Female/non-binary locked Roman Emperor MC?


#21

Depends on what you wish to do lass. It’s fiction, not academic work and I believe the author is free to make his choices. However given that you’re aiming at historical fiction, the historian in me has to tell you that there are things to consider.

An Empress would not have been impossible… during the 5th century maybe. During the second and third centuries it would not be unlikely but impossible as a matter of fact, sparring you all the details on succession during the first phase of the empire, just know that as a matter of fact there wasn’t a fixed law on succession, hence two civil wars that led to dynastic changes in 68-69 and later 193-197 because the imperator didn’t have a designated heir. And this heir always was an aristocratic roman male citizen.

But that’s the thing, I think it would be a strength for the story to explore these potential loopholes. Giving a background story on how the MC came to power would not only be interesting but present us with opportunity in an alternate history story. How and why and she got designated, her background, so on…
Tricky but if done right I believe a gender-locked female game would be very good since the idea is awesome and the opportunities are many. By all means have at it.

Then there is personnal note. As I said, it’s up to the author to organize their work but if you ask me, a genderlocked female story is tricky enough and more importantly interessting enough as it is and I don’t see how you’d make it work with a non-binary MC. If your original idea was about a Female NPC you should go that way, but I don’t see how the former would bring something additionnal to the story. The whole point of the story is to explore the possibility of an empress, if you’re going to add stuff than you should go all the way and do the usual format of “MALE/FEMALE/NON-BINARY” but I feel that would make the experience less original. Genderlocked female games are rare enough and the idea is good so as far as I’m concerned, this format is enough for a good game.

Plus, I don’t like it when people are trying to apply modern concepts to ancient societies which didn’t consider or even have them. You cant reason and imagine an ancient society by today’s thinking and expectations. It’s called anachronism and there’s an awful lot of it going because of the general public. Remeber, by today’s standards roman society was highly inegalitarian, with power held by men and overall very different from what we know from modern societies. The state or service to it however was also an opportunity. There are different dynamics to consider. History and alternate History are rich and complexe enough as they are without having to rewrite mentalities or oversimplify things. Don’t pull an Assassin’s Creed : Odyssey.

Well that being said, I think you have a good thing going on their, good luck wit it. :+1:


#22

That is a good point, because in the year of the four emperors (69 CE) Vitellius took the throne but did so in a very bad day in regards of omens. Apparently he wasn’t that good of an emperor anyways, but that didn’t certainly help his case. So I’ll have to think about that.

No worries mate, you’re talking to a historian with a Master’s Degree here who’s specialized in Ancient Rome, mainly the late Republic and the early Empire. But I appreciate your input. I’m going to make my own alternate universe which is based on real possibilities and events. Not overly historically accurate in regards of actual events and people, but I’ll work with the rules set in the time period.


#23

Fun concept. There aren’t enough Roman CoGs out there — and especially not ones about rulership/politics. I’m very interested in this one. Ancient Roma has always been my favorite.

Really fascinated about the ruling empress thing. Sounds like the main point of your story idea. I’m really looking forward to it. History is one of those things where — just because something didn’t happen doesn’t mean it couldn’t have happened. A lot of events in history wouldn’t have been conceivable to those living it. Thumbs up from me!

As for the gender options — I’m mostly indifferent. I think your story idea of a ruling empress sounds like the crux of your plot and I’d say to focus on it. Plus, there are enough gender locked male games out there anyway. But if it wouldn’t be too difficult or to offer other options then maybe there’s little reason not to offer options, since that does tend to matter to people. I’m good with whatever.

Regardless I’m looking forward to this one and hope it does well! Do you have any plans for an eventual beta?


#24

Thank you so much for your encouraging words! :blush: That’s true, many things would’ve been inconceivable for the people in their time period but it could’ve still happened.

I’m afraid I’ll have to take some time to learn the ropes with the coding but I’ll try to get the beta out as soon as I’m able. I’m not a total noob with it but it may take some time to get it right.

It’s nice to see that I could go either way with the gender locking, people aren’t that unanimous with this subject.


#25

I must say that most of the time i hate gender-locked games, but, in this case, as it is the focus of your narrative, i think it would be more beneficial to have a female MC. But i would say more. I think even though your narrative would be beneficiated by the MC being female(as in, biologically), it would be a lovely feature to let us choose our gender identity. We would have a lot of struggles, and different ones at that, that would motivate me to play them all.


#26

It wouldn’t be an anachronism for someone to be transgender in any time in which humans have existed. It, sure, would be an anachronism to use modern terminology. Romans might react in some very unfortunate ways depending on how the character would present themself. For example, if the character dresses in tunic and toga, that could be rather scandalous (and could be an interesting option to include even for a character who identifies as female). But, well, Roman history already provides us, in the opposite direction, with Heliogabalus (or Elagabalus). It’s a bit tricky to fully disentangle how Heliogabalus would identify if living in the present day, plus a bit difficult to determine what’s rumor and what’s historical, but Heliogabalus is said to have wanted to be referred to as female, wished for surgery (which was not available), etc. The Romans didn’t exactly take to that, but certainly the idea is there.

And, well, the Romans were in cultural contact with Egypt, given that they ruled it, which had the precedent of Hatshepsut, who presented as a male pharaoh. And if a Roman emperor is taking on various male-gendered titles, actually presenting as a male could go along with that.

Trans people have always existed. Any DFAB person trying to rule Rome as emperor would face challenges, but that’s what this concept would be about anyway.


#27

Yes! One of the things that came to mind while I was thinking this concept was the apparel. If you wore a toga in Rome and weren’t a man, you were a female prostitute. The emperor could choose to wear a toga and try to own it, but it would appear quite scandalous. You could also choose your pronouns and people would have to deal with it because you could chop their heads off. You could choose how you’re called as an emperor, are you taking a neutral, feminine or masculine name for yourself.

And of course you could choose the motives why you’re presenting yourself the way you are. Are you doing it for the politics or are you just doing what is most natural for you given your gender etc. Which, in itself, is a political act too, given the MC’s gender by birth.


#28

I have been quietly following this thread since it was made. While the majority of the feedback seems to be actionable, there is something specific I desire to address: What we “know” and do not “know” about the setting in question.

Pompeii is a site that has been discovered and explored for 250+ years, so you would think we “know” pretty much everything there is to know about Pompeii and the volcanic event that destroyed the city.

The simple fact is: We don’t and quite often something new or different is (re)discovered that changes our knowledge of Pompeii. The actual date of the disaster has just been revised and this is something that we “knew” for a very long time.

With regards to the title of Emperor - there are still many unknowns that influence our understanding of what an Emperor was/is.

Both Julia the Elder and Julia the Younger and their various (mis)adventures are fresh memories during your setting’s time-frame.

Because of this fact:

I would argue that you can easily world-build historical-based justifications for female and non-binary Emperors into your alternative world using these two Roman women as the basis.

Heck, as a historian studying that period, you also should be aware of the many other possibilities for possible influences … from Septimia Zenobia the Queen of Palmyra (also quite close to your chosen time-period) to Cleopatra herself… there are many different possibilities that are both historical and flexible enough for you to manipulate the way you seek to.

I do not see the dilemma in the same manner that most here seem to be responding. To me, as a hobbyist-level historian of this period, the social position and ancestry would be the determining factors with regards to social acceptance and not gender by itself. Rome and its citizens were a lot more flexible in adapting to whomever held power …

Julia the Elder, Julia the Younger and Septimia Zenobia all show that non-males and non-masculine people could survive in the Roman political world and @Rogar already pointed out the possibility of non-binary acceptance later …

I just see you having the ability to shape and form this world as you see fit for your story… historically speaking you can find support for whatever you decide to do.


#29

Thank you for your insightful input. Indeed there have been many women in power in the ancient world. I actually took some time to research this when I first thought that I’d make my Master’s Thesis on how ancient historians described foreign women in power, for example Boudicca, Cleopatra and Zenobia. I eventually ended up with a different subject but nevertheless I find this topic interesting.

Originally I came up with this female emperor idea when I read about Commodus and his sister Lucilla, who tried to assassinate her brother. I don’t want to give too much away in such an early state, but that’s why I put the disclaimer in the poll as if in saying: no worries people, I’ve got this covered.

And that’s a good point, what we know about the ancient world changes by the decades. I just read an academic book from the 90’s which addressed Romans’ sexuality, which they described as solely heterosexual. This is a frustratingly recurring theme in the books from 00’s too, people don’t seem to be able to see their own biased views on the matter of different sexualities. That the sexualities as we now understand them cannot be directly incorporated in the ancient Rome. Heterosexuality, for example, is nowadays seen as the norm, so it’s far too easy to think that it would’ve been a norm in the ancient world too. (Even if there are ancient texts that clearly indicate otherwise.) So what we “know” changes all the time and it’s also depended on the time period during which the scholars research the ancient texts and other matter.

Thank you so much for the tip regarding the two Julias, those are the two women in power I haven’t had the time to study yet. I will have to change that.


#30

When I saw this I must confess that I immediately thought of Type-Moon’s version of Nero Claudius Caeser Agustus Germanicus.

I was afraid that people might compare your story to that, however, considering your education and specializtion I believe you can pull it off in your way. I really want to see what you have in mind for us. :slightly_smiling_face:


#31

Haha, that looks interesting. There’s a whole other level of artistic freedom I didn’t exactly have in mind. :smile:


#32

Alright, I’m interested.

sips coffee

I think most of the ancient Rome related stuff I’ve read are focused on gladiators or soldiers and stuff.
Perhaps I have not read enough IF. So, this one is quite new to me.


#33

How funny that the Julias came up! I was thinking of them too — and I’m pleasantly surprised I’m not the only one who did. Julia the Elder is particularly fascinating because everything about her downfall reads like a political scandal that was covered up behind alleged promiscuity. There’s considerable evidence that there were Julian and Claudian factions over the succession, led by Julia and Livia respectively, who differed both over the simple matter of whose children and bloodline would rule after Augustus and the more interesting disagreement over political styles. The idea seemed to be they would rule through their sons. Livia won that battle with the disgrace of Julia and the death of her sons Gaius and Lucius Caesar, but you see the conflict replay in the conflict between Tiberius (Claudian) and Julia’s other daughter Agrippina (Julian) and her husband Germanicus and their different political styles.

The whole trope of a sexual scandal being used to undermine the idea of female power would recur again and again in Roman history. Valeria Messalina. Agrippina the Younger. Faustina the Younger. Pulcherria. Heck, even Amalasuntha and Theodora in the post-Imperial period.

But? Could a woman have held onto power as a regent or even in her own right? Julia came close, through Agrippa and her grandkids. Agrippina the Elder was Germanicus’s public partner in most things. Agrippina the Younger basically ran the Empire for a time, until Nero grew older. By the time of Amalasuntha, the Roman Senate and civil service practically straight up accepted Amalasuntha as the ruling Ostrogothic queen and embodiment of classical Roman virtues.

The traditionally negative portrayals of women in power come to us largely via senatorial historians with a potential axe to grind. Even then. We still emerge with positive portrayals of Lucilla, Zenobia, and Amalasuntha. It’s likely these were rhetorical, intended to contrast them with the inadequate male rulers they were being contrasted with (Commodus, Gallienus, and Justinian) but still — I think the general sense that we should take ancient historians at their word is flawed. You’re right to want to try something different.

All this to say — I think you have a great many examples to chose from. Both to justify your ruling empress historically and to get inspiration about the resistance the traditional aristocracy would have to the concept of a woman in power, and the kind of attacks they’d employ to try to delegitimize her.

And if you’re using Lucilla as an example? Commodus was terrible enough and Lucilla politically connected enough to pull it off, I think. And she, for one, was well-regraded by the Senate.

Lastly if you’re researching Julia, I highly recommend the brief snippet in Macrobius about Julia’s Wit. It’s late Imperial but reflects the ideas people had about Julia and how she was regarded — basically she was known for her love of literature and learning, and was beloved by the people for her humanity and kindness. It was the contrast to a traditional Roman matron that I think made her well liked — she was politically involved and visible in her care for the people. Your prospective ruling empress may be of the same mold too, maybe?


#34

I think you should go with the female genderlock. It’s a huge part of your story. I personally only play games I can be a straight male on, but in this case I think you should lock it on female. That’s the way you are writing the story so stick with it bud. I love Roman times so I’m sure you will do it well


#35

I think it should not be gender lock at all I feel each gender could have its own set of problems to deal with in the
or how they became emperor for example:

1.Male: One of my favorite story of rise to emperor would be Claudius who was hiding behind a curtain when the emperor was killed by his own guards. the guards found him and then proclaim him the new emperor (After he bought there loyalty ). Maybe if you pick male a similar set of events play out

2.Female:I don’t remember if this happen or not but in the Eastern empire the Emperor wife ruled when her husband die she rule as regent for her son who had not come of age yet and I think that the empress even killed her own son so she could still rule when he came to age (I could be totally wrong about all this)
for non binary

I couldn’t really think of an idea for non binary but I think you will come up with something great. :grinning:
Also a question about the setting are you putting this story in golden age for the empire or an down fall age type? keep up the good work


#36

While I don’t want to poop on anyone’s party, and while I do want to see this CoG going forward, I find this statement too incomplete (sorry @Eiwynn, you are great! :frowning:). I mean, Julia the Elder and Julia the Younger, or even women like the wife of Augustus and Agrippina ARE good examples of women with political power and with a say in the political sphere… BUT they are also a pretty good example of how much male-dominated and sexist roman society was. Because when we look to how their influence was seen by those around them, damn, things get dirty really fast. Every woman that held some degree of informal power in Rome is portrayed as cunning, power-hungry, blood-thirsty, willing to do anything (sleep with anyone, kill anyone) to acquire and maintain that power.

And then we have Roman law, which is another good example of sexism, with the entire concept of pater familias and how legally and religiously (and lets not kid ourselves, those two are intelinked) the pater familias is at the core of the social system and the familiar system in Ancient Rome. I’m no expert in Roman law, my doctoral research is focused on imperial power, its conception, propagandistic nature (or not) and reception and consequent constructed image in the minds of those in Roman society. So others are surely more qualified to talk about Roman law and these subject matters, still, having a woman being the publicly recognized emperor would be a radically revolutionary thing in Ancient Rome given the gender roles that existed, the balance of power between all players and the dominant mentality of the period. Not saying it would be impossible, but the fact that Romans never had one IS indeed relevant, and the fact that one never came close to be one is also relevant. A de facto female Empress pulling all the strings on a male puppet? Completely possible.

But then again, hardcore historical accuracy should NEVER get in the way of a good story and a good game, especially if it is set in Ancient Rome. Go for it @HaleyM! I’ll be one of the first persons to buy it when it is released! The world needs more stories in Ancient Rome :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

P.S. As a friend of mine tells me “historians suck the fun out of everything”… Sorry if that seemed the case, just can’t resist a chance to talk about Rome :smiley: And if I can make you aware of how difficult you will need to make the path of the MC, the better (I’m sure you are already, but it’s always better to make sure @HaleyM).


#37

Thank you for the reading tip, I’ll be sure to check this out!

I’m mainly thinking of the time period when things start to gradually go south for the Empire, the 200’s. I’m not including real people (although I will include past emperors to the lore) nor historically accurate events. I’ll make sure to make good use of my artistic freedom :stuck_out_tongue:

Thank you! My main focus here is to make it seem believable, even if maybe it couldn’t have happened just so in reality. And I don’t plan to make it easy for the MC, they’ll have a difficult time to hold the reins.

We are indeed a dry bunch. :wink:

Thank you all for the encouraging words and good tips, it’s nice to see that people are interested in Rome. I do appreciate the discussion and I’ve been getting a lot of good ideas from you.


#38

Perfect, every emperor after the Nerva-Antonine dynasty had some (and increasing) degree of difficulty in holding to his power, if we add the gender issue to the table we will have an amazing game to play!

I have to say that you won my curiosity with that comment, now I can’t wait to see how it might have happened if things happened differently. You have a fan right here. Still, I keep imagining the Empress getting damnatio memoriae slapped into her after death and all the stuff Roman authors say about other politically powerful women multiplied by 10 becoming her biography and our vision of her. :slight_smile:

Anyway, thanks for putting up with my rants. If I may ask, will you do an open beta or a closed one? I’m currently on a medical leave, so I can provide feedback (normal feedback, not this kind of historical nagging :laughing:) if you don’t mind it, I have been a beta tester in the past.


#39

Hey now, don’t spoil my endings! :laughing:

I’ll create an open beta when the time comes. There’s still a lot of work to do with this but I’ll make sure to ping you when it happens. I’ll be prepared for your nagging. :grin:


#41

Just wanted to voice my support for this project and am fine if it is gender locked! I would love to play as a Roman Emperor/Empress in a game and I think it is great if you decide to gender lock it. While not entirely unprecedented, female rulers were extremely rare in antiquity and offer many narrative possibilities as opposed to any sort of male ruler. A non-binary ruler also offers a lot of interesting opportunities and I think @Hazel is right in that a game where you can be anything but cis-male would be very, very interesting. I will play any game though no matter what you decide that lets me rule Rome though :joy: