Fantasy Rome: A Mini Setting for Old-School Fantasy RPGs

"Queen Zenobia Addressing Her Soldiers"
by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, 1770
Pubic Domain
It's been nearly a year since I've posted here, as I started a new YouTube channel in February of 2023 and that has taken up the majority of my gaming time, along with planning and running the D&D game for my daughter and her friends which is still on-going, and finishing the second round of editing on my Old School Essentials supplement book Alchemy, Explosives, and Inventions, about playing expert and specialist characters in 1981 Basic Dungeons & Dragons or other related old-school fantasy games such as Old School Essentials. 

However, I have continued to create gaming content that I've been posting on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, and I wanted to reward all of you by posting my latest creation here first. If you've followed the blog for awhile, you know I've been creating what I originally called "B/X Subclasses" (which I'll now be referring to as "Class Concepts" to distinguish them from 5th Edition's subclasses, which are mechanically very different). These are small changes given to the seven classes from the B/X version of Dungeons & Dragons (Cleric, Dwarf, Elf, Fighter, Halfling, Magic-User, and Thief) to help give them some differentiation specific to a certain genre or setting. I've posted 13 such class concepts here before (see the full list at the bottom of this post).

This time, in addition to the class concepts based on a fictional, Fantasy Roman Empire, I added some details to blow it up into a small mini-setting. To emphasis the title, this is FANTASY Rome, so I've made decisions that deviate from historical Rome in order to make things more playable or to use a shorthand for describing things. The Vestal Acolyte, for example, can worship a variety of different deities, not just Vesta. While I could have just called the concept an "Acolyte," I felt that was not very flavorful and the original concept did start as being devoted to Vesta. 

In addition to the class concepts, I've got themes a DM can use for a game in the setting, tables for generating Plebian Contacts, Deities, NPCs, Equipment, Adversaries, and more. 

I hope you enjoy this and find it useful. Obviously you can mix and match these with the other class concepts I've published here on the blog and most of these ideas can be used in any setting, not just limited to a Fantasy Roman Empire. Let me know what you think in the comments. 

Fantasy Rome Themes

  • The Glory of Rome
    • Emphasis on the grandeur, power, and splendor of the Roman Empire
  • Intrigue and Politics
    • Political maneuvering, power struggles, and Senate politics
  • Gods and Myths
    • Characters may interact with the gods or their agents and become legends
  • Military Prowess
    • Focusing on Roman legions, their discipline, and tactics
  • Urban Life and Architecture
    • Detailed cities, bustling markets, grandiose architecture, and public spaces

 D12 Fantasy Rome Class Concepts

RollConceptClass Modifications
1AugurInfluence political affairs by interpreting divine signs/omens to predict the future.
Divine Insight. Once per week, can undergo a ritual that takes one turn to complete. Afterwards, the Augur’s deity provides a prophetic vision regarding a specific course of action to be taken that day. The referee may reveal the omen shows good fortune, misfortune, or both.
Gains access to the commune spell at 4th level instead of 5th
Cannot Turn Undead or use reversed versions of spells
Wears flowing robes adorned with celestial symbols and carries a Littaus Auguralis (curved staff of divine wood oak, hazel, or olive, inlaid with silver celestial symbols, used to draw sacred boundaries and interpret omens
2Vestal AcolyteGuardians of hearth and home who protect Vesta’s eternal flame; usually female.
Sacred Flame Mastery: Can cast fireball as a 5th level spell. Spells take on a flame-like quality which affects appearance but has no mechanical effect (e.g., light spell appears as flames, not simple light)
Suffers a -2 penalty to saving throws against cold effects (including weather, dragon breath, and cold-based magic
Cannot wear chainmail or plate mail
Wears simple white robes and a golden pendant of Vesta
3Genius MontisA protective spirit (genius) of the mountain (montis).
Mountain Guide: Cannot become lost in the mountains
Detect Precious Metals: 2-in-6 to detect precious metals in mountainous terrain
Inspire Dwarves: Once per day may make a rallying cry; all friendly dwarves within 60’ gain +2 to saving throws versus fear effects and to morale checks for 1 turn
Cannot detect construction tricks or room traps
Carries a warhammer forged from mountain ore and wears ceremonial armor adorned with symbols of the spirits of the Earth
4Faun / SatyrA playful nature-bound trickster, connected to woodland areas.
Animal Friend: Can cast charm animal once per day (as snake charm, but affects any animal type)
Can speak with animals at will
Cannot wear chainmail or plate mail or use a shield
Wears leafy clothing, usually carries a pan flute and wields a javelin
5AquiliferCarries the legion's standard, inspiring allies and striking fear into enemies.
Rally: Allies within 30’ gain a +1 bonus to morale checks when the Aquilifer is holding the legion's standard
Demoralize: Enemies within 30’ suffer a -1 penalty to morale checks when the Aquilifer is holding the legion’s standard
Cannot wield two-handed weapons (including bows) or use a shield
-2 to Charisma score if standard is ever lost in battle
Wears heavy armor emblazoned with the unit's symbol and carries a decorated standard
6Architect - EngineerMaster of siegecraft and construction.
Detect Construction Tricks: Gains the ability to detect construction tricks as a dwarf
Siege Master: Proficient in the operation of all siege equipment and gains +1 on attack rolls made with siege equipment
Saves as an elf
Carries drafting tools, a spade, and a pickaxe
7LegionaryTrained foot soldier, disciplined and proficient in combat techniques.
Formation Fighting: +1 bonus to attack rolls when fighting in formation with at least one other legionary
Brace: Can brace during combat encounters, granting a +2 bonus to AC, but no attacks allowed that round
Salary: Pay of 3 gold (30 sliver) pieces per month
-1 penalty to all attack rolls when not in a formation with another legionary
Always subject to orders from a higher-ranking legionary
Must buy a short sword, two javelins (pilum), a shield, and the most expensive armor affordable at 1st level before any other equipment
8PatricianWealthy and influential leaders, entangled in political intrigues and power plays.
Aristocratic Bearing: Gains a +2 bonus to reaction rolls with non-player characters
Wealthy: Starting bonus of 2d6 x 10 additional gold pieces
Shelter: Can demand shelter from those of lower birth rank
Cannot use a shield
Must pay 100 gold pieces per month per level to account for social status (deducted automatically before any actual spending for equipment, shelter, etc. takes pace)
Must offer shelter to other patricians of lower social rank
Wears fine clothing and carries a signet ring or other symbol of authority
9Lares VialesSpirit guardians of crossroads and travelers, protectors of those on journeys.
Travel Guide: Reduces chance of getting lost by 1 (cannot get lost when on well-maintained roads)
Pacesetter: Parties with a lares viales increase their movement by +50% as long as they are on a road or well-marked trail, and do not have to rest afterward (as if they were on a forced march)
Travel Language: Gains one extra language common to travelers in the area (as determined by the referee)
Cannot use two-handed weapons
Does not gain the halfling’s missile attack bonus
Carries a staff adorned with symbols of luck and protection
Wears comfortable traveling clothes with practical pockets and hidden pouches for herbs and charms
Collects trinkets and tokens associated with different encounters on the road
10MystagogueKeeper of esoteric knowledge and mystical insight; perhaps leader of a mystery cult.
Detect Spirits: Can detect spirits once per day (as detect invisible but reveals spirits instead of invisible creatures; can be used to identify a disguised spirit)
Hypnotic Gaze: Once per day (as charm person, but the subject saves at +2 and the effect only lasts 1d4 +1 rounds)
Mystical Knowledge: 2-in-6 chance to know mystical lore (arcane secrets and forgotten rituals), as determined by the referee
Minimum INT 13+
Fireball is considered a 5th level spell instead of 3rd level
Must take charm person at 1st level
Cannot be lawful
Meditates and prays for access to spells rather than studying from a spellbook (for flavor only; no mechanical changes)
Wears hooded robes and carries a sacred symbol
11PlebianStreetwise informant skilled in gossip and gathering and disseminating information.
Outgoing: Gains a +2 reaction rolls bonus with non-player characters of the same or lower social rank
Shadow: Can trail someone in a densely populated urban area without being noticed with the same chance of success as a thief’s move silently skill
Contacts: Has a number of contacts equal to their maximum number of retainers based on Charisma score
(See Contacts tables)
Cannot find or remove traps or climb walls
Gains a -2 reaction roll penalty against non-player characters of higher social rank
Carries a worn cloak and a pouch full of trinkets
12SaturnalianA festival reveler, mischievous and adept at using the guise of merrymaking for espionage.
Masquerade: Can disguise themselves as another individual or altering appearance with a chance of success equal to a Thief’s hear noise skill
Confusion: If using the optional rule for individual initiative, gain a bonus of +1 to initiative rolls
Cannot find or remove traps or open locks
Cannot use two-handed weapons
Cannot be lawful
Usually carries a masquerade mask (elaborately carved; hides identity and may contain secret compartments), musical instrument, and/or bag of tricks

Plebian Contacts

D6: Contact Knowledge
  1. Criminal Underworld
  2. Gossip: Merchant/Guild
  3. Gossip: Political
  4. Gossip: Religious
  5. Navigating Bureaucracy
  6. Secret Pathways
D8: Contact Occupation
  1. Aqueduct Worker
  2. Baker
  3. Bathhouse Attendant
  4. Debt Collector
  5. Fencer of Goods
  6. Gravedigger
  7. Street Performer
  8. Temple Scribe
D8: Contact Quirk
  1. Always in Debt
  2. Artist (secret; poems or songs)
  3. Clutches a Lucky Charm
  4. Drinks like a Fish
  5. Mimics Accents/Voices
  6. Obsessed with Superstitions
  7. Riddle and Rhyme Master
  8. Talented Pet (crow that steals keys, etc.)
D8: Contact Name
  1. Aelia
  2. Cornelia
  3. Flavius
  4. Julia
  5. Livia
  6. Marcus
  7. Sextus
  8. Titus

Augur Deities

Roll D4
  1. Jupiter: King of the gods; associated with omens and divination
  2. Juno: Queen of the gods; guidance on matters of state security and public well-being
  3. Minerva: Goddess of wisdom; omens regarding military success
  4. Mars: God of war; omens regarding potential threats to the Empire

Vestal Acolyte Deities

While traditionally a Vestal Acolyte would only worship Vesta, this setting uses the title more generically, so other deities are possible (e.g., Cererian Acolyte). 

Roll D4
  1. Vesta: Goddess of hearth, home, and flame; symbolizes continuity and stability of the state
  2. Ceres: Goddess of agriculture, grain, fertility; invoked for bountiful harvests and stability
  3. Diana: Goddess of the hunt, wilderness, childbirth; invoked for protection and her connection to nature
  4. Venus: Goddess of love, beauty, pleasure; counterpoint to Vesta's charity and austerity

Mystagogue Detities

While the Mystagogue is a Magic-User class concept, they are closely tied to the gods of the Roman pantheon, so picking a patron deity is appropriate. 

Roll D10

    1-2 Bacchus: God of wine, fertility, theater, altered states of consciousness and mystical experiences
    3-4 Cybele: The Great Mother; cyclical mysteries
    5-6 Mithras: Light, truth, contracts, esoteric knowledge
    7-8 Trivia (Hecate): Magic, witchcraft, crossroads, power and dark knowledge
    9-10 Hermes/Thoth: Travelers, thieves, wisdom, arcane knowledge

Deity Info

  • Jupiter
    • Colors: White, purple
    • Symbols: Eagle, thunderbolt, oak tree
  • Juno
    • Colors: White, gold
    • Symbols: Peacock, pomegranate, scepter
  • Minerva
    • Colors: Gray, blue
    • Symbols: Owl, helmet, shield, olive branch
  • Mars
    • Colors: Red, black
    • Symbols: Wolf, spear, shield, laurel wreath
  • Vesta
    • Colors: White, gold, orange
    • Symbols: Flame, hearth, donkey, circular altar
  • Ceres
    • Colors: Gold, yellow, green
    • Symbols: Wheat, grain stalks, cornucopia
  • Venus
    • Colors: Pink, red, purple
    • Symbols: Dove, seashell, mirror
  • Diana
    • Colors: Silver, white, green
    • Symbols: Crescent moon, bow and arrow, bear, hound
  • Bacchus
    • Colors: Purple, red
    • Symbols: Vine, grapes, goblet
  • Cybele
    • Colors: Brown, gold, black
    • Symbols: Lion, drum, mountain
  • Mithras
    • Colors: Red, gold, white
    • Symbols: Bull, torch, snake, scorpion
  • Trivia
    • Colors: Black, silver, white
    • Symbols: Dog, torch, 3-headed goddess, crossroads
  • Hermes/Thoth
    • Colors: Gold, black, white
    • Symbols: Winged sandals, caduceus, ibis, papyrus scroll


Many of the pieces of equipment can also be turned into magic items. The Plebian's Lucky Charm might provide a luck bonus or the Calcei Fortunae of the Lares Viales might provide a speed bonus, for example.
  • Augur
    • Augurum: Bronze birdcage containing a sacred white dove used for augury through its flight patterns
    • Patera Divinatoria: Shallow, silver dish engraved with constellations, used for offerings and divinatory rituals involving water or fire
  • Vestal Acolyte
    • Pallas Flammeus: Flowing white veil woven with threads of gold, worn during sacred rituals and imbued with the warmth of the eternal flame
    • Sacer Ignis: Ceremonial silver lamp fueled by a special oil distilled from sacred herbs, burning with an unwavering flame
    • Urna Vestae: Small clay urn adorned with flames, holding a symbolic portion of the eternal flame from the Temple of Vesta
  • Genius Montis
    • Mountain Gear: Leather gloves and boots (for traversing mountainous terrain) and a backpack (including climbing gear and mining tools)
    • Sigillum Montis: Heavy silver ring engraved with the symbol of the mountain spirit
    • Aegis Terrae: Shield made with ore from the mountain
  • Faun / Satyr
    • Panula Sylvatica: Wooden pan flute adorned with leaves and feathers
    • Vitis Arboris: Necklace made from entwined vines and berries
  • Aquilifer
    • Vox Bellonae: Bronze war horn engraved with sceiens of battle, used ot rally troops and intimidate foes
    • Leather Belt Pouch: With maps and military seals
  • Architect / Engineer
    • Papyrus Scroll: With detailed plans for siege engines, fortifications, or ingenious traps
    • Leather Pouch: With a surveyor's compass, miniatures saws, hammers, and crafting tools, allowing for on-the-fly repairs, sabotage, or improvisation of battlefield tools
  • Legionary
    • Fortuna Dice: Pair of engraved die rolled before battle for good luck
    • Eagle Feather: Plucked from the legion's standard, carried as a token of loyalty and a reminder of the oath to the Empire
  • Patrician
    • Orator's Scroll: Carefully prepared speech on a matter of public interest, ready to be delivered
    • Detailed Map: With trade routes, political alliances, and potential threats, marked with personal annotations and observations
    • Bribery Purse: Discreet pouch filled with gold coins, gemstones, and tokens of favor, used for bribing bureaucrats or to secure valuable information
  • Lares Viales
    • Calcei Fortunae: Worn leather booths "enchanted" with blessings of luck and swiftness
    • Tabula Hospitae: Small clay tablet inscribed with symbols of hospitality, carried as a token of good will; used to gain shelter and assistance from those encountered on the road
  • Mystagogue
    • Liber Arcanorum: Leahter-bound book filled with cryptic symbols and rituals; a guide to forgotten lore and mystical practices
    • Pendulum Astrale: Silver pendant hanging from a chain, inscribed with celestial constellations, used to align with cosmic energies
    • Capitellum Mysterioso: Carved stone head representing an ancient deity or spirit
  • Plebian
    • Disguise Kit: Collection of wigs, facial hair, and clothing scraps used to blend in with any crowd, disappear into the shadows, or impersonate unsuspecting targets
    • Lucky Charm: Trinket of questionable origin imbued with personal superstition
  • Saturnalian
    • Carnival Dice: Set of loaded dice used to cheat at games of chance and fleece the unsuspecting during the festive chaos
    • Juggler's Pouches: Contain hidden smoke bombs, blinding dust, and/or itching powder ot use as distractions


These are just a few samples, and like many of the ideas in this mini-setting, are not always historically accurate but instead based on broad tropes associated with a fantasy fiction Roman Empire setting. Many ideas in this setting were selected for playability or inspiration versus historical accuracy.

D6: Forum NPCs
  1. Diviner
  2. Orator
  3. Praetorian Guard
  4. Senator
  5. Shopkeeper
  6. Street Performer
D6: Temple NPCs
  1. Acolyte
  2. Beggar
  3. Diviner
  4. Oracle Speaker
  5. Pilgrim
  6. Priest/Priestess
D6: Tavern NPCs
  1. Barmaid
  2. Drunkard
  3. Gambler
  4. Mercenary
  5. Secret Agent
  6. Traveling Merchant
D6: Farm & Villa NPCs
  1. Artisan
  2. Farmer / Herder
  3. Hunter / Trapper
  4. Merchant
  5. Slave
  6. Patrician's Family Member
D6: Road NPCs
  1. Beggar / Thief
  2. Caravanner / Merchant
  3. Escaped Slave
  4. Legionary
  5. Messenger
  6. Travelling Entertainer
D6: Other NPCs
  1. Animal Trainer
  2. Aqueduct Worker
  3. Bathhouse Attendant
  4. Fortuneteller
  5. Gladiator
  6. Gravedigger

Adversaries: Humans & Humanoids

  • Corrupt Officials
    • Power-hungry governors, scheming senators, and ruthless tax collectors
    • Tactics: employ assassins; manipulate the law; foment unrest to maintain power
  • Fanatical Cults
    • Zealous adherents to forbidden gods, ancient rituals, or revolutionary ideologies
    • Tactics: utilize fanatic assassins; mystical powers; guerilla tactics; forbidden rituals; psychic manipulation
  • Bandit Clans
    • Ruthless outlaws and raiders plaguing trade routes and looting settlements
    • Tactics: Ambushes; traps; ferocious warriors
  • Rival Legions
    • Ambitious generals and disloyal legions vying for power
    • Tactics: political maneuvering; coups; open warfare; betrayal; espionage
  • Arena Champions
    • Gladiators with dark secrets, monstrous enhancements, or divine favor
    • Tactics: powerful magic; forbidden fighting techniques

Adversaries: Monstrous Threats

  • Chimeric Beasts
    • Hybrid creatures forged from forbidden magic, warped natural experiments, or the remnants of ancient beasts
    • Powers: unnatural powers; regenerative abilities; devastating destructive capabilities
  • Undead Legions
    • Risen warriors from ancient battlefields, restless spirits driven by vengeance, and cursed souls trapped in undeath
    • Powers: coordinated tactics; fear-inducing auras; potent necromantic magic
  • Mythical Creatures
    • Reborn legends like vengeful minotaurs, cunning sphinxes, or monstrous gorgons
    • Powers: Legendary strengths; magical abilities; ancient curses
  • Shapeshifters
    • Deceptive creatures mimicking human forms to infiltrate cities, manipulate society, or feed on unsuspecting victims
    • Powers: stealth; disguise magic; mimicry; sow chaos and discord

Adversaries: Gods & Spirits

  • Elemental Spirits
    • Corrupted guardians of fire, water, earth, and air, twisted by ancient curses, industrial greed, or the imbalance of magical energies
    • Tactics: unleash natural disasters; possess elemental magic; command lesser creatures of their respective element
  • Forbidden Patrons
    • Powerful entities offering dark gifts, forbidden knowledge, and shortcuts to ultimate power in exchange for sacrifices, service, or the corruption of the mortal soul
    • Tactics: tempt heroes with visions of glory, manipulate their desires, and demand ever-greater prices
  • Trickster Deities
    • Playful, potentially dangerous, divine beings
    • Tactics: use illusions, riddles, and unpredictable challenges to sow mischief, test mortals, and manipulate events
  • Vengeful Spirits
    • Betrayed ancient heroes denied their rightful rest or restless ghosts seeking vengeance
    • Tactics: ghostly powers, possess loved ones, malevolent curses   

Other D12 Class Concepts

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: Batch 22 Aquavit (neat)
Listening: "Catch the Groove: Live at the Penthouse 1963 - 1967" by Cal Tjader (two-LP vinyl)


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