Senatus Romanus

A Role-Immersion Game for the Roman History Classroom
Created by Michael Nerdahl


What is the Senatus Romanus?

"Senatus Romanus" is a role-immersion game for the classroom designed at Bowdoin College by Michael Nerdahl, a Classicist who teaches a course every other spring on the constitution of the Roman Republic entitled "The Republic of Rome and the Evolution of Executive Power."

In the game, students assume the role of famous Roman senators in the period just after the 2nd Punic War has ended, namely, 190 to 187 BCE. In this period of the mid-Republic, Rome has become the unquestioned hegemon of the Mediterranean. Figures like Scipio Africanus, Cato the Elder, and Flamininus lead the Senate, and Rome finds itself dealing with overseas provinces in Spain, constant instability in Greece, the specter of Hannibal in Asia, and, internally, highly competitive and ambitious men like M. Fulvius Nobilior, L. Aemilius Paullus, and M. Claudius Marcellus (Son of the hero of the Hannibalic War) aim to ride the coat-tails of (or simply knock down!) the early 2nd century leaders of the Republic.

The game turns the classroom into a Roman Senate, where players run the meetings, make deals behind the scenes, run for election for consul, censor, and various priesthoods, and try to attain their individual goals while also making sure that the Republic runs properly. Trying to knock down a Scipio or a Cato is all fine and good until Hannibal wipes out an underprepared consular army!

The game as currently designed can accommodate 12 to 45 players (with one Gamemaster). There is a complete Player's Manual and Instructor's Manual (with plenty of appendices to provide guidance on how to generate events for the Senate). For more information, please contact Michael Nerdahl at mnerdahl[at]bowdoin[dot]edu!

Student Reviews of Senatus Romanus

I loved the Roman Senate game because learning to adopt and act upon the perspective of an actual Roman politician on myriad social and political oopinions helped me to first-hand understand the complext dynamics of SPQR and how that impacted the Roman response to historical events -- a high school student

I loved the Senate Simulation game that we did in class. It really improved my knowledge of the Roman politics. -- college student

The senate simulation was some of the most fun I've had while learning a lot. - college student

The Senate simulation was an interactive and helpful way to fully understand the nuances of the Senate as well as Roman culture and the inner workings of Roman politics. - college student

I LOVED the roman senate game. It was one of the most amazing educational experiences I've had and so much fun. - high school student

Your Roman Senate game is ruining our social lives. -- high school student not in the class

Department of Classics @ Bowdoin College

Updated July, 2018