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Caesar's Ashes (44 BC)
A Campaign for DBA

By Rory Naismith

The fragile peace won by Julius Caesar went up in smoke in March 44 BC, together with the corpse of the great dictator. An incensed crowd, stirred by the words of Marcus Antonius, Caesar's lieutenant, rioted through Rome and forced the assassins to flee the city. In the wake of these momentous events, the way was paved for more than a decade of bloody civil warfare that would decide the future of Europe.

In this campaign, I have tried to recreate the events as closely as possible. Of course, it is impossible to cover every possibility and factor in the conflict; in particular, the economic and political matters, which were of immense importance originally, have been more or less overlooked. However, I hope that what I have created does convey some of the feeling of this period and will give an entertaining campaign.


The campaign is designed for seven players, each of whom takes on the role of one of the major players in the crisis of 44BC. If you wish, you may delete one or more players - Sextus and Lepidus were the least vital, at least early in the struggle. If you want more players, allow someone to represent Cleopatra and discount the special rules for Egypt below. In addition, someone else could play the Parthians, who entered the conflict in 41BC.

The seven main players and their initial forces are outlined here:

Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus - Named as heir in Caesar's will and great-nephew of the dictator, the 18 year-old Octavian enjoyed considerable support in the eyes of Caesareans. At the outbreak of the troubles, he was concluding his education in Illyria, but soon ended his studies to take up statesmanship. Despite his youth, he proved an extremely able general and politician, gaining the support of the remaining Senators in Rome, his great uncle's inheritor in more than just blood. Begins in Dalmatia. Starting forces: 5x4Bd, 1x3Cv.

Marcus Antonius - Since the Gallic wars Mark Antony served as one of his master's most trusted lieutenants, and when Caesar was slain on the Ides of March Antony was preparing to take up his reward - the Consulate, with his master, of 44BC. After an initial period of anxiety and indecision, the former Legionary general decisively seized the initiative, proclaiming publicly his intention of avenging the fallen Caesar. Through this, he gained a large following of loyalists with which to move against the assassins. Begins in Italia. Starting forces: 4x3Bd, 2x3Cv.

Decimus Brutus - Considered by some a traitor, Decimus was master of the Roman fleets and one of Caesar's closest allies; he was named as heir should Octavian decline the appointment. Nevertheless, he was one of the most active among the assassins, and one of the most dynamic in its aftermath. Decimus fled from Rome to Cisalpine Gaul, where he immediately set about raising an army to challenge Antony and any other Caesareans. Begins in Gallia Cisalpina. Starting forces: 3x3Bd, 2x4Wb, 1x3Cv.

Gaius Cassius Longinus - Another of the foremost assassins was Cassius, former supporter of Pompey, great enemy of Caesar, but pardoned in 47BC. Together with Decimus Brutus and Marcus Junius Brutus he left Rome after Caesar's funeral, proceeding eastwards to raise an army for the republican cause. Eventually he secured himself in Syria and built a force from loyal expatriates and Roman garrisons. Begins in Syria. Starting forces: 3x4Bd, 2x4Aux, 1x2Ps.

Marcus Aemilius Lepidus - Lepidus enjoyed a long association with Caesar, and was appointed as guardian of Rome in 49BC. It was in Lepidus' house that the dictator enjoyed his last dinner, the night before the Ides of March, declaring that he would infinitely prefer a swift death to any other. Upon his master's death, he proceeded to the provinces he had earlier been assigned, namely Gallia Narbonensis and nearer Spain. Begins in Provincia Romana. Starting forces: 3x4Bd, 2x3Cv, 1x3Aux.

Sexteius Pompeius Magnus Pius - Following the disastrous defeats meted out by Caesar between 49 and 45BC the once-great Pompeian political party was all but destroyed. Pompey the Great and his eldest son were dead, and their troops scattered. However, his younger son, Sextus, remained at large in northern Spain, slowly building up his strength for another attempt at power. The death of Caesar was a great opportunity for him, and as an interested observer he played an important part in the ensuing power struggle. Begins in Hispania. Starting forces: 1x4Bd, 3x4Aux, 2x2Ps.

Marcus Junius Brutus - Another of the leading conspirators against Caesar, Marcus Junius Brutus was son-in-law of Marcus Porcius Cato; a leading statesman of earlier decades who had sided with the Pompeians and died a martyr's death at Utica in 46BC. Inheriting this mantle of republicanism, Marcus Junius Brutus was an active leader of the senatorial cause, and quickly set about forming an army in Achaia and Macedonia. Begins in Macedonia. Starting forces: 2x4Bd, 2x4Sp, 1x3Wb, 1x2LH.

Campaign Map

Note: All routes marked in dark blue are sea routes.

Campaign Rules

Movement: Movement rules are as given in the main DBA campaign rules except for the following exceptions:

  • An army may move through a territory occupied by another player unless he is at war with that player, effectively allowing more than one force to occupy the same territory; if he enters a territory with a hostile army in it, and either player wishes to fight a battle must take place or the army with fewer elements may elect to be besieged. If, at the end of the Autumn round, two hostile armies are still in the same territory then the besieger must retreat to another territory. Aside from this rule, all armies begin the spring round in the same territory that they ended the autumn round in.

  • To decide who moves first, each player rolls a die and the highest scorer takes first move. Repeat this at the end of every autumn round, with the high-scorer having the initiative in both the diplomacy round (see below) and the main combat rounds.

Reinforcement: In this campaign, players do not have territories assigned to their control. More, the objective is to build up armies and defeat those of the enemy to eventually become sole master of the Roman Empire.

Each general begins the game with a starting force of six elements. This may be added to in subsequent rounds and years by gathering troops from those available in the provinces. The troops contained by each province are listed below:

Hispania: 1x3Aux, 1x2Ps; Provincia Romana: 1x4Sp, 1x2Ps; Gallia Transalpina: 1x4Bd, 1x3Wb, 1x3Cv; Gallia Cisalpina: 1x4Bd, 1x4Sp, 1x2Ps; Italia: Special - see below; Mediterranean Isles: 1x2Ps; Africa: 2x4Bd, 1x3Cv, 1x2LH; Dalmatia: 2x3Aux; Macedonia: 2x4Bd, 1x4Pk; Achaia: 2x4Pk; Cyrenaica: 1x4Aux; Thracia: 2x4Aux; Asia: 2x4Bd, 2x4Pk; Galatia: 1xLCh, 2x4Wb; Cilicia: 1x3Aux, 1x2Ps; Syria: 1x4Bd, 2x4Sp, 1x3Kn; Judaea: 1x4Sp, 1x4Aux; Arabia: 1x2Ps; Aegyptus: Special - see below.

These elements are available for use by any player who spends one of their normal two movement stages to recruit them. The player may then choose one of the elements to take into his force. No more than one element may be gathered in this way per round, and once all elements in a territory have been taken then it can provide no more. It is quite possible for more than one player to take elements from the same territory, and the victor may choose to recruit from a province he has only just occupied. Also, it is possible for more than one player to recruit from the same territory in the same round.

The maximum for any general's army is twelve elements, although allied contingents do not count towards this total.

Since, after a while, troops will probably start to get pretty scarce, it is strongly suggested that players restrain themselves from frantically taking all reinforcements possible in the first few rounds.

Victory: There are a number of options for how to decide the winner of the campaign, depending on how much time and stamina you have. The most historic and decisive method is to play until only one general is left standing: the winner. However, this could take a very long time (the original campaign did not end until 31BC; that's 13 years of fighting).

The second method is based on the importance of Italia, which is the centre of the Roman world and the fount of most authority and wealth. Play for a set period of time (about 8-10 years), with the player whose army is in Italia or was the last to do so winning.

Another choice is a 'victory points' system. As the games are played, generals count up their victory points as follows: 1 for every enemy element destroyed, 3 for every battle won and an extra 3 for every enemy general killed. At the end of a set period (again, about 8-10 years) total up the points and see who has won.

Tactical withdrawal: With troops, especially veteran legionaries, an increasingly rare and valuable commodity, generals became anxious to cut their losses early and live to fight another day. For this reason, a general may choose to make a tactical withdrawal at the start of any bound, but only if he has lost at least one element and does not outnumber the enemy. A withdrawing force which has caused more casualties than it received is not pursued, and neither player may count the battle as a victory. However, under any other circumstances the withdrawing general is defeated and must roll a die to see how many elements he loses in retreating (1 on a score of 1 or 2, 2 elements on a score of 3 or 4 and 3 elements on a score of 5 or 6). A withdrawing general must always abandon the territory in which the battle took place.

Death of a general: Generals may be taken out of the campaign in a number of ways:

  1. If the element containing the general is destroyed in combat then he is dead; his force disbands and no longer exists.
  2. If a besieged force is captured you must roll a die to see what happens to the general. On a 6 he has managed to escape with one element of your choice, retreating to the nearest province. Otherwise, he is slain and his command is at an end.
  3. If a general suffers a crushing defeat it is possible that his troops will desert or assassinate him, terminating his career as leader. If an army loses more than half its strength in a single battle and is defeated as per normal rules, then roll a die. On a score of 5 or 6 the general has been killed or deposed, with his army ceasing to exist and credit for his destruction going to the victor of the last battle.

Desertion and Attrition: Since the armies of this period were aligned far more to people and ideals than states, it was fairly common for them to desert, either to the enemy or simply back to their homeland; those recruited on the march were by far more likely to abandon their leader. Also, poor medical services and widespread disease caused high rates of attrition. To represent the chance for these losses, each player must roll a die at the end of each autumn round. On a score of 1, 2, 3 or 4 there is no effect. On a score of 5 one element is lost; this may not be one of the player's starting force unless no other troops are available. On a score of 6 two elements are lost, which should not be taken from the player's initial force unless none others are available. If the player's entire force consists of less than 6 elements, he does not need to roll in this way. In addition, if a player has not suffered any defeats this year he may deduct one from this roll; if he has not engaged in any battles or has had no victories then he must add one to his score.

Diplomacy: The gap between the spring and autumn rounds is taken up by the diplomacy phase. Changes in diplomacy may not take place at any time other than this.

There are three diplomatic conditions that can exist between generals: war, neutrality and alliance.

Forces at war may fight battles as normal, and if a territory occupied by one player is entered by another with whom he is at war then a battle or siege MUST be fought if either player wishes. If neither wishes, then they may move through the territory as normal.

Forces who are neutral with each other may pass through the same territory without consequence and collect troops from the same area. They may not fight a battle or siege or send allied contingents to each other, though.

Forces that are allied actively share resources and support. All rules apply for neutral forces, with the addition that allied forces may send allied contingents to help one-another.

During the diplomacy phase, all players are allowed to send one message to another player. Only one message may be sent per diplomatic round, and it may not exceed 10 words in length. It is not obligatory to send such a message. All messages are written simultaneously and then passed on. Once all have been read, then every player is allowed to make one change in their diplomacy. This may be to declare war, seek peace, offer an alliance or end an alliance. Except for a declaration of war, it is possible for a player to refuse a proposal offered him. Each player may carry out only one change in diplomacy per campaign year, although the actions of others may alter his status further.

The beginning diplomatic situation is given below:

  • Octavian is neutral towards Antony and Ledipus, and is at war with Decimus Brutus, Cassius, Marcus Junius Brutus and Sextus Pompey.
  • Antony is allied with Lepidus, neutral towards Octavian and at war with Decimus Brutus, Cassius, Marcus Junius Brutus and Sextus Pompey.
  • Decimus Brutus is allied with Cassius and Marcus Junius Brutus, neutral towards Sextus Pompey and at war with Antony, Lepidus and Octavian.
  • Cassius is allied with Decimus Brutus and Marcus Junius Brutus, neutral towards Sextus Pompey and at war with Antony, Lepidus and Octavian.
  • Lepidus is allied with Antony, neutral towards Octavian and at war with Decimus Brutus, Cassius and Marcus Junius Brutus.
  • Marcus Junius Brutus is allied with Cassius and Decimus Brutus, neutral towards Sextus Pompey and at war with Antony, Lepidus and Octavian.
  • Sextus Pompey is neutral towards Decimus Brutus, Cassius and Marcus Junius Brutus, and at war with Antony, Lepidus and Octavian.

Italia: Rome and Italy were the centres of the Mediterranean world, and the best source of money and recruits for the various factions in the civil war. For this reason its supply of troops is regulated differently to normal. A general who spends a stage of movement to recruit from Italy must roll a die to see how many troops he receives. On a score of 1 the fickle Romans are not impressed enough to follow him. On a score of 2 or 3 he gains 1x4Bd. On a score of 4 or 5 he gains 2x4Bd. On a score of 6 he gains 3x4Bd. There is no limit to the number of troops that may be supplied by Italia in this way. However, a general must fight at least one battle or siege between attempting to gain reinforcements from Italia to provide some substance for his recruitment campaign.

Aegyptus: The wealthy Greek kingdom of Egypt had known Roman involvement in its affairs for over a century, and its ruler on Caesar's death - the legendary Queen Cleopatra - owed her throne to his intervention four years previously. She proved to be an important factor in the long civil wars, offering vital aid to the contending factions.

Whenever a player tries to enter Aegyptus, roll a die to see what Cleopatra decides to do. On a score of 1, 2 or 3 she assembles her troops and prevents the Roman from entering her realm; not wishing to become embroiled in a foreign as well as a domestic struggle, the general may not enter Aegyptus this round and has spent one of his movement stages in these fruitless negotiations. On a score of 4 or 5 Cleopatra grudgingly allows the Roman to pass through Aegyptus, although he may not draw any troops from here or stay longer than a maximum of one round. On a score of 6, however, the Queen takes a liking to this general, and he becomes her favourite. His forces may enter Aegyptus freely, and in addition he will be joined from now on by an allied contingent of 3x4Pk. Although subject to the usual rules for allied troops, these forces may be commanded by Cleopatra's favourite and will be automatically replaced if they suffer any casualties. Another general who is allied with Cleopatra's favourite may enter Aegyptus at will also; a general who is neutral must roll as normal, regarding a score of 6 as a normal permit to enter; a general who is at war with Cleopatra's favourite may not normally enter the territory, but if he chooses he may enter Aegyptus and begin a siege. If this is successful, then Cleopatra's reinforcements are immediately withdrawn and she revokes her favour; all players must roll as normal again on entering Aegyptus, including the general who won the siege (he is obliged by prudence to retreat immediately after his victory). Also, Cleopatra's favour is once again open if her former favourite is killed.

Last Updated: May 9, 2001

My thanks to Rory Naismith for submitting this campaign scenario. Questions, comments, and feedback are welcome. Sent them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.