"It's amazing what one can do when one doesn't know what one can do" (Jim Davis)

Veni, Vidi... Bassethwaite?

Author(s):Mel Dymond Harper, Wendy Prosser and Mo Holkar
Game EMail:info AT epic-experience DOT org DOT uk
Melanie "mel" Harper    mel AT herald DOT co DOT uk
Mo "Mo" Holkar    mo AT epic-experience DOT org DOT uk
Organization:Epic Experience
Home Page:http://www.epic-experience.org.uk
Male Players:Min: 16 / Max: 19
Female Players:Min: 5 / Max: 5
Neutral Players:Min: 0 / Max: 4
Total Players: Min: 21 / Max: 28

The year is 150 AD. Britannia is entirely occupied by the Romans. Well, not entirely... in the sleepy fortified encampment of Isca Bassetorum, built alongside the Pictish village of Bassethwaite, there is still something of an uneasy tension between conqueror and conquered.

Perhaps this is because the Battle of Basset Lake, the last reverse the Romans suffered during their grand sweep northwards, was fought nearby here – the XIIIth Legion was destroyed by a British warband, and its legion captured. Or perhaps it’s because the Sacred Spring that feeds the lake is a peculiarly holy place to the Druids, that strange nature-loving cult of whom the Britons are so fond. Or perhaps it’s because the mercantile culture so beloved by the Romans met its match in this prosperous part of Britain, renowned for its produce and its traders. Either way, life is not easy for the Roman provincial administration of Governor Habeas Corpus.

Today is a particularly special occasion. The new Emperor, blessed be his name, who ascended to the purple on a tide of blood unprecedented in the Empire’s history, has decreed that his favourite horse’s birthday should be celebrated throughout Roman lands, with gladiatorial games, feasting, and other spectacles. Not a problem by itself, but today also happens to be the highly holy Druidic festival of Sunreturn, at which the mystic priests carry out the rites necessary to guarantee prosperity in the year ahead. And not only that, but this part of Britais has in recent years fallen partly under the influence of missionaries from Ireland, bearing word of the strange new ‘Christian’ sect – a subversive cult not without its members even in the very heart of Rome.

It may be this upswelling of religious feeling that inspired, last night while everyone was asleep, the carving of a giant chalk figure in the down above the lake. Immediately dubbed ‘the Wide Woman of Bassethwaite’, it depicts a naked woman, spreadeagled for all to see. Speculation is rife as to who was the carver, and who the model.

There are visitors from Rome for the celebrations: the Vestal Virgin, Virgo Intacta, has arrived to officiate, and two renowned gladiators, ‘Slasher’ and ‘Hoppy’, will contest for the right to gasp out their blood on the baking sand (weather permitting). The Governor is hosting the event at his sparkling new villa, constructed by native labour under the supervision of the builder Spatulix: surely this augurs favourable business relations to come? An Egyptian merchant, Imhotep, is in town with all sorts of finery never seen in these parts before. And in the village tavern, run with warm bonhomie by Syphilix and Chlamydia, Roman and Briton drink side by side, whether their preference be for the weak local wine or the even weaker local beer.

What could possibly go wrong?

Harper, Melanie

Part of the Epic Experience (usually the part seen swearing at technology and/or sat up late the night before the game runs)

Holkar, Mo

Member of the Epic Experience team, purveyors of fine freeforms for the discerning since 1993.