Gratian.)

While Marcellus was being personally “entertined” by the empress after a superb charisma test, the others took a drunk Carrus home to the villa they’d been loaned by the government. There, they found a gang of men waiting. They had already set on Carona for being a “demonic and unnatural creature” (she’s a satyr.) The fight jumped off with Icio the monk using his lesser restroation to heal Carrus of him massive drunk — not a pleasant experience! He then let fly with the ghostly angel wings the assimar can manifest and chastised the men to repent their sins and leave the place. It almost works.

Carrus, meanwhile, goes ’80s Schwarzenegger on the six guys that have been attacking Carona, leading to much mayhem and gruesome gore. Augustinian and Calvinus wind up battling a few of the men after the bard had put three of them to sleep. Icio finishes off all but a few who escape after they persist in their attacks.  In the end, the party questions the miscreants and finds out they were put up to this by a Father Thomas who found Carona’s presence with alleged heroes of the empire troubling, and made him question Icio’s faith, and to accuse Carrus (Carona’s lover) of bestiality. The father, apparently, arranged for the staff to be absent the house, as well.

They quickly cleaned up the mess, then retired outside of town to the farm Marcellus’ family owns. While there, he provided his brother with the rewards of his command in Germania — 5000 soldi: enough to buy up a few of the other farms around theirs! Carona was left in the care of the officer’s mother and brother, while the rest of the party returned to the city to confront Father Thomas after his noontime mass.

They learned that Thomas was most likely no the architect of the attack, but he refuses to implicate anyone else. However, during the questioning, Augustinian quickly realizes that Thomas’ string-puller was most likely the archbishop, Ambrose! Thomas lets slip that the aasimar (or “barukhim” [blessed ones] in our game) and their rivals, the tiefling (or “nephalhim” [cursed ones] ) are mistakes; mistakes that could imperil everything the Church is trying to build in Rome. This leads Augustinian to realize that the very nature of these creatures — the aasmiar are supposedly the “same blood” as Christ — are an anathema to concept of trinitarianism the Nicene version of Christianity has settled on a canon. If Jesus wasn’t just the son of god, but god itself, he should have no “brethren.” Icio and his kind lend credence to Arianism — which sees Jesus and the barukhim as literal “children of God.”

Through the course of play, the characters wound up discussing the nature of the Christian schism between Arians (represented by the Empress Regent, the anitpope, and her court) and the Nicene (represented by the Archbishop Ambrose and the Roman Church), but also things like the nature of morality — could you have a true concept of morality with multiple gods, which even Icio had to admit exist as they’ve met Pluto, already? If each god has their own versions of morality, can there be a universal good or evil? Icio countered that his God was the one, true god…his moral dictates, therefore were paramount…a singular version of good and evil. Augustinian admitted that he thought you could not have a true moral compass outside of morality. Calvinus — ever the reprobate — chimed in that morality was completely subjective, echoing the moral relativism of modern day.

Having moral quandaries has been a continuing motif in the game — from the notion of enslaving or executing their enemies (perfectly legal in Roman law), to choosing not to kill a troll because they realized that the creature was too dumb to understand the nature of his action, and now the questions Icio has about the Church: they chose to brand his friend (Carona) demonic, even though he knows she is 1) naturally good, and 2) shows ore mercy and charity than the Christians that came to murder her for their — his — religion.

Court intrigue has already figured into the game with the power plays around Gratian and Justina, but the internal conflicts of the Roman Church are also coming into play and intersecting. As the characters rise through the levels and become more influential in the game universe, these conflicts will impact them more, and in way you just can’t simply punch your way out of. And of course, their upcoming quest is taking them to Achaia (Greece) and the River Styx, where they could very well be facing off against Satan, or Pluto, or something worse…

 

Advertisements