Early in the first century AD, a Roman legion vanished from the records. This legion, the Legio IX Hispana, took part in the invasion of Britain. Later in its history, it suffered a serious defeat when Boudicea revolted against Roman rule, and was reinforced by troops from the German frontier. Its last recorded presence in the historical records was in 108AD in Eboracum (modern day York). It was not present in the complete list of active legions recorded by Marcus Aurelius in 180AD.
In the popular version of history, the legion vanished when it went north to put down an uprising of Picts in Scotland. Many modern day historians believe the legion was simply reposted or disbanded, but for a historical fantasy RPG setting, there are much more fun things we can do!
In the Ninth Legion setting, the entire legion found itself transported to another world, which they called Arcadia. In Arcadia, magic and monsters are real, geography is sometimes fluid, and cursing an enemy is a dangerous thing to do. The Romans were not the first group to cross over- some Celtic tribes had already settled there.
There was no way back, so the Romans also settled, and did their best both to continue their lives and impose their values in this strange place.
A hundred years have passed since the Romans first arrived, and the city of New Rome rules a province of the Empire on another world. The player characters are Agents of the Ninth– imperial intelligence operatives with the duty of dealing with threats to New Rome that the army can’t deal with. Some of these threats are open, some covert, some external, some internal. Agents of the Ninth include people from throughout Arcadia, not just the Roman parts; New Rome and the people of Arcadia share enemies, though relations are often strained or hostile.
The following is an extract from the book’s introduction, detailing the people of Arcadia.
People of Arcadia
There are several human groups who make their home in Arcadia. These groups resemble certain peoples of the old world, but have no memory of it- they have been on Arcadia for centuries longer than the Romans, at least. In any case, the New Romans consider them to be natives of Arcadia, and refer to them as the Arcadian Tribes.
Broadly speaking, these people come in three tribal groups. They consist of the Belgae, the Iverni and the Picts. The Belgae are nomadic warriors with shapechanging powers. The Iverni are the most settled of the Arcadian groups, and many of them are either allied to New Rome or under its rule. Finally there are the Picts, who have both differences and similarities to the Picts of the old world. On Arcadia, they worship and gain power from the Fae.
There are signs of older vanished civilisations on Arcadia. The stone circles and monoliths which dot parts of the land are zones of stability, and as mysterious to the Arcadian tribes as they are to the New Romans. Pyramids as magnificent as those of Egypt are present in the southern plains. Even in New Roman territory, the Library of Athena was not created by them- it was discovered.
The only true natives of Arcadia are the Fae. The Fae are magical beings, and include the nature spirits and genii loci acknowledged by the Romans, even in the old world, great savage beasts who are all the more frightening because of the signs of intelligence they sometimes show, goblins and ogres, and the cruel Fomori who rule over the lesser Fae. As a rule, the Romans fear and hate the Fae, who are capricious creatures and fiercely oppose civilisation. Worse, they hold an entire race of people in inhuman servitude, exacting bloody sacrifices from them.
The Fae see the Romans as invaders and despoilers of Arcadia, who need to be wiped out. After all, the Romans have already forced the Iverni to follow their ways. The human allies of the Fae, chiefly the Picts, feel the same way about the Romans. For its part, the New Roman state needs to impose its virtues, and above all else order and stability, not just on the people of Arcadia, but the very land. Otherwise it will be swept away as the older civilisations were.
For some the price is to high. Even those who see order as desirable will not happily submit to Roman conquest- freedom is more important. Those closest to the Fae do not value order. The Fae themselves hate stability, and only value the temporary order they can impose themselves.
* * * *
Some of the worst threats the Agents of the Ninth can face are powerful hostile Fae who set themselves up as gods, taking human sacrifices from human followers who are as much victims as allies. How can one deal with such a situation when New Roman interests are at stake, and pure brute force is not going to provide a solution?