WIR-S1E01.5–Inventing Cispia

Salvete, caniculae! And that’s about as much Latin as I can muster. I used to be more fluent than that—and even briefly spoke Latin for about a month while strolling in the Quartier Latin with my father about thirty years ago—but I’ve lost my Latin since, so I can’t compete with Perseus Americanus Senex.

Anyway, he promised a bonus episode, so here it is.

Character-Building Tools

G. Crespus Scorpio, from Episode 1, is a reinvention of an old PC of mine (from my GURPS days), but Cispia Peregrina is an original creation for this series. Even better, she’s a PC or GMC anyone could come up with, using the following resources:

  1. the random Roman name generator from fantasynamegeneratord.com;
  2. Google translate;
  3. then AI-based drawing app artflow.ai; and:
  4. a bit of research.

Now, step (4) is dependent on prior knowledge but does not require much. By the time When In Rome is playable, you’ll probably have better quality actionable knowledge than I did when I created Cispia. Working from old memories, I had to correct a few, learn new stuff, etc. 

Method: an early alpha

If possible, always start with a female GMC. Female GMCs give you an immediate anchor to other characters: their father and husband. Ponder it for a minute. Perseus Americanus Senex mentioned Roman citizens’ mental gymnastics upon learning someone’s name. You can appreciate how it reinforced Roman patriarchy—and Cispia’s Distinctio Cognoscenda.

An important caveat: this is an early alpha of the GMC/Threat generator for When In Rome. Features are missing, including a typology of Threats and GMCs. On the upside, GMCs such as Cispia and her relatives are created as partially defined PCs (see also here). On the downside: it’s time-consuming, and there’s not much structure for pre-existing relations between GMCs (see here).

That said, the method works as is, so, let’s get to it.

Cispia Peregrina, Step-by-Step

The first step is the Roman Name Generator. Hit “Get Female Names” and pick one you like. I chose Cispia Peregrina (and did not take a screenshot, so don’t look for it in Fig. 1) because I remembered that peregrinus means “foreigner,” and thought it interesting. I also took a mental note of Cispius, the nomen gentilicium of Cispia’s father.

Fig. 1: Landing page for the Roman Name Generator.

Had my Latin skills been rustier, I’d have headed to Google Translate, or better (for French speakers), the online Gaffiot.fr (Fig. 2).

But I could move to step two, hitting the Get Male Names, got Metius Bantius Caecina; and Appius Consentius Iunianus, from which I obtained Appius Cispius Iunianus substituting Crispius to Consentius.

For step three, I headed to artflow.ai and ran the generator multiple times with names, and added descriptors. I notice that adding “BCE” (“before the common era”) results in a Roman-style marble, save (strangely enough) when paired with “elderly” or “old”—that’s why A. Cispius Iunianus is “middle-aged.” The “known womanizer” is an association between “Iunianus” and “Juni” (the month of Juno), but that’s a Q-anon level do-your-own-research brain fart.

The Details

At that point, I had only decided M. Bantius was peregrinus from traveling as a cloth merchant. This implied M. Bantius Peregrinus would be plebeian—and so, too, would be A. Cispius Iunianus, because a patrician would not marry his daughter to a trader (Perseus Americanus Senex will cover that soon).

That was lucky, in a make-your-own-luck kind of way: with neither “Bantius” nor “Cispius” ringing any bells, I had chalked the names as Plebeian and run with the intuition. It turned out that I was correct: both the gens Bantia and gens Cispia are historical families, which I could have checked against the Roman Gentes Wikipedia category

From the Gaffiot, I had learned that Caecina was a hereditary cognomen in the gens Licinia, notably featured in the title Cicero’s Pro Caecina. As for the gens, if it rings a bell, it’s probably from Spartacus and Marcus Licinius Crassus, the “Richest man in Rome”. So there was no way M. Bantius could have that one, with peregrinus as agnomen. So, Caecina had to go.

Wrapping up: In Retrospect

When In Rome is aiming for historical accuracy but the right amount of authenticity. Part of that is to breathe some Roman life in the GMCs, and give the players a feel of “what it is like to be a Roman.” And since I’ll be the GM in GMC, might as well have GMCs with some good backstories. Cispia Peregrina certainly has one.

Now, for what I’d do differently: I’d check the Roman Gentes between steps one and two—and that’s about all I’d change. I wouldn’t be as thorough with every NPC, but I needed a few iconic ones. With G. Crespus Scorpio and Cispia Peregrina, I’ve covered the Roman side. 

And that will be all for today, folks.

One Comment Add yours

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s